The one thing people are usually the most curious about are my travel expenses… so let’s get to it: How much does it cost to travel Vietnam?
Of course there is a big difference in how much people spend – everyone has different needs and standards. I am sure that there are people who spend in only one weekend what I spend in an entire week. While I’m not a rock bottom backpacker who traveled Vietnam on $10 a day, I do consider myself a frugal traveler and don’t tend to stay in fancy hotels. Since I also prefer street food over nice restaurants, my costs for food are much lower than what people spend who prefer eating in proper restaurants all the time. I want to share my expenses to help you figure out your own Vietnam travel budget.
Vietnam Pre-trip Expenses
I had quite a few expenses before I went to Vietnam. First of all, if you’re planning to stay for more than 15 days, you have to get a tourist visa before entering the country. This can be obtained hassle-free online now, but allow at least four days for it to be processed. You have to print out this visa once you receive the confirmation that it was approved, or you will not be allowed to board your flight. Here’s a list of all the countries whose residents can apply for the visa online.
Cost of e-visa: US$25
There are several websites that offer to obtain the visa for you, and they will charge you a fee for it. The first website I came across when googling the e-visa only charged $17, so I assume it is a scam. Be careful which website you use when applying for the visa. Knowing that it should be $25 saved me from sending money into the void of the World Wide Web and most likely NOT get the visa.
I followed these instructions on how to get the Vietnam e-visa and got my visa approved only hours before my flight, so if you don’t want to sweat over getting your visa in time, don’t wait until the last minute like I did. (The reason I waited so long is that I’d applied for a visa appointment with the Vietnamese consulate in New York to get a 3-month visa, since I knew I’d be staying longer than 30 days and wanted to save me the hassle of having to get a visa extension or going on a ‘visa run’. But that’s a topic for a whole other post.)
If you’re staying for less than 15 days, there’s still a small processing fee involved, which varies from country to country. Note that you have to have two passport photos on you to get the 15-day visa on arrival, or you will be charged an extra fee.
Travel insurance for Vietnam
The other pre-trip expense you should factor into your Vietnam travel budget is travel insurance. Since I knew I’d be renting a scooter and that bag snatching was a regular in occurrence in Saigon, I wanted to play it safe. Prices for insurance policies vary depending on your nationality, the duration of your trip and if you are planning to do any activity that require additional coverage. WorldNomads has two options, the Standard and the Explorer.
Items I bought before my trip to Vietnam
As for items I didn’t want to have to buy in Vietnam:
- Sunscreen (usually more expensive in tourist destinations than back home)
- Body lotion / face lotion (because it can be tricky to find items that are not ‘skin whitening’ in Asia. Even deodorant usually has whitener in it)
- Mosquito Spray
- Contact Lens Solution
- Travel Adapter (only needed if you’re from the UK or Australia. North American and Continental European plugs fit in Vietnam, as long as you don’t have three pins. I had a simple two-pin plug which worked fine, but for my next trip to Vietnam I’d buy an adapter that has USB chargers integrated)
How Much is Accommodation in Vietnam
You can pay for as little as $2 a night in a dorm room in Vietnam – the going rate for dorms seemed to be around US$4 – US$5. I also saw some pricier dorms around $10, but judging from the photos on the online booking websites I use, they never looked nicer than the cheaper ones. The most expensive dorm I came across was at a hostel in Phu Quoc that charged $15 for a 4-bed dorm with AC.
I usually stayed in private rooms, which ranged from basic guest houses and hostels to homestays and small hotels. The most expensive hotel room I stayed in was $36, and that’s because I wanted to treat myself to a rooftop pool in Danang. The cheapest room I booked in Vietnam was $9: a homestay in the Mekong Delta. I usually averaged around VND330,000 (~US$14) for a private double room at single occupancy. Double rooms for two people are around the same price, or maybe a dollar more. When you’re wondering: How much does it cost to travel Vietnam? Remember that how much you’re spending on accommodation makes a huge difference! If you’re someone who likes a bit more luxury, you will spend much more in Vietnam than I did.
I used Booking.com exclusively to book my accommodation, because I find the site more transparent than Agoda (which is the more popular booking website in Asia). Booking.com shows me right away the total price for the entire stay including fees and taxes (Agoda shows price per night without taxes/fees), and Booking.com also lists hostels (dorm beds and private rooms), homestays, apartments, and even cruises (in Halong Bay).Daily Accommodation Budget: This can vary drastically depending on your travel style. Dorm rooms all the way? Expect to spend around US$5 a night. You prefer your own hotel room, and enjoy global hotel brands? Those can easily cost you US$100 a night and more. Plan your Vietnam travel budget according to your travel style.
