5 things to know before buying Electronics when you visit Southeast Asia

When you are traveling around Asia there are just so many great electronic gadgets that you can buy. You maybe need something such as an adapter or a charger, or you may just want to buy something that looks very cool. You may have had something stolen or lost while you travel; there are many different reasons why you might buy electronics while you are there. Unfortunately, you have to take some things into account before you shop for electronics in Southeast Asia. Unless you’re only planning on using it while you’re on your trip, you need to think about it and do a little bit of research ahead of time if you plan on bringing it back home.


Many of the big brands have their factories in Southeast Asia, so the quality may be the same as you would expect back home. However, there is also a huge counterfeit problem in Southeast Asia. That apple phone or Samsung tablet that you see might not actually be the one you expect. Funnily enough, counterfeiting is so rampant that there are counterfeits of other counterfeits. Most of the goods come from China, and if you ask people they will generally tell you what is good and what is not. Some Asian brands are extremely good, the OPPO phone brand is a good one for example. However, most people will also tell you that if you buy a China brand that you should expect it to break fairly quickly.


There are many compatibility issues with overseas electronics. Just because a phone works in Asia, doesn’t mean it will work in the United States. Check the Frequency of the phone to make sure. Voltage is another issue, while the United States runs at 110, Asia runs at 220. A lot of good quality electronics will work in both voltages and the device will deal with it, but you need to make sure. Televisions could be PAL or NTSC, the plug that you use on a device might be different, there are many things that can be different, so make sure you do your research. A little bit of a search up front will save you a big headache back home, as there are no returns.


Warranties can get a bit tricky while you travel. Some of the larger companies have international warranties and you can get things fixed in various different places in the world, but it’s not that easy. Laptops are generally the easiest as most laptops are made by larger companies which usually have representation in your home country. However, understand that if they don’t, you will be talking about shipping a laptop which can get extremely expensive. Some companies have a different warranty for international compared to local. You might have a local five-year warranty on an item, only to have a one-year International warranty. Another issue that is tricky is if you have to ship your product into another country to have it repaired, they very often can apply an import tax to it, such as 10% or more for the importation of a laptop.


When you are bringing your product back to your home country, be prepared that the home country might want some extra money from you. Usually if it’s a personal item this is not a problem, but understand though that they will decide whether you should pay a customs fee or import tax or not, so be prepared. Sometimes a customs agent will want to see you the receipt so they know how much to charge you.


Make sure you do your research on price. Sometimes, as strange as it seems, you can buy the exact same electronic device at home for far less than you can get it in Asia. As an example of this, not that you would bring this home with you, but a 40 inch LED TV in the Philippines will cost you about $800, but if you buy it from Walmart in the USA you can get the same TV for about 200 dollars. The best prices you will get are on the local brands or China brands, but the downside to that is you don’t have any ability to return it or repair it generally, as well as no guarantee of the quality, so buyers beware.


A lot of places in Asia will let you negotiate prices, especially in the smaller shops. Generally, when they see a tourist the price will go up, so it never hurts to ask for a better price. This does not work in all areas though, so you need to make a guess at when it’s the right time to negotiate or not. If there is any pressure, there is no problem walking away because you will see that the exact same product in 50 other places by the end of the day.

Buying electronics in Asia can be exciting and fun, looking for things that you have never seen before, but be careful and do your research. Be prepared for it to break or to be a counterfeit, enjoy it, just. Again do your research. We have to say though that we have seen some of the coolest gadgets ever in some of the shops and markets in Asia. We just wish we had more luggage to bring more home. Happy shopping.