Are you planning to spend a month traveling Vietnam but don’t know how much to budget for your trip? Maybe you have a rough idea about an average daily expense? Here we are going to break down – in detail – our 1 month in Vietnam total cost by category.
Our budget and expense report will give you the perfect understanding of average costs for traveling Vietnam. It is highly unlikely you will spend exactly the same but the goal here is to give you a rough target estimate for a travel couple on an average budget.
Being exposed to other travelers ideas about budgets and expenses are valuable resources that we are happy to provide. We will include areas we should have saved money in Vietnam, plus times we regret not pushing the boat out.
Budgeting is one of the most difficult aspects of travel planning. It is almost impossible to know exactly how much you will spend. What if something unexpected happens? Or what if you just want to treat yourself to a great big whopping pizza one day?!
The idea is to give yourself a big enough buffer to cover any eventuality.
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Our 1 Month in Vietnam Travel Budget and Cost Expectations
The first thing we did was research. A lot of research! Some people love it and others hate it but research is key to efficient travel. Not only is it cost effective as you pick up the best deals on flights and hotels, but thorough research also helps to make sure you do/see everything in a country. Fundamentals!
We built up a picture of how much it would cost to travel for 1 month in Vietnam, calculated a total and came up with a tentative figure.
Our rough estimate was a budget of around US$ 3,000 (total for 2 people) for 30 days. That worked out at US$ 50 per day per person, which is a definitely a comfortable amount for Vietnam and would allow us the odd splurge.
We break down our travel expenses into the following categories:
- Public Transport
Every Traveler is Different
This is where we get to make excuses for over spending in certain areas!!
Every person travels in their own style, spends more on certain things and less on others. We have our own travel cost quirks and we have learned over time they usually involve food or beer!
It wasn’t until we traveled long term that we realized how much we enjoyed food and in particular, food we were familiar with. As a result, we were surprised by how much we spent in total on eating food/drinking beer, even in Vietnam which is comparatively cheap.
Our Vietnam expected costs were based upon a couple traveling somewhere in between a low to mid-range budget.
If you’re traveling on a shoestring budget, it’s likely you will be spending less than we did each day. On the other hand, if you have a healthy budget, you will be able to spend more on activities and stay in higher quality accommodation.
You will have your own preferred way of traveling and certain areas you will allow for indulgences. Which is more important for your budget: accommodation, food or activities?
Booking Vietnam Accommodation, Travel & Activities in Advance
The resolute nemesis of the traveler. To book in advance or not to book in advance. Is there a better way?!
For Vietnam our advice is simple: if you don’t mind negotiating prices in person and living day to day, do not book in advance. However, if you prefer to have your itinerary complete so you don’t lose time when in Vietnam, book in advance. Unless you are on a super tight budget, the difference in overall cost is not going to be a massive amount.
But there is one important variable to consider. Which season do you intend to visit Vietnam? If you arrive in the high season, there will probably be less availability and far less chance of bartering a kick ass price at a hotel. Flip that over to low season and you stand an excellent chance of bagging yourself some real bargain prices for accommodation.
Now let’s take a look at the figures:
1 Month In Vietnam Cost Breakdown by Type
Flights To/From Vietnam
Flights in Vietnam and South East Asia offer fantastic value for all types of traveler. The key is to remain flexible on dates and times of day.
Internal flights are extremely affordable for those who prefer to fly or plan to travel longer distances within Vietnam. We only took 2 flights, one into Vietnam and one out at the end.
In Asia, we decided not to book anything in advance which has both pros and cons. One of the cons means booking flights as you go is often less cost effective than booking in advance. Our flight prices weren’t enormous but they could have been much cheaper if we booked a few months/weeks ahead.
- Inbound: Kaohsiung, Taiwan – Hanoi
- Outbound: Da Nang – Bangkok, Thailand
Always check the baggage criteria for each airline. Sometimes they will be tricky and charge more to check a bag than the flight itself. There were a few times in South East Asia where an airline didn’t accept our Osprey Farpoint 40L backpacks as ‘carry on’ because they had changed the dimensions criteria to ‘personal item only’.
Our 2 flights cost a total of US$ 291 for 2 people (or about $US 150 per person) accounting for just short of 10% of our estimated target budget of US$ 3,000.
Targeted budget down to $US 2,710.
Take home: Book in advance for cheapest flights, be flexible and check baggage criteria.
Public Transport in Vietnam
Getting around in Vietnam was one of our biggest gripes. Infrastructure and facilities need improving if Vietnam intends on growing its tourist economy.
The long narrow country is most commonly traveled by train or sleeper bus. Personally, we chose to travel by sleeper bus because it was cheaper and more convenient over short distances.
We liked how the bus always takes you directly to the next stop on your itinerary, whereas the train often requires a bus or taxi transfer (such as Tam Coc, Phong Nha, Hoi An).
