If you’re dreaming of your next tropical escape, your imaginings probably include crystal clear waters, succulent seafood, massages on the beach… and shopping. What trip to paradise would be complete without a visit to the local markets? In many destinations, the ancient art of bartering is practiced. Although this can seem overwhelming at first for many Australians, My Bali has some travel tips on bartering to help you enjoy the exchange as part of your holiday experience.

Do your homework

It can be a huge help to learn a few phrases in the local language to aid you in your negotiations. Most vendors will be able to speak some English, but they will be tickled pink that you’ve made the effort, and it can only sweeten the dealings. Phrases you might find useful in some My Holiday Centre destinations include:

Best price: Rākhā thī̀ dī thī̀s̄ud (RAA-KAA tee dee TEE-su)
Too expensive: Rākhā phæng keinpị (RAA-KAA peng kun-pi)
Cheaper please: Rākhā t̄hūk pord (RAA-KAA took prord)


Best price: Harga terbaik
Too expensive: Terlalu mahal
Cheaper please: Lebihmurah silahkan

Be prepared

Make sure you have small denominations of cash; if you ask a vendor to break a large note you might discover that he suddenly has no change! Another good tip is to not keep everything together in a wad- it is hard to convince someone you can’t pay more when they see you with a big sheaf of notes.

Enter the negotiation with two prices in mind; the price you want to pay, and the most you are willing to pay. These sales people are often very good at what they do, and you might find your self-convinced that you want to pay $20 for a magnet!

Play it cool

Just say you’ve seen a gorgeous scarf you have to have; on no account let that be known. If you touch it, drape it around your neck and admire yourself in a mirror for half an hour, the seller will know you are hooked and the price will go up in direct correlation with your apparent interest. Act like you don’t really want the scarf, and could happily leave without it- the ‘best price’ can be magically reduced if it looks like you are going to walk away.

Get started

Don’t ask a price unless you are prepared to get involved in a bartering exchange, because things move pretty quickly from there. Once you have the initial price, you can respond with a counter offer, or simply ask ‘best price?’ and that will get the ball rolling.

Have fun

The most important tip of all is to think of bartering as an enjoyable experience rather than worrying about money. It is an encounter unique to your holiday, and can be a great way to interact with the locals. Make sure you smile and laugh; vendors won’t budge if they feel you are being rude or demanding, and after all, you are on holiday!

You should now be armed and ready for your next holiday shopping adventure. Be savvy about your bartering and you will come home with big shopping bags and a big smile to match!