I was so excited to visit Vietnam but initially I was worried that our tight budget would hold me back from fully experiencing the country. Luckily though, Vietnam is a cheap destination for backpackers and you can have a fab time without breaking the bank.
In this post, I’ll talk through how much to budget for a month in Vietnam based on my experiences. Yep, it’s totally possible to do it for £500 per person! If you’d like to read more about where we visited in Vietnam, I’ll link my more detailed posts on each location below. But for now, let’s get stuck into the nitty gritty of how much you can expect to spend.
This round-up excludes the cost of visas and transport to / from Vietnam. Prices are in both Vietnamese Dong and British Pounds where I’ve remembered and they’re also listed for two people. If you’re travelling solo, just halve the figures shown in each heading. The exchange rate at my time of travel was around 27,653 VND: 1 GBP.
Accommodation = 7,096,000 VND or £256.61
Accommodation is cheap in Vietnam and while it was tempting to splash out on a nice hotel with a pool to escape from the humidity, we kept costs down in hostels and guesthouses. Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh were noticeably more expensive than the other cities but you can still easily find a decent double room with a private bathroom for under £15 per night!
To find the best deals, I scoured sites like Hostelworld, Expedia, Agoda, Booking.com and Airbnb. We booked accommodation a day or so in advance so it’s likely that we could have found even cheaper prices. However, having the option to extend your stay is great and we did this a number of times. If you have accommodation already booked and paid for, it’s a lot more difficult to cancel.
Sneaky tip – we actually only paid for 26 nights accommodation out of the 29 we were in Vietnam! We were undercharged by one night in Hanoi and the overnight bus from Nimh Binh to Hue included a free hostel stay the following night. This was a bit of a bargain at 350,000 Dong each (£12.66) for a long journey and what was effectively two nights accommodation
Average nightly cost per person = 118,267 VND / £4.28
Transport = 5,977,000 VND or £216.14
Vietnam is a big country but luckily, there’s a good network of frequent, cheap buses that make getting around a breeze. Here’s a breakdown of our transport costs for a month in Vietnam:
Flight from Hue to Ho Chi Minh: 2,066,000 Dong (£75)
Local buses: 170,000 Dong (£6.15)
Long distance buses: 1,580,000 Dong (£57.14). Includes bus / boat / bus package from Cat Ba Island to Nimh Binh and one overnight bus.
Taxis: 1,851,000 Dong (£66.94). This should have been far less but we had a slight mishap where we accidentally paid with a 500,000 note instead of 50,000. Always check your zeros guys.
Ferry to Cat Ba Island: 140,000 Dong (£5.06)
Motorbike hire and fuel: 170,000 Dong for one day including fuel (£6.15)
I’ve seen some nightmare horror stories about sleeper buses in Vietnam but honestly, our journey was fine. The seats lie flat with blankets and pillows so they’re relatively comfortable, although you won’t have a fantastic sleep thanks to the constant traffic noise. Ours was even relatively empty with nobody sleeping in the aisles like I’ve read about on some blogs!
After deciding that we weren’t too fussed about visiting Nha Trang or Da Lat, we decided to fly down to Ho Chi Minh. I mean, Hoi An to Ho Chi Minh is a hell of a bus ride…
Now the cheapest flights went from Hue, coming in at just over £37 each. So basically we ended up getting an overnight bus from Nimh Binh to Hue and then travelling down to Hoi An the next day. We then spent time there and in Da Nang before returning to do some sightseeing in Hue before our flight. Sounds confusing but it worked out well and saved us heaps of time.
Food = 12,843,000 VND or £464.40
The food in Vietnam is SO good and cheap by UK standards. If you’re eating in a Western style restaurant, it’s not uncommon for you to pay £10 for a meal and drinks for two. However, local restaurants can charge a lot less and we even had two bowls of veggie Pho in Da Nang for about 70p! Apart from buying water and the odd snack, we ate out for the majority of our meals so our breakdown looks like this:
Eating out: 11,113,000
Supermarket snacks and water: 566,000
On an average day, we’d have two big meals – a late brunch and dinner – with drinks and the odd snack in between. I got a taste for late night Banh Mi, often sold at street carts for between 10,000 and 20,000 Dong. I also drank tons of water to escape from the humidity and ate so much delicious lemongrass tofu. Beer is cheap too with a bottle of Saigon or Tiger coming in at around 25,000 Dong.
Average daily cost per person = £7.75
Activities = 2,142,000 VND or £77.46
I was actually kind of surprised at how little we spent on activities! But for the most part we like just wandering around and seeing the sights on foot – many of which are free. I also managed to make eating into an event – food lovers, are you with me? – by researching the best restaurants in each town. Most of the museums we went to had a low entrance fee, although we paid more at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Hanoi. But hey, we did get privilege of seeing his perfectly preserved corpse!
The most expensive things that we did were visiting the Imperial City and a DMZ day tour in Hue and a three hour boat ride at Trang An in Nimh Binh. We planned to do the boat trip at Tam Coc as well but as we were leaving our guesthouse, the heavens opened and a day of torrential rain began so that put an abrupt stop to our plan then!
If you’re looking to check out some day trips in Vietnam, check out some of these suggestions:
Other = 907,000 VND or £32.80
No big deal, it’s just almost a million Dong thrown into ‘other’. Sounds like a lot but I can’t complain at £32. This is for the non glamorous things like laundry, toiletries and a bit of shopping. We also paid to print our visas for Cambodia before our bus ride out. Nothing too exciting to say about any of this so let’s go right ahead and check our total budget for a month in Vietnam:
Total spent = 28,964,000 VND or £1,047
Average daily cost per person = 482,733 VND or £17.46!
Considering the amount of spring rolls I ordered, I’m impressed that we were so close to our budget of £500 each!
Would you be tempted to visit Vietnam knowing that it’s a great budget travel destination? Or do you have any top tips of your own? Leave me a comment!
Read more about Vietnam:
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