Like any good modern city, Chiang Mai is a place where you can satiate your gadget lust and need for technology easily and quickly, and you will find fewer places where you can buy an entire desktop PC, custom-built, for less: cheap computers, cheap unlocked cellphones, peripherals and accessories like Bluetooth headsets, speakers, keyboards, HDMI or USB cables, and mice are readily available nearly everywhere-in fact 7-11’s have started selling headsets and mini-speakers to go with your netbooks, smartphones, or iPods. If you are just here to visit, it’s also extra helpful to buy expensive gadgets in Thailand and claim tax refunds when you depart which can net you back quite a bit of cash. In particular, you can find them gathered into IT sections or digital malls at the following locations:
Located on Chang Klan Road in the Night Bazaar (also known as the Night Market), the Panthip Plaza is a miniature version of the renowned digital shopping mall in Bangkok of the same name. Though considerably smaller in scale than its older counterpart, it also has the advantage of being much less cramped, less noisy, and having a little more class: the building includes a dental clinic, a Shabushi restaurant, and the Fuji Japanese restaurant as well as a food court on the top floor, plus a SE-ED bookstore and several coffee outlets. You can find software, games (PC, XBOX 360 and PS3 alike; if you are a little retro, you can also buy very cheap PS2s), digital cameras, and hardware components ranging from RAM sticks, external USB drives, graphic cards, power supply units to LCD monitors large and small. There are also several shops in the building that will let you choose these component parts and assemble them for you at no extra charge: the alternative, if you will, to Newegg if you are living in Thailand. This way, you can get yourself a very powerful gaming desktop for nearly half the price you would have paid in the States, United Kingdom or Australia. At the time of writing, there is almost nothing on offer for those looking for a new shiny smartphone. However, there will be an HTC shop opening soon at the Panthip Plaza if you’re looking for some Windows Phone 7 or Android goodness in your life.
A glitzy electronics shop that sells everything from washing machines and ovens to the latest and greatest HDTVs and 3D televisions from Samsung, Sony, and LG. Naturally their catalogue includes laptops and netbooks from leading brands including but not limited to Toshiba, Acer, Asus, Dell and HP as well as smartphones, feature phones, and all the peripherals they entail. They also stock Android tablets and iPads. The second floor is home to a True Vision office (if you need to get your cable subscription dealt with) and a small café offering cold and blended beverages.
Situated in the Old City area by the canal on Manee Nopparat road, this digital mall is very similar to the Panthip Plaza but has the disadvantage of being rather older and a little grubby around the edges. It offers a range of goods very much like Panthip Plaza’s, however, but is much farther from the Night Bazaar and somewhat more inconvenient to reach if your accommodation isn’t in its immediate vicinity.
Adjacent to the Computer Plaza; offers similar custom computers shops, software, and hardware components.
Central Airport Plaza
The third floor of the Central Airport Plaza is devoted almost entirely to technology: whatever section you are in you will be seeing many, many brands of computers and indeed the most famous names have their own shops here, including Dell, Lenovo, HP, Sony, and Acer for computer makers. For smartphones OEMs, you can expect to find a nice, classy shop displaying HTC’s latest and greatest (Desire HD, Incredible S, HD7, and Mozart) showing off their vibrant AMOLED or Super AMOLED displays and the latest version of Android. If you are after a TV or two, there are Sony and LG shops dedicated just to those too, with the latter also offering smartphones such as the surprisingly affordable dual-core LG 2X running on the Nvidia Tegra 2 system on a chip. Nokia is also represented in a fairly large store and you can find a Nokia service center just opposite the shopping mall itself. Off to the side, next to the IT City shop, you will find many smaller cellphone counters that buy and sell secondhand devices (today not limited to just phones but also iPads, the Blackberry Playbook and the Samsung Galaxy Tab as well as an Acer Iconia Tab or two), which is quite ideal if you are the type of gadget lover who needs to switch handsets or tablets every few months-sell yours, collect the money and off to get a shiny new one.