Southern Vietnam: Costs of Independent Travel

We’ve just returned from a short 2.5 week trip to southern Vietnam. Given that Vietnam seems suddenly being promoted to New Zealanders (thanks to the many more options of flying there) I thought I’d keep a record of our expenses on the ground to give you some idea.

The Travellers

My partner and I are experienced independent travellers. We travel light (carry-on only). We are 50’s/60’s so aren’t into too many hard-drinking sessions. But we do like to  drink a cold beer or 3 in the tropics, and we  like to eat – normally local food.

Happy Hour Mojitios at the Hotel Majestic, Saigon

Happy Hour Mojitios at the Hotel Majestic

For this trip our hotel requirements were:

  • air-conditioning
  • ensuite
  • swimming pool

We were travelling in the “summer” of  Vietnam – so although the temperature may only be around low 30’s it often felt like 40C – particularly if the rain didn’t come that afternoon. So the swimming pool became a requirement – we had one  every night except Trah Vinh (no pools in town as far as I know) and Dalat (relatively cool – so pools not common).

We speak very little Vietnamese (enough to order an iced coffee cafe sua da or a beer bia ). We have OK fitness and can carry our packs a few kilometers if we need to. We’re not big souvenir shoppers.

Vietnam  Travel Costs; June 2016

Cargo boat - Mekong Delta

Cargo boat – Mekong Delta

NB we overnight-ed on the Gold Coast on the way home so these cost include 1/2 day in Singapore and a day/night in Australia.

All costs in NZ$ and are totals for 19 nights in Vietnam FOR TWO PEOPLE SHARING A ROOM

Accommodation: $906 (note all accommodation includes breakfast)

Food & Drink: $845 (we drank beer regularly and spirits/cocktails on occasion, wine is expensive)

Local transport: $421 (includes $158 for flight HCM-Dalat, all local buses, train from Nha Trang to HCM, local boat to Trah Vinh,  and all taxis)

Swimming Pool at the Beautiful Boutique Saigon Hotel

Swimming Pool at the Beautiful Boutique Saigon Hotel – about US$32/night

Tours/Entries: $193 (including day tour to Cu Chi from HCM,  day trip in Ben Tre)

Miscellaneous: $174 (includes 2 SIM cards, laundry, misc toiletries and drugs)

Entertainment: $59 (shooting AK47 bullets, swimming pool at Changi Singapore)

Shopping: $42 (like I said your mileage may vary…)

The above is a total of  $2646 or NZ$132 /day or

NZ$66 per a person per day (use this figure to compare to cruise or tour prices for twin share prices)

Note if you are comparing prices of organized tour – this is our real, after-the-trip costs which includes every iced coffee, bottle of water, and random cab ride!

Typical costs in Vietnam

Cafe Sua Da - Iced Coffee

Cafe Sua Da – Iced Coffee

(note I’m quoting these in local dong (d) or US$ – as this is how prices are quoted in Vietnam. A price quoted in US$ can ALWAYS be paid in dong).

US$1 = 22,300 dong

NZ$1 = 15,100 dong


US$22 – US$35 We either used to book a few days in advance – or directly through the hotel. We particularly recommend:

Beautiful Saigon Boutique Hotel, Ho Chi Minh City

Oasis Hotel, Ben Tre – Kiwi run hotel.

Dreams Hotel, Dalat email: (don’t use the contact on the website of the same name – it’s an unscupiolus competitor)

Food prices.

Beer: local brands are pretty good e.g. 333 Saigon Red, Saigon Export, Tiger is also often available. A 600ml bottle can be as low as 10,000d (yes under a $1) in the backpacker region of Saigon, or in a small local restaurant – the same beer can be as much as 150,000d  (yes, $10) on the roof-top bar of the historic  Hotel Majestic (recommended – happy hour cocktails 99,000d).

Iced coffee (cafe sua da) 18,000d in a small local cafe, 190,000d Hotel Continental, Saigon, usually about 25,000d in a tourist restaurant with some English spoken.

Meals: Again incredible range – from 20,000d for a local meal in a local restaurant, to 330,000d for a steak at the Hotel Majestic.  For  a place with menu with some English spoken for a couple of meals and 1 or 2 beers each we’d typically pay around 200,000d.

Typical Vietnamese food

Typical Vietnamese food


  1. Valerie on July 11, 2016 at 8:08 am

    Very helpful thank you! We are hoping to travel to Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia next year with two ten year olds. The breakdown of costs and conversion is great.

    • Elisabeth Sowerbutts on July 11, 2016 at 9:34 am

      YOu’re welcome – have a great trip!

  2. April Yap on August 26, 2016 at 12:00 pm

    Great to see both of you enjoying to travel from everywhere. Thanks for the tips.

  3. John Curran on August 1, 2019 at 5:16 pm

    Not sure if I am booking the correct Dreams Hotel Da Lat. Is the owner Mrs.
    Dung about whom there are glowing reports? I aim to go to Da Lat soon.

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