Travel Vietnam on a Budget - Our Expenses from One Month in Vietnam

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Everyone says that it's cheap to travel to Vietnam, but exactly how cheap is it really? We spent one month in Vietnam and were shocked by how little we ended up spending. Read on for tips on how you can travel Vietnam on a budget and for a full breakdown of our expenses!

In our month in Vietnam, we started in the middle of the country: in Hoi An. Then we worked our way up north to Hue, Ninh Binh, Ha Giang, Hanoi, Cat Ba, and Ha Long Bay. We skipped the Southern half of Vietnam this time around so that we could take things slowly but we imagine the budget would be similar down south.

Our Vietnam Budget Breakdown

All of the following costs are listed in USD on a per person basis. We split things like accommodation, scooter rentals, etc. between two people so if you’re a solo traveler these things could be more expensive!

Cost of food and drinks in Vietnam - $270

You can tell how much we like food from the fact that it was biggest expense by far. Whether eating at a street food stall or in a nice restaurant, finding a Vietnamese meal for under $2 is easy. Banh Mi is ubiquitous and you can find the tasty sandwiches for as little as 86 cents. On the other hand, Pho might be a little pricier at a whopping $1.45. We love Vietnamese food so much that we rarely found the need to eat any western food. It’s also the budget-friendlier option since most Western meals come with Western prices at around $5+.

Our total food expenses: $193 per person, Daily average: $6.02 per day.

Vietnam has so many special local coffee drinks from egg coffee to coconut coffee to traditional Vietnamese coffee. We definitely ended up splurging in the drinks category and probably had coffee at least twice per day. Coffees ranged from 43 cents for a Vietnamese coffee to $3.80 for a coconut coffee at a fancy cafe. Vietnam also has the lowest priced beer that we’ve ever seen! Bia Hơi is a special type of draught beer in Vietnam that generally goes for 21 cents per beer. Needless to say, we had trouble resisting these insanely cheap beers.

Our total drink expenses: $77 per person, Daily average: $2.40 per day.

 
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Cost of Accommodation in Vietnam - $148

We stayed exclusively in private rooms everywhere we traveled in Vietnam. Each place had a private bathroom (with the exception of our 2nd not-so-nice place in Hanoi) and some even had breakfast included in the price! The price varied a bit by location: Cat Ba was by far easiest to find high-quality budget options, while Hanoi was the most difficult to find a nice place for under $20/night.

Here's a price breakdown by location along with the places that we stayed:

Cat Ba: $8.10/night - This price includes breakfast for two! The craziest part is that most accommodations in Cat Ba are very modern, include breakfast and are somehow still this cheap! We stayed at Victor Charlie Hostel.

Ha Giang: $8.52/night - The Ha Giang loop takes 3-5 days and this was the average price of the places that we stayed at along the route. The home-stays in this region are definitely more basic than in the other areas we traveled. (If you happen to stop in Lung Cu, definitely check out Sisters house! They cooked us a large and delicious feast when we arrived late at night and they were some of the friendliest hosts ever!)

Hoi An: $12.91/night - Nhu Huy Homestay.

Ninh Binh: $13.30/night with breakfast included - Tam Coc Happy Home.

Ha Long City: $15.50/night - BBQ Hostel.

Hanoi: $18.72/night - The Eyrie (the first time we stayed in Hanoi).

The second time we stayed in Hanoi, we found a private room with a shared bathroom for $14.30/night. We felt so good about ourselves for saving $4/night at this place. It turned out the bathroom was 3 floors up from our room, the walls were covered in mold and our air conditioner was broken. Sometimes it's worth the extra few bucks, especially in Hanoi!

Total cost: $148 per person, Daily average: $4.63 per day! (This daily average is especially low because we didn’t pay for accommodation on the days that we took overnight buses and trains.)

 
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Transportation Costs in Vietnam - $162

Our biggest expenses in this category were the overnight trains and buses that we took between destinations. The 12-hour train ride from Hue to Ninh Binh set us back $33/person. We also paid $18/person for an overnight bus to Ha Giang from Hanoi, and the same price again from Ha Giang to Ha Long City.

For shorter trips between destinations, such as the 2 hour trip between Ninh Binh and Hanoi or the 3 hour trip between Hanoi and Ha Long, expect to pay less than $5/person for a bus ticket.

Transportation within the towns of Vietnam is fairly cheap. You can easily find a scooter for less than $5/day. If you prefer not to scooter, Grab is available in the bigger cities. For reference, our Grabs within Hanoi ranged from $0.25 to $4.00.

Total cost: $162 per person, Daily average: $5.06 per day.

 
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Cost of Activities in Vietnam - $51

Most of the activities we did were free or only cost a few dollars to enter. Our three most expensive activities were the following:

$13.80/person for our 3-day motorcycle journey on the Ha Giang loop (excluding food and accommodation).

$12.90/person for our Ha Long Bay day tour from Cat Ba island.

$8.60/person for our 4-hour boat tour in Trang An.

That being said, we did avoid some of the more expensive activities such as the $40 entrance fee for Ba Na Hills and saved hundreds of dollars by finding an alternative to the popular $100+ Ha Long Bay cruises.

Total cost: $51 per person, Daily average: $1.60 per day.

Cost of Visas in Vietnam - $43

There are actually two separate fees to get a visa on arrival for Vietnam: an approval letter service fee that you pay at the time of application and a stamping fee that you pay upon arrival. 

We applied for the single-entry, one-month visa online. The fee for our approval letters was $18 per person. We then paid $25/person in cash upon arrival at the Danang airport.

These fees vary depending on the type of visa you apply for so make sure to check the current Vietnam visa costs here.

Total cost: $43 per person, Daily average: $1.34 per day.

 
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Our Total Cost of One Month in Vietnam was $698 per person

We stayed in Vietnam for 32 days to be exact, so this came out to be $21.83/person per day! This includes all of the above categories, plus a few miscellaneous expenses such as laundry, gym passes, and a $9 SIM card. We were really shocked by this total since it felt like we were eating and drinking nonstop, staying in really nice hotels, and not paying too much attention to our budget. As far as budget destinations go, Vietnam might be one of the best!

TL;DR:

Food - $6.02/day

Drinks - $2.40/day

Accommodation - $4.63/day

Transportation - $5.06/day

Activities - $1.60/day

Visas - $1.34/day

Miscellaneous - $0.78/day

Total - $21.83/day

We hope that this has been helpful to some extent! Let us know if you have any questions in the comments!

Also, if you’d like to see how this budget compares to our 2 months in Thailand, check out our similar post here!