Buying Supplements in Thailand: 3 Low Cost Options and Getting Supplements You Can’t Find

If you’ve been in Thailand long you’ll know that buying any form of vitamin or supplement is a major headache. Through research and trial and error I am now able to get any supplement I want at a reasonable price – see below for details. But first let’s look at the challenges.

The two standard local options are:

  • The local pharmacies: They offer a very limited set of supplements and often they are of ‘unknown’ quality standards. To put this into perspective, I have not even found a good Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) product.
  • The local GNC: Highly over priced in Thailand, much more limited than their retail stores in western countries as they only sell GNC brand products and many of their products are low quality in any case.

If you’ve tried to buy from outside of Thailand (e.g. U.S.) you’ll know that there are a few issues with this:

  • Thailand Not Serviced: Many online stores will simply not ship to Thailand.
    (This unfortunately includes Amazon.com which can work in other countries I live in / visit – for Thailand supplements get stopped at the shopping cart check out page on Amazon).
  • Shipping Costs: Where online stores do deliver to Thailand you usually end up paying premium rates of between $40 to $80 for shipping alone.
  • Customs Fees: Thai customs are notorious for stopping packages and charging exorbitant fees of up to 50% of total value (that includes product value + shipping value). This often means it makes no sense to buy unless it is an unavoidable necessity that you can’t live without.

Your 3 Options for Economical Quality Supplements

I’ve found that you can buy exactly the supplements you’re looking for by using one or more of 3 options depending on your needs. It inevitably involves buying from the U.S. but when done right can end up nearly as economical as buying locally – and with the products you want at the quality you want.

Option 1: iHerb.com for the Majority of Your Supplements

When you order from iHerb.com using some specific shipping and order size settings it is reliable, extremely cost effective. iHerb has a huge range of products that will cover 90% of even the most specific needs. Shipping to Thailand takes an average of 9 days – typically they ship the same day you order.

Now for the specifics:

  1. Your order should be lower than $60 to ensure you do not pay custom fees (see below).
  2. You will use the Global Priority Mail by DHL shipping option.

By using these options you will minimize shipping fees and customs fees. You should expect to pay a total of $16 for shipping and customs with this method at maximum. The shipping will cost $4 and when customs fees are charged, they are about $12 (400 baht). Most of the time you won’t pay custom fees as Thai customs don’t monitor this shipping method as heavily as many of the others.

Discount: Use a discount code to get $10 off your first order of $40 or more. Get the discount by using the code SLM450 in the shopping cart or by using this link when you order: iHerb.com

Option 2: Any U.S. Online Shop + Shipito for Your Specific Needs

In cases where you can’t find what you want at iHerb.com you can use any U.S. online shop (from Amazon.com to the smallest niche shop) combined with a package forwarding service. To minimize custom fees and premium shipping charges the package forwarding service will be Shipito.com.

This is a lot more hassle than option 1, but worth it if you value something specific that iHerb doesn’t stock.

Setting up the Package Forwarding account at Shipito is relatively straightforward. You sign up for a “Virtual Box” account for $10/ month, provide some scanned copies of ID to validate your account and add a deposit. You’re good to go.

Shipito gives you two addresses in the U.S. that you can ship your U.S. purchases to for forwarding: 1 in California (I mainly use this one) and 1 in Orlando.

You will need to follow some specifics using your shipito account to minimize costs:

  1. Consolidate your orders by:
    A) Sending consolidated orders (instead of many individual shipments) from as few U.S. shops as possible to Shipito.
    B) Consolidating packages into one package at Shipito (with the products with packaging taken off option). This minimizes your shipping costs while avoiding shipito per package charges for package consolidation.
  2. Fill in the customs forms for each package in your Shipito account with:
    A) Generic name for the product category only (DO NOT PUT SPECIFICS). E.g. for supplements, put ‘Vitamins’.
    B) A low cost for the item. Marking down the value avoids unnecessary Customs Fees. Between $4 and $10 is a reasonable amount or ~25% of real value. Aim to keep the total consolidated value under $40 and the consolidated merchandise fitting into their standard box size.
  3. Select the shipping option USPS Priority which in my experiences often arrives within 10 days (just as fast as USPS Express, but cheaper) and the best for avoiding custom fees. The standard DHL and Fedex options get stopped by customs more often.

