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I have landed in Thailand yesterday all eager to try out legendary cheapness so I ran for closest 7-11 got some crisps and local beers some ice cream bug spray... and paid 880 baht, which would be more than I would pay in local UK Lidl or ASDA...

This got me thinking,

Which of following Thai supermarket chains would be considered 'cheap' (like ASDA or Lidl) and which ones 'expensive' (Marks & Spencer)

  • 108 Shop
  • 7-Eleven
  • Big C group, includes: Mini Big C
  • Central Food Retail includes: Central Food Hall, Tops Daily, Tops Market, Tops Superkoom, Tops SUPERSTORE
  • CP Fresh Mart
  • FamilyMart
  • Fresh Mart
  • Foodland
  • Gourmet Market & Home Fresh Mart
  • Isetan
  • Jiffy
  • JUSCO
  • Lawson 108
  • Makro (Metro AG)
  • Maxvalu Tokai
  • Rimping
  • Tesco Lotus includes: Tesco Lotus Express
  • Villa Market
3

The larger market/supermarket like shops like Big C, Tesco Lotus and bulk shops like Makro are going to be your best bet.

Then smaller chain supermarket like Big One are often in the smaller shopping malls in the center of numerous towns and existed before the larger Tesco/Tesco Express became popular. They are still going mainly because they are still important landmarks in a downtown area.

Then you have shops that cater to foreign/'refined' tastes. Tops Supermarket, Villa Supermarket, Gourmet Market and the like found in or near major shopping areas like Central World, Siam Paragon, EM district, and only in major cities that are likely to have enough Tourists, Expats, or HiSo traffic.

7-Eleven, Family Mart, et. al. are like convenience stores open 24/7. Tesco Express and Mini Big-C are usually 7-11-'like' in their setup (open 24/7), but can still have the same prices/sales as their larger counterparts, so they can often be cheaper than 7-Eleven. Since they tend to be close-by each other, you can check both and see which ones give you better deal. You know a town has 'arrived' when a 7-Eleven or Tesco Express has moved in.

Other lesser known chains were mentioned in the OP: Fresh Mart (CP Fresh Mart), Begato, Foodland, etc. Some of these are more like specialists shops that only sell Begato meats, for example.

Also, it is nearly always to your advantage to sign up for their membership cards. You gain points and rebates that can be used for even more discounts. Places like Gourmet Market, you need to request the tourist discount card before you checkout: 5% off your total. They used to hand them out like candy but I think now you must give them your name and signature (you'll see the list); but that might only be for foreigners not sure. 5% is better than 0%. Places like Tesco or Big C it works out if you will be staying for several weeks or visit Thailand regularly; otherwise, just borrow a friend's card.

  • 1
    Begato are great, 1 kg of chicken breasts for 62THB.... became my main meat source. Thanks. – Matas Vaitkevicius Mar 9 '17 at 3:30
6

First mistake, believing legends ;-)

Thailand is not cheap, but it is economical for basics. Going to a 7-11 and buying snacks like ice cream and crisps will not be economical. Mini-marts are never a good deal. (the bulk of shops you list are minimarts)

Big box stores like Big C and Tesco will be the best deals on grocery type items, but again imported type snacks will not be that low of cost. Makro is a bulk buy place (10 packs of sauces, 10 kilo boxes of frozen chicken, etc).

Tops Supermarket and Rimping tend to be the most expensive with a big selection of imported goods.

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