Vietnam is known for many things: its ao dai, its pho, the three teachings, its monsoon seasons. What’s certain is that it is an incredible place to travel to, with a rich history and majestic landscapes to explore.
Once you’ve sorted out the more costly travel to Vietnam, the country itself is inherently affordable. Indeed, The Secret Traveller at 1Cover listed Vietnam on their list of 7 countries to travel to for a cheaper holiday. Here, we’re going to take a closer look at how you can get the most out of Vietnam on a budget.
1. Keep internal travel costs down
You’ve booked your flight, and you’ve made it to Vietnam, but now you want to explore multiple cities around this incredible destination, what’s the best way? Well, perhaps the most archetypal image of Vietnam travel is the xe om, which translates to “hug taxi”. Many motorbike drivers pick up tourists from street corners and give them lifts, winding through the busy city streets. They are, of course, named the hug taxi since it’s a good idea to hold on to your driver whilst perching on the back of his bike! A xe om will generally cost you less than a traditional taxi cab, particularly if you can haggle with the price.
A slightly less bumpy alternative for cheap travel around the country is an open tour bus. Open tour buses are absolutely ideal for longer-distance travel, all the while keeping costs down. Open tour buses are an incredibly popular way of getting around as you are able to stop at famous destinations during the journey you have paid for. The journey itself is also great value for money – for instance, a 9-hour trip from northeast Saigon to Nha Trang will only set you back $12.
Look for cheap bus tickets here:
2. Visit exciting free destinations
Many of Vietnam’s attractions will require an entrance fee and are still definitely worth experiencing. The Củ Chi tunnels, for example, in Ho Chi Minh City (aka Saigon), were the location of military campaigns during the Vietnam War and are part of a more extensive underground tunnel network running throughout the country.
However, many breathtaking spots in Vietnam are entirely free to enter, such as its many temples. Despite officially being an atheist country, many of Vietnam’s citizens are religious, and the nation has a long history with the three teachings, or “tam giáo”: Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism. This has led to the creation of numerous impressive religious sites, including the Buddhist Keo Pagoda temple in the Thai Binh Province. Keo Pagoda is free to enter and attracts 30,000 visitors a year hosting the Annual Autumn Festival – a great time to join the festivities, and it’s accessible by bus from Hanoi! Moving south, the Mariamman Hindu Temple is the sole sacred Hindu temple in Saigon, built in the late 19th century by traders from India. The temple’s main features are its various statues of Mariamman, the Hindu goddess. Visitors of the Mariamman Temple are said to be granted luck and wealth during their visit (so it’s ideal for the budget!).
Details of the Mariamman Hindu Temple’s structures
Another great way to learn from the locals while exploring Vietnam is to join a free walking tour. There are many of these in Ho Chi Minh City, and you may just need to set some cash aside for entrance fees to different spots on the tour. Be sure to bring along sunscreen and a hat for your day walking around in the sun, particularly if you’re visiting in the hotter months, which vary by region!
3. Opt for cheap accommodation
Like much of the region, Vietnam is considerably more affordable than most of Europe. There are many guesthouses and hotel rooms available, converted from tall, narrow city houses, but these can rise to $25 per night. So, it is obviously all about finding that balance between comfort and not blowing your budget. Our top tip for the ultimate cheap accommodation, however, is couch surfing. The benefit of couch surfing? It’s completely free! This is a big win for not only meeting Vietnamese locals, learning the culture first-hand, and having the most authentic experience possible, but also for saving your hard-earned cash for greater travel, delicious food, and entry fees to unique places.