๐Ÿ’ฐ My 2024 Vietnam Trip Cost: A Budget Breakdown

The blog author holding a flower with mountain views in the background.

Vietnam, a country famous for its emerald bays and rice paddies, can be visited with a budget of $30 to $65 a day.

My nearly two-week trip to Vietnam cost a total of $1,251. In this post, I share:

  • ๐Ÿ’ฐ Expected travel costs
  • ๐Ÿ’ก Budgeting tips
  • ๐Ÿ’ต How much cash to bring
  • โœˆ๏ธ My trip’s costs by category
  • ๐Ÿ“ My trip’s costs by destination

Planning a trip? Here’s what to know about Vietnam.

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Is Vietnam Expensive To Travel To?

Vietnam ranks as one of the most affordable destinations in Asia. It has a relatively low cost of living, a wide range of accommodation options, free attractions, and a competitive tourism market.

Along with Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia, Vietnam is often considered an inexpensive destination in Southeast Asia.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Trip Daily Budget for Destinations in Asia

For comparison, I visited these countries in Asia within a year of visiting Vietnam, and hereโ€™s how much I spent per day at each one:

DestinationDaily Budget
๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ต Japan$145
๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ญ Cambodia$123*
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฌ Singapore$122
๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ผ Taiwan$102
๐Ÿ‡ป๐Ÿ‡ณ Vietnam$89
๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ญ Thailand$77
Daily Travel Budget for Destinations in Asia

*My Cambodia daily budget is high because I splurged on accommodation.

See all my daily budget for each destination I’ve visited.

How Much Is a Trip to Vietnam?

This section covers estimated trip costs depending on your travel style. I share my actual travel expenses further below.

๐ŸŽ’ Budget Traveler โ€“ Vietnam Trip Cost

Budget travelers can expect to spend approximately $30 per day or $420 for two weeks of travel in Vietnam, excluding flights.

Here’s a quick overview of my expenses by travel category:

CategoryCost per Day
๐Ÿ  Accommodation$8
๐Ÿœ Food$8
๐Ÿ๏ธ Transportation$4
โ›ฐ๏ธ Entertainment$10
Total$30
Vietnam Daily Budget for a Budget Traveler

Traveling Vietnam on a Budget

To travel on a budget to Vietnam, here are some things you’ll need to do:

  • ๐Ÿ  Accommodation โ€“ Stay at a dorm-style hostel for as low as $5 a night. For an additional $10 per night, you can stay at a mid-range hotel, as accommodation prices are very cheap in Vietnam.
  • ๐Ÿ๏ธ Transportation โ€“ Take Vietnam’s “sleeper buses” that travel at night to get around the country, as those are generally the cheapest mode of transportation.

Vietnam doesn’t have public transportation outside Ho Chi Minh City, but the country has a comprehensive bus network.

  • ๐Ÿœ Food โ€“ Eat street food and local restaurants for $2 or less per meal. Tourist restaurants have an upcharge, and the food is not guaranteed to be more authentic or fresher.

Tap water is generally unsafe to drink in Vietnam, so you can also stock up on drinks and water at convenience stores instead of paying for them at restaurants or touristy places.

  • โ›ฐ๏ธ Entertainment โ€“ Skip some of Vietnam’s guided tours, as paying for them will significantly increase your budget.
  • โ˜€๏ธ Travel Season โ€“ For the best deals, avoid traveling to Vietnam during the peak season and aim to visit sometime between April and June or September and November.
  • ๐Ÿ“ Destination โ€“ Visit budget-friendly areas of Vietnam. Some of the most budget-friendly tourist areas include Hoi An, Nha Trang, the Mekong Delta, and Cat Ba Island near Lan Ha Bay.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Mid-Range Budget Traveler โ€“ Vietnam Trip Cost

A mid-range budget traveler, such as myself, can expect to spend approximately $65 per day or $910 for two weeks of travel in Vietnam, excluding flights. I break down my trip expenses by travel category below.

Is Vietnam or Thailand More Affordable To Travel To?

People often compare Thailand to Vietnam, as they are Southeast Asiaโ€™s most popular and affordable destinations.

Vietnam is, on average, slightly more affordable to travel to than Thailand. However, affordability and cost of living vary by region within each country. Still, Thailand is a more developed country, and Vietnamโ€™s cost of living is lower than Thailandโ€™s.

For tourists, Vietnam’s cost per day is, on average, lower than Thailand’s. Below is a rough daily budget comparison for a mid-range budget traveler.

CategoryVietnamThailand
๐Ÿ  Accommodation$15$20
๐Ÿœ Food$10$15
๐Ÿ๏ธ Transportation$10$10
โญ Entertainment$30$35
Total$65$80
Vietnam vs. Thailand Trip Cost Comparison

For a two-week trip, you can expect to spend roughly $910 in Vietnam and $1,120 in Thailand.

