Cautions for Shopping in Thailand
Protect Your Cash
Most of Thailand is an extremely safe country, but people do steal. What you consider a nominal sum might be a months pay to a poor Thai. Don't flash large amounts of cash. Keep the contents of your wallet or purse private
Watch Your Credit Cards!
Sometimes shopping becomes disorganized. Always double check to make sure you got your credit card back. Don't allow someone to take your card to a back room. Follow that card!
Credit Cards Often Pay Extra
Some merchants will add a charge of 3-5% to your purchase when you use a credit card. Sometimes the salesperson will remind you, sometimes not .. look before you sign!
If the price of an item is significant, consider either paying cash or negotiating down/away the credit card premium
Shop "alone" and at reputable shops
Very few bargains await down back alleys or at unmarked shops. Quite a number of scams do. Best is to get a recommendation from a trusted source.
Tour Guides Usually Make a %
Tour guides usually volunteer to take you shopping .. very often for free! That's because most / all tour guides have traditional, often unspoken, arrangements with merchants to get a 10 - 20% commission on what you purchase.
Learn to Bargain
Learning to bargain will save you from 30% to 70%. You don't need to speak Thai to bargain. Most negotiations can be carried out by punching numbers on a calculator. The seller shows shows you a calculator with 1000 showing. You take the calculator and enter 500. Simple, huh!
Be willing to walk away When agreement can't be reached, don't get angry. Don't yell or even pout. Just smile and walk away. Why?
- The item can probably be found at another place
- You will likely get no more than 2 steps before hearing, "Okay, okay!"
- If you have to start another negotiation you have a good starting point and range in which to negotiate.
If it's too big to carry, including shipping
Assuming the merchant you buy a large or heavy item from is reputable, have them arrange shipping .. FOB your front door! It will be much easier for them to arrange than for you. If they refuse to make shipping arrangements, there may be a hidden problem. Walk away.
Buy it now or buy it later?
Consider how long you will be staying in Thailand, how much time you have for shopping. Sometimes it is better to look around for the best deal. And do you really want to lug all that stuff on the ferry to Koh Samui?