Boats on the river in old Hoi An, Vietnam with people releasing lanterns

Is Vietnam Cheap for Tourists? The Ultimate Guide for 2024

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Vietnam is an increasingly popular travel destination known for its culture, food, stunning landscapes, and affordable cost of living. Having recently returned from a month in Vietnam we can now tell you how affordable it is.

For tourists, or travellers if you prefer the term, Vietnam offers a wonderful mix of historical sites, delicious cuisine, natural beauty, and enticing towns, all at a fraction of the cost compared to Western countries.

We are value travellers and not budget backpackers, and based on our experience we will answer the question “Is Vietnam cheap for tourists?”, providing detailed insights into various aspects of travel expenses.

*Please note that all pricing in this article is in USD.

Is Vietnam Worth Visiting?

You have probably gathered from our introduction that Vietnam is a place that offers so much as a travel destination, so the short answer is that it is most definitely worth visiting Vietnam.

Cost of Accommodation in Vietnam

Vietnam may not be as “prepared” for tourism as many other Asian countries but that doesn’t mean the accommodation options are limited or of lower quality. It generally just means the prices are lower.

Budget Hostels and Guesthouses

Vietnam is renowned for its budget-friendly accommodation options. You can find hostels and guesthouses for as low as $5-10 per night. These places are perfect for backpackers and tourists looking to stretch every dollar.


Homestays are an ideal way to connect with locals, with many of them offering a similar experience to a boutique Hotel. One of our favourite stays of our trip at the Lotus Field Homestay in Ninh Binh. You should stay here!

Tranquility in nature at the Lotus Field Homestay in Ninh Binh

Mid-Range Hotels

For those seeking more comfort, 3-star and 4-star hotels are plentiful and reasonably priced, ranging from $20 to $50 per night. These hotels typically include additional amenities such as air conditioning, Wi-Fi, and breakfast, and can be substantially better quality than the price would indicate.

We based the majority of our trip on staying in well-located, highly-rated 3-star Hotels and couldn’t believe how nice they were. But with prices this cheap it may be the time to treat yourself to an upgrade occasionally.

Luxury Resorts and Hotels

Vietnam also boasts a range of luxury resorts and high-end hotels, particularly in tourist hotspots like Da Nang, Nha Trang, and Phu Quoc. Here is your chance to live it up without breaking the bank.

Prices for these start from under $100 per night. We split our time on Phu Quoc between two very nice beach Resorts, starting with a few nights at the 4-star Saigon Phu Quoc Resort which we found for around $50 per night.

ocean view from a balcony at the VinPearl Resort & Spa Phu Quoc

Our final three nights were a chance to really spoil ourselves on a budget and we stayed at the luxurious 5-star VinPearl Resort & Spa. We had a deluxe ocean view room and a stunning daily breakfast buffet for $100 per night!

Food and Drink Prices in Vietnam

If there is one thing we can assure you about a trip to Vietnam, you will never be short of cheap and tasty food or beer that costs less than soft drinks. Expect to eat and drink well on your trip.

Vietnamese Street Food Delights

Vietnamese street food is both delicious and incredibly affordable. Dishes such as pho, banh mi, and bun cha can cost as little as $1-3, leaving no room for excuses as to why you didn’t eat well on a budget.

Insider Top Tip – Don’t be scared to try street food just because the places don’t look as fancy as the food carts back home. You should be fine as long as the places are either highly-rated or you notice a lot of locals eating there.

dean & Pauline

Dining in Restaurants in Vietnam

Dining at local restaurants will also keep your wallet happy, with meals typically costing between $5 and $15. Even in more upscale restaurants, it is rare for a meal to exceed $20.

We would regularly have a shared appetiser, a main meal each and at least one beer and a cocktail, and walk away having spent less than $20 total. There is no excuse for eating at dodgy places in Vietnam to save money.

Local Drinks and Nightlife in Vietnam

The cost of drinks and nightlife in Vietnam is also very low. Local beers and coffee are particularly cheap, with a glass of bia hoi (fresh beer) costing around $0.50 to $1. Cocktails and other drinks in bars and restaurants are also reasonably priced, generally ranging from $2 to $5.

tiny tables and chairs but cheap drinks at beer street hanoi

I am not a beer drinker (I know, weird for an Aussie male) but Pauline doesn’t mind one every now and then. She likes a lighter taste and found that many of the local beers like Hanoi, Saigon and Huda to her liking.

Transportation Costs in Vietnam

Vietnam is a country stretched over quite a substantial distance so the chances are that you will need some form of transportation during your stay. And we all know that this is usually one of the most expensive parts of travel.

And while this is also true in Vietnam, you will be happy to learn that getting from A to B is still cheap, especially when compared to Western countries.

