Three weeks backpacking through Vietnam; travelling doesn’t have to be expensive!

As usual I’m concluding my long revue of posts about my most recent travels with a round-up of my budget and expenses of the trip.

As South-East asia is known to be a cheaper region, the budget for my three week backpacking trip through Vietnam was also a lot lower than for my trip last year to the USA. This time I was looking at a budget of around 1.500 euros.

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Flights

A flight is one of those things that can either make your budget explode or can help you save some money. It’s worth it to do some research on possible routes etc to find better prices. Maybe going to an airport a bit further away than your usual one might give you better flights options or prices. It’s always worth the check!

I’ve also learned that booking on a Wednesday afternoon usually leads to finding cheaper tickets. On Wednesday morning, it was still around 600 euros for our flights, but around 3pm in the afternoon that same flight was only €517,67 each. So we booked. Always make sure to delete all cookies or use an incognito webpage when your browsing the internet multiple times for cheap tickets.

Hostels

Beforehand we had only booked our first night in Ho Chi Minh City. The rest of our hostels and hotels were booked online through booking.com or hostelworld the night before arrival. This way we still had the freedom of changing our itinirary if we wanted to, and the prices last minute were also quite interesting.

We had put our budget per night at ten euros each which is actually quite high for Vietnam. We often found cheaper accomodation and if we paid more and ended up around those ten euros, it was because we found the extra money worth it. If we for example found a private room within our budget, we’d opt to pay more for our own room instead of staying at a dorm.

Our last two nights were all about luxury so for those two nights we booked ourself a five-star hotel and enjoyed luxury for an amazing price.

  • Eco Backpackers Hostel (Ho Chi Minh City): €22,75 x 3 nights = €68,25 (private room)
  • Funtastic Hostel (Da Nang): €13,91 (dorm)
  • Paradise Hotel (Hoi An): €24,02 x 3 nights = €72,05 (dorm)
  • Trang An Guesthouse (Hue): €10 (private room)
  • Hoa Bien Hostel (Ninh Binh) : €11 (private room)
  • Little Hanoi Hostel (Hanoi): €23,87 x 3 nights = €71,61 (private room)
  • Diamond Westlake Suites (Hanoi): €128.16 (private room)
  • Sherwood Residence (Ho Chi Minh City): €156.63 (private room)

Total: +/-€531,31 = +/-€177,11 per person

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Transport

Over the course of three weeks we travelled more than 2500 km through Vietnam. This obviously wasn’t all done by foot or free transport. The cost of transportation was also one of our biggest costs, but that’s mostly because we often chose a more expensive option to save time (flights vs trains) or make sure we experienced something to the fullest (private driver vs public transport).

To begin, we took two domestic flights. One to go from Ho Chi Minh City to Da Nang, and one to go back from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City. There are also bus and train routes to cover this distance but that meant losing more time and since we only had three weeks to discover this beautiful country, the extra money was easily paid. It also wasn’t that much more expensive. For our first flight, we paid 30,48 euro each (luggage included) and or the second one it was 46,57 euro.

Next are the trains. We took a night train to go from Hue to Ninh Binh and both ways from Hanoi to Sapa. We had booked these in advance which made it quite expensive. Maybe we should have risked it to wait and book on arrival but it’s all easily said afterwards. Peace of mind is also worth a lot in my opinion. For the first night train we paid €55,20 each and for the return trip to Sapa it was €67,69 each. Then we also took a train from Ninh Binh to Hanoi. This we booked on arrival and paid about €3 each.

Then we also once took the bus to go from Da Nang to Marble Mountains. For the return trip we paid €2,5 each.

In Hoi An, we also booked a private driver to take us to My Son Sanctuary and one to take us from Hoi An to Hue. For this we paid €79,12 which was €26,38 each. This might have been a bit more expensive but it was definitely worth it.

And then all the taxi trips. We took 16 taxis in three weeks. Since we were three it was easy to just split that cost which made it relatively easy on the budget. We each paid €35,4 for all those taxi trips. Quite a bargain.