An alternative is hiring a motorbike and traveling independently but is only relevant for adventure seeking backpackers with one bag.
For those with deeper pockets, another option is to travel in comfort through Vietnam is to hire a private car. However, this isn’t the most economical option.
We were pleased with how low we kept transport costs in Vietnam. Sleeper buses can be hairy at times but they provide incredibly cheap services offering unbeatable convenience.
We spent a total of US$ 126.93 on buses which allowed us to see almost all of Northern and Central Vietnam.
Take into account the remaining US$ 16.77 spent on taxi’s. Let’s look at one taxi we took from Halong City to Halong Pier – a US$ 6.88 taxi journey covering 5 miles in distance. Compare that with the US$ 21.50 bus from Halong Bay to Ninh Binh (Tam Coc) – a 4 hour journey covering 135 miles.
Now, we all know taxi’s are more expensive than buses. But if you were to take a train to Ninh Binh, you would need a taxi to Tam Coc. Same for Da Nang to Hoi An and Dong Hoi to Phong Nha. Those taxi’s/private cars/mini buses would all add up quickly.
US$ 2,710 -$US 144 = US$ 2,566 remaining.
Take home: The bus is awful but cheap and convenient!
Accommodation in Vietnam
Accommodation is an area we just can’t help spending over the odds when compared to the typical ‘travel on US$ 25 a day in South East Asia’ guides.
That simply is not for us and we prefer to sleep in hotel rooms over dorms as a married couple. Plus, a double room can be cheaper/the same price as 2 dorm beds at times.
Accommodation is affordable and often luxurious rooms aren’t too far out of even the budget travelers price range. It’s all relative, you can spend the same for a crappy tiny room in London or Paris as you would for 5* luxury room in Vietnam.
The hard part in Vietnam was not getting over excited by what your money can buy. To keep prices down, you have to quell that thirst for luxury – even at those cheaper prices.
We booked both on booking.com and negotiated in person.
Season is extremely important. We visited Vietnam in October, which is high season in the far North but rainy season as you approach Central areas. Rainy season turned out to be a roasting hot season and we got great deals on accommodation in Phong Nha, Hue and Hoi An.
One mistake we made was staying in Hanoi for 7 nights. In our defense, it was partly to set up base for working on this website but we spent US$ 31 per night on a boutique hotel and could have easily shaved US$ 10 per night. US$ 70 in Sapa also included 2 days trekking with guide.
We splurged in Halong Bay the night before our cruise but the hotel was lovely and we needed it after a killer overnight sleeper bus from Sapa to Halong. To balance, we took a comparatively cheap cruise.
US$ 2,566 – US$ 853 = US$ 1,713 remaining.
Take home: Easy to keep costs down but hard to ignore ‘cheap luxury’.
Food & Drinks in Vietnam
Accommodation is an area we know we could save on if we really had to. Food, on the other hand, is one thing we can’t do anything about! Food and drinks are usually our highest cost category.
We love to try local food when we visit new countries and we always start out brilliantly. But there inevitably comes a breaking point for us and we revert back to what we are familiar eating.
What happens when you eat Western food in Vietnam? That’s right, you spend more money. A month is a long time to be eating one single type of food, no matter how good that food might be! If you can do it, more power to you!
We also found striking a healthy balance between wellness and indulgence to be more difficult in Vietnam than anywhere else on our entire long term honeymoon around the world.
For example, in Hanoi we met with friends from home – Thomas and John – which of course only meant one thing … beers! To compound the matter, we met an awesome couple also from England in the airport – big shout out to Frankie and Elliot – so no prizes for guessing what that led to…
Although eating and drinking is far cheaper than you are used to, it all adds up!
Let’s break down the food costs a bit more. We thought it would be pretty tedious to include every meal we had in Vietnam, but here are some of the stand outs so you get an idea of the actual costs:
- Hanoi – Duong’s Restaurant US$ 25.91 (vietnamese)
- Hanoi – US$ 73.69 on beer (ridiculous)
- Sapa – Le Gecko US$ 20.77 (western)
- Halong Bay – US$ 51.55 on beer! (ouch)
- Nihn Binh – Local Food US$ 1.50
- Nihn Binh – Chookies Pizza US$ 11.00 (western)
Almost $US 300 in 7 days in Hanoi looks astronomical but we ate at 3 high quality restaurants with friends and spent $US 74 just on beers! We also had a boozy Halong Bay cruise that totaled $US 51 just for the beers. Hey, you have to enjoy life!
In Hanoi, we averaged US$ 42 per day (an outrageous amount!) but compare that to US$ 26 per day in Hoi An and US$ 18 per day in Phong Nha. We could have saved at least US$ 100 in Hanoi but made up for it elsewhere.
US$ 1,713 – $US$ 874 = US$ 839 remaining.