How Much Is Food in Vietnam?
If you love street food, you’ll never pay more than US$1 or $2 for a meal. A bowl of Vietnamese noodle soup can usually be found for VND25,000 (US$1.08), a banh mi sandwich is between VND20,000 and 25,000 (US0.86 – US$1.08), but can be slightly more expensive in tourist areas.
If you prefer a proper sit-down restaurant, expect to pay between VND60,000 and 120,000 (US$2.60 – $5.20). Western food is a bit pricier – a high-quality pizza for example set me back at VND222,000 (US$9.55).
My most expensive dinner in Vietnam was VND265,000 (US$11.40).
Snacks: Whenever I picked up some snacks in a grocery store or convenience store, I never paid more than US$1 for nuts, a bag of chips, a chocolate bar, etc.
Daily Food Budget: US$10
How Much Are Drinks in Vietnam?
I love that Vietnam has such a thriving coffee culture, and splurged on some fancy coffee drinks such as iced coconut coffee, which would cost anything between VND39,000 (US$1.68) and VND75,000 (US$3.23) for a pricier place. Exotic creations like a yogurt coffee cost around (VND30,000 / US$1.29), and Vietnam’s famous Egg Coffee is around (VND35,000 / US$1.51).
A coffee in a hipster coffee shop starts at around VND40,000 (US$1.72), a cappuccino is around VND50,000 (US$2.15). The cheapest coffee I had was VND10,000 (US$0.43).A large bottle of water is around 10,000 (US$0.43) (You cannot drink the tap water in Vietnam, so daily drinking water is something you’ve got to factor into your Vietnam travel budget).
There are fresh fruit smoothies everywhere, and they range from VND20,000 (US$0.86) – VND80,000 (US$3.44). On average, I spent VND40,000 (US$1.72) on a smoothie.
Beer ranges from VND10,000 (US$0.43) to VND30,000 (US$1.29). There are quite a few micro-breweries and craft beer bars in Vietnam now – expect to pay more for craft beer. I paid VND60,000 (US$2.58) for a micro brew in Ho Chi Minh City.
Wine: a glass of wine in a wine bar is around VND130,000 (US$5.59). The cheapest wine I found was VND55,000 (US$2.37).
Cocktails are a bit more expensive: I spent VND208,000 (US$8.94) on rooftop drinks in Saigon, and in the fancier cocktail bars like Snuffbox cocktails average VND210,000 (US$9). The cheapest cocktail I had was VND132,000 (US$5.68).
How much is Entertainment in Vietnam
Here are some examples for admission to attractions, museums and other entertainment:
- Art Museum Ho Chi Minh City: VND30,000 (US$1.29)
- War Museum Ho Chi Minh City: VND40,000 (US1.72)
- Massage: VND150,000 (US$6.45)
- Crazy House in Dalat: VND50,000 (US$2.15)
- Skylight observation deck in Da Nang (includes one drink): VND 160,000 (US6.88)
- Historic buildings in Hoi An’s Ancient Town was VND120,000 (US$5.16)
- a ticket for the Marble Mountains was VND40,000 (US$1.72)
- Admission to the ancient ruins of My Son was VND150,000 (US$6.45)
- Bicycle rental VND20,000 (US$0.86)
- Waterfall admission: VND20,000 (US$0.86)
Daily entertainment budget: This depends on how many attractions you want to visit, but as you can see, museums are very cheap in Vietnam, and I never paid more than US$7 for an attraction. I recommend adding US$10 per day for entertainment to your Vietnam travel budget.
How Much are Excursions in Vietnam
I joined several excursions during my time in Vietnam, here are some examples:
I took a tour from Hoi An to the UNESCO site My Son, which was VND120,000 (US$5.16).
A private walking tour in Hanoi, booked through WithLocals.com, was around US$50.
A tour to the sand dunes in Mui Ne was VND150,000 (US$6.45), plus another VND150,000 (US$6.45) for a jeep tour in the sand dunes.
I toured the area around Dalat for a full day with an ‘Easy Rider’ which is basically a tour on the back of someone’s motorbike and paid VND800,000 (US$34.40).
