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Getting the Best Deal in Vietnam: The Bargaining art

ABROADER January 01, 2023 6 minute read

Are you looking for tips on how to get the best deals in Vietnam? Then this blog post is for you! We will show you how to haggle like a local. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, you’ll find this guide useful. So before you go to Vietnam, read this guide and save yourself some money.

Bargaining or haggling is something many travelers have the joy of experiencing during their study program or internship in Vietnam. It can be a great chance for you to have some fun and save money. However, sometimes it can be not a pleasant experience. Since bargaining for a product in Vietnam is an unavoidable deed, we would like to make it easier for you by arming you with these tips on how to get the best deal in Vietnam. Just keep in mind; bargaining is an art form that takes time to master.

Souvenir Shop in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Shopping in Vietnam can be fun and cheap… if you know how to haggle. Photo source

Critical Bargaining Skills to help you survive during your Internship in Vietnam

Shop Around

First of all, it is important to know the general bar of prices at the place before you shop. You can either look it up on the Internet or ask the locals. They can be a Vietnamese friend you just met at work. Or, if you’re doing an internship in Vietnam with ABROADER, talk to your program coordinator, your local buddy, or your host family. After that, you can try window shopping around to test out the price ranges in the area. As shop owners are competitive and would like to sell their products, as soon as you signal to leave after you know the price, they will not hesitate to give you a lower price.

Another important thing to pay attention to when shopping, especially in local markets in the North of Vietnam is that you should avoid shopping in the early morning. They believe that it is bad luck to have a customer coming and not buy anything in the early morning. Therefore they might react very negatively when you do so. Even though the situation is improving and there are not as many incidents like these happening recently. But it is better safe than sorry, right?

Even a regular grocery shopping trip can turn into a lesson in how to haggle.

Speak the Language

Shop owners can recognize a tourist and will take advantage of dealing with someone who isn’t familiar with the area and the customs. One way you can show a shop owner that you are the real deal is by speaking Vietnamese by the accent of the area you are at (the accent can be tough if you’re not familiar with the language, however, speaking some basic Vietnamese would do just fine). Learn a few basic phrases and show confidence when you speak even when you’re not a really good speaker. You know what they say: fake it until you make it.

Here are some basic useful Vietnamese you can learn to bargain in Vietnam:

Bao nhiêu: How much does it cost?

Mắc quá (for the South); Đắt quá (for the North): It is too expensive

Bớt đi: Let’s reduce the price

Be Confident

internship in vietnam confident 4
Confidentiality is key to successful bargaining. Photo Source

By exuding your confidence while shopping, you are showing the shop owners that you are not just another easy target. Speak loudly and confidently with no hesitation to walk away if you don’t like the price. If you’re being overcharged, the seller will probably chase after you to give you a better price. Always try to reduce the price by half or even lower when you bargain and go up from there. You can simply guess from the seller’s facial expression when you crossed the line that price is too low. Don’t get bullied into making a purchase. However, don’t argue if you don’t like the price. Walk away nicely if you think it is too much or be more patient with the seller.

Even restaurants in some areas will do anything to squeeze an extra dollar out of you. Double-check the menu prices with what they charge you before paying the bill, and don’t be afraid to say something if things don’t add up correctly.

Stay Cool

The number one rule in the art of shopping and bargaining is to never show a keen interest in any item, no matter how much you like it. Don’t walk into a shop, pick up an item and say, “Wow this is exactly what I was looking for!” That’s a game over. Remain indifferent and chill while you’re looking around. It’s like dating— playing a little hard to get.

So what if you do find an item that is meant for you? Look it over very carefully before making an initial price offer then proceed to do the same instructions given above. The reason why you need to keep it cool is to show the shop owner that the object isn’t that important to you, and you have no problem leaving if you don’t like the price.

Don’t Get Tricked

In some countries, shop owners are so good that you’ll be looking at something one minute and paying for it the next, without even realizing what happened. In Vietnam, one very common trick that vendors do in touristy areas is they would have you try doing something fun and local which looks like you won’t have to pay for, then ask you to buy their products and overcharge you.

For example, you may see a street vendor with a huge pile of pastries on top of his head offering you to try doing it. Be careful because he will then ask you to buy his pastries and you will have to buy 5 times more than their price. Watch out for the cute children greeting you with bracelets and flowers at busy places as they will try to force the products in your hand (they will say it’s a gift) and then ask for money.

Internship in Vietnam scam 2
Avoid the temptation to try wearing these pastries tower. They can lead to petty scams. Photo source: Yeah1.com

Have Fun Practicing How to Haggle Abroad

First-time bargaining in Vietnam’s local market can be challenging and tiring, but it’s also a lot of fun! The first purchase that you make after negotiating will definitely make you proud and realize you have unlocked a whole new level of traveling, even if later you find out it wasn’t such a good deal.

A good thing to keep in mind is to not take things too seriously and stress yourself out too much over the negotiations. After all, this is a great learning experience for you to integrate into the community. Practice makes perfect, the more markets you visit, the better you’ll get at bargaining for better prices.

And last but not least… keep calm and bargain on!

Are you excited to go on a coffee tour to experience the unique Vietnamese coffee culture? Don’t hesitate to join a local or go by yourself, prepare a list of all the popular coffee shops in town and start your journey. And coming to Vietnam with our available programs right here:

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