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Last Updated: April 2008

Bargaining While Traveling or Trekking

Bargaining at Sele La camp (4290m) on the way from Kangchenjunga North to South Base Camp

Bargaining at Sele La camp (4290m) on the way from Kangchenjunga North to South Base Camp

Kathmandu Markets

Kathmandu Markets

In most non-western countries, the price of goods and even taxis are not THE price. It's simply a starting point for negotiations.

You have to get over your Western mentality and join in the fun. Here are a few pointers:

  • If you want to buy something specifically, ask your trekking guide or tour leader for how much they would pay for it. Add a little bit above that, and you've got a reasonable "walking position" (i.e. if I can't get that price, I'll walk out of the store and go somewhere else).
  • Don't waste their time. Make sure you want the item, before starting the dance.

The dance

  • Make sure they give the opening offer. "Where you from? Ah Canada, great country! Because I like you and you are such a nice man, I'll give you a real bargain. Just 500 rupees."
  • Your first counter-bid should typically be about half. "Yeah, I really love it. Hmm, how about 200 rupees?"
  • The question now is, do they come back with an immediate counter-offer or not. They may hem and haw, talk about how good the product is, how poor they, how rich you are, etc..
  • If they're dragging their heals on a counter offer, simply start to walk away.
  • The counter offer will come for sure. "ok mister, I can give to you, such a nice man, for 400 rupees."
  • Continue this back and forth a few more times, "250" - "350", "300" "ok".

Two closing remarks:

  • One is that no matter how low you were able to bargain them down, they got the better of you.
  • Remember to put the cost into perspective. One time in Brazil, I bargained extremely hard, and the difference was only one dollar.