close

Vietnam

How Much Does It Cost To Travel In Vietnam?

vietnamese dong

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.

So, how much does it cost to travel in Vietnam? Or more specifically: how much did traveling in Vietnam cost me?vietnam hoi an

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.)

This is the official link to apply for your Vietnam e-visa online.

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.vietnam mekong delta

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.vietnam easy rider tour

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)

vietnam bicycle

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).how much does it cost to travel in VietnamDaily 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

vietnam noodles

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).vietnam hoi an espresso stationA 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).

Daily Drinks Budget: Depends on if you drink alcohol every day or if you have, like me, an expensive coffee habit, but I think US$5 – US$10 is realistic.vietnam craft beers

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.vietnam historic home hoi an

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).vietnam phu quoc beachI 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

Flights

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

vietnam vietjetBuses in Vietnam

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.vietnam moto taxiFerries 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.

Daily Transportation Budget: The slower you travel, the less you spend on transportation. It also depends on if you’re planning to take domestic flights or if you plan to stick to buses and trains.vietnam scooter

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.vietnam shop

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.how much does it cost to travel in Vietnam

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.

how much does it cost to travel in vietnam

read more

Backpacking Vietnam: My First Solo Trip In Two Years

vietnam dani backpacking

Hello from Vietnam! It’s been a while since I wrote a personal update, and what better occasion to do exactly that than my first solo trip in two years.

“Two years since my last solo trip, can this really be?”, I thought to myself as I tried to figure out the last time I’d traveled on my own. But yes, the last time I set off on a solo adventure was in February 2017, when I headed to Ecuador, the second-to-last country on the South American continent I wanted to visit (I have only been to Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, Peru and Colombia – but Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname are currently not high on my list – the big one left there is Brazil).

Technically, I set off on a solo trip in September 2017, when I flew from Germany to France to walk the Camino de Santiago, but since I quickly learned on that journey that is actually pretty difficult to get some alone time on this famous pilgrimage across Spain and ended up walking over three weeks of the Camino with someone, I feel like that one doesn’t count. And all the other trips I’ve taken since were with other people. I felt like it another solo trip was long overdue.

Why Vietnam?

So, why Vietnam? Some friends were surprised by the country I chose for my ‘Winter Escape’, but to be honest, Vietnam has been on my travel wish list for a long time. In 2011, when I traveled to Asia for the very first time, I was sure that Vietnam would be part of that trip, but back then, my travels were much more on the fly than they are now. I’d follow the path as it appeared in front of me, without much planning. I lingered in Thailand because it was convenient and easy, I spent more time in Malaysia than I needed to, and before I knew it, I had only three weeks left before I was flying to India for what would be a life changing experience.

Three weeks to squeeze in all of Vietnam, all while working remotely? No way. I didn’t have any interest in rushing through the country, and decided I’d rather leave it for my next trip to Asia, along with the other countries I ran out out of time for (the Philippines, Myanmar and Indonesia). And then, upon returning to Asia three years later, life happened once again, leading me to different places I had anticipated, ticking off only one of the countries on my list (the Philippines).

In the fall of 2016, I planned to return to Asia for the winter, and this time I would start in Vietnam. Yet again, however, destiny had other plans for me, this time in the form of US Immigration, informing me that my final visa interview and Green Card decision would happen in early January in Germany, and not in April or May, as they had previously indicated. Once again, I had to scrap my plans to finally visit Vietnam. And that’s why, when I made the decision to take a big trip this winter, I didn’t have to think about my destination for too long. I would finally visit Vietnam!

Hitting The Reset Button On Life

So how does it feel to be on the road again by myself? The last time I traveled to South East Asia by myself was in 2015, exactly four years ago. I had gotten over a bad breakup not long before that trip, I was happily in love, and I wanted to escape the New York winter. Not much about my situation has changed, I guess, only that I haven’t had to get over any heartaches recently.

