Vietnam Travel Budget
From the Mekong Delta in the south to the mountains in the north, from the urban hubs of Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi to world-famous Halong Bay, Vietnam is a country of diversity. Go prepared to bargain and use your street smarts, especially in the cities. Keep and open mind, and don’t shy away from the chance to sit on a plastic mini stool and eat some amazing food or take a ride on a motorbike! Gorgeous landscapes will surround you, and a new adventure is around every corner.
We purchased our visa for Vietnam while we were in Battambang, Cambodia. The cost for the 30-day Visa was $40, and the process was very straightforward. After being let in to the waiting room, we filled out and handed in the forms we were given, along with a passport photo. (It’s always good to travel with a number of these.) We returned late in the afternoon, as requested, and the visas were ready for us. Your Vietnam travel budget will more than likely include a visa of some kind.
Oh, the joys of pho, bun and bahn mi. While these typical dishes are available everywhere, and super cheap, be sure to branch out and try some of the less common dishes. We were terrible about remembering the names of what we ate, if we ever heard them at all. Every city has a specialty, and street food in Hanoi cannot be beat. In Hue, the obvious choice is Bún bò Huế, a rice vermicelli soup with lemongrass and beef and special spices from the region. I haven’t made it at home yet, but this recipe looks GOOD. Or how about Bún Cha Giò Thit Heo Nuong: those same noodles, minus the broth, with pork and eggroll pieces, served room temp. So tasty. Cau Lau or the famous White Rose dumplings are on most menus in Hoi An. I can’t even begin to discuss snacks and coffee without getting hungry for some!! The topic of Vietnamese food is best left for a post all its own, but suffice it to say you’ll live to spend your money in this category, and you won’t break the budget doing so.
Don’t get too worked up about booking ahead here, unless there is a big festival going on. Nearly every city we visited had an area stuffed with hotels and guesthouses. Don’t settle on the first one you look at, unless you are super tired of lugging your gear. There are plenty of options for any budget, and all rates are negotiable depending on length of stay and your bargaining skills.
Be sure to do your homework and shop around before signing on to a tour or day-trip. Ask other travelers what companies they’ve used and if they enjoyed their excursion. One specific activity that we found particularly difficult was Halong Bay. There are literally a hundred different “tour operators”. There are many different levels of boat and comfort level depending on your budget. We opted for a day cruise ending with being dropped at the docks on Cat Ba Island. This worked for us but make sure you know all the details as this could end up being a bit of a disappointment if Halong is a major reason you’ve decided to visit Vietnam.