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Budget Travel Guide

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You've always dreamed of visiting Vietnam, a country filled with natural beauty, delicious food, and rich culture. The good news is, you can experience all Vietnam has to offer even on a tight budget. With some planning and insider tips, an amazing trip to Vietnam can cost less than you might expect.

This budget-friendly guide will show you how to navigate Vietnam like a pro. You'll discover how to get around the country for only a few dollars, fill up on $1 meals from street vendors that beat any restaurant, and find luxury accommodation for backpacker prices. Vietnam has so much to offer that won't break the bank - you just have to know where to look.

Get ready to soak in the breathtaking Ha Long Bay, sample world-class coffee in Ho Chi Minh City, explore the charming Old Quarter of Hanoi, and so much more. Your dream trip to Vietnam is calling - and it's totally within your reach. With this guide, you'll be sipping Bia Hoi at a beachside bar in no time, wondering why you didn't book that flight sooner. Vietnam on a budget is possible, and this is how you're going to do it.

pacific-airlines There are a few budget airlines in Vietnam

Save on Flights: How to Find Cheap Airfare to Vietnam

Scoring cheap airfare to Vietnam is all about flexibility and timing. Here are some tips to save big:

Check budget airlines. Low-cost carriers like AirAsia, VietJet Air, and Jetstar Pacific often have sales on routes to major Vietnamese cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Sign up for their newsletters to get alerts on deals.

Be open-minded about your dates. Flying midweek or non-peak days like Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday may knock a chunk off the fare. Also consider flying into one city and out of another, which can sometimes save you money.

Book 4 to 6 weeks in advance. Booking too early or too late often means missing out on sales or finding limited availability. The sweet spot is usually 1 to 2 months before your trip.

Compare search sites. Don't just stick to one search engine. Do searches on Kayak, Expedia, Skyscanner, and Momondo, then compare fares across sites. Flight prices can differ significantly, so you may find a lower fare on one platform.

Consider budget airport hubs. Flying into major hubs like Kuala Lumpur or Bangkok and then catching a separate ticket to Vietnam can often save you money. The extra leg may add some time but you'll benefit from cheaper fares and more flight options.

Be flexible with your destinations. Flying into Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City will typically yield the lowest fares. But also consider Da Nang or Nha Trang, which often have good deals on routes from Asian cities. You can then travel within Vietnam for cheap by train or bus.


A hostel in Danang, Vietnam

Budget Accommodation: $10 Rooms and Hostels in Vietnam

In Vietnam, you can find decent-budget accommodation for as little as $10 a night. Hostels and cheap hotels are ubiquitous, especially in popular backpacker destinations like Hanoi, Hoi An, and Ho Chi Minh City.

Hostels: Dorms from $5-$8

Hostels are a great option for solo travelers and groups on a budget. You can get a bed in an air-conditioned dorm room for around $5-$8 per night. Many hostels also have private rooms with shared bathrooms for $10-$15 if you want more privacy. Hostels often have common areas where you can meet other travelers, play pool or ping pong, or just relax. They also frequently organize social events and tours.

Budget Hotels: Basic but Comfortable from $10-$15

For a few extra dollars, you can get a private room in a budget hotel. These typically offer small, clean rooms with private bathrooms and air conditioning for $10-$15 per night. The hotel will usually be within walking distance of major attractions. Rooms are pretty basic, but for the price, you can't complain!

Homestays: Authentic Experience from $5-$10

For an authentic local experience, consider staying in a homestay. You'll get a room in a private home for around $5-$10 per night. Homestays offer an opportunity to see how local Vietnamese people live and you may get to enjoy home-cooked meals. You can book homestays on sites like Homestay and Airbnb. Just be prepared for basic facilities and limited English.

Vietnam offers so many affordable accommodation options, you'll have no trouble finding a place to rest your head that won't break the bank. Take your pick from hostels, budget hotels, or homestays and soak in the local culture without spending a lot. Your wallet will thank you!


Banh xeo, Vietnamese pancake.

Eat for Less: Cheap Eats and Street Food in Vietnam

Eating street food is one of the best ways to experience the local culture in Vietnam on a budget. With tasty dishes for just a dollar or two, you can fill up without emptying your wallet.

