Easy To Travel On A Budget
Type Of Travel
We are basically Flashpackers and this is how we traveled both times we visited Vietnam, in 2003 & 2015. We prefer to stay in hostels or local guesthouses, but always stay in private rooms with ensuite bathrooms. Longer distance we covered by plane, like Ho Chi Minh City to Danang. Good food is important to us, this can be a food stall, small local restaurants and maybe a cocktail sipped on the roof terrace of an international hotel.
Itinerary & Time Of The Visit
We visited Vietnam twice: in 2003, we spent 4 weeks there, discovering the main highlights of a country that was already popular but not overrun: Ho Chi Minh City, Cu Chi Tunnels, the Mekong Delta, Nha Trang, Hoi An, Hue, Hanoi, Halong Bay and last but not least SaPa.
In 2015, Gilles spent 5 weeks there alone, and tried to visit, along with the main “highlights”, some lesser known parts of the country: Can Tho, Ho Chi Minh City, Hoi An, Danang, Hue, Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park, Tam Coc, Halong Bay, Hanoi, Sapa & Bac Ha.
In 2003, we spent about 42 € per person per day, which add to 1.180 € in 4 weeks. In 2015, the daily expenses were pretty much the same at approx. 41 € per person per day or 1.360 € for nearly 5 weeks…
Why is that? In 2003, we splurged several times both on hotels and food. In 2015 Gilles was traveling alone, reduced the standards slightly and did not splurge, but a single rooms often costs as much as a double…
|Costs per Person per Day in €||2015|
|Long Distances’ Transport||€ 5,25|
|Short Distances’ Transport||€ 2,05|
|Total Transport||€ 7,30|
|Restaurants & Food||€ 6,50|
|Drinks & Going Out||€ 3,20|
|Every Day Life (& Souvenirs)||€ 1,50|
|Total Living||€ 23,50|
|Visits & Tours||€ 10,15|
|Total Tours & Activities||€ 10,40|
|Total Country:||€ 41,20|
Hostels & Hotels
Hostels & Guesthouses were not really spectacular. Some we even remember as quite unpleasant places. The only place that stands out is Sa’s House in Bac Ha, a real pleasant Home Stay where we could really partake in the life of Sa’s lovely family.
|City||Hostel / Hotel
|Type of Room||Price
per Night (€)
(1 to 5 Stars)
|Can Tho||Hotel 2||Hotel||Single Room||8,46||1||*|
|Can Tho||Hotel Xoai||Hostel||Single Room||11,12||2||***|
|Ho Chi Minh City||Elegant Inn||Hotel||Single Room||14,88||2||**|
|Ho Chi Minh City||Madam Cuc 127||Hostel||Single Room||18,14||4||***|
|Hoi An||Sunflower Hostel||Hostel||Single Room||17,71||3||***|
|Danang||Zion Motel||Hotel||Single Room||9,62||2||***|
|Hue||Hue Backpackers||Hostel||Single Room||12,92||2||***|
|Phong Na Ke Bang||Thanh Dat||Guesthouse||Single Room||8,00||4||*|
|Ninh Binh||The Long Hotel||Hotel||Single Room||10,08||2||**|
|Halong Bai||Lemon Cruise||Tour||Single Room||0,00||2||*|
|Hanoi||May De Ville Backpackers||Hostel||Single Room||21,51||3||***|
|SaPa||Elysian SaPa Hotel||Guesthouse||Single Room||17,04||2||***|
|Bac Ha||Sa House||Home Stay||Single Room||9,77||1||****|
|Hanoi||Hanoi Lucky Guesthouse||Guesthouse||Single Room||13,76||2||***|
Restaurants & Food
Food was simply amazing, no matter if we ate at food stalls or pricier restaurants. It is hard to stand out when quality is so high. A few spectacular ones are worth being mentioned, though:
- Food stalls in Hanoi, especially Pho Tin, Bun Cha Nem Be Dac Kim or Banh Cuon. Each of them specializes in one dish, and those were heavenly!
- Tam’s Pub & Surf Shop prides itself of “The Best Burger In The World”… It is definitely one of the best ones we have tried.
