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What is the Etiquette for Bartering in Asia

What is the Etiquette for Bartering in Asia

Travelling to any part of Asia means coming across beautiful, colourful, markets, filled with trinkets, tasty foods and handmade clothes. So you're going to want to buy yourself a few treats surely, I mean you'd be mad not to. Before you hand over your money though, you're going to be playing the bartering game to ensure you get a good price, and if you've never bartered before, it might feel a bit rude. At home you don't walk into your local high street store and start haggling with the shop assistant for a better price on your skinny jeans. But in Asia it's the norm and totally acceptable. So before you worry about coming across as the stingy tourist, here at OneHowTo we're going to tell you what is the etiquette for bartering in Asia, so you can master the art of bartering and pay a fair price too.

You may also be interested in: Basic Etiquette while Visiting India
Steps to follow:

Firstly, smile and be friendly. Bartering is always a bit of fun, so don't take it too seriously. Getting irritated won't get you anywhere, and the nicer and more respectful you are to the vendors, the more likely you will be to barter a fair price. They aren't your enemy and they're not immediately trying to rip you off. You have to remember that these people are only trying to make a living so be polite and observe proper etiquette.


Before you start bartering, the proper etiquette is to first ask the cost. This is when you give your price. Always start low so you can give yourself room to manoeuvre. By starting lower, you can slowly work your way up to a price you're happy to pay. But be realistic, you want to reach a price both of you are happy with and remember that the seller also doesn't want to be ripped off! Depending on where you are in Asia, costs may be lower or higher than you may expect so weigh up if where you are seems particularly expensive or cheap.


It is great bartering etiquette to learn a few words of the national language. It also demonstrates that you are trying to speak to them on the same level. While most of us learn hello in the country we are visiting, try learning the word 'expensive', or 'budget', just so you can communicate that you are wanting a cheaper price. And of course 'thank you', because being friendly and polite will always help you when you're bartering in Asia, you might also like to read our article on how to communicate in a foreign country.


If you're still unhappy with the price, walk away. Now I'm not just saying walk away as in give up, although you might have to. But walking away is sometimes a bit of a tactic used when you're bartering in Asia. They may call you back and agree on a lower price if they are keen to make a sale. If they do, congratulations on your first successful bartering attempt! If they don't, well maybe it wasn't meant to be.


You don't need to feel guilty about bartering in Asia. The vendors have most likely been selling and bartering much longer than you have, so they'll know how to pull the strings and make you feel a little bad. Remember that in the end if they aren't happy with the price, they simple won't sell it.

If you're heading to Asia and visiting India, you might want to take a look at some of the best Indian souvenirs so you can use your new bartering skills to bring back home some of these!

If you'd like to read similar articles to What is the Etiquette for Bartering in Asia, we recommend you browse around our Travel category.

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What is the Etiquette for Bartering in Asia