We spent 12 days in Vietnam and averaged $90 per day or $45 per day, per person. With less than two weeks in this beautiful and diverse country, we limited the amount of places we traveled. We spent our time in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) and Da Lat, a quiet mountain town. This was the last country we visited in Southeast Asia before flying home for a month, so we decided to splurge on some things like hotels to celebrate the fact that we were over $3,400 under budget thus far!!!
Where we spent our money
Shelter -$47 per day
This is where we really splurged! For most of our stay in Vietnam, we stayed in pretty good accommodations which consisted of guesthouses and small hotels for around $25-$30 per night. But for the final three nights of our time in Vietnam, we decided to spend a bit more and stay in a place that we typically would never stay in, the Majestic Hotel. While these nights brought our overall average for accommodations up, it was truly worth the money.
Eats – $22 per day
You can find some great eats in Vietnam. We spent most of our food budget eating out from street stands of Vietnamese coffee and Phở to French-Viet Fusion Restaurants. On average, we spent $19 eating and drinking out and $3 per day on groceries like snacks and an occasional bottle of wine from the store.
Transport – $5 per day
Transport is relatively inexpensive in Vietnam. Since we only spent time in two places, Saigon and Da Lat, our transportation budget was low. In both places, we walked to get everywhere locally. Despite Saigon being a huge city, we felt that the center was a great place to walk. While the motor traffic is crazy, there are sidewalks in most places, and there are a number of really nice green spaces, and walkways along the waterways.
Buses from Saigon to Da Lat were about $22 ($11 per person).
A taxi from downtown Saigon to the airport will run about $9-$10.
Activities – $5 per day
Most activities in Vietnam are inexpensive or free. We paid for three activities.
Da Lat Easy Riders Motor Bike Tour – $56.60 ($23.30 per person)
What better way to explore the Central Highlands of Vietnam than on the back of a motorbike with these two awesome guys! Check out our post about our adventures with the Da Lat Easy Riders.
War Remnants Museum – $1.42
This museum details the Vietnamese side of both the French and American wars in Vietnam. I think this museum is a must.
A word of warning: Even as a person who did not support the American war in Vietnam (Vietnam War), this museum is extremely one-sided. You won’t find any mention of the protests put on by American citizens, and not once did I see US military personnel referenced as soldiers, but only as “thugs.” Keeping this in mind, it is still a very powerful museum, especially the exhibits on the uses and after effects of agent orange.
Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens – $1.89
We happened to stumble on this while we were out for a walk. I generally don’t really enjoy going to the zoo, so I can’t recommend this. It was hard to justify seeing so many large and beautiful animals behind small wire-fenced enclosures, while the skyscrapers and apartment buildings of Saigon dotted the backdrop.
Other – $11 per day
I will admit, normally the “Other” category is boring and we typically just talk about the same expenses like our travel insurance which sits steady at about $4 per day, ect. But this time. It is more exciting.
You may have already read our post detailing our detours to the hospital, well, Vietnam was one of the places where we had to make a hospital visit.
- $4 per day – travel insurance through World Nomads (cheers to being consistent).
- $5 per day – Vietnam being our last country before heading home for a month, we stocked up on gifts for friends and family. Plus Anna bought some prescription glasses for under $30!
- $2 per day – Nic’s visit to the hospital (clinic) in Da Lat, and a bag full of prescription medications: less than $2 per day or a whopping $23 total!!! Take that US healthcare system!
Book Your Tickets at the Station
This is one that gets slightly overlooked in Southeast Asia, and depending on how you value the convenience of going to a station and booking tickets yourself, it may be a wash.
Often hotels in Saigon will offer to book tickets for you, but from our experience and from what we’ve read, you will save a few bucks to go to the bus station, usually an office, and purchase the tickets yourself.
Enjoy Street Stalls
This isn’t something that we are accustom to in the west, but getting drawn into street stalls is something that is a bit of an addiction when traveling, once you’ve had a taste, you will keep coming back for more.
There are loads of fantastic things to eat and drink in Vietnam and many of them can be obtained for very little at local food stalls. The first thing that comes to mind is the coffee. Vietnamese coffee is a true nectar of the Gods. Coffee beans grown locally, roasted and brewed to be exceptionally strong, mixed with the sweet molasses-like cream of sweetened condensed milk. It is truly an amazing experience. And the best thing about it is that from a street stall it costs about $0.65, while at a some chain coffee shop you will pay three times that amount.