Top Tips on Sharpening your Bargaining
and Haggling Skills in the Land of Smiles

Bangkok Chinatown

How to Bargain in Bangkok

First things first, You must always remember to bargain with your best foot forward and a great big smile. After all, you are in the land of smiles and what better way to haggle than to haggle with a big fat smile. It’s a sure way of getting the best price possible.

And at the end of the day, it will be a win-win affair for you and the salesperson. You get a reasonably good price and the vendor gets to make a sale. Well! That’s the intention anyway. You get what you want and the vendor, for the most part, will indicate that she or he is more than happy with the outcome.

How cool is that! But just don’t ever lose your cool ’cause it’s not cool to be uncool and I’ve seen a fair share of that in Thailand.  

It’s really not that difficult acquiring the right way on just how to bargain in Bangkok or anywhere else in Thailand for that matter when out shopping in town. However, having said this, even if you have honed your bargaining skills in other countries around the world, there’s a good chance you could end up feeling less than satisfied with your purchase and or service. 

This may only come to light later on when you find the very same item somewhere else at a far lesser price.

Accept it as a valuable lesson and then quietly move on. The likelihood of you getting ripped off at least once in Thailand happens to the very best of us. It’s all part of the learning curve.

Next time you’ll be a lot warier about making the same mistake again. No matter what kind of situation you find yourself in, don’t ever allow yourself to be caught off-guard for one second or let ignorance or incompetence cloud your judgment.

Be it a legitimate sale or otherwise, Thai’s have been practicing the delicate art of deception for decades. It’s all part of their modern culture and who can blame them. Whether you may believe it or not it does somehow add a warm, charismatic ambiance to the place.

What to do

Before explaining all the ins and outs of the bargaining tactics, you need to be aware that the art of haggling is mostly reserved for the various markets and street stalls. Though some lesser-known shopping malls will possibly give way to potential bargaining, you most certainly cannot haggle over prices at high-end shopping complexes or your meals at upmarket restaurants.

The first thing you need to do once you have found an item or items you would like to purchase in one of the markets here is to decide just how much you are prepared to pay for the goods before grasping the principal on how to bargain for the said item.

If prices for the goods are not clearly displayed, the standard etiquette would be to let the vendor set the ball rolling. If you decide to go first, you might just set the bar too high without realising it. And besides, you could easily be taken for a ride from vendors who ask you to go first.

Always remain polite and respectful throughout your transactions and by adding that little bit of extra charm, you just might be on your way to a winning formula. It’s also best to bargain for a better deal when you are alone with the vendor as an audience eliminates your chance for a bigger discount.

Another good tip on how to bargain in Bangkok more successfully is to come equipped with a few Thai Phrases such as anee tao rai kaa (female) and anee tao rai krap (male) when translated means “How much is this” and lod mai when translated means “Discount” and paeng which simply means “Expensive”. Try to practice these words before you go shopping. 

Hand Painted Bamboo Hats for Sale

What not to do

Whatever you do, don’t ever lose your temper or raise your voice. It would be more fitting to speak slowly in a low tone. It really won’t get you very far if you use aggressive techniques, as this will only result in more stress for yourself.

If you should be unhappy with the person you’re dealing with or service rendered, simply walk away and try another place. Bangkok is full of markets and stalls selling the same or similar items and Vendors will more than often, call you back to renegotiate the deal.

Don’t get too stressed out negotiating with a vendor either. It’s perfectly okay to back down if you see something you like, but find the price or the service not quite to your liking. There are going to be times when a market or a stall owner is having a bad hair day and becomes a little unfriendly. This occasionally happens, though it’s not the norm. Let’s hope that this review on how to bargain in Bangkok will solve some of the hassles.