Bargaining and Shopping in Hanoi’s Old Quarter or local market

Ethnic Minority Products
Ethnic Minority Products

Bargaining is a very special thing of the market culture in Vietnam. Wandering  a local market and the old town quarter area for shopping and bargaining with sellers is an interesting experience. You can purchase your favorite items with a surprisingly cheap price if you have good negotiation skills.

>> Dong Xuan Market – a busy trade center in Hanoi

>> Long Bien Market – the real hustle and bustle of Hanoi

Shopping in Hanoi
Foreign tourists shopping in Hanoi

Bargaining is a game, not a fight to the death

You should always enter into negotiations in a good frame of mind and a with a sense of humor. If an offer is too high, laugh it off, don’t get furious. Make a joke and counter offer; if in turn you are being unreasonable the trader will try to push you in the right direction. Feel free to try again, raising your bid, but keep in mind the real change in value – at the end of the day there is little point negotiating over less than a dollar.

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Don’t take it personally

A market trader’s job is to maximize profits, and fixed prices don’t always exist in Vietnam outside supermarkets. It is only natural for a trader to ‘have a go’ and see what they can get, and it is in no way an affront to you. The attitude in Vietnam is that if you take a higher price they’ve had a lucky day, and if they take the correct price they didn’t lose anything in trying – there is nothing personal about it.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that everyone is out to overcharge foreigners, either – Vietnamese people are just as likely to be overcharged, at least initially, and some local people can’t stand haggling either.

Tourists bargaining in local market

Know when to quit

If you are quibbling over less than 10,000 VND, stop. If you are beginning to lose your rag, stop. If you are thirsty, go get a drink and come back refreshed. If the trader is obviously just particularly stubborn, walk away – you are bound to find another person selling the same thing not far away.

Stay away from bargaining?

Bargaining is a game and should be fun for both parties. If you’re not enjoying it, stop. If you can’t bargain without losing your temper, don’t – just pay the price requested. Most travelers will have saved $1,000s to visit Vietnam, and yet some will let one disagreement over less than $1 for a motorbike ride ruin their day – a complete waste of their limited time in the country. Pay the price asked – your trip will still be cheap compared to travelling anywhere outside Asia, and you will enjoy yourself an awful lot more.


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