The Art of Bargaining in Vietnam

When traveling in Vietnam you barter, bargain, and haggle. Its part of the culture. Its a way of life. And that’s the way it is.

For foreigners and tourists it is not the way things work at home. But with the right attitude, it can still be a lot of fun, and can save you money. Here are a few helpful hints to get you started.

First and foremost you need to smile and embrace the entire process. From picking up things and investigating their value, to the haggling, to the actual purchase, it is important to remain positive and friendly. Having a pen and paper, or a calculator will help greatly if you haven’t yet brushed up on your Vietnamese. As well, coming into the barter with a little background information – an estimated price – will also be to your advantage. And, predetermining a fair price that you are willing to pay is key to the success of the experience!

When bargaining, don’t be a afraid to really low ball. If you’ve gone too low, you will know by the look on the sellers face. Nevertheless, continue with poise, tact, and strategy with the back-and-forth negotiations. A little acting and drama goes a long way, and might add an extra dynamic to the show. So go ahead, let it all out, especially if you have found that extra special something.

You can consider adding a number of items to the tally, helping to discount the overall price – remember to be strategic here though. Also, finding a small flaw could also be a means of marking down the price.

Finally, if you just can’t seem to get the price you want, but think you are close, you can try the ol’-thanks-but-no-thanks and walk away approach. This is a little risky because if it doesn’t work you will loose face by returning, and thus be forced have to start all over somewhere else. Nevertheless, ever so often it works like a charm!

At the end of the day, be proud of the items you bought and the prices you paid. Reflect on the people you dealt with, and forever cherish your purchases and memories of traveling in Vietnam.

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