You’ll see below that my daily budget in Vietnam is higher because I did relatively expensive activities (e.g., deep water soloing and getting tailored clothes in Hoi An).

A woman staring at a gold-plated temple.
Temple in Thailand.

About My Vietnam Trip

To give context to the expenses below, here’s what you need to know about my trip:

  • ๐Ÿ—“๏ธย 12 days โ€“ I spent almost two weeks in Vietnam, visiting six places:

Comparing the two major cities in Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City in southern Vietnam is, on average, roughly 10% more expensive than Hanoi City in northern Vietnam.

  • โ˜€๏ธ High season โ€“ I visited Vietnam in November, which is considered the high season.

Vietnam has two peak seasons: one from March to early May and the other from October to December.

  • โœŒ๏ธ Group travel โ€“ I traveled with one other person, so we were able to split some costs, such as housing.
  • ๐Ÿ’ฐ Mid-range budget โ€“ I consider myself a mid-range budget traveler, and these expenses reflect that. I donโ€™t aim to travel on a budget, but Iโ€™m thoughtful about how and where I spend.
  • ๐Ÿ€ Self-funded โ€“ My trips are self-funded, so I paid for everything listed below. None of my excursions or experiences are sponsored.
  • ๐Ÿ’ต US dollars โ€“ All costs listed in this post are per person and in US dollars, converted from Vietnam’s local currency, the Vietnamese Dong.

The exchange rate was $1 USD = 24,300 VND at the time of writing.

The blog author sitting down while being surrounded by more than a dozen lanterns.
Hoi An in Vietnam.

Vietnam Trip’s Total Cost: $1,251

My nearly two-week trip to Vietnam cost a total of $1,251, including flights.

See the highlights of my trip in these northern Vietnam and central Vietnam itineraries.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Cost Breakdown for Vietnam

Here’s a quick overview of my expenses by travel category:

VietnamCost% of TotalDaily Budget
โœˆ๏ธ Flights$18315%
๐Ÿ  Accommodation$15012%$12
๐Ÿœ Food$726%$6
๐Ÿ๏ธ Transportation$1109%$9
โ›ฐ๏ธ Entertainment$48839%$41
๐Ÿ›๏ธ Miscellaneous$24720%$21
Total$1,251100%$89
Vietnam Trip’s Cost Breakdown

๐Ÿ—“๏ธ Daily Budget in Vietnam: $89

My Vietnam trip cost $89 per day, excluding my flights from Taiwan and to Thailand. My daily budget is on the higher end because I did relatively expensive activities.

Daily Budget
Excluding flights$89
Including flights$104
Vietnam Trip’s Cost Per Day

A mid-range budget traveler can expect to spend $65 per day in Vietnam. This generally means staying at $15 per night accommodations, eating a mix of street and restaurant food, and going on several non-private guided tours.

โœˆ๏ธ Flight Cost to Vietnam: $183

I usually take round-trip flights from the United States, but I flew into Vietnam from Taiwan and out to Thailand for this trip. Here are my flight costs:

FlightCost
Taiwan โ†’ Vietnam$101
Vietnam โ†’ Thailand$82
Vietnam Tripโ€™s Flight Costs

A round-trip flight between the US and Vietnam that costs under $750 is considered cheap; international flights typically cost over $850.

Be aware of bag weight limits on low-cost airlines that hop around Asia. I flew AirAsia and VietJet Air, and both had a combined carry-on and checked-bag limit of 7kg (about 15 lbs). If you pass this limit, youโ€™ll have to pay an extra checked bag fee. I paid $14 per bag, but some fees were as high as $45.

๐Ÿ  Accommodation Cost in Vietnam: $150

My average cost of accommodation in Vietnam was $12 per day. I was able to split accommodations with one other person at all times.

(This total doesnโ€™t include overnight stays on the three-day Ha Giang Loop; those are included in the tour price under entertainment.)

Here are the accommodations I stayed at and how much I paid for each:

AccommodationTotal CostCost per Night
Hanoi hotel and Airbnb$77$19
Hoi An hotel$52$13
Cรกt Bร  Island hotel$21$21
Vietnam Trip’s Accommodation Costs

Accommodations in Vietnam are incredibly affordable. You can stay at mid-range hotels for as low as $20 per night. Even luxury hotels, which start at $100 per night, are relatively inexpensive.

A clear pool with a row of sun chairs and umbrella.
The pool outside my Hoi An hotel room.

๐Ÿœ Food Cost in Vietnam: $72

My average cost of food in Vietnam was $6 per day.

The food capital of Vietnam is Hoi An, a small town that serves regional food not found elsewhere.

