If you’re considering a trip abroad, one of the main questions you will ask yourself is how much is it going to cost and what is a suitable budget? If you’re planning a trip to Vietnam, you will probably have the same question; what’s a good budget for Vietnam? In this post, we will give Vietnam trip cost advice. After living in Vietnam for over 5 years, we will share with you all of our knowledge of the expenses of travelling in Vietnam. We will cover costs to consider before your trip begins, including the cost of accommodation, food, activities, and transport.
Vietnam trip cost to prepare before your trip
Vietnam tourist visa
Whether you’re starting your trip from your home country or heading to Vietnam as part of a wider Southeast Asia trip, chances are you’re going to need to arrange a visa. Citizens from only 24 countries can enter Vietnam visa-free. Currently, the cost of a 30-day single-entry visa for Vietnam is $25, as set by the Vietnamese government. On top of this, you will need to pay a processing fee to the company that applies for the visa on your behalf.
If you’re travelling to Vietnam, it’s a good idea to make sure you’re covered for any accidents or losses. We spent days and weeks searching for insurance, but most insurers would not allow us to take out a policy as we were already abroad. Our personal choice is SafetyWing as you can opt for automatic monthly payments, just like a subscription. More importantly, it is available for purchase in 180 countries and can be purchased whilst already travelling. There is no cap on the duration of travel.
It is better to exchange your money once you arrive in Vietnam. As the Vietnamese Dong is not a currency that can be used outside of the country, you may find it difficult to get hold of the Vietnamese Dong before you arrive. We personally prefer to use ATMs to withdraw money, rather than exchange cash at a gold shop or bank. Out of experience, we find that Citibank has the highest withdrawal limit, which will save on fees for using the ATMs multiple times. International withdrawal fees at Citibank are around 60,000 vnd ($2.61) per transaction and the withdrawal limit for our British bank account is 6,000,000 vnd ($260.81) as opposed to 3,000,000 vnd ($130.40) at other banks inside Vietnam.
If you only need a sim card to access the internet, it is probably not worth the effort or money to set up a sim card as many cafes and restaurants are equipped with wifi for when you’re out and about. However, if you would like to have data for peace of mind, or to browse whilst you’re on long bus or train journeys, we recommend you get a Viettel sim card. Viettel is the major network in Vietnam and provides the most coverage in comparison to the other networks.
For the sim card only, expect to pay around 50,000 vnd ($2.17). You will then need to top up and add data according to your desired data package. If you’re in Vietnam for 30 days we recommend texting ST120K to 191. This will give you 2GB of data per day for 30 days. This data package costs 120,000 vnd ($5.22) and is what we personally use each month. The best place to buy your sim card is at one of the official Viettel stores.
Vietnam trip cost for accommodation
Vietnam offers a wide range of accommodation choices for travellers on all kinds of budgets; from shoestring to luxury. No matter your budget for Vietnam, you are sure to find something to suit your needs. Accommodation is probably the biggest thing to factor in your Vietnam trip cost.
Hostels are a great way to meet fellow travellers. Whether you’re a solo explorer, a group of mates, or even a couple, hostels are a cost-effective accommodation option. Hostels in Vietnam typically range from $4 – $8 per night for a dorm bed. Hostels in Vietnam are generally clean and equipped with air conditioning, which you will certainly need in the humid summer months.
Guesthouses mainly consist of a few basic double rooms. This type of accommodation is perfect for couples who are travelling on a budget, or for solo travellers who would like to take some time to relax away from hostel life. Guesthouses are also a fantastic way to connect with the local people. Most guesthouse owners are extremely welcoming and a simple breakfast consisting of egg banh mi is often included in the price. Prices for guesthouses range from $10 – $15 per night.
If you want to go all out and go on a luxury holiday, Vietnam is the perfect place to get a bang for your buck. If you want a simple hotel with no frills, you can expect to pay between $15 – $20 per night. However, if you want a more luxurious stay with a pool, gym facilities, and spa facilities, prices range from $50 – $150 per night. However, we often find that once you reach the $50 mark the facilities and quality are generally the same as a room that costs $100+ per night.
Click here to check out our best recommendations for accommodation of all types in Vietnam!
Vietnam trip cost for food & drink
Vietnamese cuisine is arguably one of the most delicious and flavoursome cuisines in the world. Unsurprisingly, like everything in Vietnam, the food is super cheap so! If you opt to eat in a local restaurant, often sitting on tiny plastic tools at plastic tables, you can expect to pay between 30,000 – 50,000 vnd ($1.30 – $2.17) per meal. If you fancy tucking into a Western-style dish, such as a burger and fries at a restaurant, expect to pay between 80,000 vnd – 150,000 vnd ($3.48 – $6.52). Below we have listed some of the classic Vietnamese foods and the general price based on the local eateries that we frequent whilst living in Hanoi.
