Shopping in Thailand: Art of Haggling

If you are going shopping in Thailand, you need to learn how to get the best deals. The art of haggling has existed since the dawn of creation, as far back as ancient Mesopotamia and beyond. Now you know why Middle-Eastern people are so adept at battering down the prices of everything. They invented this game and have a couple of thousand year’s head start on the rest of us.


In the Western world, we go to a shopping center, see what we like, check the price, and pay the fee. We are very simple in the ways of consumerism. So it’s only understandable that we struggle on the markets of Thailand to haggle down the prices to something within the realms of affordability. But don’t let that deter you. If you want to get some bargains when shopping in Thailand, check out our guide to the art of haggling.

Shopping in Thailand - The Art of Haggling

The art of haggling is important when you are shopping in Thailand

#1 – Knowing what you want – Shopping in Thailand

Knowing what you want in life is one of the things that hold humankind back. We just don’t know what we want, so we drift along through time and space on this watery ball going from one thing to the next. Know what you want and go for it. If you are shopping in Thailand without knowing what you want, you are in trouble. This strategy will result in you purchasing a myriad of useless trinkets such as pieces of wood that sound like frogs, grotesque hill tribe garments, and similar unwanted paraphernalia, which at the time seemed like a good idea. See what you want, know how much you want to pay for it, and go right for the jugular!


#2 – Don’t pay the first price you are quoted

Standard practices of Thai market traders are to firstly offer you a vastly inflated price for an item. Don’t be offended, you are seen as a rich person. Surely that should give us a false sense of grandeur, which always feels good. The traders are especially insightful at smelling out fresh meat. The simple way to deal with this is to immediately slash the offer by two thirds. This will send out a clear message that you are not to be messed with. Playfully bounce the prices off the trader until you both come to an acceptable compromise. Although the language barrier can sometimes get in the way, the language of money is universal when shopping in Thailand.

#3 – Keep it light-hearted when Shopping in Thailand

You would be surprised how many times I have seen full-scale arguments over the smallest amounts of money between traders and tourists. Getting the best deal is important, but please keep it light-hearted at all times. Always keep a smile on your face and control the situation with banter as opposed to aggression. Remember that this is their livelihood and they are just trying to feed their kids, their family, and an extended entourage that would make Puff Daddy feel inadequate. If you are losing your cool, take a break from haggling and come back at a later date.


#4 – Walk away if you have to

One of the main maneuvers we have in our arsenal to ensure the traders know you have made your final bid is to simply walk away in the middle of the discussion. If the trader tries to chase you down the street agreeing to your last offer – you know you it’s a good bargain and purchase it immediately. If they don’t call you back, there are another 324,584 markets to choose from.


When it comes to shopping in Thailand, you have bargaining power. Always remember that when haggling on the market. If you stand strong, hold your ground, always keep a smile on your face and know what you want, you will be going home with a vast choice of bargain items to remember your Thailand holiday for the rest of your lives.