Hong Kong — My top 5 haggling tips for Hong Kong

How to get a better deal in Hong Kong

September 2015

I’m a terrible haggler and rarely end up getting a bargain.

Having said that, I came across five haggling tips for Hong Kong in an in-flight magazine (yes, I am one of those weirdos on planes that reads the in-flight magazine), so I thought I would give them a try.

And here is what I found:

Tip One: Start at 50% of the asking price

Most items in stores and on stalls in Hong Kong are marked up by around 100%. So if it’s on sale for $1, the chances are the store or stallholder only paid $0.50. So, a good starting point for your haggling is 50% off. If you see something you like for HK$10 (so the stall holder bought it for HK$5), why not ask if you have it for HK$5? The chances are this will not work, but it gives you a starting point, and you never know you may be lucky and get at least 40% off. I tried this in one place (I was after memory cards from my camera) and started at 50% of the asking price. The stallholder looked at me like I was nuts, and we settled on 25% off. Not bad. I typically got between 10 and 30% of the asking price in other places where I tried the approach.

Tip Two: Get a local friend to help

If you know anyone in Hong Kong, particularly a Cantonese speaker, then take them shopping with you. Unfortunately, I didn’t know anybody in Hong Kong, so I couldn’t try this tip. If you have tried this tip, then please leave a comment below.

Tip Three: The late shopper gets the bargains

Arrive late at the market. If you go too early, the market will be busy, and sales at the stores and the stalls may be brisk — there is no incentive for the stallholder to sell to you at a discount. If you go late, the stallholders may be more open to bargaining, particularly if they want to shift any leftover stock. I tried this in a couple of places with mixed success. It will depend on what you are trying to buy — if it is food, you might have better luck.

Tip Four: Dress down

As I’m a scruffy dresser, this tip didn’t apply to me, but one tip in the magazine was to “dress down”. The smallholder will know you’ve got money if you turn up with all the latest gear, designer clothes, and shoes. Dress down a little. Look a bit shabby. Don’t let on that you have money to spend.

Tip Five: Have the correct money

The last tip is to do with etiquette. Imagine you have haggled the $100 price tag down to $75. If you produce a $100 note, you will look foolish (you had the money, so why did you haggle?), and you may also upset the stallholder. The seller then may then try to backtrack on the deal. In other words, carry change. Don’t have a wallet bulging with $100 notes (this brings us back to Tip Four above), and do have sufficient change on you to pay the exact amount.

Have you tried any (or all) of the tips above? How did it go? Please leave your comments and any additional suggestions below.