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Shopping in Bangkok's Markets - Bargaining Tips and How to Ask for A Discount in Thai
Haggling in Bangkok's Markets - Get Ready To Rumble
"It's us versus them", that's probably what most die hard shoppers who visit Bangkok think when they set foot into a shop that has caught their interest. Whether it be Thai antiques, wood carvings from Chiang Mai or t-shirts in Patpong with funny euphemisms, everyday is a battlefield in the markets and bazaars dotted throughout Bangkok.
And just like warfare there are a set of rules, kind of like the Geneva Convention. But of course wheeling and dealing in a shop in Bangkok should be more civilized of course or at least one would hope.
First off you have to realize that not all shops in malls or shopping centers will allow you to haggle. As a general rule of thumb all street markets, night markets, bazaars and flea markets do expect customers to bargain.
But there are certain rules to the the exception such as MBK Mall. Inside are a mix of shops you can and cannot ask for discounts. You can usually tell which places you can bargain with just by looking at the quality and set up of the shop.
Of course if you see any fake
luxury brand named merchandise including movies and music you are
allowed to bargain down the price. Just keep in mind though that most
countries do not allow you to bring back said merchandise and will make
you pay a penalty fine and confiscate your booty. So check with your country's governmental regulations about such matters before buying counterfeit goods.
I like referring to the Thai language as a language of politeness. As a male it's polite to add the word "krup" at the end of sentences. For ladies add "ka". Krup and Ka can also mean "yes" or an affirmation.
Bargaining in Thai
Lot noy dai mai?
Little discount please?
Jet sip baht dai mai?
70 baht can or cannot (this is basically suggesting a price)
Smile and be cool. When asking for a discount do so in a low voice especially during the actual bargaining. And if the price is agreed upon don't go and ask for an even lower price. There are too many guidebooks out there stating that Thais are very low key and keep their emotions hidden.
It's bull. Thais are people too and don't like to be played around. As a frequent visitor to markets visited by tourists I see this happening all the time. So if the price you are asking for is accepted, please complete the transaction.
While shopping for clothes you will usually get a better price if you buy more than one piece. it doesn't have to be the same. Though sometimes it may be hard for foreigners to find the size they need.
For the early shoppers you'd be happy to know that most shopkeepers will most likely offer you a better discount if you are the first customer of the day. Once you hand over the Baht you will see the shopkeeper rub the bills all over their merchandise.
You will also get a better discount when the shop is about to close up.
Must visit shopping markets in Bangkok:
- Chatuchak Weekend Market
- Pratunam Wholesalers Clothing Market
- Platinum Fashion Mall
The places mentioned above a recommended for the best prices. You may have heard of some places like Patpong Night Market or Lumphini Night Bazaar. While they are good places to wander around it's not recommended to shop there as the prices there are overly inflated. Yes, you are able to bargain the price down but why go through more trouble than you have to.
Finally remember while bargaining that 30 baht to you may not be a lot of money. But to a Thai it is the price of a meal. So don't be too overly aggressive while haggling. Pay what you are comfortable with but be mindful that the other person is only trying to make a living.
You can visit my hub, guide to Shopping in Bangkok for comprehensive information about where to go and where to shop.
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Though you may not necessarily have to speak a word of Thai in most markets in within central Bangkok it's always good to pick up a feel phrases. You will find that Thais are very accepting and may offer you a better discount considering you've made an effort to communicate in their native language.
You can check out my reviews of a few books I use extensively for learning to speak Thai for beginners.
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