Pho (noodle soup with beef or chicken) – 30,000 vnd ($1.30)
Bun cha (grilled pork & noodles) – 50,000 vnd ($2.17)
Banh mi (Baguette with meat & veg) – 15,000 – 20,000 vnd ($0.65 – $0.87)
Nem nuong ((grilled sausages wrapped in rice paper with veg) – 35,000 vnd ($.1.52)
Mi xao bo (noodles with beef & veg) – 30,000 vnd ($1.30)
Banh cuon (steamed rice rolls with pork) – 20,000 vnd ($0.87)
Com binh dan ( broken rice with your choice of meat & veg)- 30,000 vnd ($1.30)
Hotpot – 200,000 vnd for 2 people with a beer each. ($8.70)
Beer – Beer on Hanoi’s Beer Street is just 5,000 vnd ($0.22) per cup and is one of the cheapest beers you will find in Vietnam. Beers in bars range from 25,000 – 50,000 vnd ($1.09 – $2.17) per bottle.
Smoothies – Smoothies from an outside cart cost around 20,000 vnd ($0.87). In coffee shops expect to pay around 50,000 vnd – 60,000 vnd ($2.17 – $2.61).
Coffee – Coffees from a local coffee shop cost between 15,000 vnd – 30,000 vnd ($0.65 – $1.30). Prices rise the closer you are to the tourist area. P.s. don’t miss out on Note Coffee in Hanoi! It is a unique quirky coffee shop in the heart of the Old Quarter.
Vietnam trip cost for activities and excursions
Vietnam is teeming with activities to suit all kinds of travellers. From a reposeful trip floating down the serene Mekong Delta to adrenaline-pumping activities like abseiling down the Dalatan waterfall in Dalat. One thing for sure though, is you are going to want to make the most out of your trip to Vietnam. The prices of activities and excursions vary. You can opt to book activities online before you leave for peace of mind that your holiday is all planned and ready for you to thoroughly enjoy. Another benefit of booking online is that you will sometimes find deals that won’t apply to you if you book in tourist shops, such as lunch included, or skip-the-line passes.
However, if you’re on a tighter budget, you may want to wait and book excursions from one of the tourist shops that line the tourist hotspots from north to south of Vietnam. Below we have listed some of the best activities and attractions that you simply cannot miss along with a guideline of how much they cost. Keep in mind though that Vietnam has a bargaining culture, so you may get quoted slightly more or less depending on your bargaining skills.
Below we have listed a few of the top attractions and the entrance fees:
Cu Chi Tunnels (Ho Chi Minh City) – 120,000 vnd ($5.18) for half-day tours
Mekong Delta (from Ho Chi Minh City) – 200,000 – 250,000 vnd ($8.64 – $10.79)
Abseiling waterfalls (Dalat) – 700,000 vnd ($30.21)
Egg mud baths (Nha Trang) – Around 300,000 vnd ($12.95). The price varies depending on the package
Sun World Ba Na Hills (Da Nang) – 700,000 vnd ($30.21) for entrance
Cooking Class (Hoi An) – 600,000 vnd ($26)
Imperial City (Hue) – 150,000 vnd ($6.47) for entrance
Trekking rice fields and meeting tribes (Sa Pa) – 500,000 vnd – 600,000 vnd ($21.67 – $26) per day
Ha Long Bay boat tour – Prices start around 600,000 vnd ($26) per night for the most basic cruises
Of course, there are a million more sights and attractions for you to explore, these are just a few of the major things to do in Vietnam. Besides these, beaches are free to relax on and parks and temples are generally free to stroll around. If there is an entrance fee, the fee is very minimal and typically costs between 2,000 – 5,000 vnd ($0.20). In terms of museums and waterfall entrances, expect to pay in the region of 20,000 vnd – 50,000 vnd ($0.87 – $2.17).
Vietnam trip cost for transport
Domestic flights around Vietnam are usually super cheap if you’re not travelling during the national holidays. You can find fares for as low as $20 inclusive of taxes and VAT. The cheapest airlines to book with are VietJet Air and Air Asia. You may also want to check out Bamboo Airways and Vietnam Airlines as well.
