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Grand Escapades’ Budget Guide To Vietnam

Easy To Travel On A Budget

Van Long Nature Reserve, Tam Coc, Ninh Binh, Vietnam

Van Long Nature Reserve, Tam Coc, Ninh Binh

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.

Global Budget

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
Hotels € 12,30
Restaurants & Food €  6,50
Drinks & Going Out € 3,20
Every Day Life (& Souvenirs) €  1,50
Total Living € 23,50
Visits & Tours € 10,15
Activities €  0,25
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
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 ***
Total Vietnam 12,71 33  

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!
City Restaurant
Type of Meal Type of
Food (€)
(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 *****
Hue Hue Backpackers Dinner Hotel 2,40 ***
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 ****
Total Vietnam 3,23  

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…
City Bar
Type of Drink Type of
Drink (€)
(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 **
Hue Hue Backpackers Beer Hotel 0,80 ***
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 H’Mong Sister Cocktails Bar 3,20 ***
SaPa Mountain Bar & Pub Cocktails Bar 3,20 ****
Hanoi Bia Hoi Ha Noi Beer Bar 0,32 ****
Total Vietnam 2,12  

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).

Reduce Costs?

See Tours and Activities.

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