Vietnam is a beautiful place filled with amazing food, brilliant landscapes, and unique revolutionary history. If you’re traveling on a tight budget, you’re in luck because Vietnam is also extremely affordable.
Not so fast, this doesn’t mean you should just wing it. Inexpensive Vietnam vacation costs could mean you end up spending way more than you originally intended.
But that’s why you’re here right? Here’s how to budget your Vietnam trip costs while having an amazing experience in an incredible place.
Budgeting Your Vietnam Trip Costs Step-by-Step
Traveling on a budget doesn’t mean you have to cut corners – just do some thorough planning before embarking on your journey. The trick to keeping your Vietnam vacation costs down is actually sticking to the budget you set.
All the prices below are listed in USD and calculated for one person where applicable. Backpacking in Vietnam or staying in hostels is absolutely safe and fun for some folks but it’s definitely not for everyone. You can still enjoy the privacy and comforts of a hotel without breaking the bank.
Here is a brief breakdown of prices in Vietnam depending on how much you want to spend.
- Backpacker Budget: $40 to $50 per day
- Mid-range Budget: $60 to $100 per day
- Luxury Budget: $150 to $200+ per day
The biggest splurge on Vietnam trip costs will likely be your plane ticket.
Hotels and Backpacking in Vietnam
One great thing about Vietnam is the variety of accommodations to choose from. Whether you’re traveling on a strict budget or dead set on a luxurious vacation, you’re sure to find something to meet your Vietnam trip costs in different cities throughout the country.
Plus, Vietnam is a fairly large country: culture, sights, and weather varies greatly between the northern, central, and southern regions. You’ll definitely want to see it all. Why not backpack in Vietnam at a rural hostel and then splurge on a hotel somewhere else for a few days? Accomodation prices can either make or break your Vietnam vacation costs.
- Hostels and Backpacking in Vietnam: Hostels in the northern region range from just $6 to about $40 per night. In central regions, hostel prices in Vietnam range between about $15 to $60 per night. (Prices are generally higher along the coast.) In the south, rates are just slightly higher at $20 to $80 for your nightly stay.
- Mid-range Hotels: You can find affordable and comfortable hotels in Vietnam’s north for between $15 and $60 per night. In central regions, expect to spend about the same amount each night. Remember that prices are slightly higher along coasts and in densely populated areas. In the south around Hồ Chí Minh City, budget a little more money for $20 to $80 per night.
- Luxury Resorts: If you want to relax – even for just a night or two – Vietnam is the place to go all out. Luxury resort prices vary drastically depending on the facility. In general, you can plan $100 for a standard 5-star hotel to over $600 per night for all the bells and whistles on a beach resort. As with the other accommodations, resorts in the north are a little more budget-friendly than around Hồ Chí Minh City.
Dining and Food Options
If you’ve ever known someone who’s traveled to Vietnam, you probably know all about the country’s amazing variety of dining options – no matter where you find yourself. The incredible street vendors make it easy to enjoy a high-quality meal while backpacking in Vietnam on a budget.
Like accommodations, remember that you don’t need to see your food budget in black-and-white all-or-nothing terms. You can always plan a few high-end meals at some of the nation’s best restaurants and spend the rest of your visit enjoying delicious – yet very healthy – street food to keep your Vietnam vacation costs down.
It’s important to point out that flavors and ingredients vary drastically based on which region you’re in. This is due to traditional culture, climate, income levels, and ingredient availability. Bánh mì (a baguette sandwich with local ingredients) and phở (a broth-based soup filled with fresh local ingredients and rice noodles) are excellent options you probably won’t be able to get enough of.
- Street Food and Vendors: Budget yourself about $10 to $15 per day. Each meal will likely cost between $3 to $5 depending on the ingredients and location. If you’re from the U.S., you might think “clean and tasty street food” sounds like an oxymoron. This is not the case in Vietnam where vendors are generally very sanitary, delicious, and well-maintained.
- Mid-range Casual Restaurants: If you want to eat at sit-down restaurants for each meal, plan to spend between $15 to $30 each day of your trip. Meals at casual air-conditioned restaurants usually cost between $5 to $10.
- Fine Dining: If you’re planning a luxurious getaway and want to feast like a king without worrying about Vietnam trip costs, budget yourself anywhere from $60 to over $200 per day. If you’re ready to spend the money, a steak dinner with fine wine or a fine French restaurant could set you back over $200 for only one meal – just like in the West.
