Why You Guys Should Bargain in Vietnam at Least Once?

Hey there, fellow adventurers! Let me spill the beans on why bargaining in Vietnam is an absolute must-do. It's more than just haggling; it's a cultural dance, a playful exchange where you connect with locals and snag unique treasures.
Think of it as a friendly game where you get to flex your negotiation skills. A little back-and-forth, a few smiles, and suddenly, you've unlocked a world of possibilities – lower prices, personalized souvenirs, and unforgettable memories. It's a win-win for everyone involved.
how to bargain in vietnam
Bargaining in Vietnam makes both the seller and the buyer happy and satisfied!
So, don't be a wallflower! Embrace the art of bargaining in Vietnam. It's your ticket to stretching that budget, creating personalized treasures, and experiencing the true spirit of our vibrant culture. Trust me, it's a whole lot of fun!

How to Bargain in Vietnam?

I Will Tell You A Bargaining Story Straight from the Streets of Saigon

One time, I got the chance to observe my customer bargaining in Vietnam for the first time. It was his first time in Ho Chi Minh City, so he did tons of research about places to go, what to do, and things to keep in mind. That was how he found out about the culture of bargaining in Vietnam, and he learned some basic tips that he found online. 
During his stay in Ho Chi Minh City, I took him to the Ben Thanh Market, where he put all his online bargaining lessons to good use. He was looking for a Non La (conical hat) to buy as a souvenir, and the vendor told him the initial price was 500,000 VND. Now, 500,000 VND is too expensive for a Non La, so they had a short interaction like this:
That was how his first bargain in Ho Chi Minh City went; he was excited and happy that he got a good deal, and the vendor was not angry with him. 

Your Turn to Haggle Like a Pro: Insider Tips from KissTour

Now, you might be thinking, "That sounds fun, but how do I do it?" Fear not, my friends, for I'm here to share the secrets of successful bargaining in Vietnam:
  1. Do your research: Before you hit the markets, get a feel for the fair prices of items you're interested in. Ask around, browse online, or even observe what locals pay.
  2. Start low, aim high: A good rule of thumb is to counter with about half the asking price. But don't be afraid to go lower if it seems outrageous! Remember, it's a starting point.
  3. The walk-away magic: If the price isn't budging, be prepared to walk away. Often, this triggers a last-minute discount. It's a classic bargaining move!
  4. Keep it light and friendly: Remember, bargaining is a conversation, not a battle. A smile, a joke, and a bit of friendly banter can go a long way.
  5. Calculator is your friend: Language barriers? No problem! Use a calculator to show your offers and avoid misunderstandings.
  6. Know your limit: Decide beforehand the maximum you're willing to pay, and stick to it. Don't get caught up in the excitement and overspend.
  7. Learn a few key phrases: A little effort goes a long way. A simple "Xin chào" (hello), "Cảm ơn" (thank you), or "Bớt chút đi" (give me a discount) will impress vendors and add a touch of cultural exchange to your experience.
Now that you've mastered the art of bargaining like a true Vietnamese local, it's time to delve deeper into the cultural tapestry of this fascinating country.  Understanding the customs, traditions, and etiquette of Vietnam will not only enrich your travels but also help you connect with the locals on a deeper level. 
So, let's explore the "Things You Should Know About Vietnamese Culture" to ensure you navigate your interactions with grace and respect, making your trip even more rewarding.
Ah, the markets of Vietnam! They're a feast for the senses, buzzing with energy, overflowing with vibrant colors, and of course, packed with hidden treasures waiting to be discovered. As a KissTour guide, I love taking my groups to these bustling hubs of haggling.

Traditional Markets (Chợ)

These are your one-stop shops for everything under the sun. Think mountains of fresh produce, stacks of clothing, shiny trinkets, and souvenirs galore. Some of my top picks include Ben Thanh Market in Ho Chi Minh City, Dong Xuan Market in Hanoi, and the Central Market in Hoi An. It's a sensory overload, in the best way possible!

