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My top 5 bargaining and haggling tips for Hong Kong

By on September 3, 2015 in Hong Kong, Travel Tip

I’m a terrible haggler, and very rarely do I end up getting a bargain! Having said that I did come across five bargaining and haggling tips for Hong Kong in an in-flight magazine (yes, I am one of those weirdos on planes that reads the in-flight magazine), and so I thought I would give them a try.

And here is what I found when I tried a spot of bargaining and haggling in Hong Kong…

Bargaining and Haggling Tip One: Most of the items in stores and on stalls in Hong Kong are marked up by around 100%. So if it’s on sale for $1, the chances are the store stallholder only paid $0.50. Therefore, a good starting point for your haggling is 50% off. If you see something you like the HK$10 (so the stall holder bought it for HK$5), why not ask if you have it for HK$5? The chances are this will not work, but it gives you a starting point, and you never know you may be lucky and get at least 40% off. I tried this in one places (I was after memory cards from my camera) and started at 50% of the asking price. The stallholder looked at me as though I was nuts, and we settled on 25% off. Not bad. In other places where I tried the approach, I typically got between 10 and 30% of the asking price.

Bargaining and Haggling Tip Two: If you know anyone in Hong Kong, particularly if they are a Cantonese speaker, then take them along shopping with you. Unfortunately, I didn’t know anybody in Hong Kong so couldn’t try out this particular tip. If you have tried this tip, then please leave a comment below.

Bargaining and Haggling in Hong Kong

When bargaining and haggling in Hong Kong start at 50% off the asking price

Bargaining and Haggling Tip Three: Arrive late at the market. If you go too early the market will be busy, and sales at the stores and the stalls may be brisk – there is no incentive for them to sell to you at a discount. If you go late, then the stallholders may be more open to bargaining particularly if they want to shift any leftover stock. I tried this in a couple of places with mixed success. I think it will very much depend on what you are buying – if it is food, then you might have better luck.

Bargaining and Haggling Tip Four: This tip didn’t apply to me as I’m a naturally scruffy dresser, but one tip in the magazine was to “dress down”. If you turn up with all the latest gear, and all the latest designer clothes and shoes, the stallholder is going to know you’ve got money. Dress down a little. Look a bit shabby. Don’t let on that you have money to spend.

Bargaining and Haggling Tip Five: The last tip is to do with etiquette. Imagine that you’re in a store, and you just haggled the $100 price tag down to $75. If you then produce a $100 note you are going to look foolish (you had the money, so why did you haggle?), and you may also upset the store or stall holder who may then try to backtrack on the deal. In other words, carry change. Don’t have a wallet bulging with $100 notes, (this brings us back to Tip Four above), and do have sufficient change on you to pay the exact amount.

Have you tried any (or all) of the tips above? How did it go? Please leave your comments, and any additional tips, below.

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Nick's continued wanderings can be followed on Twitter: @nickswanderings.
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