How to Haggle in Markets Abroad

In many places overseas, haggling when shopping is accepted and even expected. In certain countries, you can usually bargain prices for goods sold at markets and tourist souvenir shops, but probably not at modern shops or shopping malls.

If you know you’ll be shopping somewhere where you’ll be expected to haggle, you’ll want to be prepared with the right bargaining techniques, so you can get the best price for the items you want to buy. Haggling and shopping at markets is also a great way to take part in the culture and contribute to the local economy.

Do Your Research

Before you travel you should research what things should cost in that country. A lot of market vendors will double or triple the prices for tourists. By looking to see what locals usually pay for specific items, you can have an idea of how much something is worth and how much you should be paying.

You should also always shop around when you’re in the market. Take a look at other vendors who might be offering the same or similar items and see what price they’re selling them for. You should never buy an item at the first place you see. You can always come back if you find they’re offering the best price.

You might discover that some vendors have lower prices at the end of the day when the market is about to close. So, if you have the time to wait, you should do your shopping near to closing to see if you can secure a better price.

You should consider what the item is worth to you, as well as its value on a wider scale. Haggling down to 50% of the original asking price might feel like an achievement but might not be if the vendor had tripled the price to begin with, or if it’s still more than you would want to pay.

Be Friendly and Respectful

You should always be friendly when approaching a vendor. Greeting them in the local language can be a simple way of showing respect and building some trust. You and the vendor are both trying to get to a price that is fair everyone involved, so keep it light whilst you haggle. Try to keep a smile on your face and use humour. Remember that the vendor you are bargaining with is just trying to do their job and earn a living.

If you decide you don’t want to make the purchase, a few vendors might get a bit more aggressive, with some being known to follow people to try to make the sale. In this case, telling them “no” firmly should let them know where you stand.

Act Disinterested

When browsing, be careful to not be too enthusiastic if you spot a particular item that you’re interested in. Ask the vendor for prices for multiple items, not just the one that’s caught your eye. Take your time to consider and don’t rush.

When you’re sure you want to buy from a particular vendor, make sure not to let them know how much you want the item. Some vendors assume tourists have the money to buy things that they really want, so they might be less likely to sell at a lower price if they think you’re eager to buy.

Start Low – But Be Reasonable

You should start your asking price lower than the price you want to pay. The point of haggling for the buyer is to negotiate the vendor’s price down, and they’re aiming to negotiate your starting price up. Ideally, you’ll meet in the middle at a price you’re both happy with.

You should still be respectful with your starting price though. A vendor might take an extremely low price as an insult. Remember that this is how they make a living and you should be prepared to give a fair price. If you’ve done your research on what things are worth in the area, you should be able to keep within the right parameters for your asking price.

Walk Away If Needed

You shouldn’t ever pay more than you want for an item. If the vendor’s price is too high, you should say “no, thank you” and walk away. Sometimes this can prompt a vendor to give their lowest price, especially if they’ve been holding out because you’re a tourist or they think you’re keen to buy the item. If their final price is more acceptable, then you can return and complete the purchase.

If you’re planning a trip to markets overseas, you’ll need worldwide travel insurance. Expatriate Group’s international travel insurance covers all nationalities travelling from anywhere in the world, with emergency medical treatment and enhanced benefits. Find out more.

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