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Bargaining in China: The Do’s and Don’ts

Let’s face it. If you want to buy souvenirs in China at a low cost, you need to learn how to bargain! The reality is that Chinese vendors will try to sell foreigners items at higher costs. So, if you don’t want to blow your wallet after just one or two purchases, I would suggest learning how to negotiate prices. If done right, bargaining could be a fun and worthwhile experience!

Hongqiao Pearl Market

Hongqiao Pearl Market

Some tips:

1. Here are some commonly used bargaining phrases:

Duo shao qian?  (How much does this cost?)

Tai gui le! (Too expensive)

Wo zhi you [ ]  (I only have [amount]).

Wo shi xuesheng.  (I am a student).

2. Travel in a group. It might make the experience a little less nerve-wracking.

3. Look uninterested. Showing interest is a vendor’s cue to make their pitch. Play it cool. Bargain when you are ready.

4. If a price is too high, cut the price in half. Or you can determine your best price, start at lower price, and then work your way up to your best price.

5. Walk away, they almost always call you back – to your benefit.

6. Have some idea how much things are worth. If you are unsure, ask a friend.

7. Be persistent, but stay polite. Remember that Chinese vendors have to earn a living. Some vendors may be nicer than others. The important thing is to stick to your plan. Fighting them doesn’t help.

Some souvenirs I bought!

Some souvenirs I bought!


These are just a few tips you can use while bargaining in China. Remember that you’re not going to get it right the first time. It might take a few times before you work up the confidence to bargain, and to bargain well. 加油!

Down to my last week in China..

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