The art of bargaining in Southeast Asia

This is seriously a tradition in the region, where price tags are just an introduction to negotation and not an actual sale Price. Seems crazy, right? Get ready to hear some tips that will help you out! My idea is that you end feeling happy (or at least satisfied), avoiding frustration and stress.

Southeast Asia

  • DON’T GET MAD

If it’s your first time in Southeast Asia, you are probably starting to desperate as you HAVE to bargain for everything! Even bottled water and snacks! Price tags (if any) are just fairy powder, nothing to settle and just a kick start to the negotiation.

You will get used to, I promise!

  • CASH IN YOUR POCKET

Make sure you NEVER (never ever) show your wallet full of cash, not only for obvious safety reasons, but also not to let the seller know how much you got.

Always keep some change in your pocket… the “it’s everything I have left” may be your ace of spades.

  • SHOW NO INTEREST AT ALL

Even if that cambodian dress is the one you’ve been dreaming of your entire life, never project fondness, scream in joy (calling your girlfriend to “come and see you won’t believe this!)… just act like it’s something that briefly caught your attention.

Also ignore the sellers as they start approaching with their products… A cold, but respectful, -no, thank you- will do the trick, always peaking for a product of your interest.

  • RESEARCH

Researching is the key but it will take time, I mean, days. The first day or two, wander around the Marketplace, find what you are looking for, pay extra attention to other negotations, look for sellers not in the main Street but in the surroundings… Gather all the intel that may help you later on.

  • IT’S ALL ROLEPLAYING (EVEN BETTER TO BE WITH A FRIEND)

To make the negotation interesting manage silence and hesitation at all times. Silence is akward and showing hesitation about the product while marking flaws (be creative).

Don’t overeact, handle it properly!

Southeast AsiaOf course the seller knows this and will also play a role! As you counteroffer, he will act offended, saying that you are making him lose money, that your Price is impossible, “no no, no way my friend!”.

Bringing a third person to the negotiation will definitely help you bring that Price down! Remember that it’s all roleplaying: Your partner in crime has to be an actor as well, with the “I want to go home, I’m hungry, tired, want to take a shower, we need to meet XXXX, the tour is about to start, we need to go to XXXX, are you paying that much for this? No way! *offended*, are you buying that? I don’t like it at all! Let’s go!, etc, etc”… You get my idea?

Being a pain in the a** will influence the seller, making him/her understand your friend is the reason that you can’t pay THAT much.

  • IS IT WORTHY?

Honestly, how much does it worth to you? Can you get something similar elsewhere? How much would it cost? Keep this thoughts at all times! If what you are about to pay seems fair to you, then go for it!

It’s all about being satisfied, remember?

  • FINAL OFFER!

When the seller says “Ok, my final offer is XXXX” that’s usually NEVER the final offer. Don’t fall for it and keep it on!

  • WHAT IF I TAKE THIS TOO?

A great way to get a better offer is to ask for more deals! When the Price is getting closer to what you believe it’s the limit, bring something else into the negotiation. Buying several ítems will work on your favor!

  • AWAY. NOW.

Always be ready to get out of there! If things aren’t in your favour nor getting the Price you feel that’s fair, don’t hesitate to walk away. Feel no guilt at all… Next time will be better! And there will be lots of opportunities as vendors around the market (even in different cities!) usually sell similar stuff.

However, vendors hate to lose your sale! As you walk away, he will probably start lowering the Price… That’s. Your. Chance! Go go go!

*Use this trick wisely, it’s a one timer!

  • IF YOU GET YOUR DEAL, BUY! ALWAYS.

If after all the negotiation you agree to buy at a certain Price and the seller agrees, you must buy it! It’s super rude not to and you will offend the vendor! It’s a code you should honor…

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