- Desserts, Snacks, and Beverages: For non-alcoholic beverages like coffee, teas, fruit drinks, bottled water, and sugary local delights, each drink will set you back about $0.30 to $0.80. You’ll love the broad range of tasty snacks and sweets you find in Vietnam which range in price from about $0.90 to $2.
Drink Prices in Vietnam
Please, please drink responsibly! This is extremely important to emphasize because alcohol prices in Vietnam make it very easy to go overboard. Vietnam offers a wide variety of unique alcoholic beverages for you to enjoy (in moderation of course). Most drinks you buy along the street are stored warm and served over ice – beer and wine included – so keep that in mind throughout your travels.
Local alcoholic drinks like rice wine, beer, and distilled liquors are easy to find and significantly cheaper than imported options you’re probably accustomed to. But the fun of traveling is trying new things, right? If you’re feeling adventurous, look for the medicinal alcoholic beverages like rượu thuốc distilled with animals like seahorses, scorpions, or snakes.
- Local Beer: $0.25 to $2.50 depending on the variety and location. Like Western countries, craft beers are a little pricier. Beer prices definitely won’t affect your Vietnam trip costs too much.
- Wine: Sorry wine drinkers, a glass – even of local wine – will likely set you back $5. Splurging on wine with your meal each night could derail your budget and send your Vietnam vacation costs skyrocketing.
- Distilled Liquor: Wine lovers on a budget might want to switch to spirits for their trip as liquor prices in Vietnam are considerably lower. This is where it gets dangerous if you aren’t careful: local moonshine costs less than $1 in many locations. Even your favorite top-shelf special occasion brands average about $11 to $13 per bottle.
Planning Your Activities
Now we’re getting to the fun stuff: events, excursions, and activities. If you crave excitement and thrills, Vietnam has you covered. Maybe you’d rather relax and soak up the local culture and history – there’s plenty for you too. Your Vietnam vacation costs for activities depends entirely on how much you want to spend.
The landscape and local sights make it easy to keep your Vietnamese vacation costs down. At the same time, you can fill your days with tours and other activities that cost considerably more money. Here are some of the most popular attractions so you can estimate how much you might spend per day depending on your interests.
- Day Trip to Hạ Long Bay Island: about $40 depending on the company. Here you can enjoy an amusement park, cave tours, kayaking, and much more.
- Mekong Delta: Floating markets and lots of fruit and seafood. Free.
- Củ Chi Tunnels Under Hồ Chí Minh City: An important historical landmark which costs about $20 per person. These were dug by hand during the war.
- Sapa Rice Terraces: One of the most beautiful places on the continent. Group tours average about $30 per person.
ransportation Prices in Vietnam
In addition to your accommodations, transportation will make up another large chunk of your Vietnam trip costs. Transportation prices in Vietnam are very reasonable for the most part but like hotels, they also vary drastically depending on the vendor. Traffic can get pretty bad so try to work some flights into your budget if you can afford it.
Vietnam is a fairly large country and you’ll probably want to see a lot of it while you’re there. How will you get around? Scooters and moped rentals make backpacking in Vietnam easy. If you’re not comfortable driving yourself around a strange country, don’t worry: there’s no shortage of other options. Between domestic flights, buses, and trains, Vietnam has something to fit your needs and comfort level.
- Domestic Flights: $30 to $60 and up depending on the distance and season.
- Buses: About $7 for a 10-hour trip complete with WIFI. Many buses include karaoke machines too.
- Trains: A very affordable way to travel around the country if you have lots of time. The longest trek from north to south will set you back about $60 but it includes overnight accommodations, comfort, and some tranquility.
- Scooters: You can rent a scooter for about $6 per day. Don’t forget to budget some money for gas (and fluctuating prices).
Don’t Forget Souvenirs
Who doesn’t love filling their suitcase with unique treasures from their travels? Make sure to leave some room in yours when you visit because Vietnam is filled with local markets and shopping centers. From handcrafted artwork and goods to clothing and cards, you’ll have no trouble finding gifts and keepsakes to remember your trip.
