Duty Free Shopping Around Southeast Asia

Duty free shopping can be one of the 'perks' of international travel. Airports throughout Southeast Asia compete for claims to have the best prices. To try and sort through the claims, we've developed our own index of selected items representing the three mainstays of duty free shops: booze, cigarettes and perfume. We chose the representative items - Chivas Regal, Marlboro Red and Chanel No. 5 - for their universality. They're items we're sure to find in every duty free shop. In addition to Southeast Asian airports, we've also included Dubai, since it also has a reputation for cheap duty free goods.

The bottom line is that there's very little difference between prices in one place and another. Most of the differences can be put down to exchange rates and the effects of rounding. So, if you're looking for 'basic' items, you might as well buy it where it's most convenient.

Duty Free Benchmark Prices

The prices in the table below are in USD.

Airport Last Checked Marlboro Cigarettes
(Carton of 100)
Chivas Regal
(1 liter)
Chanel No. 5
(50 ml)
Bangkok November 2006 14.02 28.05 56.10
Denpasar March 2006 14.50 26.00 54.00
Hanoi September 2007 14.00 25.00 N/A
Ho Chi Minh May 2006 14.00 27.00 57.00
Jakarta November 2006 13.50 29.00 72.00
Phnom Penh September 2006 14.00 29.50 N/A
Singapore November 2006 12.21 29.23 55.04
Dubai April 2006 -46.00 -99.00 -195.00