How to Bargain in Vietnam

How to Bargain in Vietnam

getting a lower price in Vietnam

A guest post by Jim from Asia Marvels

Many travellers in Vietnam are so afraid of paying more than they should that they forget to enjoy their trip. Here is some insight into bargaining in Vietnam to make your time here easier.

The first thing you should know about bargaining in Vietnam is that it is considered perfectly acceptable and even expected to argue with a merchant about the price of their goods or services in this country. To most westerners, it can be annoying, time-consuming and feel like getting ripped off. However, this habit has been around for so long it has become part of the Vietnamese culture, so I suggest that instead of holding on to all the negative feelings, why not loosen up a little bit (you are on a trip anyway) and learn how to bargain like a local.

Below are 7 things you must know about bargaining so you can enjoy your Vietnam trip thoroughly.


1. Know when to Bargain

bargaining in Vietnam

Even in Vietnam, not every price is negotiable. You sure wouldn’t want to make a fool out of yourself trying to talk your waiter into giving you a better price at a restaurant. My advice is that if something has a price tag on it, the cost is non-negotiable. This includes restaurants, where prices are usually listed on menus or signs, cabs with taxi meters etc.

Don’t take “always bargain” too seriously, it once took me and 2 waitresses half an hour to convince an American guy that it was not too much to pay 20,000 VND – just less than a dollar for two Bia hoi (Vietnamese draught beer).


2. Take it easy

Westerners often feel cheated and embarrassed when they find out that they have paid too much. But let me get this straight: At first, you’re going to pay too much. There’s no way around it. And even after you’ve been here for a while, you’re probably still going to pay more than locals, more often than not.

But in the end, this isn’t a battle to get the right price so just relax if you later find out that you have paid a few more bucks than you should have.


3. Learn some Vietnamese

Knowing the local language will help you A LOT with haggling with the local merchant. It shows that you probably have stayed here for a while and know how much something should cost. Of course you don’t have to master the language to be able to get a cheaper beer in Vietnam, here are some super useful phrases you can use:

– Bao nhiêu? (bao new) – How much?

– Đắt quá! (dat wa!) – Too expensive!!

Bớt đi (Bot dy) – Reduce the price

– Không (khom) – No

– Dạ (ya) – Yes

– Được (duoc) – Ok (or you can just say ok, most Vietnamese will understand)

After you show off your masterful Vietnamese skills, these shop owners would be likely to give you a much more reasonable price, and it’s kind of cool too.


4. Do some research

How to bargain in Vietnam

If you are looking for something specific, ask a local what the going rate is before you head to the market. It helps to go into the negotiations with an idea of what you’re supposed to pay. Start haggling by quoting a price that is about 10-20% lower than what you think you should be paying. Work your way up from there.

One more way to find out what is a good price for something in Vietnam is browsing around before starting to bargain. In most markets in Vietnam, there are several stalls selling exactly the same products as the other one. When you find something you like, check out all the other stalls in the market and choose the one with the lowest price. The “I love Ha Noi” T-shirt you like might be 10,000VND cheaper in the stall next door.


5. Act like you don’t want it

The last trick, and most successful strategy, is to act like you are not that interested in what they are selling. The less you want it, the better you can bargain.

No matter how much you want the item, try to act as nonchalantly as you can. If it still doesn’t work, pretend to lose interest and walk away, your vendor is likely to lower the price for you. Be careful though cause this trick can backfire sometimes; if you really want that item and can’t find it in any other shops in the area, you might have to come back with your tail between your legs and pay the price they offer.


6. Know when to quit

Sometimes you’ve just got to accept the price, even though you know that it’s more than what a local has to pay for it. If you’ve haggled, thrown in some sneaky Vietnamese and even walked away like you don’t want it anyway and the price still stays the same. Don’t be angry, go to another shop and try again or just accept that this is how things work around here. And if you still feel uncomfortable, think of how much you had to pay for a Frappuccino or a beer back home. Again, this is not a battle and there is no win or lose.


 7. Practice

Travel tips for Vietnam

Bargaining is a skill and like any other skill, practice makes perfect. Each time you bargain for something, there is a chance to hone your skills, learn from what happened and one day you might be able to buy some things you like for half the price they offer. This skill is also useful in many other Asian countries like Thailand, China, Malaysia and India.

