China’s Bargaining Culture – Tips and Phrases

China is a fantastic destination for shopping. From the roadside shops to the dazzling modern shopping mall, from the common store to a popular supermarket, China has numerous perfect places to do shopping.


If you want to get the best in both quality and price, you need to know how to bargain in Mandarin Chinese. You can do it without being able to speak Chinese fluently though, but a little Chinese will surely make the bargaining more effective and earn you some respect from the shop keepers.


Bargaining at a Bag Store

Where Is Bargaining Acceptable in China?

Bargaining is acceptable in most cases. In the roadside stores, especially near the tourist spots where there are many tourists, haggling is almost a must! However, in places where products are marked with fixed price, or the owner clearly put up a sign “不讲价bù jiǎnɡ jià” – “No Bargaining”, you can’t haggle over the price. DON’T expect to bargain at any large stores, corporate chains, or department stores. The fact is that the employees have neither the authority nor incentive to haggle with you.


Best Tips for Bargaining in China – Money Shots

If you don’t want to end up paying the sucker price, check out the following strategies for bargaining!

1. Start low, to be more precise as slow as you can! And make sure to have a price in mind first and wait as absolutely long as possible before even mentioning a number. You should visit many different shops and markets to get a general idea about the reasonable average price of the things you want to buy.


2. Don’t show your interest, because once you appear too attached to the item you want to buy, you are in a disadvantage for the haggling. The shop keeper will be able to tell that you really want it, and you’ll have a harder time not making concessions on the price.


3. Once you decide to start though, stand your ground and start extremely low. Shoot for at least 30 percent (sometimes 50%) of the asking price. For example, if you have found a souvenir which the shop keeper asked RM100 from you, start at RMB 50 or lower.


4. The walk-away triumph! If your heart is set on an item, but you haven’t reached an agreement on the price, you can try the last trump card – simply walk away! Walking away to make it seem like you don’t want something is always a good tool to keep with you. Most of the time, the seller will call you back and say “Hey buddy, you know what, you win!”


Even though you thought you have bought something with the best price, always bear in mind that there is a profit in every deal. Certainly, you don’t expect a seller to make nothing from item you buy, do you?


Useful Phrases for Buying and Bargaining

zhègè duōshaŏ qián?

这个 多少 钱?

How much is this?


tài guìle!


This is too much!


kĕyĭ piányi yīdiăn’r mā?

可以 便宜 一点儿 吗?

Can you make this a little cheaper?


kĕyĭ zài piányi yīdiăn’r mā?

可以 再 便宜 一点儿 吗?

Can you make this cheaper again?


èr shí kuài zěnmeyànɡ?

二十块 怎么样?

How about 20 yuan?


wŏ búyào, xièxiè!

我不要, 谢谢!

I don’t want it. Thanks!


Knowing the above tips and phrases will surely help you a lot, but there is not doubt bargaining involves a lot of “practice”. Now, let’s watch Wall Street Journal’s Andy Jordan bargaining with the shop owners at a Beijing market.

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