How to haggle and act like you don't give a f***
Markets are a staple throughout Asia and Southeast Asia. And in all my travels, I’ve never seen anything like the Night Market in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
The market has something for everyone. Noodles. Ice cream. Jewelry. An entire stall of penis memorabilia. Plus, the constant chance to practice your haggling skills.
Haggling is the norm in this part of the world. However, it can feel intimidating (and maybe just a tiny bit awkward) if you’ve never tried it before. Especially after years and years of being told to “respect your elders” and “not to cause a scene.”
But, not only did I fight through the social anxiety of bargaining with strangers, I came out on the other side with 7 rules for successful haggling! And with a lot of stuff.
1. Confidence is key
Just like in life, when you're confident, others pick up on it. Act like you've been there before. Even if the amount of sweating you're doing says otherwise.
2. Take a lap
In order to get the best deal, it’s best to be strategic. Walk through the market and take stock of what’s being offered at what price.
3. Cut the price by at least half
A good rule of thumb is to cut the offered price for an item in at least half and then get ready to negotiate. (Except with food. Food prices are non-negotiable.)
4. Bulk up
Found a pair of knock-off Birkenstocks but can’t get the price you want? Try buying two. Vendors are more willing to give you a good price if you buy more.
5. Put the money in their hand
This is bold, but effective. Offer up the cash for what you want and put it in the vendor’s hand. Once it’s there, it’s too enticing for them to give back. If you try this tactic, make sure you have exact change.
6. Know when to walk
If you can’t seem to get the price, don’t quit just yet. Shrug your shoulders, say “thank you”, and walk away. If you’re going to get the price you were looking for, the vendor will stop you.
7. Be respectful
Using excuses such as “but I walked all the way here!” won’t win you any sympathy, and neither will bargaining a price down by an insignificant amount of money, such as 5 Thai baht ($0.16).
Happy haggling and not giving a f***!