Paying full price

Bargaining is part of Balinese culture, so it’s not really a scam or a rip-off, but it’s worth mentioning here as a preparation for your holiday.

Bali-scam-paying-full-price-bargainingWhen buying from a street vendor, never pay the full price, no matter how cheap the item may seem. A reasonable discount off the original asking price is 30 to 50%, depending on how relatively outrageous the original price is, considering the value for money. Start off by making a counter-offer that’s about 75% less than the initial asking price. Undoubtedly you will receive a shocked “Nooooooo!” as an answer, combined with a look as if you’ve just run over their firstborn child, but it’s the best way to eventually get you to the best possible price. Don’t feel sorry for them either, as they surely won’t feel sorry for you or respect you when you’ve just overpaid them by a large margin for the goods they just sold you. In Indonesian culture, in order to establish a mutual respect between the two parties and for both to feel good about a deal being made, the bargaining process has to be played tough and razor-edge sharp.

That doesn’t mean you can be rude or intimidating, of course. Always haggle with a smile and an open posture to keep it friendly. Stick to your own budget, and when the seller is unwilling to meet your desired price, be prepared to walk away. If your offer was reasonable, the seller will quickly come running after you, saying “ok, ok, ok”. If not, then you know you’ve been pushing it too far and maybe they’ll come running after you to make a final offer, which you will then know is the lowest possible price. Don’t make or accept an offer you’re not prepared to honor, because as soon as an offer gets accepted by the other party, the deal is done. Backing off would be very disrespectful and will get you angry glares.

Don’t be intimidated by these tips. Bargaining in Bali is always friendly and not intimidating. Most tourists actually have a lot of fun with it, for example by making it a challenge to try to pay the lowest possible price for their souvenirs, or because they like adjusting to the culture of their destination.

Make sure you take your time looking around for the best price before buying anything. Most merchandise is available all over the island, so although the seller will try to install some sense of urgency into your buying decision, there’s absolutely no need to buy from a specific vendor.

Find experiences from real victims or post your own story in our Bali Tourist Scams Forum.


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