Like most cities, Bangkok, Thailand has hundreds of small drug stores but, unlike most cities, Bangkok only has two main chain drug stores – Watsons and Boots.
Both are large, both sell thousands of items and both have over 100 locations. If you are in Bangkok and looking for a big drug store or pharmacy, which of these two is better and why – Watsons or Boots?
Selection of Items – Most of the branches of Watsons in Bangkok are larger than the branches of Boots. This obviously means, simply because of extra counter space, most Watsons sell more items than do Boots.
If you are shopping for something simple like shampoo or hand lotion, this doesn’t really matter. But, if you are looking for a specific brand of vitamins or a particular shade of lipstick, you are more likely to find it at Watsons than Boots.
Average Prices – For most items, Watsons is cheaper than Boots. Most likely because their stores are bigger they can buy in larger bulk, or maybe because Watsons is far more popular than Boots they sell more things.
Either way, for most products, Watsons tends to be at least 10% cheaper than Boots on many items and, if you buy what you need in their frequent sales, you really can save money.
Licensed pharmaceuticals — All the medication both chain stores sell is fully-licensed and purchased from legitimate suppliers. In other words, no fake medications here.
Both also have English-speaking staff in most of their stores so, if you have questions about a medication, you will often be able to get your questions answered easier in a Watsons or Boots than at an independent Thai pharmacy where English may not be spoken.
Sales – Both Watsons and Boots have sales often. Whereas Watsons will have large sales on many items, however, Boots may only have sales on specific items.
Boots does often run a 2 for 1 sale on Boots brands, though, so if you like Boots brand products (which are always excellent quality, by the way), you can get a great deal when they have one of their sales. With sales like this running four or five times a year, you are more likely to come across one quite often.
As for Watsons, they do have excellent sales on hundreds of items and, also sometimes do the 2 for 1 style sales. With many sales items every week, keep checking your local Watsons store as you may find your favorite products have just gone on sale.
Pharmacies — Both Watsons and Boots have pharmacies in every store where you can buy over-the-counter and prescription only drugs.
I have always found both places to be excellent for what I need although, again, Watsons seems to carry more items so, if you are looking for something a bit harder to find, then I would try Watsons first.
Unlike the smaller Thai pharmacies, both Watsons and Boots also always have English-speaking staff, so you will rarely if ever have a problem making yourself understood.
Overall, whether Watsons or Boots is the better drug store in Thailand is often down to personal taste. Unless, of course, you are looking for the cheapest one, in which case Watsons will win out almost every time.
Watch the videos below for an idea of what both drug store chains in Bangkok sell. Watsons Thailand has its own YouTube channel, Boots Thailand does not.