Prices are fixed in department stores and most retail outlets in malls, but in many antique shops and in markets, you’re expected to haggle. Bargaining is always amicable and relaxed, never confrontational. Filipinos see it as something of a polite game, interjecting their offers and counter offers with friendly chitchat about the weather, the state of the nation or, if you’re a foreigner, where you come from and what you’re doing in the Philippines.

Never play hardball and make a brusque “take it or leave it” offer because that’s likely to cause embarrassment and offence. Start by offering fifty to sixty percent of the initial asking price and work your way up from there. Foreigners tend to get less of a discount than Filipinos, so if you’re travelling with Filipino friends, ask them to do the haggling for you and hover in the background as if you’re not interested.

Essentials

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