In Thailand and Southeast Asia, for that matter, you can bargain for goods and services! It’s still very much expected for foreigners, tourists, and locals to do so. However, you need to know it’s not common practice in every situation.
When on a trip to Thailand on living here, generally, the most popular places to bargain in Thai are local markets, fresh food vendors, and touristy areas such as Khao San Road in Bangkok.
Bargaining in Thailand is widely expected in places run by small shop owners and at Thai markets. You can also bargain for local services such as tours, transportation, and accommodation. As a tourist, this is a skill you’re going to need!
Bargaining is not well received at any name-brand stores, fancy shopping malls, 7-11’s, or other convenience stores, nor is it possible with rideshare apps, restaurants, or food stall vendors.
Shopping in Thailand provides a considerable advantage for your wallet if you know how to bargain in Thai correctly. In this article, you will learn the best tips and tricks and the necessary vocabulary and phrases to help you get goods and services for cheaper and save some money!
Just some advice before you go shopping and bargain in Thai, you’ll want to learn how to read and say numbers in Thai.
It will help you see what locals are being charged versus tourists and give you an advantage when bargaining in Thai. Also, knowing and having Thai currency will help too.
Tips And Tricks To Bargaining In Thailand
1. Be Polite, Greet The Vendor, And Smile!
You’ll get far in Thailand by offering greetings in Thai. Thais respond very well to an attempt to speak Thai and appreciate a smile. Remember that while you’re intent is to bargain, you don’t need to be rude about it or forceful.
That kind of attitude will not be appreciated and will result in you not getting a deal. Rather than using lots of body language, use your smile and Thai language to sway the sellers. Remember to add ‘krub’ at the end of each sentence if you’re a male and ‘ka’ if you’re a female!
2. Decide What A Reasonable Price Is First And Bargain Lower
It can be easier to decide a fair price for goods than services. Thai people will usually set prices up to 40% above the market price. So a good place to start bargaining is between 40-50% less than the ticketed price. For services, it’s a good idea to shop around online.
Again, the posted price is often above what the service provider is willing to sell for. They can be willing to lower their price if you inform them someone is offering the same service for less.
3. Shop Around
Always, always shop around. If you see something you like in a market, go on to the next shop, and another, like many shops in a Thai market, will sell the same goods. Seeing all the prices will give you a rough idea of a reasonable price.
Go with the vendor with the lowest price and start bargaining lower!
4. Don’t Offer A Price First
When items don’t have a price tag, it’s never a good idea to offer the first price. You may be bidding well above the expected offer, and the vendor will jump on it! You may also offer a meager price which the vendor could take as rudeness and completely blow you off and ignore you.
5. Maintain An Air Of Detachment
Even though you might really, really like and want something, you can’t show it if you’re going to bargain. Acting excited or smiling with glee will only give away how badly you want it. The seller will assume you’re willing to pay anything for it.
Look somewhat disinterested and nonchalant. Then move on to the following shops. You can always come back, of course. But by then, you’ll be armed with more information.
6. Walk Away
It sounds silly, but it works! In some markets, sellers may be desperate for a sale. Even though you showed a slight interest in their products (tip #5), they may jump on you when you walk away.
The shop owner will likely call you back and offer lower prices before you’ve even made an offer! From that offer, you can bargain even more to meet your offer. Walking away also works if you’re in a deadlock and may sway the seller to give you a lower price.
However, the walk-away technique doesn’t always work if the price is already fair. They won’t call you back.
7. Don’t Bargain For The Sake Of It
Bargaining for ‘fun’ isn’t a good idea. People are trying to make a living, and while their attention is focused on you, they might miss an actual sale.
8. Buy More To Save More
When shopping, you can see your costs significantly decrease if you buy more than one item or in bulk. There are even wholesale malls, such as ones in the Pratunam district of Bangkok, where you can make multiple purchases.
For example, buying three or more items will see prices automatically drop by at least 25%. This ‘trick’ works really well at all types of markets and will improve your haggle game!
9. Keep Your Cool
Sometimes, bargaining can get heated if you forget your pleasantries. Just remember there’s no point in fighting over a few baht, and someone else is selling the same product nearby, so you and try to bargain with them instead.
How To Bargain For Transportation In Thailand – Getting A Fair Fare
Before taking any transportation in Thailand, you should know what types, what they’re called, and how to order transportation in Thai.
Know that you can’t bargain for public transportation such as the BTS or MTS in Bangkok or the public buses or boats. You also can’t bargain for trains, buses, or rideshares as they have fixed prices.
