Legend Travel Blog


How to barter

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How to barter in Southeast Asia


When shopping in Southeast Asia it is almost inevitable that you will be bartering for the price. Whether it’s for a tuk tuk or souvenirs this is a common custom. As a westerner it might be a little daunting in the beginning, as you are probably used to set prices but in Southeast Asia bartering is part of daily life.

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How to barter:


Do’s

  • Never buy from the first vendor you see
  • Have a price in mind that you are willing to spend
  • Be assertive and show confidence
  • Try to speak their language as much as you can and you will earn respect
  • Understand the value of an item. If you are looking to buy a handmade souvenir that took someone allot of time and effort calculate that into the price
  • Ask a local or your hotel what a realistic price would be (for example for much it would be to rent a tuk tuk including driver for the day)
  • Pretend a walk off. Often when you do this they will shout a much more realistic price and you will be able to barter down a little more if needed
  • Try to find a shop off the main street into an alleyway, these people don’t get as many tourist often and will be able to start with a more fair price
  • If they refuse to lower the price ask if they can throw something else in for free
  • Buy in bulk if you are willing to, they will often give you a much better deal
  • Gage the price by asking several shops for the price of an item. This is another way of getting an idea of the going price for the item you are looking to buy

Dont’s

  • Make a realistic low offer. Offering too low is just disrespectful. Keep in mind these people are trying to make a living, for you it might be a game to haggle but for them it might be a matter on if they will have dinner or not
  • Do not undervalue handicrafts that have taken allot of time and skill
  • Never be rude, always keep your calm

Have you got any other tips on how to barter? I’d love to hear your tips!