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【Learn Chinese】How to Successfully Bargain in China
Learning how to bargain in China is among the most important things you will want to prepare for leading up to your trip! In street markets, souvenir shops, and small stores, bargaining is a fact of life to follow.
Decide Your “Final Price” When Bargaining in China
Before you bargain in China, decide on the price you are willing to pay. To help inform your decision on what to pay, do a little market research before haggling.
Whether you want to buy a souvenir or something as simple as an apple, it’s likely the shop next door is also selling the same item. Therefore, start by learning the asking price at multiple shops and then bargain with the vendor with the lowest asking price.
Start the Bidding, Don’t Ask the Price
Most China travel websites tell you to ask the price and then counter-bid at a fraction of the price. You can do this, but there is a better way to haggle in China.
Instead of asking the price, begin by offering 50% of the price you are willing to pay. This usually puts the seller off guard and forces them to counter-bid.
Work your way up to the price you’re comfortable with and then make the purchase.
Be Prepared to Walk Away
One of the most popular and used techniques when haggling in China is the “walkaway”. If the seller isn’t getting down to the highest price you’re willing to pay, walk away.
Of course, you have to be willing to not purchase the item should the seller not give-in. Often, however, the seller will call you back and either agree to your price or restart the bidding process.
Bring Small Bills for Haggling in China
One of the most successful tactics used to haggle in China is to determine what you’re willing to pay for an item and to put only that amount of cash in your wallet.
When the seller bids you higher, just take out your wallet, count your money in front of them and say “I only have 50RMB and that’s the highest I can go”.
They’ll see that it’s either sell at that price or lose the sale, and most of the time they’ll bite (as long as it’s still profitable for them).
Bargaining is the cultural norm in China. If bargaining or any of tips above make you feel uncomfortable, just remember that not bargaining would be a huge mistake as it can result in sharply increasing the costs of your trip to China.