 

That’s all guys, hope that this will help you have a wonderful time in Vietnam.


Author Bio

Asia travel

Hi there, I’m Jim – writer at Asiamarvels.com. I love travelling around Asia and share my stories & guidelines with readers. I’m sure there are so many things the world hasn’t discovered about this mysterious land and you’re eager to know more about it, right?

Alright!!!! let me help you. More guidelines, food tours, tricks and tips for your amazing trip to Asia can be found at Asiamarvels.com.

 


This article was published in May 2017.


Myanmar Backpacking Budget

cost of travel in Myanmar

(Map of Myanmar from wikitravel, can be re-used under CC BY-SA 3.0)


Daily Travel Costs in Myanmar on a Shoestring Budget

US$25 | 34,000 Kyat

We’re going with $25 as our Myanmar backpacking budget which makes it a fraction more expensive than some of its Southeast Asian neighbours but not significantly so. The cost of accommodation is certainly a bit higher and it’s not the easiest country to get around so you can end up spending more on transport, particularly if you want to see a large portion of a country that is deceptively big.

You may read articles or hear from people who describe Myanmar as expensive but that is only in very relative terms. Overall it is still a very budget-friendly destination with dirt cheap food available all over the country. Entrance fees for some of the country’s more popular sites can take a large chunk out of this budget on any given day. However on a quiet day where you’re not travelling between towns or forking out for attractions then you can get by on less than $20 if you’re savvy so it certainly averages out.

See where Burma ranks on our World Budget Travel Table.

Backpacking costs in Southeast Asia.


More Comfortable Myanmar Backpacker Budget

US$30 | 40,000 Kyat

Myanmar isn’t really like Thailand or Cambodia, where there is a big party culture amongst backpackers and the potential to just blow your budget on partying each night exists. It’s a more tranquil kind of place and by adding $15 or $25 per day there’s not really a significant amount of extra things you can do so $30 is sensible even for travellers who aren’t quite so budget-orientated.

There is a fairly rigid path that travellers in Myanmar tend to take in terms of where to go and what to do and the previous budget allows for that. Increasing your budget a fraction allows you to perhaps stay in a few nicer hotels in areas where the budget travel accommodation options are limited or poor, which is the case in some parts of the country. Myanmar doesn’t have the extensive travel infrastructure of some of its neighbours to the East so in some cases there will only be one real option for getting from A to B and smaller destinations may only have a couple of hotels geared towards foreign visitors.


Sample Prices in Myanmar

Flight from Yangon to Mandalay – from $100

Bus from Bagan to Mandalay (around 5-6 hours) – from $8

Meal at a local restaurant – $2.50

Large bottle of local beer in bar/restaurant – $1

Dorm bed in Yangon – from $8/night

Private double/twin room in Mandalay – from $15/night

Entrance to Bagan temples – 25,000 Kyat (around $20 at local exchange rates)

These prices are as of December 2016.

Compare Burma prices to the cost of travel in Thailand.


Money

Currency – Burmese Kyat

£1 = 1700 MMK

€1 = 1432 MMK

US$1 = 1351 MMK

(All exchange rates are correct as of December 2016)

Black market rates may vary considerably to the ones listed above. US Dollars are widely accepted.


MFT Recommends

Healthcare isn’t great in Myanmar and if you get ill or seriously injured you may need to be transferred a long way, possibly even to Thailand. Obviously this is very rare but getting travel insurance via World Nomads will prove a great help in the unlikely event of something going wrong.


Street art in Myanmar

street art in Myanmar (via HI TRICIA! 王 圣 捷CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)


Share your Travel Costs!

If you’ve been to Myanmar recently, help your fellow travellers out by sharing your typical daily costs in the comments section below 😉


This article was published in December 2016.

Get our Backpackers Guide to Southeast Asia 2017-2018 for an overview of budget travel in the region.


