Now when three months of traveling in Vietnam is over, it’s time for a new budget summary! In this post, you will find out how much backpacking in Vietnam cost us. You can read our previous Asia travel budget summaries here. One reason why we wanted to spend so much time in Vietnam – besides that we simply like the country a lot – was the low price level. Vietnam is easily the cheapest country in South East Asia, regarding both food and many other things. During three months, we traveled all the way from Phu Quoc island to Hanoi.
Even though we knew that traveling in Vietnam is very affordable, we were still shocked when we realized how cheap it actually is. Our average daily budget per person during the three months was only 10 dollars per day which makes 300 dollars per month! This travel budget included i.e. buying a motorbike, driving through whole Vietnam including the fuel and repair costs, eating out at least two times a day and visiting countlessly many cafes. We also went out a lot in Saigon an Hanoi where we just couldn’t resist the local beer. When you spend a night at Hanoi’s bia hoi barrels, it’s hard to spend more than a few bucks even if you drink with both hands as one glass of this local beers costs mere 25 cents.
The biggest reason why our total budget remained so small though, was volunteering. We did volunteering in a guesthouse in Saigon and in a language cafe in Da Nang about 6 weeks altogether. That is half of the time we spent in Vietnam. Thanks to volunteering, we got a free accommodation and mostly also free food. We spent only minimal sums, especially in Saigon. And even that little went mostly to some ”extra” stuff like partying and shopping. Even with this budget, we still could have been more strict. In Da Nang, we got only a free accommodation but the food was so ridiculously cheap there that we didn’t even manage to spend much per day.
The funny thing is that even though as budget backpackers we are very price conscious in general, we didn’t feel like we were living frugally with a $10 daily budget. We took one domestic flight from Phu Quoc to Saigon, went for coffees without skimping, partied (but only in cheap street bars and not in nightclubs) and bought clothes. Johanna also took a massage in Saigon and bought new eyeglasses in Hanoi. In Da Nang, we spent a day on a private boat eating and drinking. Anyhow, we were quite strict about food and coffee prices and always double checked the price before eating or drinking. We forgot to do it a couple of times and the price of the rice meal suddenly doubled from normal 80 cents.
We rarely paid much more than one dollar for one meal (30.000 dong was our normal limit). Hanoi is clearly the most expensive city in Vietnam and there we sometimes went wild and had a meal for “even” two dollars. It’s funny that such a small sum can feel expensive but maybe this tells everything necessary about the price level in Vietnam. Then again, western food like pizza is remarkably expensive in Vietnam so we stayed far away from touristic restaurants and western food and only had local food.
When we were on the road, we stayed in guesthouses most of the time and paid about 6-8 dollars for a room. In bigger cities, we stayed in hostels and one bed cost normally something between 2 and 5 dollars. The cheapest accommodation during the whole trip was Solo Dalat Hostel in Dalat where the 2 dollar accommodation included a big breakfast and dinner as well as free water and coffee. Quite incredible! In Hanoi we spent two weeks in hostels that set us back about 4 dollars per night each on average. We also did couchsurfing for two nights in Hanoi. Otherwise we skipped couchsurfing as we mostly didn’t plan even one day forward while motorbiking. And there were not many hosts in small towns anyway.
For our motorbike, we paid $350 together with helmets and all the equipment. We managed to resell the bike for almost the same price so we only lost like 20 dollars in the between. We only spend 27 dollars each for the fuel during over 2000 kilometers (it’s hard to believe this but we think we have calculated everything accurately). The repairs and oil changing set us back 34 dollars each. This sum includes i.e. three tire repairs, a three-hour engine repair and fixing some small issues. So we could say that motorbiking is a quite affordable way to get around in Vietnam! Especially if you can split one motorbike’s costs between two people.
If you are looking for a country where you can easily survive with under $500 monthly budget, you should definitely head to Vietnam! Vietnam is every budget traveler’s paradise and you can afford to treat yourself even with more “expensive” things from time to time. The country is also a paradise for a price conscious shopaholic. We (read: Johanna) had to keep our hands away from all the clothing stores. When you travel with hand luggage only, you cannot really buy anything extra. Vietnam is developing quite rapidly and the price level is surely raising so you better go there before it’s too late!
Nevertheless, the best trick that enables traveling with a small budget in almost any country, is definitely volunteering! Thanks to it, we didn’t only save lots of money but also got many new friends and experiences. With free accommodation and cooking yourself from time to time, you can minimize your travel costs easily. At least in our case, this means that we can keep traveling even longer which is great!
Has anyone else fallen in love with the low price level in Vietnam?