10 Tips on How to Successfully Haggle in Asia

By Two Monkeys Travel - Contributor January 31st, 2017 Posted in Asia Travel Blog, Travel Blog One Comment

A lot of travelers all over the world choose Asia as their destination because of 2 major things; firstly, the rich culture is absolutely liberating; second, the cost of living is cheaper than in most western countries. If you are equipped with great haggling skills, then it’s not surprising that you’d be carrying loads of local items and delicacies – and probably paying for additional baggage allowance as you depart the country to head back home! However, not all people know how to haggle. Some are shy while others think that it is impolite to haggle with local vendors. WRONG! Let me clarify that it is not impolite to negotiate a better price, as long as you know your boundaries. If you are really good, you can even end up as friends with the vendors.

Best thing to do in Thailand 1Two Monkeys Travel – How to haggle in Asia

If you think your haggling skills would receive an ‘F’ in travel school, then this post might just be your ticket! I’m an Asian and I have to say; haggling is deeply engrained within our system. It comes out naturally every time I go shopping. I remembered the time I went to Vietnam and the host from the US didn’t want to leave my side when we went to the market. She saw how I haggled (together with an Indian delegate) and was pretty amazed! And because she wanted to save few bucks, we became her negotiator. Trust me; you can do that as well. Here are my top ten sure fire tips on how you can haggle successfully in Asia.

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Meanwhile, you can read more fool-proof tips on how you can haggle on holiday in different parts of the world, along with amazing guides and fun infographics from dealchecker. 

1. Be confident

I actually got this tip from a solo female travel blogger who happens to be a British. She went around Vietnam on a scooter for three months and unfortunately, her ride broke down. The locals went to help her, and when she reached a shop to get a spare part, she knew that the vendor was trying to overprice the item. She just confidently smiled, looked smart and did an obvious gesture that she disagreed with the price. The vendor lowered it!  See, it worked!

Local vendors can tell from your body language if you are street-smart or not. If you are, they won’t take advantage of your ‘no-knowledge’ status, and you can easily negotiate.

2. Do a bit of ‘market’ research

DIY Travel Guide-Baguio, Ifugao and Mountain ProvinceTwo Monkeys Travel – How to haggle in Asia

This makes a lot of sense, right? How can you haggle if you don’t even know the price in the first place? So before you go to the market, try to check and do a bit of research online. I’m pretty sure you want to get local crafts or delicacies. If that’s the case, a lot of travelers have already shared their experiences and the prices for these too. Make these online sources as your guide. But if you don’t have time to do some cross checking, start haggling 50 – 75% off the published price. That’s the ideal benchmark when you are in Asia.

3. Establish a connection

Use your eyes! If someone makes direct eye contact with you, then you have found your initial target. When that’s already done, it’s time to show your pearly whites! Believe it or not, your smile can take you miles. In this case, it can be your ticket to getting the lowest price.

4. Speak their language

And what’s another way to have an instant connection? Learn a few basic phrases using the local language. For example, you can learn about greetings. Or maybe you can translate simple phrases like ‘Can you give me a discount?’, ‘Can you lower the price?’ etc.

 

5. Entertain them

Locals love it when we do exaggerated gestures. It is hugely entertaining for them! Move your arms, wave it, do some excited faces when you hear that the price is getting lower. Chances are, they will love you for it and will give you the best rate.

6. Don’t get annoyed

Here’s the deal, in some Asian countries people can be a bit touchy. I have had experience that the vendors would literally grab you so that you can take a peek at their stores. If that happens, stay calm. It’s normal. If you get annoyed or you shout at them, then good luck finding any kind of good bargain!

7. Bring a huge shopping bag

Luxury Hotel Review Hua Chang Heritage Hotel Bangkok Thailand 45Two Monkeys Travel – How to haggle in Asia

This is something that I always do. If they see you carrying a big shopping bag, you can create an impression that you will buy a lot of things. And because of that, different vendors would like to invite you and would be willing to lower down the prices so you can buy in bulk. This technique almost always worked on my adventures.

8. Prepare smaller bills

Expat Guide To Money ManagementTwo Monkeys Travel – How to haggle in Asia

If you are going to a local market, make sure that you have smaller bills. Unfortunately, there are cases that the items will be overpriced if the vendors see you carrying a lot of money. It’s just so ‘touristy, ’ and you wouldn’t want to look like you are a millionaire that can afford to buy such high-priced things when you’re asking for a discount at the same time.

9. Choose a good store

A good store for me has a lot of items to offer. Scout for those so you can shop more. The logic here is that the more items you buy, the lower the price you’d get per unit.

Guide to Taiwan Market

Two Monkeys Travel – How to haggle in Asia

10. Formally end the transaction

I actually learned from my friends that even if you are not in the corporate setting, you need to formally end your transaction. In my case, I always say a genuine thank you. Some of my pals would even shake hands. Or if you are really happy about it just say that you would recommend them to your friends. I bet that it will be the best news that they’ll get all day!

It’s not really hard to haggle even if you are a new comer in Asia. Generally, Asians are very hospitable, nd we always want to make new friends. If you give the vendors that similar vibe, they will give you very reasonable prices for your items. Just be sincere and again, don’t get irritated when someone walks up to you and gets touchy. Flash a smile and haggle!

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Transportation Tip: If you’re looking for the cheapest way to book the Trains, Buses, Ferries, Transfers on this route, we use 12Go.Asia to compare the prices!

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One thought on “10 Tips on How to Successfully Haggle in Asia

  1. I always travel with my female buddies and we usually enjoy going to local markets. Haggling has provided us with many fun experiences. We realized that haggling is different from one place to another. It’s always good to also check the seller’s mood as well. 😉

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Written by Two Monkeys Travel - Contributor

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