Vietnam’s Public Transportation

Vietnam’s public transportation system is both extensive and affordable. City buses, intercity buses, and trains offer economical ways to travel, with bus fares often less than $1 per ride.

A popular way to cover the long-distance intercity trips is on a sleeper bus or train, and while reports vary on the comfort of these options they do represent value for money.

Renting Motorbikes and Bicycles in Vietnam

Renting a motorbike is a popular option for exploring Vietnam, with daily rental costs around $5-10. Bicycle rentals are even cheaper, typically costing $1-3 per day.

Insider Top Tip – But while hiring a scooter for a day may be something you are considering, be sure to watch a few videos about the traffic before committing to a decision, especially in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh.

dean & Pauline

Domestic Flights in Vietnam

For longer distances, domestic flights are very affordable, with budget airlines like VietJet offering flights for as low as $20-50. And while overnight train travel may be slightly cheaper it only took watching a couple of video reviews for us to decide on flying then sleeping in a nice, comfortable Hotel bed.

The options are there for you to choose between what may be a 15-hour train ride or a 1-hour flight. Ask yourself if it’s really worth the discomfort to save 20 or 30 dollars.

Activities and Attractions in Vietnam

Vietnam has so much to offer visitors. From activities like cooking classes, bamboo boat rides, and paddling through incredible caves and limestone mountains, to attractions like Mua Caves and My Son Temple.

one of the temples at the My Son Sanctuary

With so much to choose from it’s good to know that, once again, everything is cheap in comparison to similar experiences in Western countries, and even compared to many other Asian countries as well.

Entry fees for many of Vietnam’s top tourist attractions are also relatively cheap. For instance, visiting the Cu Chi Tunnels or the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City only costs around $2-5.

Outdoor Adventures in Vietnam

As you would expect from a place boasting so much natural beauty, Vietnam offers numerous outdoor activities such as trekking in Sapa, kayaking in Ha Long Bay, and exploring caves in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park.

These activities are also generally very affordable, with many tours and excursions typically costing between $20 and $50.

Insider Top Tip – While many of these places could be visiting for free, or with a minimal entrance fee, if is often the case that having an experienced local guide to show you the hidden gems or explain the significance of a place greatly enhances the experience.

dean & Pauline

Cultural Experiences

Getting involved with local culture, like taking a cooking class, visiting traditional villages, or attending a water puppet show, is a great way to learn about a country, and usually costs between $10 and $30.

We love taking cooking classes when we travel and found that our experiences in Vietnam were as good, or in one case far better, than more expensive classes we have participated in around the world.

Our outstanding example was a market tour and cooking class we took in Hoi An with an incredible young lady named Trang. She is the chef and owner of Claypot Restaurant and shared her family history and culinary skills to create one of the best foodie days of our lives.

a cooking class in Hoi An

Shopping and Souvenirs

Markets and Bargain Hunting

Vietnam’s markets and street vendors are perfect for bargain hunting. From clothes to souvenirs, you are sure to find low prices. Haggling is common and often expected, but be respectful and remember that a dollar is worth far more to them than it is to you.

Several of the big clothing brands are manufactured in Vietnam and can be found for a fraction of the price you pay back home. Are they genuine? Maybe. Are they still quality? Usually yes, but check thoroughly.

We bought North Face jackets for under $20 which is about 10% of the price we would have to pay in Australia. I would guess they are shipped out the factory’s back door rather than being copied elsewhere.

Authentic Souvenirs

Vietnam is so new to the world of marketing to tourists for extra revenue that they haven’t really embraced the benefits of souvenir selling. Of the things you can find the more popular include Vietnamese coffee, lacquerware, and silk products.

Modern Shopping Malls

For those preferring a modern shopping experience, cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City offer numerous malls with international brands and competitive prices, but big international brands are still not considerably cheaper.

Cost of Living Comparison

Vietnam vs. Other Southeast Asian Countries

You should find that Vietnam is generally cheaper than neighbouring countries like Thailand and Malaysia, especially in terms of accommodation, food, and transportation.

This is mainly due to supply and demand driven pricing. As tourism increases so does the cost of visiting, more people means more demand, and more demand means the ability to charge higher prices.

Vietnam is certainly becoming more popular year on year but hopefully prices stay low and it is able to maintain its personal and friendly nature for the foreseeable future.

Vietnam vs. Western Countries

Compared to Western countries, Vietnam’s cost of living is significantly lower. You will spend a fraction of what you would in Europe, Australia or North America for similar experiences.

Money-Saving Tips for Travellers to Vietnam

Best Time to Visit Vietnam

Visiting during the off-peak seasons can result in lower prices for accommodation and flights. But keep in mind that they are considered off-peak for a reason. October is cheap but it is typhoon season.

The best times are typically from May to September and November to March. The weather should be reasonable during those times and the prices much lower than during the peak seasons.

