January 6, 2018
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October 16, 2017
November 1, 2015
Dec 1, 2015
Evergreen cruise director Paula Harrigan lives in Siem Reap and has lead countless groups around Vietnam. She imparts her local knowledge for a hassle free shopping experience.
1. How and when to bargain
The general rule of thumb is that when there is no price tag you can bargain. Where there are price tags the price is fixed. At markets you can bargain but in stores you can't. If you’re buying multiple items from the same place - market or store - try asking for a discount. The bargaining process should leave both the seller and the buyer smiling at the end of the deal, so have some fun with it and remember the exchange rates. You don't want to walk away from something you love because they won’t give you a 50 cent discount!
2. Go in with the intention to buy
Don't start negotiating unless you are genuinely interested in buying. Once a starting price is set, your counter offer could be a third to a half lower depending on your confidence in bargaining. Remember, both sides need to give a little on their initial offers. Offer lower than the price you would like to pay so that you can increase it a bit and hopefully settle on a price that you are both happy with.
3. Local lingo
In Vietnam, try using this phrase "Oi troi oi, mukwa!" when the seller sets the price. It means "My goodness, that's expensive!". You’ll get a laugh from the seller which may make negotiating a little easier.
4. What can and can’t be taken out of Asia or into Australia?
In Cambodia, you can’t export national treasures of artistic, historic or archaeological value. In reality, most "antiques" are new items that have been buried for a few weeks to give them the appearance of age. In Vietnam, don’t buy Vietnam War era bullets as keepsakes as you can’t take them out of the country. Beware of purchasing toys made from recycled tin cans that have been fashioned into fighter jets and have realistic looking bullets. These are usually confiscated at the airport even when packed in check-in baggage. When returning home, be sure you adhere to the latest Australian Customs regulations, including food, plant material, wooden artefacts and animal products. See www.border.gov.au for more information.
5. What to watch out for when at the markets?
Pickpockets often target places where tourists shop so keep your bags safe and visible and don't carry your wallet in a back pocket. Deals that are too good to be true usually are, especially jewellery and gemstones. Unless you’re an expert and can tell the difference, your rare ruby or sapphire could turn out to just be coloured glass! Inspect your chosen item carefully and watch them wrap and put it into the bag. You don't want to discover later that your beautiful scarf has a huge hole in it or that your chosen statue has a crack!
6. What is good to buy?
In Vietnam: silk, coffee and tailor-made clothing. In Cambodia: silk, cotton krama (scarf), wood and stone carvings, and spices like Kampot pepper.
7. What should we avoid?
Bottles of rice wine that contain scorpions and geckos will ensure you have a chat with Australian customs on the way home.
Final insiders tip
Take lots of smaller currency/notes. Markets and stores often don’t have a lot of change. Also, there is nothing worse than negotiating a great price then whipping out a huge note to pay. It also minimises the risk of getting the wrong change or getting counterfeit notes.
From (AUD) $3,275
From (AUD) $3,395