Top tips for shopping in Phuket’s Markets

A stall of handicrafts

Phuket’s wide array of markets can be the best place to pick up souvenirs. With day markets selling everything you can imagine and night markets offing food and entertainment to the mix, it can be easy to become bewildered amongst the stalls.  Forceful vendors might be driving a hard bargain or looking to get the ‘tourist price’ for their goods. However, these few simple tips will help you get a good deal and avoid the market scams.

Tuk Tuk in Thailand

1. Be Firm but Fair

When in Thailand you will be expected to haggle. Depending on where you are from this can sometimes be a hard thing to get the hang of. It’s important to remember that vendors will never give you their best price straight off, and haggling well is something which is respected. The best outcome when shopping in the markets of Phuket is to get a good deal for both the buyer and seller. Don’t fall prey to vendors claiming you are ‘ripping them off’. Be clear and firm in your offer and be willing to meet in the middle. Go in with a reasonable price and be ready to walk away if there’s no compromise.

Market at night

2. Have a price in mind

If you are looking at something and you want to ask the price, have a clear idea of what you are willing to pay before you ask. That way, when you ask the price you will react accordingly and the vendor will see if you think its fair. Too often tourists find themselves swept up in the commotion and paying for something only to find it cheaper two stalls down! If you are making a big purchase -ask around, you will often find vendors sell some similar items so asking for prices should give you a better idea of what you should be paying.

A stall of handicrafts

Related: Shop Till You Drop: Phuket’s Biggest Shopping Malls

3. Buy in Bulk

If there are several things you like on one stall use this to your advantage. Prices on large purchases are the most negotiable because no vendor would want to lose that custom.  It is reasonable when buying several items to get a discount of around 20%. However be warned, vendors will often try to push additional items on you for the offer of a ‘better price’. It’s important to stay focused on what you actually want to buy and don’t get distracted by fake deals.

A stand full of coloured lanterns

4. Use a few key phrases

Trying your hand with a little Thai around the markets will help you secure better deals. Phuket receives a lot of tourists so vendors will likely speak English and other languages too. However trying to speak in Thai often makes the vendors warm to you and respect your efforts. Simple phrases like ‘ Nee Tao Rai Kah/Krub?’ (how much?) will show that you don’t want to simply be charged ‘tourist prices’. If you are being bothered by vendors ‘Mai ow Kah/Krup’ (Don’t want) should show them that you want to be left alone. When you are struggling to haggle and the price has gone too high ‘Mai pen rai’ (no worries) is a friendly term used often in Thailand, and will allow you to walk away. If you have asked how much and been given a high price ‘Peng Mak’ (very expensive) will show the vendor you know they’re asking too much. Finish off all negotiations with a simple ‘Khob khun Kah/Krup’ (Thank you) whether or not you got your price.

Tourist in Thailand

5. Stay Calm

You will rarely see a Thai person shouting, and shouting in Thailand is highly offensive. This does not mean that vendors won’t try to get your attention by raising their voice. Stay calm and be respectful. Don’t raise your voice to match them as this will be unlikely to get you a good deal. Be firm, be fair and remember a good deal is whatever price you are happy with.

Asian market

The markets in Phuket are one of the great evening attractions. They are also a great place to get those souvenirs. Therefore embrace these few tips and it will help you secure a good deal and also help you have fun exploring the stalls.

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