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Market Culture in Vietnam

May 18, 2011

Market culture in Vietnam is still alive and well.  The hustle and bustle of Vietnam’s open markets can be summed up in one word…chaotic.  They are a very busy meeting place for locals (and foreigners) to trade, sell, and negotiate their overflowing abundance of meats, fruits, vegetables, flowers, spices, and plastic knickknacks.  It seems like everything and anything under the sun goes at these markets.  And, even in the indoor markets, motorbikes frequent the halls whizzing, honking, and pushing their way through the traffic of pedestrians.


Every large city and even the smaller towns have active markets which act as their main shopping arena.  Much like the malls you find in North America, these crowded open and closed market places provide the local Vietnamese population with a central place to pick up fresh food, clothes and shoes, appliances, linens, and even furniture.

Foreigners travelling to Vietnam should definitely check out these markets to experience the vast variety of goods available from all over the countryside and beyond.  Not to mention the smells that fill your nostrils and overload your senses in a way you’ll never get at the supermarket.  It might have something to do with killing and butchering livestock in the street or the petrified (dried) seafood crowding the stalls,  or maybe it’s the garbage like smell coming from the durian!?!  Not really sure but whatever it is we garantee it’s not the overflowing baskets of garlic (’cause that smells good in comparison).




The art of negotiation is a must and something foreigners should not shy away from.  It takes some practice to barter successfully but realizing that every vendor inflates their products prices by at least 200 percent ;if not, 400 percent is helpful when determining what an item should cost.  Start at a reasonable price (much less than the item would cost at home), be a little bit flexible but determine what your bottom line is and hold your ground. 

It is helpful if you smile, joke, and use a bit of flair when trying to settle on a fair price and there is absolutely nothing wrong with walking away and trying to negotiate with another vendor.  Chances are there are many stalls selling the same item and you are bound to get what you want  for a reasonable price.


5 Comments leave one →
  1. May 19, 2011 10:49 am

    Unbelievable! I’m enjoying this view of Vietnam through your eyes than I have Bourdain’s! Keep it up!

  2. May 20, 2011 10:32 pm

    What gorgeous photos you got! The market veggies look amazing.

  3. May 22, 2011 3:44 am

    It’s been 15years since I lived in Vietnam… But the smell of durian still figures very stongly in my memory of my time there 🙂

  4. May 24, 2011 12:09 pm

    I love your photos! I really can’t get enough of the farmers markets here in Ann Arbor MI and I wish they had more!

  5. jsherman665 permalink
    June 2, 2011 2:36 pm

    Hahaha, yea, durian. I saw more in Singapore than in Vietnam but also remember their aroma- hard to forget. As the saying about durian goes, “tastes like heaven, smells like hell”!

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