Shopping in Vietnam is more than choosing and paying, it is an interesting experience that can help tourists to have an insight into the cultural and social life of Vietnamese. The buying process, however, can be difficult and overwhelming to newcomers.
You will easily realize that street vendors in Hanoi often charge according to appearance of buyer. In other words, they judge you by the clothes you wear, the vehicle you use and colour of your skin. Generally, the fairer you are and the more fashionable you look, the higher price you will be charged. This is true not only for
Vietnamese but also for foreigners. Besides, foreigners sometimes will have to pay the extra, as I like to call it, the ‘foreign premium’. Thus, as a foreigner, you can expect to do some bargaining but do not expect to receive major discounts.
Here are some techniques that I successfully used in bargaining:
– Research roughly the reasonable price of things you wants. The same stuffs can be found in several places. Their price may be vastly different from one shop to another. Generally, things sold in shops should be more expensive than the ones sold by street vendors. Thus, if you have time, you should go to several fixed price stores to have the idea of how much you should pay for an item.
– Keep a poker face during the bargaining. Try not to show too much interest in the item. You should make the salesperson to think that you are still reluctant and consider the price. Maintain an air of uncertainty about whether you want to purchase the item.
– Start low, but not too low: After the seller offer a price, you should offer a two-third of his price. If you make the offer that is only a half of the price given by the seller, he may feel offensive. Consequently, he will be less willing to offer a better price for you.
– Walk-away technique: if the seller does not then meet your top price, you should slowly leave. This may make the seller consider the price again and call you back.
– It is a misconception that you should always bargain. In shops which price tags are used, price IS the price. You can only bargain with street vendors or stall vendors.
– Bargaining is a tradeoff between time and money, so if you are in a hurry, just forget it and be ready to pay for you are the products and services you want
– It is impossible to get the lowest price all the time. You will “win” on some items and “lose” on others. But at the end of the day, converting into US Dollar or your currency, none of the prices are really high and the amount of money you saved from bargaining is very small. So, just consider bargaining as a game or an entertaining activity and enjoy it.
Hope that you will have fun with your shopping.