Vietnam is one of the most visited destinations in Southeast Asia, and for good reason. Delicious food, a rich history, and stunning scenery all add to its allure. But how much does it cost to go to Vietnam? You may be surprised at how inexpensive it can be.
For the purpose of this article, I am going to suggest a two-week itinerary to see the highlights of Vietnam. This sample itinerary can start or end in either Ho Chi Minh City or Hoi An and will include the following stops: Ho Chi Minh City, Hoi An, the Hai Van Pass, Hue, Hanoi, Sapa, and Halong Bay. Please note that this guide is based on the costs for a single person. If you are travelling as a couple, make sure to double these estimates (except for hotels).
|Food and drink||$280 ($20 X 14 days)|
The above estimate is in American Dollars, so please use XE.com to find out the average costs in your home country.
If you’re Canadian, you may want to consider applying for one of the best travel credit cards in Canada to help offset your costs by collecting points. For example, the American Gold Rewards Card gives you a signup bonus of up to 30,000 American Express Membership Rewards points which have a minimum value of $300 (potentially more if you transfer your points to Aeroplan or Marriott Bonvoy). There’s also the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite card that has no foreign transaction fees, a sign up bonus worth $250 and it comes with airport lounge access.
International airfare will likely be the most expensive part of your trip. Vietnam is quite far from North America and the costs can be quite high. To get the best deal, start shopping in advance and avoid the main holiday season. With that in mind, I have estimated international airfare to cost approximately $800 per person, though travellers from the west coast of North America can expect to pay less.
Ho Chi Minh City will probably be the cheapest to fly into, but don’t forget to check flights to Hanoi as well. It may also be worth seeing if you can fly into one and out of the other to save you the time of having to backtrack to your starting destination.
Accommodations in Vietnam can range from a couple bucks a night for a backpacker hostel to a few hundred for a luxury hotel. This is one of the areas where it’s really easy to save or, if you feel like it, splurge a little. For the sake of this article, I have estimated accommodation costs based on a mid-range hotel. For two weeks in Vietnam (assuming you are flying rather than relying on the overnight buses), you can expect to pay about $550.
If you are looking for recommendations, I suggest the following:
Ho Chi Minh City
- Hostel: City Backpackers Hostel or Long Hostel
- Mid-range: Aristo Saigon Hotel or Central Palace Hotel
- Luxury: Alagon Zen Hotel and Bar or The Reverie Saigon
- Hostel: Tribee Kinh or Leo Leo Hoi An
- Midrange: Green Heaven Hoi An Resort and Spa or Little Beach Hoi An Boutique & Spa
- Luxury: Lantana Hoi An Boutique Hotel and Spa or Hoi An Odyssey Hotel
- Hostel: Freedom Hostel or Sunshine Hostel Hue
- Midrange: Moonlight Hotel Hue or Midtown Hotel Hue
- Luxury: Indochine Palace or Imperial Hue Hotel
- Hostel: See You at Lily’s or Golden Time Hostel
- Midrange: My Moon Hotel Hanoi or Hanoi Antique Legend Hotel
- Luxury: The Lapis Hotel or Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi
- Hostel: Venus Sapa Hostel or Mountain Clouds Sapa Hostel
- Midrange: Phuong Nam Hotel or Eden Boutique Hotel Sapa
- Luxury: Azure Sapa Hotel or Silk Path Grand Resort and Spa Sapa
If you have the right credit card, you can save a fair amount of money on hotels. For example, Canadians should consider the BMO World Elite Mastercard since it typically has a sign up bonus of $250 when you charge $3,000 to your card in the first three months of card membership. This card does have an annual fee of $150 but it’s normally waived for the first year so you’re getting $250 for free. There’s also the Marriott Bonvoy American Express which gives you 51,000 Marriott Bonvoy points when you charge $3,000 to your card in the first three months. That’s enough points for up to five free nights at some hotels which could easily have a value of over $650.
Getting around Vietnam is a bit of an adventure. In the cities, I suggest walking as much as possible as the transit systems (if available) can be confusing. If you do take a taxi, remember to set a price ahead of time or you will be taken advantage of. You can also use car services such as Uber or Grab Car in parts of Vietnam.
