A country with stunning mountain ranges and rice paddies, Vietnam is an affordable country that can be visited with a budget of $30 to $100 a day.
My almost 2-week trip to Vietnam cost a total of $1,251. Here, I share my Vietnam travel expenses, cost per day and budgeting tips. I also outline where and how much cash is needed in Vietnam.
On top of my overall Vietnam trip’s cost, this post compares and details travel expenses across 6 areas I visited: Hanoi, Ninh Binh, Ha Long Bay, Ha Giang, Hoi An and Da Nang.
- Is Vietnam Expensive to Travel To?
- Is Vietnam or Thailand More Affordable To Travel To?
- About My Vietnam Trip
- Vietnam Trip’s Total Cost: $1,251
- Cost Breakdown for Vietnam
- Cost Breakdown by City in Vietnam
- Do You Need Cash in Vietnam?
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Is Vietnam Expensive to Travel To?
💰 Vietnam is one of the most affordable destinations in Southeast Asia. Vietnam is ranked as one of the region’s most affordable countries along with Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Indonesia.
For comparison, here’s how much I spent per day in these nearby countries that I visited in the same year as Vietnam:
- My Vietnam trip’s cost per day: $86
- My Thailand trip’s cost per day: $65
- My Cambodia trip’s cost per day: $123 (could have easily been closer to $85)
- My Taiwan trip’s cost per day: $102
🎒 A budget traveler can expect to spend approximately $30 per day or $210 for one week of travel in Vietnam, not including flights. To travel on a budget to Vietnam, here are some things you’ll need to do:
- Accommodation: Stay at a basic hostel for $5 a night. Note that for an additional $10 per night, you can get a basic, mid-range accommodation as Vietnam’s hotels are very cheap.
- Food: Eat at local, street food places for $2 or less per meal. Tourist restaurants will have an up-charge and the food is not guaranteed to be more authentic or fresher.
- Transportation: Take Vietnam’s “sleeper buses” that travel at night to get around the country as those will generally be the cheapest mode of transportation.
- Attraction: Skip some of Vietnam’s guided tours as paying for them will increase your budget significantly even though it’s an affordable country.
💳 A mid-range budget traveler can expect to spend approximately $65 per day or $455 for one week of travel in Vietnam, not including flights.
Is Vietnam or Thailand More Affordable To Travel To?
Vietnam and Thailand are Southeast Asia’s most popular and affordable destinations, so they’re often compared, even though I think each country offers a different travel experience.
🇻🇳 Vietnam is on average more affordable than Thailand to travel to. Affordability and cost of living varies by the exact region of each country, but in general, Thailand is a more developed country than Vietnam and Vietnam’s cost of living is lower than Thailand’s.
💰 Vietnam’s cost per day is on average lower than Thailand’s for tourists. I visited both countries back-to-back for 12 days each, and below is a rough cost-per-day comparison between traveling in Vietnam vs. Thailand for a mid-range budget traveler. The cost varies depending on where exactly in Vietnam or Thailand you’re traveling to, but these averages should give you an idea of the cost differences.
|Total Cost Per Day||$65||$90|
Based on the chart above, you can expect to spend approximately $455 for a 1-week trip in Vietnam and $630 for a 1-week trip in Thailand.
You’ll see below that my per day cost in Vietnam is higher than $65, but that’s because I did relatively expensive activities, including:
- The 3-day motorbiking tour of the Ha Giang Loop
- Deep water soloing (rock climbing above water) in Lan Ha Bay, which is part of Ha Long Bay
- Buying several pieces of tailored clothes in Hoi An, the tailoring capital of the world
About My Vietnam Trip
To give context to the expenses below, here’s what you need to know about my trip to Vietnam:
🗓️ 12 days. I spent 12 days in Vietnam. Of those 12 days, I spent 8 days in Northern Vietnam, visiting Hanoi, Ninh Binh, Lan Ha Bay (which is a part of Ha Long Bay) and Ha Giang. I spent the other 5 days in Central Vietnam in Hoi An and Da Nang.
☀️ High season. I visited Vietnam in November, which is considered the high season. Vietnam has two peak seasons: one runs from March to early May and the other is from October to December.
✌️ Two travelers. I traveled with one other person, so I was able to split accommodation, food and transportation costs.
💰 Mid-range budget. I don’t aim to travel on a budget, but I’m thoughtful about how and where I spend. I consider myself a mid-range budget traveler and these expenses reflect that.
