What I loved most in Morocco and Turkey was having to haggle in the market. Being able to negotiate a great deal is part of the experience of shopping in these two amazing places. The Great Market of Turkey, how I call it or Grand Bazaar of Istanbul, how they call it, is the best place to learn how to haggle. In Marrakech I met the same enthusiastic sellers, who were eager to sell me their crafts. And I was expected to haggle for them.
The first time you find yourself in such a situation you will start sweating and asking yourself if you are ripping the poor people from their daily bread. We are used to see price tags everywhere and never discuss the value of a product. But when you are traveling and you enter a bazaar, you have to know the art of haggling, if you want to buy some nice gifts. If you are a long-term traveler, knowing how to haggle can save you a lot of money for transport, food and accommodation.
Don’t accept the first price
In many countries accepting the first price told by the seller is a big NO. Doing this will prove you are a foreigner, and, what’s bad: an uninformed foreigner, who has no idea he has to haggle. Some sellers might try to trick you into paying much more than you should pay. I once met a Brit who was asked to pay 400 rupee for a 24 rupee ride in India. On his first trip he actually pay 400 rupee on a ride, but on his second trip he negotiated a similar ride to 20 rupee.
When the seller gives you the first price, they will observe you closely, to see your reaction. This will give the seller a hint on how informed you are. If you have no idea what you should pay for an item, just browse the near-by stalls and don’t be afraid to ask locals. This way, you will soon have an average price for the item.
When the seller observes you want to negotiate, he will become more flexible. And this is when the fun begins!
Give a lower price than you want to pay
Start haggling by offering a lower price than the one you want to pay. The initial reaction of the seller will be one of a shocked person, but keep calm and carry on. They are experts at mimicking this shock. They will give you a second price. In return, you can slowly increase your bid. This game will carry on, until you reach the amount you are willing to pay.
Pretend you leave
If the seller doesn’t accept your price, just pretend to walk away. This usually breaks the seller’s wish to make a bigger profit and will make them run after you, offering a better deal. Mentioning the other sellers is also effective, as most vendors don’t want to lose a client in favor of a neighbor vendor.
Buy multiple items
A great way to seal amazing deals is to buy multiple items from the same seller. The stalls are rich in various items, so you can easily pick several products. When you want to buy more products, the seller is more flexible, willing to haggle to a low price.
A smart trick is to ask about more items than you want to buy, so the seller won’t know which one is the most interesting for you. For example, if you want to buy a purse and a scarf, ask about the price of the said purse and scarf, plus a pair of shoes, a lamp and some fruits. This way, the seller won’t know you are actually interested in the purse and the scarf.
Know the exchange rate
The exchange rate can make or break a deal, so make sure you know it by heart when you head to the local bazaar. Knowing the value of your currency will also help you decide when it’s time to give in and accept the price. After all, in many countries 50 cents are a day’s salary for the locals, while they are 50 cents for you.
Always look pretty uninterested in the items and watch the body language of the seller. After couple of average haggling attempts you will master these tips and you will be able to enjoy the art of shopping in a bazaar.