Haggle a Deal in Bangkok's Street Markets

by - 9:08:00 PM

There are hundreds of markets spread throughout Bangkok but some of the best places for bargains are the street markets. Since most of the stalls at these markets are independently owned by entrepreneurs who are looking to make it on their own, more often they will agree on the price close to what you suggest after some haggling.

Before you head out to Bangkok’s colourful street markets, it’s important to warn you that you might want to buy just about everything. From rehashed mobile phones and knock off Rolex watches to hand designed t-shirts and jewelry  these markets cover all sorts of merchandise. Luckily, it’s possible to save on your flights to Bangkok by booking early and accommodation is notoriously good value in some areas, leaving you more money to spend buying all these must-have bargains.

Some of the busiest shopping havens and central markets are: 

Khao San Road Sidewalk Market
Popular among backpackers and young travellers, Khao San Road Sidewalk Market sells used books, fisherman trousers, CDs and DVDs, backpacks, Thai crafts, luggage and just about everything you might need if you are planning a backpacking trip. You can actually find an interesting selection of music in CDs which is not always found elsewhere. If you are really up for it, you can get your hair dread-locked but you might want to hold it off for sometime if you have to go back to the office soon.

Sukhumvit Sidewalk Market 
This is perhaps the most famous street market of Bangkok. This is the place where you can buy extremely cheap Thai souvenirs, leather bags, Thai silk, watches, handicrafts and of course the knock-offs. The key to shopping in Sukhumvit Sidewalk Market is if you cannot haggle down by 25 per cent, head to the next stall.

Saphan Phut 
Unlike Khao San Road Sidewalk Market and Sukhumvit Sidewalk Market, Saphan Phut doesn't get much attention from tourists. However, this is definitely worth visiting if you want to observe the trendy and modern youth culture of Thailand. Most of the accessories and clothing stalls here cater for the youth. There are some other random stalls as well, for example army fatigue clothing stand and vintage rock band t-shirts.

Now that you are acquainted with the best places to shop, it’s time to learn some tricks. Being a Westerner, haggling can be difficult to adopt since it’s not something that often occurs in Europe. You must plan your strategy ahead of time and keep these points in mind:

• Even if the merchant becomes rude, remain polite and always keep smiling.
• Go either early in the morning or late in the evening when they are about to close up.
• Learn basic Thai language since it will get you farther than haggling in English.
• Always have exactly the amount you want to pay. Do not ask for change since the merchant will conveniently be “out of change.”
• Keep only the amount you want to pay in your packet and flash it to the merchant saying “But this is all I have.” Very rarely would a merchant let you go after being flashed money.
• Be willing to walk away, and do it. More often than not, the merchant will stop you and agree to your price.

If you’re planning on visiting Bangkok and don’t want to pay over the odds for your flights, use a free online comparison tool like mondondo and choose from hundreds of flights to Bangkok at a price that suits you. Flights are something you can’t haggle over, but there are deals to he had for single travellers and if you’re flexible on departure dates.

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