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Bargaining in Chile

While it still exists, bargaining is not nearly as common, or as widely accepted, in Chile as it is in its northern Andean neighbors.  Lodging accommodations and organized tours typically have set prices that are rarely open to negotiation, especially during peak seasons.  However, it’s possible to bargain a bit during the off-season, as many places will ease up in order to secure a sale.  Travelers can also try practicing their bargaining skills in smaller villages off the tourist track where eager-to-sell street vendors and shop owners are more open to negotiate.


Bargaining Basics


When bargaining, it’s wise to follow a few basic rules.  Typically the vendor will state an initial price.  If he or she doesn´t, simply ask by saying “cuanto?”  Once an initial price is set, offer half to two-thirds of that amount, then work from there.  To ask for the lowest price a vendor will accept, ask “el último?”

Before making a purchase, browse multiple stalls selling similar items to get a feel for the item’s relative quality and value.  It’s easier to gauge a good deal once you have a general idea of what’s out there.


Also, it’s wise to buy in bulk; many vendors offer special discounts to those purchasing multiple items from them.  For better bargains, venture out from tourist-populated centers and corners.  Less-visited stalls on the outskirts are often more eager to make a sale.


Finally, don’t pass up a coveted item for the sake of a dollar.  In Chile, excessive bargaining over small price differences might be seen as rude or disrespectful.  That dollar will probably mean a lot more to the stall holder or vendor than to you, and you might later regret turning down a precious item.  It’s best to think beyond monetary terms and assess the item’s personal or emotional value.  



Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Chile: Lakes District Border Crossings, Chile Mail, Shipping and Customs, Safety: Los Vilos, Talca Services, Torres del Paine - When to go, Safety, Crossing into Peru, Torres del Paine: Safety, Getting To and Away from Puerto Natales and Safety.

By Rachel Anderson
I'm a twentysomething dandelion floating across the field of youth. I have an unquenchable thirst for writing, exploring and cheap wine. A cross...
02 Mar 2009

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