Vietnam on a strict budget: What to do when your money’s running out

Although Vietnam is quite possibly one of the cheapest countries to travel in, you can end up spending more than you planned to. But don’t worry, even the traveler with a very low budget can make it in Vietnam. The average amount that people usually spend in Vietnam usually around €1.000 per month. This includes everything basic such as accommodation, food and transportation, plus a lot more. With that money, you can stay in nicer hostels or hotels, eat in restaurants, go enjoy the nightlife from time to time, visit all museums and sites that cost money, et cetera. But Vietnam is totally doable with only half of that, and sometimes even less.  Here are some tips to do when your money’s running out:

1. Couchsurfing

Is it actually possible to stay in someone else’s house without having to pay anything? The answer is: Yes! This amazing app allows you to find hosts from all over the world who will happily invite you to their home, all for free. Of course, you will need to setup a kickass profile first. Make sure that you read the reviews thoroughly, feel comfortable and safe with whichever host you decide on, and be respectful. If a person lets you into their home free of charge, why not pay back with a home cooked meal or a beer? It’s the thought that counts. And if you can’t find a couch host, there are many budget hostels spread out in Vietnam.

2. Street Food

Vietnamese street food - Ho Chi Minh city
Vietnamese street food – Ho Chi Minh city

Don’t fret about the street food in Vietnam, it’s known to be incredibly delicious and you can get a meal for as little as under €2. You can choose from everything between banh mi (baguette), pho (noodle soup), banh xeo (Vietnamese pancakes), xoi (sticky rice) and bun (another type of noodle soup). There are a ton of varieties so don’t worry about having to only stick with the same dish every single day just to save some money. You can also get delicious desserts for a ridiculously cheap price. Safe to say, you won’t go hungry in Vietnam.

3. Walk everywhere!

Maybe not everywhere, but at least the distances that are doable. Save money on transportation such as taxi or bus and get some exercise as well. The cities are great to walk in for example and you’ll discover so much more on foot. If you do insist on not walking, why not rent a bike for a day. The cost is usually very low and biking is a fun activity as well. Beware of the traffic in bigger cities such as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City – biking might be fun in smaller places but here it’s chaos.

4. Limit your drinking

This can be a bummer if you like to have a beer or two and explore the nightlife in Vietnam. But this is also one of the biggest costs when traveling. It’s okay to do it from time to time, but soon you’ll notice how your wallet is shrinking. Instead, try to at least limit your drinking to 1-2 beers maximum and stick to water. Your head will thank you for it the next day.

5. Stay in one place for a longer time

The more you travel, the more you spend money on transportation. These days we are so determined to see as much as possible, as fast as possible. But if you are going to spend money on bus, trains, taxi, etc, every third day or so, you have to be willing to spend money. Why not choose a place you really like and stay there for a longer time. There’s so much to see, if we just give it a chance.

6. Learn from the locals

Many of the locals live with very little, yet they manage to get by each month. Why not befriend some locals and see where they go to eat, see what they like to do in their free time and if you’re lucky, perhaps some will even invite you over for dinner. The Vietnamese are usually warm, welcoming and friendly towards foreigners, but the language barrier can be a problem. Nevertheless, there’s a lot to learn from the locals and perhaps they can give you a tip or two about how to limit your spending in Vietnam.

One thing you have to spend money on is the Vietnam visa. Some countries in Europe and Asia can be in Vietnam up to 15 days visa-free, but needs to get a Vietnam visa if they want to be there for a longer period of time. Most other countries are required to get a Vietnam visa before entering the country. The cost is low though and the process is quick. You can apply for a Visa on Arrival, E-Visa (only eligible for certain countries) or go to your nearest Vietnamese Embassy or Consulate.

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