Even though Israel is usually associated with the West, the country is very much Middle Eastern when it comes to purchasing anything, whether it’s new jacket or a stay at any one of the hotels in Israel. The name of the game in Israel is “bargaining,” and if you don’t do it, you’re considered a “friar,” or sucker. Listed below are some of the areas where it’s considered not only proper to bargain, but almost a requirement.
Hotels in Israel
Even before you get on the plane to Israel, you’re bargaining skills need to be refined. Start using them the minute you decide to go on a trip to Israel. Whether you’ll calling up hotels in Israel or using a travel agent, make sure to bargain. Don’t take the first price you hear as something that’s set in gold. If the price is 800 shekels per night, offer them 750 shekels. If they’re not flexible, then try calling up a few other hotels in Israel until you’re satisfied with the price. During holidays, however, you’ll have less leeway to bargain. For example, during Pesach, many hotels have an 8 day minimum, and prices are usually much higher than during the off-season.
If you don’t feel comfortable bargaining, then you can tell the taxi driver to turn on the meter. If he refuses, then hail another taxi. If you’re brave, however, start negotiating a price. Never accept the first price the driver quotes you. Offer 75% of the amount, and wait and see what happens. Don’t go past 80 – 85% of the total amount or you’ll be considered a “friar.”
Open-air markets and shuks
You haven’t experienced Israel if you haven’t visited one of the country’s open air-markets or shuks. Walking down the winding path of Machana Yehuda or the bustling, meandering alleyways of the Arab Shuk, you’ll hear the sounds of customers haggling over prices for a variety of products. If you want to partake in the action, a good rule of thumb is not to pay over 50% of the requested price. Paying full price for an item is virtually unheard of in the shuk. In fact, most vendors expect you to bargain, even if you’re a tourist. Once you’ve finished shopping, go back to your hotel in Israel, relax, and marvel at your purchases. You’ve more than likely made some great deals.