Barganing in Asia

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Bangkok, Thailand

Barganing in Asia Bangkok Reviews

rideouts rideouts
30 reviews
Jul 16, 2006
Let me start with a little disclaimer - I am not the champion bargainer. I have seen expert bargainers and I will share with you a little of what I I have learned, but sometimes practice is the only way to learn. So, from my travels around Asia, here are the beginners rules of barganing.1. Know your product!: Before you can know what you should pay for an item, you have to know it's relative worth! This means having some knowledge of whether a product is 'real' or a knock-off, and some general knowledge about the relative costs of materials. This is especially critical in China, where vendors will happily deceive you into thinking plastic is leather and that a product is 'real' when it is actually a cheap copy. To get the info, go to an expensive shopping mall, and carefully examine the real thing and look at the prices. This will give you a good start on knowing what to look for when you bargain. Ideally, it would be good to know what the locals would pay for an item, but even if you got this information, you will never get that price. You are a tourist, and the vendors will charge you some tourist surcharge, no matter what.2. Learn the local markup. For some reason, everywhere I have been in Asia, there is a standard local markup that all vendors seem to stick to. I have often bargained for the same product at stalls in different parts of town to discover that they had almost exactly the same starting and ending prices. It is pretty easy to find the local markup, and a good way to practice barganing. Simply pick something you don't want, and bargain for it until they give up. Then walk away. The price they started at and ended at will give you a good idea of the local markup, and you should be able to apply that to most products you are barganing for. One word of caution, if the vendors sense that you aren't serious, they won't bother to offer you their lowest offer. In my experience, China usually has a double to triple price markup, and Thailand has about a 60%-80%. Hong Kong and Taiwan should be considered just like China, but Cambodia seems to be the best, with fairly low markups.3. Don't show the money and don't seem to interested until you have closed the deal. These vendors bargain far more often than you do, and they see many signs that indicate how much you might pay for something. In China and Korea, you will almost always have to walk away from the stand and let them call you back before you will get a reasonable price. In Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, etc... the vendors will probably not pursue you if you leave, so you will need to stay engaged. One good way to close a deal is to produce exact change at the very end and offer it to the vendor. Often, the appearance of cash will motivate a sale.4. Be aware of your location: This has two sides. First, shopping in nice malls, hotel lobbies, airports, etc. will cost you significantly over the street price, and barganing may not even be allowed. To get good bargains in Asia, you need to go to the large asian bazaars that exist in every city. This brings me to the other side of the awarness. These Bazaars are exactly where the pickpocket and purse snatcher are lurking. My advise is to minimize your wallet and take only what you need. On the other hand, when I see a tourist woman clutching her purse to her chest, it makes it kind of obvious that she is 1. protecting something valuable in the purse, and 2. Not very comfortable or confident in the environment. Men walking with one hand in the pocket or constantly touching their pockets is another sign. Women, until you get the hang of it, don't bring the purse. Men, leave the nice wallet at home and just carry something with cash. You will be much more relaxed and a better bargainer!5. Don't regret your purchase! No matter what you buy, someone somewhere will tell you that they found one of better quality for a cheaper price somewhere. Don't second guess your purchase or double check the prices afterwards, you will only limit your enjoyment of what you bought. Just be a tourist! Have fun! spend money, and enjoy the people you meet.
ChinaTown in Bangkok, Thailand. A…
9 / 9 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
radster2212 says:
Great post roll on Sept 20th and the shopping lol
Posted on: Aug 20, 2012
shireen02a says:
Thanks for tips! Will come in hand when I go to Korea and Thailand next month.
Posted on: Jun 19, 2012
RTW_Wannabe says:
Great thanks, very helpful as I will be encountering Asia for the first time and not done a lot of bartering!
Posted on: May 29, 2012
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