Cambodia Backpacking Budget

backpacking budget Cambodia

(Map of Cambodia from wikitravel, can be re-used under CC BY-SA 3.0)


Daily Travel Costs in Cambodia on a Shoestring Budget

US$20 (or less)

Cambodia is paradise for the budget traveller with your money stretching further than it does almost anywhere in the world. This after all is the land of the $2 dorm bed and although they are a little harder to find these days, when you get private rooms going for as little at $4, there’s not really any need to stay in dorms in any case unless you have a fervent desire to sleep in a room full of strangers.

Buses between the main towns are also very cheap and although there are a few expensive restaurants cropping up geared towards an expanding mainstream tourist industry, there are still plenty of real local cheapies. Hit the local markets and you’ll find plenty of stalls and small restaurants serving local dishes at bargain prices.

Our Cambodia backpacking budget of $20 is perhaps a conservative one and there is no reason why you can’t spend $15 or less most days. However the one thing that is expensive in Cambodia is Angkor Wat. It is the country’s pride and joy and to visit it you need to pay a hefty $20 for a day pass and given there is so much to see you might need more than one day there, certainly if you’re a big ruins lover. Therefore you could have a couple of days that are going to be more like $40 which is why $20/day is perhaps more realistic as an overall budget. If you don’t visit Angkor Wat or are in Cambodia for more than a few weeks you can probably get by on less than 20 as the main sites in and around Phnom Penh are all very cheap to visit.

See where Cambodia ranks on our World Budget Travel Table.

Backpacking costs in all Southeast Asian countries


More Comfortable Cambodia Backpacker Budget

US$25

Adding $5/day will allow you to stay in air-con rooms and perhaps take at least one meal a day in one of the international restaurants which are still good value just not by Cambodian standards. You might read a few articles suggesting Cambodia has got considerably more expensive in recent years but that is simply not the case. It is perhaps not as ridiculously cheap as it once was but it is still great value and $25/day should be more than enough to explore what is a lovely country.


Sample Prices in Cambodia

Bus from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh (6-7 hours) – $6 ($1/hour of travel is typical in Cambodia)

Meal at an inexpensive restaurant – $2.50

Large local beer – $1

Dorm bed in Siem Reap – from $3/night

Cheap double or twin room with fan – from $4/night

Entrance to Killing Fields or Museums in Phnom Penh – $2

Day pass for Angkor Wat – $20

Compare this to the cost of travel in Laos.


Money

Currency – Cambodian Riel & US Dollar

£1 = 5850 Riel | $1.44

€1 = 4610 Riel | $1.13

US$1 = 4067 Riel

(All exchange rates are correct as of June 2016)

The US Dollar is widely used in Cambodia to the point that chances are you will pay for most things including hostels and meals in Dollars and certainly most tourist/traveller orientated businesses quote prices in dollars rather than riels. It is common to pay in dollars and receive change in riels, which are used for buying smaller items.

ATM’s are plentiful in the main tourist towns now and dispense dollars.


MFT Recommends

Cambodia is one country where it is very important to have good travel insurance. We recommend World Nomads who specialise in backpacking trips and will help in the case of you falling sick or getting injured in a country which has limited healthcare facilities.


street art in Cambodia

street art in Phnom Penh, Cambodia (via antjeverenaCC BY-SA 2.0)


Share your Travel Costs!

If you’ve been to Cambodia recently, please let everyone know your typical daily costs by commenting below 😉


This article was published in June 2016

Get our Backpackers Guide to Southeast Asia 2017-2018 for an overview of budget travel in the region.


Malaysia Backpacking Budget

Malaysia backpacking budget

(Map of Malaysia from wikitravel, can be re-used under CC BY-SA 3.0)


Daily Travel Costs in Malaysia on a Shoestring Budget

US$25 | 100 Malaysian Ringgits

There are many similarities here with our Indonesia backpacking budget in that there is a considerable amount of regional variation although in the opposite way to what you might think in that the wealthier parts of the country are the cheapest to travel in.

Malaysia to all intents and purposes is like two countries. Peninsular Malaysia (the bit connected to Thailand and Singapore) is considerably wealthier and more developed but relatively cheap and hassle-free to travel in. It is perhaps slightly more expensive than Thailand overall but given there isn’t much in the way of party culture here, most travellers probably end up spending a similar amount, which might amount to around $25/day or perhaps a bit less. That said Kuala Lumpur is certainly a bit more expensive than the rest of the country so allow for a bit more in the capital.

