We all love to shop when we go to Asia. But haggling is something many of us feel uncomfortable about, particularly when we think about the discrepancy between their income and ours. Here are some of the things to be mindful visiting markets and stores in Asia:
It’s OK. You don’t have to feel guilty
Trying to get an even lower price on something, which is already much, much lower than what we would pay at home, can be quite confronting.
You shouldn’t feel embarrassed or guilty about haggling. It is a part of Asian culture and sellers at markets expect locals and foreign customers to bargain with them.
That said, remember that your dollars go much further in many of these countries. The cost of living is low, so if you’re still haggling over another 50 cents, consider dropping the haggle to leave it in the pocket of someone who needs it more than you.
TIP: Asia is widely known for trading items: take a packet of fun Australian souvenirs such as koala bear clips or key rings. When haggling, offer one in the exchange for a further discount.
Patience is the key
The oldest rule in the book is not to buy the first thing you see. Going into a marketplace full of hustle and bustle can lead to you paying almost triple the original price. The locals are great sales clerks, and they can spot a tourist straight off the plane from a mile away.
You should always have a look around a few stalls, asking for the best price to determine the average price. If, however, you don’t think you will find a similar item elsewhere and you have limited time, you should consider buying the item there and then.
Always try to have a haggle first, and see if they are willing to negotiate.
Don’t get too caught up on looking. If you want it, sometimes you should just get it.
Don’t get too attached
Before you negotiate the price of an item, work out the maximum price you would pay. If the product is more expensive than this, and the seller will not budge, you should walk away. You will often find that as soon as you start to walk away, they will call you back and ask to re-negotiate. If not, keep looking around at other stores.
Speak the local language
Learning how to say everyday phrases such as “hello” or “how much” will show you’re a clued-up tourist.
It will keep the vendor on their toes, as they won’t know how long you have been in the area. This will, in turn, make them more likely to offer a sensible price.
You’ll also find the vendors are much more welcoming to those who are polite and try to speak their language.
Remember, “I don’t have that much money”
By hiding some of your money in a different part of your wallet before approaching the stall, or by putting some of it in your pocket, you may be able to grab a bargain.
If you tell the vendor you only have a certain amount, and they see your wallet reflects this, they may reduce the price of a product.
If a vendor won’t reduce the price, have a good look around their stall for any other products that you or a family member would like. By purchasing a number of items you will have more weight to bargain on price.
Know the exchange rate
Knowing how much it will actually cost you in your home currency can greatly influence your buying decision.
There are a number of different apps such as XE Currency you can download and use offline to check the exchange while you’re haggling. Or you can write the values down on a sheet and carry it with you.
FUN TIP: Ask for smaller notes at the exchange, or break up larger notes at the beginning of your holiday. Having smaller notes will help when it comes to getting the price you want. Often vendors will pretend they don’t have change, so it’s good to have the right amount.