Frugally Traveling in Vietnam for 39 days

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When my husband and I first started planning our trip to Vietnam we really had no clue how much we would be spending, all we could do is research and take an educated guess as to what it would be. A few people have posted their spendings but since my husband and I are cheap and budget everything we knew that our spending would be different. But for those who are trying to plan your trip we wanted to give a little insight on our budget and how it compared to what we had anticipated.  

Our first budget we came up with looked a little like this: (Note, this is written for a budget for two people in US Dollars)

Accommodation: $10 per day

Transportation: $10 per day

Food: $15 per day

Miscellaneous: $5 per day

We planned to do most tours/hikes and sightseeing by ourselves unless we felt it was worth the price or experience. So by this budget we had set aside $40 per day for both of us together. (This is not including our flight to Vietnam)

Our first few weeks in Vietnam we penny pinched where we could, talked people down at the markets, didn’t spend more than what we needed to on food, a place to stay and the transportation to get to our destinations. The reason we did this was to get a good idea of what all these things should be going for. This gave us a starting point on prices for the rest of our stay.

Accommodations: Hostels ran us about $3-4 average but never exceeded $5.25 per person per night, sometimes we lucked out and found a private room for the same price as two dorm beds or sometimes even slightly cheaper! This would be beneficial for couples or friends traveling together who can then split the cost. We always tried to find hostels that included breakfast in their price which in turn we would get free coffee at most places and it would be one less step in the morning. Convenient and cost effective.

Transportation: throughout Vietnam we stuck mainly to public transportation such as busses, trains and motorbikes. We broke down and used a taxi on two separate occasions when the hostel was over an hour and half walk with no city bus to get us closer. From Ho Chi Minh city all the way to Hanoi we utilized the open bus tickets who we booked through The Sinh Tourist (nice busses and inexpensive) for $37 each. These busses were mainly overnight busses that went to our destination cities (Dalat, Nha Trang, Hoi An, Hue & Hanoi). When we arrived in Hanoi we purchased a motorbike which would become our new form of transportation for Northern Vietnam. We found our motorbike on Vietnam Backpackers Travel and Sales Facebook site for $175, put about $60 of work into it, used it for two weeks, then resold it to another backpacker for $200. With this we only lost about $30 total (cheaper than any bus tickets up north, or renting a motorbike for two weeks) A great budget friendly option if you can front the cash to buy one outright. After selling the motorbike we took a train from Hanoi to Ninh Binh for $3.50 per person each way. Busses, trains and motorbikes seem to be the main transportation throughout Vietnam and can be pretty inexpensive.

Food: Wow, there are so many cheap options for food in Vietnam. Street food is plentiful and runs about $1-3 per meal each, and is very tasty and fresh. We learned to go out during prime lunch and dinner times to find the best local spots and for the freshest food being prepared. When we needed a break from vietnamese food (which was about every 2-3 weeks) we opted for pizza which we could split or hamburgers and fries (pizza ran between $6-7, while burgers were about $3-4 each). A splurge for us but it was a nice break every once in awhile from noodles and rice. Water was also a daily expense for us as we purchased bottle water instead of filtering it. Water averaged about .44 cents for a 1.5L bottle. The best bang for your buck is buying a 5L jug for about $1.11 and just refilling your water bottles. We did this if we were going to be spending more than 3 days in an area. We always ate street food and had water accessible. We rarely ate western food but had a few ice creams and an ice cold pepsi here and there. Since we do not drink often, we saved a TON on not drinking beer all the time. We talked to many people along the way who said there main cost was beer, ouch! 🙂 Food is the main area where i think it really depends on the person and their taste.

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Miscellaneous/Entertainment is where it really depends on YOU! Things in Vietnam are cheap-cheap and the souvenirs are plentiful. While here we decided to pick up a few jackets for our trip to New Zealand setting us back about $27 for two North Face down/synthetic jackets. A sim card for 6 weeks set us back $18. Other things in this category where things like laundry which ran about .66 cents to $1.33 per kilogram. Tours and entrance fees we spent a total of $75 between entrance fees to waterfalls, pagodas, caves, lastly a few tours in Dalat and Ho Chi Minh. So this last category really can be adjusted for anybody’s budget and what you want to spend.

So for 5 1/2 weeks we actually spent:

Accommodation: $267.41 ($6.85 Per Day)

Transportation: $175.60 ($4.50 Per Day)

Food: $312.80 ($8 Per Day)

Miscellaneous/Souvenirs: $112.33 ($2.88 Per Day)

Entertainment/Tours: $75.06 ($2 Per Day)

Spending all together for 39 days : $955 for two people

So for about $24.50 per day for two people ($12.25 pp) We comfortably traveled around a foreign county for 5 and a half weeks! We spent well below our initial daily budget of $40 a day without really trying to hard, which will give us a little more money for when we travel to Australia/New Zealand in a couple months!

Small ways to save even more money:

  • Try washing your own laundry daily in the sink shower in your hostel/hotel. We started doing this halfway through our trip and it saved us about $1 per day.
  • Price compare bus companies, tours, hostels, and motorbike rental companies.
  • Don’t be afraid to negotiate on prices especially with people selling souvenirs and fruit on the streets. We found that those who are open for negotiation would settle for about 40-50% off what they first quoted (which is typically WAY to high anyways).
  • Use public transportation like the locals! Getting on a public bus is sometimes a good cheap way to get from A to B while seeing the city. 🙂
  • Take overnight busses or trains so you can catch up on sleep meanwhile saving you the cost of a hotel or hostel each night you do this.
  • TRAIL WALLET APP (budgeting app that is simple to use and WE LOVE IT) IPhones only sadly!

For more information on our time spent in Vietnam check out our early blog posts about each city we went to!

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