Thailand is a wonderful place to experience but, like all locations, there can be problems especially when it comes to touts. It all comes down to being a bit streetwise and managing the situation in such a way that it does not spoil your holiday. There are certain ways that you can say no in Thailand without offending. The following blog was written in Phuket by www.phuketsun.com.
UPDATE: I also need to apologise as the list is only 6 and did originally have a link to the original post for the remaining 3, however since this post was made the other site has closed!
Recently arrived Thailand tourists are fresh meat for touts. The tailor touts greet you like you are their best mate, shaking hands, asking your life story, telling you theirs and then after ten minutes, they’re measuring you up for a suit. What if you don’t want a suit? By speaking to them, you’re wasting their time as well as yours. Around the beach towns, you’ll encounter these pains in the ass every few meters. They will all try to engage and sell you a suit. You’re also constantly hearing, Massage? Tuk tuk? Ping Pong Show? Whatever! It’s a drag. Western people aren’t used to dealing with this level of seller harassment.
I have suggestions for dealing with touts and the constant barrage of people trying to sell you something. Here are 9 ways to say “NO”:
#1 – Ignore them. Don’t engage them at all, even slightly, even eye contact. Perfect a “500 mile stare off into the distance”. I know it may not seem polite, but you didn’t ask them for anything, so why respond? Avoid all eye contact, pretend they don’t exist. While they are still a few meters from you, let them know that they are invisible. In a situation where someone has forced me to become someone I don’t like to be, I am not too worried about my response, just so long as it’s not one which allows a minor situation to escalate. Any seller (massage girls in Patong) who is pushy, grabs an arm, steps in the street to block your path etc, that is not polite and not deserving of a polite response, simply ignore them and walk on.
Why do you need to be polite? There is absolutely no need to worry about being polite. Being polite shows weakness in Thailand. If you say anything at all, a tout will take it as an expression of interest in whatever they are selling.
If you make eye contact, a smile and small shake of the head is fine.
#2 – I got no money approach. Mai Mee Tang Krap (I got no money, thanks).
#3 – Say I don’t have time. Mai Mee Wei Lar.
#4 – No thank you may work! Mai Khrap or Mai Oww Khrap and smile. The idea is just to be polite and say no thank you. Unfortunately, no thank you isn’t always effective. If they are persistent say, ‘No!’ a little more firmly. Don’t get angry. You always lose if you get angry.
#5 – The I don’t need that approach Mee Mäo, Krap (I have already). Remember to smile and you’ll get a smile back before the seller moves on.
#6 – The leave me alone technique. Warding off sellers with no thank you can be exhausting. Having to go through that routine every 5 meters may wear thin. Touts on the beach that are bothering you? You may want to use the Thai “Chern Pai” (invite them to leave) approach. This may be a little harsh.