How cheap is it? My daily budget in Vietnam.

How Cheap Is It? My Daily Budget in Vietnam

38 comments

I spent a day tracking my expenses in the tourist-friendly town of Hue. While my hotel room was unusually cheap, most of the prices were about average for Vietnam. I’m not including the motorcycle rental, since that’s not something that most people would want to do.

Room — I was a little surprised at how much room prices varied throughout Vietnam. Here in Hue, I found a lovely clean, new place with AC for $8 per night.

Saigon was the most expensive, with most places running $16-18 a night. Hoi An was $13, Dalat $10, and I found a lovely AC bungalow on the beach in Mui Ne for $10. I’m in Hanoi as I write this and have found a pretty rundown but clean room with AC for $12 — most places were in the $20 range or higher.

Food — Theres a fairly large range in price depending upon whether you eat at a tourist/backpacker restaurant, a local restaurant/cafe, or on the street. The street is cheapest, of course, with a bowl of pho noodles costing about a dollar. Most places only serve one dish so you really have to look around a bit. Local eateries are where I had most of my meals — 50-100% higher than street food, but more of a selection, less worry of illness, and a cool fan blowing in the background.

For breakfast, I had a fried egg sandwich for $1.50 and an iced coffee for $1.00. Lunch was stir-fried noodles with beef at a local cafe for $1.50 and coke for $.75. Later in the day, I stopped at a stall for another coke for $.50. Dinner was BBQ pork ribs with rice at the same cafe for $2 and a Saigon beer for $1.25. On the way to the hotel, I bought a bottle of Dalat white wine for $3 and enjoyed it as I sat on the hotel balcony, watching the sun go down.

Beer averages about $.75-1.00, with some places charging as little as $.50. Here in Hanoi, they run about $1.00 each in a cafe. You can, of course, get the local bia hoi –fresh beer brewed that morning and served at stalls on street corners– for less than $.25 a glass. It’s rather watery and warm, but you do get to meet a lot of the locals.

Transport — I had the motorbike to get around, but motorbike taxis are cheap and readily available. The rule of thumb seems to be about 10,000 dong ($.50) per kilometer. Pedicabs are around the same price. My one experience with a taxi was here in Hanoi, traveling from the bus station to the town center. It ran me $10 — about twice what I expected. The meter was on, but the numbers flipped really quickly and I suspect it’d been tampered with.

I’ve only taken a bus once, a two-hour ride in a new AC mini-bus from Ninh Binh to Hanoi. Total cost was 45,000 dong — just over $2. Unfortunately, they dropped me off on the far south side of town, resulting in the expensive taxi ride I mentioned above.

Miscellaneous — Visiting the Imperial Enclosure was $3 well-spent. Hue has quite a few old tombs of former emperors that can be visited for free, but the tomb of Minh Mang is the largest and most ornate — it’ll set you back another $3, though I didn’t visit it this day. Buying water from a small store is the way to go — $.50 for a large 1.5l bottle — half what you’ll pay in a hotel or cafe. I scratched my latest pair of cheap sunglasses and had to buy another pair of Ray Ban knockoffs from a street vendor for $1. Using my iPhone for internet access has been extremely handy and costs less than $.75 a day so long as I didn’t make international calls.

{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

Matt July 15, 2010 at 5:02 pm

Excellent post – thanks for this resource!
.-= Matt´s last blog ..Puffin Watching- Isle of Staffa- Scotland =-.

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wes July 15, 2010 at 5:16 pm

Thanks, Matt — I hope it’s helpful.

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Natalka July 15, 2010 at 9:29 pm

You need to flag down the green taxi’s and make sure you ask if their meter is “sealed”. I believe the green taxi’s are all “sealed meters”. I’m impressed with the budget though not sure I could do it.

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wes July 16, 2010 at 12:13 pm

The budgeting isn’t too tough here, to be honest. I could knuckle down and cut another $5 a day out of my daily spend if I really wanted to.

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Colin July 16, 2010 at 1:12 am

So….you’re drinking a bottle of wine and a beer every day. You’re making me really miss my trip around the world last year. Keep up the great blog, man!