Night Markets

As the sun sets, a whole new world of shopping comes alive. Night markets are a magical experience, with their twinkling lights, delicious street food aromas, and a relaxed atmosphere. Don't miss the Hanoi Night Market, Hoi An Night Market, or the bustling Nha Trang Night Market. They're perfect for an evening stroll and a bit of bargaining magic.
While Vietnam boasts an array of captivating night markets across the country, none quite capture the essence of Saigon's nocturnal charm like those found in Ho Chi Minh City. Each market offers its own unique flavor and shopping experience, so let's take a closer look at the best night markets in Ho Chi Minh City to visit during your stay.

Street Vendors

You'll find these friendly folks all over Vietnam, especially in popular tourist areas. They sell everything from tasty snacks to handcrafted jewelry. Don't be afraid to negotiate, especially for non-food items. A little friendly banter can go a long way!

Craft Villages

These villages are where traditional Vietnamese craftsmanship comes alive. You can watch artisans create beautiful ceramics, textiles, lacquerware, and more. Many villages have shops where you can interact with the artisans and haggle over prices. It's a chance to bring home a piece of authentic Vietnamese culture.

Tailor Shops

Vietnam is renowned for its skilled tailors who can create custom clothing at affordable prices. Don't hesitate to negotiate, especially if you're ordering multiple items or requesting alterations. You'll be amazed at what they can create!
Armed with your newfound haggling skills and a list of potential shopping havens, are you ready to put them to the test? Let's head to Ho Chi Minh City, a shopper's paradise with an eclectic mix of traditional markets, modern malls, and trendy boutiques. Discover the "Best Shopping in Ho Chi Minh" and uncover unique finds that'll make your trip truly memorable.

Where not to Bargain?

However, you can't bargain everywhere in Vietnam. There are certain places where bargaining is not typically practiced or may be considered inappropriate. Here are some examples of where you generally should not bargain:

Established Retail Stores

Larger retail businesses, department stores, and supermarkets in Vietnam typically show fixed prices for their products. Bargaining is neither expected nor customary in these places. 

Restaurants and Cafes

Bargaining is not common at restaurants, cafes, or food establishments. Meal and beverage prices are normally displayed on the menu, and no negotiations are expected. In general, it is best to pay the quoted price for your meals or drinks in these settings.

Hotels and Accommodations

When reserving hotel rooms or accommodations in Vietnam, prices are often predetermined, and negotiation is not popular. Instead, pricing is usually decided by accommodation type, amenities, and time of year. It is recommended to inquire about any available promotional rates or discounts directly with the hotel or through Internet booking sites.

Tourist Attractions and Entry Fees

Entry fees to prominent tourist destinations, museums, historical sites, and landmarks in Vietnam are often fixed and non-negotiable. The prices are determined by the authorities or groups that manage the locations, and negotiating is not expected or permitted.

Transport Services

Taxis, ride-sharing services, and public transportation fares in Vietnam are largely fixed and should be respected. Negotiating prices with taxi or ride-sharing drivers is not typical. Instead, it is encouraged to employ meters or pre-negotiated prices with drivers.

Here are some things to keep in mind when bargaining in Vietnam

Before practicing your negotiation skills in the marketplaces in Vietnam, here are a few things to keep in mind in order to have a fun, fair, and exciting interaction with the locals:

Approach with Politeness and Respect

Begin the bargaining process in a friendly and respectful manner. Maintaining a friendly manner will help you develop a positive interaction with the vendor, as Vietnamese culture favors politeness.

Start with a Reasonable Offer

Begin the bargaining process by giving a price significantly less than your intended ultimate price. This enables you to negotiate while demonstrating to the seller that you are serious about achieving a fair agreement.

Use Non-Verbal Communication

In circumstances where language barriers exist, try nonverbal communication or use body language to express your intended message. To help people comprehend, you can utilize gestures, show numbers on a calculator, or write down amounts. 

