Vietnam travel prices
In addition to being a fascinating country in its own right, Vietnam is becoming more popular with Western tourists partly because it's very cheap by international standards. In fact, Vietnam might be the cheapest country in the world unless you count the non-urban parts of India, and Vietnam is far more modern and cleaner than India as well.
For an excellent travel guide with very helpful hotel reviews you should check out Travelfish.org's Vietnam guide section. They have well organized and reliable advice plus an active and helpful forum community.
For prices in specific cities click on the links below:
Here's information on general travel costs in Vietnam:
Vietnam hotel prices
If someone were to tell you they stayed in a US$10 per night hotel room you might expect it was a dump and/or in a terrible location, but in Vietnam you can honestly get really nice rooms in central locations for that price. Hanoi, Saigon, and Sapa tend to be a bit more expensive than the others, but not by too much.
Vietnam hostels – There are a handful of actual hostels in Vietnam, mostly in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, and some of them have great reputations. But it's not a big industry since hotel prices in general are so low. In many cases you can get a private 1-star hotel room for less than a hostel bunk, though that's without all the community services.
1- and 2-star hotels – This is where the real bargains can be found. You can often get rooms starting around US$5 per night for a double, though spending US$10 per night makes sure you get Air-Con, a TV, a mini-fridge, and a decent bathroom. You'll also get a free toothbrush, use of plastic shower slippers, and sometimes small bottles of water.
Every Vietnamese tourist city has one or more clusters of cheap hotels where backpackers and budget foreign travelers go. Staying in these areas means you have constant access to restaurants and shops, but also constant offers from street vendors and motorcycle taxi drivers. Staying just outside these main areas can save some money and reduce daily hassles.
These cheaper hotels are almost always what they call “mini-hotels” which is usually a 5-story thin building with 2 rooms on each floor, and no elevator. If stairs are a problem then you'll probably need 3-star and above.
3-star hotels – Prices jump up quite a bit to this level, while quality doesn't necessarily follow. The reality is that many 2-star mini hotels are just as nice, and much cheaper. Expect to pay US$25 to US$60 per night for just a little more comfort. You will usually get elevators and a few other familiar things as well.
4- and 5-star hotels – Just as seems to be true around the world, if you want real luxury then prices don't change much from one country to the next. For a Marriott or Hilton or Intercontinental you'll be paying at least US$100 per night, and way up from there.
Food prices in Vietnam
Another highlight for most is the food in Vietnam, and prices mostly range from amazingly cheap to reasonable. A filling bowl of pho soup can be found for around $1 at street restaurants and a bit more at tourist restaurants. If you had a daily food budget of US$5 you would not go to bed hungry.
Spending $2 or $3 per meal gets you many of the cheaper local dishes at decent restaurants with English-language menus. Spending $5 on a meal is a splurge which usually gets you great quality at a place with nice ambience.
If you stay at a 3-star or above hotel you can probably expect to pay at least double if you dine in its own restaurant.
The now-trendy banh mi sandwiches are made different in every city. Prices range from about 30 cents to $1, with most somewhere in between.
Drink prices in Vietnam
Local beers are the best value of the alcoholic drinks. In many cities you can get the local draft beer called bia hoi for as little as 15 cents a glass, even at nicer restaurants. Bottled beers normally range between 75 cents and $1.25 each.
Cocktails are available at most restaurants, and are usually between $2 and $4 each. They make cheap local vodka that costs about $3 per bottle, and drinks using that stuff are often around $1 each.
Wine in Vietnam either means the barely drinkable Dalat wines starting around $3 per bottle, or imported wines starting around $8 per bottle. Restaurants obviously charge more than shops.
Attraction prices in Vietnam
More good news is that museums and attractions such as the War Remnants Museum and the Reunification Palace in Saigon, as well as the Hanoi Hilton prison in Hanoi, cost under $1 each for admission. One day this may change, but for now these cultural highlights are all amazingly cheap.
Tour prices in Vietnam
Many of the more interesting and famous sites in Vietnam are a bit outside the tourist cities, such as the DMZ near Hue or the My Son temples near Hoi An. Some choose to rent a motorbike and visit themselves, but most people book a half-day or full-day bus tour that picks you up right at your hotel. Half-day tours can range from $4 to $10, and full day tours from around $6 to $10. A few attractions are not included in this price, so some extra fees can be involved.
Halong Bay cruise prices
We cover this very extensively on our Halong Bay cruise page, but the short version is that most people choose a 2-day, 1-night cruise that includes transportation from and to Hanoi, and all meals and most activities. These prices are based on two people in a private cabin.
- One-star cruises: $30 to $40 per person
- Three-star cruises: $50 to $70 per person
- Five-star cruises: $100 per person and up
Transportion prices in Vietnam
Flights within Vietnam can be quite cheap if you book well in advance or get lucky on an unpopular flight. You can choose between Vietnam Airlines and Jetstar Airlines, and both have prices between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City starting around US$60 one way. Shorter flights are cheaper, of course, but in some cases you'll have to fly back to a hub on the way.
The train network is very popular and quite cheap by international standards. You can go all the way from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City in a first class soft sleeper cabin (the nicest ones on the normal trains) for around US$65, and it takes about a day and a half. Most people stop several times in between, and adding up those individual tickets only adds a bit more to the total price. For the best train information check out Seat 61 for Vietnam.
Buses are very common and popular among backpackers, but many complain about quality and safety issues. The huge Sinh Cafe chain operates buses that are popular with English speakers, including “sleeper buses” that go overnight between popular cities. Prices are usually between $5 and $10 to get between the main cities, and nice buses more aimed at the local market are also available.
Laundry prices in Vietnam
With so many backpackers and long-term travelers it's helpful that most budget hotels in Vietnam can do or arrange to have your laundry done for very little. They usually charge between $1 and $2 per kilogram, so a typical backpack can be washed, dried, and folded by someone for around $3 to $4 total.