Compared to many countries, the cost of living in Vietnam is very cheap. However, to save the budget to visit many places in Vietnam or visit more neighboring countries like Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand, we need to save money. I really like the Vietnamese scenery and people, so I have come here many times and often stayed for a long time, sometimes up to 3 months. I want to share with you Top 10 tips to save money while traveling in Vietnam.
Read more about The ultimate guide to Vietnamese currency
1. Traveling by Grab in the city
In recent years, domestic and foreign tourists have often traveled by means of Grab (Grap Bike or Grap Car) in the cities. The moving costs of this type are very low. In addition, this way ensures security, avoid scams and robbery on the road.
2. Sleeping on the overnight bus
If you are traveling extensively through Vietnam, you will almost certainly be making some long journeys. Save on a hostel by taking these journeys at night. This is not a guaranteed good night’s sleep, but you can always spend the next day dozing at the beach or taking it easy wandering around your next destination.
3. Visiting locations with no fees
Vietnam has many of the most spectacular temples and landscapes in the world. Some attractions do not have an admission fee, such as Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum (Hanoi), Notre Dame Cathedral (Ho Chi Minh City) and Saigon Central Post Office. You can look on google, or ask professional tour guides for information on costs to plan your sightseeing trip.
4. The cheap way of going sightseeing
Exploring an area on your own can be a lot cheaper than paying for an organized tour – renting a bike is extremely cheap (bike rental in Hoi An costs just $1 a day!), and local buses between cities and towns cost next to nothing. A lot of Vietnamese cities are also very walkable (Hanoi in particular), and are full of free temples and museums. Pick up a map from your hostel and take yourself on a walking tour around the city.
5. Learning about the tourist area “Backpacker”
The backpacker resorts are great for saving money in Vietnam because you can find anything you want without having to pay exorbitant prices for it. Located along pedestrian-friendly streets, these areas have vibrant bars, street food stalls, street markets and a multitude of travel agencies, motels and hotels.
A typical example of the backpacker area in Vietnam is Pham Ngu Lao street in Ho Chi Minh City. Located in the city center, within a 10-minute walk from Ben Thanh Market and Ho Chi Minh Museum of Fine Arts, thus saving extra cash on public transport.
6. Staying at Motels
The motels in Vietnam are cheaper than the hotels and contrary to what you think, many motels are not bad. Today, the motels are quite clean and beautiful, even some motels are not less than hotels.
7. Eating local food
In recent years, Vietnam has become a very popular tourist destination, so there are a lot of restaurants and hostels serve Western food (at Western prices!). However, in order to save money, you can eat at street food stalls. The food here is cheap, delicious, and cooked in front of you! Eating at street food stalls is a way through the many different kinds of Vietnamese dishes. For example, Pho is a Vietnamese special one, but the cost is just under $2 (£1.23) a bowl, and rice dishes are similarly priced. Local restaurants are generally only marginally more expensive, charging under $5 (around £3) for similar dishes.
In addition, if you want a truly authentic Vietnamese dining experience, I suggest having a peek at Withlocals. It’s a website that connects local hosts with hungry travelers. Each host offers a different package, and experiences range from eating a meal with a local family to being taught how to cook the dishes yourself. Prices range from $5-50, but also bear in mind that some of the hosts are offering activities as well as a hearty party!
8. Using a local phone SIM
Use a local phone SIM. 3G service is more flexible than Wifi. It can be connected from anywhere depending on your needs.
9. Bargaining before buying an item
With the exception of the supermarkets, the shops or the street vendors in Vietnam often say the price higher than the real price of the item, especially for foreign tourists. Therefore, before buying something, visitors should check the price online, and bargain with the seller. Feel free to do so, do not be afraid because you are allowed to do this in Vietnam. If the seller disagrees, say thanks and go away. The seller will call you and sell at the price you expect.
10. Being smart with your cash
There have been numerous reports of tourists having difficulty dealing with cash. One of the most common problems is that shop owners refuse to give tourists correct change. Pay with cash as close to exact change as possible. You would better exchange some change and bring with you in the case when using it.