Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Vietnam on $30/person/day.

We thought Vietnam might be a little more inexpensive than it was, but there aren't really many hostels (and honestly, we're kinda done with hostels anyway) and hotels don't really let you cook in their kitchens (but who wants to do that when a great meal costs as little as $1?).

Tours and flying vs ground transport will run you a little higher but generally speaking, we ate well, we slept well and we had a really good time for an average of $30/person/day.

We're basing the Year Two plan on our expenses in Vietnam (assuming the same $30/person/day average will apply in Lao, Thailand and Cambodia). If you take out our flights into Vietnam the average is more like $22/person/day, and we'll most likely be traveling by bus into the other countries. So hopefully we're erring on the cautious side.

Anyway! Here's the breakdown with some details...

Initial budget: we really had no idea what to expect, but estimated no more than $30/person/day
Actual cost: 59 days at $3569 ($60/day, $30/person/day - sweet!)

pie chart skills continue to decline

  • Lodging: $661 - 56 nights at guest houses or 1-/2-star hotels averaging $6/person/night (3 overnight buses/trains not included here)
  • Transportation: $1649 - the biggest expenses here were our flights from Madrid-Ho Chi Minh City ($923) and Hanoi-Ho Chi Minh City ($174); otherwise this accounts for trains/buses between major cities, obligatory taxis from Danang-Hoi An and Dong Hoi-Phong Nha, a couple ferry rides and motorbike rentals, and nominal dollars spent on public transportation everywhere
  • Groceries: $154 - we never cooked our own meals other than ramen, so this is mostly for gallons and gallons of bottled water and snacks during transport
  • Meals: $500 - again, we ate out almost every meal so this comes to roughly $4.25/person/day (yes, this includes lots of free breakfasts at hotels, but still - per DAY)
  • Tours: $229 - various museums in Ho Chi Minh City, Buôn Ma Thuột and Hanoi; admission to parks or other local attractions in Dalat, Buôn Ma Thuột, Quy Nhơn, Phong Nha, Sapa and Cat Ba Island; organized tours to the Mekong Delta and My Son Sanctuary; trekking in Sapa ($25pp) and kayaking near Cat Ba Island ($16pp)
  • Alcohol: $52 - beer is about $0.50 so you do the math
  • "Misc": $42 - $9 in laundry; $9 for our "entertainment" splurges of the water puppet show and paddle boats in Hanoi; $24 for two months of random expenses including Jen's t-shirt, souvenirs in Sapa, Jen's haircut, a gift to our super-nice hotel owners in Dalat, a book in Hanoi, and some other trivial things
  • Border: $282 - $140 each for our 3-month visas, plus $2 in "exit" fees when we crossed into Lao

Other fun Vietnam facts...
  • Cities visited: 13 (Ho Chi Minh City, Can Tho, Dalat, Buôn Ma Thuột, Nha Trang, Quy Nhơn, Hoi An, Phong Nha, Hue, Hanoi, Sapa, Halong Bay, Cat Ba Island)
  • Bowls of pho consumed: we can't count that high
  • National parks visited: 2 (Cat Ba, Phong Nha-Ke Bang - we also got really close to Bidoup Núi Bà near Dalat)
  • UNESCO World Heritage Sites visited: 4 (Hoi An Ancient Town, My Son Sanctuary, Halong Bay, Phong Nha-Ke Bang)
  • Plastic water bottles thrown away: we don't want to know

Fellow travelers, what was your experience with costs in Vietnam?  How did you save money - and what did you splurge on?

And now to Lao, where 8000 kip is roughly $1! Just when we'd gotten used to the 21,000 dong/$1 conversion... Travel is hard!


  1. i've never actually been to Viet Nam, but we do have a Vietnamese ice-cream truck driver named... get this... "Charlie", who costs me anywhere between $2.50-$11/day / =

    1. Next time you BYOF&V to the juice shop, take some freeze pop containers... You could make a killing on 450!