Essential Info > Tips for the Traveller

Bargaining in Singapore

By: markhsx on 30 May 2012
Singaporeans are probably some of the best bargain hunters around, but what about bargaining in Singapore? It's not so much of a social norm but there are still opportunities for you to get some leverage on a shop owner.

While prices are generally fixed in most shops, you may be allowed to strike a deal in places such as markets or more tourist-oriented areas. A general rule of thumb is that you will more likely be allowed to bargain in markets, but not in shopping malls or chain stores.

First, gather an idea of the value of the item you have in mind, by comparing prices with similar items in Singapore and back home. Another point to note is to always maintain a friendly and respectful attitude, as being petty and obnoxious will only lead to failure.

When bargaining it is important to keep good-natured and good-humoured banter between you and the seller or, as known in local terms, you need to 'give face' to the seller. 

If you do get to haggle, start with a simple 'how much?', to which the shop owner will reply with this highest price. Tell him you're willing to pay 70% of that amount and go from there. When buying more than one item, ask for a discount. If you've seen it cheaper elsewhere, tell them. Name a realistic price, smile a lot, and if you don't get what you want, making a polite move towards the door often sparks a change of heart.

Places to try bargaining at
- Tekka Market
- Sim Lim Square
- Lucky Plaza 
- Little India
- Antique shops at Tanglin Shopping Centre 
- Watch and jewellery shops
- Flea markets

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