Banh Mi: The Vietnamese Sandwich

Banh mi are crusty baguettes stuffed with meats, fresh herbs, and vegetables. You’ll find carts selling banh mi on nearly every street for around $1-$2. The classic fillings are pork, pâté, cucumber, cilantro, and Maggi sauce. For a spicy kick, try the banh mi with chili peppers.

Pho: Noodle Soup

A steaming bowl of pho (pronounced “fuh”) is a meal in itself. Rice noodles swim in a fragrant broth with your choice of beef, chicken, or vegetable. A bowl costs $2-3. Add bean sprouts, lime, basil, and chili sauce to taste. Pho is usually eaten for breakfast or as a late-night snack, so carts are open early and late.

Night Markets

After dark, night markets buzz with activity. You’ll find grilled meats, seafood, tropical fruits, and desserts. Pull up a plastic stool and dig into buttery garlic crab, juicy skewers of beef and chicken, or fresh coconuts. Most dishes are under $3. Chat with locals and fellow travelers while enjoying the lively atmosphere.

Other street foods

There are many other street food options in Vietnam. Broken rice (Cơm tấm) is the staple food of Vietnamese people and can fill your empty stomach for just $2-$3.

Eating street food in Vietnam is an adventure. With some common sense, you can avoid getting sick and enjoy delicious, authentic fare for pennies on the dollar compared to restaurants. So pull up a tiny plastic stool and dig in—your taste buds and your budget will thank you!

Affordable Transportation: How to Get Around Vietnam on the Cheap

Getting around Vietnam on the cheap is totally doable. With affordable options like buses, trains, bikes, and walking, you’ll save a bundle while also soaking in the scenery.


Vietnam’s bus system is extensive, frequent, and budget-friendly. Most short-haul routes cost under $10. Look for “Open Bus” companies that offer comfortable seats, AC, and sometimes WiFi. Popular routes like Hanoi to Halong Bay or Hoi An to Hue run multiple times a day. For overnight trips, sleeper buses with flatbed seats are a cheap option to save on a night’s accommodation.


Vietnam Railways operates an affordable rail system spanning the country. Hard and soft seat classes offer basic seating for a few dollars. For longer rides, hard and soft sleepers provide a bed in an open-air carriage or small private cabin. The scenic routes from Hanoi to Sapa or Hue to Danang are highlights. Buy tickets in advance and be prepared for delays.


For short distances, bicycles and motorbikes are ideal. Many hotels and hostels rent bikes for $1-3/day so you can explore at your own pace. In cities, bike-sharing systems are popular too. If biking longer distances, research routes and road conditions first as traffic can be chaotic for inexperienced cyclists.


Don’t underestimate the power of your own two feet! Many destinations like Hanoi’s Old Quarter, Hoi An’s Ancient Town, and downtown Saigon are compact and walkable. Strolling at a leisurely pace, you’ll discover hidden gems not visible from a bus or train window. Plus walking is healthier and more eco-friendly. Just watch out for scooters and be very careful crossing the street!

With so many ways to get around on a budget, Vietnam is an ideal low-cost travel destination. Mixing up your transportation modes, from cycling through rice paddies one day to riding the rails the next, will give you a full experience of this scenic country. The open road (and rail) awaits!

Free or Low-Cost Activities: Things to Do in Vietnam on a Budget

When traveling in Vietnam on a budget, there are plenty of free or low-cost activities to keep you entertained. Here are some of the top things to do that won’t break the bank:

Explore the Ancient Towns

Some of Vietnam’s most charming attractions are the well-preserved ancient towns, like Hoi An and Hanoi’s Old Quarter. You can spend hours wandering the cobblestone streets, shopping at market stalls, and soaking in the historical architecture. Entry to Hoi An Ancient Town and Hanoi’s Old Quarter is free.

  • Old Quarter in Hanoi has streets dedicated to different crafts like Silk Street, Basket Street, and Paper Street. It’s a shopper’s paradise!

  • Hoi An Ancient Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for colorful houses, lanterns, and tailors. Get clothes custom-made for a fraction of the cost elsewhere.

Visit the Pagodas and Temples

Vietnam has many Buddhist pagodas and Taoist temples that are open to visitors free of charge. Some of the most impressive include:

  1. Tran Quoc Pagoda - Hanoi's oldest pagoda on a small island in West Lake.

  2. Thien Mu Pagoda - Overlooks the Perfume River in Hue with a 21m-high tower.

  3. Hong Kong Ngon Temple - Colorful Taoist temple in Ho Chi Minh City's Chinatown. Make sure to check out the rooftop!

Explore the Markets

Wandering through the local markets is one of the best ways to soak in Vietnam's vibrant atmosphere. You’ll find everything from fresh produce, street food, handicrafts, and live fish.