You can bargain for the cost of taxis, tuk-tuks, songtaews, or private drivers. Even though taxis are supposed to charge by the meter, often they refuse and will try to set a set price.
You’ll need to either get out of the taxi and take the next one or bargain for a better price! Private drivers charge a flat fee per hour, half, or full-day. You can negotiate a lower price usually and come to a mutual agreement which might mean you make fewer stops.
Tuk-tuks are cute little three-wheeled vehicles that everyone has to haggle to use – locals too! With tuk-tuks, the prices are always inflated, so haggling your butt off to get a good deal! They will always try to charge tourists ridiculous prices.
If you’re renting a car or motorbike, some providers will give discounts for long-term rentals.
Here’s some good advice about transportation. Always pay after you’ve gotten to your destination!
Negotiating The Price For Tours In Thailand
Thailand has a high season (tourist season) and low season (not tourist season).
During the low season, you can negotiate a lower price for tours. However, haggling is only possible in the high season if you are making a group tour or multiple bookings.
Negotiating For Accommodation In Thailand
Always book directly with hotels to get the best deal. The same rule applies for accommodation in Thailand – low season means better deals! Staying for more extended periods will also grant you a deal.
Words And Phrases To Use When You Bargain In Thai
Now we’re at the most valuable part of this article. Here are the phrases and vocabulary you’ll need to bargain in Thai. Also, check out how to understand Thai sentence structure to help with the phrases below.
|1 is 100 baht, 2 is 150 baht, okay?||1 ตัว 100 2 ตัว150 ละกัน||neung dtua · neung-roi song dtua · neung-roi-haa-sìp · la gan|
|Can you discount the price?||ลดราคาได้ไหมครับ||lot raa-kaa dai mai|
|Can you lower it a bit more?||ลดอีกนิดได้ไหม||lot eek nít dai mai|
|Can you lower the price a bit?||ลดราคาหนน้อยได้ไหม||lot raa-kaa noi dai mai|
|Do you have this in a different size?||คุณมีสิ่งนี้ในขนาดที่แตกต่างกันหรือไม่||khun mee sing nee nee ngad tee deck tang khan rue mai|
|How many baht?||กี่บาท||gee baht|
|How much can we bargain?||ต่อได้เท่าไร||dtor dai tao rai|
|How much?||เท่าไหร่||tao rai|
|How much?||ขายเท่าไร||kăai tâo rai|
|I like this one||ฉันชอบอันนี้||chan chob nee|
|I want this||ฉันต้องการสิ่งนี้||chan dtong gan sing nee|
|I’m interested||ฉันสนใจ||chan sin lai|
|I’ll come back later||เดี๋ยวค่อยกลับมา||dieow koi glap maa|
|I’ll take 3 pieces at 250 na.||เอา 3 ตัว 250 นะ||ao saam dtua · song-roi-haa-sip · naa|
|If I take the entire bulk how much?||ถ้าเหมาหมดให้เท่าไร||taa mao mot hai tao rai|
|If you give me at 100 baht I’ll buy it||ถ้าให้ 100 บาทซื้อเลย||taa hai · neung-roi · baat seu loie|
|In that case, can you add … as a freebie?||งั้นขอแถม…ได้ไหม||ngan kor taem · dai mai|
|In that case, I’ll walk and check out other stores||ถ้างั้นผมไปเดินดูร้านอื่นก่อน||taa ngan pom bpai dern doo ran eun gon|
|This is all I can give really||ให้ได้เท่านี้จริงๆ||hai dai tao nee jing jing|
|Too Expensive||แพงเกินไป||pang gern bai|
|Very Expensive||แพงมาก||pang mak|
|What’s the max you can give me?||ให้ได้มากสุดเท่าไร||hai dai maak sut tao rai|
|What’s the price?||ราคาเท่าไร||raa-kaa tao rai|
It’s Time To Get Out There And Get Those Lower Prices!
Now that you’ve got the tools to start bargaining, have some fun with it! Remember to have a realistic price in mind as people are trying to make a living.
Don’t expect bargaining to be successful every time. It takes practice, but you’ll get better every time you do it! Knowing how to bargain in Thai will make shopping lots more fun, and you’ll get some cheap deals.
While you’re here, consider learning even more Thai! Ling App is the perfect language buddy to help you be successful on your trip around Thailand or help you settle down here.
Ling offers the chance to immerse yourself in the Thai language and learn to read, write and speak it. We were the first app to offer Thai language learning in app form and had a very thorough offering.
Learning with Ling is fun! Check it out now.