The other part of the country is Malaysian Borneo and is considerably less developed but the difficulties of getting around an island that is essentially a jungle tend to lead to mounting travel costs. Food and accommodation is all very cheap but to really get out and explore the incredible nature you are almost certainly going to need to join a guided tour or trip. Diving expeditions, river cruises and jungle trips all cost money and spending money on activities can easily take up over half of your travel budget. In short you can probably visit Borneo on our suggested shoestring Malaysia backpacking budget of $25/day but you wouldn’t be able to afford to do very much so it would all be a little pointless.

See where Malaysia ranks on our World Budget Travel Table.

Backpacking costs in all Southeast Asian countries


More Comfortable Malaysia Backpacker Budget

US$30/day (peninsular Malaysia) $60/day (Borneo) | 120-240 Malaysia Ringgits

You can travel pretty comfortably on the shoestring budget in peninsular Malaysia. The standard of accommodation and transport is all very good and certainly better than you get North of the border in Thailand for perhaps a fraction more in terms of cost. Adding $5 or $25 to your budget isn’t going to radically change the trip you have but on $30/day perhaps you can afford to spend a few relaxing days unwinding in a hotel with a pool or something of that ilk, which is welcome if you’re coming from roughing it in other parts of Southeast Asia.

However to really make the most of Borneo, you are going to need considerably more than $25/day. It is a fantastic place to visit and by expanding your budget to a fairly hefty $60/day you can afford to be doing active things almost every day and experiencing the best of the tropical paradise that is Borneo. If you are a nature lover on a big trip in Asia then this is one place where you should certainly consider allowing to spend a little bit more as it is a very rewarding and memorable destination.


Sample Prices in Malaysia

Flight from Kuala Lumpur to Kuching (1 hour 45 mins) booked 2 weeks in advance – 110 RM (US$27) + baggage

Train from Butterworth (Penang) to Kuala Lumpur (3 hours 30 mins) – 59 RM (US$15)

Meal at a budget restaurant – 8 RM (US$2)

Large beer in a bar/restaurant – 10 RM (US$2.50)

Dorm Bed in Kuala Lumpur – from 35 RM (US$9)

Dorm Bed elsewhere in Malaysia – from 20 RM (US$5)

Budget private double or twin room in Georgetown, Penang – from 50 RM (US$12)

Overnight trip to Batang Ai National Park (inc. guides & accommodation) – 235 RM (US$55)

Read about the cost of travel in Singapore to see how Malaysia compares to its Southern neighbour.


Money

Currency – Malaysian Ringgit

£1 = 5.89 MYR

€1 = 4.64 MYR

US$1 = 4.08 MYR

(All exchange rates are correct as of June 2016)


MFT Recommends

Located right next to Kuala Lumpur’s Central Market, the Marquee Guest Houzz has a good vibe and offers budget beds in clean dorms.


street art in malaysia

street art in Georgetown, Malaysia (via runmontyCC BY-NC-ND 2.0)


Share your Travel Costs!

If you’ve been to Malaysia recently, please let everyone know your typical daily costs by commenting below 😉


This page was published in June 2016.

Get our Backpackers Guide to Southeast Asia 2017-2018 for an overview of budget travel in the region.


Indonesia Backpacking Budget

backpacking budget Indonesia

(Map of Indonesia from wikitravel, can be re-used under CC BY-SA 3.0)


Daily Travel Costs in Indonesia on a Shoestring Budget

US$25 | 330,000 Rupiah

Like many large countries, there is a fair bit of regional variation in prices in Indonesia that you should consider so how much you spend will largely depend on where you go. We have received comments from many travellers suggesting we always place Indonesia too high in our budget travel table and that it is in fact as cheap or cheaper than most of mainland Southeast Asia. However we suspect they have spent a lot of time away from the islands of Bali and Java, which are a bit pricier. The other islands are considerably cheaper places to visit.

