Secrets to Effective Haggling When Shopping in Hanoi
La Sinfonía del Rey Hotel & Spa

The first thing you should know about bargaining in Vietnam is that it is considered perfectly acceptable and even expected to argue with a merchant about the price of their goods or services. Bargaining is part of Vietnamese culture as through bargaining, people communicate with others, create and build up their relationship, not to mention a form of entertainment.

Vietnamese people bargain all the time because they are fond of price negotiating. However, all foreigners find it hard to bargain although they already know the real price or the fact that they know the price prevents them from bargaining successfully. Except for some places that they offer products labeled with fixed prices, feel free to bargain almost anytime and anywhere. 

But the question is, how can we bargain effectively? In order to get a successful deal, you need to combine different negotiating techniques together. You need to observe people’s facial expressions, their body language and gestures each time they set a selling price, and how they react after hearing your propose new price. It is extremely important to take into consideration all of these since they allow you to become better at reading people. So now, let’s be more detailed by doing some following techniques:

Learn the language 

Knowing the local language will help you a lot with haggling with the local merchant. It shows that you probably have stayed here for a while and know how much something should cost. Of course you don’t have to master the language but it would be significantly better if you can speak some of useful phrases such as: 

Đắt quá! Giảm giá cho em đi! – This is too expensive. Please give me a discount.

Giảm cho em …. thì em mua ạ! – If you can give me a ….. discount, I will buy this item,

Cái này giá ….. thì bán không? Bán cho em nhé! – Can you sell this item at …. (insert the price you want to bargain) for me? Please!

Em không mua đâu. Đắt quá. – I won’t buy this item. It’s too expensive.

Đắt như này thì mua sao nổi. Giảm giá đi ạ. – This is too expensive for me to buy. Give me a discount and I’ll buy it.

Do some research

It is widely known that larger commercial markets have more fat built into their prices for tourists, while smaller markets have less. Try to collect prices from as many shops as possible and then compare prices to get a sense of just how much of a discount you should ask for.

Have fun with it 

The old saying ‘you win more flies with honey than vinegar’ rings true when haggling. Make jokes, lay down some flattery and don’t forget to smile. Remember that humour is a big plus. Nobody wants to give a good deal to a sourpuss. 

Act like you don’t want it

The last trick, and most successful strategy, is to act like you are not that interested in what they are selling. The less you want it, the better you can bargain.

No matter how much you want the item, try to act as nonchalantly as you can. If it still doesn’t work, pretend to lose interest and walk away, your vendor is likely to lower the price for you. Be careful though cause this trick can backfire sometimes; if you really want that item and can’t find it in any other shops in the area, you might have to come back with your tail between your legs and pay the price they offer.

Know when to quit 

Sometimes you’ve just got to accept the price, even though you know that it’s more than what a local has to pay for it. If you’ve haggled, thrown in some sneaky Vietnamese and even walked away like you don’t want it anyway and the price still stays the same. Don’t be angry, go to another shop and try again or just accept that this is how things work around here. And if you still feel uncomfortable, think of how much you had to pay for a Frappuccino or a beer back home. Again, this is not a battle and there is no win or lose.

Only take out your wallet once you bargain successfully with The Merchants

The price may increase if merchants see you pull out a lot of money. So remember, only take out your wallet once you bargain successfully with the merchants in case they want to raise the price. Do not hesitate to walk away (they will call you back, not to worry!).

So, in order to haggling successfully, it is recommended that you combine all of these above tactics flexibly. The simple reason is because humans are complex and it takes a lot of effort and time to understand and persuade people. One ultimate rule is: each time you bargain successfully, it will act as reinforcement for future negotiating activities. The more you practice, the more you become professional at it. The key to a successful bargain is reaching a win-win solution: you get what you want with an appropriate price and the seller should be happy to sell it. 

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