Thailand is famous for open-air markets. People buy and sell EVERYTHING at markets. You can get fruit or meat or toys at the market, or clothes or cell phones…
It’s almost like a mall, but (most of the time) outdoors and with lots of umbrellas. And every store is just a table. So basically nothing like a mall, other than the fact that malls and markets both sell things.
Never pay full price…
The other big difference between a market in Thailand and a normal store in America is that in America, there’s a price tag on everything and you have to pay that price. In Thailand, and in a lot of countries, it’s customary to bargain with the person selling you that thing. Here’s how it goes:
You: How much for this?
Person: 200 baht*.
You: Hmmmm… 100 baht?
Person: No, 200.
You: Okay, thank you (start to walk away).
Person: 150 baht!?
*Baht is Thai money. It’s pronounced “bott.” It’s not worth the same as American money… 100 baht = about $3.
It’s a funny little game. You feel weird about it first, because often you have 200 baht in your pocket, and you’d totally be willing to pay it. But bargaining is normal and expected, and it’s not weird at all for the people who live there. Once you get used to it, it’s a little fun. Now, you don’t do this at the grocery store or the 7-11 or when you get a massage (more on that later!). You pretty much only do this at markets or when you’re hiring someone to take you somewhere (like in a tuk tuk).
Even if you’re not going to buy anything, markets are fun because you can just walk through and see all kinds of fun stuff, and there are always tons of people there hanging out. They’re tempting, though, because everything is so cheap! I see things I want to buy for you all the time! The problem is, I travel with just a back pack, and everything I own has to fit inside of it, and then I carry that on my back(!). There’s no room for anything new!
It’s okay though, because the experience is worth more than whatever I would have bought anyways. 🙂