Carrying $Usd is very useful in Luang Phrabang. Most prices we asked for, may it be for food, merchandise or anything, were given to us in $Usd.
We are a couple of non-shoppers so haggling for lower prices with the vendors was a lot of work for us. We've bought some things for as low as 70% off but the guilt hit us afterwards. Especially when thinking about the dollar conversion. We always ask for prices in Kip, so hundreds of thousands Kip going down to tens of thousands Kip wouldn't sound so bad of a deal. But in dollars, haggling to pay $1.50 for a $3 pair of pants sounds cruel.
There's a lot of good food here, especially on the streets. We had some kind of noodle dish, similar to pad thai in Thailand, and some weird pierogies. They're very tasty, only they were served to us on a "recycled" plate.
The sandwich vendors hang out in front of the higher priced tourist hotels so the sandwiches there are made pretty much in western style... also because of their french influence.
If you wish to purchase a complete Vietnamese dress, we found Hoi An with the best deal. It costs $16Usd for overnight made-to-order. Other traditional dresses cost as low as $7Usd. Compared to other cities in Vietnam, including Saigon, made-to-order dresses are from $20-$25Usd. And ready-to-wear dresses are $18Usd+.
In Saigon, we went to Ben Thanh Market. There was a sign posted there saying "all prices are fixed" but haggling was still very much in practice. This market is the best place to shop for cheap backpacks.
What can I say about Vietnamese food, hmmm... Ask what kind of meat is in your soup before you eat it.