Friday, April 20, 2012

Thailand: Bargaining & haggling

Pronunciation: /ˈhag(ə)l/
dispute or bargain persistently, especially over the cost of something

In Thailand there are 2 ways to buy things:
  • buying them at asking price or
  • haggling over the asked price
If you opt for the first option you're letting someonerip you off. The Thai expect that you reduce the asked price and even hand you over a big calculator with the asking price for you to reduce.

It's all a game, one that certain tourists are not good at. I for instance tend to be shy to reduce the price drastically but towards the end of the holiday I changed my attitude. I started to start halving the asking price from the start and suddenly I got good deals! We also had the benefit of speaking Dutch between ourselves to decide when to agree to a price, without showing our game.

Here's some tips I learned during this trip on how to get a better price:
  • Decide in advance what you want to pay for an item and place your first asking price lower than this amount.
  • Be ready to walk away. I didn't really believe in this but once I did it (by coincidence) the price of the item got reduced to the first asking price. It might happen though that indeed you walk away and 'lose' buying what you're interested in. Not to worry though most probably in 100 metres you'll be able to buy the same item.
  • Don't worry about not speaking Thai. Most shop owners know basic English and if they don't they'll always come with a calculator
  • Don't haggle over food or in big department stored.
A typical stall in Koh Phangan on the eve of a Full Moon party

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