Chinatown was really my favorite part of visiting New York City. It can definitely be very overwhelming for someone like myself. Let me explain. When me and my best friend visited NYC in 2013, we were about a year out of high school with almost no traveling experience. Being the innocent and sweet children we were, we learned quite a few things about Chinatown that are key for getting what you want and enjoying the experience.
1. Don’t be polite. These people will take advantage of your politeness and see it for weakness. Sounds harsh but it’s true. Chinatown is honestly these vendors’ store. They view you as a business deal and will take every drop of what you give them. Trust me. they know how to play the game.
2. You will do a lot of walking away. Don’t feel like you need to argue over an item with a vendor. This is how a conversation goes in Chinatown.
You: “How much is this shirt?” Vendor: “What size?” You: “I asked how much.” Vendor: “Ten dolla.” You: “Ok, Thank you.” (Walking away) Vendor: “Ok! Ok! Eight dolla.” (Keep walking) Vendor: “Ok, five dolla.” (Keep walking) “You no want?”
This will go on and on if you let it. By the third stand you will be over that. Keep conversations short and sweet. When they try to badger you ignore them.
3. An important thing to remember in Chinatown is bargaining. You can almost always talk a vendor down. A good way to get the price you want is to offer two-three dollars lower than what you want to pay. So say asking price is twenty and your want to pay thirteen; offer ten. The vendor will either say no, or go up a dollar or two above your price. If he straight up declines go straight to your offer. If still declined walk away. There is a good chance you can find someone else who will accept.
4. Is that real Tiffany? Of course, it is 100% white gold. Look you can even see the little Tiffany’s logo on it. For only fifteen dollars it can be all yours. Let me just tell you this, it’s not real Tiffany nor is it real Marc Jacobs or Prada.
5. Make sure before you leave for your trip you have adequate luggage space for your Chinatown souvenirs. If you find yourself over shopping and don’t have enough space, consider mailing the bigger things home.
6. All thirty NYC shirts, hoodies, pants, and tank tops you think you must buy you will never wear. Like ever. Go with one I swear.
7. Plan to go with cash, but not too much. There are always ATMS on every corner. Go with no more than one hundred dollars. If you need more withdraw it.
8. Make sure to eat a meal in either Chinatown or Little Italy. In Chinatown there are tons of Chinese carts that serve Dim Sum for awesome prices. Dim Sum is like a meal of Chinese appetizers, mostly fried and delicious. If you have a wider budget check out Little Italy for some authentic pasta. YUM!
9. Have fun and pay attention! It’s a lot of people and easy to get distracted. Watch your bags and stay close to the people you’re with.