How Much Does it Cost to Travel Vietnam on a Budget? [Infographic]

When we turned up in Hanoi, we had booked nothing for our 24-day trip. We didn’t really know how much it would cost to travel Vietnam, just that it would be quite cheap. We were absolutely delighted to find that backpacking in Vietnam was really affordable, as well as being really headache free.

Often when travelling on a budget you need to organise places to sleep, mark out areas you can afford to eat in, and research which activities are in your price range in advance. The cost to travel in Vietnam is so affordable, that you just don’t need to do that. In fact, it’s often better not to book in advance because you can get a better deal by negotiating in person when you arrive. Prices are not fixed in Vietnam!

How Much Does it Cost to Travel Vietnam?

Our travel budget is near to the rock bottom expenditure for a night’s accommodation, 3 meals per day, local transport, and a fair range of activities. This is probably the tightest travel budgeting we’ve ever done, to give you an idea of how hard we were trying to budget. Flights are not included in the budget.

Cost of Travel Vietnam - Charlie on Travel


Where We Travelled

We travelled from the north to the south of Vietnam over 24 days from November – December. We stopped off in a total of 10 places: Hanoi, Halong Bay, Sapa, Hue, Hoi An, Dalat, Yok Don, Nha Trang, Mui Ne and Ho Chi Minh City. Our full Vietnam backpacking route from north to south can be found here, if you’re interested to see our exact travel route.

Transport in Vietnam

We mostly travelled by sleeper bus because it’s the cheapest option, but I have to admit that it’s definitely not something I would do again. If you’re thinking about taking a sleeper bus, How to Survive Vietnamese Sleeper Buses in Vietnam is an essential read. We travelled by train on a few occasions as well and it was much more pleasant and comfortable. The price is only very slightly higher, so it’s worth looking into.

You can also save money by booking buses and trains in advance. To make sure you keep your cost to travel Vietnam in check, avoid booking via your hotel and hostel if you can as they may add an extra mark-up to take for themselves. Instead, go straight to the bus station or train station to book your tickets.

Budget Accommodation in Vietnam

Travelling as a couple, we mostly found that a double room in a guest house was cheaper than two single beds in a dorm room. This means that travelling solo would probably mean a slightly increased cost for accommodation. However, you can still get very cheap dorm beds, and sometimes even hammocks, if you’re not fussy about your hostels.

Budget accommodation is generally of an okay standard. Sometimes we had ants in the room and sometimes just bare floorboards, but we found that the bathrooms were always fine. I should say that we’re not really fussy about our travel accommodation at all, as long as it’s basically clean. Many places also throw in breakfast of banana pancakes as well.

Where We Stayed in Vietnam

1st Thu Giang Guesthouse Hanoi We checked into this place after seeing it was recommended in the Lonely Planet travel guide for Vietnam. It was a basic guesthouse which is owned by a husband and wife couple. There’s 1st Thu Giang Guesthouse which is looked after by the husband. Around the corner is the cleaner and more orderly 2nd Thu Giang Guesthouse, run by the wife. The place was cheap and we liked it. The only downside was the smell of wet dog in 1st. We paid $7.45 per night.
Luong Thuy Family Guesthouse Sapa We struggled to find anything really cheap in Sapa, but decided to head into this lovely guesthouse becaus there was a hot crackling fire and it was absolutely freezing cold outside. The place was homely but big enough that it wasn’t like staying in someone’s house. Rooms are quite large. At the very top of the hotel is a tiny, wooden breakfast room with an incredible view of the rice terraces selling hot bowls of noodle soup. We paid $16.80 per night.
Huang Huong Guesthouse Hue There’s a small alley of budget accommodation in Hue, including Huang Huong Guesthouse. When we were there, the guesthouse was run by one very little old lady. She was really welcoming and smiley, and made us banana pancakes for breakfast. The downside here is that the rooms have some damp walls. We paid $6.73 per night.
Hop Yen Hoi An Hop Yen is an immaculate looking hotel downstairs but don’t be fooled by the appearance because there are much cheaper rooms the further upstairs you go. We stayed at the very top in the attic rooms which were all bare floorboards and a crappy shared shower room. The plus side was that it was our cheapest accommodation in the whole of Vietnam. We paid $6.91 per night.
Stilt Houses Yok Don Accommodation options are limited in Yok Don, but you can stay in some local-style stilt houses next to where tourist information (and also the chained up elephants that are poorly treated) are located. The houses themselves are basic with just a matress on the floor, but they have a nice view of the field and it’s quite a cool experience. We paid $6.73 per night.
Sun Hotel Mui Ne Mui Ne was another expensive area for us and it took a lot of shopping around to find a budget accommodation. Eventually we managed to cut a deal with the couple running Sun Hotel and had quite a nice room for a good price. We paid $8.52 per night.
Ngoc Thao Guesthouse Ho Chi Minh City Our most expensive room of the trip was in Ho Chi Minh City, but it’s not surprising considered we booked online before arriving (because we wanted to be sure about where we were staying the night before our flight). This guesthouse was absolutely immaculate, kind of plush inside and run by a really lovely family. We paid $19.91 per night.

