Hi, it’s Mia, one of Asiagofun founders.
I have been known as an Apple fan for a long time: I have Iphone, Ipad, Airpod and a Mac Air that my company gave me. However, my desire of having an “Apple” laptop of my own has been growing so strong that I decided to buy one for myself.
At that time, my long planned trip to Bangkok was coming very near and just wished in pain that if only there’s an Apple store in Bangkok, just like in Singapore so my fan girl’s dream could be completed. And you know what? As sky heard me, there was really a grand new Apple store to be launched on 9th November at IconSiam (I’ll be at Bangkok at 22nd Nov wow!). No words can describe how excited I was upon hearing that, actually I was literally ready to jump out of my desk for celebration but I couldn’t as my boss was still sitting next to me 😀
Now let’s just stop going around the bush and go straight to the point. Basically everything happened very naturally, I heard the news, I flew to Bangkok, visiting the Apple store and went home with a brand new laptop. After 3 months, here I am ready to share some of my thoughts on this new store at the giant IconSiam shopping mall.
Overlooking the beautiful Chao Phraya river, IconSiam location is quite unique in compared to other shopping malls in Bangkok. In fact, Apple store secures the best spot in this mall. I bet Tim Cook had to pour a bunch of money on that as his store is centered right underneath the mall’s main signage and opens to a second story rooftop deck supported by the longest pillarless glass facade in the world.
My hotel was in Sukhumvit and it just took me about 30 mins to get to IconSiam. Hence, I can say the best and cheapest way to this mall from the center of Bangkok is to take a BTS train to the Saphan Taksin BTS then walk down to the Sathorn Pier, waiting for the free shuttle boat to take you there.
The Exterior: 10/10
I really love the spacious rooftop desk there as it has enough spots to sit, dance or do whatever you can. There’re lots of trees and you will be able to admire the gentle Chao Phraya river stretching in front of you or capture in your eyes all the buildings on the riverside or the beautiful sunset at the end of the day.
Heading to the left of the rooftop desk, there’s a stone wall to take pictures and further down to the second story lies the hustle and bustle scene of boats coming and leaving IconSiam.
The Interior: 9/10
The Apple store is on the second floor so it’s quite easy to get there. My first impression on the interior was it being so simplified and elegant. There were trees and wooden tables here and there displaying Apple test products and a large TV screen with stools in the center for some special workshops. Each products are separated into different areas and all laptop or iphone accessories can be found neatly on the wall shelves. As I’d like to buy a Macbook, I had to go to the further left corner of room.
One thing I really like about Apple store is that even though there’re always some staffs available to help you, they often keep a distance, standing in a corner to let you freely explore everything for as long as you can. In fact, Apple said that their stores are more of a public space for everyone to enjoy a vibrant and exciting experience brought by Apple products rather than a store to sell things. All staffs can speak English perfectly and were so nice and generous that they gave me 2 extra Apple bags when I asked 😛 Therefore, if you have any question, just call them and they will come to you right away.
Purchasing experience 8/10
To buy products, you need to reach a staff and tell them what you’d like to buy, let’s say in my case: a Mac Air 2018. Afterwards, Apple will put your name in a queue which takes about 1 hour of waiting as there’s always a large amount of customers. In the meantime, you can keep playing around the room or go outside eating and doing anything else. Based on my own experience, it’d be better if you give the staff your phone number just to make sure you can come back in time.
When it’s your turn, you will be assigned to one staff and lead to the area for intending buyers only. That’s great, there’s someone ready to clear all your concern. Just follow him then answer several questions so that he can give suitable consultation before you jump to the final decision. My work involves just light photo and video editing so I chose a Mac Air with retina display due to its portability. Once you’ve come up with your final choice, the staff will confirm again the product, color, specifications and serial numbers then proceed to the payment process.
I think some may like this style of one-on-one consultancy service, the other may not. If you’re in a hurry and have to go through all that waiting and consulting stuffs, this store may not be a good choice.
Tourist VAT Refund
In case you’re a tourist shopping in Bangkok, you would want to ask for the tourist VAT refund form as goods purchased in Thailand are VAT inclusive. Normally, foreign visitors (with a few exceptions) have the benefit to receive a 7% VAT refund on luxury goods purchased from shops that participate in the ‘VAT Refund for Tourists’ scheme. Regarding the Apple store in Bangkok, you will be granted just 6.5% VAT refund because that’s their policy T_T So basically there’s no price difference between buying Apple products at IconSiam and other authorized stores in Siam Discovery or Siam Paragon.
Back to the main topic, remember to bring your passport (it’s a must, otherwise you will need a scan or a VERY clear image of your passport because if the image is not clear, there’s no chance you can claim your refund) and ask the staff to give you a tourist VAT refund form, then fill as they tell you. If there’s anything unclear, just ask. Staffs are very nice and supportive, they talk with you like friends to break the ice while being very professional at the same time.
Ok, after filling the form, go ahead and make payment. Also, make sure to keep your tourist VAT refund form and the invoice carefully as you will need to show them as well as your passport and product serial number to claim your money at the airport. If all certain conditions apply, you will receive the refund in cash if it’s not exceeding 30,000 bath or otherwise, the refund will be transferred to your registered bank account.
To cut the long story short, I am pretty satisfied with my experience at the Apple store in IconSiam. Despite having to wait, I was treated well and able to test everything as I wanted. Staffs were nice and spoke perfect English. The only thing I don’t like much about this store is it being to crowded sometimes, however, it’s understandable as it’s the first official Apple store in Thailand. Hence, if you want to have a great shopping and entertaining experience at the same time, make sure to check out this masterpiece, you won’t regret it!