Vietnam is a backpacker’s dream. It’s safe, easy to navigate around and there are plenty of things to do. And if the wafts of delicious street food aren’t enough to allure you, the cheap prices will. Daniel and I spent 12 days in North Vietnam visiting the capital of Vietnam, Hanoi, the infamous trekking town, Sa Pa and Cat Ba Island (the cheapest way of exploring Ha Long Bay).

Total Vietnam Budget

We spent a total of $807.59AUD for both of us – an average of $33.65AUD / $25.88USD per person per day exclusive of flights, our visa and travel insurance. We found this to be a comfortable Vietnam budget per day that afforded us luxuries such as hotels and good food.

Our total cost inclusive of flights and our visa: $675.80 per person

Average per day: $56.31AUD / $43.31USD per person

Note: We cannot give a cost of travel insurance as we purchased travel insurance for the entire 4-month block of our SE Asia trip. 


We flew one way from Perth to Hanoi via Kuala Lumpur and paid $189AUD per person without baggage. An additional 20kg of baggage cost us $35AUD.

Total spent on a one-way flight: $224AUD / $172USD


To enter Vietnam, visitors from most foreign countries require a visa.

To check if you need a visa, check out VisaHQ.

Arriving by air: The cheapest option for getting a visa is to first pay for a ‘Letter of Invitation’ into Vietnam. On arrival, you will then pay $25USD for the stamping fee.

My Vietnam Visa Pro charges $12USD / $14AUD for a 1 Month single entry visa which is the cheapest we could find on the market. The processing time is 1 business day.


Upon arrival in Vietnam, you will need:

  1. A printout of your letter
  2. 1 passport photo and
  3. $25USD in cash.

Crossing by land: Vietnam does not have a visa on arrival system so you will need to either organise a visa in advance before you leave home or purchase one from Cambodia or Laos before entering the country. 

Have a read of this post if you need to extend your visa in Vietnam.

Total spent on visa: $37USD / $48AUD per person 


We spent a total of $197.30AUD for 11 nights accommodation for the two of us. To keep costs down in Hanoi, we stayed in a dorm room for the first 2 nights. Every other night in Vietnam was spent in a private hotel room or homestay (Sa Pa). Our way to budget in North Vietnam still gives us an amazing travel experience.

This is a breakdown of what we spent at each place:

Our top picks from this list are: Sapa Heavenly Homestay and My Moon Hotel.

Total spent on accommodation: $98.65AUD / $75.87USD per person

Average per night: $8.97AUD / $6.90USD per person

Tips for cheaper accommodation: Unless it’s peak season and places are booking out, don’t book online. We found that we could arrive and negotiate a price for a room. Travelling with another person that also travelling on a budget will also keep costs down in places where there aren’t dorm rooms as you will still get charged the cost of the room.

Cost of Food and drinks in Vietnam

We love our food, so our budget always gives way to delicious food. We ate and drank through 3,375,463VND/$209.06AUD/$160USD. This is an average of $17.42AUD per day for both of us on food. We eat a meal each, Daniel gets a beer and I get a drink.

Cost examples:

  • Water – 26,000VND / $1.61AUD / $1.24USD for 5L bottle of water
  • Beer – 15,000VND / $0.93AUD / $0.70USD
  • Pho – 30-55,000VND / $1.86-3.50AUD / $1.43-2.69USD


Total spent on food and drinks: $104.53AUD / $80.39 per person

Average per day: $8.71AUD / $6.70 per person

Tips for saving money on food: I’m sure you’ve heard it before – eat street food. Cut down on alcohol to save money. 


The cheapest way to travel between cities and towns is to take a bus. The buses in Vietnam are quite comfortable and may or may not have toilets (we’ve always been told that there’s a toilet on board but have never had a bus with a working one).

We took a bus from Hanoi to Sa Pa (return) one from Hanoi to Cat Ba Island. We also hired a scooter in Sa Pa to explore around.

Cost examples of transport:

  • Taxi from the airport to hostel in Hanoi: 75,000VND / $4.15AUD  / $3.19USD per person
  • Bus from Hanoi to Sa Pa: 220,000VND / $14AUD / $10USD per person
  • Scooter hire in Sa Pa: 77,500VND / $5AUD / $3.85USD per scooter
  • Fuel for scooter: 35,000VND / $2.50AUD / $2.96USD per scooter
  • Taxi to homestay in Sa Pa: 200,000VND / $12.40AUD / $9.50USD

Total spent on transport: 1,280,000VND / $80AUD  / $61USD per person

Tips for saving money on transport: don’t book buses in advance or online. Wait until you’re in Vietnam and negotiate with the many agencies in the area. 

Tours & Entrance Fees

Cost examples for tours & entrance fees (all per person):

  • Entrance to Women’s Museum: 30,000VND / $2AUD / $1.50USD
  • Entrance to Love Waterfall: 70,000VND / $5AUD / $3.80USD
  • Guide for Sa Pa Trek: 225,000VND / $14AUD / $11USD
  • Ha Long Bay Tour: 300,000VND / $20AUD / $15.40USD

Total spent on tours & entrance fees: 625,00VND / $40AUD / $31USD per person

Read more:
One of the Cheapest Hot Air Balloons in the World: Vang Vieng, Laos


There are 2 things that keep me going back to SE Asia – food and massages. Vietnam isn’t the cheapest destination for a massage but it sure beats what I pay in Australia. Yes, it’s an addiction. Daniel isn’t a fan so this is my spend entirely. A 70 minute massage including tip set me back 200,000VND / $12.40 AUD / $9.50USD.

Total spent on massages: 680,000VND / $46AUD / $35USD 

Tipping culture: massage therapists working for other people usually aren’t paid or are paid a very minimal amount. Therefore, tipping is necessary. As an Aussie, I get the dislike towards tipping. I used to think that tipping should be discretionary and dependent on the quality of service – when the person goes above and beyond. That was until I was made aware of the wages. Please be mindful of this when tipping, even if it’s against what you naturally do at home. Or just skip out on these services altogether if you don’t want to tip!


That’s a wrap on everything we spent on our Vietnam budget. Let us know if you have any other tips for keeping costs down. Please also feel free to ask any questions regarding our budget in the comments below.

Check out this post for more tips on Backpacking in Vietnam

Travel safe!

Our North Vietnam Budget for 12 days including a full cost breakdown of what we spent and tips for keeping travel costs down.

5 thoughts on “North Vietnam Budget: What We Spent in 12 Days & Tips To Travel Cheaper

  1. Harsh Gupta says:

    Awesome job at giving amazing day by day breakdown of all the expenses of covering Vietnam. This country is definitely cheaper as compared to other travel locations we have been to. and now we are seriously thinking over planning a visit.

  2. ada says:

    What a great post! It always good to know whats the costs like when you travel so you dont have any surprises when you arrive to your dream destination! Vietnam seems pretty cheap I am just surprise how expensive is the massage 🙂

  3. nisha says:

    Wow! An all round comprehensive breakup of expenses. This can sure be used as a base for people going to Vietnam as a guide. Thnaks

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