Don't Bargain Unreasonably

While bargaining is expected, it is important to be fair and avoid pushing too hard for an incredibly cheap cost. Remember that vendors must earn a livelihood as well, and giving ridiculously low prices may be insulting or lead to an unpleasant experience.

Examine the Quality and Finishing

Examine the product thoroughly for signs of low quality, such as bad stitching, flimsy materials, or uneven printing. Authentic products are typically produced with greater attention to detail and better overall workmanship.

Enjoy the Experience

Bargaining in Vietnam should be a fun and interesting rather than stressful experience. Accept the cultural side of negotiation, embrace the local market ambiance, and enjoy interacting with the merchants. It provides an opportunity to learn about local cultures and interact with the Vietnamese people.


How much Vietnamese should I learn to improve my bargaining experience? Are there any key phrases I should master?

You don’t actually need to learn a lot of Vietnamese words to improve your bargaining experience; just some basic words and numbers will help convey your desired price to the vendors.  
Vietnamese PhrasesApproximate English Pronunciation
English Phrases
Trăm Chum Hundred
Bao nhiêu?Bao knee-oo?How much
Cao quá!Cow kwa!
Too high!
Giảm đi Yam deeLower, please
[Price] được không?[Price] dook kong?Is [price] okay?
Không, cảm ơnKong, kam uhnNo, thank you

So, while a little bit of Vietnamese goes a long way, there are still essential phrases beyond numbers and bargaining that will enhance your overall travel experience. 
Let's explore some of the most crucial Vietnamese phrases for travel that every visitor should have in their toolkit in our comprehensive guide, "Vietnamese Phrases for Travel - What Every Tourist Needs to Know". This will equip you with the language skills to navigate everything from ordering food to asking for directions and engaging in friendly conversations with locals.

Is it ever acceptable to walk away from a bargain without buying?

Yes, it is perfectly acceptable to walk away from a bargain without buying when traveling in Vietnam. Don’t be afraid to walk away, but remember to show respect by saying thank you before walking away. Here are a few reasons to consider if you should walk away from a bargain:
  1. Quality: Carefully inspect the product before buying. If the product seems to be of poor quality or not as you expected, don't be afraid to walk away.
  2. Price: While haggling is a normal part of the buying culture in Vietnam, you should not overpay or feel pressured to buy something you don't genuinely want.
  3. Pressure: Some salespeople may use tactics to make you feel obligated to buy. Stay calm and confident, and don't hesitate to leave if you feel.
  4. Actual need: Only buy things you genuinely need or really like. Avoid buying things just because they are cheap or because you feel pressured.

What are some common mistakes tourists make while bargaining in Vietnam, and how can I avoid them?

Bargaining is an essential part of the shopping experience in Vietnam, and it can be a fun and rewarding way to get a good deal. However, tourists often make common mistakes that can lead them to overpay or get scammed. Here are some of the most common mistakes tourists make while bargaining in Vietnam and how you can avoid them:
Mistake 1: Not doing their research
Before you start bargaining, it's important to have a general idea of what the fair price for an item is. You can do this by researching online, asking locals, or checking out prices at other shops. If you don't have a good idea of what the fair price is, you're more likely to overpay.
Mistake 2: Starting too high
When you start bargaining, it's important to start with a price that is lower than what you're willing to pay. If you start too high, the seller will be less likely to negotiate with you. A good rule of thumb is to start at about half of the asking price.
Mistake 3: Not being patient
Bargaining can take time, so it's important to be patient. Don't get frustrated if you don't get the price you want right away. Just keep walking away and coming back, and eventually, you'll get a price you're happy with.
Mistake 4: Being afraid to walk away
If you're not happy with the price, don't be afraid to walk away. The seller may come back to you and offer you a better price. If they don't, there are plenty of other shops where you can buy the same item.
Mistake 5: Not being respectful
Bargaining should be a fun and respectful experience. Always be polite and respectful to the seller, even if you're not happy with the price.
Author: Vy

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