Vietnam Trip’s Total Cost: $1,251
I spent $1,251 in Vietnam during my almost 2-week trip with an itinerary similar to this one in Northern Vietnam and this one in Central Vietnam.
All costs listed here are per person and in USD, converted from Vietnamese Dong ($1 USD equaled 24,867 VND at the time of writing).
Cost Breakdown for Vietnam
Here are my Vietnam travel expenses by category:
|Cost||% of Total Cost||Cost per Day|
Cost per Day in Vietnam: $86
If I include my flight costs, my Vietnam trip came out to $104 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 tours.
Flight Cost to Vietnam: $217
- My flight from TPE in Taiwan to Hanoi’s airport in Northern Vietnam was $101.
At time of booking, flying into Taiwan was more affordable than flying into Vietnam from the US. Had I flown from the US to Vietnam, I would have paid more than $1,000 round-trip.
- My flight from Hanoi’s airport in Northern Vietnam to Da Nang’s airport in Central Vietnam was $33.
- My flight from Da Nang’s airport in Central Vietnam to Bangkok’s airport in Thailand was $82.
If you fly on budget airlines that hop around Asia, be aware of bag weight limits. I flew VietJet Air, which has a combined carry-on and checked-bag limit of 7kg (about 15 lbs). If you pass this limit, you’ll have to pay an extra checked bag fee (I paid ~$14).
Accommodation Cost in Vietnam: $150
My average cost of accommodation in Vietnam was $12 per day.
My accommodation cost doesn’t include the 3 days of accommodation on the Ha Giang loop as those are included in the tour’s cost.
|Accommodation||Total Cost||Cost Per Day|
|Hoi An hotel||$52||$13|
|Hotel in Cát Bà Island||$21||$21|
Accommodations in Vietnam are extremely affordable so you can stay at mid-range hotels for as low as $20 per night. The mid-range accommodations I stayed at would have easily been over $100 per night in the US.
Food Cost in Vietnam: $72
My average cost of food in Vietnam was $6 per day.
My most affordable meals in Vietnam were:
- $1.50 chicken over rice dish at a local restaurant in Hoi An
- $1.80 lunch at White Rose Restaurant, a Hoi An restaurant famous for their “rose dumplings” in Hoi An
- $2.00 lunch meal at Xôi Gia Truyền Bà Thu, a local restaurant in Hanoi known for their delicious rice bowls
My most expensive meals in Vietnam were:
- $6.50 dinner at Nostalife, a tourist-friendly restaurant in Hoi An
- $6.00 lunch at Taste of Asia in Hanoi’s airport
- $5.00 dinner at Yummy 1 on Cát Bà Island
Food in Vietnam is also extremely affordable. Many of my meals were $2 or less (including a drink), especially at local places. Restaurants that target tourists will charge more.
I recommend going on a food tour early in your Vietnam trip to discover authentic, local food and restaurants that you can try throughout your trip.
Transportation Cost in Vietnam: $76
My average cost of transportation in Vietnam was $6 per day and my Grab rides averaged approximately $3 per ride, including tip (Grab is the Uber of Southeast Asia).
This total doesn’t include any transportation provided through a tour.
- Total cost of Grab rides: $34
- A private car hired to take me from Hoi An to Da Nang: $14
- Round-trip bus ride from Hanoi to Cát Bà Island so I could deep water solo: $28
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.
Activities Cost in Vietnam: $488
My average cost of activities in Vietnam was $41 per day. This total includes tips, which were usually around 10%.
|Ha Giang Loop tour||$228|
|Deep water solo in Ha Long Bay||$78|
|Ninh Binh day tour||$63|
|Cooking class in Hoi An||$31|
|Street food tour in Hanoi||$28|
|Bamboo Circus show in Hoi An||$25|
|Massages (3 sessions)||$25|
|Water Puppet Show in Hanoi||$6|
|Vietnam Military Museum in Hanoi||$2|
|Ngoc Son Temple in Hanoi||$1|
|Temple of Literature in Hanoi||$1|
This Hoi An guide and Hanoi guide provide more details on the activities I did in Vietnam, while this Ha Giang loop and deep water solo guide share how to do the more adventurous activities in Vietnam.
Miscellaneous Cost in Vietnam: $247
My average cost of miscellaneous spending in Vietnam was $21 per day.
|Tailored Clothes in Hoi An||$190|
|Laundry services (2 loads)||$8|
Hoi An in Central Vietnam is the tailoring capital of the world. This Hoi An tailor guide provides tips for getting custom clothes.
