The Art Of Bargaining @ Tegallalang, Bali : A Story About One Stubborn Traveller

Written by @Joehairie
Photos by team members


Thought of the day: “Bargaining has neither friends neither relations.”-Benjamin Franklin

This particular traveller is freaking stubborn. His name is @Lan, he just love challenges especially when it comes to showing his ability to make sellers go for his words. Simply put, he claimed to ably bargain for a cut of more than 80% quoted by sellers. It was at Tegallang, Bali that I saw this beautiful rice terraces and decided that we made a short stop. @Lan on the other hand saw one particular souvenir shop that he decided to bargain for things, souvenirs for some friends. Tegallalang is definitely not a place to shop for souvenirs, the prices are ridiculous but @Lan was determined to implement his art of bargaining. In his wallet, IDR 200,000 (USD15).

Bits About Tegallalang


Located in the district of Gianyar Regency, Bali, Indonesia, this emerald green rice terraces are said to be the best for photo opportunities. For some, this beautiful scenes of rice paddies is breathtaking especially those who are from countries with no paddy field, let alone rice terraces.

Tegallang Rice Terraces is about Subak a term referring to traditional Balinese cooperative irrigation system. Historically speaking, it was in the 8th century that a holy man by the name of Rsi Markandeya, introduced Subak. To read more about Subak, click HERE.

Getting here is easy. Tegallalang is half an hour’s drive north of Ubud. From the main Ubud art market, head east to the large statue intersection and head further up north, if you are driving or are on rented motorbike otherwise just simply inform your tour guide/driver if you are on any tour arrangement.

Most people come here for the ‘pictures’ and obviously not shopping except for this one stubborn traveller, @Lan. Well, I can’t blame him anyway since we did not have time to really venture that cheap souvenir markets and upon seeing one, @Lan insisted to buy some souvenirs, allocating about half from what he had in his wallet, that’s IDR100,000 (USD7.50).

@Lan In Action

@Lan, the stubborn traveller but one great bargainer

@Lan quickly alighted from our transport and headed to that row of souvenirs shops. He looked at things that he found great enough for friends and family members at home. He told me that he’s only willing to spend IDR100,000 not adding a single Rupiah to his total budget, reducing shouldn’t be a problem, he added. It’s a do or die mission for him, as I see it.

He needed about 30 items for 30 people back home. That’s about IDR3333 (USD0.25) per item, in average! The driver insisted that we go ahead touring the rice terraces, @Lan reluctantly listening to his advice so straight he went to that shops while I took my time observing him and appreciating the beauty of that rice terraces.


Strange Replicas of Penises 

@Lan went on looking at all that touristy items and he needed that Sling Bags, 15 to be exact and another 15 T-Shirts, all with ‘I love Bali’ words printed. For that Sling Bags, he wanted it to have zip on it so whoever gets that will be happy to have their things securely inside it, he said.

To add to his growing list, he wanted that strange ‘Penis’ replica as gifts for some of his naughty friends plus some key chains, all for IDR100,000! Mission Impossible began when the driver told us that we had about 30 minutes left. @Lan quickly asked one Mbak (A Woman Seller) for some price quotations.

I doubted that he will succeed in getting all that items. He could if he allocate more budget but IDR100,000 probably will give him 2 Sling Bags or 6 T-Shirts. That Mbak was a bit pushy and so did @Lan. He politely asked for some discounts and that Mbak was a bit hesitating.

@Lan reasoned that he’s the first customer of the day, a fact that being agreed by Mbak. @Lan said to her that if she give some great discounts, she will be getting more sales that day. He added that he will buy in bulk and will surely recommend this particular shop to friends intending to visit Tegallalang in the future.

Once again, the lady seemed to be a bit reluctant and said that she can give some discounts if @Lan agree to her 40% off quotation. That Sling Bag is priced at IDR40,000 per piece and @Lan wanted 15 of it. The original total value was IDR600,000. The T-Shirts cost IDR30,000 per piece and that’s already IDR450,000.