Cheapest Meals in Vietnam

Here are the most affordable meals I ate during my trip:

MealLocationCost
Chicken and rice dishLocal Restaurant (Hoi An)$1.50
Rose dumplingsWhite Rose Restaurant (Hoi An)$1.80
Rice bowls (“xoi gia”)Xรดi Gia Truyแปn Bร  Thu (Hanoi)$2
Cheapest Meals in Vietnam
A bowl of rice with sausage and pork belly.
Xรดi Gia Truyแปn Bร  Thu in Hanoi.

Food in Vietnam is extremely affordable. Many of my meals, which included a drink, were $2 or less, especially at local restaurants. Restaurants that target tourists will charge more.

Most Expensive Meals in Vietnam

Here are the most expensive meals I ate during my trip:

MealLocationCost
Noodles and vegetablesNostalife (Hoi An)$6.50
Dumplings and noodlesTaste of Asia (Hanoi Airport)$6
Noodle dishYummy 1 (Cรกt Bร  Island)$5
Most Expensive Meals in Vietnam
A woman holding ice cream with chunks of fruit in them.
Durian ice cream during a Hanoi food tour.

I recommend going on an authentic food tour early on your Vietnam trip to discover authentic local food and restaurants that you can try throughout your trip.

๐Ÿ๏ธ Transportation Cost in Vietnam: $110

My average cost of transportation in Vietnam was $9 per day.

My average cost of transportation is high because I took a domestic flight from northern to central Vietnam. Had I not taken any domestic flights, my average cost of transportation would have been $6 per day.

Here are the transportation methods I took and how much I paid for each:

TransportationTotal Cost
Domestic flight (Hanoi โ†’ Da Nang)$34
Grab rides$34
Round-trip bus ride to Lan Ha Bay$28
Private car hire for Da Nang day trip$14
Vietnam Trip’s Transportation Costs
The blog author taking a selfie with a helmet while riding a motorbike through mountains.
Motorbiking through Ha Giang in Vietnam.

Grab rides are almost always more affordable than flagging down a taxi or tuk-tuk. Pro tip: use Grab prices as a baseline for negotiating with taxis or tuk-tuks when they’re more conveniently available.

โ›ฐ๏ธ Entertainment Costs in Vietnam: $488

My average cost of entertainment in Vietnam was $41 per day. This total includes a 5% to 15% tip at certain places.

A typical mid-range traveler in Vietnam can expect to spend about $30 a day on entertainment.

Here are all the activities and attractions I paid for and how much each cost:

ActivityCost
Ha Giang Loop tour$228
Deep water solo (Ha Long Bay)$78
Ninh Bรฌnh day tour$63
Cooking class (Hoi An)$31
Old Quarter street food tour (Hanoi)$28
Bamboo Circus show (Hoi An)$25
Massages (three sessions)$25
Water Puppet Show (Hanoi)$6
Vietnam Military Museum (Hanoi)$2
Ngoc Son Temple (Hanoi)$1
Temple of Literature (Hanoi)$1
Vietnam Trip’s Entertainment Costs

These Hoi An and Hanoi guides share details on the activities I did in Vietnam.

The blog's author climbing up a gray limestone rock over water.
Deep water soloing, also known as rock climbing over water, at Lan Ha Bay.

๐Ÿ‘— Miscellaneous Cost in Vietnam: $247

My average cost of miscellaneous spending in Vietnam was $21 per day.

MiscellaneousCost
Tailored clothes in Hoi An$190
Shopping$49
Laundry services (two loads)$8
Vietnam Trip’s Miscellaneous Costs

United States citizens traveling to Vietnam are required to get a tourist visa. The visa costs $25 and takes three business days to process. You can apply online here.

A woman fixing the waist of the blog author's dress.
Getting adjustments done at Tuong Tailor.

Cost Breakdown by Destination in Vietnam

Below are my trip expense breakdowns for Hanoi, Hoi An, and Cat Ba Island. Hanoi is often featured in first-timersโ€™ travel itineraries.

๐Ÿ๏ธ Hanoi Trip’s Total Cost: $202

During my three-day trip to Hanoi, I averaged $67 in daily travel expenses.

I went to a few Hanoi attractions with small entrance fees and paid for an Old Quarter street food tour, which I highly recommend doing at the beginning of your Vietnam trip so you can get familiar with authentic food.

CategoryTotal CostDaily Budget
๐Ÿ  Accommodation$77$26
๐Ÿœ Food$39$13
๐Ÿ๏ธ Transportation$21$7
โ›ฐ๏ธ Entertainment$65$21
Hanoi Trip’s Costs by Category
A woman standing on a bridge in front a decorated Asian gate.
Ngแปc Sฦกn Temple on Hoan Kiem Lake.

Hanoi is at the center of northern Vietnam, so even if you don’t spend much time there, you will likely fly there to access other parts of Vietnam. It’s a bustling city where you can spend a lot or a little on accommodation and food.

Here are the things to do and skip in Hanoi.

