To a first-time tourist, bargaining can be intimidating, especially with a language barrier. Here are six techniques and tips to remember when bargaining.


market copy

Photo by Shreyans Bhansali. Be sure to check out the exchange rate of money since some things may be less expensive, depending on how the local money compares to the dollar. cc

1. Know when bargaining is appropriate

Some countries frown upon bargaining, while others embrace it. It also depends on the location and type of stores. In places like supermarkets, food markets, and department stores, bargaining usually isn’t allowed. Places where bargaining is acceptable are flea markets, outdoor markets, street vendors, and areas designated by signs for bargaining.


2. Don’t settle for the initial price

Many vendors raise the initial price mainly because they either expect you to bargain it down, or they’re trying to get more money out of foreigners. Either way, don’t settle for the first price, or even the second or third. Ninety percent of the time, you will be able to lower the price.


3. Talk to the vendor

Particularly in China and Indonesia, vendors will be more likely to lower the price of the item you want if you have a conversation with them first. Part of the bargaining process is to enjoy each other’s company. If you show the vendor that you understand the culture, you will likely get a better price than if you just haggle prices.


4. Use the “walk-away” method

French Flea market in New Orleans

Photo by Sumori. Flea markets offer everything from jewelry to electronic speakers. There’s something for everyone! cc

This method is a very good one because it will cause the vendor to panic. If the vendor gives you a price and you feel like the price could go lower, make a move to walk away. The vendor will usually lower the price in an effort to keep you interested. Remember, the vendor’s goal is a completed sale.


5. Learn some of the language

Bargaining can be more difficult in a country with a foreign language. In this case, making conversation isn’t likely, but learn how to say the numbers. This will help you bargain. Vendors will be more receptive to your bargaining attempt if you can speak even a few words in their language—and will probably give you a lower price and a smile.


6. Relax 

Bargaining may seem frightening at first, but the biggest trick is to simply give it a try. Developing your bargaining skill is like developing any other skill: it takes practice. You may mess up a few times and you may end up paying more for something the first couple of times, but it becomes easier, and you may even have fun.

—Heather Moon