TRAVEL
GOLD FOUND IN THAILAND!

Gold found in Thailand! Yes it’s true! You can actually find gold in quite a few places in Thailand.

When visiting the Wats (temples) in Thailand there are statues that are covered in small pieces of gold leaf placed there by worshipers paying merit to the Buddha.

The gold leaf is wrapped in a small piece of tissue paper and is applied by hand to the statue or other designated place.  If you ever take part in paying merit by applying a piece of gold leaf, be aware these pieces easily get away from you because they are so light and fragile; and yes they will stick to your finger. Use the tissue paper to apply it.  My wife, being Thai and a Buddhist all her life is a pro at it.  When I try it’s like I was born with ‘all thumbs‘, but I eventually accomplished it. :-)

Photograph of a Thai worshiper apply gold leaf to pay merit to Buddha

Paying merit to Buddha by applying a small piece of gold leaf at Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai Thailand

The Thai people typically buy gold as an investment and will wear gold jewelry during special occasions.  Gold is also used to settle the “bride price” for marriage purposes and is given to the mother and father of the bride-to-be as well as part of a “dower” to your new bride as a marriage gift.  The amount of the “bride price” and “dower” is usually a set amount or can be discussed and an agreeable amount between all parties can be determined.

When a westerner marries a Thai, westerners are usually looked at as affluent people because they have the means to travel internationally, where they come from, etc… So, you could be ‘high-balled‘ with an amount at first, but this can be negotiated.  The negotiation has to be done tactfully though so you don’t insult the family or look like a “cheap Charlie” which is how the Thai’s describe people they consider stingy.  :-)  You don’t want to get ‘financially raped‘ either.  I was lucky and everything went very smoothly, but I have heard some horror stories I am glad I didn’t have to go through.  Greed can become a major, negative factor regarding the “bride price” and / or the “dower” and that could sour the relationship; or you could have been victim to scam all along and didn’t know it.  You just have to be careful.

Thailand has some great gold shops that you can find just about anywhere.  While ‘wandering’ through the malls or neighborhoods, more than likely you will come across one.

The photograph below isn’t the best quality because you’re not supposed to take pictures in the malls in Thailand.  I tried getting a quick shot with my iPhone and wanted to post it as an example.  On my next trip to Thailand I will try to take a better quality one.

Those are gold chains displayed in the glass cabinets on the wall.  Smaller gold jewelry is in the lower display cabinets.  They usually have smooth or etched gold jewelry, so you have lots of choices. Some jewelry is even inlaid with different colored enamel.  I don’t know how this affects the trade-in price because I have never bought any, but it is a unique look.  They also have some rings with different colored stones in them; typically rubies or blue sapphires and some mixed with diamonds or other stones.

Photograph of a typical Thai gold shop in a mall

Typical Thai Gold Shop

Although we have bought gold jewelry in The Mall Thapra in Bangkok, we generally head to Chinatown which my wife favors.  You can get to Chinatown via a metered cab and head to Yaowarat Road.

Chinatown is very congested with foot and vehicle traffic and can be frustratingly  hectic especially in the afternoon.  That’s why I suggested a taxi because you can kick back and keep cool with the A/C and snap photographs along the way.

Chinatown merchants sell just about anything you could imagine, so plan some time to gold shop and poke around or grab a bite to eat!  Don’t be afraid of trying the Street Food.  I have had it and it’s cheap and delicious.  Go with a noodle dish; you usually can’t go wrong with that choice, or grab some fresh fruit.  :-)

Photograph of a section of Bangkok's Chinatown

Bangkok’s busy and traffic congested Chinatown

The gold shops typically sell gold jewelry, gold bullion, gold coins, and quite an assortment of gold chains in variable weights and lengths.  The prices are different for bullion and for jewelry, which is referred to as ornamental gold.  Thai gold, like Indian gold, is a darker, richer color gold than you will see in western countries.

Gold in Thailand is measured in baht weight.  1 Baht gold = 15.244 grams (raw bullion) or 15.16 grams (jewelry).

