Our expenses for the start of our bicycle trip show that traveling in Vietnam doesn’t have to be expensive !
Breakdown of our expenses
In November we’ve only been traveling for eleven days. Here are our expenses in dongs (VND) and their Euro equivalent :
|Total VND||281 000||97 000||1 778 389||1 958 000||10 000||100 000||4 124 389|
|Average VND||25 545||8 818||161 672||178 000||909||9 091||374 944|
Here we use an exchange rate of 26 950 dongs for 1 euro, which is currently rather favorable to us.
Upon looking at these figures, our first impression was that the total amounts in dongs were rather frightening ! The first time I withdrew money at a Vienamese ATM, I thought I had won the lottery. However for our daily expenses, it’s easy to get used to the large amounts, especially as prices are often rounded up.
Our second impression ? The average of our daily expenses is just ridiculously low. Less than 15 euros per day for two people, it’s hard to believe it !
Most of our spendings go towards buying food; those who know us won’t be surprised 🙂 We mostly eat in the street or in small stalls, where food is cheap and tasty.
We also try to regularly buy fruits at the market, in order to eat them during our breaks on the road.
Until now, we don’t miss Western food. As it’s rather pricey here, this hemps us keep our expenses down.
Accommodations in Vietnam are really cheap.
In Hoi An, which us a very touristic city, there’s a lot of competition between accommodations. This allows to stay in quality places for a very low price (around 200 000 dongs per night, around €7.50)
Elsewhere, we stay in Nhà Nghỉ (guesthouses) or low-range hotels. We seldom book ahead of time as it’s useless and would be inconvenient anyway. The rate is also usually around 200 000 dongs per night. For that price, the room is usually rather basic and the bed very firm. However we always had hot water and air-conditionner. One of the advantages of traveling by bicycle is that once we reach our destination, we don’t care much about accommodations quality anymore. We dream of a bed, any bed 🙂
Guesthouses quality is rather variable. If we were very deceived by our room in Tam Ky, we really enjoyed our guesthouse in Ai Ngia, a few kilometers away from My Son’s Cham temples. Their price was identical (200 000 dong) but the difference was striking ! Tam Ky’s room was small and dark with a poorly designed bathroom. At Ai Nghia, the room was spacious and extremely clean, with a huge bed and a perfect bathroom. The only drawback was the color of the bed sheets, which kinda hurt my eyes !
As a side note, one hotel night in Hoi An was offered to us by Thanh’s friends. This reduced accommodation expenses a little.
We mostly buy drinks in cafés. We really appreciate these places, and they’re probably my favorite aspect of Vietnam. Whether it’s for a quick break while riding, or for a longer time once we reach our destination, spending time in a café is always a pleasure !
More often than not, we wait for dinner time while enjoying a good drink there. Indeed, they’re usually pretty and quiet places… at least when there’s no loud TV nearby or locals playing cards !
If tap water is not drinkable in Vietnam, we seldom have to buy bottled water. We indeed use a water filter from Katadyn; it allows (with some effort) to make tap water drinkable. The interest of this filter is both ecological and economical. When we drink 4 liters of water daily, buying it would generate a lot of plastic… and when we see the quantity of litter on beaches or in the countryside, it incites us to try to reduce the quantity of waste we produce !
Many travelers seem to enjoy drinking a good cold beer. Fortunately, neither Thanh nor me enjoy it too much, so we save money on alcohol… And while the rum level in my blood is dangerously low, we still didn’t have any cocktail !
This expenses category includes for example the cost of the app Trail Wallet which we use to track our expenses. More regularly, two services will be included in this category. The first one is laundry, which costs around 30 000 dong per kilo (a bit more than one euro). For this price, gone are the days where I washed my clothes in my hotel room’s sink ! Bicycle maintenance is also extremely cheap here : for example, inflating our tires or cleaning up the bicycles with a high pressure cleaner.
The amount of fees paid to visit sites depend a lot on where we are. In November, our only paid visit was Tam Ky’s Cham towers.
In Asia, most other travelers usually spend around 25% of their budget for transportation (mostly long-distance buses). We save a lot by traveling by bicycle; in November the only transportation we paid for was the ferry to Tam Hai for a total amount of… 37 euro cents !
We see (and hear !) many buses and minivans while riding, and in most cases their driving seems extremely dangerous. We very often congratulate ourselves for not being inside !
Accommodation expenses should stay stable as long as we can stay in motels and cheap hotels. However, touristic places such as Da Lat or beaches are likely to increase this expenses category.
Regarding food, if one day we get fed up of pho and banh mi, we’ll spend a bit more it order to have some more variety by eating in restaurants.
Finally, we plan a 3 days trek in Kon Tum. This will greatly increase our expenses as the cost is around one hundred euro per person !