There are so many little things that tourists struggle with in Vietnam and we do our best to provide you with information so you’re prepared. Here are some unwritten rules that will help you during your travels:
How to Bargain
Some items and services in Vietnam are fixed costs and are non-negotiable. This includes restaurants, hotels, various tickets for transportation, and more. However there are a lot of items that don’t have a fixed cost and you can bargain with the seller. This includes food and items from local markets on the street and non-official transportation from bikes and more. Rates for these things can be negotiated.
Although negotiating can be fun and is part of the atmosphere with the local markets, please be respectful. Make sure to smile during the process or else the vendors will not come down on the price. It’s important to remember that a lot of the vendors are poor and typically do not make a lot of money. While it’s fine to bargain, please try not to do it too much. Asking them to drop the price a lot will be seen as an insult and they will be offended. At the same time don’t get tricked into over paying for items.
Public transportation like taxi’s are usually metered and there is no negotiating. However if you’re traveling a long distance, it may be wise to negotiate a fixed rate so the ride doesn’t cost you a fortune. If you’re getting transportation from a bicycle taxi, always discuss the price in advance. Yes it’s complicated but this is all part of experiencing Vietnam. If you’re prepared the negotiations should be fun. If you have questions about what to negotiate and what to leave alone, we’ll be happy to educate you.
How to Tip Properly
Tipping in Vietnam is not as big of a deal as it is in other countries. There is no general rule as to what percentage you should tip, but do your best to be respectful. Tips mean a lot to employees because wages are usually quite small. Tour guides typically rely on tips to boost their wages so anything is appreciated. Average tips are close to $5.00 – $10.00 for the day.
It is also acceptable to tip those who assist you in public transportation, including servicemen at railway stations and even your taxi driver. If you’re staying in a hotel and the hotel provides service of any kind, it would be a nice gesture to tip anyone who has helped you during your stay. It’s important to note that there is a big difference in tipping expectations between North and South Vietnam. Because of heavy tourist traffic, places like Saigon expect tips and they expect them more often.
Be Aware of Begging
It is common to find beggars asking for money. This is especially true for tourist areas. It’s fine to lend a helping hand to those in need, but be cautious because some beggars aren’t genuine and shouldn’t be begging at all. Even children are part of schemes that try to manipulate tourists into giving them money when they don’t need it. If you’re consistently bothered try to report it to an officer. Otherwise do your best to ignore them and be on your way.
In some cases the beggars you’ll come across are genuine and are in desperate need of money and other items. One way to tell the difference is to watch and see if they approach Vietnamese people. If they’re only asking you for money then chances are they’re simply trying to take advantage of a tourist. But if they’re asking the locals there’s a good chance they’re begging for a reason.
If you’re worried about your money being spent on the wrong items, feel free to buy clothes or food that will also benefit them. If you do decide to give, make it discreet. Making it obvious will only attract additional beggars to you.