You’re missing out on cheaper prices and an opportunity for a fun interaction with locals if you haven’t haggled in Thailand's markets. But keep in mind that you usually can't haggle over food prices.
Haggling etiquette—how to make haggling a class act.
If you haven’t made haggling a habit, haggling can feel uncomfortable at first. Remember, for locals haggling at markets is part of daily life. Don’t feel shy, but be polite, politeness and charm goes a long way in Thailand. Follow these simple steps to haggle for cheaper prices.
1. It doesn’t hurt to ask.
You have nothing to lose but a bit of time, but everything to gain.
2. Start low then work your way to the middle.
It’s good to start around 30%, the street vendor will often counter-offer around 80%, then you can try to work your way to the middle around 50%-60%. It’s very common for market vendors to sell goods around 50%-70% of the initial price.
3. Don’t be afraid to walk away.
Walking away can be a powerful negotiation tactic—you can always come back, and sometimes the vendor will surprise you with a discount.
4. It helps to learn some of the local lingo.
Learning some basic local language creates the impression you are local to the area and familiar with the prices. Examples are counting basics, 100 baht, 'neung-rooy baht' , 200 baht, 'song-rooy baht', and basic words like expensive, ‘pheeng khap’ when spoken by a guy and ’pheeng kaa’ when spoken by a girl.
5. Sometimes 'the price is the price'.
Sometimes the vendor really can't go any lower than their advertised price. Profit margins can vary a great deal between vendors, sometimes from 5% to 80%. If the vendor can't lower their price, don't take it personally. The vendor might already be selling at their lowest price. And if you don't like the price, you don't have to buy it!
There is a delicate social dance and an art to haggling. Put the above steps into action and have fun with it. With a bit of practice you’ll be surprised with the results!