It is true that typical costs are cheap almost everywhere but getting from one island to another although relatively inexpensive can still quickly eat into your budget if you are moving around and entrance fees to major sites of interest can be high so we believe US$25 is a realistic overall Indonesia backpacking budget. If you try to pack a lot in and are moving around every couple of days including visits to multiple islands in a relatively short space of time, you might want to allow for a bit more. If you stick predominantly to one of the cheaper islands such as Sumatra, then it’s possible you can get by on US$20 or less.

See where Indonesia ranks on our World Budget Travel Table.

Backpacking costs in all Southeast Asian countries


More Comfortable Indonesia Backpacker Budget

US$35 | 470,000 Rupiah

Adding an extra US$10 to your daily travel budget in Indonesia will allow you to do quite a bit more no matter what kind of trip you want to have. If you are planning to spend a lot of time in Bali then it will allow you to really get into the party culture whilst perhaps doing the odd daytime activity like surfing. In Java it will allow you to take a few more organised trips up volcanoes and suchlike which are difficult to do independently. While on the cheaper islands you can probably fork out on some pretty good accommodation on this budget that would fall closer into the realm of luxury travel than budget.


Sample Prices in Indonesia

Flight from Jakarta to Bali (1 hour 45 mins) when booked 1-2 weeks in advance – 530,000 Rp (US$40) + baggage

Public ferry from Padang Bai, Bali to Lembar, Lombok (4-5 hours) – 40,000 Rp (US$3)

Meal at an inexpensive restaurant – 20,000-30,000 Rp (around US$2)

Large local beer in a bar or restaurant – 25,000 Rp (US$2)

Dorm Bed at Kuta, Bali – from 75,000 Rp (US$5.50)

Private Double or Twin room in Bali – from 120,000 Rp (US$9)

Private room in Sumatra – from 50,000 Rp (US$4)

Entrance fee for Borobudur Temple Complex near Yogyakarta – 280,000 Rp (US$21)

Compare Indonesian prices with the cost of travel in the Philippines.


Money

Currency – Indonesian Rupiah

£1 = 19266 Rupiah

€1 = 15180 Rupiah

US$1 = 13376 Rupiah

(All exchange rates are correct as of June 2016)


MFT Recommends

If you head to Bali, which most travellers do then we suggest staying at CX Hostel Kuta Raya at Kuta Beach. It’s well located close to the beach and nightlife and is of a much higher standard than most of the budget accommodation in Kuta.


street art in Indonesia

street art in Yogyakarta, Indonesia (via pwbakerCC BY-NC 2.0)


Share your Travel Costs!

If you’ve been to Indonesia recently, please let everyone know your typical daily costs by commenting below 😉


This article was published in June 2016

Get our Backpackers Guide to Southeast Asia 2017-2018 for an overview of budget travel in the region.


Singapore Backpacking Budget

Singapore Backpacking Budget

(Map of Singapore from wikitravel, can be re-used under CC BY-SA 3.0)


Daily Travel Costs in Singapore on a Shoestring Budget

US$45 | 60 Singapore Dollars

Singapore has a reputation for being a very expensive place and that is true to an extent although it depends on what kind of trip you want to have. Certainly it is far more expensive than the rest of Southeast Asia with most things costing at least double what you find in other countries in the region. Certainly alcohol is very expensive and if you’re visiting the city-state as part of a trip in SE Asia on a small budget, you’d be wise to save your partying for other places. Our suggested Singapore backpacking budget of $45/day will disappear in a couple of hours if you decide to go out to one of the many swanky clubs and bars but you can probably afford one night out if you are there for 3 or 4 days on this budget.

However Singapore does have one or two advantages for the budget traveller. The main one being that it is basically just a city and you won’t spend any money going from town to town like in other countries. Travelling around Singapore is relatively cheap and if you choose a hostel in a good location, you can see a lot of it on foot. Picking a hostel with self-catering facilities will also help cut your costs considerably as eating out two or three times a day will take up a big chunk of this budget.

One of the main attractions to Singapore is shopping though and there is an almost nonsensical amount of mega shopping malls to spend your money in. Our budget of $45/day is by no means unrealistic for your every day needs and a bit of sightseeing but clearly doesn’t allow for much shopping so you might want to set another $100 or more aside if you are looking to hit the malls.

See where Singapore ranks on our World Budget Travel Table.