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wes July 18, 2010 at 9:27 am

Thanks, Colin. I can’t do it every day and still get anything done ;)

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kiki July 16, 2010 at 1:49 am

Amazing! That’s what we spend on groceries in a week.. and that’s nothin’ for most people and their groceries. :)

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TR July 16, 2010 at 5:37 am

Only one bottle of wine? Damn, you are roughing it . . .

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jabba March 27, 2011 at 10:01 pm

TR you lad!

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Nick Laborde July 16, 2010 at 10:29 am

Beer and wine, gotta keep your priorities straight…Definitely will be a staple of my budget next year.

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wes July 16, 2010 at 12:16 pm

The sunset was just too nice not to toast it with something. And at $3 a bottle…

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ayngelina July 17, 2010 at 8:41 pm

It sounds about right to me. Of course each city is different but I found you could negotiate prices on hotel rooms so it worked out to be quite affordable. I didn’t bike so I took public transportation everywhere and was shocked at how cheap it was.
.-= ayngelina´s last blog ..Have you met Andres =-.

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CanCan July 19, 2010 at 9:26 am

Vietnam can be pretty cheap! I caught a maid going through my purse in Hue in the hotel (she thought I was gone, I was in the crapper, wooo!), and that was in a $25 a night kind of establishment. You know, the classy digs!

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wes July 19, 2010 at 10:06 am

Ooof, that’s lame! I lost a nice pair of binoculars that way. Now, I put everything in a large duffel and lock it so I’ll know if it’s been tampered with.

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Nancy July 24, 2010 at 11:19 pm

Vietnam is amazingly cheap. I lived near Saigon for about six months last year teaching English & was able to save half my salary without even trying. The one time that I experienced the super fast taxi meter in Vietnam was also in Hanoi, from the bus station to the center of town. Looks like it’s a trend. The green & white taxis seem to be the most reliable. But the motorbike taxis are fun & you can negotiate the price ahead of time, usually about 10,000 dong per kilometer, as you said.
.-= Nancy´s last blog ..Urban Planning =-.

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Migrationology September 20, 2010 at 4:54 pm

I just spent 10 days in Hanoi and I was surprised at how inexpensive things were. I shared a nice room with ac for $15 a night and mostly walked everywhere possible. Towards the end of my stay I realized I had exchanged too much Dong and did some fine dining and still had leftover money!
.-= Migrationology´s last blog ..Tribute to Khao Mok Gai- Thai Rice Biryani =-.

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kelvin January 6, 2011 at 6:31 pm

May i know how did you find all your accommodation as you go from place to place? I am looking at taking north ward moving trip starting from Ho Chi Minh all the way into Yunan, China. What’s the best way to travel for foreigners?

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wes January 6, 2011 at 7:29 pm

Usually, I’ll pick a place from the guidebook and catch a tuktuk or taxi. If I’m arriving early enough, I’ll look around that area for a place that isn’t in the book — you’ll usually find a better deal. Once a hotel is in LP, the rates go up. Also, if it’s high season, many of the spots in the guidebook will already be full. If I’m getting in late, I’ll usually take what I can find easily, then go searching for a longer-term spot the following morning. Calling or emailing ahead to a known hotel will guarantee you a spot in high season, but you won’t be able to negotiate a lower price very easily…

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Kerigme July 22, 2011 at 10:51 pm

Been living in Vietnam for 1 year. I can’t believe how much you spent /day.

I found rooms in popular places (Nha Trang for example) at 75000 dong /night. With AC + TV.

You can eat for really cheap, even at HCMC. If you don’t cook your own food you can find restaurant with main dish + soda for 10000-15000 dong. And a glass of beer is only 2000-3000 dong.

I was going to read your blog to find tips… well, i guess i won’t do so.

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wes July 23, 2011 at 7:20 am

Sure, if you live somewhere for a year you can save a fortune. As someone arriving in a new country and moving around, the experience will be different. I have to balance saving a couple of dollars on accommodations with how long I want to spend searching for them and how far they are from the area I hope to explore. Most travelers can’t spend days searching for that amazing find, they can’t cook their own food and they don’t know about that local eatery that’s hidden in the middle of the market. I try to save money while still having a fun time.

