Haggling in Egypt is as much a natural way of life as waiting for your change in the UK.But it can be intimidating to a first time visitor on their Egypt holiday.

Western tourists about to haggle in Egypt

Western tourists about to haggle in Egypt

You might be tempted to avoid the ritual altogether and lose the difference in the price you would be saving, however to do so would be denying yourself one of the most satisfying, rewarding, sociable, fun, respected and ancient of traditions.

Once you get good at it, it’s a lot of fun and once you learn to have fun, you get even better at it.

Need some tips?
1. Don’t start haggling unless you are genuinely interested in the item. Don’t haggle for practice, it’s misleading and unfair to the vendor and doesn’t benefit anyone.

2. Have a price in mind before you start. Work out beforehand what you think the item is worth. Consider what you would be happy to pay for it, if possible ask around and see how much others have paid for similar items.

Is there a genie in this bottle? - Egyptian Haggling

Is there a genie in this bottle? - Egyptian Haggling

3. Make them name a price first. This is very easily done; they are selling the item so have a starting price in mind already. Don’t be coaxed into naming your price first, you may inadvertently say a price which is way over the odds, the seller will then exploit this further and you will never know if you got a good deal or not.

4. Offer about half first.
Try offering half of what you are prepared to pay for the item as a figure to work up from. Or even lower if you want to risk it. However, going too low ($1 for something of value) will make you look stupid and inexperienced.

5. Take it in turns to alter your price. Now it’s their turn. Do not reduce your price again until they do. Moving too soon shows weakness and exposes you to exploitation; it also reduces your room for manoeuvre.

Skillfully made handicrafts can come at a price - Egyptian Markets

Skillfully made handicrafts can come at a price - Egyptian Markets

6. It’s between you and them (and your partner). Don’t accept assistance from any unknown locals when haggling, you may end up paying over the odds, plus their commission, see? However feel free to play good-cop, bad-cop with a partner – “I want the product, but she holds the purse strings” etc.

7. Be honest. Once you have stated a counter offer, you are committed to that price. Don’t try and go back on an offer when it is accepted, or then try and get him to “throw in” other items once you have dropped your price. Play the game fair and don’t waste either of your time.

8. Show them the money! Physically taking the money out of your wallet and extending your hand out for them to take can have a dramatic effect on negotiations.

The Egyptian Pound!

What all the haggling is about - the Egyptian pound!

It shows that you are serious about buying, that you want the bargaining to cease quickly and that are coming close to your final offer. Most effective when you have little (or no) other money on show in your wallet, but obviously this takes some forward planning.

9. You can always walk away. And don’t be afraid to. If you cannot reach a price that you are happy to pay, you are not obliged to carry out the transaction. Thank the seller for their time and leave. Also saying you need time to think about it and heading away can often lead to further price reductions. If it doesn’t? Well you can always return later on.

10. Finally, and this is the most important point – SMILE! For heaven’s sake smile, it’s only a bit of fun. You want to make yourself likeable; you want to build a relationship with the person, no matter how brief. What better way than to show you are enjoying their company and customs.You are trying to reach a mutually agreed position that suits you both. And when it does, hopefully you will both be smiling anyway, you will shake hands and both walk away happy.

Give it a try and have some fun the next time you’re enjoying a trip to Egypt.