The art of bargaining in Vietnam

By: Vinh Dao

While Ho Chi Minh City has it’s share of shopping malls plying Guess handbags and froyo in air conditioned comfort, shopping at one of the local markets can give one a better sense of the city’s cultural, social and culinary heartbeat. These markets, mainly ones tailored to tourists offer a wide range of affordable clothing, souvenirs and handicrafts. However, finding the right price can seem elusive as price tags are non-existent in such markets as the famous Ben Thanh Market. This is where the art of bargaining comes into play.

Bargaining can be a fine line between friendly banter and downright indignation and it takes some experience to get it right. You can’t bargain correctly if you don’t know the price so it’s always good to do some research. Go to different shops to get a general idea on price. Once you have done your research, it’s time to start bargaining in earnest.

Head to that stall that you have been eyeing up and remember to walk with authority! Ask the shopkeeper to quote their price. The price hike will differ depending on the country and even region when it comes to Vietnam. In Ho Chi Minh City, the prices are inflated by about 30 – 40 percent on what a local can pay while in Hanoi, they can be inflated by up to 50 percent. Establish the price that you are willing to live with and counter offer with a number that is much lower than that. Some seasoned travellers that I know learn the word for expensive and feign indignation with a smile when offered an initial price. Shopkeepers know there will be a bargaining process so you might as well make it as fun as possible.

Try to stick close to your final price. If it doesn’t work out, and the shopkeeper isn’t budging, you can always try the walk off. This almost always works if the amount is within VND10,000. But if not, there’s always the next shop!

Whatever you do, don’t raise your voice or get angry. This causes you to lose face and makes the shopkeeper uncomfortable which won’t help with the bargaining

Enjoy the shopping extravaganza that is Vietnam with these bargaining tips!


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Top 5 photo tips for travelers in Vietnam

Top 5 tips to rent a motorbike in Vietnam

5 tips to manage your online reputation on Tripadvisor

5 tips of preparation for better score at golf

5 tips to take pictures of fireworks in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi

Top 5 tips for preventing theft in Vietnam

The art of bargaining in Vietnam

Tips to spot and avoid scam and pick pocket


Top 5 tips for preventing theft in Vietnam

By: Vinh Dao

Travelling in Vietnam can be a life changing experience with its beautiful scenery and rich cultural history. The main hassles you’ll encounter will be the milder sort, such as pushy vendors and over enthusiastic touts. Nevertheless, petty theft is on the rise.

Travellers tend to be targets not just because of the cameras or money they carry but also due to their unfamiliarity of their surroundings. These circumstances can make you vulnerable and put a bulls-eye on your back for thieves.

While the country is assuredly a friendly and safe place to travel, a little common sense and a few precautions can make your trip smooth and trouble-free.

  1. Use your camera strap. It might get uncomfortable wearing it in the heat and humidity but it’s easy for a cướp giật (thief on a motorbike) to grab onto your brand new Canon or Nikon DSLR and drive away.
  2. Use your front pockets. The back pocket of your shorts or trousers is an easy mark for any experienced pick pocket. Even better, use a money belt!
  3. Put your stuff away. Most thefts experienced by travellers are crimes of opportunity and leaving your iPad or credit cards out is a big welcome sign for a thief. If your luggage has a lock, use it.
  4. Put away your jewellery. Thieves on motorbikes love necklaces as they are easy to grab and small enough to pocket afterwards.
  5. While walking in the city, wear your bag across your shoulder. Also, switch the bag to the inside of the sidewalk to make it harder for a would-be thief.
  6. When checking Google Maps on your iPhone or other smartphone, hold it with two hands!

I know there is supposed to only be 5 but I just saw #6 happen to someone so I had to add it in! We hope these tips help make your trip to Vietnam as safe as can be and hope these tips can keep your trip as enjoyable as possible.


Other articles:

Top 5 tips for crossing the street in Vietnam

Top 5 photo tips for travelers in Vietnam

Top 5 tips to rent a motorbike in Vietnam

5 tips to manage your online reputation on Tripadvisor

5 tips of preparation for better score at golf

5 tips to take pictures of fireworks in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi

Top 5 tips for preventing theft in Vietnam

The art of bargaining in Vietnam

Tips to spot and avoid scam and pick pocket


5 Tips to take pictures of fireworks in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi

By: Vinh Dao

With Tet Festival just around the corner and fireworks displays in the works in the major city centres in Vietnam, we thought it best to give you some pointers on fireworks photography. This type of photography is very technical but we have to broken it down to you in five easy steps. The fireworks displays are organized annually as part of the Vietnamese Lunar New Year celebration. When the clock strikes midnight on February 9th, 2013, fireworks displays lasting up to 15 minutes will be fired up throughout the country. Therefore, be prepared for capturing these endless moments.

Bring a tripod

Getting those streaky light bursts takes long exposure times and can be tricky to take if you don’t have a sturdy tripod. If you don’t have a tripod handy, look for a place to set down your camera. You probably won’t get the flexibility that the tripod has but at least you’ll get the shot.

Local insight: Don’t try to hand hold the camera. All you will get are shaky images

Location, location and location

Once the fireworks show starts, you aren’t going to have the time to move around. Start looking for a spot early and try to find one with an unobstructed view of the sky. Also, be careful of crowds as it will be dark and they could knock into your tripod.

Local insight: Try getting higher than the crowd. Hotels, rooftop bars and the like are great vantage points.

Frame your shot

Shots of fireworks are boring unless you have some context behind them. Is there a famous building in the distance that could lend a frame of reference for the viewer? Also, is there anything in frame that can block the fireworks display?

Local insight: Try to get an unobstructed view of the rocket’s launch.

Go Manual

Play with your settings to get it right. Keep an aperture to f/8, focus to infinity (look for the double helix symbol on your lens) and use the lowest ISO your camera has to offer. The shutter speed will usually be the only variable in this equation.

Local insight: If you want to shoot multiple rockets exploding, use the Bulb setting.

Use your LCD screen

The best aspect of digital photography is the instant review of your image. Never is this more relevant than in this type of photography. After each shot, take a look at the image and adjust your camera settings accordingly.

Local insight: Don’t rely on the histogram to review exposures of this type.

I hope we have given you some great tips to make better fireworks photos!

Photo by: phatfreemiguel


Other articles:

Top 5 tips for crossing the street in Vietnam

Top 5 photo tips for travelers in Vietnam

Top 5 tips to rent a motorbike in Vietnam

5 tips to manage your online reputation on Tripadvisor

5 tips of preparation for better score at golf

5 tips to take pictures of fireworks in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi

Top 5 tips for preventing theft in Vietnam

The art of bargaining in Vietnam

Tips to spot and avoid scam and pick pocket

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