News and Travel Editor
Haggling for the first time in China can seem a bit daunting. Remember, it is expected by vendors, so there’s no need to feel awkward or embarrassed. With these tips, you’ll be ready and prepared to hit the markets, just like Hyper-Trypsy in today’s video.
When Can I Haggle?
- It’s important to know when to haggle and when not to.
- Haggling is a big part of shopping in China, but it is not acceptable everywhere. You should always barter with street vendors, at open air markets and in small, independent shops.
- In large shops or chain stores, department stores or supermarkets it is not acceptable to haggle.
- You cannot usually negotiate on price in restaurants, the only exception is if you are in a large group.
How do I prepare?
- Before you start haggling, walk around the market/store and do some mental price comparisons.
- Have a look at different stalls where you can buy similar items – being able to say that you can buy the same thing for less nearby will help you get the price down.
- Remember that the marked prices may be well above the seller’s actual minimum price.
- Make sure you’ve got small denomination notes and plenty of change.
- Set yourself a limit of how much you’re willing to spend
How do I haggle?
- Don’t be afraid to start low – far below what you’re actually willing to play. The vendor may act insulted, but don’t worry – it’s all part of the drama of the process.
- Act like you’re not bothered. This is a top tip, the keener you are, the more resistant a seller will be to lower the price. If they think you’re definitely going to take it, they’ll be less inclined to lower the price to tempt you.
- Don’t be afraid to walk away. If the price is still too high for you, just leave. Hopefully, the seller will call you back to negotiate further. If not, just try somewhere else!
- Use a calculator to show the vendor how much you are offering if they cannot understand you. Most vendors always have one handy for this exact purpose.
- What surprised me the first time I was in a small Chinese market was that, in China, people count on their hands differently from in Europe. Have a look at the illustration below to famil
What do I say?
Knowing a little local language goes a long way and sets you apart from other tourists. Try memorising these four phrases to help you haggle.
- Duō shǎo qián? – how much money.
- Jià gé – price, cost.
- Tài gui le! – too expensive!
- Pian Yi Dian – Make it cheaper
If you want to see travel and tech blogger HyperTrypsy having a go at haggling for Coco’s Kitchen, check out the video below. If you have any questions or any top tips for haggling in China, let us know in the comments!