Most foreign visitors travel to Hanoi or other parts of Vietnam are not familiar with shopping in small shops or street vendors here. Here are some useful tips to go shopping in Hanoi.
Use basic Vietnamese
First and foremost, you are recommended to learn and use some basic Vietnamese expressions such as “bao nhiêu tiền” (How much is this), “ôi giời ơi” (oh my God). It is really helpful for you to buy goods or use any services in Hanoi’s streets in some cases that vendors or taxi drivers do not know English.
Be prepared to bargain
You don’t have to be in Vietnam very long to realise that street vendors lining the streets of the Old Quarter will charge according to their perception of your ability to pay means-tested prices or, as I like to call it, the ‘foreign premium’.
“According to my Vietnamese friends, foreigners can be charged upwards of three to four times normal rates”. Thus, you should to learn how to bargain when you buy something in Vietnam. It had better if you consult your Vietnamese friends or your tour guide for its price. Or if you know how much things is worth, you properly bargain it down. Of course, it only should be applied for street vendors, or places without printed price tags.
Value and cost
“Ultimately, it’s inevitable that you’ll pay a higher price for something and it can suck to feel like you’ve been ripped off”.
To this, I say that value is in the eye of the beholder (more so for rich travellers than expats being paid in dong). Sure, you paid more than you should have, but how much did you want it? How much less did you pay than you would back home?
Value is in the eye of the beholder and at the very least, knowing how much you value something might soothe the humiliating feeling that you’ve been swindled, after you’ve proudly flaunted your counterfeit Ray Ban Club masters purchased for VND 100,000, only to be told you could have had them for VND 20,000.”