Just make sure to factor souvenirs into your Vietnam vacation costs. Prices in Vietnam for basic goods like these are very affordable so this should be easy to do. Like many other things, you can either go budget-friendly or all-out – what you want to spend is entirely up to you. These are some of the most common souvenirs to give you a general idea of how much to spend.
- Áo dài: You’ll definitely want to score at least one of these traditional embroidered dresses. On average, expect to spend $30 and up depending on the detail.
- Sand paintings: These intricate paintings cost between $15 and $35 – they’re definitely worth it!
- Fans: Score a unique hand fan for yourself or your friends at just $1.
- Guốc Mộc: Traditional wooden clogs worn during festivals. Between $5 and $10.
- Traditional Silk: $20 to $30 depending on the item.
- Nón lá: These straw hats range between $2 and $5.
5 Tips for Saving Money on Your Vietnam Vacation Costs
Now that you have a decent understanding of the general Vietnam trip costs, here are the best tips for making the most out of your budget.
- Don’t book transportation or tours through your hotel or hostel. Make sure to shop around for the best prices to avoid high commission rates and inflated tourist prices – this can shoot your Vietnam vacation costs through the roof.
- If something seems out of your price range, don’t be afraid to haggle a bit. Just make sure to keep it respectful – vendors need to make money, too.
- Eat local. Imported foods like pizza often cost a lot more money and won’t be the same quality you’re used to – stick with local delicacies.
- Ask for prices before ordering your food or deciding on a purchase to cut back your Vietnam vacation costs
- Look for free or super-low-cost activities like historic temples or just walking through the cities – you’ll find plenty!
Save Money on Vietnam Trip Costs by Applying for Your Visa Now
By applying for your visa now, you can save both time and money on your Vietnam vacation costs. Just fill out the quick online application form, pay the $8 service fee, and receive your Approval Letter from the Vietnam Immigration Department via email – sometimes within hours.
All visitors need a visa when traveling to or through Vietnam. Our convenient process makes it easy: apply for your visa now!
You’ll probably want to spend a few afternoons browsing some interesting and unique Vietnam markets across the country. Each region of the country – north, central, and south – has its own distinct heritage, traditions, and handcrafted goods. This makes Vietnam shopping a favorite activity of just about all travelers.
Here’s everything you need to know about Vietnam shopping: the currency, local customs, the best Vietnam markets, and more. So when you get there, you can devote all your attention on what to buy in Vietnam.
Understanding the Local Currency for Your Vietnam Shopping Trips
Vietnam’s currency is known as the Dong and its symbol is ₫. At the time of writing this, one Vietnamese Dong equals 0.000044 U.S. dollar. This means that 1$ equals about 22805 ₫.
The Dong’s value fluctuates just like the U.S. Dollar and Vietnam’s economy has remained fairly strong over at least the past few years. In 2009, Vietnam began a period of rapid economic growth which caused the currency value to increase fairly quickly.
Believe it or not, many Vietnamese markets, restaurants, and shopping centers also accept U.S. Dollars. However, you shouldn’t expect to pay the same exchange rate. An item might cost the equivalent of $2 if you pay in Dong but $10 if you pay in USD. It’s totally up to the vendor what they want to charge in each currency. It’s worth mentioning that although shops may accept foreign currency, it is illegal for vendors to list or ask for payment in anything other than the Vietnamese Dong.
Exchanging Your Currency for Things to Buy in Vietnam
For these reasons, it’s highly recommended to exchange your Dollars, Euros, or any other currency for Vietnamese Dong when you get there. Fortunately, this is very easy to do when you get to the country and even throughout your trip if necessary. Simply exchange your home currency for Dong at the airport when you get there.
If you’re traveling with a lot of cash, this can become a problem because you’ll have huge wads of bills after exchanging. Remember that foreigners are always ideal targets for pickpocketing – anywhere you travel – because thieves know they usually have a lot of cash on them. Plan your currency exchanges to line-up with your travels to major cities like Hanoi or Hồ Chí Minh where you can find banks willing to help. In rural areas, you’ll probably be out of luck.
Keep these tips in mind about currency before you even start thinking about what to buy in Vietnam. (Sorry, it’s not fun – but extremely important.)
- Vendors in high-traffic tourist destinations might be willing to exchange your currency – but at highly inflated rates.
- Vietnam is not like the United States in regards to bill quality. If your home currency is crumbled or damaged in any way, exchange centers may not accept it or charge an inflated rate.
