In Vietnam, purchasing and trading culture are quite different from Western countries as well as most Oriented ones. These differences can create some challenges for tourists with their shopping during Vietnam vacations. However, follow some useful shopping tips in Vietnam below will make purchases easier as well as you will get things at a surprisingly cheap price.
Shopping Tip #1
Do always ask around to get an idea of basic prices: a ride on a motorbike, a plate of fried noodles, a packet of cigarettes, a kilo of mangoes, etc.
Shopping Tip #2
For more important purchases, try and get a local friend to go along with you, or better still, let him do the buying without you: prices are often lower when foreigners are not around.
Shopping Tip #3
Do not feel awkward or rude about bargaining. Everyone bargains in Vietnam and you will look like a green tourist if you do not.
Shopping Tip #4
Do insist on being quoted a price as soon as you start showing interest in a commodity or requesting a service. It is too late to ask once the silk shirt has been wrapped or after your bike has been fixed. This first price is your starting point and it is quite probably too expensive, so do not look happy or resigned to paying what you are asked. Always begin by showing your gentle disapproval tut-tutting or saying something like “Dat qua!” (Too expensive).
Shopping Tip #5
Do consider various bargaining options, not just a straight fight over figures. If you buy several, the price should come down. Ask them to throw in some small extra you would like, for the same price. If you are quoted a price in US dollars, ask how much that is in Vietnamese dong and try rounding it down. Be forewarned, though, that the concept of the special offer is still in its infancy here (like 1 percent off if you buy a truckload)…
Shopping Tip #6
Do not hesitate to walk away if you cannot agree on a price: either they will come after you or you will find the same thing on sale somewhere else.
Shopping Tip #7
Do not stay Zen… Shopping can be quite a rodeo when you are surrounded by eager stallholders all shouting, smiling, waving and pointing at their wares.
Shopping Tip #8
Do not buy antiques to take home unless you are confident you can get them out of the country. The law prohibits their export but remains vague as to what exactly constitutes an antique.
Shopping Tip #9
Do buy ethnic minority products directly from ethnic minority people, if at all possible, rather than from shops run by ethnic majority merchants, who often exploit their suppliers ruthlessly.
Shopping Tip #10
Do not expect to get the better of any deal. Vietnamese have boundless reserves of experience and patience in doing business. You stand little chance of matching them!