Bargain - Haggling, Bangkok
Bargaining is meant to be fun so the first rule is that you should never get angry or rude with merchants. Sometimes merchants will be rude to you in an effort to make farangs lose face but don't stoop to their level. Never, never underestimate the power of the smile and laugh in Thailand. And don't forget that bargaining while you are shopping is supposed to be fun!!!
You should usually have an idea of how much you are willing to pay for an item. The merchant will normally quote a price that is inflated in the hopes of either finding someone that knows nothing of the item's value or hoping that they will reach a price somewhere in the middle that is agreeable to both parties.
But sometimes the price offered is just so ridiculously low that bargaining isn't even worth the effort. If you buy multiple items, sure go ahead and get a 10TBH discount but in the end, is it really worth haggling a poor merchant down beyond a really rock bottom price if it is initially offered? I saw some really nice little purses in the Chatachuk market and when I asked how much, the price was around 2 Euros a bag. How could I even think about trying to bargain that price down???
And never start bargaining unless you are really interested in buying an item. If the merchant agrees to your offer, pay up don't get greedy and try to bargain lower...they already conceded!
Every single time you ask for a price, the seller will show you a calculator with the price on the screen and he'll expect you to type how much you're willing to pay. This can take a while of the calculator going back and forth, but it's the Thai way! And you will be saving some money!
As you know that shopping in Thailand is great fun. Some people think that it's like games to make you feel proud when you get the cheapest price. O.K. you can have fun but please notice that price that you go to shop is not all the same. Notice!!! Tourist market like night market is more expensive price from local market. So, Thai people in local area don’t have any reason to charge you more than normal. Please bargain just a little bit like 5-20 Baht only.
Whatever, even though Thai loves to bargain but we accept all food that we buy. We don’t bargain food even though it’s expensive but we will pay without complain.
Bargaining is quite simply a way of life in Thailand. The sooner you get used to it, the more baht you'll save. It is difficult to provide strict guidelines on how low a seller may be willing to go down from his original quoted price, as all are different, but midway is a good starting point. Always smile, and be prepared to purchase the item if you agree a price. Also, how ever much you want the item, be prepared to walk away, if the seller realises you are willing to stand your ground, he might call you back and cave in.
Once you come to Thailand and asia you will become more familiar with bargaining-if you aren't already. This comes in handy for chatuchak market. Once you know the price of the hotel item you are interested and you should NEVER start haggling on something you don't want to buy-bad manners. You should decide, okay what's the most you would pay for this item. Usually you can get the seller down 40-30%. I start with half and work my way up. It's a game. The seller will throw his or her's dramatic bodylanguage into the mix. Lots of sighing and acting like you want the world. Forget the act. They wouldn't sell you something unless they were making a profit. Usually, the seller will pass you a calculator and you can punch in the amount.
If they don't want to haggle, you can say "what's your best price?" Usually this works and you can start haggling. If they are not or seem not interested-than walk away. Then they usually grab and say okay. Recently at chatuchak, the sellers have been quite harder. So if you really love it-then buy it. It's only a few cents or a buck difference.
Also, if you find out something you want to buy cost 40baht-like one usd. I don't even haggle - i just pay the price. You are paying higher cause you are a tourist, but it shouldn't make much difference to you. It's only a dollar.
At the patpong night market, some of the sellers are deaf. A few deaf families did this to make money. A lot of people felt sympathy for them and didn't haggle (and they made more money than other sellers). Other vendors started acting deaf. So now you aren't sure, whose legitimate-well, unless you know Thai sign language.
But the sellers at these markets work quite hard, so don't be stingy over 20-40 baht. It's not worth it.
Bargaining is a science; an art form. Some think they are somehow too good or rich for this technique. Me and other enlightened people, like ClarkRB, have perfected this useful negotiating tool. If you have money to throw around, I can give you his or my address. We take check or credit card!
Virtually everything is open to negotiation. So, unless you are in the ritziest of places, always bargain.
On Khao San Rd or any market, ALWAYS start with 1/2 of what they say; going up no more than 20%. If they won't budge, walk away, because there are numerous other people with the EXACT same thing you are trying to buy. You will here "OK,OK!", as oyu walk away. Beautiful.
One of my favorite memories of this was buying my “Bathing Ape" shirts. First, I had never seen this company, and I thought their shirts were hilariously weird. I HAD to have one. The 1st guy was trying to look cool and tough. I already knew I wasn't going to buy from him. But I wanted info from him. I asked "How much?" He said 450 Baht (~ $11USD). I said no way; WAY too much. He said, "How much you want to spend?" I said 200 Baht. Basically, I filled time, just arguing back in forth with him, until he agreed on 220. I said, "OK, never mind." And I left. He was yelling for me to come back, dropping to 180 Baht as I walked away.
So, I head down the road, and look for the most desperate-looking seller and stop there. I pick up the SAME, EXACT shirt and say first 120 Baht. She laughs, and says, "NO WAY!!", and grabs it out of my hand. DON'T be discouraged!!! Now, I use their tactic. How much, and she starts at 200!!! The starting price differed by 250 Baht!! I've already succeeded in buying 2 for 1 from the other guy! I used the same bargaining speak with her, and end up settling for 160 Baht. That’s $4, instead of $11. Anyone who's been in Thailand knows that’s about 5 meals! Just use your head, and never take the first, or even second offer.
If you do, me and ClarkRB, will be laughing at you. Remember our addresses...
Bargaining - This was really fun!! I have never had to do this before!! The general rule when shopping is that department stores and large retail outlets sell fixed price goods and you might get a better price if you pay cash. When shopping at markets, small stalls and shops or from street vendors, bargaining is the norm. Expect to pay around 10-40 percent less than the original asking price - depending on your bargaining skills and the will of the vendor. It's always a good idea to check around with other vendors and stores to make sure of the price range for whatever you are buying. I read that the Tourist Authority of Thailand warns against following up shopping recommendations from touting taxi drivers and tour guides who receive commissions for bringing tourists to places to shop. They might rip you off.
And you can't take images of Buddha, deities, and some antique artifacts from the country without first obtaining approval from the Fine Arts Department in Bangkok. So there you go.
Haggle haggle haggle. My b/f got the bargain of a lifetime when he was offered a pair of cotton trousers for 100 TB (which is about under £1) but he was too busying laughing out loud at the first offer of 600 TB to notice. Shame on him ;0) Don't forget though that these people do this for a living so don't think you can out blag a blagger.