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Top6: Asia Shopping Tips

by Social Media Manager (20 Mar 2012)

Play the game
Haggling in Asia is the norm and you can do it anywhere. Some stores will have "Set Price" signs dotted around the place. Don't believe them. A border official may demand US$30 for a visa when the sign above his head says US$20. Suggest a compromise on US$25. Just remember "negotiating" doesn't mean "arguing".

Keep your cool
The importance of saving face should not be underestimated in Asia. Locals will go to extreme lengths to remain calm and avoid embarrassment, and you should do the same. You could protest that when you requested a room with a view you expected to get one with a window. But far better to follow what the locals do – smile, shrug it off, get on with your day. 

Embrace fakes
Fake goods have long been a part of the shopping experience in Asia with canny copiers offering everything from fake Gucci bags to iPhones and Ivy League diplomas. Go with it. If you really do want that luxury Hermes purse, go to a bona fide Hermes store.  Otherwise revel in your "QuickSliver" T-shirt that will only last two washes before it shrinks. 

Don’t sweat the small stuff
In many places around Asia you might find the change-giving a little light. In places where a dual currency system operates sales clerks will occasionally take advantage of the confused tourist. So what? The few cents squired away is probably worth 100 times more to the local than it is to you. Is it really worth the worry? Consider it a tourist tax.

Look alive
Money-back guarantees are a Western phenomenon. The chances of getting a refund if your "100-year-old hand-carved Buddha statue" transforms into a plastic replica between the shop and the hotel are slim to none. Your threats to go to the Office of Fair Trading will be met with wide-eyed innocence and a scoffed remark in words you don't understand.

Get over yourself
Shops in Western countries realised long ago that vanity sizing sells clothes. Shop assistants flatter you into a smaller size knowing it will up their conversion rate. Shop owners in Asia are more likely to greet you with a toothy smile and a boisterous: “I have big big size just for you!” Don't be offended. Smile, and say, "Big big sizes need small small prices, yes?"

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