At the end of April, social media in Vietnam was abuzz with news reports of a Vietnamese street vendor allegedly overcharging two foreign tourists for three pineapples in Hanoi. However, local police later refuted these claims, clarifying that the information was untrue.

This incident brought to light similar instances of perceived price gouging by street vendors towards tourists. In March, a vendor at Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi was fined for selling four Vietnamese donuts to foreign tourists at an inflated price, 2.5 times higher than the regular rate. A week prior, authorities in Tay Ho District, also in Hanoi, handled a case where a street peddler attempted to charge a pair of foreign visitors an excessive amount for a small bag of fruits.

While these incidents attracted criticism and concerns about Vietnam’s tourism appeal, three foreign travelers shared their more lenient perspectives on the matter with Tuoi Tre News.

Karen Mason and her husband, UK travelers who explored Vietnam in March 2024. Photo: Karen Mason

‘It wasn’t a problem’

Karen Mason and her husband, travelers from the UK, wholeheartedly recommended Vietnam as a must-visit destination. They traversed the country from south to north in March and were captivated by its people and landscapes, especially the northern province of Ha Giang.

The couple, in their late 50s, expressed their eagerness to return to Vietnam for a longer stay. “There are so many different things to see and do if you have the time,” Mason wrote to Tuoi Tre News. To immerse themselves fully in the local culture, Mason adopted a composed mindset, choosing to take negative online reviews with a pinch of salt.

Their proactive approach paid off during a roadside fruit purchase. When a seller accepted a VND100,000 bill without returning the change, Mason and her husband, familiar with the local currency after a week in Vietnam, confidently assessed the situation. Convinced that the fruit was worth less, they politely requested a refund, returned the fruit, and walked away.

Karen Mason and her husband, UK travelers, explored Vietnam in March 2024. Photo: Karen Mason

Mason added that they encountered vendors trying to sell them things, but a firm refusal was usually respected. The couple also relied on ride-hailing apps like Grab and made it a habit to count their money before leaving a transaction. “We are reasonably travel-savvy, so overall, it wasn’t a problem for us,” Mason said. She suggested that travelers do some research before visiting any new country to avoid potential pitfalls.

A fruit shop in Vietnam captured by Nadia Bonchis, a tourist from Belgium, during her April 2024 visit. Photo: Nadia Bonchis

Haggling is key

Nadia Bonchis, a tourist from Belgium, found the notion of tourists being overcharged in Vietnam surprising. In her experience, the Vietnamese were kind, always smiling, and eager to help. She believed that vendors did not take advantage of tourists and that the prices for their services were generally fair.

Bonchis and her family explored the Mekong Delta, Da Nang, Hoi An, and other destinations in April 2024, and she fell in love with the country. “Everything is amazing,” she commented. “I will definitely come back. It stole my heart.”

The Das family from the UK ventures to the Mekong Delta in Vietnam in October 2023. Photo: Viola Das

When asked about any shortcomings in Vietnamese tourism, Bonchis dismissed the idea, emphasizing that there were no bad sides to Vietnam. The only negative aspect she could think of was the lack of sidewalks and functional red lights, making it challenging to cross the road. She advised travelers to be flexible with prices and try another seller if they felt a price was too high.

The Das family from the UK marvels at the Landmark 81 skyscraper in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Viola Das

Viola Das and her family from the UK shared a similar perspective. They visited Vietnam in October 2023, exploring Phu Quoc Island, Ho Chi Minh City, and the Mekong Delta. They noticed that street vendors often started with a higher price, but they were experienced hagglers and always negotiated. Their advice to foreign travelers was to be discreet with their money and not flash their cash.

The Das family had a wonderful trip, meeting friendly locals and immersing themselves in the culture, especially in the Mekong Delta. However, they felt that 5-star hotels were overcharging them, with food and beverage costs much higher than in other Asian countries. They suggested that the Vietnamese tourism board address this issue to ensure fair pricing for tourists.