It is always cheaper to purchase goods in Thailand if you have the chance to get across the border. If you are part of a large family and stock a lot of food in your home, or you just don’t like shopping frequently, one of the best places to do grocery shopping is Makro. This is a ‘cash-n-carry’ chain that originates in Holland and sells everything from foodstuffs, groceries, cleaning products to electrical goods and office supplies. The closest Makro to Laos is Makro Nong Khai, a slightly smaller but much newer version than that in Udon Thani.
When you arrive at Makro you will need to take a shopping cart (trolley). There are two options, the pallet style for large items and the ordinary style shopping cart for ordinary items. The complex is huge and constructed in a ‘no-frills’ way, meaning no ceiling, no pretty visual merchandising or shelving; just stacks and stacks of boxes. Basically, you’re shopping in a giant warehouse. Everything is grouped together in aisles just like at a supermarket and staff speak pretty good English so they can usually help you find what you need.
The best thing about shopping here is that you’re buying in bulk. You can purchase a massive drum of dishwashing liquid, for example, which will last a family up to 6 months. This saves you a lot of money, as it will cost you half of what you pay in Laos, and also time as you won’t need to keep running off to the minimart to buy new bottles. The same thing goes for window cleaner, floor cleaner, washing powder, cooking oil, toothpaste: the list could go on and on! There’s also a great variety of meats, poultry, boxes of drinks and also frozen foods. You really can go nuts in there!
All purchases in Makro are cash only, unless you have a special Thai Citibank-Makro credit card. Before you check out, you will require a member number. You can obtain a temporary member number from reception but in order to use it you will need to spend over 2000 baht on your shopping. Otherwise you can bring in your passport, sign a few forms and they’ll make you up a member card on the spot.
At first, Makro seems like a huge maze that you’d get lost in. After a few trips, however, you’ll know exactly where to look in order to find what you’re looking for. The savings made are definitely worth it, and if you go to the Nong Khai branch you can be over the border, get what you need and get home in just over an hour. For a more leisurely shopping day, I recommend the Udon Thani branch. Either way, it’s a great way to shop… and save! You can call Makro (Thailand) on +66 23518888.
See the google maps reference for Makro Udon Thani below:
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