How to barter like a pro

  • Posted onOctober 11th, 2013

barteringFirstly, bartering isn’t about being cheap or saving money, it’s all part of the Bangkok shopping experience. If done correctly it can be fun and a great way to interact with local Thais, leaving you feeling a bit more of a Bangkokian.

Bartering is an integral part of everyday life in Bangkok, you’ll see it everywhere, from negotiating tuk tuk rides to shopping at the bustling markets, just don’t assume it’s the norm everywhere you go; walk into an Apple Store and offer them 6 bags of rice and a prize Buffalo for the latest iPhone and you’re likely to get swiftly escorted out the door. However, in the market place and even in many of the malls (in family run stores, smaller shops, and some kiosks), bartering is part of the purchasing process.

To help you barter better, here are some tips and advice:

MARKETNever accept the first price

It goes without saying, never accept the first price, that would pretty much defeat the whole point of the exercise. As soon as you are given an opening price immediately come back with a much lower offer. At most market stalls you are best to offer half their first price, and although they may laugh at you trying to suggest your price is way too low, they are then likely to come back with a lower price, and so the game begins. The obvious trick of bartering is to then keep counteracting with a lower offer trying to find a price somewhere between your opening figure. However, you may find some sellers playing hardball, reluctant to meet you half way. If this is the case, further tactics are needed!

dangerous marketAct as if you don’t care

If you need some ‘leverage’ in the negotiations the first thing to do is act as if you don’t care. Turn your attention to other items, even neighboring stalls, and generally act as if you’re more than happy to walk away empty handed. It’s likely that they may then try to tempt you in with a lower price.

Don’t be afraid to walk away

If you still feel like you’re not getting a fair price don’t be afraid to just walk away. Often they will then call you back with a lower offer.

Don’t be afraid to walk back

OK, sometimes that doesn’t work. You may find yourself walking away not to be called back, looking back over your shoulder to see they’ve moved on to the next customer. In many cases you’ll find other market stalls selling the same items, if not, or if you find the same item is more expensive elsewhere, don’t be afraid to go back, more willing to meet their price.

Thai silkMore means less

One trick to get the price down is to buy more. The more you buy the more power you have to barter. The trick is to first negotiate the price for one item, and then when you are close to agreeing on a price ask for a cheaper price on the condition that you buy more items.

Don’t take it too seriously

The most important rule of bartering is to not take it too seriously. Approach it as a light hearted game, and refrain from being rude or aggressive in anyway, instead always try to enjoy it. Giving a smile is also another way to get the price down.




  1. Brian says:

    Excellent advice and spot on. Last hing to remember, if they are willing to let you walk away from their last offer, that is as low as they will go. Up to you if you want to pay.

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