  • Visit Ben Thanh Market in Ho Chi Minh City or Dong Xuan Market in Hanoi. Bargain hard and you can get great deals on souvenirs, clothes, or anything else you need.

  • Floating markets like Cai Rang in Can Tho are unique to the Mekong Delta region. See local farmers sell produce from their boats.

There are so many rewarding activities in Vietnam that won't cost a dime. No need to miss out due to budget - get out there and immerse yourself in the culture! With an open mind and adventurous spirit, you'll find Vietnam most welcoming. The memories you make exploring all it has to offer will stay with you for years to come.

Save on Drinks: Cheap Bars and Happy Hours

Vietnam is an incredibly affordable destination, but drinks can still add up if you’re not careful. Here are some tips to save on drinks in Vietnam:

Cheap Bars and Happy Hours

Vietnam has no shortage of cheap bars where you can grab a beer for under $1 USD. Look for “bia hoi” bars which serve fresh draft beer for pennies. Many bars also offer happy hour specials from 5 pm to 7 pm with 2-for-1 cocktails and half-price beers. Some recommended cheap bar areas are:

  • Bui Vien Street in Ho Chi Minh City has bars lining the street with plastic chairs and cheap beers.

  • Ta Hien Street in Hanoi’s Old Quarter, is filled with bia hoi bars and lively crowds.

Buy Alcohol at Stores

If you want to pre-game or continue the party back at your hotel, buy liquor and beer at local stores instead of bars. You can get a large bottle of beer for under $1 USD or a bottle of hard liquor for a few dollars. Some recommended brands that are easy to find are Saigon Beer, Hanoi Beer, and Dalat Wine.

Choose Non-Alcoholic Options

Don't feel like you have to drink alcohol to experience Vietnam's nightlife. Many bars also serve non-alcoholic drinks like fruit shakes, smoothies, sodas, and teas for under $1 USD. Some recommended options are:

  • Fresh sugar cane juice with lime - Refreshing and hydrating.

  • Avocado smoothie - Creamy and satisfying.

  • Chrysanthemum tea - Floral herbal tea that aids digestion.

  • Coconut water - All-natural hydrating drink straight from the coconut.

By avoiding pricey cocktail bars, taking advantage of happy hours, buying alcohol from stores instead of bars, and choosing cheap non-alcoholic alternatives, you can experience Vietnam's exciting nightlife without spending a fortune. The savings will allow you to extend your trip and enjoy more of what this fascinating country has to offer.

Travel in the Off-Season: When to Visit Vietnam on a Budget

The Rainy Season: May to October

Want to experience Vietnam on the ultimate shoestring budget? Visit during the rainy or “green” season from May to October. During these months, the crowds have dwindled, prices drop, and the countryside becomes vibrantly lush. The rains typically only last for short periods in the afternoon and evening, so you’ll still have plenty of time to explore.

Pack a light rain jacket, bring an umbrella, and don’t let a little drizzle deter you. This is the best time to hit the beach without battling the crowds. Resorts often slash their rates by up to 50% during these months. You’ll have the white sand beaches and turquoise waters practically to yourself—a perfect opportunity for rest and relaxation on the cheap.

The rains also bring lower prices for activities like sailing in Ha Long Bay or exploring the Mekong Delta. Boat tours and cycling excursions offer deep discounts to attract visitors. Take advantage of more budget-friendly tours to experience the natural scenery at its most vibrant.

In cities like Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Hoi An, room rates are considerably lower in the green season. You may be able to find lodging for under $20 per night, especially if you’re willing to forego air conditioning. Spend less on your room and more on delicious street food and shopping at local markets.

The summer rains bring blooming flowers and lush rice paddies, adding to the vibrant scenery. Photographers will appreciate the moody skies and saturated colors. The countryside comes alive, waterfalls flow heavily, and parks become a sea of green. Despite the rainfall, Vietnam maintains its charm during the off-season. With thinner crowds and lower prices, this can be an ideal time for budget travelers to visit. Don’t let a little rain stop you from an amazing—and affordable—adventure. We have an article that covers the best time to visit Vietnam, don't forget to check it out.