wikiHow to Bargain the Price Down in Bangkok

Are you in Bangkok on business or pleasure and want to buy some cheap gifts for people? Bangkok — indeed, most of Asia — is a hub for bargaining. Instead of freezing the price of a good or service for all customers, the assumption is that customers who want a deal will have to haggle, or bargain.


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    Practice your smile, it will get you far. Find a place with lots of street side shops. A good place is Khao San Road. It's where all the backpackers go for cheap hostels.
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    Find the item you want. Let's say it's a t-shirt. Ask the person how much it costs. Let's say it costs 250 Baht per shirt. Think about how much you will pay for one and how many you want (for example -- you want 5 which would be 1,250 B. You want to pay no more than 200 baht per shirt, which is less than $6 US). Say thank you and leave.
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    Get a 1,000 baht note and put it in one pocket. Make sure you have no other money in that pocket and the exact amount you want to spend. Go back to the shop about an hour later so they don't recognize you straight away. Pick out the 5 shirts you want and ask the price. Pull out the 1,000 note and act sad that you only have that much. Do this when they have the shirts there and ready to be sold, not before you pick them out. Then say you are sorry but this is all you have.
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    They will try to get more from you but stick to your story. If they say no, say you are sorry and turn to leave. Very rarely will they let you leave when you are flashing money at them.
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    Be ready to walk away. Haggling in Southeast Asia[1] and Thailand specifically relies heavily on the idea of walking away. If you are not getting the price you want, show your dismay by walking away slowly while telling them it is too expensive. While walking, have the vendors shout at you and be prepared to shout your lower prices back. NOTE: Don't walk away until AFTER you have been haggling for a bit so they know you are interested in their merchandise.


  • An alternative tactic -- don't ask how much the shirt you want is but ask about the price of another shirt. When given the price pretend that is too much and ask how much another shirt is which will be less money...think about it a while...and then pick the shirt you really want and and ask how much for this "common" t-shirt. At this point your starting point for the negotiation is lower and you are at an advantage point from when you started.
  • Common tactic for peddlers is to start some patter to find out how long you have been in Thailand already just to gauge your liquidity. Best strategy here is if you told them if you just arrived (apparently you still have plenty of spending money) that you are still orienting and there is so much to do and buy, this usually drives down the price. If you told them you are about to leave the country, just tell them you that you are obviously out of cash when the haggling starts, this usually helps driving down the price as well.
  • If it's busy or if you are in a hurry, have them take the tollway. You will have to pay the 20-B and 15-B tolls, but it saves time.
  • Don't bargain or haggle with taxi drivers in Bangkok. Don't even discuss a flat or fixed fare. Always first open the door and tell the driver your destination. If he nods, then you get in, he starts the meter and off you go. Asking him before you get in marks you as someone who knows the ropes. If he even starts to bargain, wave him off and get another taxi. If he refuses to start the meter, get out of the taxi at the first opportunity. Taxi rides within central Bangkok rarely cost more than 80 to 100 baht. From the airport the average cost is 350 baht: 200-250 on the meter, 50 baht airport surcharge and 70 baht in highway tolls. There is no surcharge going TO the airport and no surcharge for late-night rides. Don't take tuktuks in Bangkok: their drivers are invariably scam artists and you'll pay more than a much safer and more comfortable air-conditioned taxi. (Outside of Bangkok, tuktuks are often the only public transportation, and those drivers are usually honest.) Don't argue with the driver if you have a dispute. Just wave him off or get out and get another taxi.
  • Again, if you are a foreigner be wary if you buy cheap CDs or DVDs. They might sell you ones that don't work, this is because you usually won't get the chance to test, then return it. Ask them to test it for you.
  • When exiting the new airport, if you need a taxi ignore all the people asking if you need a taxi. They will give you a taxi for 950 Baht. Walk downstairs to the taxi stand and get a regular taxi for 250-350 Baht.
  • Smile!
  • You don't really want to haggle with food places. Some clothing places have set prices, but most all fabric goods sold there are made there for pennies. Anything made in Thailand will be dirt cheap to foreigners. Anything imported will be full price.
  • If you have a Thai friend, girlfriend, boyfriend get them to buy it for you. Most shops jack up prices when they see foreigners.
  • Don't haggle someone down and then ask for change, they will suddenly not have the right change or something similar.
  • Learn some Thai, even if it's just the numbers. You will get FAR lower prices if you barter in Thai rather than in English.
  • Don't haggle in major brand mainstream shops, it's not appreciated.


  • Stay away from the Thailand student diamond discount. There's no such thing. You are buying low quality diamonds at high quality prices. People have spent over $5,000 at a time thinking they were buying $20,000 worth of diamonds. If it was such a big investment, they wouldn't lose money selling it to you for a loss.
  • Also keep in mind, the 5$ shirt they are selling you is a good price and shouldn't bargain for less. Sometimes these people need the money.
  • Tuk Tuks are fun to ride in around Bangkok, but they get commission from driving people to certain tailors or other places. Sometimes they will tell you the temple you are going to is closed and will drive you around to other places, stopping at commission places on the way.
  • Don't throw away/tear/crumple up your money in anger if the haggling is going nowhere, you may find yourself in a dire situation if you do so! The Thai are a proud people, and especially so of their king (depicted on the national currency) treat it with the proper respect.
  • Stay away from the fortune tellers wearing turbans who claim they can tell you your mother's name. It's a scam. They will talk fast and trick you into giving them money.

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Categories: Thailand | Reduce Travel Cost