10 tips to savvy shopping in VN

 

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.

DON’T feel awkward or rude about bargaining: everyone bargains in Vietnam and you’ll look like a green tourist if you don’t.

DO insist on being quoted a price as soon as you start showing interest in a commodity or requesting a service. It’s 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’s quite probably too expensive, so

DON’T look happy or resigned to paying what you’re asked: always begin by showing your gentle disapproval, tut-tutting or saying something like: Đắt quá! (Too expensive).

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)…

DON’T hesitate to walk away if you cannot agree on a price: either they’ll come after you or you’ll find the same thing on sale somewhere else.

DO stay Zen… Shopping can be quite a rodeo when you’re surrounded by eager stallholders all shouting, smiling, waving and pointing at their wares.

DON’T buy antiques to take home unless you’re confident that you can get them out of the country. The law prohibits their export, but remains vague as to what exactly constitutes as an antique.

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. 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 aren’t around.

 

DON’T expect to get the better of any deal: Vietnamese have boundless reserves of experience and patience in doing business.

Ref: Good buys in Vietnam:

  • Lacquer ware
  • Ceramics Painting
  • Woodblock prints
  • Silk
  • Clothes in general
  • Embroidery
  • Carvings (stone and wood)
  • Precious or semi-precious stones (such as jade)
  • Jewellery
  • Rugs

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.

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