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How To Explore Vietnam On A Tight Budget in 2024

Are you planning your next trip to Vietnam? If you do, then what's stopping you? Let's unroll this guide to plan your trip on a budget!

Did you know that Vietnam is on its way to becoming a top destination for tourists worldwide? In the first seven months of 2023, Vietnam received 6.6 million visitors. In July 2023, the country attracted over 1,038 million international tourists, a 6.5% increase over June. If you plan to explore Vietnam on a budget, now is the perfect time. This is a place where you can enjoy delicious street food, stay in comfortable yet affordable places, and see stunning sights without draining your wallet.

Tracing the Tumultuous History of Vietnam

Talking about Vietnam's history is as fascinating as it is complex. It is marked by dynasties, wars, and a resilient spirit that shines through its people and culture. From the serene rice terraces of Sapa to the chaotic charm of Ho Chi Minh City, each destination tells a story of survival, revival, and incredible beauty.

Why Should Tourists Visit?

Because it is not just a destination; it's an experience. It's about tasting the bold flavours of pho, feeling the silk of traditional Ao Dai, and hearing the melody of the Vietnamese language. It's about discovering how much you can experience with so little.

Read More : Best Tourist Places To Visit In Vietnam

Best Time to Visit Vietnam 2024

The ideal time to explore this exciting country is during its dry season, from November to April. During these months, the weather is pleasant with minimal rainfall, perfect for outdoor activities and sightseeing. For budget travellers, the most cost-effective way to reach Vietnam is by booking flights well in advance and considering flights with layovers, which are often cheaper than direct flights. Landing in major cities like Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi can provide more affordable options.

Let's widen our eyes to this insightful guide on ‘how to budget for a Vietnam trip’!

Top Tips to Explore Vietnam on a Tight Budget

Here's a quick guide to help you travel through Vietnam without spending too much money. This table shows you how to save, where to stay, what to eat, and how to get around.

Check it out for simple tips to make your trip fun and affordable!

*Don't forget to check the detailed explanations below the table*

Budget TipDescriptionTravel Tip
Time Your Trip RightTravel during shoulder seasons for lower prices.Visit Hanoi in April or September
Fly into Ho Chi Minh CityCheaper flights compared to Hanoi.Book flights to Ho Chi Minh City
Cross Borders OverlandUse land crossings from neighbouring countries.Enter from Cambodia at Moc Bai
Avoid Big CitiesSpend less time in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.Stay longer in smaller towns
Use Open Tour BusesAffordable and convenient for long distances.Take a bus from HCMC to Nha Trang.
Travel OvernightSave on accommodation by taking night buses or trains.Overnight train from Hanoi to Hue
Stay in HostelsBudget-friendly and social lodging options.Book a dorm bed in Hanoi’s Old Quarter
Opt for HomestaysExperience local life and save money.Stay in a Sapa village homestay
Eat Street FoodEnjoy cheap, delicious local cuisine.Try pho or banh mi in any street corner
Order Food via AppsOften cheaper than restaurant dining.Use Grab Food in Ho Chi Minh City
Beware of Optional ExtrasAvoid paying for things you don’t need.Check if hotel water is free
Seek Out Cheaper AdventuresOpt for budget-friendly activities.Rent a bike in Hoi An
Prioritise Free SightsVisit attractions that don’t charge entry fees.Explore the Old Quarter in Hanoi
Hone Your Bargaining SkillsNegotiate prices in markets and with street vendors.Bargain in Ben Thanh Market

Get more details here!

Time Your Trip Right

Understanding the best time to visit can significantly impact your budget travel tips for Vietnam. The country experiences different weather patterns, from the monsoon seasons to the dry months, affecting the climate and the cost of travel and accommodation.

Read More : Airports In Vietnam

  • Avoid Peak Seasons - The peak tourist seasons in Vietnam are during the winter months, from December to February, and summer from June to August. During these times, prices for flights, accommodations, and even some activities can skyrocket. Instead, aim for the shoulder seasons – March to May and September to November. During these periods, the weather is still pleasant, and prices drop considerably, making exploring Vietnam on a budget easier.
  • Festival Times - Be mindful of national holidays like Tet (Vietnamese New Year) when the country comes to a standstill and prices peak. While experiencing Tet can be a unique cultural experience, it requires advanced planning and can be more expensive.
  • Example - If you plan your visit in April, you'll miss the high prices of the Tet festival and the peak foreign tourist influx. In places like Hoi An or Da Nang, you can enjoy beautiful weather suitable for beach visits and outdoor activities without overcrowding, helping you save money on your Vietnam trip.
  • Weather Considerations - The weather varies significantly from north to south. While the north can be cold and misty during winter, the south remains warm and sunny. Planning your travel based on the region can lead to a more enjoyable and cost-effective trip. For instance, visiting the northern parts like Sapa in the shoulder season can offer pleasant weather for hiking without the high costs associated with peak seasons.