- Trung Tuyet, a very small restaurant with an extremely friendly staff in Ninh Binh, offers amazing North Vietnamese food. Really worth a try!
|Type of Meal||Type of
(1 to 5 Stars)
|Can Tho||Food Stall||Dinner||Food Stall||1,42||**|
|Ho Chi Minh City||Oysters Five||Dinner||Tourist Restaurant||3,54||***|
|Ho Chi Minh City||Food Stall||Dinner||Food Stall||2,77||****|
|Ho Chi Minh City||Food Stall (Cholon Market)||Breakfast||Food Stall||1,15||***|
|Ho Chi Minh City||SaDec Quan||Dinner||Restaurant||2,31||****|
|Ho Chi Minh City||Le Bacoulos||Dinner||Restaurant||5,38||***|
|Ho Chi Minh City||Oc Trang||Dinner||Food Stall||8,85||****|
|Hoi An||Central Market||Lunch||Food Stall||2,69||***|
|Danang||Quan Com Hue Ngon||Dinner||Restaurant||4,50||****|
|Danang||Tam’s Pub & Surf Shop||Lunch||Restaurant||3,85||*****|
|Phong Nha Ke Bang||Phong Nhuong||Lunch||Food Stall||3,20||****|
|Phong Nha Ke Bang||BamBoo Café||Breakfast||Restaurant||3,80||****|
|Ninh Binh||Food Stall||Lunch||Food Stall||1,20||*|
|Ninh Binh||Tam Coc Backpacker Hostel||Dinner||Hotel||2,60||*|
|Ninh Binh||Trung Tuyet||Dinner||Restaurant||6,80||*****|
|Hanoi||Pho Thin||Dinner||Food Stall||2,00||*****|
|Hanoi||Bun Cha Nem Be Dac Kim||Dinner||Food Stall||3,80||*****|
|Hanoi||Banh Cuon||Lunch||Food Stall||3,80||*****|
|SaPa||BBQ Food Stall||Lunch||Food Stall||3,20||***|
|SaPa||Elysian SaPa Hotel||Dinner||Hotel||4,40||****|
|SaPa||Elysian SaPa Hotel||Breakfast||Hotel||2,40||****|
|Bac Ha||Sa’s House||Dinner||Home Stay||6,00||****|
|Hanoi||Bia Hoi Ha Noi||Dinner||Bar||4,00||****|
Drinks & Going Out
If we went out, we had a beer, which is good in Vietnam. Two experiences are surely worth trying:
- Cocktail with a view – Ho Chi Minh has amazing cocktail bars on rooftops. Alto Heli Bar is truly overpriced, but Shri has a great view and excellent cocktails.
- Bia Hoi Ha Noi, local restaurants and street stalls selling a light beer brewed daily. A glass is as little as 8.000 or 9.000 VND or 0,4 USD! Best enjoyed outside the tourist ghetto of the Old Quarter. There, locals thrilled by our presence invited us for drinks. Having had a few beers themselves they were eager to make the most of their 3 English words…
|Type of Drink||Type of
(1 to 5 Stars)
|Ho Chi Minh City||Casita||Beer||Tourist Bar||0,46|
|Ho Chi Minh City||Alto Heli Bar||Cocktails||Bar||11,10||***|
|Ho Chi Minh City||Shri Restaurant & Lounge||Cocktails||Bar||4,22||****|
|Hoi An||Sunflower Hostel||Beer||Hotel||0,77||**|
|Hoi An||Food Stall||Beer||Food Stall||0,58||***|
|Danang||Bamboo 2 Bar||Beer||Expat. Bar||0,96||**|
|Phong Nha Ke Bang||Bamboo Bar||Beer||Bar||0,80||****|
|Ninh Binh||Tam Coc Backpacker Hostel||Beer||Bar||0,80||*|
|Hanoi||Bia Hoi Ha Noi||Beer||Food Stall||0,36||*****|
|SaPa||Mountain Bar & Pub||Cocktails||Bar||3,20||****|
|Hanoi||Bia Hoi Ha Noi||Beer||Bar||0,32||****|
Tours & Activities
Tours booked through large agencies are expensive (please refer to our Travel Guide), the best way to be engulfed with masses of other tourists….
Splurge At Reasonable Costs?
For some reason, particularly in Vietnam, there is a huge gap in the quality of accommodation bellow and above 30 USD per night for a double room (give or take a few USD). So if you have money at hand, you will definitely want to check into the upper category. The trade off is that you will not meet fellow travelers like in hostels and small guesthouses, and might miss out on first hand information…
Also prefer train to buses for the reasons mentioned in the part Transport of our Travel Guide. This applies if you choose the more expensive, more comfortable train classes (soft sleepers).
See Tours and Activities.