Bargaining and shopping in Uzbekistan. Bargaining strategies, shopping places, cheapest cities in Uzbekistan.
For most cultures shopping & bargaining is not just a part of commerce but it is even a tradition loved and practiced by everyone. In that “tradition” which looks more like a game the victory depends on experience, strategy and diplomacy of the “players”.
This is something learnt easily and can be improved minute by minute. It is nearly always well done with a cunning but open smile. You may try it in all the markets of Uzbekistan & Central Asia. It was an inseparable part life of every trader of that most glorious net of commercial routes of humanity.
If you are new in that field, take your time and go to the markets. See how it happens. It is better to do it with a local person or at least you need to ask the customs of doing it in the local markets because it is not identical in all the countries. For example if you go to a small market near Beijing something which costs 50 dollars can be easily bought at 10 dollars (not all but in most of the markets). The merchant will be agreed. In Delhi and in Istanbul the same price can be reduced up to 25 dollars and in Samarkand it will not be less than 40. So in Uzbekistan you can expect to reduce the price up to 20%. Only for big purchases you can have more discount.
Bargaining Rules Strategies in Uzbekistan
Pretending to walk away is one of the strategies which work well. Tell your price before going away so that he will stop if it is ok for him. Even if does not work pass again in front of the shop in 5-10 minutes just like it is by accident and ask with a smile if he has not changed his idea yet. Don’t get in the shop, just ask it on your way passing by.
In some Uzbek markets the first client of the day is the one who will bring good luck. It means that, going out of the hotel early in the morning and doing an early purchase can be very interesting, economically.
Uzbekistan is a cash country and the payments in cash are more interesting for sellers.
Tell that you may bring friends to the shop, if you are travelling with a group of friends but if you don’t really mean it, don’t lie.
Your linguistic capabilities may help you a lot. You are right, learning a language is not easy but if you know just the basic words it will be enough. Remember that on the long Silk Road everything was expensive, dangerous and hard, besides the silk, of course!
Don’t hesitate even if you can not pronounce the words correctly. Hearing people who try to speak the language will cheer the seller up and you’ll still get closer to your desired price. If this is also too hard for you, the easiest and simplest way is just keeping silence while negotiating- it means “too expensive”! Facial expressions, body language don’t need any translation.
Negotiating is not used only in the markets. In Uzbekistan the price of taxi also needs to be negotiated before you take the route. If it is not the normal price get out and take another one. In order to know the normal prices ask better the receptionist of your hotel. Simply, the only thing not negotiated in Uzbekistan is the food.
Shopping in Uzbekistan
The fact of being on the crossroads of the Great Silk Road made the population of Uzbekistan become artists of a big variety of crafts. And the people of this region have really breathed the air of the Silk Road commerce during over 2000 years. It was the experienced traders of ancient Bukhara who could but their goods whenever and wherever they were. It was the skilled traders of Samarkand who could lead caravans of thousands of people safely through the most dangerous regions of the world. Neither waterless deserts, nor armed-to-the-teeth pirates could stop them. Even if the country had lived under Soviet regime until 1991 anyway the local people could conserve the traditions of their dynasties and the crafts in Uzbekistan are still alive.
Main tourist cities of Uzbekistan all seem to offer the same type of goods to travelers but each of them are more specialized in some particular crafts. This is highly related to the geographic conditions of the regions. Because each region has different kind of plants and they give different kind of colors that the craftsmen can use for painting their products. They all have different water, different soil… and different neighbors who have impact on their arts and crafts.
The Cheapest City for Shopping in Uzbekistan
It depends on what you want to buy. If you want to buy spices you can go to any local bazaars of Samarkand, Bukhara or Tashkent. The dry fruits are cheaper in Fergana Valley. Silk products can be bought at reasonable prices in the shops of Bukhara or directly in silk factories of Margilan in Fergana Valley. Embroidered textile products can be bought at amazing prices in Shakhrisabz city and the best place for buying carved wood items is Khiva.
What to Buy in Uzbekistan:
Travelers coming to Uzbekistan often try to find something unique that can only be found in Uzbekistan. For shopping travelers Uzbekistan has some very typical and some very popular items which can be worth adding to a buying list.
Traveling along ancient Uzbekistan cities of Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva you will find that every city has its own craft school and own style, different from other regions. Beautiful colors of ceramics of Khiva & Bukhara never stop amazing the travelers though the most original ones can be found in Fergana Valley. Carved wood and metal pieces of art can be found in nearly in every Uzbek bazaar. You will find shops selling knives, daggers and even swords, adorned with decorative carvings. Bukhara tends to have some of the most renowned workshops for producing knives and Khiva is the best place for buying a good variety carved wood items. National clothes, fur and embroidery Being a country on the crossroads of the Silk Road, Uzbekistan has been producing silk & silk products for nearly 2 thousand years and its markets are now full with silk scarves, embroideries, fabrics… Among them the “Suzanis” – Bukharan silk/cotton embroideries are the most popular products for travelers.
Ikat, cotton & wool carpets, hand-made silk carpets have always attracted the travelers in Central Asia as Bukhara & Samarkand could become one of the biggest centers of carpet production in the whole world.
Oriental Miniatures & Puppets
The art of Oriental miniatures arrive in Central Asia in the Middle Ages and reaches its highest point in Bukhara during 16-18th centuries. Today the city of Bukhara is full of workshops which continue to prepare these fabulous artworks. The oriental puppets of Iskandar Khakimov in Bukhara can be considered as one more craft to explore and buy during travels in Uzbekistan.