- Likewise, vendors may not accept torn or crumbled Dong.
- You’ll need to present your passport when exchanging currency.
- Gold shops and pawn shops may be willing to exchange your currency without a passport but this practice is technically illegal – don’t get yourself into trouble.
- ATMs are widely available in cities and dispense money in Dong. Check with your bank about transaction fees.
- The Dong is printed in denominations of 500; 1,000; 2,000; 5,000; 10,000; 20,000; 50,000; 100,000; 200,000; and 500,000. Lower value bills are made of paper while 10,000 and up are printed on plastic.
- The Dong’s 20,000 and 500,000 denominations look very similar in color. Make sure to pay close attention or keep the larger denominations separate.
How Much Money Should You Take on Your Vietnam Shopping Adventure?
As you’re planning what to buy in Vietnam, it’s important to also plan your budget. And not only do you need to set a budget, but you also need to carefully plan how much money to carry. As mentioned above, you probably don’t want to exchange all of your home currency immediately. Instead, plan a few exchanges and carry some small amounts for things to buy in Vietnam throughout your trip.
How much money you carry for things to buy in Vietnam depends on your shopping style. An average person shopping for clothes and trinkets should probably set aside $100 to $250 for their entire trip’s shopping budget or roughly ₫2,200,000 to ₫5,500,000 (not an exact exchange rate). Many travelers love extravagant Vietnam shopping trips due to the broad range of unique lacquerware, jewelry, artwork and paintings, and high-quality artisan handcrafted goods. If that sounds like you, plan a larger budget of about $500 to $1,000+ or ₫11,000,000 to ₫23,000,000 for things to buy in Vietnam.
How to Bargain at Vietnam Markets and with Vendors
When you’re planning your budget and what to buy in Vietnam, make sure to leave some wiggle room – bargaining is a big part of the Vietnam shopping process. Some westerners may not feel comfortable debating with a vendor for a fair price while others may aggressively push to reduce the price as much as possible.
Try to find a nice middle ground between these two attitudes. You’ll probably be a natural by the end of your Vietnam shopping trip. Here are some tips for bargaining prices on things to buy in Vietnam.
- Offer half of the asking price first and work your way up from there.
- Vendors at Vietnam markets usually offer a very inflated rate to foreigners at first so get comfortable bargaining.
- If something has a price tag, the amount isn’t negotiable. This includes taxis and food.
- The goal is for everyone to walk away happy – not to get the lowest price possible. The difference in USD is often negligible anyways so be respectful.
- If you’re really not happy with the final price offered, walk away. The vendor will likely provide their best price possible after that.
- Get familiar with some common Vietnamese phrases. “Quá đắt” means “too expensive.”
Must-Have Souvenirs to Snag and Things to Buy in Vietnam
Deciding what to buy in Vietnam depends entirely on your tastes. Some folks love Vietnam shopping for the clothing while others love the trinkets. Here is a taste of what to buy in Vietnam so you can get an idea of what to spend on your Vietnam shopping trips.
Keep in mind that the prices of these things to buy in Vietnam are very general. Prices vary depending on the location, season, quality, and vendor.
- Silk Clothing, Embroidery, and Fabric: One thing foreigners love about Vietnam markets is a wide variety of vibrant silk fabrics everywhere. Look for scarves, pants, shirts, and dresses. Price range: $3 (₫70,000) to $10 (₫235,000) and up.
- Paintings and Artwork: Vietnam has no shortage of amazing artists selling lacquer or sand paintings. Price range: $10 (₫235,000) and up to over $1,000 (₫23,500,000).
- War Relics: History lovers will love browsing the combat boots, uniforms, helmets, Zippos, and other war surplus gear. Price range: $5 (₫117,500) to $10 (₫235,000) and up.
- Lacquerware and Ceramics: Between dishes, vases, and tea sets, you’ll have trouble closing your suitcase with all these ceramic or lacquer things to buy in Vietnam. Price range: $3 (₫70,000) to $10 (₫235,000) and up.
- Conical Hats: These traditional hats date back 3,000 years so you’ll probably want to snag one on your Vietnam shopping adventure. Price range: $1 (₫23,500) and up.
- Unique Paper Products: Post cards, pop-up pictures, and bamboo notebooks. These interesting things to buy in Vietnam are definitely worth the small amount of money. Price range: Less than $1 (₫23,500) to $10 (₫235,000) and up.
