In Vietnam, haggling is a part of life - and if you can't play the game you're liable to pay for it!
Many Westerners find bartering pretty awkward and uncomfortable, but it is a skill that can be learned - and if you follow these simple rules, you'll quickly gather confidence and become a haggling pro.
The first and most important rule. A smile sets the tone for the negotiation, and goes a long way!
2. Know the going rate
Ask around a few vendors selling similar items, and check with your guide if you have one. Having a rough idea of what something is worth is integral to successful haggling!
3. Decide what you're willing to pay before you start
It's all too easy to get carried away, so decide on a figure you're comfortable with and stick with it.
4. Offer 50% of the asking price
As a rule of thumb (and depending on the item), counter a high opening gambit with a figure around 50% of what you've been offered. These opening offers set the parameters for negotiation. In general, you should aim to pay around 70% of the original asking price.
5. Negotiate in local currency
In many countries you can pay in US dollars as well as the local currencies, but this will always result in a bad conversion rate and a worse deal for you. Always plump for the local currency.
6. Walk away
One of the best tricks in a haggler's arsenal is the tactical walk away. Feign disinterest, and if the vendor still has room to manoeuvre you can be sure they'll come running after you! If they don't, you've pushed them as far as they can go.
7. Go for a multi-item deal
Another good tactic is to try to knock money off your purchase by suggesting a multi-item deal - a trick that works a treat.
8. Don't get carried away
At the end of the day, that last handful of coins is probably worth more to the vendor than it is to you - so don't drive too hard a bargain. It's easy to get carried away once you're a haggling pro!