Read More : Famous Festival Of Vietnam

Stay in Hostels

Accommodation plays a significant role when it comes to affordable Vietnam travel options. Hostels in Vietnam are economical and hubs for meeting fellow travellers and exchanging tips and experiences.

  • Choosing the Right Hostel - Look for hostels in central locations to save on transport costs. Many hostels offer free breakfast, Wi-Fi, and even free walking tours, which can add value to your stay. Websites like Adotrip.com can help you choose the best option.
  • Social Aspect - Staying in a hostel can enrich your travel experience. You can meet like-minded budget travellers who might want to join you in exploring, thus sharing the costs of activities like renting a motorbike or booking a group tour. This social aspect can transform your trip and create lasting friendships.
  • Example - In Hanoi, the Old Quarter is filled with hostels that cater to every type of traveller, offering dorm beds for as low as $5-$10 per night.
  • Safety and Comfort - While budget is important, so is your comfort and safety. Check if lockers, 24-hour reception, and clean facilities are provided. Remember, a good night's sleep is invaluable when you're travelling.
  • Private Rooms - If you crave privacy but still want to keep costs low, many hostels offer private rooms at rates cheaper than hotels. This can be a great middle ground between a hotel's social atmosphere and a hotel room's privacy.

Eat Street Food

One of the joys of visiting Vietnam is the incredible variety of street food available at every corner, a cornerstone of budget-friendly activities in Vietnam.

  • Diverse Options - From the famous pho to the delightful banh mi, street food offers a taste of authentic Vietnamese cuisine without the high costs of dining in restaurants.
  • Where to Eat - Look for busy stalls and markets; a high turnover means the food is fresh and popular among locals. Districts known for street food, like District 1 in Ho Chi Minh City, offer many options.
  • Example - Sampling street food in Hanoi's Old Quarter fills your stomach and gives you a slice of local life, all for a few dollars. Trying different dishes like bun cha or egg coffee provides a delicious and affordable way to explore Vietnam on a budget.

Read More : Famous Food Of Vietnam

Travel Overnight

Overnight travel is a smart way to cut accommodation costs, fitting perfectly into the Vietnam trip cost breakdown.

  • Transport Options - Choose from sleeper buses or trains for long distances. This way, you save on a night's accommodation while covering the ground.
  • Comfort Levels - Look for options with reclining seats or beds to ensure a restful night. While not luxurious, they provide basic comfort and security.
  • Example - Taking a night train from Hanoi to Da Nang saves you the cost of a hotel and offers scenic views upon waking.

Use Open Tour Buses

Travelling by open tour buses is an excellent strategy for those looking to navigate Vietnam without overspending, aligning well with budget travel tips for Vietnam.

  • Flexibility and Cost - These buses offer the flexibility of hop-on hop-off service at various tourist destinations, making them a convenient and economical choice for long-distance travel.
  • Booking Tips - Compare different companies for the best deals and routes. Booking in advance can sometimes secure lower prices.
  • Example - A bus journey from Ho Chi Minh City to Nha Trang can be scenic and cost-effective, allowing you to see more of the country for less.

Opt for Homestays

Staying in local homestays is a great way to save money and really understand Vietnam's culture, making them perfect cheap places to stay in Vietnam for travellers.

  • Cost and Experience - Homestays usually offer lower prices than hotels and provide a more authentic living experience.
  • Cultural Exchange - You'll have the chance to live like a local, learn about Vietnamese customs, and enjoy homemade meals.
  • Example - In mountainous regions like Sapa, staying in a homestay can enrich your travel experience with cultural insights and home-cooked Vietnamese meals while keeping your expenses low.

Read More : Culture Of Vietnam

Beware of Optional Extras

Watching out for optional extras is crucial when maintaining a budget for your Vietnam trip.

  • Understand What's Included - Always check what's included in the price of tours, meals, or accommodations to avoid paying for unwanted extras.
  • Ask Before Using - Inquire if items like bottled water or side dishes are charged in restaurants or hotels.
  • Example - When dining out, a dish might come with sides that look complimentary but are not. Asking beforehand can save unexpected costs on your bill.

Seek Out Cheaper Adventures

Finding budget-friendly activities is key to experiencing Vietnam's rich culture and natural beauty without overspending.

  • Local Adventures - Explore local markets, hike nature trails, or visit free historical sites instead of paying for expensive tours.
  • Rent a Bike - Cycling is an affordable way to see the countryside and is one of the budget-friendly activities in Vietnam.
  • Example - Renting a bicycle to explore the ancient town of Hoi An can be an inexpensive and memorable way to see the city's iconic lantern-lit streets and historic architecture.

Prioritise Free Sights