Bartering in South East Asia

When purchasing goods in South East Asia, bartering is a must. While at first the concept may seem foreign and daunting, it’s easy enough to master if you know what works. To ensure you don’t pay overly inflated prices, follow the tips below.

Bid low

Bid low, but not too low. It’s important to counter their first bid with a lower one, but be realistic. A quick rule of thumb is to halve their first offer and continue upwards from there in small increments. You’ll soon reach a price which both parties can agree on.

Relax and smile

Getting agitated won’t get you anywhere. If you treat it like a game and have fun with the shopkeeper, the chances are a fair price will be offered. Stay calm, keep smiling and enjoy the bartering experience.

Be realistic

Bartering is a two-way street. If they’re willing to negotiate, so should you. That’s why it’s important to give yourself room to maneuver and start low. How much you’re willing to pay is entirely up to you, but it’s important to demonstrate that you’re prepared to work with them.

Walk away

Walking away can be a vital tactic in the bartering playbook. If you don’t like the price, simply move on. The chances are they’ll chase after you with a lower price if they’re keen enough on the sale.

Speak the language

You aren’t expected to be fluent in the local language, but even knowing a few words will demonstrate that you have at least made an effort to learn about the country and culture. Learning simple words such as “expensive” and “discount” and most importantly “hello” and “thank you” will go along way in helping you secure an item at a good price.

Ask a local

If you’re unsure how much you should be paying, ask a local. If you roughly know the cost of a particular item, then you can bid accordingly.

Don’t feel guilty

They will use all the tricks in the book to make you feel guilty about the price. In the end, if they aren’t happy with the final price, they won’t sell it to you.
Submitted on: June 10 2011 Protection Status
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