Bargain Like a Real Master

5 tips for shopping in a Thai market

Bargaining: you either love it or you hate it. But if you find yourself in the fascinating and alluring lands of South East Asia, perhaps sipping cocktails at the exclusive Avista Hideaway Resort & Spa in Phuket, then you’ll have to get used to it. Bargaining over a price is a fact of life over there, and there’s really no escaping it. If you haven’t practised this most skilful art-form in a long while and are in need of a quick refresher, read on. Here are 5 tips on how to bargain like a master the next time you visit the lands of sun, smiles and bargains galore.

1. Never accept the first offer

Vendors will never offer their best price the first time round. They expect a little back and forth when settling on a final price, and so will offer an inflated price initially. Simply being aware of this will save you from jumping the gun and paying too much for your Thai Buddha statue or Chang singlet!

2. Be prepared to walk away

There’s no better tool in your bargaining arsenal than your own two legs. The simple walk away is an extremely effective way to bring the price down on whatever you’re bargaining for. It instantly communicates that you’re not too invested in the product being offered, and this non-attachment puts the power back in your hands.

3. Don’t communicate your interest

Although it’s sometimes hard to hide the genuine interest you may feel over that perfect summer dress, or those to-die-for pair of shoes, it’s well worth it when it comes to bargaining. Like the point made above, non-attachment – or seeming non-attachment – puts the bargaining power back in your hands, and will often result in a much lower price for you in the end.

4. Buy more for a bigger discount

It’s an almost universal law in South East Asian markets that the more you buy, the better the deal you’ll get per item. A great strategy that utilises this law and almost guarantees a rock-bottom price is to first bargain on an individual price. Once this has been agreed upon, mention that you’d like to purchase more than one. Then re-negotiate on the final price based on this bulk order.

5. Bring along a sense of humour

Don’t forget to remember that bargaining is meant to be fun for everyone. People like to do business with people, and the sooner you relate to the store owner in a personal, lighthearted way, the sooner you’ll arrive at a price that is win-win for everyone. If you cannot settle on a final price, try something novel and challenge the stall owner to a game of Paper, Scissors, Rock. Decide whether you want to make it a best of three, or a single round, and then be prepared to live with the results. This is a fun way of arriving at a final price, and will most likely put both you and the store owner in good spirits for the rest of the day.

Bargaining well is an art form that can take a little time to master. google translate But there’s really nothing to it. Just remember the above tips the next time you find yourself poised to haggle, and no doubt you’ll snap up a bargain or two!