Value Added Tax (VAT) refund.

Value Added Tax (VAT) refund.

Many tourists are unaware of the VAT refund and how to claim it.  Every year, tourists leave behind thousands of dollars in unclaimed refunds because they are unaware of VAT or think the system is too cumbersome to apply.  The process is similar in many countries, so read on if you shop like I do when on vacation and want to take advantage of the VAT benefit.  This blog post will discuss the VAT refund process here in Thailand.

What is a VAT refund?

Many businesses offer the Value Added Tax refund or VAT.  VAT is a reimbursement of the value-added tax placed on goods and merchandise purchased by a non-resident that can be claimed when leaving the country.  The VAT rate varies by country and can be anywhere from 5% to 25%.  That means if you are visiting a country and plan to make purchases, check to see if the retailer offers VAT refunds.

How to claim a Vat refund?

  • Make sure the retailer you are purchasing from offers VAT refunds as not all retailers do.
  • Have proof of residency available.  You need to have your proof of residence available to initiate the process.  Please note that you do not have to carry your passport with you; a copy should suffice.
  • Complete the paperwork with the retailer and make sure the information is correct.  Your will k at the airport e your claim at the airport, and if incorrect information is on the paperwork, your effort will be in vain.  Also, make sure you have the receipts of items purchased.  You must have the items with you in some cases if the value is over a certain amount or if asked by the customs officer.  Therefore, travelers should carry high-value items in their hand luggage.  The VAT refund office is usually located around the check-in area.  If unsure, take your luggage with you to the office if the purchased items are requested.
  • The items must be new and unused and match the receipts presented.  In addition, luxury items like jewelry, watches, purses, etc., may have to be shown upon request.
  • In most cases, you can request your refund in cash and get it immediately from the customs officer.  In other cases, if you request a refund by check or by bank transfer, it can take longer.

Is the VAT refund worth the hassle?

If you have just purchased a few trinkets, then the effort may not be worthwhile, but if you spend a significant amount, the effort is worthwhile.  For example, in Thailand, the VAT is 7%.  A single purchase must be at least 2,000 baht for a VAT refund—a VAT refund fee of 100 baht (approximately $3 at today’s exchange rate).  Cash refunds are available at the airport if refund amounts are under 30,000 baht, and if over that value will be refunded by check, bank transfer, or credit to your credit card account.

Were you aware of VAT refunds?  Have you ever applied for VAT?  Comment below; I’d like to know.

Do you really want Thailand to “out with the old, and in with the new?”

Do you really want Thailand to “out with the old, and in with the new?”

Walking around Thailand this year-end has left me a bit reflective.  During my visit, I got to stay at two different hotels, the Conrad Bangkok, and the Anantara Siam Bangkok hotel.  Each hotel is beautiful in its way, and yet I found myself awed by the old-world charm of the Anantara Siam Bangkok hotel.  Here are my thoughts on the two hotels and why I prefer the old over the new.

Thailand is known for its hospitality and is one of the top destinations in Asia.  It is famous for its culture and great food at very affordable prices.  From the time you arrive in Bangkok, you will be immersed in Thai culture, and when it comes to a vacation destination, Thailand provides an excellent value for the money.  It is not only a great place to eat, but it also has some incredible shopping.  In Bangkok, there is a beautiful mix of modern and traditional buildings.  You will see tall skyscrapers, malls, and restaurants along with local temples and roadside food stalls.

This dichotomy of the old and the new Thailand gives me pause when contemplating the upcoming new year and old the adage, “Out with the old and in with the new.” Although I loved the Conrad Bangkok hotel, I found that the refurbishment and modernization of the hotel have taken away some of the visual Thailand charms.  The hotel offers luxury, but its elegant design has lost much of the magic of Thai culture.  The furniture is modern, and things like the bathroom fittings are very contemporary in design.

In comparison, the Anantara Siam Bangkok hotel has kept much of its old-world charm. 

This hotel is the former property of the Four Seasons hotel and was rebranded to Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel in early 2015.  Wood trim and wood carvings can be found throughout the hotel, and furnishings, although updated, are still cohesive with Thai history and culture.  Even in the elevators, you can see the presence of old-world charm in the design.  The hotel tries to incorporate the history of the hotel in its offerings.  From the classic hand-painted murals in the lobby and ceilings to the beautiful chandeliers hanging from the ceilings, the feel of the hotel is historic and unique.

