‘Christmas is coming the geese are getting fat’…oh how good old Buddhist Thailand loves a shopping festival! And every year the evil internet is slowly eroding the fun of Christmas shopping, unless of course you dangle tinsel over your monitor, and play those monotonous kids choir Christmas carols from itunes while you shop online. Last year $100 billion dollars was spent in the US alone with the click of a mouse. And while it might be easier and more fun to hit the malls here in laid back Chiang Mai, there are plenty of good reasons to go online, especially if you have a US or European address to get your goodies mailed to. Here in Thailand your packages might get snarled up in customs, which is another issue we won’t discuss. For starters, ebay is familiar to many and it’s a great way to pick up bargains, and the more you use it the more reliable the trust rating system becomes. As a tip, don’t rush in, take your time to follow auctions first before knowing what a fair bid should be, and be prepared to sit up until 2 a.m. to be online for the last 30 minutes of the auction when it really shakes up. Amazon is another fantastic resource that sells virtually any b2c goods, old and new. It’s a good idea to set up a paypal account before you get shopping, it’s universally used as a more practical and safer alternative to using credit cards, though their 4% fees, and poor exchange rates are a bit discouraging. Remember to never trust a payment page that doesn’t have the padlock icon in the bottom or top of the browser. The rise of comparator sites has made ‘shopping around’ much easier, and fatwallets.com (US), Shopzilla.com (formerly bizrate) and Kelkoo.co.uk are all highly rated. Then there’s overstock.com which has a wide range of…well, overstock, at discount prices. Finally, the latest trend in shopping is discount vouchers, given away free for you to score up to 30% off. Try discountvouchers.co.uk or wowcoupons.com (US) for everything from flights to diapers.
Andrew Bond is the Manager of www.virtualtravelguides.com