Most Expensive Sleep: Ngoc Thao Guesthouse in Ho Chi Minh City – $19.91 per night
Least Expensive Sleep: Hop Yen in Hoi An – $6.91 per night

Traditional stilt house Yok Don Vietnam - Charlie on Travel

Traditional stilt house we stayed in at Yok Don.

Eating Vietnamese Food & Street Food

Vietnam is a top travel destination for food lovers, even if you’re on a budget. If you want to eat cheap and keep the cost to travel Vietnam down, stick to local Asian eateries and street food.  We had a lot of delicious and cheap vegetarian street food, even though beef noodles are the most commonly found. Noodle soups, rice and crusty bread rolls are the most common Vietnamese dishes.

Food gets expensive if you plan on trying to eat in more tourist-orientated restaurants or any Western food establishment. Avoid Western food as it is always over-priced and won’t be anything like what you’re used to at home. Plus, Vietnamese food is incredibly delicious so I’m not sure why you’d ever want to eat Western food over it anyway!

Most Expensive Eat: Tamarind Cafe in Hanoi – $16.80 for two people
Least Expensive Eat: Breakfast rice with shredded coconut from a street vendor in HCMC – 91¢ for two people

cost to travel vietnam street food

French baguettes are a popular lunch time street food.

Budget Activities in Vietnam

You’ll read that there are a lot of “must-do” activities in Vietnam. At the top of that list are a Halong Bay cruise and a Sapa trek. We did both a Halong Bay cruise and a Sapa trek and although we loved them, not everyone would consider them “must-dos.” For Halong Bay trips, make sure you shop around and haggle well. There are loads of tour operators out to rip tourists off so it’s really important to compare prices. We organised our’s via our local guesthouse in Hanoi in the end as they seemed the most trustworthy and one of the better value options.

Despite not being one of the “must-do” activities in Vietnam, our favourite activity was a Vietnamese vegan cooking class in Hoi A. We learned to make a heap of different vegan versions of Vietnamese food and learned a lot about local produce. Of course, if you really want to keep the cost to travel Vietnam down super low, then there are lots of good free activities, including visiting temples and pagodas and walking around enjoying the bustle of the cities.

On a side note, unethical elephant riding is a problem in Vietnam. Many elephants are mistreated and worked too hard in poor conditions. Don’t include this in your Vietnam activities.

Most Expensive Activity: All-inclusive 2-day Halong Bay cruise – $64 per person
Least Expensive Activity: Ticket to the temple on the lake in Hanoi – 45¢ per person

cost to travel vietnam halong bay cruise budget

A 2-day Halong Bay cruise was our most expensive activity in Vietnam.

What I Didn’t Include in the Vietnam Travel Budget

Things I didn’t factor into the cost to travel Vietnam are ATM withdrawal charges, gifts for our families – just in time for Christmas! – and a personal splurge on clothes which we had tailored in Hoi An. These expenses would give a skewed perspective of the cost of travelling in Vietnam because they aren’t essentials. If you want to keep the cost to travel Vietnam down, then I’d recommend avoiding buying any tailored clothing in Hoi An. However, it’s tough to avoid the lure of well-tailored, budget-friendly clothing in Hoi An. Souveniers tend to be reasonably well-priced but costs can easily stack up depending on how many people you want to buy gifts for!