A snorkeling boat trip in Phu Quoc cost VND345,000 (US$14.84).I also did a couple of Airbnb Experiences: A food tour by scooter in Saigon, which cost US$24, and a half-day boat tour in the Mekong Delta (US$25, plus a tip and breakfast for the boat driver around US$8).
Daily Excursions Budget: I don’t think that you’ll do an excursion every single day on your trip, but when trying to figure out how much it cost to travel in Vietnam, excursions should definitely be factored in. Think about which things you really want to do while in Vietnam – for me the main things were UNESCO sites, food tours, the Halong Bay cruise and the boat tour on the Mekong. As you can see in the examples above, most of the excursions I went on were under US$15, but if you enjoy private tours over group tours, you’ll have to budget accordingly.
How Much is Transportation in Vietnam
Domestic flights in Vietnam are cheap – the most I paid for a flight was around US$50. I used Skyscanner and GoogleFlights to look for cheap flights and booked around 2 – 3 weeks before each flight. Some airfare examples:
- Ho Chi Minh City – Phu Quoc: US$43
- Hanoi – Ho Chi Minh City: US$52
- Da Nang – Hanoi: US$46
A 2-hour bus ride was usually VND70,000 (US$3), a 4-hour bus is around VND140,000 (US$6).
Trains in Vietnam
I took trains several times and found train rides in Vietnam to be an enjoyable experience. I paid between VND145,000 (US$6.24) and VND177,000 (US$7.60) for the train. I booked all my train rides in advance online via the website Baolau.com.
Taxis in Vietnam
The most expensive taxi rides were in Phu Quoc and Saigon: VND230,000 (US$9.89) from the airport to my guesthouse in Phu Quoc / VND180,000 (US$7.74) from my hotel in Phu Quoc to the ferry. In Saigon I paid VND250,000 (US$10.75) to get from my hotel to the airport.
A taxi in Ben Tre was VND85,000 (US$3.66), in Da Nang I paid VND100,000 (US$4.30) for a 15-min ride.
Moto taxis in Vietnam
Moto-taxis, where you sit on the back of the driver’s scooter (the most common taxis in Vietnam) ranged from VND40,000 (US$1.72) to VND60,000 (US$2.58). The most I paid was VND70,000 (US$3) for a moto taxi.Ferries in Vietnam
The ferry from Phu Quoc to the mainland was VND330,000 (USS$14.19)
Scooter rental in Vietnam
I paid VND120,000 (US$5.12) per day for my scooter rental on Phu Quoc. Filling up gas was VND35,000 (US$1.51).
Bicycle rental in Vietnam
I rented a bicycle in Hoi An for VND20,000 (US$0.86) per day.
Other Expenses in Vietnam: SIM Card & Laundry
SIM card: I got a SIM card right at the airport in Ho Chi Minh City and paid VND230,000 (US$9.89) for it. If you want to do a bit more research, I recommend this guide to the best SIM cards for tourists in Vietnam. I topped up my SIM card about four weeks into my trip and spent VND100,000 (US$4.30) for the top-up.
Laundry: I usually paid VND50,000 (US$2.15) to get my laundry done.
Other expenses to take into consideration when trying to figure out how much it cost to travel in Vietnam are things like souvenirs (many people get suits or dresses tailor-made in Hoi An), postcards, haircuts and toiletries.
How much does it cost to travel in Vietnam?
I spent between US$30 and $40 per day while I was traveling around Vietnam – and I stayed in private accommodation, went on excursions and treated myself to fancy coffees and cocktails along the way, which is why my daily budget was usually on the higher end (US$40). Had I stayed in dorm rooms and stuck to beer and cheap and Vietnamese coffee, I’d be able to stick to a US$30 per day travel budget.
My total Vietnam travel budget for one month: US$1,214.52
So when you set your Vietnam travel budget, think about your travel style. I am a frugal traveler – I don’t need fancy hotels, and I wanted to travel Vietnam on a budget. But if you are traveling for a shorter time and want to spoil yourself, your budget will certainly be higher than what I spent during my seven weeks in Vietnam. It also depends on how many places you’re planning to visit – I visited a dozen different places, which means there were a lot of transportation costs involved. If you visit less places, you’ll spend less on transportation, unless you fly in between each city you visit. If you’re pressed for time, do your research and decide before your trip which top destinations in Vietnam you really want to visit.
I hope after reading this article you have a rough idea how much it costs to travel Vietnam – if you have any other questions about traveling Vietnam, leave a comment below!
I tracked my travel expenses, as always, using the TrailWallet app.