How to Bargain in Vietnam
A guest post by Jim from Asia Marvels
Many travellers in Vietnam are so afraid of paying more than they should that they forget to enjoy their trip. Here is some insight into bargaining in Vietnam to make your time here easier.
The first thing you should know about bargaining in Vietnam is that it is considered perfectly acceptable and even expected to argue with a merchant about the price of their goods or services in this country. To most westerners, it can be annoying, time-consuming and feel like getting ripped off. However, this habit has been around for so long it has become part of the Vietnamese culture, so I suggest that instead of holding on to all the negative feelings, why not loosen up a little bit (you are on a trip anyway) and learn how to bargain like a local.
Below are 7 things you must know about bargaining so you can enjoy your Vietnam trip thoroughly.
1. Know when to Bargain
Even in Vietnam, not every price is negotiable. You sure wouldn’t want to make a fool out of yourself trying to talk your waiter into giving you a better price at a restaurant. My advice is that if something has a price tag on it, the cost is non-negotiable. This includes restaurants, where prices are usually listed on menus or signs, cabs with taxi meters etc.
Don’t take “always bargain” too seriously, it once took me and 2 waitresses half an hour to convince an American guy that it was not too much to pay 20,000 VND – just less than a dollar for two “Bia hoi” (Vietnamese draught beer).
2. Take it easy
Westerners often feel cheated and embarrassed when they find out that they have paid too much. But let me get this straight: At first, you’re going to pay too much. There’s no way around it. And even after you’ve been here for a while, you’re probably still going to pay more than locals, more often than not.
But in the end, this isn’t a battle to get the right price so just relax if you later find out that you have paid a few more bucks than you should have.
3. Learn some Vietnamese
Knowing the local language will help you A LOT with haggling with the local merchant. It shows that you probably have stayed here for a while and know how much something should cost. Of course you don’t have to master the language to be able to get a cheaper beer in Vietnam, here are some super useful phrases you can use:
– Bao nhiêu? (bao new) – How much?
– Đắt quá! (dat wa!) – Too expensive!!
– Bớt đi (Bot dy) – Reduce the price
– Không (khom) – No
– Dạ (ya) – Yes
– Được (duoc) – Ok (or you can just say ok, most Vietnamese will understand)
After you show off your masterful Vietnamese skills, these shop owners would be likely to give you a much more reasonable price, and it’s kind of cool too.
4. Do some research
If you are looking for something specific, ask a local what the going rate is before you head to the market. It helps to go into the negotiations with an idea of what you’re supposed to pay. Start haggling by quoting a price that is about 10-20% lower than what you think you should be paying. Work your way up from there.
One more way to find out what is a good price for something in Vietnam is browsing around before starting to bargain. In most markets in Vietnam, there are several stalls selling exactly the same products as the other one. When you find something you like, check out all the other stalls in the market and choose the one with the lowest price. The “I love Ha Noi” T-shirt you like might be 10,000VND cheaper in the stall next door.
5. Act like you don’t want it
The last trick, and most successful strategy, is to act like you are not that interested in what they are selling. The less you want it, the better you can bargain.
No matter how much you want the item, try to act as nonchalantly as you can. If it still doesn’t work, pretend to lose interest and walk away, your vendor is likely to lower the price for you. Be careful though cause this trick can backfire sometimes; if you really want that item and can’t find it in any other shops in the area, you might have to come back with your tail between your legs and pay the price they offer.
6. Know when to quit
Sometimes you’ve just got to accept the price, even though you know that it’s more than what a local has to pay for it. If you’ve haggled, thrown in some sneaky Vietnamese and even walked away like you don’t want it anyway and the price still stays the same. Don’t be angry, go to another shop and try again or just accept that this is how things work around here. And if you still feel uncomfortable, think of how much you had to pay for a Frappuccino or a beer back home. Again, this is not a battle and there is no win or lose.
Bargaining is a skill and like any other skill, practice makes perfect. Each time you bargain for something, there is a chance to hone your skills, learn from what happened and one day you might be able to buy some things you like for half the price they offer. This skill is also useful in many other Asian countries like Thailand, China, Malaysia and India.
That’s all guys, hope that this will help you have a wonderful time in Vietnam.
Hi there, I’m Jim – writer at . I love travelling around Asia and share my stories & guidelines with readers. I’m sure there are so many things the world hasn’t discovered about this mysterious land and you’re eager to know more about it, right?
Alright!!!! let me help you. More guidelines, food tours, tricks and tips for your amazing trip to Asia can be found at Asiamarvels.com.
This article was published in May 2017.