If you’re from the West like me, you’re probably not that used to having to haggle. Well, you better get used to it as in India, it’s a must! It’s going to take a few attempts before you nail it. Plucking up the courage the first couple of times you try is the biggest hurdle, but with practice you’ll soon be a pro! Keep in mind that as a foreigner the price has probably already been inflated so, don’t be afraid to haggle hard and only accept defeat if you’re really willing pay the asking price.
Taxis & tuk’s
As a good starting point for both taxis and tuk tuks is to check the price on Uber (if they operate in the area). If there’s no Uber a quick Google search of what you should expect to pay between destinations can be useful although, sometimes outdated.
How to get the best price on a taxi
Shop around – the more touristy places like Agra and Jaipur have travel shops, usually with a board up outside quoting prices between various destinations. If you see one place is offering a better rate, you tend to find that the next shop will at least match it if you go in and tell them.
Ask the locals – everyone will know a local driver whether it be the hostel staff, your tuk tuk guy or a shop keeper, all of them will all be able to arrange a driver for you.
The play off – once you’ve got a few prices, play them all off against each other until you get the best price. Even when you haven’t got a price, tell them you’ve already been quoted a lower rate.
Our best taxi bargain was from Udaipur to Ahmedabad airport. We asked around all over Udaipur and in end the little shop next to our guesthouse was the best offer, it was also the first place we got a quote from, no one could beat it. We paid just 3000 rupees for the journey, the next cheapest price was 6500 proving it was worth while to shop around.
*TIP* always ask if the price includes tolls to make sure you don’t get caught out. If the driver asks you for money upfront for the tolls and you were told it’s included, remember to knock it off what you owe them at the end of journey.
*TIP2* if you’re travelling between two popular destinations, get speaking to fellow travellers and share the journey to save even more money. This works really well in airports. We shared journeys with fellow travellers from the airport in Varanasi, Goa and Kochi saving us a packet.
Getting the best price on a tuk tuk
All tuk tuk drivers should use a metre, you’ll be a lot luckier than us if you actually manage to get them to use it. We found the best method was to half whatever they quoted us and not budge. Quite often the answer would be no but, as soon we walked away 9/10 drivers would chase after us and agree to take what we’d offered. If you want to visit a few different places, stick with the same tuk tuk and pay him a day rate rather than doing multiple journeys.
These tips aren’t going to be of much help you if you shopping in branded shops in the big cities but, if you’re in a market or small independent shop it might save you a few rupees.
How to get the best price when shopping
Go in low – when negotiating, our opening offer was usually lower than half price and then we negotiated up to what we will willing to pay. What’s the worst that can happen? They will either say ‘no’ and you pay the asking price or you go empty handed, simple.
Walk away – this trick works wonders! Most of our bargains were as a result of walking away and the shop keeper coming after us. If it doesn’t work and you really want the item, you’ll just have to swallow your pride and go back to pay the original asking price.
Multi-buy – negotiate on items separately, make a mental note of the running total and then offer an even lower price for all the items. The response will most likely be “no” to start with but, just remind them of all the prices they quoted you. If like me, you’re rubbish at maths (who’d of thought I work in finance) add everything up on your phone, just try not to make it obvious what you’re doing.
A typical conversation in a shop might go something like this…
*you* how much is this item?
*vendor* 5000 rupees
*you* (acting shocked at the high price) that price is way too high (if holding the item, put it down)
*vendor* how much would you pay?
*you* 1500 rupees
*vendor* no no no, this is a very high quality item. I’ll let you have it for 4000 rupees
*you* That’s still too high, I’ll give you 2000
*vendor* that’s my cost price
*you* 2500 is my final offer
There may be a little more back and forth but, they’ll either agree or you could always try the walk away technique if they don’t
One of my best bargains during our 5 week trip was a beautiful ankle bracelet I brought from one of the beach hawkers in Goa. The asking price was 1000 rupees and I ended up paying just 100 rupee. There was a lot of backwards and forwards negotiating but, as I was on the beach I didn’t have a huge amount of cash on me anyway even if I had of been willing to pay more.
Do you have any bargaining tips you can share?
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