๐Ÿ‘— Hoi An Trip’s Total Cost: $370

During my three-day trip to Hoi An, I averagedย $123 in daily travel expenses.

I stayed at a nice hotel that I was able to split with someone else. My expenses in Hoi An are exceptionally high because I bought custom-tailored clothes.

CategoryTotal CostDaily Budget
๐Ÿ  Accommodation$52$13
๐Ÿœ Food$24$6
๐Ÿ๏ธ Transportation$13$3
โ›ฐ๏ธ Entertainment$281$70
Hoi An Trip’s Costs by Category
The blog's author holding a bike next to a field of farm vegetables.
Biking outside of Hoi An.

Hoi An is one of the most well-known places in central Vietnam and is known as Vietnam’s food capital. Even though it’s a fairly tourist-oriented town, you’ll be able to find plenty of Vietnamese food for cheap if you look for it. This Hoi An travel guide shares an itinerary and great things to do there

๐Ÿšค Cat Ba Island Trip’s Total Cost: $146

During my two-day trip to Cat Ba Island, I averaged $73 in daily travel expenses.

Although Cat Ba Island is its own destination, I mainly traveled there to deep water solo (rock climb above water). I stayed at a no-frills mid-range hotel, which I was able to split with one other person.

CategoryTotal CostDaily Budget
๐Ÿ  Accommodation$21$11
๐Ÿœ Food$10$5
๐Ÿ๏ธ Transportation$28$14
โ›ฐ๏ธ Entertainment$87$43
Cat Ba Island Trip’s Costs by Category
Deep water soloing in Lan Ha Bay near Cรกt Bร  Island.

Cรกt Bร  Island is a well-known tourist area in Vietnam, so you can expect prices to be high here. I visited during the island’s low season and thought the prices were comparable to other places in Vietnam.

Do You Need Cash in Vietnam?

Vietnam’s economy is largely based on cash transactions, especially in non-tourist areas, so bring some cash. I needed to use cash almost everywhere when I visited.

Below are tips on bringing and using cash in Vietnam.

๐Ÿ’ต 1. Withdraw cash in Vietnamese dong.

Vietnam’s currency is the Vietnamese Dong (VND), and the US dollar is not widely accepted.

ATMs are readily available in many tourist places in Vietnam, but if your debit card doesn’t reimburse your ATM fees, you’ll want to withdraw a higher amount less frequently to save on fees.

๐Ÿง 2. Carry about $30 to $40 worth of cash per day in Vietnam.

On a typical day, a mid-range budget traveler in Vietnam will need at least $30 in cash to cover food, transportation, and attractions. A daily cash expense breakdown can look like this:

  • $10 at restaurants and cafes
  • $15 for tipping and entrance fees
  • $5 for transportation and other miscellaneous spending

I keep my cash in my crossbody bag, but if you want extra protection against pickpocketing, carry it in a hidden money belt instead.

๐Ÿ’ณ 3. Some places in Vietnam take credit cards.

Being able to use a credit card in Vietnam is the exception, but below are some places that accepted credit cards during my trip:

  • High-production shows โ€“ The Bamboo Circus in Hoi An accepted cards, but not the Water Puppet Show in Hanoi.
  • High-cost tailoring services in Hoi An โ€“ However, these places typically had a 3% credit card fee.
  • Grab app rides โ€“ You can also tip through the app, so you donโ€™t need cash for these.

๐Ÿ’ฐ 4. Tipping is not customary in Vietnam.

Tipping is often appreciated in Vietnam, but itโ€™s optional. Tipping is most often expected from tourists and businesses that serve visitors.

  • Tour โ€“ Tour guides will gladly accept 10% to 15% tips, especially those serving Americans.
  • Dining โ€“ Tipping is not expected when eating street food, but upscale restaurants may add a 10% service charge. For many restaurants, rounding your bill up and leaving some change is sufficient as a tip.
  • Drivers โ€“ You can round up the change for drivers. Getting around Vietnam with Grab was so cheap that I just tipped drivers $1 regardless.

See other essential travel tips for Vietnam before visiting.

Vietnam Trip Planner

To make your travel planning easier, download the trip planner below and use it as a starting point. The planner has country-specific travel information, an itinerary, a packing list, and a map with key places pinned.

The trip planner is built on Notion, which I use for all my travel planning (I genuinely love this tool). If you don’t have Notion, creating an account is free.

Three Notion template screenshots are shown: travel information, itinerary, and map + packing list templates.
Preview of Vietnam trip planner for 2024.

Thoughts? Questions? Leave a comment below.

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2 Comments

  1. Bea

    Can you share the contact for the Da Nang private car day trip?

    1. Lukiih

      Hi Bea, I unfortunately don’t have the contact. He didn’t speak any English and I mainly communicated with him through my tailor. You can likely easily find a driver through any local you trust once you get there.

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