The costs for this shipment are higher than option 1. They are:
A) Shipping from online U.S. shop to shipito.
B) Shipping from Shipito to Thailand ~$40 – $50
C) Customs fees are often zero as it bypasses customs – if not, it will be around the same as option 1 ($12/ 400 Baht).

The total cost is between $40 to $70 depending on your shipping costs from the online retailer in the U.S.

Note: Some U.S. online shops will not deliver to a U.S. address if you are not using a U.S. credit card. To get round this you will use your paypal account with a U.S. address you have added to it for shipping/ billing – which will be the Shipito address you are sending the goods to.
The paypal account does not need to be a U.S. account as long as you have set the main currency to U.S. dollars whereby it lets you use U.S. addresses. Example: My account is a Hong Kong paypal account (where my banking is) denominated in U.S. dollars as I receive money in that currency.

Learn more about the Virtual Box shipping account at Shipito.com.

Option 3: PhuketHealthShop for Generic Bodybuilding Supplements

If you are looking for generic bodybuilding and fitness supplements like protein powders, and fat loss products, AND ‘getting it quickly’ is more important to you than cost, you will probably find what you are looking for at PhuketHealthShop.com.

Prices are higher than the U.S. (and iHerb) but not crazy high, and shipping is both free and quick (typically 3 days for me to Bangkok).

Shipping is now only free for orders over 2500 baht.

Some of the more interesting items they stock from a biohacking point of view are: Alpha Lipoic Acid, Acetyl-l-Carnitine and Creatine (all from the Dymatize brand).

Takeaways

With these 3 options you should be able to get any supplement while you’re in Thailand without too much hassle and keeping your costs to a minimum.

Personally, I’m very specific about the quality and kind of supplements that I use – but mostly I find what I need from iHerb and use Shipito and some select U.S. online shops for my highly specific needs.

If you want some generic protein powder or creatine you can get that from PhuketHealthShop.

Let me know about your experiences.

Posted in Supplements, Thailand
  • nantaprong

    I personally use fitwhey its a thai company with pretty good logistics, they also have the best supplement prices

    The only problem with it is that they have limited supplies.

    You can also try billyshopUSA, the store is supplied by airhostesses that carry these products in their personal luggage avoiding tax.

    😀

  • Ollie Smith

    Thanks buddy, been spending the last day trying to find L tryptophan & Holy Basil. Obviously tried amazon and a few other places but wouldn’t ship. iHerb has both. Many thanks..

    • http://biohacked.net/ damien blenkinsopp

      Glad to be of help.

  • Nick

    Thanks for the awesome info.

    I am checking out of iHerb though, and they are still charging the $4 for shipping. Is there something I am missing?

    • http://biohacked.net/ damien blenkinsopp

      No problemo. Yeah, I just rechecked and iHerb have re-added that $4 shipping fee back in. They must have done it in the last couple of weeks as my last order was free shipping. Guess it didn’t work out for them – I’ll reupdate this post.

      • Nick

        Thanks, it’d be awesome if you could keep this updated as things may change. I’ve searched high and low for other options, but nothing yet. I’m going to check Australia shipping next.

        I just placed my iHerb order. Am I able to order, let’s say $59 of supplements, and then add shipping, or does the entire order, including shipping have to fall under $60 to be safe?

  • Anja Franklin

    I have Folate Anemia and Iron Anemia. I need L-Methylfolate (generic, over the counter for prescription Deplin a “medical food”, See: Deplin.com, Vitamin B9). I need Iron supplements. Without them I have no energy and get sick.

    I buy Metabolic Maintenance 10 MG, 90 caps (4 per day), L-Methylfolate on Amazon.com. Per Metabolic Maintenance they do not have any sales in Asia. I have to ship from America. Amazon is the cheapest seller in America. However, shipping time can be 2 – 3 weeks before Amazon ships out out to me. Then add in another 1 – 2 weeks to arrive. Hard to figure out when it will arrive in the US let alone outside the US.

    Any suggestions for how to keep myself supplied once I run out of what I bring with me? L-Methylfolate only lasts one year and then it expires. I can only bring with me a year supply. Then I need to buy more.

