In many countries, haggling is an intrinsic part of their commercial system. Whether you are a local or a tourist, you bargain to buy any product or hire a service. I have received many inquiries regarding haggling, especially from people who, like me, live in countries where prices are fixed and non-negotiable. So here I leave you 5 tips on how to haggle.

One thing to ALWAYS keep in mind when haggling is that the seller will never lose out. Even if you think you’ve got this or that “super cheap” product and feel bad for having dropped the price so much and feel guilty thinking that you’ve left the seller’s family without food, I remind you that these merchants have years of experience and they are smarter than you in this area. They will never sell you a product if they are not going to get their bit of profit.

So keep in mind that even if you have paid little, they are still earning, otherwise they would not have sold you the products or offered the service. So don’t feel bad or guilty.

5 Tips to Haggle

Whether it’s to save a little while traveling or to get a taste of the local culture, here are 5 tips to develop or improve your haggling technique:

ALWAYS compare prices. In general, in bazaars or markets, many stores have the same products, so I recommend that once you know what you want to buy, find out the price.

You ask about the price, clarifying in advance that you are NOT going to buy. They’ll tell you a price and you’ll want to go, but they won’t let you go. They’ll give you a lower counteroffer themselves.

You will tell them no and they will ask you how much you are willing to pay. At that point you have two options: say nothing and keep walking or say a price that is significantly lower than what you think is the true value. If you see that they are willing to give it to you for the price you have asked, you know where to start haggling in the next store. Use this technique “What? You are the most expensive seller in the area! The other stores offer me this same product, with this SAME quality for XXXX (insert here the value that you consider fair)”.

Keep doing this until you have reached such a low price that nobody wants to sell it to you (because then they would not earn anything). There you already know the minimum market value and you will know how much to buy it for.

Leaving: Another of the techniques that works is to make the “feint of leaving” and the sellers, if they had really given you a high price, will call you back and give you a lower counteroffer.

Discounts: If you are going to buy a large quantity of the same product or several different products, ask for a discount.

Size matters: If it is a service (like a tour) that you want to hire, the size of the group does matter. The more people, the greater bargaining power you will have, so I recommend that you ask at your hostel if someone else wants to do the same tour as you and join more people to hire the tour and thus negotiate the price.

When you ask the price at an agency, do not say up front how many people you have. First, ask the price for one person. Then ask if they offer a discount for more people. Start negotiating there and do not forget to say that “another agency” has given you a better price, even if it is a lie.

Tips for haggling with a Rickshaw driver:

Before taking a rickshaw, ask several locals how much they pay for a specific route, for example, from the Rishikesh market to Laxman Jhula. I usually ask the bar clerk at breakfast, the receptionist or manager of the guest house where I stay or a salesperson in their shop.

Before getting on the rickshaw, ask how much it costs. If they tell you more than you think or you know it costs, tell them NO and you will only pay XX amount. If they don’t accept, find another rickshaw.

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