Tuesday 15 April 2014

A to Z 2014: Negotiations

{For the month of April I will be blogging alphabetically on the topic of travel tips.}

When you're visiting a different culture, you may have to look at everything as a constant negotiation. Things may seem strange so you'll need to adapt.

Tourist boats negotiating their way through a floating market in Thailand.

Of course, there is the actual act of negotiating prices at markets. If it doesn't have a price tag on it, that usually means the shop keeper will make up whatever they think you'll pay on the spot. I recently had one of the street vendors try to sell me a coconut broom for P300 when I know I'd seen it at a supermarket for P50. That's one of the disadvantages to coming from European decent; you pay the "white tax". At least in Asia it's like that. Even if you feel that you've scraped what little you have together for this trip, if you can afford to travel you have more than these locals so don't feel to bad if you get ripped off a little. They need it to feed their family.

P10 ($0.25) for a fresh cut pineapple? I'll take 3!
Some places will have prices marked that can be haggled down. Sometimes, simply asking the prices indicates that you desperately want that item. Be careful not to look at items too long if you want to get a deal. Be prepared to walk away. Often, the initial asking price will be way out. You can probably counter with about 10% to start. If you end up at half the original price you may have over paid! Not everywhere is like this, of course. Some places start of much more reasonable and will only give you "discounts" if you by in multiples.

Driving is also a constant negotiation if you're in Asia. Some countries follow the rules (and lanes) better than others. It's probably best not to drive yourself around if you're not familiar with this style of traffic. If you do get used to it, it can be a lot less stressful. Vehicles move slower and everyone is looking out for the next guy. Much less road rage!

Traffic in Davao City.
Exploring new cultures is a negotiation in itself. Many things may seem strange and even illogical. You have to look at things from a different perspective. Different doesn't mean wrong. It takes some mental negotiating to deal with all the newness. And it is so worth it! 


  1. Traveling a constant negotiation. I like it.

  2. Great topic for N. It can be really difficult to adapt to this negotiation style of shopping when it's so different than the way things are done at home. We struggled with this in Turkey and it was odd at first but eventually you get used to it :)

    1. Thanks you!

      Sometimes once you get used to it, it's hard to know when to stop!