Friday, June 22, 2012

Hong Kong 2012: Tips for Bargain-hunting in Street Markets

Like I mentioned earlier, Hong Kong is a shopperholic's paradise. Especially for those on a budget. There's heaps of themed street markets in Mongkok & Yau Ma Tei areas like the Electronics Street, Ladies Market, Temple Street Market, Jade Market, Goldfish Market etc for inexpensive goodies. Or head down to wholesale centres like Hong Kong Industrial Centre or Horizon Plaza for cheap bargains, but you usually have to buy in bulk at these places.

Even if you don't like to shop, the street markets are still fantastic places to soak in the Hong Kong atmosphere. Sure, there will be crowds of tourists, but you still get to see the traditional way HK people hawk their goods, and there's usually a few good HK cafes around to sit down and the enjoy HK food while your shoppaholic family & friends get lost in their shopping wonderland :)

I don't know about you, but I do love going treasure-hunting at the street markets! There's something about finding something that you like, and getting it at a really, realllllly good price... that makes shopping so fun and satisfying ;p Bargaining is not very common in Singapore, but it is definitely a must when visiting Hong Kong's street markets.

A lot of people, including myself, don't feel comfortable bargaining. We did not grow up with that culture and get nervous, especially when the stall owners can be a little pushy. However, if you want to get the real prices from your purchases and not regret paying for something more expensive than it's worth, have a go. Treat it as something fun and not like a competition. I think I did okay with bargain-hunting in Hong Kong this trip and have a few tips to share :)

1. Bring a local
They speak the language, and they know how much that thing is actually worth in local terms. But go with somebody who actually does like to haggle.. some people {like the boy} don't like bargaining for goods at all asking these people for help is kind of pointless.

2. Go when you are free
Don't go looking for cheap finds at the markets when you are pressed for time. Most likely you will make a hasty purchase, not have time to check the goods or even be able to walk away.. which brings me to the next point.

3. Walk away if the price isn't right
Most likely, the stall owners will try to meet your price or bring it down a lot. Of course, do this only if you really don't mind not getting the goods, or if you can tell that the owner is willing to bargain more. There are some stalls that sell similar stuff e.g. mobile phone goods, handbags, HK souvenirs, sunglasses etc. so even if you can't get it at this stall, most likely you can get it at another. These are the kind of stalls that are most willing to bargain, because the owners know that you can find their stuff at another place. The stalls with one-of-a-kind wares are less likely to bargain.

4. Start with half the price of what they quote.
Some owners will even tell you that they are already giving you a discount for the first quote. They might say, "Oh this is originally HK$150, but I will sell you for HK$100". Bull shit. I found that starting with half of what they quote you is reasonable, and from there you can work your way up.

5. Buy in bulk
If you find something you like, then maybe just buy one or two pieces more to get a good price.

6. Compare prices
Take you time to walk around and compare prices. And don't buy from the first few stalls at the beginning of the markets as they usually sell more expensive stuff since they are the first stalls people browse at.

7. Dress simply
Other than the fact that you are likely to get mugged at the markets, being flashy & wearing branded stuff means that you have money to spend {obviously}, and the owners know that. I always removed my jewelry when I went to the markets, and put them securely in the zipped pocket inside my zipped hangbag which I hugged tightly in front of my body. You can't be too careful here. Even Emily, my Hong Kong friend, did that so you can imagine the danger.

8. Stay at the street stalls   
Nowadays you don't really see the fake branded goods at the street markets. It used to be pretty rampant there but I guess because of stricter regulations, the stalls can't display them anymore. Instead, the fake Pradas & LVs are usually away in some upstairs shops and there are salespersons holding signs or "catalogs" who will persuade you to go away with them to view the goods. Don't go as it's actually very dangerous. Em said they might hold you hostage and ask you to call your family for money to release you. Or really just kidnap you to sell o.O" Not worth the risk.

Do you have any other tips for bargain-hunting?

Read all about our Hong Kong travels here


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Unknown said...

Will have to remember these if we ever make it to Hong Kong. Looks like lots of fun shopping their. Did you get any good bargains?

Ming said...

can I bring you along the next time I go HK? :P I am those kind who cannot haggle at all. i end up going there for disney only. *fail*

MeRy said...

I love Hongkong..

Madeline Heng said...

Actually shenzhen is much cheaper than hk and mire ruthless sellers. Hahamost if the hk ppl go there cos it's 1/2 the price, like us gg to JB :)

Ai Sakura said...

Salz: yup.. we did get some nice stuff! :)

Ming: haha I've not been to HK Disneyland actually. Maybe one day with my girl. Will ask you for tips then!

MeRy: luckily not too far from Singapore!

Madeline: Actually we don't go JB to shop and eat. where do you usually like to go to there?

Grace said...

Love these tips. They're almost identical to the ones my mum uses when she haggles. And she is soooo good at it. She does it here in Australia all the time, which although can be embarrassing and the best of's amazing to watch her get away with it :)
Love your HK photos! Keep them coming!

Unknown said...

PS - I featured this post today in my Leah's Friday Fav's
Thanks for being so awesome <3

Theresa Mahoney said...

Great haggling tips! Hong Kong looks like such a fun place to visit!

I have heard that cab drivers in Thailand will also take you to a store and get you to go inside. Then they will lock the doors and won't let you out until you buy something. Crazy!

Susan said...

I've been visiting Bangkok and have been practicing my bargaining skills.Have to be thick skin and just ask them to "cheap cheap". Haha. The Thais are usually friendly and will give you discounts. But I've heard that in HK, the stall owners are not so polite and may just tell you to scram.

Ai Sakura said...

Grace: wow I wouldn't expect to haggle in Aust. Your mum is brave! Haha. Sure, got more HK posts coming up :)

Leah: thanks! I've been over already. Lovely list you have.

Theresa: Haven't heard that abt Thai drivers yet.. But thanks for sharing :)

Susan: The last time I was in Thailand was to celebrate our 5th anniversary together. Ahhhh we need to take a trip bk there soon!

Unknown said...

Oh wow, these are such great tips!! I'll have to keep these handy if we ever make a trip that way :) Thanks for sharing!

Jay said...

This is the kind of shopping I enjoy. Erm, perhaps without the danger though ;)

Great tips, Ai!

~Summer~ said...

Cool tips! Love the way you put it together. I'm not really one for bargaining though I do try my luck in HK and China, just not worth it to waste so much $$$ plus it's fun! For a while! =p Love treasure hunting too and you never know what goodies you may find!

Ronnie said...

Great, practical tips, Ai. My mum and all my aunties are all great bargainers. I'm embarrassed to say that I'm terrible at it, and that even my Australian anglo husband is better at it than me!
Your HK posts are lovely, they make me feel all nostalgic and excited about the next time we go back.
Ronnie xo

Twitchy said... much colour and variety. Love them :)