How to find bargains at the Hanoi Night Market

How to Haggle for Bargains in Vietnam

Haggling is a normal part of business and shopping in Vietnam. Whereas in the West, haggling only happens with large purchases, like housing, or cars, but is otherwise absent from the day-to-day small expenses.

Therefore, travelers must hone their bargaining skills prior to arriving in Vietnam. In this post, we will provide some guidance and small tips to get your mind prepared for haggling.

1) Don’t get mad. Practice!

You will get ripped-off, at first

As a tourist in Vietnam, you will be overcharged most of the time. Some travellers are so unaccustomed to haggling that they get emotional when they discovered how much they have been ripped-off.

Do not take haggling-failures as personal insults. Haggling is a skill, so try to learn the lessons below and apply them in practice.

2) Don’t reveal what really interests you

Make Diversions. Spread-out your interest.

Don’t show excess interest in any one product. The shop owners are watching you like a hawk: they are reading your body-language to guess what most interests you (that is there job, to know what sells). If they know how much you like something, it gives them the advantage.

Try spreading-out your interest among many items in the shop, and pretend to be interested in things that are only somewhat your fancy. Make sure to target quality products: this shows that you have good taste, and it also queues-up additional items that can serve as bargaining chips later on in the haggling process (more below). But most importantly, it keeps the owners uncertain about what you really want.

3) Responible negging

Look for the faults in a product

Before you haggle, look for at least 3 things bad about a product. Try these:

  • its not the colour that I want
  • it doesn’t have a feature that I want
  • it is not the exact size that I need
  • the adjacent store is selling it for cheaper
  • I don’t have space to carry it home

A good salesperson will try to argue these points (“No, it does fit you”), so the more time they are arguing about nonsense diversions, the less time they have to work their voodoo sales magic on the features you actually care about.

4) Start at 50% off

Or lower

Start at 50%-off the sticker price, and negotiate-up from there.

5) “But can you throw this in?”

Queue-up a variety of nice-to-have auxiliary items to serve as bargaining chips

If they are unwilling to reduce their asking price, try negotiating a discount for a 2nd “throw-in” item. This requires some foresight, in that you should find one or two smaller items you want, prior to purchasing your main item — its not something to be done at the last second as a hail-mary bargaining trick.

Find throw-in items that are worth approximately 25% the value of the main item you want. If the salesperson is not giving you a bargain, you can say “okay, I will pay your asking price, but I want you to throw-in this smaller X as well”. This is a win-win!

6) Be prepared to walk away

If they don’t call you back once you walk out the door, then you know that your asking price was too low and their asking price was probably close-to-fair. Come back later.

7) Buy two

Good bargains don’t come often, so buy two

You can always demand a bigger discount for more items you buy. But, there is another benefit to going-up in count: consider that you have travelled a long long way to find a nicely-priced hat. After two years of wear and tear, you will probably regret not having bought another one.

If you find a good deal for something you like, remember that it is unlikely that you will ever find that same item and deal again. We have definitely regretted not buying two or three of our favourite items that we got as one-time great deals in far-flung places of Vietnam. Don’t make this mistake! Also, you can get largers discounts for more items you purchase.

8) Check online is your friend

Use online marketplaces like Lazada or Shopee to get a starting sense of the fair market price for an item.


Vietnamese people are shrewd bargain-negotiators. So don’t feel bad if things don’t go your way the first couple of times. Bargaining is a skill, in speech and body, that requires some practice.

Bonus Tips: Avoid saying “yes”

An age-old sales tactic is to get you to say “yes” to small trivial things, and build-you-up for the “big ask”. Let them talk, but avoid this age-old trick that gets you agreeing to everything they say.

What tips or advice do you have for would-be shoppers in Vietnam? Leave us your tips in the comments below.

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