Is Vietnam Expensive To Visit In 2024?

My answer to “Is Vietnam expensive?” is definitely no. I spent one month in Vietnam and it’s one of the cheapest countries I have ever visited.

Vietnam is a notoriously cheap country, and from my experience, it definitely lives up to its reputation.

But to help you get a better idea of how much to budget for your trip to Vietnam, I’ve put together a complete guide on Vietnam and how cheap/expensive it really is.

Is Vietnam Expensive?

The answer to “Is Vietnam expensive?” is no, it’s not expensive at all.

To give you an idea of just how inexpensive Vietnam is, I spent one month backpacking Vietnam and I spent just over 15 million dong. That’s equivalent to just over $600.

This included a 4 day Ha Giang Loop tour, quad biking in Mui Ne, a cruise of Ha Long Bay, lantern making in Hoi An and so many other amazing memories which I made.

Admittedly, I was travelling on a budget, so I was staying in hostels, eating street food and taking below-par buses, but even if you travel with a luxurious lifestyle, you will still find Vietnam really cheap.

In most people’s cases, travelling in Vietnam is cheaper than staying at home and paying the bills.

A smiling man stands on a balcony with a mountainous backdrop in Ha Giang, Vietnam, capturing the scenic beauty and tranquil landscape of the northern highlands.

But don’t just take my word for it – Vietnam is ranked as one of the cheapest countries to visit in the whole world.

You can do so many incredible things in Vietnam without breaking the bank. For example, I took a cruise of the world-famous Ha Long Bay for $24, which is an absolute bargain.

Prices in Vietnam do vary depending on where you are, but it’s marginal differences. As an example, a 1.5L bottle of water could cost from 8,000 dong to 20,000. In dollars, that’s 32 cents to 80 cents, so it’s really not that big of a deal.

You should also be careful of scams in Vietnam. The locals take any opportunity they can to make a quick buck. Some common scams include the motorbike scam where they claim you have damaged a bike when renting it, and the classic shoe shining scam.

A tourist posing in front of the multi-tiered, cascading Datanla Waterfall in Dalat, Vietnam, surrounded by lush greenery, offering a glimpse into the country's natural attractions.

Tourists in Vietnam are also charged a lot more than locals in most cases. It can get out of hand in some scenarios, but I don’t mind it in the everyday way of life. I remember in Hoi An I paid 30k dong for a Vietnamese pizza, and the locals got charged 10k dong.

But since the values are so small in Western currencies, I don’t mind paying extra to help the locals out. Remember, that because it is cheap to visit, it means that the locals don’t always live the best of lives, so anything you can do to help, I would encourage it.

On a related note, tipping isn’t mandatory in Vietnam, but it’s a nice gesture to show your appreciation. Again, $1 is a big value in Vietnam, so it’s more than enough for a tip.

So to summarise, no, Vietnam is not expensive. You can have the best time of your life without spending a fortune.

A young man smiles atop an ATV in a desert setting, with sand dunes stretching behind him and wind turbines in the distance, highlighting adventure tourism

Is Vietnam Cheap?

Yes, Vietnam is very cheap to visit. It’s even cheaper than I thought it would be – and I thought it would be cheap.

There’s a reason that Vietnam is one of the best countries for backpacking and that’s because of how cheap it is.

Your money simply goes further than it will at home, but I suppose it is also relative. If you’re from a country with a strong currency like the US or the UK, then you’ll find Vietnam cheap. But if you’re from a country with a similar currency like Thailand or India, then you might not find it just as cheap.

Vietnamese currency notes spread out, showing various denominations of dong, the colorful money illustrating the country's economy and culture.

During my month in Vietnam, it worked out that I spent around $20 each day. That’s ridiculously cheap considering all of the things I did.

As I said earlier, I can travel and have fun in Vietnam for cheaper than it would cost to simply live in a house at home. Even things like eSIMs in Vietnam are cheaper than my phone bills at home.

To give you an idea of just how cheap Vietnam is, I spent 25,000 dong ($1) on this delicious local dish. I’m not sure what it’s called as the owner didn’t speak English but it was tasty!

A close-up of a traditional Vietnamese dish consisting of crispy toppings and sautéed proteins served over rice, garnished with fresh cucumber slices and a side of chili sauce, reflecting the country's rich culinary traditions.

Why Is Vietnam So Cheap?

Vietnam is so cheap for the same reasons that Thailand is cheap and the biggest reason is because the cost of living is lower.

  • Low Cost of Living: The overall cost of living in Vietnam is quite low compared to many Western countries. Everyday expenses such as groceries, transportation, and basic services are available at a fraction of what you might be used to.
  • Affordable Street Food: You can enjoy delicious and authentic meals from street vendors for just a couple of dollars. Vietnamese cuisine is not only tasty but also incredibly economical, offering great value for money.
  • Agricultural Richness: As a major producer of rice, coffee, and seafood, Vietnam enjoys an abundance of fresh, affordable food which keeps dining costs low for both locals and tourists.
  • Local Markets and Bargaining: Shopping at local markets not only gives you a taste of Vietnamese culture but also allows you to bargain for goods, from clothes to souvenirs, at lower prices than fixed-price outlets.
  • Exchange Rates: For many visitors, particularly those from countries with strong currencies, the exchange rate is favourable when converting to Vietnamese Dong, meaning your money will go further than at home.
The bustling atmosphere of Dam Market in Nha Trang, Vietnam, showcasing a local outdoor market with food stalls, motorcycles, and shoppers under the shade of large umbrellas and tarpaulins, juxtaposed against residential apartments.