Gold jewelry in Thailand is typically  23 k and they do have 24 k gold pieces as well.  I have seen a few ornamental 24 k gold belts that were a bit out of my financial reach even when the price of gold wasn’t so high.  The sell and buy gold prices are set each day and published in newspapers like the Bangkok Post or on websites.  When you open the Bangkok Post link, you’re going to hear a ‘boinging‘ noise and then the buy / sell prices will appear.  Personally I think they could do away with the sound effect.  It’s kind of annoying. :-)

The buy and sell prices of gold are written in white on the windows of the gold shops usually close to the doors; you can’t miss it.  The weight of the gold chains is found on the display board they are hung on and they are separated by weight categories; anything from half a baht up to ten baht and sometimes higher.

So, you see something you like and you ask the gold shop employee how much.  Some speak English, and some don’t or won’t.  They will show you the price on a handheld calculator.  The price they show you will be higher than the gold price in the window.  That’s because included in that price is the overhead and other costs.

Some people say that the merchants won’t barter and bring the price down.  That is true in some places; however, we have been able to get them to take some money off, so I would try bartering.  If they see you are really interested in the piece, but for a discount, they will confer with the boss who will say ‘yay’ or ‘nay’;  most times they agree.  Even saving a few hundred baht is still money back in your pocket especially if you like what you have picked out.

You can also trade-in your gold jewelry at these shops, but I recommend you only do so if it’s 18k to 24k.  The reason is, if you hand them say a 10k or 12k gold piece which is typical in the United States, they will laugh and say they don’t want it.  To them this is basically not gold jewelry because of the small amount of gold it contains.  You may have paid a lot for it back home because the jeweler’s back there tend to rip you off and / or have huge overheads, but it doesn’t matter in Thailand. Basically it is costume jewelry grade to them; lack of a better term, ‘junk’.

I traded in a broken gold chain I bought in Kuwait at the airport where I was told it was 22k.  The gold shop employee in Chinatown scrutinized it closely with a jewelers loop looking for the appropriate markings and then he tested it.  Come to find out the clasp was not gold, but gold plate.  So they deducted the weight of that from the total weight.  You have to be careful buying gold in some places as I learned and pass this knowledge off to you.

The good news is, if you buy a gold jewelry piece in Thailand, and you grow tired of it or see something else you like on your next trip there, you can use that as a trade-in and they will give you a price just a bit under the daily price.  They will again appraise it by looking at the markings through a loop and then test it.  Hopefully you bought it when gold was low and now you are getting a higher price for it because gold went up.

One suggestion I have for you is to pay for your gold purchase in cash; don’t use a credit card / debit card.  Although I have not heard of anyone getting ripped off in the Chinatown gold shops, I think there is an added fee to the final price and then you will have to pay the interest to your credit card company.  Start saving now if you know you are going to Thailand or take extra money with you that is allotted just for buying something gold.

The last, but most important suggestion I have for you is this.  You have just bought this great new gold necklace and you are wearing it proudly and feeling really great! Tuck it in your shirt or please be aware of your surroundings.

Thailand is an awesome place and the people are incredible too.  However, every place has its thieves and you don’t want to fall victim to a snatched necklace you just bought.  I worked with a guy in Iraq and he told me he was on a motor scooter in Pattaya when his got stolen.  He had just bought a nice gold necklace and was stopped at a light when someone else also came up on a scooter and ripped it off his neck.  Easy come, easy go.  Just be aware that’s all.

I hope this information was helpful for you and when you visit Bangkok make sure to take a trip to Chinatown; even just to see it.  There’s great bargains and lots of things to see and do.  It’s also a great place to find some of that gold in Thailand!

Have you been to Thailand and bought gold?  Have you had a good or bad experience doing it?  Let me know in the comments section and we can help others who haven’t experienced it yet.

Happy ‘wanderings’!  :-)

 

 

 

 

 

About VacationWanderer

I have 'wandered' pretty much around the world but still have a lot to see and experience. My favorite things to do in life are travel, photography, and learning new languages or foreign language phrases to use along the way. "Hello", "Thank You", and "Please" in any language will open many doors for you. :-) I love to share my travel experiences with people and hope to inspire those who are still just thinking about it.

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