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7 tips on how to haggle in Asia

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Do you always pay what the item costs when you travel? Or do you do everything you can to pay as little as possible?

Below are 7 tips on haggling in Asia, so you come home with a cheap item, but with your conscience intact.

1) Always have small notes in your wallet

It is important to have small coins and notes with you at markets.

Paying with a large note and being given a lot of change may seem a little strange after haggling to get the price down.

The right money is always good when negotiating the price.

2) Don’t buy at the first and best place

At markets in Asia, there are often several people selling the same items. So, don’t buy at the first and best place. Walk around the market instead and find out what things cost elsewhere.

Once you have found the items you wish to buy – and have heard the different prices – you are better placed to negotiate the price with the vendor.

3) Never make the first offer

Once you’ve found some souvenirs you’d like to buy, you should never make the first offer. To get the best deal, always ask the vendor the price first.

If you suggest a price yourself, your chances of getting a good deal are not high.

Your price may be way below the cost price of the item, and then your prices will be too far apart to meet somewhere in the middle at a price you are both happy with. Or you might offer far more than the vendor would actually have sold the item for.

So, make sure the vendor tells you what the price is before making a counter-offer.

4) Never offer less than 50% of the price of the item

A good rule of thumb when haggling is never to go below 50% of what the vendor says the item costs.

It’s okay wanting to pick up a bargain to take home with you, but the price you offer should be reasonable.

5) Have respect for the vendor

In the UK, £1 is nothing, but that amount of money can make the world of difference to market vendors in Asia.

So, however much you want to get a really good deal on those holiday gifts for your family back home, it is important to give some thought to the person behind your bargain and act in good conscience. The money is far less for you than for the vendors.

6) Buy more of the same and get a great deal

If you’d like to get the price down, it’s often a good idea to buy several of the same item. That way you can get a volume discount. The vendor is keen to sell even more, so it’s a good deal for him or her, too.

Negotiate the price by, for example, saying that you would like to buy four of the same item for the price of three.

7) Where haggling is not done

It’s important to bear in mind that it’s not everywhere you can haggle – even though there is plenty of opportunity to do just that in Asia.

If, for example, you are buying food in a street kitchen, the food is already cheap so there is no point in trying to get it cheaper. It is sometimes possible to haggle in shops and shopping centres, but you should assess the mood of the place where you are.

So by all means haggle if it feels right to do so.

Are you ready to haggle?


Do you feel ready to haggle?

Asia has countless amazing markets, just waiting for you to come and pick up a bargain. You can, for example, try out your skills at the night market in Hoi An’s pleasant streets on a holiday to Vietnam, the Chatuchak weekend market in Bangkok in Thailand or the Angkor night market in Siem Reap on your holiday in Cambodia.

If you need help choosing the perfect destination in Asia, our travel consultants are on hand to help you.

TourCompass – From tourist to traveller