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Good Morning Chiangmai News Magazine
20/1 Ratchamanka Road
A.Muang Chiangmai 50200
Tel/Fax: (053) 278516
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.gifOn-line Edition ContentsFebruary2002


Let's Speak Thai No. 4:


Shopping for handicrafts, a pair of shoes, a car or computer software? Whatever, there are a number of things to remember when making a purchase to avoid frustrations - and the potential pitfall of offending your vendor and losing a good deal altogether.

Many items on sale in Chiangmai, particularly in the stalls and market areas, are sold at non-fixed prices. A little knowledge of Thai can help considerably in obtaining a good price! Chiangmai is the main handicraft centre of Thailand and an excellent place - not only to shop - but to see handicrafts being made and to learn a little about the ethnic cultures of the north which are in most cases integral to these items.

Almost anything can be purchased here from cheap 'brand replica' clothing, accessories and souvenirs to up-market furniture, designer clothing, silks, silverware, jewellery and wood carving, weaving, textiles, rattan items, ceramics, pottery, and lacquerware.

For items in the stalls and markets the rule is fairly simply - bargain ruthlessly but patiently and politely. Not every stall holder is trying to rip you off - but to sell at a reasonable price so they can make a living. It means listening to the stall holder and agreeing to compromise. Be friendly but firm, and if the stall holder speaks English, engage in light conversation to put him or her at their ease - to show that you are not an arrogant westerner who thinks every market trader is trying to rip you off! Thai people, as well as many hilltribe people who work on the market stalls, do not like to lose face. It is best to avoid telling people you don't like the quality of their products or that the price is too high. Instead, tell a little white lie. Say you are just checking out the prices - and may come back tomorrow!


It's a done deal!

The same is true when shopping for everyday items like food - with the added disadvantage that many shopholders will speak little or no English. If you are searching for anything slightly unusual, a water-resistant paint which is fungal-protected for instance, then it might be better to take a Thai interpreter with you! Shop prices are always fixed, so there will be no bargaining involved.



    Click for larger photograph

    Almost! This metal bas relief of a Mitsubishi A6M2 Zero-Sen actually represents an aircraft of the 64th Sentai, wich was stationed here at Chiangmai. Framed in dark Thai timber, each piece is numbered and only 1000 pieces will ever be produced. Made by Thai craftsmen with care.

    Measurement: 24 x 15 x 3.5 cm





Returning to obtain a refund for faulty goods might pose a particular difficulty. Never be angry at the shop assistant if you are not receiving customer satisfaction. You will not be respected and are unlikely to be successful. One foreigner tells the story of returning to a particular shop on many occasions with an expensive, faulty, product. Each time he was given a different reason why the item could not be repaired or replaced. Although it took 6 months, the item was eventually replaced with a brand new, better quality, model! The relationship between the customer and the shop became so good hearted that every time he returned, he was greeted like a friend rather than with sour looks. As the Thai people say constantly, keep jye yen yen (a cool heart), have patience and you will usually succeed.



  • How much is this?
  • Tourai
  • Hello
  • Sawatdi
  • Can you help me?
  • Chuay duay or chuay dai mai?
  • Thank you
  • Khop khun
  • Do you have?
  • Mee . Mai
  • No, (we) do not have
  • Mai mee
  • Yes, we do have
  • Mee
  • Can I have a discount?
  • Lot dai mai?
  • That is expensive
  • Peng!
  • That is very expensive
  • Peng mahk!
  • Cheap, inexpensive
  • Thuuk
  • Keep a cool heart
  • Jye yen yen
  • Never mind, it does not matter
  • Mai pen rai
  • What time does the shop open/close?
  • Rhan beurt/pbid meurai
  • I will come back tomorrow
  • Khung
  • Bank
  • Thanaakhan
  • Hardware Shop
  • Rhan kor sang
  • Supermarket
  • Super-marked
  • Grocery Shop
  • Rhan Upakorn Korsang
  • Chemist/pharmacy
  • Rhaan khai yaa
  • Clothes Shop
  • Rhan Seua pa
  • Where is the shop
  • Rhaan tee nai?
  • Market
  • Dtalaard
  • Post office
  • Pbraisenee
  • Remember: Women always add 'ka' to the end of each phrase spoken and men say 'khap'

    .gifSamantha Burman

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