Asia, China, Tips & Tricks, World

Guide to Bargaining Like a Pro in China

Bargaining is something you either love or hate. When shopping in Asia especially, it’s likely that you will encounter this situation when you are offered a price much higher than it should be. Realizing that or not, it’s always good to make the best out of your money and pay the right price, so you can save the money to enjoy something else. Now, finding the real price and bargain to get the best deal is not easy unless you’re experienced.

In China, especially, same type of product is usually placed together in one area. Take Shenzhen’s ‘Huaqiang Bei’ (Huaqiang North) as a perfect example. This area consists of skyscrapers filled with offices and thousands of shops where you can get all kinds of electronics goods, specialized in smart phones, tablets, computers and accessories.

I used to hate bargaining badly in the beginning as it was for me a scary, stressful and overwhelming activity, and so even avoided shopping here by myself. After 4 years living in China, slowly collecting tips for shopping wisely, now these are the tricks that I think are very handy and happy to share:

Before you go:

1. Be clear on what you want

In case that you have an idea of what you what to shop, do some research online before going to get the basic idea of the product itself and price. The best is, to set the price what you think is reasonable and the maximum amount of money you are willing to pay for it. Not knowing what you want could be dangerous (to your wallet) as China has many tempting products. And before you know it, you might come home with all these things you want, but don’t need.

2. Talk the language

If possible, train yourself basic Chinese phrases for shopping, or bring someone who can speak the language. That would help A LOT. But if you can’t, you are still ok, it is not too bad if you follow our further tips.

When you are there:

3. Avoid shops that are easy to access

As mentioned earlier, you are likely to find areas for specific products in China e.g. phone case building, phone screen building, etc. That is a big advantage! They have gathered all shops of the same kind in one place. From our experience, the shops near the entrance or right in the front are usually more expensive as they have the best locations.

4. NEVER EVER go with the first shop

The key here is to compare the products and prices what they have to offer. It’s highly recommended that you can spend some time to compare at least 3-4 shops. You will be surprise of the different prices offered for the same thing. Never agree with the first shop you find without walking out and compare with the others.

5. Walk away

Now, you might wonder if walking out after asking them questions are rude or whether it’s ok? Actually it’s the best thing you could do. The trick I always use is to say that a friend asks me to buy the product and I need her permission before I can buy it, and still want to compare a few more shops to get the price she wants to pay. Boom! This is the moment you will be offered a much lower price with the shop’s name card wishing you to come back after going to the other shops. Walking away does the magic.

6. Use your new bargaining weapon, the name card

When going to the next shops, don’t forget to hold firmly the name card you just got. Make sure the shopkeeper can see their competitor’s name in your hand, and prepare to hear the much better first price offered. This trick works well if the shops are selling exactly the same stuffs, meaning they are direct competitors.

7. Don’t show your emotion

We know you want it, badly, but the sparking eyes and exciting tone are no go. Instead, just a poker face with light smile would do the job. Don’t let them know that you want it. Act as if it’s not necessary and you still doubt you shouldn’t buy it.

8. Be nice, BUT strong

Being nice works just anywhere in the world. When hearing the price, act like you are a bit unsatisfied with it, but politely, as if you are just not sure if you want to pay that much money for it. The best is, to look like you know what you are doing and have done some research.

9. Don’t play bargaining game just for fun

Everyone has to make their living, and so does these sellers. Try to bargain reasonably, as you at this stage, probably know how much you are willing to pay for it. Don’t keep bargaining if you don’t think you will buy it in the end. When you agree for the last deal, don’t bargain further or walk away, as it’s considered very rude.

10. Close the deal and don’t compare further

When you get what you want, for the amount you are happy to pay, after already comparing with the other shops, be happy with what you get and no need to compare further. You might hear later that someone got it for cheaper price and so on, but the quality might be lower too, on the other hand. Just go get a cup of coffee and relax; now you have nailed bargaining in China.


What do you think about our tips and tricks, Feel free to add more suggestions by leaving us a comment.