Although we didn’t buy the laquerware from that really nice salesman, the things we did buy required a lot of bartering to get a good price.
At first we sucked at it, but as time went on I got the hang of it and it become kind of fun. Our first experience was getting off the airplane and trying to get a taxi. They wanted $15 to get to town but we managed to get one down to $12. For other souvenirs we played the ‘walk away’ tactic, which seemed to work quite well. We got a nice sand paining for $5, down from $8, and I got a copy of Burmese Days from a kid on the street for $2 down from $5 (if I’ll read it is a different question). We bought a couple of Longyis when we first got to Yangon, which they wanted $60, we eventually got them down to $35 for a nice one and a regular one.
We still probably paid too much for those but it was one of our first attempts. Postcards, more taxis and food all needed bartering to a certain extent too because nothing had a set price and the seller would give you a starting number. If you have a set price you weren’t willing to deviate from or a willingness to shop somewhere else you are much more likely to get it at the price you want.
Otherwise, you’re at the whim of the seller. A few times we talked about a price amongst ourselves before approaching the vendor or driver and their price was already lower than we expected to we took it – although even those could have been argued. We bartered outside the temple with an overly generous seller for a few items before moving onto the main road to get lunch. We headed into Old Bagan, a small village, to see what it had to offer.