Guide to Haggling at the Local Markets of Vietnam

Your trip to Vietnam won’t be complete without a little bit of shopping. And given the sheer number of local markets and bazaars all over the country, it’s hard not to be tempted to shop. Thankfully, shopping in Vietnam will not really blow your travel budget. Everything is cheap, from souvenir items to local handicrafts. But if you’re on a budget or perhaps you intend on buying a lot of things, it would help if you haggle a little bit. So here’s your guide to shopping and haggling at the local markets of Vietnam.

1. Do Not Get Too Attached

Woman shopping at night market

Local markets in Vietnam can get really overwhelming especially if it’s your first time. There are just too many things to buy and you can’t even decide where to get started. Not only that, most of the shops sell pretty much the same things! If you find something that you like and you have not seen at least half of the shops in the market, think twice before deciding to buy. Even if you love the item so much, do not get too attached without checking other shops. You might just end up regretting later on.

2. Learn How To Do the Poker Face

HO CHI MINH, VIETNAM - AUGUST 5, 2014: An unidentified man buys something at a jewelry shop at the Ben Thanh Market, one of the most famous landmarks of Saigon.

Try not to look too interested in an item even if deep inside, you actually like the item so much. If the seller will notice that you are very interested in something, they can give it to you at a higher price since they knew that you would be willing to spend that much for that particular item. Try to take a closer look at the item and see if you can point out some flaws on the product. For instance, you can say that the quality of the shirt is not really that good. The seller might actually lower the price just so they can entice you into buying the product.

3. Have Fun with your Shopping

We love shopping together! Beautiful young loving couple walking by the street while beautiful woman carrying shopping bags and smiling

Haggling should not stress you out when shopping at the local markets in Vietnam. Sure, the sellers can get really pushy sometimes but just remember that this is their job. The goal is to sell as many items as they can. Do not feel embarrass or get irritated if they are being pushy. Just laugh it off and maintain your composure. Make some jokes and do not forget to smile and be friendly. The friendlier you are, the more likely that the seller will be willing to offer you a good price.

4. Try to Learn a Few Local Languages

You do not really need to master the Vietnamese language just so you can get a good deal on your shopping. Besides, Vietnamese is a somewhat difficult language to master so it will take a while before you can be fluent with it. Just try to learn a few local languages that can help with your shopping. Perhaps, you can practice how to say hello, hi, and thank you. Again, the more friendly you are, the more that the vendors will be happy to give you a good deal.

5. Don’t Display Your Wealth in Public

Group Of Tourists Drinking Coconut On Thailand Street Market, Cheerful Man And Women In Traditional Fruits Bazaar In Asia Concept

When shopping at the local markets in Vietnam, carry just enough cash for your shopping needs. As much as possible, avoid flaunting your money in public. Try not to wear too much jewelry or wear fancy clothes. If you appear wealthy to the vendors, they will hesitate to give you a bargain thinking that you can actually afford to pay the higher price. Just wear casual clothing and carry a small handbag where you can secure your money. Make sure that your cash is also within easy reach so it will be convenient to pay for your shopping purchases.

6. Gauge your Surroundings

Hanoi, Vietnam - May 25, 2016. People at street market in Old Town of Hanoi, Vietnam. Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam and the country second largest city by population.

When haggling, you also need to consider the area or the place where you are shopping. Are you shopping at a small market outside of Ho Chi Minh or perhaps at a local market in Hanoi? Those markets in the city center usually have stiff competition so they might be open to price negotiation. But this may not be the case for smaller markets outside of the city. Take time to look around and compare prices so you can get a sense of how much discount you should bargain for.

7. Bargain a Fair Price

SA PA - DECEMBER 10, 2016: Street scene with local Hmong and Dao people comming and selling goods at sunday market on december 10, 2016 in Sa Pa, Vietnam.

When you haggle, you must also make sure that you’re haggling at a fair price. Remember, these vendors are making a living, which is why they also need to have some profit. Haggling is exciting but never lose sight of the fact that the products you are buying are someone else’s livelihood. If you’re buying a lot of stuff, then it’s probably fair to ask for around 40% to 50% discount. But if you’re buying only a few items, you should try to bargain for less than 40% of the original price.

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