January 9-26, 2019
Vietnam is probably the most difficult country to describe from all the countries we visited during the Big Trip. I guess our expectation was too high, and we picked places that were not the best, at least. Also, Vietnam has been changing too fast in recent years, and many things you heard are simply not true anymore. Which is sad on the one hand, while on the other hand, Vietnam is still a beautiful country with many great people and unbeatable food on every corner. Unfortunately, we did not have one month or more as for other countries. Therefore we are mostly listing the money we spent and the places we visited in this article.
Read more: China in a nutshell
One thing we have to mention separately. We travelled a lot of countries, but we have never seen such ignorance to any, even basic ones, traffic rules. Anything is possible, and anything could happen. I bet some rules are written, but nobody obeys them. Roads are one colossal chaos. As our ministry of foreign affairs says on their websites – survival of the fittest is in charge here in the following order: truck, bus, car, motorbike, bicycle, and then pedestrians…
Places we visited:
Ho Chi Minh City -> Mui Ne -> Nha Trang -> Da Nang -> Hoi An -> Kon Tum – > Bo Y (Laos border)
Food, Food, Food
If nothing else, food in Vietnam will stay in my mind forever. In a positive way, of course. I love the taste, colours, and a countless quantity of various eateries. Every single meal is picture-perfect. Sometime one must be careful with ingredients, especially when it concerns meet. They can process everything, and we ended us removing unchewable parts of skin from our Banh Mi quite often. We are lucky we have a significant Vietnamese minority in Czech so I can enjoy an authentic meal even at home (without skin and other stuff).
Finally, real coffee culture after six months on the road. And what a coffee. Not the ordinary espresso or americano based stuff. Real Vietnamese butter roasted coffee processed on top of your own cup/glass with condensed milk. Sweet, strong, hot or cold with ice.
While most tourists are coming due to the sun, beaches and/or low prices in crowdy places. Others can enjoy empty and beautiful temples, villages or historical sites.
Everything was really cheap. Unless you end up in a tourist trap or get ripped-off. And beware, there are certain places where this is standard.
Being a tourist and criticising tourism sounds awkward. Still, some countries can handle this better, some worse.
It can be tricky since many parts of the country have different weather conditions. A little bit of planning is wise.
Here is the hardest part. We never had such a contrast between bad and great experience. Ordinary people in Vietnam are honest, super-nice and polite, and we’ve always been treated great. Contrary to that, in popular places, many people are trying to rip you off or at least get into their business (whatever business they run). And manners and tactics are very annoying.
Our costs for the three weeks in Vietnam
I guess we will be right if we say that Vietnam was the cheapest of all the countries we have ever visited. Which is quite surprising if you consider that it is definitely not the least developed country. In fact, it is developed quite well, in my opinion. 2 USD for an above-average meal and 15 USD for an above-average double room is a bargain. No surprise Vietnam has been so popular in recent years.
As said above. It is really cheap, and the standard was quite high in all the places we visited. It is fair to say we usually did not book the cheapest options, but the difference in absolute value was rather low.
Standard Guesthouse in Ho Chi Minh hotel centre 450,000 VND per double room (20 USD)
Nice Hotel or Guesthouse in a bigger city or tourist area 300,000 – 350,000 VND per double room (>12 USD)
Cheap double room 200,000 VND (9 USD)
All means of transport in Vietnam are very convenient, comfortable, clean and cheap.
Long-distance bus 50,000 – 150,000 VND (2-6 USD)
Scooter rental per day 100,000 – 150,000 VND per day (4-6 USD)
Air ticket 600,000 VND (25 USD)
Vietnam is really about food. The best are local eateries with nice authentic food or quality restaurants. I would try to avoid ordinary and plentiful tourist restaurants that serve the below-average food for the above-average price level, and not always very authentic.
Kiosk meal circa 20,000 – 35,000 (1-2 USD)
Restaurant meal between 35,000 – 80,000 (2-4 USD)
Coffee and cake around 70,000 (3 USD)
Water 10,000 (0,5 USD)
Cinema in HCMC 65,000 VND (3 USD)
Museum 40,000 VND (2 USD)
In total, both of us, without inbound flight tickets, insurance etc. for our 17 days in Vietnam, we spent 17,300,000 VND = 744 USD. That makes daily average per person equal to 455,000 VND = 20 USD.