How to Haggle

Most prices in Thailand are negotiable. Here are some tips to help you get a lower price.

The stores in most shopping malls have fixed prices on the goods, and, usually, you cannot get a lower price. However, if you go shopping in a market or at a tourist stall, the goods will not have a price tag, and that means that you are supposed to haggle. The first quoted price may easily be two to four times the real price; as a tourist, you will be quoted prices at the high end.

When you haggle in Thailand; never be condescending or mocking when you respond to a quoted price, no matter how horrible it is. Smile when you mention your price – you can hardly offer too low a price. If you get quoted 400 baht, do not hesitate to offer 100 baht instead. The seller will tell you that it's too little and you can then work out against a compromise.

Do not be ashamed when you achieve a low price. You can be utterly sure that the seller does not sell at a lower price than he is willing to. Although, sometimes it does look as if a low price is painful for the seller.

If you want to buy more of a product, start negotiating the price of one item. Then you can drive the price further down by offering to buy more items. If you want to buy several different products, then negotiate the price on each product separately and then negotiate an additional discount for the total purchase.

If the seller is not willing to budge on the price, then smile, say that it is too expensive and start to walk away. If he is willing to lower the price, he will follow you and quote you a new price. If he does not offer a lower price, you can always get back later and buy for the last offered price – if you do not find the product cheaper elsewhere.

It is useful if you know the "real" price for an item that you can find in many shops; let's say the real price for an item is 100 baht. When you want to buy something else, you start by asking the price of the item. If the price quoted is 300 baht, you know that the price for the things you are interested in probably is about one-third of the prices quoted.

You will find the "real" price of an item by haggling the price in several shops and stalls. The lowest price you get is the real price.

Haggle in Thai

You can improve your haggling by learning a little Thai. It will tell the seller that you are not a first time tourist, and he will then be a bit more reasonable when quoting prices – perhaps you can get from a start price four times the real price down to three times the real price. However, it is important that if you ask for the price in Thai, which is thao-rai, you also understand the answer. If you do not know that song roi means 200 and you have to ask for the price in English, he may very well answer 300.

In this video you can learn 25 Thai phrases that is useful for a tourist, thao-rai is number 22.

It will only take a few hours over a couple of days to learn and remember the numbers in Thai. Check out this video:

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