- Wooden Clogs: You don’t see Vietnamese people wearing these too often outside of ceremonies, but they make a pretty cool souvenir. Price range: $3 (₫70,000) to $10 (₫235,000) and up.
- Jewelry: Definitely save some money on your Vietnam shopping trips for the broad range of silver and gemstone jewelry. Price range: varies depending on the metal and gemstones. Gold is market price.
- Musical Instruments: When you’re planning what to buy in Vietnam, you may not think about musical instruments, but they make a one-of-a-kind gift. Price range: $10 (₫235,000) and up.
Add These 9 Vietnam Markets and Shopping Destinations to Your Itinerary
Vietnam markets are the perfect place to fully embrace the beautifully blended traditional and modern local culture. These shopping destinations contain traditional goods like silks, jewelry, and handcrafts as well as cutting-edge fashion and styles.
For many years, France carried out a harsh military occupation over Vietnam. Although revolutionary forces liberated the country in 1945, French influences remain throughout several boutique-style Vietnam markets and shopping centers.
Central Market in Hoi An
This bustling market in Hoi An along central Vietnam’s east coast is a must-see for all new visitors. Nothing beats the fresh fish, flowers, and spices here. You can also find plenty of silks, handcrafts, and souvenirs. What really makes Central Market stand out? The tailors that can alter your clothing within just one day.
An Dong Market in Hồ Chí Minh
An Dong market in Hồ Chí Minh is one of many multi-story indoor Vietnam markets and it’s open every day from 8:00 until 2:00. If you love fashion and jewelry, this is the place to go for things to buy in Vietnam. Each floor is dedicated to different goods and the top floor is reserved for local vendors.
The Green Boutique on Phu Quoc Island
Phu Quoc is an island off the southwestern Vietnamese coast near Cambodia and it’s definitely worth at least a daytrip. Although there isn’t a ton of shopping, the few Vietnam markets make it up in quality. The Green Boutique sells homemade massage oils, essential oils, haircare, skincare products, and plenty of things to buy in Vietnam made with local ingredients.
Weekend Night Market in Hanoi
Anyone who knows anything about Vietnam shopping knows that the Weekend Night Market in Hanoi is like a rite of passage. The decorative lights, silks, sunglasses, shirts, and handicrafts make this shopping destination an excellent photography setting.
Dan Sinh Market in Hồ Chí Minh
If you’re a history buff, you’ll definitely want to add Dan Sinh Market to your Vietnam shopping list. Between the uniforms, combat boots, identification tags, helmets, and other interesting war surplus gear, you’ll wonder how to fit it all in your suitcase. Some items are authentic while others are replicas.
Dong Ba Market in Hue
Hue is a small city along eastern Vietnam’s eastern coast and as the oldest market in the city, Dong Ba is a must-visit. This market opens really early at 3:00 AM so you have plenty of time to shop the fruits, vegetables, and handicrafts.
Dong Xuan Market in Hanoi
Dong Xuan is a giant indoor market in Hanoi with unique Soviet-style architecture. Like most of the multi-story Vietnam markets, you can find just about anything you’re looking for.
Market in Nha Trang
Nha Trang outdoor market opened in the 1970s and has been a thriving shopping destination ever since. Although most people stay fixated on what to buy in Vietnam, you should definitely bring your camera with you to every market to snap some amazing shots.
Hang Bac Street in Hanoi
Hang Bac Street is well known as a jewelry destination. In fact, it’s in the name: “Bac” translates to “silver” in Vietnamese. Not only can you score some great necklaces and bracelets, but this district also has amazing character for creating a unique experience too.
Save More Money to Spend at Vietnam Markets by Applying for Your Visa Now
Applying for your Vietnam visa doesn’t have to be a time consuming and dreadful process – we make it easy and fast. If you’re planning things to buy in Vietnam, apply for your visa now: early rates mean you can spend less money on your visa and more money at Vietnam markets.
Anyone traveling to or through Vietnam needs a visa from the Immigration Department. With Vietnam Visa, you can apply online now and pick your visa up at the airport when you arrive. You’ll receive your approval letter via email within just two business days. So what are you waiting for? Apply for your visa now and start planning which Vietnam markets to visit.