Shopping is a mixed bag in Vietnam and a large part of its appeal lies in the challenge of purchasing what you want and to buy it at the price you think it should be. Unfortunately, as a foreigner or expat, chances are you might be charged noticeably more than locals on any goods or services throughout the country, especially in a touristy location such as Bến Thành Market. Having a Vietnamese friend with you may help, but most salespeople will still manage to overcharge you. Other shopping tactics include finding the price of the product you’re after through friends or online before starting, and browsing as many stalls or shops as possible before buying to secure the cheapest price.

Another important aspect of shopping in Vietnam is bargaining. Before you ask the shop owner how much that shiny postcard is, mentally decide how much you are willing to pay for it and then offer about a third of that amount. The idea is that you will eventually meet in the middle, and the situation becomes delightfully win-win. As a justifiable yet somewhat despicable last resort, pretend to leave without buying since this will usually spur the vendor to reluctantly agree on your stated price.

For information on shopping go to “Mac Qua!”: Why We Bargain in Vietnam

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