In terms of getting around the country, you have a few options. Buses are the cheapest option and you sometimes have an overnight route option which takes care of both transportation and accommodation. However, the buses in Vietnam are not always the safest and can be pretty stressful. More than one traveller has had to get off early because they have felt unsafe or unwell.
For this reason, I suggest flying to get to the main cities when possible. So, Ho Chi Minh City to Hue (Danang Airport), Hue to Hanoi, then Hanoi back to Ho Chi Minh City for your return flight (or vice versa if you are starting and ending in Hanoi). Flights within Vietnam are quite affordable with some planning. If you book well in advance you can get one-way tickets between these cities for $50 or less.
To get to Sapa you will need to take either an overnight train or a bus from Hanoi. I suggest the train as it is a little safer, but it is more expensive and you also need to take a shuttle bus for the last leg (about 1 hour). A roundtrip ticket with a sleeping berth shouldn’t cost you more than $100 (this includes buying the mini-bus ticket when you arrive).
Getting to and from Halong Bay will be included in the price of the Halong Bay cruise that I have included in the itinerary.
Vietnam has plenty to see and do but what you end up deciding on really depends on your interests. I always recommend buying your tickets and tours in advance through Klook as you can often save a bit of money and skip the lines. Here are a few must-see attractions which are absolutely worth your money.
- The War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh city really is a must and is only a couple of dollars.
- The Hai Van Pass from Hoi An to Hue is an incredibly scenic drive and can be done by motorbike (you can rent or use an easy rider program) or you can hire a private car.
- The tombs in Hue are very impressive and are worth taking a day trip to see a few.
- Full day excursion to the Mekong Delta
- Ba Na Hills in Da Nang
- Cu Chi Tunnels half day tour
Finally, I highly recommend taking a Halong Bay cruise. Halong Bay is truly magnificent and is worth spending the money on a two-night cruise to really experience it and escape some of the crowds. Cruise costs include all food, transportation to and from Hanoi, accommodation, and some additional activities such as kayaking. There are a number of different cruise companies offering different activities and different levels of comfort. I personally recommend spending a bit more on these cruises as you really do get what you pay for.
I’d say these are the basics but would also add an extra $100 or so for any museums, tours, or shows you may be interested in.
Food and drink
The cuisine in Vietnam is the highlight for many. The food is delicious, changes across the country, and is incredibly affordable. No matter your travel style, the best way to eat in Vietnam is to take advantage of the street food- which has the added bonus of being the cheapest option as well. However, I also recognize that for some meals, especially dinners, a proper sit-down option is nice as well. With that in mind, I suggest budgeting for street food type food for breakfast and lunch, and spending a bit more for dinner which means your costs will look something like this:
- Breakfast – $2
- Lunch – $4
- Dinner – $12
Please note that you cannot drink the tap water in Vietnam so will also have to budget an extra couple of dollars per day for drinking water. So, I’d estimate about $20 per day for all of your meals and drinking water. This can easily be dropped if you stick with just street food, or increased for those who would prefer to eat in cafes and restaurants.
It’s also worth noting that there are many food tours available in Ho Chi Minh City which are worth splurging on.
When it comes to random spending in Vietnam you don’t need much money. I’d say an extra $100 is more than enough for some small souvenirs or snacks and drinks. However, Hoi An is known for its custom tailored clothing, so if that is on your list to do you will likely want to add a couple hundred more depending on what you are hoping to get made.
Insider tip: If you want custom clothing, allow for at least three days in Hoi An and visit the tailor first thing to get started. They work quickly, but you also want to make sure you give them adequate time for fittings. For a reliable, quality, and ethical tailor I recommend BeBe tailors.
If you’re Canadian, you may want to consider applying for one of the best travel credit cards in Canada to help offset your costs by collecting points.
So, how much does it cost to go to Vietnam? For a two-week trip would estimate costs to be about $2,530 per person based on my suggestions and itinerary as indicated above.
Vietnam is an amazing country and one of the most affordable places for budget travellers. I’ve aimed this itinerary at the sort of mid-range traveller who keeps an eye on their wallet but also values comfort. That being said, using some of my tips in this article, you can further reduce these estimated costs even more. Check out other travel guides including Southeast Asia, Dubai, Jordan, Disneyland, Tokyo, Europe, Rome and Ireland.