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Haggle Your Way in Bangkok


Budget travellers will be happy to know that they can haggle their way through the city of Bangkok. Starting from your cab ride to the city centre to your final meal before leaving this bastion of commerce, there are plenty of ways to pinch coins that will add up to lot by the end of your trip. Of course, haggling is not recommended in all cases;  sometimes, you have to pay for your safety or guarantee. For example, riding a metered taxi from the airport is better than haggling with a driver to bring you to your hotel.

In most instances, though, haggling is a must!  Here are some of the acceptable instances when you can (and are expected to) haggle during your trip:

1. Riding a tuk tuk or a taxi. Honestly, a tuk tuk ride usually costs more than a metered taxi simply for the novelty of it. So if you want to ride a tuk tuk so you have something to post on Instagram, you need to sharpen your haggling skills.

The first rule when riding a taxi or a tuk tuk: never just get in and tell the driver where you are going. Before you even hop on, let the driver know your destination and negotiate the price. Once you have agreed on a fare that seems reasonable to you, get in and enjoy your trip.

The same rules applies to taxis. Although there are plenty of taxis on the street offering metered fares, there are drivers who take advantage of tourists -- usually cabs that are parked outside hotels. Avoid them when you can. But if you are too tired to walk to the main street where you can hail metered taxis and must absolutely take a waiting cab, agree on a price before you hop in.

2. Buying food. Here's the deal: If pad thai cart has posted a menu with a fixed price, don’t try to buy your noodles for a less. Seriously. Don't haggle over cooked street food. They're already cheap. You can however negotiate the price of fruits like pineapples and bananas, especially if you're buying a lot. You can also haggle with vendors selling souvenir food items like dried tamarind and dried mangoes.

3. Shopping for clothes. You can't haggle in malls, obviously, but your are expected to haggle Chatuchak and the every other night market. A good tip when buying clothes is to buy in bulk. If you buy more than 1 pair of jeans, chances are the vendor will give you a “wholesale” price (the term they use for a modest discount).

Haggling Politely

  • Don’t be rude and unfair. These vendors are trying to make a living, after all.

  • Do not haggle if you really have no plan of buying.
  • Keep the words simple. Since Thai locals are not very fluent in English, it is best to stick to basic words. Don’t say too much information that may lead to miscommunication.

  • Have a calculator with you. Type in the amount you are willing to pay and show it to the vendor to make sure he understands what you are saying. 
  • Don’t be too eager. Walk away if you don't like the price. This technique is very helpful when you are shopping for clothes and souvenirs. Even if you think you can't live without that silk scarf, walk away. More often than not, the vendor will yield to your asking price in order not lo lose your business.

  • Have a general idea about the prices of transportation, food, and other merchandise before going on your trip. You can look up the prices online using your hotel's WiFi before you go to the markets, or you can do what I always do -- visit more than one shop to compare prices before I buy anything in Bangkok.

Related hotels:

Chinatown Hotel Bangkok


Citrus Sukhumvit 22 Hotel Bangkok


Bangkok Hiptique Hotel


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Great attractions nearby:

Wat Mahathat


Sanam Luang


Museum of Siam


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