Haggling over prices is common in Thailand’s markets and mom and pop retail stores. However, it is not always easy for a foreigner to haggle successfully. Many Thais are under the assumption that all farangs are rich. If you try to haggle, a Thai store owner may think that you’re simply being a Cheap Charlie and that their prices are fair.
It is possible for tourists and expats to successfully haggle in Thailand. The secret is not simply knowing a few Thai words related to money. Blurting back a lower price won’t get you anywhere except in tourist traps where prices are grossly inflated. The same goes for showing any sense of frustration or trying to do the fake walk away. The key to effective haggling in Thailand is to make the store-owner laugh or at least smile a little during your negotiations.
When haggling in a Sakon Nakhon market or store that’s not on tourist maps, you can often start the negotiations at around 40% below the initial price with an aim toward getting the item for 15-25% off that first sales offer. If the Thai store owner initially seems reluctant to haggle, use today’s learn Thai lesson to break the ice and get the retailer seeing you as a genuine person rather than a walking ATM machine.
ช่วย หน่อย นะ ลด ราคา ได้ ไหม ผม เป็น อาจารย์ จน และ มี ลูก สิบ คน ภรรยา เล่น การพนัน นี่ ด้วย
Chûay nòi ná. Lót rah-kah dâi măi? Phŏm bpen ah-jahn jon, láe mee lôok sìp khon. Pha-rá-yah lên gahn-phá-nan nêe dûay.
Help little (soften). Lower price can (question)? I am teacher poor, and have child ten person. Wife play gamble (emph.) too.
Give a guy a break. Can you lower the price? I’m just a poor teacher, and I have ten kids. My wife gambles too.
Learn Thai Culture Tip: Since today’s free Thai language lesson brings up the topic of gambling in Thailand, it is worth noting a few related things. Simple games of chance like card and board games don’t exist much in Thailand. If a card game is being played, then Thais immediately suspect that money is involved because the idea that one might play just for fun is largely an alien concept. So, you can disabuse yourself of the notion of organizing a friendly game of gin rummy or cribbage among your Thai friends.
Among Thais that do gamble, the favorite game of cards is Bawk Deng (ป๊อกเด้ง). If you stay in Sakon Nakhon long enough, you may be invited to a Bawk Deng session that’s often held in the back of a restaurant after hours or a village home located away from the main streets. While rarely busted, such card games are illegal. So, it is best to pass on the Bawk Deng invitation.
If you plan on shopping in Thailand and trying out your haggling skills, you should check out our learn Thai lesson on: How to Ask for Change. Visit us a again for more online lessons on Thai culture and language.