Take home: Cut out Western food and beer as much as possible if you are on a tight budget!
Activities & Tours in Vietnam
Every traveler in Vietnam has to sleep somewhere, travel between towns and eat food. The kicker is when you introduce excursions.
The volume and quality of activities/tours will be the ultimate factor in how much you spend in Vietnam after your necessities. These costs can quickly get out of hand.
For example, one night on a Halong Bay cruise can cost between US$ 200 – 600. Likewise in Phong Nha, there are incredible looking adventure cave tours that can cost up to US$ 3000 per person.
If you choose to pay a Hanoi travel agency to book your 3 day 2 night Sapa tour including transport, expect to pay more than if you booked your own bus and trekking tour independently.
Tours and activities are where your Vietnam travel budget can go boom!
Deciding against paying for excursions is difficult because why have you bothered going somewhere if you’re not going to do the best things?!
Our biggest expenses were:
1). The Fansipan cable car in Sapa but totally worth the money!
2). Touring Paradise and Dark caves in Phong Nha which was a little overpriced but worth it for the convenience.
3). Our Hai Van Pass personal guide and bike hire which we would have paid double for!
The best values were Mua Cave Viewpoint and Bich Dong Pagoda in Ninh Binh, Botanic Gardens in Phong Nha and abandoned water park in Hue (which was paid to a local to get us in!).
The other Phong Nha adventure caves were something we would have splurged on (not the US$ 3000 one!) if we had a few hundred dollars spare, but we didn’t. We regret that now.
US$ 839 – US$ 357 = US$ 482 remaining.
Take home: If you really want to experience something, try to make it happen with your budget. For example, we wish we cut costs on accommodation to explore another Phong Nha cave.
Miscellaneous Costs in Vietnam
Miscellaneous expenses have a greater sting in the tail than a threatened scorpion.
There’s nothing worse than being led to believe that you’ve done really well with costs somewhere, only to discover that you forgot about the US$ 10.00 laundry bill and US$ 5.00 shampoo/conditioner replenishment!
Fortunately in Vietnam, miscellaneous costs can be kept to a minimum. You won’t need to leave big tips after meals, there are no taxes on purchases, bike/moped rentals are extremely reasonable and gas is cheap!
Massages were a cost we could have avoided but US$ 28.81 for 2 separate one hour massages each is worth the splurge!
We spent US$ 28.46 on laundry, which isn’t too bad for a month. The majority of our miscellaneous costs were buying clothes, totaling US$ 87.75. That includes 2 amazing tailored rompers for Kristen in Hoi An.
US$ 482 – US$ 179 = US$ 303 remaining.
Take home: It’s pretty easy to keep miscellaneous costs to a minimum in Vietnam.
Analysis of Our Total Costs
Although we planned to spend the full 30 days in Vietnam, we ended up cutting it off by a few days at the end to make a total of 27 days.
We were in Hoi An, exhausted from non stop sightseeing and traveling. Our original intention was to continue South to Da Lat and Ho Chi Minh City. But we found a flight from Da Nang to Bangkok and decided to tag on a couple of days in Hoi An as we loved the city, rather than rush the rest of Southern Vietnam. We plan to visit again very soon!
This analysis represents 27 days of expenses, so we will take an average daily spend then add 3 of the average to the total to make a 30 day expense report.
Our total cost for 27 days was US$ 2697.25. Therefore, our daily average spend was US$ 99.89.
Add 3 x 99.89 to 2,697 representing the 3 remaining days to make the 30 day visa, our grand total cost for 1 month traveling Vietnam was:
We hit the nail on the head with our projected budget for Vietnam but in the end we weren’t sure whether to be pleased or a little disappointed. It’s easy in hindsight because we gave ourselves a big buffer for Vietnam and secretly expected to fall short of US$ 3000.
Looking at statistics is a great way to hammer home a point. We looked at our figures and knew we could have cut costs on food and drink.
We didn’t exactly chastise ourselves and say ‘we must do better’ but we did pay closer attention to that area as our month in Thailand began immediately after Vietnam.
Some people will look at our statistics and think ‘those are rookie numbers’ while others will grimace and think we’ve wildly overspent.
Hey, everyone travels in their own unique way and we had a great time!
The pie chart shows how much each category cost us as a percentage of our overall projected budget. We were happy we came in just around our expected budget because can say we left no stone unturned!
One thing we did learn was how much we loved exploring the caves in Phong Nha. This is what travel is truly about. You constantly learn new things about yourself! We can’t wait to return to Vietnam for a second time to dig even deeper!
Further Vietnam Reading
Be sure to check out our enormous catalog of Northern and Central Vietnam resources below to help plan your trip:
We hope this budget and expense report helps you work out a rough idea of how much it will cost you to spend 1 month in Vietnam. Please let us know if you have any other questions about other costs in Vietnam.
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