How Not to Get Ripped-off by Locals

Had you ever been abroad then you know what it feels like to be ripped-off by local seller. The feeling isn’t great, even if the money is not the issue. It’s the awareness of unequal treatment, which could lead to ruined day. Especially when it comes to more expensive things or buying something 10 times dearer than it is sold 2 stalls away. Don’t worry, there are ways to avoid this happening.

Local seller in ZhangJiaJie National Forest Park

1. See what locals pay

You don’t have to be first in line all the time. It does not pay off to be. Wait a moment and look closely when a local pays for something you want to buy. This is the price you should pay. Alternatively, you can ask people on the way for prices. You’ll get the idea and won’t get ripped-off.

2. Learn basic phrases in foreign language

They won’t be able to play “I don’t understand game”. You can clearly communicate what you want and what you think of the price. Plus, they may be impressed with you and lower the price for you, just because you made an effort to speak their language.

Useful phrases: [custom_list=”check”]

  • how much,
  • too much (too expensive),
  • no, thank you
  • cheaper please
  • numbers (1-10 to start with)
  • I have no money (that’s to get away from those who want to cheat you)[/custom_list]

 3. Shop around

You wouldn’t do it to buy lollipop cheaper, but you should when buying camera or excursion. Especially with the latter you will be exposed to people dealing with tourists and they may perceive you as a cash-point. Ask a few travellers you meet and then few agents. Your wallet will feel much healthier.

4. Don’t ask to get ripped-off

Yes, many people do it. Just show the seller you need something badly and you are desperate to get it. Be it a ride in tuk tuk or a bottle of water, if they feel you are ready to pay more you’ll pay ten times more. Just prepare in advance if you can or find the way to look calm, even if you are really desperate.

5. Ask for menu in local language

That’s right. When in restaurant, sometimes you’ll be given a menu in English. Get the local language version and in most cases the prices will be different. Check it out!

6. Don’t leave a tip

It may sound a little harsh and does not apply to some countries (such as US, where it’s common and expected), but you are doing no good by leaving a tip. Especially in so-called 3rd world countries, by paying extra you show that you are better than them, which I hope is not an impression you want leave. Moreover, you show that their prices are cheap and they should increase them for the next tourist they see.


My experience

The tips I shared with you come from my experience and I have avoided numerous occasions where I could potentially get ripped-off. For instance, not long ago I bought a camera. The first price was 1.5 times higher than the last one. Took me 2 hours to get to this point, but I couldn’t have earned the difference within that time, so I’m better off.

Yet, there were times when I got fooled. It’s frustrating beyond reason, at least for me, so I’m extra careful to avoid it. Not only it saves me money, but helps me stay positive.


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About Cez

I'm a tramp from Poland, travelling the world for less than $25 a day. I left my comfort zone in 2011 with just $400 and one-way ticket to Asia. Still going and blogging. Follow me on my journey by clicking on the buttons below.

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1 Comment

  • 1) You really need to get rid of using ‘3rd world country’ if you are to be taken seriously as a SEA travel blog; it is grossly offensive. Prefer developing instead.

    2)And the bit on tipping is ridiculous.

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