If you’re a traveler headed to Vietnam, you’re in for a treat. This is not a country of natural superlatives unless you’re really into the food, but when it comes to value for your budget, it’s a dream.
These days Vietnam is on par with Thailand in some respects, cheaper in others. Overall, none of the prices are too outrageous so this one comes in squarely as one of the cheapest places to travel in the world. This is not some sad and downtrodden country anymore where a lot of people are struggling to get by though. It’s a thriving economy where motorbikes seem to sprout from the ground each time it rains. When you say “Everybody and his brother has one,” it’s really true. Nevertheless, you’ll find plenty of screaming bargains here and the budget hotels in Vietnam are some of the best for the price you’ll find anywhere in the world.
Our $57 Hanoi room, with full breakfast for three
Hotel and Hostel Prices in Vietnam
Ask people who have traveled for years where the best lodging values are and they’ll likely say Vietnam. Yes, there are plenty of countries with cheaper places to flop for the night, but what you get for your money here is impressive. Things a budget backpacker doesn’t usually get—like towels and a maid who will change the sheets—are common even at the bottom level. Note that the prices below nearly always include internet access and often a good breakfast.
Hostel bed: $6 – $10 (there aren’t many of these, especially outside big cities)
Cheap shared bath double room: $10 – $18
Basic double with private bath, A/C: $14 – $25
Mid-range 3* or 4* equivalent: $20 – $60
Best hotels in town: $75 – $200
Triples are often just a few dollars more than a double and lots of places have family-friendly rooms or suites.
Food & Drink Prices in Vietnam
Bia hoi! No that’s not a battle rallying cry. It’s the name of the cheap draft beer sold by the plastic pitcher on the street. Sometimes it comes out to as little as 30 cents a liter if you get the local price. But the bottled stuff is a bargain too.
There are supposedly 500 traditional Vietnamese dishes, generally variations of rice or noodles with vegetables, seafood, or meat, and a wide variety of soups. You usually use chopsticks and a spoon, often sitting on a small stool on a sidewalk. Vegetarian food is plentiful and cheaper, though it will usually have fish sauce used as a seasoning.
US 35 cents for a liter of beer
Ice cream cone: 30 – 75¢
Street stall dishes: 40¢ – $1.50
Cheap restaurant meals: 75¢ – $4
Nice restaurant meals in tourist places: $1 to $6, set menus with several courses $5 – $12.
You’d have to hit an international hotel or a restaurant catering to foreign business travelers to spend much more than $30 for two.
Sodas and coffee: 30 – 50¢
Fruit juice/shake: 40 – 80¢
Mineral water: 50¢ – $1 per liter-and-a-half
Two-liter pitcher of draft beer: 60¢ – $1
Large bottled beer in a restaurant: 50¢ – $1.25.
Name brand liquor cocktails: $2 (happy hour) – $5 (nice club)
Getting around in Vietnam can be a big chunk of your budget since this is such a long and skinny country. Go slowly and you’ll spend a lot less than someone trying to cover it top to bottom in two weeks.
Long bus trip (Hanoi to Hue): $8 – $15
Sleeper train same distance: $18 – $65
3-hour train trip (Danang to Hue): $3 – $5
Hop on/off bus Saigon to Hanoi or opposite: $50
Flight Saigon to Hanoi or opposite: $100 on Jetstar
Flight Saigon to Danang: $55 – $75
City taxi rides: 50¢ – $4
Airport taxi rides: $5 – $20
City bus rides: 15¢
Other Vietnam Traveler Prices
3-day tour of Halong Bay or Sapa: $60 – $90
Day tour of group sightseeing, A/C van: $8 – $10
Admission charges: 15¢ to $1.50 most, occasionally $4 (rare, like Hue royal tombs)
Cultural performances: $1.50 – $5
Manicure or pedicure: $1
Hour of internet access: $1 or less
SIM card for your mobile phone: $5