The very thought of haggling can be a bit daunting for those travelling from Australia, especially when you’ve never paid anything besides the price tag. But with the help of our top tips and a couple of practice rounds, you’ll soon become a pro on your Asian holiday – without behaving like an obnoxious tourist!
1. Be nice… and keep your cool!
Don’t forget – the people you’re bargaining with are at work. Haggling is all part of the job! A self-important attitude isn’t going to get you far, and neither is losing your temper at the grinning shopkeeper – in fact, throwing a tantrum during the haggling process is considered to be embarrassing in Asian culture (and it’s not that impressive in Australian culture either). No matter what the outcome of your encounter, there’s no need to be unpleasant.
2. But at the same time… be confident
There’s definitely a way to be nice while still standing your ground – and you’ll need to find this balance. Shop vendors are well aware that tourists may be unfamiliar with their prices, and are prone to playing on this to earn a few extra rupees. So confidence here is key – put on your acting hat and pretend you know what you’re doing, you’ve seen it before and you know what it’s worth. You’re not going to be taken for a fool!
3. Use the local resources
Not only will the employees at your hotel be able to recommend places to eat and see, they’ll also possess a world of knowledge about what things are worth and what is much too high to pay. For example, if you’re heading out into town and plan to ride home by tuk tuk, ask your hotel reception what the appropriate fair would be, and try your best to haggle with the driver for as close to that price as possible.
4. Look around before you buy
Shopping in Asia is more of an experience than a chore… so make a proper go of it! Don’t arrive at a local market and stop to buy at the first stall you see. You might be surprised at how often you’ll see the same item sold for different prices at various stalls… or a much better version sold for less than you paid. Take a moment to walk around, see what’s out there and soak it all in. Make a day of it!
5. Break your notes into small change
Imagine this: after haggling for several minutes with a shopkeeper, you’ve finally agreed on a much lower price, which you scored because you claimed you “only had 500 rupees left in your purse”. Except when it’s time to pay, turns out you only had a 1000 rupee note, which you now need to ask the shopkeeper to break and give you change. Awkward! Avoid this by planning ahead and ordering money in smaller denominations, or keeping bigger notes for fixed-fee shops.
6. Get ready to walk
Of course, the ultimate way to get what you want for the price you want is to simply walk away. After a round of haggling without success, walking away from the stall or tuk tuk shows that the sale is over. Many shopkeepers and drivers won’t want to miss out and will often come running over to accept your proposed price and make the sale.
7. Pay people what they’re due
While successful haggling can give you a sense of achievement, it’s also important to make sure you’re paying people a fair price for their product. Lowballing for common trinkets or knick-knacks is one thing… but when you’re refusing to pay a decent price for a hand-woven scarf or piece of art, it can border on insulting. Be fair, and remember that the prices are still probably cheaper than what you’d be paying back home.
And most of all, remember that practice makes perfect – the more you haggle, the more bargains you’ll make!
Now time to get to Asia… See what’s on offer on Scoopon Travel.
Article by Katie Fraser
Got a handy haggling tip of your own? Let us know in the comments!