Haggling do's and dont's?

Travel Forums Asia Haggling do's and dont's?

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1. Posted by celeste123 (Budding Member 26 posts) 16y Star this if you like it!


Im planning a trip this summer to India, Thailand, Malaysia, Australia and Japan. I've been reading up on the way it is expected for you to haggle or barter in SE asia specifically, I was just wondering what sort of reaction you might expect if you paid the price asked as long as it seems fair that is! I was also wondering on how travellers cope with situations where they are being approached by beggars, do you often give money?

2. Posted by Degolasse (Travel Guru 824 posts) 16y Star this if you like it!

In India and Southeast Asia you do indeed bargain for just about everything from a souvineer at the market to a taxi ride or a hotel room. Many things in India though actually have set price on it so you don't bargain for those, but you'll learn pretty quick what you can and can't bargain for.
For a product that is open for bargaining, if you decide to pay the asking price, the reaction will probably be "Ok, thank you", but what they are really thinking is "Sweet, another sucker". I would encourage you not to do this. It gives the impression that foreigners just throw their money away, rises the prices for other tourists, and often vendors will refuse to sell something for the normal price because they know they can just sell it to the next tourist who will pay twice the normal price. In really touristy places, once you figure out what standard prices are, you'll notice that the starting price is sometimes 3 or 4 times (or more) than what the product is worth. It goes down pretty quick once you show signs that you know how much it's worth, but if one in every 10 tourist is willing to just pay 4 times the price because it's still cheaper than home, then why wouldn't they start that high.
However, it's also bad manners in my opinion to bargain them down to the point where they aren't making a profit. The idea of bargaining is to find a price that you can both agree on, not to rip each other off and get a steal of a deal.

3. Posted by nitesoutsg (Budding Member 2 posts) 16y Star this if you like it!

Bargaining is a definate MUST, a fair price is a price which the local will be paying for
tourist are not sucker.

There had been cases which when I start to leave the shop
the shopkeeper can cut the price by half !!

Of course, you got to see what shop it is, bargaining are more confined to small shops, street market stalls.
Bargaining is not likely in a fancy shopping centre

As for taxi, do note that there is No bargain in singapore, all meter run.
In other countries, avoid private taxi, it tend to cost a few 100% more that company own
and price should be negotiated before boarding

But the golden rule you must follow, only bargain if you are interested to buy

I love nites outs

[ Edit: Edited on Feb 29, 2008, at 3:06 AM by nitesoutsg; Edited by mod: URL removed. Promos not allowed. ]

4. Posted by celeste123 (Budding Member 26 posts) 16y Star this if you like it!

Thanks thats really helpful. Im a little apprehensive about bartering but from what I've read and what you've posted I can see it is expected! I totally disagree with those people who when I've read travel blogs etc celebrate how they managed to get the price knocked down to mere pennies (or cents) by aggressive bartering, it seems just a case of finding a happy medium which Im sure will become second nature once I am there!

5. Posted by wildfk (Respected Member 473 posts) 16y Star this if you like it!

Bargaining is something you can or can’t do..... it’s something that some people have an innate instinct for and others may learn, but some just don’t and never will geddit.

.....it is a way of finding a mutually acceptable price. It works everywhere in the world.....you can even do it at your local supermarket or shoe-shop, regardless of where you live.

However you should bear in mind that the Thais are not as frantic as say in Morocco, Italy or India...but in any country at the end of the day it's simply down to good manners and money.

I wince when watching some people bargain because they haven't got a clue...and either end up not buying or paying over the odds.

If you're going to bargain for something you MUST be intending to buy it, (if the price is OK) - what's the point of getting the price down and then saying "thank you " and walking away? You just look like a fool.

Don't assume someone is a liar or trying to rip you off....decide if YOU want to pay the price and then pay it.

Remember this is the Land of Smiles so it doesn’t pay to raise your voice and insult the vendor.

6. Posted by Purdy (Travel Guru 3549 posts) 16y Star this if you like it!

Along with all the salient advice already given the only thing l would add is to have fun with it! Most of the stall holders l have haggled with in Thailand, China or Vietnam all did it with a smile and a sense of fun. Do not ever be rude - this is their livelihood but you can haggle or bargain with a smile on your face!

Enjoy it - its part of the experience and lm sure you will learn to haggle like a local in time!

7. Posted by daveh (Travel Guru 1027 posts) 16y Star this if you like it!

my advice is to check out a few places first and get a benchmark for the price. Once you've done this you're ready to start using your bargaining skills. I generally knock them down by 50-60 percent and then don't budge on my price. If they don't accept then no worries, just go to the next place. Don't forget that they are trying to get maximum profit, and you're trying to pay a minimum price. I recently went in a chemist to get sun tan lotion. I was told a price of 32,000 schillings, which was an obvious rip off, and the final price they gave me was 28k. I walked into the next chemist and the same product the woman's starting price was 10,000 and i ended up paying 5 or 6,000.

So never buy from the first place you ask and keep your nerve!!

8. Posted by wildfk (Respected Member 473 posts) 16y Star this if you like it!

"knock them down" and they don't sell to you, you haven't "knocked them down" have you.

Out of curiosity why do you coose 50% as a yardstick? D'you think that everywhere in the world is overcharging you by that amount...that is one hell of a conspiracy theory....not to mention persecution complex.

All in all doesn't sound like you are very successful at bargaining, how do you fare with hotel rooms....get 50% on those??????

9. Posted by wildfk (Respected Member 473 posts) 16y Star this if you like it!

PS - you will also find that many Thais are NOT open to bargaining...especially if you just shout lower prices at them.....everyone in the world will bargain, it's just that some don't realiose they are doing it.

10. Posted by Purdy (Travel Guru 3549 posts) 16y Star this if you like it!

Hey - lm stepping in with my moderator hat on - everyone is entitled to their opinion but lets try to keep it friendly please or posts will have to be deleted.

Thank you