22. Be prepared to haggle
For the most part, in Southeast Asia, you’re going to have to haggle.
Not so in restaurants (fixed prices) or convenience stores (the same) but for the most part, be prepared to haggle.
It often helps to either know what other people are charging for similar goods or what the price should be in general.
See a nice backpack? Ask one of the travelers you’ve met what they paid. Use that to gauge what you should be paying.
In addition, you should be prepared to walk away.
A lot of the time, vendors will quote you prices that might as well be the full retail when you walk into any store in the United States. Totally unacceptable. That’s when you walk away.
The vendor should came back with a better price and begin negotiations again. If not, it’s time to move on.
Other things to consider when haggling is buying multiple items to bring the price down.
Since I’m a big fan of bringing back really nice scarfs, when I find a vendor who has the wares I want, I ask how much. We go through the haggling rigmarole. When I’ve finally got the price down, I’ll say, what if I buy five, or 10? That should bring the price down even more.
Be prepared to have your calculator out (presumably your phone) and I also suggest having a currency converter app on your phone.
(When communication breaks down, use your calculator to quote prices.)
Other ways to politely talk a vendor out of an extreme price: I’m a student, I’m poor or, my favorite, I’m a poor journalist.
Sometimes, in especially tourist-filled areas, the vendor just doesn’t care, especially if you’re only buying something because you need it right now. In that case, just walk away.
It’s raining and you want to buy an umbrella, or a poncho? Sky high prices. It’s not raining? Reasonable price.
If you think it’s going to rain, or if it’s been rainy, then make sure to buy the umbrella when it’s nice out.
Did I mention an umbrella? If you’re in a rainy season, or area, or there’s a storm coming in, buy a nice umbrella. Spend a few extra dollars because, trust me, it’s worth it.
Just remember: you’re not made of money.