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3 Tips for Living in Vietnam on a Budget

Posted by Khoi Pham on June 18, 2024

Living in Vietnam on a budget?

It depends on your definition of a budget. You can manage with 500 to 600 USD per month. Yes, even as a foreigner! Here are three key tips for a budget-friendly lifestyle in Vietnam: affordable accommodation, local delicacies, and motorbikes. These will kickstart your thrifty adventure in this Southeast Asian gem.

Affordable Accommodation

Small room in Vietnam

When looking for affordable accommodation, prioritize rooms over apartments or houses. Rooms in family-run establishments offer basic amenities at a lower cost. Additionally, these rooms provide a personalized experience, giving you a glimpse into local life. Typically, these rooms are around 25-30 sqm and come with a bed, desk, closet, ensuite bathroom, window, and sometimes a balcony. Laundry and kitchen facilities are communal.

Rents vary based on location. For instance, in central areas like District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, rent can reach 300 USD per month. Conversely, places 30 minutes away from the city center may cost around 180 USD per month. Monthly bills include electricity (metered) and water (fixed at 5-6 USD per person). Thus, for those on a tight budget, areas like Binh Thanh District or District 7 offer options around 180 USD per month.

Local Foods and MarketsVietnam local food

To fully experience Vietnam’s vibrant culture on a budget, explore the local, delicious, and affordable street food. This doesn’t just mean sidewalk vendors; there are decent food stores offering authentic options like Pho, Banh Mi, Com Tam, and Bun Bo Hue. Typically, these dishes cost 1.5-2 USD each. Hence, you can enjoy three meals a day for about 5 USD.

Cooking at home can be even cheaper. Visit bustling supermarkets for ingredients like pork, soups, and rice. Prices are clearly marked, so no need to haggle. Moreover, shopping at local supermarkets for tropical fruits, vegetables, and other goods can save you significant money compared to dining out every day.

MotorbikesMotorbikes rent in Vietnam

While apps like Uber or Grab are convenient, they are not budget-friendly. Instead, renting a motorbike is the most affordable way to get around, costing as little as 50-60 USD per month. Always prioritize safety by wearing a helmet, following traffic rules, and being mindful of the chaotic yet organized traffic flow. Consequently, motorbikes offer the freedom to navigate through traffic, explore hidden alleyways, and reach destinations not accessible by other means of transport.

Overall, monthly expenses can be broken down into 180 USD for accommodation, 150 USD for food, and 100 USD for transportation, totaling 430 USD per month.

Category Cost (USD)
Accommodation 180 – 300 per month
Food (Daily) 5 per day
Motorbike Rental 50 – 60 per month
Total Monthly Expenses 430 per month
Additional Bills 5-6 per person (water), 10-20 per person (electricity)

The estimated costs for living in Vietnam on a budget.

You can watch the following clip for the reference of how to budget the cost of living in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Here are a few suggestions on living in Vietnam, finding accommodation, exploring local foods, and transportation options. 

  1. Accommodation:
    • Find affordable rental options in various Vietnamese cities.
  2. Local Foods and Markets:

Additional comforts like daily coffee or gym memberships can be included if your budget allows. Ultimately, living in Vietnam on a budget is very much possible with the right mindset and strategies. By opting for affordable accommodation, enjoying local foods, and using motorbikes for transportation, you can save money and have a fulfilling experience in this vibrant country.

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