Haggling or bargaining is a very essential skill that most travellers know they would have to use when they are in any other country, and it’s no different in Pattaya. If you know exactly when & where to haggle in Pattaya, not only will you save some money, but it’s fun and leaves you feeling satisfied that you have struck a good bargain while purchasing local goods.
Every city and town across Thailand has its fair share of shopkeepers and traders. Family-run shops and markets are a common sight in Thailand and most people here will have tried trading in one or the other form in their lifetime. This also means, the locals have mastered the art of haggling. This is commonplace and even expected in Pattaya, as it is, in the rest of the country.
If for some reason you choose not to haggle, you will be considered naïve or gullible. But you don’t get too serious when you are haggling – the interaction should be more friendly; Thais are very friendly people that will respond positively to a polite hello and a friendly smile. And so, if you manage to bargain personably and in a light-hearted way, the seller would be more than happy to do business with you.
Start off on the right foot
If you have picked up any Thai words of greeting, make it a point to use them when you’re making your initial enquiry with them. This can give them the impression that you are pretty conversant with the way business is handled here and may also end up offering a more realistic price rather than the inflated one they generally offer tourists and foreign travellers.
Once you’ve broken the ice and started bidding at a more realistic price you would be able a strike a much better bargain eventually. Of course, it won’t take them long to realise that your Thai-speaking skills are restricted to that opening greeting word and even if you continue haggling in English they will still oblige and language is no barrier for these seasoned vendors and shopkeepers.
Where to bargain
If you are just browsing through things in a shop selling various bric-a-bracs and tourist souvenirs along Walking Street or Pattaya Beach Road, the prices the local vendors quote will be tourist prices. And you should unblinkingly quote a price that’s at least 50 precent lower than the one they mentioned. While this may sound pretty drastic, that’s exactly how bloated the prices are in the first place.
Act like you are walking away; they will quickly call out to you and make a more reasonable counter-offer and you can take it on from there. Quite often, even at 50% the asking price vendors make quite a sizeable profit and its why most of them are more than happy to haggle every time they see potential for a sale. This same bargaining tactic won’t work if you are purchasing anything at local markets in the city as the prices here aren’t Thai prices and they don’t sell their wares at such high profit margins in the first place. At these places, you can try asking for a 20% reduction on the quoted price and see if you can strike a bargain.
So, while in Pattaya, feel free to bargain or haggle at any place that sells tourist souvenirs, such as stalls, shops and local markets, but not at department stores, pharmacies, official establishments, restaurants and supermarkets.
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