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Where's the cheapest place to buy a laptop South East Asia?

Case study on buying a laptops and electronic equipment in South East Asia's Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Philippines and Bangkok

Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok are all huge travel hubs in South East Asia while The Philippines is a huge consumer. They also have huge selections of laptops which tempt many a traveler to plan a trip around a purchase. But, is it really worth it?

I've shopped in all these places and this is what I found out. All prices here are shown in USD$ for the sake of ease. And prices are based on the latest released items both and older stock based on late 2014 rates.

Keep in mind that no matter the year or item, this should still give you a good indication of where to buy what at the best prices!


Where to buy a laptop in Singapore?


Laptop stores in Singapore:

Singapore is brimming with shopping malls many of which will have a branded laptop vendor occupying some space inside. These range from Acer to Lenovo and beyond.

For dedicated laptop stores try the Funan DigitalLife Mall (109 North Bridge Road, Singapore). Tax refunds are available here making it a nice place to shop before flying home.

Harvey Norman (No 9 Raffles Boulevard, Millenia Walk
Singapore) an international consumer electronics store selling some top branded laptop names at reasonable prices.

Courts Megastore (50 Tampines North Drive 2, Singapore) another international brand that has very few laptops but they are at good rates.

Mustafa Centre (145 Syed Alwi Road, Singapore) if you are after a bargain and don't mind fighting the crowds Mustafa's is a good choice.

There is also a collection of stores near the City Hall MRT station which give you a chance to try out a few laptops.

Laptops prices in Singapore

Most of the branded stores in general malls all had the same prices. So it's really not worth shopping around different malls looking for a cheaper prices. The stores above are worth it if you know what you are looking for.

  • Apple MacBook Pro USD $1,150
  • Lenovo (ThinkPad) USD $850

Fake laptops in Singapore

I wouldn't say there were any "fake" laptops per se. Put there are a quantity of unknown brands and home built machines.

 

Bargaining for Laptops in Singapore

There's not much bargaining happening in Singapore in high street shops. But most do offer promotional items like a laptop bag etc.

Pro's & Con's of buying a laptop in Singapore

Pro's

  • The latest models are usually sold
  • The keyboard is in QWERTY English
  • English is widely spoken

Con'ss

  • Prices are not as great as you'd think

Where to buy a laptops in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia?


Laptop stores in Kuala Lumpur:

Sungai Wang Plaza (Jalan Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur) Lot's of branded laptops here. A good place to start looking as everything is under one roof.

Low Yat Plaza (No. 7 Jalan Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur) a huge multi-story building with several floors dedicated to branded and unbranded laptops. Well worth visiting.

SM Digital Mall (No. 2, Jalan 14/20 Section 14, Petaling Jaya) a hotbed of laptops and electronics. A good alternative to Low Yat if you want a branded machine.

Laptop prices in Kuala Lumpur

Most of the branded stores in general malls all had the same prices. So it's really not worth shopping around different malls looking for a cheaper prices. The stores above are worth it if you know what you are looking for.

  • Apple MacBook Pro USD $1,050
  • Lenovo (ThinkPad) USD $820

 

Bargaining for Laptops in Kuala Lumpur

I did not see any fake laptops. I did see plenty of unbranded lookalikes and some cheap looking Chinese machines. But no branded fakes.

Pro's & Con's of buying a laptop in Kuala Lumpur

Pro's

  • There's huge range of laptops available
  • The keyboard is in QWERTY English
  • English is widely spoken
  • Lowest prices in SEA

Con's

  • Bargaining is not for everyone

Where to buy a laptop in The Philippines?


Electronics stores in Manila

SM Mall of Asia (Bay City, Pasay) The largest shopping mall in the Philippines. There are several branded and unbranded laptop stores throughout the mall.

Greenhills Shopping Center (San Juan) there are a selection of smaller outlets in this crowded center selling unbranded and branded laptops.

Laptop prices in Manila, The Philippines

The Philippines is not a good place to pick up a cheaply priced laptop. It's probably cheaper to get a flight out, buy one and come back. What's more the selection is incredibly poor.

  • Apple MacBook Pro USD $1,350
  • Lenovo (ThinkPad very hard to find, mainly Acer, LG, Samsung) USD $1050

Bargaining for Laptops in Manila

If you must buy a laptop in The Philippines then bargain. The big malls won't budge much but places like Greenhills will.

Fake laptops in The Philippines

Yes they exist. Watch out for fake parts more than fake laptops. Cheaper hard drives seem to end up in The Philippines with high failure rates.

You're better off buying a packaged, branded laptop from a branded store. Buy a Samsung laptop in a Samsung store.