Gifts for Christmas: VND 560,000 ($25.72) on 5 gifts
Tailored clothes in Hoi An: VND 2,380,126 ($110.18) on 1 pair of boots, 1 pair of jeans, 1 skirt
ATM Withdrawal Charges: £31.50 (£5 / $8 per withdrawal, maximum withdrawal of £86 / $138 per day)

Cost to Travel Vietnam Vietnamese lanterns

Vietnamese lanterns from Hoi An are a popular gift to take home.

Haggling in Vietnam

Don’t forget that if you do plan on buying gifts, souvenirs and tailor-made clothing in Vietnam then you must haggle. You should also haggle for accommodation. Bartering is all part of the ‘fun’ in Vietnam – it’s the way that local people do things. Always approach haggling as a friendly exchange and steer clear of being aggressive (because that’s no fun). Some Vietnamese are more harsh with their haggling with tourists than others. Remember that nearly everyone in Vietnam is selling the same goods, so if one person is too tough or unpleasant to haggle with then just move on.

When you’re haggling, you can usually aim to get the price down by about 25%-50% of the originally quoted price. Sometimes you can get this down much further on items like clothing and accommodation – it all depends on how high they start! It’s a good idea to engage in haggling for the same or similar item with a couple of different people. This will give you a better idea of whether the price they are offering you is a fair one. Bear in mind that you should be looking to pay a fair price. The Vietnamese will be much worse off than you and often appear brash because they really need the money to get by.

How Much Does it Cost to Travel Vietnam on a Budget? [Infographic]

Budget Travel in Vietnam

The cost to travel Vietnam can be kept really low if you pay attention to your travel budget and haggle well. Vietnam is an incredible country to travel if you’re looking for a rich cultural experience but have a tight travel budget as well. This is one of the reasons that Vietnam continues to attract so many backpackers. Travelling in Vietnam is also very easy because there is a strong tourist infrastructure in place, especially when it comes to backpacking. Vietnam is one of our top budget travel destinations still today!

Read More about Vietnam

WHERE TO GO BACKPACKING IN VIETNAM NEXT POST - CHARLIE ON TRAVEL

TAILORING IN HOI AN VIETNAM NEXT POST - CHARLIE ON TRAVEL

Dont ride an elephant in Vietnam link post - Charlie on Travel

How much did it cost to travel Vietnam when you went? I’d love to hear if you managed to beat our travel budget!

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  1. Great cost breakdown. We found Vietnam very cheap to travel around, but we were cycling the full length of the country so it was much easier for us to find great deals on accommodation and we did not have to use public transport at all. You did a great job. Food is so cheap there and yet so delicious.

    • Public transport ended up totally a fair chunk, especially overnight buses. We would have loved to cycle, but we also would’ve needed more time to get to all the places we wanted to see and we wanted to be home for Christmas. I’d definitely think about it another time though. How long did you travel in Vietnam for?

  2. I’ve always wanted to travel to Vietnam. Thank you for the detailed summary. Now I’ll know how best to plan the trip. I’ll be following along on your upcoming adventures. :)

  3. What a detailed post with some very useful info and cost breakdown. I haven’t been to Vietnam yet, but it looks like the food is incredibly cheap. Thanks for sharing!

  4. It’s so great of you to share your breakdown, it’s not only interesting to read, but also helps many other travellers plan for their own around the world trips.

    • Yes, a nice hotel really isn’t much of a step up in price for sure! We had one (unintentionally) at the end of our trip in Saigon, and it was significantly nicer than the other places we stayed.

  5. Just found this great breakdown…me and my partner have booked the same number of days in Vietnam, as well as the same route – leaving in just a couple of weeks.

    I found that most budget guides on the internet were from about 2008, so are fairly outdated…This is exactly the kind of thing I was looking for, so helpful and current!

    • Hi Sam! That’s awesome, I’m glad that you found it helpful :)

      Have an excellent trip around Vietnam, and send me an email if there’s anything I can do to help you out.

