I am not a writer. I am just the person who is addicted to travels and has passion for capturing every single piece of traveling memories in words
A lot of foreigners have learnt Vietnamese because it is such a challenge to live in the country that you do not know the language and sometimes people are nice but just not able to communicate with you to guide you on what you are looking for.
However, let me tell you one thing: No need to learn Vietnamese. Why?
When I was on my company trip to Hoi An (near Danang), I witnessed one scene in which an (white) expat was trying to bargain with the seller of the lantern shop. He is middle-aged and surprisingly speaks good Vietnamese. He kept saying “I am Vietnamese. Do not overcharge me please!”(Tôi là người Việt Nam, đừng bán đắt nhé!), and yes, he spoke it in Vietnamese. Nevertheless, the price was still too high. Well, the thing is you have a foreign appearance. That’s all. No need to explain anything.
While watching that guy bargaining with the lady, I found it interesting because I myself also enjoy hearing foreigners speak Vietnamese. (But luckily, not this biased). However, I soon realized that things would not change. Foreigners are usually ripped off/ overcharged since Vietnamese people suppose that foreigners are all rich and willing to pay huge money on, well, no matter what.
That is just not true. Living here in Malaysia as an expat, I know how hard it is to get into the culture and to learn the language not to be a foreigner in a foreign land. Fortunately in my case, I have an Asian looking that offers me quite advantage for staying in here, especially when I have tried to grab some basic Malay and Chinese for my daily conversations with people. This, however, might not be applicable on your cases, expats in Vietnam, those with “western appearance”.
Everywhere is the same. Bad people and Good people, Considerate and Inconsiderate people stay together in one society. That lady turning down all the effort of the white guy does not mean that all other may do the same. What I mean here is that sometimes, your attempt to “invade” a country is just of no point because no matter how hard you try, you are always going be a foreigner.
My foreign friends back in Vietnam have learnt Vietnamese and relied on some local search apps at the same time just in order to make sure that they will get the best price. I am not sure about apps in Vietnam. But as far as I am concerned and am shared by my friends, they are recommended to use Clingme app (local search app in Vietnam) which is similar to Findit Malaysia here.
What you can find with Clingme, however, are not something really unique though. But I do recommend you try “Street Food” section. Because as you may already know, “street food” is always cheaper than what they sell in “Restaurant” section. Check the price or even read the reviews on the price before choosing. And remember to share with me what you get!
*This is written on my own personal PoV. I do not mean that foreigners learn Vietnamese just for bargaining lol, just like me here, learning a (actually two) local language just in order to be a “local” 😀