One of the main reasons many people travel to Thailand is to experience a unique culture.  I love the modern amenities, but somehow being able to experience both almost simultaneously has made me realize that not many future travelers will truly experience all the charm of Thai history, architecture, and style.  What I think the modernization of Thailand does is remove some of the Buddhist art and cultural scenes present in the wall art and décor.

By no means am I saying that all the culture is leaving Thailand.  I’m saying that I travel east for the culture and would like it to remain as culturally traditional as possible.  What would you prefer, culture or western amenities?  Comment below; I’d like to know

A quick glance of Bangkok, Thailand

A quick glance of Bangkok, Thailand

There are a few things that make Thailand unique and my latest visit to Bangkok has reminded me of a few I’d like to share with you.

If you plan to walk in Bangkok, wear sensible walking shoes. Sidewalks will often start out as such but will often veer off and then reappear. In addition, you will encounter utility poles, trees, signs, awnings, motorcycles and even restaurant seating on the sidewalk. These are all in addition to the many street food vendors who also conduct business on the sidewalks.

Tuk Tuks and more.
There is no shortage of TukTuks, motorcycles, scooters, taxis, and cars on the street. Traffic jams seem to be a way of life and driving is not for the faint of heart. Often interspersed with the traffic are pickup trucks with loudspeakers blasting some sort of message or music. Just in case that is not enough confusion, there is no mistaking when an emergency vehicle is present; loud is an understatement.

Yes, Thailand is famous for their massages, and yes, they are quite cheap when compared to western prices. If you are not searching for a spa experience, you can get a full body massage for around $5 US at many local places. Just be prepared for although the experience may be wonderful, you get what you pay for and may be right next to a stranger in the same room.

Street food.
Street food in Thailand is not just fast food. You will be able to get fully prepared Thai dishes such as mango salads, curries, pad thai, or even soups on the sidewalk or local markets. A plate of the local dish pad thai may cost 10 Baht or the equivalent of 30 cents US. However, be prepared for the results if you do not have a strong constitution.

No Chopsticks needed.
While you are still in the East, chopsticks are not the utensil of choice in Thailand. Meals are often served with a fork and spoon. No knives are usually present, and one learns to cut food with the side of the spoon. Most use the fork in the left hand and the spoon in the right.

No religion.
Although often associated with Buddhism, Thailand has no official religion. Thais are free to worship any God or religion. The main religion followed is Buddhism, but there are also Muslims, Christians, Jews, and Sikhs in Thailand. Despite having no official religion, temples are plentiful. They all have religious significance and visitors must cover their shoulders and knees. You cannot wear shorts or sleeveless shirts.

These are just a few glimpses of Bangkok and Thailand, there is much more, but I always like to keep my blog posts short and informative. If you want more information, please comment, and let me know below.

Traveling to Thailand-The Thailand Pass

Traveling to Thailand-The Thailand Pass

COVID has created many changes in traveling, and I’m happy that many countries have started to open their borders to travelers.  As I’ve mentioned before, now more than ever, traveling takes planning.  As of November 1, 2021, Thailand has reopened to travelers with a no-quarantine option.  Here are a few tips if you plan to travel to Thailand.

No quarantine.

No quarantine entry does not genuinely mean quarantine-free.  Thailand is happy to accept fully vaccinated travelers under three programs. Test and go, Sandbox, and Alternative quarantine.  In any program, travelers must complete at least a one-day quarantine.  With the Test and Go program, travelers must stay at least one night in an approved hotel and wait for their pre-paid COVID test results to return as negative.  Only a negative result will allow the traveler to move around inside Thailand.  With the Sandbox program, travelers must stay in a sandbox destination within Thailand for seven days before moving through other parts of Thailand after a negative COVID test result.  With the Alternative program, travelers must stay for 7 to 10 days in an approved hotel and test negative before being free to leave the hotel.

Thailand pass

The Thailand pass is required for all travelers to Thailand, both citizens, and foreigners.  It ensures that travelers meet all the entry requirements before arrival in Thailand.  It is free to apply for the Thailand Pass, but the system is rather cumbersome and rigorous. Some service providers can complete the process for travelers for a fee, and I highly recommend it for those who do not want the stress.  The response time is from 3 to 7 days to get a response, so I highly recommend preparing well in advance.

Thailand Pass requirements.

