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Backpacking Vietnam on a Budget

How to eat, drink, and explore in Vietnam on £20 a Day

By Kezia Joseph (Instagram: @kezia_joseph)

Backpacking across Southeast Asia can be a daunting task, especially when it comes to budgeting. Luckily Vietnam is a frugal traveler’s paradise. It’s actually pretty difficult to get through £20 a day. Here are my top tips for keeping it cheap while backpacking Vietnam!

 January 4, 2017 Backpacking Vietnam on a Budget

 

Vietnam Accommodation: £5

This one is obvious, but hostels are a backpacker’s best friend in Vietnam. A dorm room will cost you no more than £5 a night. If you need further convincing that you’re getting bang for your buck, beds usually come with free beer and, more importantly, free breakfast. If you’ve been traveling around the Far East, you may have come to assume that ‘free breakfast’ will be an unsatisfying slice of toast with jam. Not in Vietnam! Here, hostels usually offer a variety of options, from banana pancakes to fried eggs, to fill you up for the busy day ahead.

The main backpacker hostels in Vietnamese cities are usually all located in the city’s old quarter. Party hostels will advertise themselves as such, if that’s what you’re in the mood for.

TOP TIP: If you’re looking for a party atmosphere without the 24/7 EDM, head to party hostels around 10pm for a drink at their bar, then tag along on the inevitable free bar crawl starting at 11pm and ending in a club.

MAD MONKEY RECOMMENDS: Vietnam Backpacker Hostels. You can get a discount on your stay at any VBH if you’ve stayed at a Mad Monkey Hostel! Details found here.

 

Vietnam Accommodation: £5 - Backpacking Vietnam on a Budget

 

Eating in Vietnam: 30p+

Restaurants in Vietnam will charge you in excess of 100,000 dong (£3.50) for one main course. This might seem crazy cheap already. Remember, though, you are backpacking Vietnam on a budget and you are in a part of the world where food should cost you pennies, not pounds!

Vietnam is heaven for food lovers. Street food is the main event. One dish from a street stall will set you back 10,000 dong (30p). This allows you to sample a variety of foods for the price of one restaurant meal. Check out my separate post on the Vietnamese foods every backpacker must try!

TOP TIP: For those wary of catching food poisoning, boiled dishes such as Pho are a safe bet. So is anything deep-fried or barbecued in front of you. Banh Mi can be risky if it contains pate, but just ask for it without. I spent 16 days living off of street food in Vietnam with no problems. What finally did give me food poisoning was some western food in Cambodia!

 

Eating in Vietnam: 30p+ - Backpacking Vietnam on a Budget

 

Drinking in Vietnam: 18p+

You won’t have an issue with expensive drinks in Vietnam as long as you stay away from the imported stuff. Sure, Smirnoff might only be £3-£4 for a double, but when local spirits are 50p it’s a no-brainer. Most of your hangovers however will no doubt be from of bia hoi: a local unpasteurised beer that sells for 5,000 dong (18p) a pint. Bia hoi is made to be drunk on the same day and lacks the bitter aftertaste that puts many off beer. You will find it in bars, but it’s also sold on the street – usually feet away from the expensive bars.

 

Drinking in Vietnam: 18p+

 

Vietnam Activities: £5 and under (maybe even free!)

There will also be many local activities you can do for free, or a very small price:

  • Every city you visit will be running some kind of free tour, you just have to look for it. Many local universities run free student tours, where students get to practice their English while giving you a very knowledgeable tour of their hometown. I went on a few of these, and in many cases the students refused any kind of tip so I made do by buying them drinks and food throughout the tour.
  • Tickets for the amazing Hanoi Water Puppet Theatre only cost £5 when purchased in person on the day of the show.
  • Entrance to the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City costs 15,000 dong, or about 54p. This museum is depressing, but gives an excellent insight into the Vietnam War, which before my visit I knew very little about.
  • If you’re thinking of doing a Vietnamese cooking class at some point, Hoi An is the place to do it. Some restaurants hold workshops for as little as £5.

Some activities in Vietnam cost more, but they’re worth the splurge. There’s a whole host of adventures that I’d recommend saving your money for. From Ha Long Bay to Phong Nha, there are caves to be explored and rivers to zipline across. These tours won’t bankrupt your holiday, but you can offset the higher costs by backpacking Vietnam on a tight budget most days. Keeping your general cost of living low will make the adrenaline rush all the more rewarding!

 

 

More Tips for Backpacking Vietnam on a Budget

If Kezia’s advice got you thinking about your budget for backpacking Vietnam, here are some more resources to help you plan. We only recommend blogs and influencers that we trust and read often. These guys will help you save your money to make the most of your Vietnam trip:

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About the Author

Mad Monkey is Southeast Asia’s leading hostel operator — born in Cambodia with more properties in Thailand, Indonesia, Australia, Laos, and the Philippines. We pride ourselves in creating meaningful and sustainable travel experiences for our guests, whilst promoting socially responsible tourism.