Since I first decided to travel to China, I was really excited to meet fellow students, teachers, get immerse into chinese culture and, why not? to learn the art of bargainig. But where to practice this “art”, literally in every market place you can think while touring in China. Silk market, pearl market and yashow market just to mention few. Markets are considered a huge business for chinese and a place where great deals can be made. For this you most know that not any object has a fixed market price, that price can vary from one business to another.

How to communicate with the seller, if your going to make a good deal or not, what the original price is and even feeling shy about it are some of the things that might come to your mind before starting the whole “bargaining process”, as I name it. Well, not any one of these things should you worry about. Let’s delve into the process I just mention:

          1.  You enter the store and start looking for things that you might like (actually you don’t even need to be inside the store for sellers to start yelling at you trying to call your attention). They will ask if you like every single thing you look at. So, it is very important for you not to ask the price of something unless you really want it.
          2. You ask for the price and exactly at this point is where the game begins. The seller will tell you a price that’s actually 4 or 5 times more than its original price. By the way, they always use a calculator to give the prices so, actually you don’t need to comunicate much. Besides, surprisingly, they know a little of every language; english, spanish, I’ve even heard them speak russian. Of course, to say a few phrases in Chinese, always gives you a sort of extra points in the game.
          3. You will never know what the real price is, so just tell them is too expensive and start your offer. Start low so you can have a considerable margin to bargain.
          4. It’s always necessary to show some acting skills we might have and do much fuss and drama. Don’t be shy, Chinese will do the exact same thing; they’ll grab you when you pretend your leaving the store and even tell you it is a special offer for you.
          5. You might spend several minutes or even an hour trying to make a good deal. although to succeed in bargaining everyone should keep in mind that the time of the person you have in front is very valuable; try to make it quick if not it might get tiring for the person with whom your playing against.
          6. Don’t accept anything that’s not, at least, half price.
          7. Once you are comfortable with the price, a deal is made.
          8. At last, congratulations!! You’ve experienced the art of bargaining. In one hand you have what you wanted for a really good price even cheaper than in your country and in the other hand; well, I guess Chinese wouldn’t be selling something if it didn’t represented a win for them too.

In your China tour, when making stops in markets now you’ll know that the original price is never revealed, if they quickly accept the price you give it probably means that you could have lowered the price even more, although you think something is really cheap, keep in mind that Chinese would buy it for a far less price, so don’t be shy and bargain. And what is really important; the best price is the one you feel comfortable paying.

You might think your not the best at bargaining, but remember practice makes perfect!



Jack Li

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