    Any tips you can give me?

    • http://biohacked.net/ damien blenkinsopp

      Hi @anjafranklin:disqus, you can use the main option I recommend above – option 1 via iHerb. They stock the Metabolic Maintenance brand and L-Methylfolate. That’s your best option. Shipping typically takes around a week and a half.

      • Anja Franklin

        iHerb costs $30 USD more per bottle than when I buy from Amazon.com. I am wondering if using a drop ship company to reship to me is cheaper or if iHerb is cheaper.

        Amazon price: $50-$56 per bottle

        iHerb price: $80 per bottle

        Either way I bust the Customs limit to bring things in duty free. I will get zapped with duty and taxes by Customs.

        I need 1.5 bottles per month.
        18 bottles per year.

        I don’t know what is cheaper.
        (1 ) Use iHerb and pay more per bottle with ship direct
        or
        (2) Use Amazon and pay less per bottle, but more in shipping charges with a drop ship company

        Any thoughts?

        • http://biohacked.net/ damien blenkinsopp

          Hi Anja,

          Amazon doesn’t allow shipping of Metabolic Maintenance (and many other supplements) to many international destinations – including Thailand.

          That’s why I mostly use the Shipito option for very specific supplements or devices I need.

          So Amazon isn’t an option, and iHerb will be cheaper/ quicker than Shipito for you.

  • Gunnar Fox

    I use a package consolidation service like EarthClassMail.com or Reship.com in the States. I place loads of Paleo-oriented orders to them from Amazon, UpgradedSelf, etc. Then they send a massive consolidated shipment minus excess packaging to my friend in Singapore. I then bring a huge empty suitcase to one of my periodic business trips to Singapore and bring it on home to Bangkok. Each of these enterprises winds up costing about a thousand USD and I do it thrice a year or so. It is ugly but it works.

    • http://biohacked.net/ damien blenkinsopp

      Hi Gunnar, you can make that a lot more convenient/ cost efficient. Why don’t you ship directly to Bangkok in smaller shipments? You’ll find the process I outlined above with the package consolidator Shipito (the best for customs / cost that I’ve used to data after trying many). I order several packages monthly and you can see my shipping costs which are pretty reasonable considering how much I ship: http://biohacked.net/health-investment/

  • Ariel

    Does anyone know: if I need to place an order that is higher than $60 with iHerb, should I just place 2 separate orders to keep it under the customs limit? Thanks!

    • http://biohacked.net/ damien blenkinsopp

      Your order size should be lower than $60 as I wrote above. For free shipping it should be over $40. So the sweet spot is in between $40 and $60.

  • Paul

    Check out http://thaiorganiclife.com/ based in Koh Samui. Haven’t got everything but it’s local. I use them for lots of supplements and herbs.

  • Lara

    hello! im wondering if you ever encountered any troubles with the shipment/customs/ or delivery? I placed an order but i am kind of nervous because it is so far! did it always go smoothly? how many times have you ordered and whats the average delivery time?

    • http://biohacked.net/ damien blenkinsopp

      Hi Lara, I use them several times per month, so it’s probably coming up to 100 deliveries soon. Delivery times can vary – mostly it’s a couple of weeks. But I had one or two shipments that got stuck in customs and turned up a week or two later than that. The one time I didn’t receive a shipment iherb refunded it for me. They’re really good about that.

      • Lara

        thank you for replying! have you used them recently? so iherb is pretty reliable then in shipping to thailand? this is GREAT news ive been living here for a while now and im so happy to discover a health food store that ships out here ! i never wanted quoina so bad in my life 🙂

        • Lara

          sorry for all the questions! one more… do you use shipito for iherb? or just there standard shipping procedure?

          • http://biohacked.net/ damien blenkinsopp

            Hi Lara, no, you use shipito for ‘items’ that you can’t get through iherb and need to use specialist online stores for.

  • Lara

    hi! did you ever encounter issues dealing with the shipping/customs/delivery from iherb? I placed an order but im nervous because it is quite far! how many times have you ordered with them and also whats the average delivery time?

  • Ror Alexander

    how old is this? It says Thailands been discontinued!? Whats up?

