How to Haggle in Chile
I enjoyed an interesting chat with friend and colleague Mary Anne, a travel consultant here at Journey Latin America who’s originally from Chile and a complete expert in the region. We were talking about our favourite markets in Latin America and how varied the stalls can be depending on which country you’re in and Mary Anne pointed out the huge cultural differences too, particularly relating to haggling.
Did you know that it’s not polite to haggle in a lot of the market places in Chile? If you’ve spent a lot of time in Central America this is quite a surprising concept - a reasonable amount of haggling takes place in most of the markets and a bit of negotiation seems anticipated by everyone that works there. So, it’s handy to know that on holiday in Chile (and much of the southern cone of Latin America) you’ll be surrounded by a completely different etiquette.
Even though haggling isn't not common Mary Anne did offer some top tips to ensure that you’re getting the right price for your shopping:
When haggling in Chile it’s important to always be polite and courteous using phrases like: “me encanta, pero es muy caro” (I love this but it’s very expensive) and “y no me puede hacer una rebajita?” (can you give me a small discount?).
I agree that these phrases are a great way to politely test the water to see if a slight discount could be on the cards. The phrase “y me puede dar esto de yapa?”* (can you throw this in for free) comes in handy for smaller items, but again you have to be polite and if the answer’s ‘no’ accept the answer and move on.
Finally, it’s very important to keep in mind that while visiting Chiloé Island you have to be more careful about asking for discounts. Chilotas are really proud people and they could get offended and refuse any negotiation with you if you try to haggle with them. Remember that people are selling their work and even though it’s sometimes difficult to know if you’re paying the right price it’s always important to be respectful.
What are your experiences of haggling in Latin America? Do you find it hard to know when it’s appropriate and when it’s not? I think it’s something many of us struggle with, so please do share your experiences and tips with us too!
*In Colombia this would be: “y me puede dar esto de ñapa?” – the phrase varies depending on the region.
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Real Latin America Experts
Hannah Donaldson - Travel Consultant
Having spent part of her childhood in Colombia and worked in Brazil and Costa Rica, Hannah's ties to Latin America run deep. Hannah is an invaluable part of our Group Tours team.
Evie Oswald - Travel Consultant
It’s hard to believe that Evie has had time to cram so much in to her life so far. Having lived as a child in the Americas and Europe she found herself immediately attracted to Latin America.
Hannah Waterhouse - Travel Consultant
Hannah had an early introduction to Latin America when her family moved to Ecuador and she returned to study in Buenos Aires for a year before backpacking across the continent.
Mary Anne Nelson - Travel Consultant
Born in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile, Mary’s insider knowledge and dry sense of humour make her a highly valued member of the Tailor-made team.
Ben Line - Travel Consultant
Ben fell in love with Latin America on a six month backpacking trip from Colombia to Mexico in 1995. Since then he has explored most of South America, including living in Peru for a year. He is now Manager of the Tailor-made Department.
Lina Fuller - Travel Consultant
Lina's passion for the continent where she was born really took off when she moved to Córdoba to study, spending the holidays travelling between Argentina and her native Colombia.