Beggars and Bartering

Many people from developed counties find these issues very difficult. There are no set rules, but the following information and advice may be helpful.

The prices for goods in supermarkets, pharmacies, restaurants, hotels, official transport, basic commodity shops and so on, are usually fixed. Those for fresh fruit, vegetables and flowers from street sellers, motorcycle taxis (’
xe oms’), bicycle taxis (‘cyclos’), souvenirs, clothes (especially in tourist areas), and goods bought from peddlers are usually variable.

To barter effectively, laughter and good humour are essential prerequisites. When an initial price is quoted, throw up your hands in exaggerated horror and offer between a third and a half. You can then negotiate towards a fair price. Walking away will usually determine whether the last offer really is the last.

Please remember that many of the people you deal with will be poor, so driving them down to an unreasonably low price is unfair. On the other hand, paying an unrealistically high price will encourage the recipient to regard foreigners as easy targets and inflate prices even further. Postcards from postcard sellers are almost invariably overpriced – buy yours from a shop!

Taxi fares are nearly always metered, (although the accuracy is sometimes questionable), but it pays to negotiate a fixed price for long journeys. For xe oms and cyclos, always agree a price in advance. If you want one of the many young boys who tour the streets with a box of brushes and polish to clean your shoes, fix the price in advance, make sure that they stay within eyesight and don't pay for any ‘repairs’ without agreeing the cost beforehand.

You may come across some remnants of an earlier dual-pricing system that is gradually being phased out. If so, it isn't local people trying to make a fast buck, but simply an official recognition of the considerable income gap between you and the average Vietnamese citizen.

Beggars are common in Vietnam, but in tourist areas, only a minority are genuine. Grubby children with soulful eyes are usually working for a begging syndicate, and young girls and women carrying very young babies have often rented them for the day from a friend. You won’t be bothered often, but if approaches are made, ignore them, or complain to a police officer if they annoy you. Giving money to fake beggars only swells their ranks.

However, there are deserving cases. Elderly widows, invalids, amputees and Buddhist monks usually have no other source of income. If in doubt, see if they approach Vietnamese people, and what the response is from them. If you do decide to give them money, keep the amount small. Excessive generosity will attract other less-deserving beggars immediately.

Haivenu Tours Homepage

Our Vietnam Tours

Vietnam Travel Information

Choosing a Tour Company
Arranging a Tour
Travel Tips
  Beggars and bartering
Children travelling in Vietnam
Female travellers in Vietnam
Food and drink
Getting around in Vietnam
Gifts and gratuities
Health matters
How to be popular
Prices in Vietnam
Safety matters
The local currency
What to take home
What to take with you
Vietnam Hotels
About Vietnam
Responsible Travel with Haivenu
Vietnam Photo Library

About us | Contact Details | Enquiry
Booking conditions
 | Financial Protection Policy Customer Service Policy | Complaints procedure 
FAQ's | Tour operators & Travel agents | Links


© Haivenu – all rights reserved.
Disclaimer: Whilst we make every effort to keep our website updated, and at all times give fair and honest assessments,
we cannot be held responsible for inacuracies or changes which have escaped our notice.