    • http://biohacked.net/ damien blenkinsopp

      Hey @roralexander:disqus I update this article with the latest information whenever anything changes.
      There are no issues currently with anything outlined above – iherb are still shipping to Thailand, Shipito still works etc.

  • Ran

    I have been sent free samples from a company that produces colloidal silver via Fedex. The package was stopped at customs and they were asking me for about 1500 baht “for importing cosmetic products”. There were indeed 4 tubes with gels and on the tubes it is written: “Cosmetic skin product”. All the products were declared as samples with value of 0.01$.

    • http://biohacked.net/ damien blenkinsopp

      Hi @disqus_qFZSNLT5iI:disqus as I explained in the article above, you should NOT use Fedex for shipping to Thailand, as it is typically stopped by customs.

    • Samui Pro

      Hi i am writing on behalf of Thailand Pro Nutrition, Samui Pro Nutrition and Phuket Pro Nutrition. We are the number health and fitness suppliers in Thailand and have built this reputation over the past nine years, we have the best products and advice you could ask for! please like our facebook page and we can answer any questions you have. Samui Po Nutrition and Phuket Pro Nutrition. Thank you

  • Jouni Flemming

    For protein, I would recommend ThaiProtein.com, has both free and quick delivery to Thailand.

  • disqus_hfAokxKkwY

    Hello! I’ve ordered from iHerb a few times while living in Thailand and all has gone well! However, my most recent order still hasn’t arrived and it’s been six weeks! I’m really getting worried. On a somewhat related note, I wasn’t given the option to order using DHL (only international airmail). Has that option been discontinued by iHerb, or am I just missing something?

    Thanks!

    • http://biohacked.net/ damien blenkinsopp

      Hey there,
      You should always reach out to their customer service to find out where the parcel is if this happens. They’ll help you sort it out. In the cases where I’ve been in countries where their shipping gets held up, they have refunded the lost shipment (it typically gets returned to them actually).

  • Naruemon Kongmee

    I order hard to find things all the time. No problem really. No tax. Shipping it extra, but not so bad since I order a lot of stuff. Fitking in Fla has a lot of that stuff you want.

  • Naruemon Kongmee

    Certain things the doctor did not approve of made a huge difference in my health in only 6 months or less. Some items worked in a week or less.

  • aubrey

    Hello, I ordered some vitamins and minerals from mercola.com and apart from being heavily taxed, a note was included saying that I needed to contact Thai customs if I wanted to re-order any of the supplements as they were ‘concerned’ that what I was buying was harmful to my health! Seems funny in the land of 7-11s 🙂

  • Ramon Ashirayangkura

    Hi I tried making an order but it says this on iHerb: “Please Note: Due to Thailand customs currently preventing importing of our products we have currently suspended shipping orders to Thailand with DHL Express or UPS International. We are currently working with customs to determine what we can do to get our packages to be allowed entry into your country. We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused you.”

    It has only the International Airmail option with no tracking no and refundability. Could you please advise or provide your two cents.

  • Samui Pro

    Hi i am writing on behalf of Thailand Pro Nutrition, Samui Pro Nutrition and Phuket Pro Nutrition. We are the number health and fitness suppliers in Thailand and have built this reputation over the past nine years, we have the best products and advice you could ask for! please like our facebook page and we can answer any questions you have. Samui Po Nutrition and Phuket Pro Nutrition. Thank you.

  • Lynx

    I’ve used Vitacost and have never had a problem getting stuff to Thailand. They ship via DHL. Great prices, too.

  • Roy

    Why not try biovea right here in Thailand? I have not yet tried but might give them a shot.

  • Paul

    Here’s another source of supplements in the Silom area.

    http://www.bangkokcomplementaryhealth.com/

  • Roy

    Another vote for iherb! Great prices. Arrived in 2 weeks exactly. $25 order + $4 for shipping. No customs fee. I was not given a choice of shippers …sent by FedEx-GlobalMail. Thanks for sharing this information Damien.

  • Vitamins Buzz

    You can order online supplier is in Bangkok

    http://www.vitaminsbuzz.com/

  • andesluke

    Hi. Came across this interesting article. I wanted to know if supplements such as Maca, Vigrxplus and Volume pills are allowed to be bought online in Thailand. If so, are there any reputable online supplement stores selling these products? Thanks in advance!

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