How to haggle in Chinese – Example Sentences

If you’re planning on visiting China or Taiwan then haggling is a skill that is essential to learn. Bargaining for a better price is common practice in most night markets and small shops, and even the larger retailers have some leeway for discount if you are buying goods over a certain value. So it’s definitely worth your while to learn a few phrases to help you avoid being taken advantage of while navigating the sea of people in a Taiwanese night market.

Taiwan Night Market

creative commons image courtesy Prince Roy



Pinyin: duō shǎo qián
English: how much money


Pinyin: jià qián
English: price, cost


Pinyin: jià gé
English: price, cost


Pinyin: pián yí
English: cheap (in price)


Pinyin: yù suàn
English: budget


Pinyin: zhé kòu
English: a discount


Pinyin: dǎ zhé
English: to give a discount
Usage: In Chinese rather than say “10% off” like in English, “discounted to 90% (of original price)” is used instead. So to say 10% off in Chinese, one would say 打九折(dǎ jiŭ zhé), likewise 20% off would be 打八折 (dǎ bā zhé)and so on.

The price is over my budget

There’s no way that you can buy something that costs more than the money you have. Letting the seller know that you are on a budget is a good way to pursuade them to lower the price. Consider this conversation over the price of clothing:

Note: as Hooey points out in the comments below, if you are in Shanghai then you’d want to start bargaining from 10 or 20% of the original cost. The following example is more common in Taiwan, in a small retail shop, for instance.

lǎo bǎn, qǐng wèn zhè jiàn yī fú duō shǎo qián ?
Excuse me, boss. How much is this item of clothing?

Shop Owner:
zhè jiàn yī fú 590 yuán
This one is $590NT.

kě yǐ suàn pián yí yī diǎn mā?
Can you give me a better price?

Shop Owner:
suàn nǐ 550 yuán jiù hǎo
I can give it to you for $550NT

jià gé hái shì yǒu diǎn chāo guò wǒ de yù suàn le, rú guǒ kě yǐ suàn 500 yuán de huà, wǒ jiù mǎi
The price is still a bit over my budget, if you can do it for $500NT I’ll take it.

Shop Owner:
hǎo lā
okay, okay!

Can you give me a discount?

A lot of the time you’ll find that to get a discount, all you need to do is ask:

kě yǐ tí gōng yī diǎn zhé kòu mā?
Could you offer me any discount?

zhè gè jià qián tài gāo le, kě yǐ gěi wǒ zhé kòu mā?
The price is really too high. Is there any discount you can give me?

你可以給我最多的折扣是多少? 你可以算多便宜?
你可以给我最多的折扣是多少? 你可以算多便宜?
nǐ kě yǐ gěi wǒ zuì duō de zhé kòu shì duō shǎo? nǐ kě yǐ suàn duō biàn yí?
What’s the most discount you can give me? How much cheaper can you offer?

rú guǒ kě yǐ dǎ bā zhé de huà wǒ jiù mǎi.
If you can give me a 20 percent discount I’ll take it.

chú fēi nǐ zài pián yí yī diǎn, bú rán wǒ bú mǎi.
Unless you can lower the price, there’s no way I can buy it.

Be creative

There’s more than one way to skin a cat, if you’d rather not directly ask for a discount, you could ask for a deal on quantity, mention that a competitor has a better price, or point out a product defect:

rú guǒ wǒ mǎi duō yī diǎn kě yǐ bǐ jiào pián yí mā?
If I buy more than one can you offer me a better price?

qián jǐ jiān diàn wǒ yě yǒu kàn dào xiāng tóng de dōng xī dàn shì jià qián bǐ jiào dī! kě yǐ gěi tóng yàng de jià qián mā?
I have seen the same thing in another shop for a lower price, will you match their price?

zhè yǒu yī diǎn diǎn xiá cī! kě yǐ gěi wǒ duō yī diǎn zhé kòu mā?
This one has a defect, can you give me an additional discount?

Don’t be afraid to ask

If you’re from a western country then haggling in a shop for a better price might seem quite alien. But in China and Taiwan it’s common place, so just give it a shot, you’ll be surprised at how much money you can save.

Have you ever tried bargaining for a better price using Chinese? What happened? Where you successful?

8 responses to “How to haggle in Chinese – Example Sentences

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  2. Thank you for this lesson! Something I knew already, but something I should learn now. Sure living in China I have to haggle not every day, but absolutely every week. Many times I use the walking away tactic and many times they have shouted “好的,好的” after me. And of course sometimes I just asked a price way too low and they don’t even bother to continue haggling with me 🙂

  3. 货比三家huò bǐ sān jiā
    shop around to get a good buy

    and that’s the key point. except that it’s better to be with your chinese friend when shopping, or just understand the general price on the web before you buy.

  4. Thanks for the phrases, but a discount from 590 to 500 is not really a discount. The prices they tell you in Shanghai is about 3-5 times higher, so you should bargain for 1折-2折

    1. You are right, thanks for pointing this out. I should have noted that above example is common for a small retail shop in Taiwan, and even more broadly speaking in Taiwan there’s no way you could bargain from 2折. I’ll add a note that in China it’s a lot different.

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