The Penis was at IDR10,000 per piece (@Lan wanted 5), Key Chains IDR10,000 per piece, 10 pieces needed by @Lan. In total, the amount was, IDR1,200,000 (USD90)! As I said @Lan is one stubborn but great bargainer and he pleaded the Mbak, politely telling her that he will simply leave for other sellers, the driver was there, smiling sarcastically, as if he’s ready to force @Lan into the van to move on.

The Mbak offered @Lan a 40% discount to the total amount, that’s about IDR 660,00 (USD50) already! @Lan insisted that he have IDR100,000 only and he confidently showed that to the Mbak. (@Lan hid his other IDR100,000 somewhere in the pocket earlier).

The Mbak couldn’t believe it that @Lan actually offered her IDR100,00 for the whole lot, a drop of almost 93% from the original quoted price. @Lan assured her that she will get more sales later in the day, one habit of him to please sellers. Mbak said she can’t accept that 93% drop.

@Lan started to make some move, politely excusing himself from the Mbak and that driver kept smiling. Seeing @Lan departure from her shop, Mbak soon offered @Lan IDR300,000 for the whole thing, an offer politely rejected by @Lan. @Lan made a new offer of IDR100,000 without the Penis and Keychains, keeping that 15 SLing Bags and 15 T-Shirts in his mind.

There was a short conversation between the Driver and the Mbak, in Balinese language, something that @Lan don’t understand. Had it that been in Thailand, @Lan surely will understand as he speaks fluent Thai but this is Bali. @Lan asked that Mbak if she’s willing to close the deal at IDR100,000.

The Mbak gave her final amount, IDR180,000. @Lan said that’s impossible for him as he only have IDR100,000. Mbak later reduced the total T-Shirts to about 5 from 15 and for all that 15 Sling Bags, Penises and Keychains, she agreed to that IDR100,000! Amazing, though @Lan was having ‘deficit’ in his total number of desired T-Shirts, he quickly open his wallet again and counted the items that being put by Mbak in a big plastic bag already.

@Lan paid her IDR100,000 and in his own words he prayed for Mbak, asking for blessing from the above, that more sales being ‘awarded’ to Mbak for as long as she’s in business. A payer that really delighted the Mbak, with the driver seen to shook his head, in disbelief seeing that ‘little drama’.

@Lan later borrowed some IDR20,000 from the driver and gave it to the Mbak, he said “This is for your lunch later, my treat for you for your kindness and I truly meant what I said in my prayer”. I was there standing at all time, looking at the whole drama and in the same shoes as the driver.

@Lan later paid the driver IDR20,000. I asked @Lan, “You’re short of 10 T-Shirts”. Lan said, “It’s okay, no worries, I find something to that losses.” It was in Batur, Kintamani that another drama evolved. Another T-Shirt sellers came to @Lan.

Another drama @ Batur

He smiled and went for his bargaining skill again, that pretty much annoyed the second seller (as in the picture). Why she was annoyed? Because, @Lan asked for IDR3,000 per piece where as the sellers offered him IDR10,000 per piece, if bought in bulk of 10. @Lan wanted 10 pieces for IDR30,000! That’s 70% off the quoted price, wait, I thought he always wanted 80% or more.

Back at the Hotel with his souvenirs!

It turned out that he’s okay with the 70% asking for discount, a process that took about 15 minutes to close the deal. All in all, he spent IDR130,000 (USD9.76) for 15 Sling Bags, 15 T-Shirts, 5 Penises and 10 Keychains (excluding that lunch treat IDR20,000 to Mbak @ Tegallalang). He made his way home proudly and made 30 people at home, happier.

@Lan is indeed one stubborn traveller but with his great skill in bargaining, always being polite and offering his prayers to kind sellers. He told me that he learned that skill by simply reading tips in other travellers blogs and he really focussed on what Annette wrote about bargaining like a pro  here is the link as given by @Lan to me, sharing is caring!
The Art Of Bargaining Like A Pro When Traveling

No matter where you go for a vacay, follow both @Lan and Annette skills and I am pretty sure you will be getting more souvenirs for your friends and family members. With much politeness, perseverance and patience plus kindness by wishing great things to the sellers, you will get your big discounts, perhaps a cut of more than 80% as @Lan achieved in Tegallalang! Happy shopping.


Image result for joe signature

A seasoned traveller to Bali, Indonesia.