  6. This is a really great breakdown… I’m going to have to link it from my Vietnam page! I always forget to take notes on my expenses, but I know how useful this can be to anyone in the planning stages.

    Got to love the cheap and delicious noodles in Vietnam, not to mention the beer being as cheap as water. (Though I will never again drink that supposed ‘Fresh Beer’ they sometimes give away for free :)).
    Marek Bron recently posted…Cost Of Travel In South America: A Rough GuideMy Profile

    • Hey Marek, thanks and I’m really glad that you thought my breakdown was useful.

      I’m actually really meticulous about keeping my expenses recorded because I stick to a pretty tight budget. Sometimes it really annoys my boyfriend haha.

      Cheap noodles were the best! and so delicious! :)

    • Hi Sandra – We actually booked it through the place we were staying in Hanoi – Thu Giang Guesthouse. They were a lovely and honest family. I can’t remember the exact name of the tour people, I think it was ATN Travel, or a similar acronym. Also, we were booking in November 2013, which is rainy season in Vietnam, not sure if that makes a difference. And, in our experience, booking anything over the internet beforehand costs more than just going to a place in Vietnam and asking (and then telling them you want it cheaper).
      Charlie on Travel recently posted…How to Choose a Spanish School in Antigua, GuatemalaMy Profile

    • Hi Denise – We actually booked it through the place we were staying in Hanoi – Thu Giang Guesthouse. They were a lovely and honest family. I can’t remember the exact name of the tour people, I think it was ATN Travel, or a similar acronym. Also, we were booking in November 2013, which is rainy season in Vietnam, not sure if that makes a difference. And, in our experience, booking anything over the internet beforehand costs more than just going to a place in Vietnam and asking (and then telling them you want it cheaper).

  7. Exactly, what I was looking for. Such a nice summary and also all your other posts are wonderful. I live in HCMC and study here but I’m done at the beginning of Feb and then my boyfriends visiting me and we start the BIG TOUR. We have to be faster than you were, don’t have so many days for all the destinations. We’ll see, if it works out. And I hope to find a possibility to go to Mai Chau instead of Sapa.

    • Thanks, Lisa :) That’s awesome. I thought HCMC was a pretty manic place compared to the rest of Vietnam though, so go you! Shame that you have to be even faster than us as I really feel our time was tight. Mai Chau might also be a good shout as I believe it’s only 3 or so hours from Hanoi? So if you need it could probably be a day trip even, whereas Sapa is a whole overnight 12 hour bus ride..

      Good luck with your travels, I look forward to hearing all about them afterwards! :D

  8. Hey Charlie,
    Loving your articles and budget breakdowns on Vietnam. I’m planning on travelling there solo this June after some time in Japan. Just wondering if you have any advice on solo female travel and whether there’s anywhere that should be avoided etc. Looking at spending about 2-3 weeks there with options open to Cambodia, Laos and Bangkok/Chiang Mai. Any information would be much appreciated.
    Many thanks!

  9. Great info beautifully presented. We traveled Vietnam for 22 days and averaged $20.50/day. If you can cut back on taxis you can reduce your transportation costs. Sometimes we would take a bus for 3 hours, then get off and take a taxi to our hotel for 10 minutes, and the two rides would cost the same. You can have a look at our cost breakdown here: http://www.itchyfeetonthecheap.com/2013/02/26/vietnam/
    Ryan recently posted…The Best Travel Insurance for BackpackersMy Profile

    • Hey Ryan, great tip! I don’t think we actually ever took a taxi while travelling in Vietnam – we just never needed one. We took the bus and then were always able to walk :) Will check out your cost breakdown too!

  10. Can you reccomend the company you did the halong bay cruise with? I read that it’s best to avoid the cheaper ones?

    • Hi Clare – a couple of people asked me this question and I replied with details in the above comments.

      Here’s what I said:
      We actually booked it through the place we were staying in Hanoi – Thu Giang Guesthouse. They were a lovely and honest family. I can’t remember the exact name of the tour people, I think it was ATN Travel, or a similar acronym. Also, we were booking in November 2013, which is rainy season in Vietnam, not sure if that makes a difference. And, in our experience, booking anything over the internet beforehand costs more than just going to a place in Vietnam and asking (and then telling them you want it cheaper).

