How to deal with hawkers

If anything can ruin your experience of a world-class tourist sight, it's persistent hawkers. Whether they're trying to sell you souvenirs, talk you into a tuk tuk tour of the city or promote a nightclub, hawkers can be a major annoyance to many travellers, particularly because they tend to congregate at the places you really want to enjoy in peace.

So how do you deal with hawkers? There are a number of different tactics you can employ. Here are some of our top suggestions...

Learn some local lingo

If there's one thing that can catch a hawker off guard it's to receive a reply in their local language. Learn a phrase like "I've already got one" or "I'm not interested" and state it confidently to the hawker. Even if it's the only phrase you know, the hawker will think that you're more streetwise than the average tourist and leave you alone.

Don't acknowledge them

Alternatively, completely blank any hawker that approaches you. While you may feel rude at first, you'll soon learn that the tourists who avoid addressing, smiling or even making eye contact with hawkers usually receive far less hassle. If someone is very persistent or follows you, the best strategy is usually just to ignore them completely until they go away.

Don't look like a shopper

In other words, don't look interested in any of the products that hawkers are selling unless you are genuinely interested in buying them. Browsing their goods or holding your purse or wallet can often trigger lots of hassle. Wear sunglasses if you can't resist a peak.

Offer a ridiculously low price

Another tactic to get rid of hawkers who follow you is to offer a unrealistically low price for their goods and refuse to negotiate. Usually the hawker will walk away in disgust.

Useful phrases for hawkers

  • I already have one
  • I'm not interested
  • I don't have any cash
  • I don't like it

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