Total: €267,22 per person

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Entrances and activities

As I have mentioned already in earlier posts; on sightseeing I’ll never save money. If I want to see something, I’ll pay for it (as long as it’s not too much money of course).

During our three weeks in Vietnam, we went on three two-day excursions, which was the biggest cost in this category. The other entrance prices are all quite cheap, except in Ninh Binh. There the prices were reasonably higher.

  • Sinh Tourist trip to Cu Chi Tunnels: 327.000 VND = €4,57
  • Entrance Cu Chi Tunnels: 11.000 VND = €0,46
  • Mekong Delta two day trip: €43,25
  • Bike rental Mekong Delta: 50.000 VND = €2,08
  • Entrance Marble Mountains: 40.000 VND = €1,67
  • Entrance Historic Center Hoi An: 120.000 VND = €5
  • Boat trip Hoi An: 110.000 VND for three = €4,58 = €1,53 each
  • Lighthouse Hoi An: 20.000 VND = €0,83
  • Entrance My Son Sanctuary: 150.000 VND = €6,25
  • Khai Dinh Thomb Hue: 100.000 VND = €4,17
  • Imperial City Hue: 150.000 VND = €6,25
  • Trang An (Ninh Binh): 200.000 VND = €8,33
  • Tam Coc (Ninh Binh): 195.000 VND = €8,13
  • Mua Caves (Ninh Binh): 100.000 VND = €4,17
  • Pagoda Hanoi: 10.000 VND = €0,42
  • Ho Chi Minh House Hanoi: 40.000 VND = €1,67
  • Temple of Literature: 30.000 VND = €1,25
  • Pagoda Hanoi: 30.000 VND = €1,25
  • War Remnants Museum: 15.000 VND = €0,63
  • Water puppet theatre: 100.000 VND + 20.000 VND (for photos) = €4,16 + €0,83
  • Sapa Sisters two day trek: €81,69
  • Halong Bay two day excursion + Perfume Pagoda day trip: €113,53
  • Cable Car Perfume Pagoda: 100.000 VND = €4,17

Total: €306,29 per person

Food

Food is mostly ridicilously cheap in Vietnam. We once had dinner for only one euro, and that included more food than we could finish and drinks. It’s insane.

After the lousy food on the Halong Bay cruise, we even went to a more expensive restaurant right in the center of Hanoi, at the Hoan Kiem Lake, and decided that for once we were just going to order whatever we wanted without limits. We ended up with a bill of only twenty euros between the three of us. How?

During three weeks, all drinks, snacks, breakfasts, lunches and dinners included, I spent 119,8 euros. That’s basically one expensive dinner in Belgium and gone is the money. Crazy.

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Souvenirs

Usually I’m not a big spender on souvenirs. I mostly just collect postcards of the places I’ve been and then get one other souvenir for myself to put in my cabinet. I do like to buy a few things for family and friends as well but that usually doesn’t really dent the budget very much.

In Vietnam however I managed to spend quite a lot of money on souvenirs. I bought my postcards (duh!), some magnets for my friends, some coconut candy from the factory we visited, two little Buddha statues, a lantern from Hoi An, some clothes, keychains, bracelets, a scarf, shoes and of course a conical hat. This all added up to a cost of €78,42. Oops. But I don’t regret any of those purchase so it’s all well spent.

Miscellanious

  • Visa: €40,67
  • Random tips: €4,58

Total: €45,25

Summary

  • Flight: €517.67
  • Hotels: €177,11
  • Transport: €267.22
  • Entrances: €306.29
  • Food: €119,8
  • Souvenirs: €78,42
  • Miscellaneous: €45,25

TOTAL: €1511,76

I think I might just forgive myself for going 12 euros over budget. People are often complaining that travelling is expensive, but a lot of that depends on where you’re travelling and how you travel. I think 1512 euros is quite a bargain for a three week trip knowing all the things we’ve done and seen. I’d go again in a heartbeat.

So this was my last post about Vietnam for now. As you might have noticed over the past months, this country really did steal my heart. Lately it’s becoming quite a hot destination and many people are heading that way. I hope that won’t affect the pureness of Vietnam as it’s just such a gem.

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