If this turns you off on my blog, oh well. Don’t let the door hit ya…

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Judith November 14, 2011 at 1:27 pm

Oh I’m so glad I found this post! I’m planning a trip in December and I was curious what it was going to cost me. So you don’t find your hotel/ hostel until you get there? That makes me a little nervous.

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Paul in London November 23, 2011 at 12:00 am

This kind of info is always useful. Nice one!

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big deek December 8, 2011 at 12:08 pm

Great blog and delighted to find out my twitching about getting by on around $40 is unfounded.

keep it up

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wes December 10, 2011 at 4:00 am

Totally doable for a large part of the world :)

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aaron July 7, 2012 at 5:03 am

Thank you for that information it is really helpful, a quick question though how much do you think a couple would need to travel all of South Asia, being as economical as possible?

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wes July 7, 2012 at 11:10 am

On average, you could get by on 20-30 US a day for both of you if you’re careful depending on the country. Laos is dirt cheap, Thailand can be pricier. Move slow so you can negotiate better rents (the magic number seems to be 4-5 nights — I usually get a 20-25% discount if I pay upfront for several nights. Also season counts — AC rooms in Cambodia are twice the price but if yyou go in the summer you’ll definitely want ‘em.

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wes July 7, 2012 at 11:11 am

Also, those rates would require minimum time spent in the big cities, Bangkok, etc and avoiding the resorty islands.

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Rochelle August 26, 2012 at 11:44 pm

Is the room you indicated a hotel room? Thanks for the detailed budget. I’m traveling to Hanoi this November and am looking for details on how much I should budget for my trip. Am glad that what you posted here is very manageable.

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wes August 28, 2012 at 9:42 am

Yes, I was staying in hotels the entire time — usually 3-5 days. I find that 5 days seems to be the magic number — offer to stay that long and you can often talk them down another 20-30%.

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Fungus November 8, 2012 at 10:39 am

Thats a really handy post. I’m thinking of traveling in Vietnam for a month in March/April next year for a month, taking sleeper trains between Saigon, Nha Trang, Da Nang, and Hanoi, and visiting Hoi An, Hue, and a couple of other towns nearby the train route. I’d probably also do the Halong bay cruise and Mekong Delta. Do you have any idea what a good budget would be for that, assuming I’m looking to stay in the same standard of hotels you did? Would 26 USD a day be about right? If you could tell me Dong that’d be doubly appreciated, thanks heaps

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wes November 10, 2012 at 5:46 am

I think you should be fine in that price range. I can’t say what bus/train will run you, as I was riding a rented motorbike, but hotels generally cost me 8-14 US per night. Food was dirt cheap (and tasty!)

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Belinda June 18, 2013 at 9:17 am

Did you per book accomm? Would this accomm be ok for a 2 year old too?

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wes June 18, 2013 at 4:02 pm

I would think so. Most places I went to, I’d find the ‘backpacker’s quarter in a guidebook and then walk around — lots of new construction in Vietnam and I found some very nice rooms RIGHT next to crowded LP places for half the price. Talk to other travelers — I found some great deals that way. If you stay 3-4 days you have more bargaining power for a lowered rate. It depends on your level of comfort — if you feel you and your child need AC, you’ll pay more.

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Dan Meyers July 28, 2013 at 3:12 am

We ended up spending $105/day in Vietnam, but that included all of our expenses over a 16 day period (including flights between cities) and for two people. Oh yes, the $1 sunglasses… I think my wife has purchased about 10 of those!!
Dan Meyers recently posted..Cu Chi Vietcong TunnelsMy Profile

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J September 4, 2013 at 10:38 am

Hi,

How did you actually purchase for internet? Do they sell data prepaid card?

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wes September 4, 2013 at 5:02 pm

It’s been awhile, but yes — I bought a SIM card and it came with a certain number of minutes which worked for voice or data. Refill cards were easy to find. I’m sure all of the plans have changed now — this was 2 years ago.

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Michael December 13, 2013 at 4:33 pm

Im going Naam for a month. Taking £2000. Will this be fine for food, accom and travel? plus trips etc?

Cheers.

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wes December 14, 2013 at 1:53 pm

You should be fine — I suspect you’ll come home with coin in your pocket ;)

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