Negotiation Tips

Haggling is expected in Vietnamese markets and most of the smaller stores that line the streets. Learning a few Vietnamese phrases and haggling skills can help secure better deals, especially in markets and with local vendors.

Insider Top Tip – Haggling may be expected, and it can be a lot of fun to do, please remember to keep the negotion friendly. And remember that a dollar means more to them than it does to you, so screwing them on price is not really a win.

dean & Pauline

Budget Travel Hacks

While staying in hostels can save you money during your trip, ask yourself if it is worth a few extra bucks per night to stay in a nice hotel instead. We’ve got no interest in just being cheap, we look for value.

Eating street food, and using public transportation or walking are some of the best ways to save money in Vietnam. Additionally, booking tours and activities in advance online can often lead to discounts.

Safety and Health Considerations

Staying Safe in Vietnam

Vietnam is widely considered safe for tourists, but it’s wise to stay aware of your surroundings and take common precautions, such as securing your belongings and keeping to the more popular areas at night.

Health Precautions and Insurance

Visitors should seek medical advice on vaccinations and be sure to purchase suitable travel insurance. You should only drink bottled or filtered water and be cautious with street food to avoid potential health issues.

When considering a street food venue make sure it is either highly rated from plenty of reviews, or looks very popular with local diners. If the locals all eat there it obviously has built a good reputation.

FAQs About Traveling in Vietnam

Is Vietnam Safe for Solo Travelers?

Yes, Vietnam is considered safe for solo travellers, with a low crime rate and friendly locals. Serious crime against tourists is extremely rare but you should be vigilant against pickpocketing and scams.

Is Vietnam a Good Destination for Couples?

Pauline and I had an amazing month in Vietnam and found it to be a great place for travelling together. We did not experience any time where either of us was treated differently to the other.

Dean and Pauline on the deck of the Le Journey boat on Halong Bay

What is the Best Time to Visit Vietnam?

The best times to visit are from February to April and August to October, when the weather is most pleasant. Keep in mind that Vietnam covers a huge distance from north to south which means the weather can vary dramatically in different parts of the country on the same day.

Do I Need a Visa to Visit Vietnam?

Visa requirements vary by nationality. Many travellers can obtain an e-visa or a visa on arrival. We strongly suggest that you arrange an e-visa before you arrive. Reviews suggest that the visa on arrival can take several hours at the airport for processing, and we’d rather be seeing the sights.

How Much Should I Budget Per Day in Vietnam?

A budget of $20-40 per day per couple should see you both fed pretty well, while a decent hotel can be found in most parts of Vietnam for about $30-40 per night.

Excluding international airfares we spent a total of approximately $3000 for 29 days in Vietnam. Pretty good value for two people, and we didn’t skip any of the things we wanted to do or see.

That covered all food, special activities like a Halong Bay cruise, Ninh Binh stay, cooking classes and food tours, guided cultural tours, transfers and domestic flights. Not to mention 3 nights in a 5-star beach resort!

Can I Use Credit Cards in Vietnam?

Credit cards are accepted in hotels, most restaurants, and tourist hotspots, but it’s advisable to carry cash for smaller vendors and local restaurants.

Is Vietnam Cheap for Tourists? Our Opinion

Vietnam offers incredible value for money for tourists, offering a wealth of memorable experiences without breaking the bank.

From budget-friendly accommodations to cheap yet delicious food and a variety of low-cost activities, you can enjoy a rich and diverse experience. There was nothing about Vietnam that we considered overpriced.

We found Vietnam to be a breath of fresh air as a place to visit, especially compared with the more popular Asian destinations like Bali and Thailand. We never felt overrun with tourists and the country still feels authentic.

I hate going to a country and being treated like a tourist, with locals trying to “befriend” you by using attempted Aussie accents or forcing cheap souvenir crap on you. Vietnam had none of that.

The people we dealt with, especially in hotels and restaurants, seemed genuinely pleased to have us there, and they all seemed excited to showcase their country. Not once did we get a fake “have a nice day”.

It was a wonderful experience and to merely say it represents good value for money is underselling Vietnam. It represents outstanding value for money!

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Is Vietnam an affordable destination for travelers? Learn about the cost of visiting Vietnam, including budget-friendly tips for accommodation, dining, and sightseeing. See how you can explore Vietnam's stunning landscapes and rich culture without breaking the bank.
With the cost of living skyrocketing around the world we are all searching for travel destinations where our dollar stretches further. We spent a month in Vietnam to find out if it really is a budget friendly place to visit.
Considering a trip to Vietnam? Find out if it's a cheap destination for tourists by exploring the cost of travel essentials like accommodation, food, and attractions. Get insider tips on how to make the most of your budget while enjoying all that Vietnam has to offer.
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