How to Haggle in Markets in Ghana

My best friend has been living in Accra for the past year, but has traveled back and forth to Accra since 2009. One of the many great things about this is that she’s developed amazing haggling skills! Before we went shopping at the markets she schooled my friends and me on the art of bargaining in Accra. I admit it’s hard, but just like everything else, the more you do it the easier it becomes! 

Here are 5 tips to help you get the best price for souvenirs, art, and clothes in markets in Ghana:

Come Prepared.

1. Make a list of the items you want.

There are hundreds of vendors in Ghana selling literally everything! Some of these vendors will be really persistent in trying to get you to buy from them. Make it easier for yourself and go with a plan to buy certain items. This will make your shopping experience more focused and less stressful. Some of the must-have items on my list were masks, fabric, black soap, shea butter, and jewelry. But, leave a little room for spontaneity in your list. You may find that you come across items that are really unique that you didn’t know about.

Prior to going to the major souvenir places like the Arts Centre and Makola Market, we stopped by the vendors on Oxford street to get an idea of the types of things people were selling. One vendor showed me a Bakita, a West African instrument similar to egg shakers, but it’s tied together. He then proceeded to give a mini performance using the Bakita. Considering my appreciation for music (I played the violin for many years) and this memorable experience, I was set on buying the Bakita, which wasn’t on my original list.

2. Know how much you want to pay for an item in advance.

Once you have your list, have an idea of how much you want to pay for each item. My reference point for finding fair prices was comparing the cost of the same item at home. For example, I know I can get a small container of African Black soap in Harlem for $5, so since I’m going directly to the source it should be much cheaper. When I was in the Arts Centre one vendor attempted to sell the soap for 25 cedis/ $5 and wouldn’t back down on the price, so we walked away. When we were at Makola Market, we came across a lady selling a hand-sized chunk of black soap for 3 cedis/ $0.76!  ::praise dance::

The real MVP who sells small black soap for 3 cedis! My skin and pockets are forever grateful for you 🙂

Brush up on Mental Math.

3. Know dollar to cedi conversion rates.

Currently, $1 is equal to 3.97 Ghanaian cedis. Knowing your conversion rates in advance will definitely help you in the bargaining process because you will know whether or not the price they are giving you is ridiculous. It’s common, for me at least, to first hear a price and automatically think in my currency and say “oh no, I’m not paying that!” For example, 80 cedis sounds like a lot, but it’s actually about $20.

4. Let the vendor make the first price.

When you get to a vendor, let them make the price first and then start your bargaining at half of the initial price and then add 2 cedis until you come to an agreement.

Be Strong.

5. Don’t be afraid to walk away.

I did most of my shopping at the Arts Centre, because it was easier to navigate and more manageable compared to Makola Market, which is a really crowded shopping district.

Here’s an example of an exchange  between me and a vendor that is common at the market:

Vendor: (after first round of bargaining) Give me your best price.

Me: I gave you my best price already

Vendor: You can do better

Me: umm no I can’t. Bye. (walks away and another vendor invites me into his shop).

While I’m at the next vendor about five minutes later the first vendor came to me and offered me the necklace at “my best price”! Score!

Moral of the story is stick to your price, if that person doesn’t want to budge, there are so many other vendors you can check out. Or the vendor may surprise you and eventually come around.

What are your favorite bargaining tips? Let me know in the comments!

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This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. Kristi

    These are great tips. Definitely know the conversion rate and how to calculate it quickly on the spot. I found that the more you know, the more empowered you feel and are perceived! I love bargaining!

  2. Hot Foot Trini

    Really great bargaining tips! I think it’s also a great suggestion to make a list before you shop because it can get overwhelming.

  3. Justine Alonzo

    Great article! I’m always hesitant when bargaining but you are right, practice makes perfect. My mom and aunts are great at it! If one place doesn’t give you a good deal, in a touristy area, there is most likely a shop next door that sell the same item.


  4. Ellis Veen

    Back in 2005 I volunteered in Ghana for 2 months. It was a great experience and I remember the vibrant markets in Kumasi. Not much souvenirs back then., but lots of beutiful textiles.

  5. Sheila Berríos Nazario

    Bargaining is definitively a learned skill. I have so much to learn in that matter. However, I need to accept is completely normal in other countries, and it would be foolish and not disrespectful for me to do it.

  6. Melissa Conn

    Walking away is definitely the best strategy! It’s just like dating… you have to let them know that you’re interested, but not too interested.

  7. Nastja Novak

    These are some great bargaining tips. I’m really bad at it, but my boyfriend is very good so i usually just leave it to him 🙂

  8. Ivana

    Oh gosh, I’m so bad at bargaining! Once they say no I’m like "okay… nevermind!" and I buy it at full price haha. It’s something I definitely need to work on. Thanks for the tips!

  9. Caroline Brøndbo

    Really great tips! I’m terrible when it comes to bargaining… a lot of these tips are applicable to bargaining anywhere! Especially in a lot of South East Asian countries, walking away works a charm. Your photos are stunning! I love how vibrant and colourful the markets are in Ghana.

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Jewels Rhode

Frequent Flyer. Chief Enjoyment Officer. Helping you make your travel dreams a reality!