As you may know already, I am Swedish. In Sweden if something has a price, that is the price you pay. Maybe in some markets some people would try to haggle, but mostly we assume the price we get first is a good price. This is not the case all across the world.
Speaking from my own personal experience when I first arrived in Thailand I took a tuk-tuk for 450 baht. I told him where I was going, he gave me the price and I assumed it was a good price.
Well, it was not. Later that week I took a tuk-tuk from the same place to the same destination. That time I paid about 100 baht. What a shocker that was.
At first I felt a bit fooled, but then I realized that I was not in Sweden and that I simply had to adapt to this new situation.
It felt odd to ask for a price and have someone tell me the price just for me to say “Nah.”. I´d never do that in Sweden. I dreaded the thought of haggling at first. But now I love it, because I see it as a game.
Basically when they give you the first price, you can easily take off 25-50% just in a matter of seconds. In Thailand for example, use Thai phrases and make it clear that you are not as blue eyed as you may seem.
But make it fun, make it a game and be respectful. No need to get angry and start taking things personal. Sure, if you are in a hurry and you know that the item should be about 150 baht and they try to sell it for 500 to you it can be frustrating. But don´t feed into it.
Just stay calm and happy, make some jokes, ease the mood and the price goes down quickly.
One other technique is to say the price that you are OK with, if they don´t accept it just start walking away slowly. Most of the times, they will try to call you back. They want your business.
If you are in a market and can´t get the price that you want, just keep walking. I mean they have about 5-20 stands in the same market with the same items. Try your luck in different places, sooner or later it may work.
Now of course you may think that “but they need that money to survive” Sure, some do. Some don´t. I need my money to stay traveling and why pay overprice for an item?
I understand that haggling is not for everyone, but give it a try. If you pay 100 baht more than you have to for 2 tuk-tuk rides everyday for a month, that amounts to almost the price I pay for accommodation for one month.
So there for sure is money to save, but remember to be nice and respectful. As I said, I try to view it as a game where both parties get something out of it. They get to sell their product, I get a fair price for what I buy.
It is all about how you do it, leave them smiling and see it as something fun. If you get pissed off then you are way off and should just go home.
Here are some techniques I try to apply when haggling (which is about the same as when selling something):
- Smile all the time
- Establish eye contact
- Make jokes
- Talk about something else than the price for a bit
- Investigate the item throughly
- Be truthful
- Establish body contact, ex. a pat on the shoulder
- Be as friendly as you can be
So please, do not be afraid to try it. It can be fun and even rewarding for your wallet. But don´t get me wrong, if it looks like someone really needs the money I do not mind paying them more than what I should.
It is very different from case to case, sometimes it just feels good to give more than you have to.
Good luck with your haggling! Stay awesome!