International Travel

Budget Breakdown: How Much My Vietnam Trip Cost

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Installment #4 of my Budget Breakdown series is here to detail what my Vietnam trip cost. This series is meant to help folks budget for their trips to various places around the world.

Like my Thailand trip cost breakdown, my Vietnam trip budget also reflects different types of travel budgets, from a backpacker budget to a more luxurious one.

Vietnam visa and flights

Hoi An Japanese Bridge

Citizens of a few select countries can visit Vietnam without a visa for various amounts of time. But if you’re not one of the lucky few on this list below, Vietnam will require a tourist visa for you.

CountryDuration of stay allowed without a visa
Belarus 15 days
Brunei14 days
Cambodia 30 days
Chile90 days
Denmark15 days
Finland15 days
France15 days
Germany15 days
Indonesia30 days
Italy15 days
Japan15 days
Kyrgyzstan30 days
Laos30 days
Malaysia30 days
Myanmar14 days
Norway15 days
Philippines21 days
Russia15 days
Singapore30 days
South Korea15 days
Spain15 days
Sweden15 days
Thailand30 days
United Kingdom15 days
hoi an vietnam lanterns

Types of Vietnam visas

If you’re from a country for which Vietnam requires a visa or if you’re from a visa-exempt country and hoping to stay longer than the visa-exempt period, you have up to 3 options:

  1. The regular visa that you can get at an embassy or consulate. I live within walking distance to a Vietnamese consulate so this was an option for me, but for most people, this is unlikely to be the easiest route. If you want to go this route but don’t want to travel to an embassy or consulate, there are plenty of travel agencies that will take care of this for you for a fee.
  2. The Vietnam visa on arrival. This is basically a preapproval that you can get online. It only works if you’re flying into one of Vietnam’s international airports, so it’s a no-go for land border crossings. The government doesn’t offer these directly though, so you do have to wade through a slew of online agencies to figure out which ones are actually legitimate.
  3. The Vietnam e-visa. If you’re a U.S. citizen and planning on staying in Vietnam for less than 30 days, the most convenient and cheapest option is the e-visa. The same applies to citizens of 79 other countries. Simply go to the government e-visa site and follow the instructions. The $25 visa is a single-entry one, but you can apply for another e-visa once you leave the country. That’s what I did between leaving Ho Chi Minh City and returning about three weeks later via Da Nang.
Vietnam e-visa
When your e-visa is approved, you’ll download a paper confirmation with a header like this. Make sure to bring a print copy of it to Vietnamese immigration and customs.

Flights to Vietnam

If you’re coming from outside of Asia, you’re most likely flying into one of these three airports:

  • Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital
  • Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City, aka Saigon
  • Da Nang International Airport, which is the entryway to central Vietnam treasures like Hue and Hoi An

Flights from the U.S. to Vietnam range from the high $400s when there’s a deal to $1,200+ during the holidays.

If you’re traveling to Vietnam from elsewhere in Asia, you can often find flights for less than $100 USD if you’re down to fly budget carriers such as AirAsia.

My daily travel budget in Vietnam

Okay, to the money matters now.

I spent 10 nights in southern Vietnam (Saigon and Phu Quoc Island) and 15 nights in various cities in central and northern Vietnam.

Here’s the total budget breakdown:

  • Food: 8,922,464.50 Vietnamese Dong (VND)
  • Lodging: 8,315,555.70 VND
  • Transportation: 853,000 VND
  • Entertainment/attractions/tickets: 830,000 VND
  • Misc (SIM card, laundry, etc): 5,273,000 VND

Total: 31,378,390.20 VND, or ~$1,380.33 USD for 25 days. That’s about $55.21 USD a day!

Of course, there’s a lot of nuance in this Vietnam trip budget.

One thing to call out is that I splurged a little — relative to my usual budget — and got some clothes tailored in Hoi An. If you remove the 2,830,000 VND I spent on that, the daily average comes down to ~$50.23 a day.

Let’s break all of that down further by the different types of budgets I was on.

My Son Vietnam

Traveling Vietnam on a backpacker’s budget

For 11 days, I was traveling on a backpacker’s budget apropos to my funemployment situation.

Here’s how my daily travel budget breaks down if you purely look at those days.

  • Food: 1,736,627 VND
  • Lodging: 1,117,431.70 VND (hostels all the way)
  • Transportation: 853,000 VND
  • Entertainment/attractions/tickets: 830,000 VND
  • Misc (SIM card, laundry, etc): 3,512,000 VND if you include the tailored clothes, or 682,000 VND if you don’t

Total: 8,049,058.70 VND, or ~$353.84 USD at the time. That’s about $32.17 a day.

Again, if you remove the custom-made clothes, it’s 5,219,058.70 VND, or $229.43 USD. In other words, approximately $20.86 a day.

Pro tip: When traveling solo in Vietnam, Grab bikes are the most budget-friendly way to get around town. Most of my Grab bike rides were less than $1 USD. And don’t you worry about where your bags will go. The motorbike drivers will always figure it out — even if the balancing job feels precarious to you!

Traveling Vietnam on a more luxurious budget

On the flip side, my travel budget increased significantly when I was traveling with my partner or friends from home. Those days included 5-star hotels, nice restaurants, and drinks out.

If you were to only look at my spending on those 14 days, my Vietnam travel costs would look very different. Here’s that breakdown:

  • Food: 7,185,837.50 VND
  • Lodging: 7,198,124 VND
  • Transportation: 1,332,000 VND
  • Entertainment/attractions/tickets: 5,852,370 VND (includes Halong Bay cruise transport)
  • Misc (spa days, meds, etc): 1,761,000 VND

Total: $23,329,331.50 VND or roughly $1,026.25. That’s approximately $73.30 per day — still pretty affordable considering I was eating in nice restaurants, imbibing in craft beers and cocktails, and staying in hotels instead of hostels.

phu quoc bungalow
Our adorable bungalow in Phu Quoc

Cost of things in Vietnam

To give you a better idea of what things cost in Vietnam — and to satisfy those who want more details than just daily budget amounts — here’s a list of how much various things cost. Prices are averages based on my experiences traveling in Vietnam.

  • A street food meal: 15,000-30,000 VND
  • A meal at an average restaurant: 70,000-250,000 VND
  • A meal at fancy restaurant: 400,000-1,000,000 VND
  • A night in a shared hostel dorm: 80,000-250,000 VND
  • A night in a mid-tier hotel: 450,000-1,500,000 VND
  • A night in a 5-star hotel: 3,000,000-6,000,000 VND

I hope this Vietnam budget breakdown is helpful to you as you plan your trip!

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Vietnam Travel Costs

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