The big difference between my last solo trips and this one: I am not nomadic anymore. I packed stuff I thought I’d need for the duration of the trip, and that’s it. For all my precious solo trips, I was carrying everything I owned on my back, in a giant 65-liter backpack.To commemorate the start of this new era of my travel life I decided to treat myself to a new backpack and retire the one I’d used ever since I took up the vagabond life in 2010. One thing that hasn’t changed is that I still can’t pack light – I tried hard to go for a 40-liter pack that I’d be able to carry on in airplanes, but I was quick to admit to myself that this just wouldn’t happen. (This is the backpack I eventually opted for – and so far, I am loving it).

As I prepared for this trip, I realized how much I needed it. I was hemming and hawing over going at all, now that I am more settled in New York and have a home, I find it harder to leave for long trips. There were also worries about money (I never had to pay rent before for a place I wasn’t using while I was on the road, and I’d already paid rent for two months while I was traveling in November and in December/January – a lot of rent for a place to sit empty) and taking too much time off, but then I remembered that I used to be location independent and that I’m still lucky enough to be able to make money while I’m traveling. So I finally clicked the ‘book’ button after having hovered over it for too long. And of course I am glad I did!

This wasn’t just about a ‘winter escape’ though – and the ever-present urge to explore a new country – it was just as much about hitting the ‘Reset’ button and getting away from my busy New York schedule where I rarely get the chance to spend time with myself, to think about what’s happening in my life, about relationships and successes and failures of the past year, and to simply be. After traveling without much of a schedule for the better part of the last decade, I am still surprised how quickly I adapted to city life again, booked up weeks in advance. I felt the same urge to hit ‘pause’ on my busy life when I left to walk the Camino de Santiago in 2017 – and that was after only having been in New York for three months. You can imagine how much I was craving a slower pace now, after having been in New York for a while (even though, admittedly, I hadn’t spent much time there since last October.)

Traveling Solo

Until 2015, I had never traveled alone. I was already in my thirties when I set off on my first solo adventure, always thinking that I was a person who needed someone to travel with. Well, as it turned out, I did not need anyone to enjoy myself. I treasure my alone time, being able to do exactly what I want, when I want, what to eat, when to eat, when to sight see, what to see, when to have a lazy day, when to socialize. I don’t mind eating by myself, I enjoy my own company, and these days I never even get the chance to feel lonely because I am always connected. I usually wake up to a number of Whatsup notifications, which I sometimes even find overwhelming. But I also have yet to go on a solo trip and not make new friends along the way.

Speaking of family and friends afar: Feeling so connected to people all over the world is definitely something that I didn’t experience on my first trip to Asia in 2011, which happened before Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, Instagram and all the other ways we have these days to stay connected with our loved ones back home. Back then, people had to wait for me to post a photo on Facebook to see where I was. I had to wait for an email from them to see how they were doing.

These days, I turn on the camera on my phone and take them on a tour of the beach I’m lazing on, while chatting on a chat app. The first time I went to Asia, I didn’t even have a phone (although admittedly, my iPodTouch was pretty much like a smartphone, just without the call function) and had to find a decent enough WiFi connection to make a Skype call back home. These days, the WiFi is so good that it even reached from a restaurant all the way out into the ocean, where I was chatting with someone back in New York while enjoying a relaxed morning as she was getting ready for bed. Oh, the joys of modern technology. While I appreciate many aspects of it, part of me wishes I wouldn’t just be able to pull up GoogleMaps on my phone to look up directions, to just get lost, to randomly stumble on a remote beach instead of just following travel guides that tell much which beaches are the prettiest.

South East Asia Is Changing

Not just the way most of us travel has changed – Asia has also changed. Remote beaches aren’t all that remote anymore, since roads have been paved and more tourists are coming, particularly noteworthy: Chinese tourists. Making beaches more accessible of course also means more crowds, and in places where you would have not found much beyond a few palm trees six to ten years ago, there are now makeshift restaurants and beach chairs. The roaring sound of jet skis breaks into the calming repetitive sound of the clashing waves.

