Tips for a Better Shopping Experience in the Busy Markets of Asia

From India to Singapore to Brunei, the many open markets in Asia are buzzing with life and frantic activities. Even if there’s nothing you need to buy, the market offers a lot you can enjoy while you’re in there.

However, these tourist-targeted markets are places often teeming with fake and overpriced products. Plus, the noise of haggling customers and the number of unfamiliar items can be overwhelming. But there is no better place to experience the authenticity of a country than these open markets. As long as you know the tricks, you’ll surely score great finds and unforgettable experiences in these avenues

1. Arrive Early
By arriving early, not only will you have fewer people to compete with, the early vendors will also have better mood and more patience, giving you more chances to do a good haggle. Also, you have the opportunity to take a pick from the newer and fresher items, too.

2. Learn to Haggle
While this can be an uncomfortable thing for Westerners, haggling has been a big part in the day-to-day lives of people in most Asian countries. Approach haggling as if it’s a fun game, rather than an embarrassment. Anyway, most items in open markets are priced in a way that allows room for good haggling, so might as well take advantage of it. There’s no reason to feel bad. A vendor will not agree on a price if it causes them to lose money.

3. Beware of Fake Items
In these places you will find replicas and cheap knock offs of branded items. Sometimes, these are impeccable copies that you cannot even distinguish from the original, while other times, you’ll find “abibas” shoes or “Oaokley” sunglasses. But don’t be surprised if that cheap iPhone you got breaks after a week or the Rolex logo comes off from your watch. If the price seems too good to be true, then it probably is, especially when it is something digital.

4. Keep Your Things Attended
Busy markets also attract people who may see tourists as targets. Be mindful with your wallet, purchases and your bag (if possible, don’t wear backpacks) to ensure you don’t become potential prey for pickpockets. Beggars and street children frequent in these markets to target tourists, so be watchful of them.

5. Don’t Expect Clean Toilets
…if you’re lucky enough to find one. If there is, it will likely be a filthy squat toilet. When you feel like you need to pee, allow plenty of time to find one. And once you find one, you will likely have to pay a few coins to use them.

Shopping at Asian night markets surely is a lot of fun, so go ahead and dive head first into the chaos—and keep these tips in mind.