Cost Breakdown by City in Vietnam
Below is a cost breakdown for each city of Vietnam that I visited. I also spent time in the following 3 places:
- Ninh Binh. I did a day trip to Ninh Binh from Hanoi and only spent $63 on the day tour, which included transportation and meals.
- Ha Giang. I did a 3-day motorbike tour of the Ha Giang loop in the rural mountains of Vietnam. The tour cost $228 and included transportation, accommodation and meals. I also spent $12 buying a hemp bag made at a village.
- Da Nang. I did a half-day trip to Da Nang from Hoi An and my only cost was the $14 I paid for a private driver to drive me around Da Nang.
Hanoi Cost Breakdown ($202)
My average cost in Hanoi was $67 per day. I stayed at an Airbnb and hotel, and split both with my partner. I went to a few Hanoi attractions that had a small entrance fee and paid for a street food tour, which I highly recommend doing at the beginning of your Vietnam trip so you can get familiar with authentic, local food.
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.
|Total Cost||Cost Per Day|
|⭐ Entertainment & Misc.||$65||$21|
Hoi An Cost Breakdown ($370)
My average cost in Hoi An was $123 per day. I stayed at a nice hotel that I was able to split with my partner. My expenses in Hoi An are exceptionally high because I bought custom-tailored clothes to take advantage of being in the tailoring capital of the world.
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 local food for cheap if you look for it.
|Total Cost||Cost Per Day|
|⭐ Entertainment & Misc.||$281||$70|
Cát Bà Island Cost Breakdown ($146)
My average cost in Cát Bà Island was $73 per day. Although Cát Bà Island is its own destination, I mainly traveled there to deep water solo (rock climb above water).
Cát Bà Island is a well-known tourist area in Vietnam, so you can expect prices to be fairly high here. I visited during the low season of the island and thought the prices were comparable to other places in Vietnam.
|Total Cost||Cost Per Day|
|⭐ Entertainment & Misc.||$87||$43|
Do You Need Cash in Vietnam?
Vietnam’s economy is largely based on cash transactions, even at established businesses, so make sure to bring some cash. I needed to use cash almost everywhere when I visited.
Here are some tips on bringing and using cash in Vietnam:
Tip #1: Withdraw cash in Vietnamese dong.
Vietnam’s currency is the Vietnamese Dong (VND) and shops in Vietnam do not take USD.
ATMs are readily available in many tourist places of 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.
Tip #2: Bring >$30 worth of cash per day in Vietnam.
$30 in cash in Vietnam is more than enough to cover food, rides and tips on a typical day for a mid-range budget traveler.
I kept my cash in my crossbody phone pouch (it feels secure enough for me), but if you want extra protection against pickpocketing, you can carry a hidden money belt.
Tip #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:
- High-production shows (e.g., Bamboo Circus in Hoi An)
- High-cost tailoring services in Hoi An (note that they add a 3% credit card fee)
- Rides booked through Grab accept card, but they also have the option to pay in cash.
Tip #4: Tipping in Vietnam is not customary, but it’s more common in tourist-oriented places.
It’s not rude to tip in Vietnam and it’s often appreciated, but it’s not mandatory.
- Tour guides will gladly accept 10-15% tips, especially ones that serve more Americans.
- When eating out, tipping is not expected when you eat 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.”
- For drivers, you can round up the change. Getting around Vietnam with Grab was so cheap that I just tipped drivers $1 regardless.
If you have any questions or thoughts, feel free to leave them in the comments below.
More Vietnam Travel Guides
- 🇻🇳 Northern Vietnam: 4 Amazing Destinations in an 8-Day Itinerary
- 🏮 Hoi An Travel Guide: 8 Great Things To Do, 3-Day Itinerary and Cost Breakdown
- 💧 Deep Water Solo in Vietnam: How To and What to Expect + Safety Tips
- 🏍️ Vietnam’s 3-Day Ha Giang Loop Tour: What to Pack and Expect + Safety Tips
- 👗 My Hoi An Tailor Experience: 5+ Tips and What to Expect
- 🍜 Hanoi Travel Guide: 13 Great Things To Do, Eat and Maybe Skip
Lukiih! You forgot about southern Vietnam!!!
Hien! I only had 12 days in Vietnam so I had to pick between the North and South :’). What did I miss in the South?