But it is not just off-the-beaten-path islands that now have been discovered by mass tourism: Life in general is changing here, too. The last time I was in Asia, the people you’d see with a smartphone in their hand were usually tourists, but now it seems like everyone has a smartphone, from the fishermen I see in the ports to the children I see play video games on their phones in small villages.

And then there are the cities – Saigon for example, where more and more of the old French-colonial buildings are being torn down to make room for new shiny skyscrapers which spring up like mushrooms everywhere. Most places I’ve visited on this trip feel like giant construction sites, with jackhammers and stone saws and creating a steady background soundtrack from early morning till long after the sun sets.It’s not just Asia who has evolved: So have I. The bright-eyed backpacker who looked at everything in awe when she first came to Asia almost eight years ago – that’s not me anymore. And not only have I turned into a seasoned traveler, I also have a bigger budget now. The $10 room off of Bangkok’s Kao San Road I stayed in during my first Asia stint resembled the room Richard (Leonardo DiCaprio’s character in The Beach) was staying in when he arrived in Bangkok, more than I am willing to admit. But back then, I was traveling on a tiny budget, following the South East Asia On A Shoestring guidebook religiously, trying to make my money last as long as possible. Did I have less of a great time back then? Certainly not! But I wouldn’t put myself in a room like that anymore only to save a few dollars.

That said, I still consider myself a frugal traveler, and see it as a waste of money to spend tons of cash on a place for just me. When I am traveling with someone – different story. Especially when traveling with a partner, I want it to feel special. And no question: I do appreciate being able to afford the occasional splurge, and I know that it’ll be a completely different feel to sail through Halong Bay (one of the places I’m most excited to visit) on a luxury boat rather than a backpacker barge filled with roaches and mice. I guess I am now what they call a flashpacker, even though I dislike this term.

Getting My Travel Mojo Back

One thing that hasn’t changed is my ability to quickly fall back into a traveler’s life, a life on the road as I lived it for so many years. I fall back into the routine of unpacking my backpack when I arrive in a new place (read: I turn my room into a huge mess in two minutes), laying down on the bed and researching vegetarian restaurants and the best coffee shops in town. Then I head out for a first exploration of the town I am in and plan how many days I want to spend there and how I want to spend them. A few days later, I move on to the next place, rinse, repeat.

Even though I have almost two months to explore this country, which is longer than most people have, I have to admit that I am feeling a bit rushed. Having an end date looming over my trip is something that I am still not used to, and traveling at a rather rapid pace is something I find hard to adjust to. It has happened a few times on this trip already that I found myself in places where I wished I had more time, but had already booked a hotel in the next city, eager to see as much of Vietnam as possible.When I arrived in New York at the end of 2017 after an exhausting year of travel, all I wanted was to take a break from being on the road, and not travel anywhere. Well, I am glad I gave myself this break because leading up to the trip, I could feel my excitement grow each day, consulting my guidebook every night before I went to bed to figure out which places in this huge country I wanted to see, and to map out a route.

I remember that during the last few months of my nomadic life trip planning had started to feel like a chore, and I dreaded the long hours of researching places to stay, things I wanted to see, and finding good food options. When I began to prepare my Vietnam trip, everything got me more stoked for the journey: picking out a new backpack, buying a new bathing suit, making sure all my gear was still in good shape, trying to decide which clothes and tech to bring.

And then, finally arriving in Vietnam, a country I’ve wanted to visit for so many years, felt like a dream come true, as corny as this might sound. I don’t take it for granted that I am able to go travel for such a long time – especially now after meeting so many people in New York who have a very limited amount of vacation days – and in the case of Vietnam, which I’ve been wanting to explore for such a long time, I feel even more grateful that my lifestyle allows me to do this.Expect more Vietnam articles shortly – in the meantime, you can follow my journey on Instagram.

 

read more