It’s a way of life. These days there is often discount for cash but in Vietnam, battering is a way of life. Trading with villagers and in local markets is normal though it is important to remember that local Vietnamese must not be seen to lose face. If you are new to Vietnam or even if you are enjoying a Vietnam package once again, there are some basic things to remember and respect is certainly one of them. You will find the Vietnamese to be a basically happy people but you should remember that they will wish to avoid conflict, and you should as well. If you go shopping in Vietnam, you should haggle but do so politely so that both you and the vendor are basically happy at the end of the transaction.
Bargaining between locals happens every day and often over small sums. Tourists are sometimes seen as an opportunity to make a little more but you should not assume that you are being asked for far more than the value of a product. Up in the highlands in the North, locals often find pleasure from the fact that visitors like what they have made.
Bargaining may not come easily to tourists travelling in Vietnam, but here are some tips to help:
• Always keep your temper and be patient. You will grow to enjoy bargaining once you get used to it. You are unlikely to have the language skills to help you so smile, be friendly and use signs for the amount you want to pay.
• If you are in a market, then perhaps go past the first stalls where the prices may be the highest? By the time you have heard what a few salesmen have shouted you may have a better idea of the real price.
• You can walk away if you feel the price is too high: you may be called back. If you aren’t you will certainly get an idea of the real price of something and you can use that information later.
• Bargain in local currency. If you have dollars then locals will assume you have them to spend.
• Make sure you have small bills of currency. It is a way to dispel the idea you have plenty of money.
• Smile and use your winning personality.
These are merely tips and no one tip is guaranteed to succeed. You should remember that in most cases you are negotiating over a fairly small amount of money. That is not to say that you want to waste it unnecessarily. It is a temptation to think in your own home currency about what you are spending. There is nothing wrong with that.
As your tour of Vietnam proceeds, you are likely to enjoy shopping not only because of the market environment but also because of the communication you will have with local people. At the end of the day, you will look at what you have bought and smile at the process it took to get those things.