Pro's & Con's of buying a laptop in The Philippines

Pro's

  • English speaking staff
  • The keyboard is in QWERTY English

Con's

  • Laptops are expensive in The Philippines
  • Lack of choice
  • Poor warranty options
  • Choice gets worse outside of Manila

Where to buy a laptop in Bangkok, Thailand?


Laptop stores in Bangkok

MBK (BTS National Stadium) and Paragon (BTS Siam) have countless outlets offering laptops.

Pantip Plaza (BTS Ratchathewi).

Digital Gateway (BTS Siam exit 2) filled with branded laptops.

Laptop prices in Bangkok

Save yourself some time with branded laptops. Acer, LG, Lenovo, Samsung etc are all about the same price no matter what shopping center you visit. For unbranded laptops just head to Pantip Plaza

  • Apple MacBook Pro USD $1,155
  • Lenovo (ThinkPad) USD $900

Bargaining for Electronics in Bangkok

In Pantip Plaza you can bargain for unbranded laptops quite well. But, you better know your stuff. Branded goods have very little markdown but you can often get an accessory thrown in.

Fake laptops in Bangkok

I've not come across fake laptops. There are plenty of very cheap Thai made laptops which I would not be sure about. Battery life seems to be the biggest culprit with unbranded laptops in Thailand.

Pro's & Con's of buying a laptop in The Philippines

Pro's

  • Up to date laptops models
  • A large selection to choose from
  • Prices can be reasonable

Con's

  • Most laptops have English/Thai Keyboards
  • Language barrier might be an issue
  • Poor international warranty options

 


Tips on buying laptops in South East Asia


Don't forget to claim back (VAT) tax before flying out

If there's a VAT back sign at the store, make sure you fill out the form. Then at the airport head to the Tax Back counter at the airport before you fly home. It seems a hassle but it could save you a $100+

There are few points to remember when claiming VAT back:

You'll need to fill out several forms. The first is at the stop where you bought the laptop. They'll take half the form and process it for you. You keep the other half and present to the VAT back counter at the airport. You'll then have another form to fill out for them.

Tip: If you really need the VAT back then try buying from a branded store. The lesser known stores don't always send in the required papers you need.

Do note that if you are not flying out to your country of residence you may not get any tax back.

International Warranty problems when buying laptops in South East Asia

Always ask what the international warranty is on the laptop you are buying. In many places there is only a National Warranty. This means if something happens outside of the country you'll have to pay for the repair yourself.

Watch out for national warranties too. In The Philippines many items are only under a money back warranty for 7 days. After that you could be waiting up to 3+ months for a repair!

There are exceptions. For example Apple often have an international warranty. Just make sure it really is International. If your Thailand bought Apple Air has a keyboard problem in your home country they might not be able to replace the original Thai keys (if that's an issue!).

Tip: if warranty is a big issue for you make sure the brand you are buying in Asia is also available in your home country.

Dealing with customs after buying a laptop

Buying a new laptop in South East Asia is one thing. Bringing it home is another. That "something to declare" line at customs suddenly becomes a warning sign. If they see a shiny new laptop still in it's box in your bag they'll ask you for receipts. And, depending on the cost you may have to pay duty on it!

How much Duty you have to pay is dependant on your countries tax laws and the value of the item.

Tip: Ditch the box! Or if you must send it via mail home. It won't change the warranty on the time.


Summary of the best places to buy a laptop in South East Asia:


These are my finds in South East Asia when I was looking for a laptop. It's by know means conclusive but the findings are interesting.

Some tips:

  • Don't expect to get an amazing bargain. Laptops are generally cheaper in the USA than in South East Asia. Likewise online.
  • Always ask about international warranty as you may well need it..
  • Credit cards are accepted in all the above malls. Just make sure to keep your receipt and check your statements.
  • Keep those receipts and dockets for customs or claiming VAT back.
  • Write down the prices of the laptops you like when you're shopping around. It helps with bargaining.

For me the best places to buy a laptop in South East Asia are:

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: There's a good selection of laptops, ultra books, net books etc at the lowest prices in South East Asia

Singapore: Marginally more expensive than Malaysia and Thailand what you get is a clear information and quality service.

Bangkok, Thailand: There's a huge selection of laptops on sale in Thailand and it's the second cheapest place in South East Asia to buy then. The only two problems are Thai / English keyboards and some communication issues with sales staff.

Manila, The Philippines: Just don't! Try your best to wait until you fly out. There's not much of a range and they are expensive.

More to come? I'll keep updating this list of places to buy laptops as I travel and find new destinations. .

If anyone would like to add their own findings then please leave a comment.

 

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