      In terms of price, I think that you don’t want to go too cheap and end up with a terrible tour, but also you don’t want to go too expensive and get ripped off. Mid-range seems to be the safest bet and make sure you ask exactly what’s included and what you can expect when you book the tour.
      Charlie on Travel recently posted…How to Choose a Spanish School in Antigua, GuatemalaMy Profile

  11. Hi thanks for this post! How much do you reckon one person would spend (in USD) for three weeks in Vietnam, including everything?

    • Hi Deniz. This budget breakdown is for 2 people who spent 3 weeks in Vietnam, travelling on a tight budget. If we spent $20 each per person, I expect one person travelling solo would expect to pay roughly $20-25 per day as well.

  12. I have been in Vietnam for 2 weeks in April (didn’t wrote about this trip:)) I felt in love with Vietnam. Somebody told me that Indonesia (where I live) is quite expensive country compering with Thailand, Vietnam…but I found out that in Vietnam prices almost the same like in Indonesia. in Vietnam for 2 weeks I spend ~ 450 EUR (but it with souvenirs and etc.) so I don’t know if I spend a lot? Similar amount I spend traveling in Lombok island (Indonesia) for 3 weeks:)
    Ria recently posted…How to know if you stayed in Indonesia too longMy Profile

  13. Hi Charlie,
    We are off to Vietnam over Christmas and into Jan 16.
    Taking the train from HCMC to Hanoi and wanting to stop off in Hoi An, would you mind sharing where you stayed in Hoi An? We are the budget conscious type too!
    Kind regards

    • Hey Natalie,
      Wow, exciting! I’m sure it will be a beautiful Christmas trip.
      Sure, we stayed in the Thu Giang Guesthouse. I think a double room was around $10 per night, but maybe we had it for a little lower (like $8) because we stayed for 3 nights (and asked if we could have it cheaper). It’s run by a really friendly family. There are two buildings, about a 10min walk from each other. One half is where the wife and daughter run, and the husband runs the other half.
      Do let me know if you have any other questions! :D and have fun!

  14. It was interesting to read you blog especially because of the prices. It would have been more helpful if you had the prices mentioned in local currency, as you have done it for some.

  15. I am travelling to Vietnam for 24 days between November and December, this is probably the most useful guide I have read so far. Thank you

  16. Hi Charlie,

    Enjoyed reading your post . My wife and our two girls 6,8 are heading off traveling for 8 months or so .

    Heading to Thailand for a month or so then maybe Vietnam. Any tips or ideas you can suggest for us traveling in Vietnam ?

    Am sure it would be but still ask do you feel Vietnam is a family friendly place to travel ?

    Thanks

    Dan

  17. Hi Charlie,
    I was in Vietnam March 2016 for only 2 weeks with my wife, who was born there but hadn’t been back for 25 years, I fell in love with the country, we mostly stayed around HCM, with a 4 day tour of Hanio and Ha Long Bay, we are headed back for 2 months, January and February to tour the whole country, from south to north by motor bike, I will be doing a blog on the whole trip and be posting our adventures,

    • Hi Tim. So great to hear that you loved the country! Where in Vietnam was your wife born? Hope that you have a really awesome adventure in January and February. Do come back and share your blog with me when you’ve posted it :)

  18. It came as a bit surprise to me – a Vietnamese girl to see how a backpacker does some budgeting to their travel in Vietnam. For travel in Vietnam next time, you may consider some places like Quang Binh, Da Nang and Ninh Thuan. (I myself really enjoy these places in Vietnam. For bus travelling, I recommend using vexere.com, a very convenient website for seeking the bus operator as well as the bus fare (which is quite cheap).

  19. A fairly old post, but useful and interesting. We are leaving for Vietnam in June, and hope to be able to provide useful info from the perspective of older backpackers. Check out our travels on http://www.midlifebackpackers.com
    Hope to be following in your footsteps Charlie, as I think you value the experiences we would value less than the many “party backpackers” around. We are doing South to North, for 1-2 months. Any suggestions would be welcome.

  20. Thank you for posting all those details! This absoulutely helped me out to organize the plan to vietnam :)!