5 Ways To Travel Vietnam On A Budget

07/31/2014
By ATA
sleeping-on-motorbike
A common sight in Saigon, people sleeping on their motorbikes @JustinJensen

Vietnam isn’t an expensive country to travel. In fact, it’s amongst the cheapest in the region – with $3 a day sometimes buying you three meals a day.

But when trying to travel on a budget, it’s always worrying to think of the ‘You get what you pay for side of the coin.

And whilst that’s true – there are some ways you can see Vietnam as cheaply as possible, without having to worry about any nasty surprises:

1. Time Your Flights

Flying to or around Asia is arguably the most expensive part of the trip. ‘Budget’ airlines can still run up a large bill and leave you feeling out of pocket. But booking your flights at the right times can really help you save a lot of money.

We find the best times to fly are either: March and April or September or October.

Why? We’re not too sure, but throughout the year – that’s when airline prices are at their lowest. And, you can find yourself saving a couple of hundred dollars by booking your flights for these times (and maybe even get a cheeky upgrade).

Plus, it’s always better to fly into the country with a little extra spending money – right?

2. Buy Your Food and Drink From Local Vendors

fruit-market
Colorful market. Impossible to walk by without taking pictures. @abeillerose

A Travellers biggest expenditure after travel in Vietnam is usually food and drink. Although it’s considered cheap, for the longer trips it always helps to be as thrifty as possible.

In order to do that we recommend buying your food and drink for local shops and stalls than using the bigger, chain stores.

You’ll find yourself paying less overall, helping local business and you’ll even be able to barter the price on some of the more rural stalls. It really is a win-win situation for everybody involved.

3. Use Open Tour Buses

the-bus
Bus local Desoto – Delta du Mekong @matttvn

Open tour buses are Vietnam’s equivalent to the famous Greyhound Buses, and can be the most cost effective way of getting around the country – sometimes for less than $4 a trip.

Now, we won’t pretend you’re going to be bathed in luxury or not end up sat next to a really heavy tourist with 17 carry-on bags. They’re not promises we’re willing to make.

But if you’d rather avoid the high costs of internal flights or train journeys and see the country in a different way, Open Tour Buses are our favourite cheap way to do it.

Just be sure to pick up a handheld fan, in case the air conditioning isn’t working.

4. Ride A ‘Hug Taxi’

This isn’t one for the faint of heart or an aversion to Motorbikes, so if you don’t fancy donning a helmet and putting your trust in a stranger – don’t bother with this one.

But for us, this is probably my favourite way to travel around local Vietnam areas and cities – and really get involved with the locals in a cost effective way.

Why’s it called a Hug Taxi?

Because you sit on the back of the bike or scooter, put your helmet on and hug them for the duration of the journey.

You can travel a couple of miles for around the $1 mark (but, we’d suggest leaving them a tip if you’ve screamed all the way there). And, if nothing else, it’s one of those fun things you really need to try just once.

5. Couch Surf

Couch surfing is a controversial topic in travelling right now which has divided us into two groups: Those who do couch surf and those who don’t.

If you’ve never heard of it before, here’s a brief guide:

You sign up on the couch surfing website, and search for places to stay in the local area. The people on the website are willing to let you sleep on their couch, for free.

Yes, that’s right free accommodation.

In our honest opinion? We’d couch surf only in the big cities. There won’t be many opportunities to do it in the more rural areas, and it’s sometimes best to have the safety of a hotel or hostel in those places.

But, when you’re in the tourist dense areas – it can really help you keep your costs down.
Do you have any experience getting around Vietnam on a budget? What did you do to keep your costs down, but still experience the country?

We’d love to hear what you did in the comments below.

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