How Much Is Accommodation In Vietnam?

Accommodation in Vietnam is incredibly cheap – it’s one of the biggest differences between Western prices vs the prices in Vietnam.

I was travelling in Vietnam on a budget, so I stayed in hostels most of the time, and these cost me as little as $3.50 a night. That’s insanely cheap!

Before I stayed in hostels in Southeast Asia, I thought the quality would be lower than the hostels in Europe, but the truth is, the quality of the hostels is even better than most in Europe.

A simple hostel dormitory room with bunk beds, backpacks, and towels, illustrating budget travel accommodations.

I also stayed in private rooms a few times, and the cheapest I found was for $7.50 a night in Nha Trang. That’s actually unbelievable if you ask me. It means if you are backpacking as a couple, you may as well stay in a private room rather than a hostel dorm.

Since it’s so cheap, you can also stay in really luxurious and high-end hotels for a fraction of the price. I personally didn’t as I wanted to keep my costs down as much as possible, but you can stay in a 5* hotel for as low as $50 a night. Imagine how much that would cost a home.

How Much Are Tourist Attractions In Vietnam?

The cost of things to do in Vietnam varies depending on how popular the attraction is. For example, a Ha Long Bay Cruise is a lot more expensive than a Lan Ha Bay Cruise, despite being almost identical.

You can find some things for really cheap such as a lantern-making class in Hoi An for 200k dong ($8) but you can also find things which are more expensive such as a Ha Giang Loop Tour which costs around 4.8 million dong ($190).

A smiling man sits in front of a vibrant display of colorful lanterns in Hoi An, Vietnam, crafting a lantern with bamboo frames, representing the local artisan culture.

Things balance themselves out pretty well. For every expensive thing I did, I did 3 or 4 cheap things.

There are also so many amazing free things to do throughout Vietnam such as going for a hike, relaxing on the beach or swimming in stunning lakes and rivers.

How Much Is Food In Vietnam?

Food in Vietnam is also very cheap. The prices are very similar to those in Thailand. To be honest, I was expecting everything to be cheaper in Vietnam than in Thailand, but food was one area where prices were pretty much the same.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s still super cheap. I was having dinner every night for less than $2 – that’s the price of a packet of sweets or candy at home for me.

I usually stuck to the cheapest meals possible such as chicken fried rice, for example, which was usually around 45k dong.

A plate of Vietnamese fried rice, a colorful and flavorful dish garnished with cucumber slices and accompanied by a lime wedge and a small bowl of sauce, representing a common street food meal.

If you want to eat fancier food, you definitely can, and for a good price. You can get oysters and other luxurious dishes for a reasonable price in Vietnam.

As I said earlier, the price of things can vary depending on where you are, and I used the prices of a bottle of water as an example.

How Much Is Transport In Vietnam?

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The price of transport in Vietnam varies. For short journeys such as within a city, it’s really cheap as there is no Uber in Vietnam, but there is Grab which is so convenient and well-priced, especially if you get bikes instead of cars like I did.

Passenger enjoying a motorcycle ride with a Grab driver in Vietnam, reflecting affordable and convenient transportation options in the city

For longer distances between destinations, it can either be really cheap or quite expensive (by Vietnam’s standards).

As two examples from my month in the country, the bus from Mui Ne to Da Lat which is about 3.5 hours cost $10, but a train from Nha Trang to Da Nang cost me nearly $30.

So even on the more expensive end, it’s still cheap in reality. I recommend using 12Go as it shows you all the different price options available.

A modern blue passenger bus parked on a sunny street in Vietnam, showcasing comfortable and cost-effective long-distance travel options.

And yes, it is very much a case of “you get what you pay for” when it comes to transport. Sometimes it’s worth paying a few extra dollars for the added comfort, especially for long journeys.

FAQs

Below are some common questions related to “Is Vietnam expensive?” along with my answers to each question.

How much does a meal cost in Vietnam?

You can find a meal in Vietnam for as low as 30k dong, which is equivalent to $1.20. The likes of pho are usually the cheapest meal options. You can also find seafood for really cheap in Vietnam, with oysters in particular costing a fraction of the price as the West.

Is Vietnam the cheapest country in the world to visit?

Vietnam is often considered one of the cheapest countries in the world to visit. I spent one month in Vietnam travelling on a budget and I spent around $20 per day. It’s cheaper to travel in Vietnam than to stay at home and pay bills.

How much is a beer in Vietnam?

A beer in Vietnam usually costs around 20,000 dong in a bar for a pint of draft beer. That’s equivalent to $0.80, so it’s incredibly cheap to buy beer in Vietnam. From shops, bottles of beer usually cost 15,000 dong, which is even less.

Is 500 dollars a lot in Vietnam?

Yes, 500 dollars is a lot in Vietnam. Budget travellers can easily make 500 dollars stretch for 2 or 3 weeks. If you travel with a bit more luxury, then it’s enough for 1 or 2 weeks. But Vietnam is very cheap and 500 dollars will go a long way.

Final Thoughts

And there you have it, a complete guide to “Is Vietnam expensive?”

The answer is no, Vietnam is extremely cheap to visit. I can’t believe how much I did in one month and how little everything cost.

Now that you know everything about travelling in Vietnam on a budget, I recommend backpacking Thailand afterwards. It’s the perfect next destination.