How to Save Money in Vietnam

At, we know that saving money is a top priority for many expats living and working in Vietnam. The good news is that Vietnam offers plenty of opportunities to stretch your budget further. In this article, we’ll share our top tips for saving money while still enjoying all that this vibrant country has to offer.

Eat Like a Local

Affordable Vietnamese street food: Bun cha is a budget-friendly option
Enjoy delicious food for less: Bun cha is a tasty and affordable Vietnamese street food experience

One of the best ways to save money in Vietnam is to eat like a local. Street food is not only delicious but also incredibly affordable. A bowl of pho or banh mi sandwich will only set you back a dollar or two.

Instead of dining at fancy restaurants catering to tourists, seek out the small family-run eateries where you’ll find the most authentic and cheapest meals. The food is simple but bursting with flavor. Eating local is an experience in itself.

Use Public Transportation

Efficient bus network in Vietnam: Connect cities and towns at affordable prices
Travel between destinations: Buses offer a comfortable and cost-effective way to explore Vietnam

Vietnam’s cities have extensive public transportation networks that are very budget-friendly. Buses and motorbike taxis can get you around for a fraction of the cost of regular taxis.

For longer distances between cities, trains and sleeper buses are economical options. They’re slower than flying but offer a unique travel experience. You’ll save a bundle and maybe make some new local friends along the way.

Find Affordable Accommodation

Discover affordable stays: Explore Vietnam's diverse accommodation options.
Budget travel in Vietnam: Find comfortable and affordable places to stay

Cheap guesthouses and hostels abound in Vietnam’s tourist hotspots. You can easily find a decent room for $10-20 per night. To get the best deals, book directly with the hotel rather than through an online booking site.

Consider staying a bit outside the main tourist zones where prices are inflated. A 10 minute walk can slash your nightly rate in half. Another option is renting an apartment if you plan to stay put for a while. Housing costs in Vietnam are quite reasonable.

Shop at Markets

Shopping adventure: Open-air markets offer a variety of local goods and souvenirs in Vietnam

Vietnam’s markets are a paradise for frugal shoppers. From fresh produce to clothing to housewares, you can find almost anything at a steep discount compared to malls and supermarkets.

Don’t be afraid to bargain respectfully. It’s expected and part of the shopping experience. With some friendly haggling, you can often get prices down to 50% of the initial quote. Just remember to keep things in perspective – that dollar you’re arguing over means a lot more to the vendor than to you.

Take Advantage of Free Activities

Experience Vietnamese culture: Temples, parks, and markets for all budgets
Culturally rich experiences: Temples, parks, and markets offer a diverse and affordable way to explore Vietnam

Many of Vietnam’s top attractions are free or very low cost. Simply wandering the atmospheric streets of Hanoi’s Old Quarter or Ho Chi Minh City’s Cholon area is endlessly fascinating.

Visit temples, stroll through parks, and browse colorful markets. Most museums have entry fees of less than $5. Pack a picnic instead of eating out. Avoid expensive tours and explore on your own. There are so many ways to soak up the culture without busting your budget.

Learn Some Vietnamese

Essential phrases for navigating Vietnam: Learn basic Vietnamese
Unlock communication: Basic Vietnamese phrases help you navigate Vietnam with ease

One of the best investments you can make is learning some basic Vietnamese. Not only will it enrich your experience, it will also help you save money.

Being able to confidently navigate transactions in Vietnamese will make you less of a target for scams and overcharging that can happen with tourists. Knowing numbers is key for bargaining. Even just a few pleasantries will earn you goodwill and maybe a better price.

Cook Your Own Meals

Explore local flavors: Cook your own meals and save money in Vietnam
Budget-friendly eats: Cooking allows you to enjoy delicious Vietnamese food at a fraction of the cost

If you’re staying somewhere with kitchen access, cooking your own meals is a great way to save. Vietnam’s markets overflow with inexpensive fresh ingredients.

Take advantage of the low cost of living by preparing your own food, even if it’s just for some of your meals. You’ll eat healthier and your wallet will thank you. Consider it a chance to experiment with Vietnam’s delightful herbs, spices, and condiments.

Be Smart With Your Phone Plan

Upon arrival, get a Vietnamese SIM card for your unlocked phone. Data packages here are some of the cheapest in the world. Rely on free Wi-Fi at cafes and hotels as much as possible.

Avoid making international calls over your mobile network. Use Skype, WhatsApp, or other internet-based calling services instead. Be mindful of your data usage to avoid unexpected charges.

Save on Coffee Shop Visits

Skip the fancy cafes: Enjoy authentic Vietnamese iced coffee on the street.
Local experience: Ca phe sua da offers a delicious and affordable
caffeine fix

Vietnam is famous for its coffee culture, but those cappuccinos can add up fast. Limit your visits to trendy coffeeshops, especially those aimed at expats and tourists with higher prices.

Instead, get your caffeine fix at local street stalls where you can enjoy a ca phe sua da (iced coffee) for less than a dollar. It may not have fancy latte art, but the flavor and the people watching can’t be beat.

Comparison Shop For Anything You Need

For things like tour packages, tailoring services, and adventure sports, always get quotes from multiple providers. Prices can vary widely.

Do your research, read reviews, and don’t be afraid to politely negotiate, especially in the low season. For example, a Halong Bay cruise or a custom-made suit might be cheaper than you think if you shop around.

Expat Cost of Living Comparison: Vietnam vs Thailand

Many expats debating between Vietnam and Thailand are curious about the cost of living comparison. While both are more affordable than Western countries, Vietnam has a slight edge.

Vietnam tends to be cheaper for things like food, transportation, and housing. A meal at a local restaurant costs around $2 in Vietnam compared to $5 in Thailand. You can rent a modern studio apartment in Ho Chi Minh City for around $400 per month, while a comparable place in Bangkok would be over $600.

Thailand has more Western amenities and products available, but this comes at a cost. Imported foods and consumer goods are pricier in Thailand. Utilities and gasoline also tend to be slightly more expensive in Thailand than Vietnam.

However, healthcare is one area where Thailand outperforms Vietnam in both cost and quality. Many expats in Vietnam cross the border for medical treatment.

Of course, the cost of living varies individually based on lifestyle and location. Read our full article on the Cost of living comparison between Vietnam and Thailand for more details.

In Conclusion

With some smart strategies and local know-how, it’s easy to live comfortably in Vietnam on a modest budget. At, we’re happy to help you navigate the ins and outs of expat life here.

Whether you’re seeking job opportunities or just want advice on stretching your funds, feel free to contact us via phone, Zalo, or WhatsApp. We’re here to help you thrive in Vietnam while still saving for your financial goals.

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