When it comes to buses, you can either opt to venture into the local areas to catch a local bus or opt for a tourist bus which usually picks you up at your hotel and drops you off at your hotel in the next location. Local buses are relatively cheap, but you would need to pay the taxi fare to and from the bus/train station. Below we have listed some of the major routes and their fares. All of these routes can be booked online via Bookaway.
Hanoi to Sapa: 6-hour bus for $12
Sapa to Ninh Binh: 9-hour bus for $17
Ninh Binh to Hue: 11-hour bus for $14
Hue to Hoi An: 4 hours bus for $6
Hoi An to Dalat: 14-hour sleeper bus for $17
Dalat to Ho Chi Minh City: 7-hour bus for $22
The train system in Vietnam is quite slow but a fun and safe way to travel. The prices of trains vary depending on the class and the length of the journey. If you’re travelling during the day, 2nd class seats are available at low costs. If you’re travelling during the night, you can opt for a luxury sleeper cabin.
Taxis in Vietnam are cheap and easy to use. You can easily flag a taxi down from off the street and ask them to take you to your destination. However, we recommend using the Grab app instead. Grab works a little like Uber. You simply input your pick-up and drop-off point and you will be shown a price beforehand. Once your journey finishes you can pay in cash. You can opt for a car or motorbike taxi. Motorbike taxis start from 12,000 vnd ($0.52) and rise per km. However, in the cities, you are highly unlikely to spend any more than 50,000 vnd ($2.17) on a motorbike taxi. Cars tend to be double the price of motorbikes.
Motorbikes are a great way to get around the country. Some people even take on the adventurous task of motorbiking the entire coastline from north to south. Motorbike rental costs around 120,000 vnd ($5.20) per day. For a full tank of petrol expect to pay around 50,000 – 70,000 vnd ($2.17 – $3.03), depending on the model of the motorbike.
Click here to read about the famous Hai Van Pass motorbike trip!
Essential Vietnam budget tips
Eat local food – Local food is always cheaper than eating international food. If you see small plastic stools and food carts, this is where the cheap, cheap food is at.
Stay in guesthouses – Guesthouses are perfect for couples. They tend to be cheaper than staying in two dorm beds. You will also get your own private space and bathroom.
Rent scooters to explore – Vietnam is the land of scooters. Scooters are a fantastic way to get around and explore cheaply, as opposed to using taxis or paying for private sightseeing tours.
Shop around for excursions – Similar to shopping at the markets, you can bargain with the price of excursions too. Don’t settle on the first price you are given. Pop by the next shop to check if the prices are similar, you will often find that they will either throw in an extra benefit or give you a better deal.
Exchange your currency before leaving the country – If you have some Vietnamese Dong left at the end of your trip, don’t forget to exchange it before you leave. Once you leave the country, the currency is essentially worthless and you won’t get as much, if anything, for it.
Check out freebies at your accommodation – When booking accommodation check what freebies are offered. For example, breakfast, water, tea, coffee, or bicycle rental. These costs can quickly add up, so if they are complimentary with your accommodation it is a win-win situation.
Don’t rule out the convenience stores – Convenience stores such as Circle K and Vinmart are great for grabbing a quick snack or refreshing drink. They sell sandwiches, rice dishes, and even noodle pots that can be made on the spot.
Team up with other travellers for excursions – If you’re going to book an organised tour, it is a good idea to team up with other travellers. The more of you on the tour, the more discount you can barter.
Skip the upgrade – If you’re offered to upgrade your seat on the bus, or upgrade your room on the Ha Long Bay tour, make sure it is very clear what you’re getting. We have found that the upgrade is essentially nothing more than a money-making scheme. In fact, the upgrade doesn’t even exist or is so minor that you may as well have taken the cheaper option. For example, we opted for a deluxe room with a window on the Ha Long Bay trip, and it turned out that all the rooms had windows with fantastic views anyway.
Daily budget for Vietnam
Shoestring budget – If you’re on a super tight budget, we recommend a budget of $30 per day, or $40 per day if you’re a couple. This will cover the cost of a dorm bed or a basic double room, street food, a few beers, transport, and excursions if you do it yourself as opposed to booking a tour.
Flashpacker budget – $50 per is a good budget if you want to stay in modern hotels and eat at restaurants and take the odd chartered tour.
Luxury budget -$80+. Of course, if you’re on a luxury holiday this can be as expensive and luxurious as you like. To stay in top-of-the-range accommodation, eat at high-end restaurants, and take air-conditioned transport everywhere you will need around $80 per day. If you plan to use spa facilities regularly and go on a lot of shopping trips, you will need to factor this into your daily budget.
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