The art of bargain

Haggling is a common practice in Vietnam, especially in local markets. For foreign visitors, understanding how to negotiate in Vietnam is doubly important: exchanging with locals while trying to make good deals.

Bargaining in Vietnam - Picture : Mr Linh's adventures

Why negotiate in Vietnam?

Bargaining is part of Vietnamese culture. Apart from supermarkets, restaurants and some shops with fixed prices, rates are negotiable.
We will not lie, foreigners are considered in Vietnam as rich people, because of their consumption habits, their attitude and even their way of dressing. All travelers, no matter where they come from, a developed country, a third world country and even another province of Vietnam, will be harassed on the most frequented tourist sites. If it can be seen as a form of opportunistic discrimination, there are rarely scams (but there are dishonest people everywhere in the known universe). Negotiations must be seen as part of the culture of the Palanches Country, in the sense of social ties, communication, relationship with the other. Once you get used to it, you could almost see it as a form of entertainment.
This is something to keep in mind when traveling to Vietnam: haggling will be, at one time or another, inevitable. The rates are naturally inflated and negotiating a price is a kind of daily ritual that does not offend anyone. Another thing to keep in your memory: before complaining about paying more or too much, make the conversion to Euro or USD and see that most of the time, you will be offended that for a few cents, not enough to make a scene… Think about the indecent sum you left at the taxi that drove you to the airport to get here!
You may also read : Shopping in Country Market

That being said, one can also be tempted to think that with a financial situation that seems much better than locally, one can afford to pay the high price, while giving oneself the good conscience to participate in the local economy. This is a miscalculation: by acting in this way, we promote a culture of inflated prices among the less honest while creating a serious shortfall among honest people. Also, agreeing to buy things at a higher price doesn’t mean you’re a generous person; it’s just a chance for greedy people to take advantage of you. On the contrary, negotiating will be particularly well seen in the sense that it indicates the person – in addition to his interest in the coveted thing - has respect for a popular culture deeply rooted in the daily life of Vietnamese
Just relax, read this article and on the spot, approach this thorny issue in a playful and especially smiling way. Haggle yes, but remaining friendly, pleasant and patient with Vietnamese sellers. Here, the two key words are respect and win-win, knowing that collecting a decent income in Vietnam is still complicated, even nowadays and especially for street vendors.

Negotiating in Vietnam - Picture : City Pass Guide

Tips for a successful negotiation

Learn some phrases of Vietnamese

Knowing a few simple phrases in Vietnamese can be extremely helpful when discussing prices with local people. It is advisable to learn how to say numbers, how to ask the price, how to say "It’s too expensive!"…
Learn more about Vietnamese Language

Find out about the prices

To get an idea of the market price, it is strongly advised to take a look in store before deciding to buy something. This not only allows you to compare prices between stores, but also gives an idea of the price to negotiate.

Bargaining in Vietnam - Picture : Vietnam On Line

Offer half the asking price

It is generally recommended to offer half the initial price. This may seem extreme, but it is a common starting point for negotiations in Vietnam. There is a good chance that the seller is anything but OK. So, gradually increase the price to the limit of what you want. If there is still disagreement, pretend to leave…

Don’t show your wad of bills

If a merchant sees that you are taking a lot of money out of your wallet, he may be tempted to inflate the price. Also, only take out your money at the end of the bargain

Negotiate in Vietnam Dong

In the spirit of bargaining at the local price and not special tourist price, we will negotiate in Dong, the dollar having an astonishing tendency to undergo rounding never in favor of the buyer… Always in the spirit of bonding, not just the bargaining, furnish the conversation. Try to avoid an escalation of numbers by asking for the Vietnamese price, not the price for Americans, for example (perhaps in Vietnam more than elsewhere, it is widely accepted that whoever has dollars can afford to spend them).…

Be respectful

Maintain a respectful attitude throughout the negotiation process. Remember that the goal is to reach a mutually acceptable price, not to win a battle.


Bargaining in Vietnam - Picture : Mr Linh's adventures


Haggling in Vietnam is not just about getting a lower price, it’s about engaging in the local culture. But overall, trading is a tactical game – a useful skill for shopping in Vietnam, so go ahead and experiment. With smile, calm and patience – who knows what a bargain you can get?
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