The requirements for the Thailand pass include 

  • Passport
  • Proof of a WHO-approved vaccination
  • Proof of at least $50,000 U.S. of COVID insurance
  • Payment confirmation of one night’s stay at an approved hotel
  • Copy of flight booking
  • Copy of visa, if required

Travel requirements

  • To be able to travel to Thailand, travelers will also need,
  • A negative PCR test to be taken at least 72 hours before departure
  • Payment confirmation of the PCR test you will take after arriving in Thailand
  • Thailand’s MorChana App to record the results of your rapid test
  • Cannot have visited any of the countries not on the approved list within the past 21 days.

In short, travel to Thailand is not as easy as it once was.  The new Thailand Pass online registration system is not very easy to navigate.  I found that some credentials had to be formatted correctly for the system to accept them. For example, some documents could be PDF, but others needed to be in Jpeg format.  Even though I am an experienced traveler, it took me three tries before I could complete the process, in addition to two phone calls with over an hour of holding time.  

Post-COVID travel has proven to be a bit daunting. Has it stopped you from traveling? I’d like to know.

COVID-19  travel restrictions.

COVID-19 travel restrictions.

Recently a friend traveled from Washington DC to Egypt. She discussed with me the harrowing experience of trying to get a required Covid test for travel. With recent federal guidelines, the need for Covid testing has increased, and availability has decreased. As the holidays are a busy travel season, it stands to reason travelers needing testing during the holidays will also surge.  Here are a few things to think about regarding Covid testing and the holidays.

A surge in Covid testing

Many of the issues involved with the current availability of Covid testing affect the recent executive order requiring Covid vaccination for federal employees. Companies with over 100 employees will be required to comply with the order or face significant fines. As expected, there are many questions regarding the order and implementation that need an answer.  However, the demand for Covid testing has risen, and so travelers need to prepare.

Thanksgiving travel

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and it’s usually one of the busiest times for people to travel.  In 2020, many suggested curtailing travel during the Thanksgiving holiday, and many ignored that suggestion.  In preparation for the upcoming busy Thanksgiving travel season, the U.S. Air Travel Public Safety Act may require all passengers on domestic airlines to either be fully vaccinated, tested negative, or fully recovered from Covid.

Preparing for holiday travel

In essence, travelers should be aware of travel restrictions and Covid guidelines.  They should know where their Covid testing sites are. Find out if they need to have Covid symptoms or can test as a precaution. Research the timing of their test before seeing friends and family as exposure varies. It’s also good to know the different Covid test options, PCR or antigen.

As with any travel experience, preparation is critical.  Stay safe this holiday season and if you choose to travel, do it safely.

Five tips on planning a trip.

Five tips on planning a trip.

One of the questions I get asked a lot is, “where should I go?”  Traveling is a very personal decision, and what I might find enjoyable may be vastly different from what someone else finds pleasurable.  Here are my five tips for those who want to travel but are unsure about making travel plans.


It’s important to know what your travel budget is before you decide where you want to travel. Travel costs will include not only transportation costs but lodging.  There may be passport and visa expenses depending on your travel.  The cost of food and activities at your destination will also be a factor. These are but a few of the expenses that are involved with travel.  Knowing how much you can afford for your trip and setting a budget is essential when planning travel.


When considering your travel destination think about weather and location.  Do you prefer warm weather and beaches, or would you like cooler weather and nature?  Knowing your preferences can help to narrow down your destination choices.  Another consideration is the travel season of your destination.  If you do not like crowds, then you may prefer going to a location in the offseason rather than during the peak of travel.


It’s important to consider how much time you have for travel.  A traveler can fit much more into a planned vacation that is weeklong than a weekend vacation.  On the other hand, it can be an awful experience to be on a trip where you can’t wait for the journey to end.  If you don’t have a lot of time for travel, you might want to go to a destination that’s nearer to home. With more time for travel, traveling far away is a great option.  Knowing how much time you can allow for travel will help a great deal in planning your trip


I think people often overlook what kind of travel experience they want from their vacations. Plan a trip that meets your needs, and you will have a much more pleasant experience than traveling for the sake of travel. When you know what type of experience you want from your trip, it can lead to an enjoyable experience worth your time and money.

Travel style.

Each traveler has a particular style. Two people going to the same destination will have significant differences in their travel experience based on their travel personality.  Determining if your style is more as a backpack traveler than a luxury traveler is essential. If you prefer an active adventure or lying by the beach or pool is critical to your enjoyment of travel. Your travel style can significantly impact your travel experience if it does not match your travel plans.

Determining what you value most is an essential part of ensuring you make the right travel plans.  What do you consider most when you plan for travel? I’d like to know.