Here is some advice from mainly my experiences (and a couple other people who have also recently been):
- Bargain everything – unless it’s in a department store. This includes markets, taxis/Tuk-Tuks. You can negotiate price, but it will be seen as a commitment to buy, but you just need the courage to walk away if it isn’t what you want (even if the price is right).
- Things are cheaper in Chiang Mai than Phuket. If you see it in Chiang Mai, buy it there. The locals in Chiang Mai are also not as in your face.
- Don’t shake anyone’s hand or hi-5 anyone. You may be physically dragged into their store – happened to a friend lol!
- Tipping – not required, but certain places may try to pressure you to tip – especially if you’re on a tour, there are elements of the tour that involve extra charges/tips (I’ve always been a believer that receiving a tip is a priviledge and it should not be expected!)
- Be aware of the additional 10% and 7% VAT charge which can be added on top of meals and goods (make sure you’re aware if VAT is or isn’t included).
- Larger department stores can refund VAT, but you must spend at least 2000 baht
Here are my tips from my experience in Vietnam for those who are travelling in the near future:
- Do not consume ice or tap water. It is untreated from what I can gather, and I ran into stomach issues from consuming just lettuce that was washed with tap water. You may have a more ironclad stomach. It is advised that you carry anti-diarrhea and anti-vommit medicines.
- As a preference, try to travel in Vinasun or Mei-ling taxis. These are metered and you shouldn’t get ripped off. Stay away from push-bike carts and people offering rides on the back of bikes – Taxis are extremely cheap.
- Anything that doesn’t have a price marked, bargain. If you do decide to bargain in the markets, make sure you have an intention to buy the goods if the price is right. Otherwise you may cop some abusive language! Therefore, do not ask for a price on anything you have no intention of buying.
- If you understand Vietnamese, bargain in English and listen in on their backchat.
- Anything you want to buy, you are guaranteed that more than one person will have it. Therefore, offer an outrageous price to see how low they will go. You can walk away to test this price, as they will only let you walk away if the price is below their cost.
- When going through Immigration, use English only to avoid any issues (think it’s been cleaned up alot lately, but in the past you may have had to fork out bribe money)
If I remember anything, I will keep adding…
My personal opinions about Vietnam
- Food not that great in quality and taste. Way better at home (Australia).
- The People tend to be grumpy. A smile on your face doesn’t get you anywhere (obviously there are exceptions – hotels and reputable restaurants tend to treat you well)
- The roads are bad condition and congested. Very hard to get around without a local.
- Most things overall are extremely cheap.