How to Travel Vietnam on a Budget?

Vietnam, the easternmost nation of the Southeast Asian mainland, is a culturally-rich republic with varied geography. It accesses two large bodies of water - the South China Sea and the Gulf of Thailand. Also, it prides on two large deltas - Mekong and Red River, high mountains, and expansive forested areas. A destination with such assets may seem expensive, but traveling Vietnam on a budget is all too easy.

Southeast Asia, in general, is a favorite destination for backpackers and other budget travelers. To learn how to travel Vietnam on a budget, please read on.

1. Check if You Need a Vietnam Tourist Visa

Residents of many Asian and European nations don't need a visa to come to Vietnam. France, Germany, the UK, Spain, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia are some of them.

If you need a visa, however, applying for the e-visa, which costs 25 USD, is the most budget-friendly option. The validity period of this travel document is 30 days, and you can enter the republic once. Note that your passport has to be valid at least six months past the date you leave Vietnam.

2. Fly with Budget Airlines to Vietnam

The following step is determining how to travel to Vietnam cheaply, and low-cost airlines offer a solution. Some budget airlines flying to major Vietnamese cities are Pacific Airlines, Air Asia, and Jetstar Airways.

With Pacific Airlines, you can fly to Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) and Hanoi from Taiwan and Thailand. Air Asia's airplanes connect these Vietnamese cities with destinations in Australia, China, and Southeast Asia. Jetstar’s carriers fly to HCMC from Southeast Asian countries, Australia, New Zealand, the USA, and Japan.

Hong Kong Airlines is another provider that usually offers favorable flight deals to Vietnam airports.

3. Travel Vietnam in a Group

Traveling in a group is the key to lower expenditures, and Vietnam is no different from any other destination in this regard. Members of a group split accommodation and transport expenses among themselves. Furthermore, they could negotiate lower prices for guided tours and other travel-related activities.

So, try to get in touch with fellow travelers to benefit from financial and other gains vacationing in group offers.

4. Eat and Drink Like the Locals

Finding out where locals dine and drink is always a good strategy when traveling. It is also a key on how to travel in Vietnam on a budget. You can be sure that food is both affordable and quality where the Vietnamese eat.

Eat like the Locals in Vietnam
Eat like the locals can help you save much money in Vietnam.

5. Bargain Hard

Bargaining is another essential part of traveling Vietnam on a budget. When you ask for the price for the first time, you may think that you came to one of the most expensive countries in Asia. "So much for traveling Viet Nam for little money" will probably be your first thought.

However, vendors quote high prices since haggling is a way of life in this part of Southeast Asia. When browsing market stalls, for example, you are likely to lower the price for more than a half.

Generally speaking, you should be content when striking a 40% deal of the initial price at a tourist market. When visiting a local market, prices may be non-negotiable but should be lower nevertheless.

6. Stay at Hostels

Booking a bed at a hostel comes with various benefits for backpackers and other budget-conscious vacationers. Aside from paying less for accommodation, you will meet companionable, like-minded travel enthusiasts from all over the world.

Hence, you may learn various tips on avoiding high costs during holidaying. Furthermore, you can form a group that will have higher bargaining potential. As you can see, sleeping at a hostel may turn out to be a jackpot for spending little money during a Vietnam vacation.

7. Rent a Motorbike to Explore Vietnam

For an active, budget-friendly Vietnam tour, consider renting a motorbike from a reputable company. Rent a Bike, Dragon Bikes, and Flamingo are some of professional rental companies that add pick-up and drop-off services in the price. If you rent a semi-automatic or standard automatic motorbike, the average price is around $10 per day.

Explore Vietnam by Motorbike
Taking a motorbike is a great option to explore Vietnam.

8. Or Get Around by Tourist Buses

The tourist bus is another affordable means of local transport. Journeying by bus is less expensive than by train, and you will pay only a fraction of the train fare for the same route. Moreover, the bus network is quite extensive, allowing you to travel virtually anywhere.

For example, bus tickets for a journey between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, which are around 1.750km/1.090mi apart, are from $25 to $40. Journeying from HCMC to Nha Trang, which is 440km/275mi away, by bus costs around 12 USD. From Hanoi to Halong Bay, fares are typically around ten bucks for a 180km/110mi journey.

9. Sleep on Overnight Bus when Making Long Journeys

To further reduce traveling costs when visiting the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, get between destinations by an overnight bus. Besides enjoying the benefits of the most economical way of transport, you cut down accommodation expenses. Buses have reclining seats, in general, but uneven roads and drivers listening to loud music tend to be some related downsides.

10. Visit Free Attractions

Visiting free attractions is another way of traveling Viet Nam affordably. There are many engaging sightseeing opportunities for budget-conscious holidaymakers traveling between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City and beyond.

In the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi, you can tour Hoan Kiem Lake and admire lush greenery and various landmarks, such as bridges and pagodas. In HCMC, visit Notre Dame Cathedral and Central Post Office, designed by Gustave Eiffel. Also, visit the old Chinese Quan Am Pagoda.

Vietnam Hoan Kiem Lake
Hoan Kiem Lake is a free attraction in Vietnam that proves to be gorgeous.

Last but not least, hike through rice fields of Sa Pa, northwest of Hanoi, and explore Hoi An "the Venice of Southeast Asia" on foot.

11. Shop around for Guided Tours

Do a bit of research before booking a guided tour. For example, a Halong Bay cruise is a must for every foreign traveler visiting North Vietnam. Prices for cruises tend to vary to a large extent, as well as the quality of the experience.

The price of the boat tour of Halong Bay varies depending on the duration of a cruise and service. On average, one-day cruises start at $40 per person. Note, however, that paying a somewhat higher price may include perks in terms of duration, service, and overall convenience.

12. Do Homework about the Vietnamese Money

Learning to efficiently convert Vietnamese Dongs (VND) into American Dollars (USD) is necessary for a budget trip in Vietnam. The official exchange rate is approximately 23.000 VND for 1 USD, and local banknotes feature many zeros (0). Hence, practice conversion before you shop or book here.

Some foreign nationals pay in US Dollars during their vacation. However, this isn't what you should do on an economical tour of Viet Nam. In general, prices are much higher when you pay in US$.

13. Get a Local SIM Card for Longer Trips

High roaming charges and inexpensive traveling typically don't go hand in hand. To avoid such expenses while holidaying in Vietnam, buy a SIM card from a local provider.

The average cost of a Vietnamese SIM card is $10, payable in local money. Some reputable providers are Vietnamboile, Vinamphone, and Mobifone. However, Viettel, which is most popular among foreign visitors, has the largest network.

Summary

If you follow the guidelines we mentioned in this article, you should be able to keep a daily travel budget for a Vietnam tour around $20. But, if you wish to travel for less, lowering costs to $15 per day is possible.

Airline fares are the major expense of traveling to Vietnam. If you travel from a neighboring country, Laos or Cambodia, for instance, you can resort to bus service. To get from Luang Prabang in Laos to Hanoi, plan around 40 bucks in one direction. To travel from Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, to Ho Chi Minh City, the bus ticket should cost you up to $15.

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