Backpacking costs in all Southeast Asian countries


More Comfortable Singapore Backpacker Budget

US$70 | 95 Singapore Dollars

Singapore isn’t really designed for shoestring travellers and to really make the most of it and experience the best of its cuisine, nightlife and attractions you might want to set aside something more in the region of $70/day plus. Even the airport is full of tempting ways to spend your money but given you only need a few days to really experience Singapore perhaps it’s worth budgeting a bit higher and then saving up in places where it is easier to travel on a shoestring.


Sample Prices in Singapore

(all prices are in Singapore Dollars)

One way ticket on local transport – S$1.30-2

Meal in an inexpensive restaurant – S$12

Large beer in a bar/restaurant – S$8

Dorm bed – from S$15/night

Budget private double or twin room – from S$35/night

1 Day pass at Universal Studios – S$74


Money

Currency – Singapore Dollar

£1 = 1.96 SGD

€1 = 1.54 SGD

US$1 = 1.36 SGD

(All exchange rates are correct as of June 2016)


MFT Recommends

There are lots of hostels in Singapore but most of the cheap ones are pretty bad. Coziee Lodge is one of the few that consistently gets good reviews and it’s not surprising with beds in 4 bed dorms going for as little as S$18 while standards of cleanliness are high and the location is a convenient one for exploring the city.


street art in Singapore

street art in Singapore (via Les HalnesCC BY 2.0)


Share your Travel Costs!

If you’ve been to Singapore recently, please let everyone know your typical daily costs by commenting below 😉


This article was published in June 2016.

Get our Backpackers Guide to Southeast Asia 2017-2018 for a summary of budget travel in the region.


Laos Backpacking Budget

Laos backpacking budget

(Map of Laos from wikitravel, can be re-used under CC BY-SA 3.0)


Daily Travel Costs in Laos on a Shoestring Budget

US$20 | 160,000 Laotian Kip

Laos has always been very good value and that is still the case although prices have increased slightly in recent years and it is perhaps a bit more expensive than Cambodia but still cheaper than Thailand. Travelling around the country is pretty slow and not always entirely comfortable but it is at least cheap. Accommodation and eating out is also great value although a few more expensive places are cropping up so you do have to be a bit selective in that sense now so to avoid the places that are clearly not geared towards budget travellers or locals.

Our Laos backpacking budget of $20/day will require a bit of discipline as there are lots of cool trips that you can do in the country not to mention ways to spend your money in the evening with small but often lively backpacker party scenes in several of the main towns.

See where Laos ranks on our World Budget Travel Table.

Backpacking costs in all Southeast Asian countries


More Comfortable Laos Backpacker Budget

US$30 | 240,000 Laotian Kip

The shoestring budget of $20 is very possible but when you are in a cheap country, the tendency is to not really keep tabs on your spending and daily costs can quickly mount up. In recent years the Lao government appears to be making an effort to attract wealthier tourists particularly from China and that has pushed the price of tours and trips up for everyone else so if you are planning to do a lot of that then $30/day would probably be more realistic.


Sample Prices in Laos

Bus from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng (6 hours) – 100,000 Kip ($12)

Meal in a budget restaurant – $2

Large Beer Lao in a bar or restaurant – $1.20

Dorm bed – from $4/night

Budget private Double or Twin room in Vientiane – from $10/night

Tubing in Vang Vieng – 55,000 Kip ($7)


Money

Currency – Laotian Kip (also known as Lao)

£1 = 11716 Kip

€1 = 9204 Kip

US$1 = 8106 Kip

(All exchange rates are correct as of June 2016)

Unlike neighbouring Cambodia, US Dollars aren’t used all that often with local currency preferred in almost all circumstances.


MFT Recommends

The overall standard of healthcare in Laos is very low and getting ill or injured can turn into a real nightmare and an expensive one so it is essential you have travel insurance. We recommend World Nomads who specialise in backpacking trips.


laos art

sketches in Luang Prabang, Laos (via shankar s.CC BY 2.0)


Share your Travel Costs!

If you’ve been to Laos recently, please let everyone know your typical daily costs by commenting below 😉


This article was published in June 2016.

Get our Backpackers Guide to Southeast Asia 2017-2018 for an overview of budget travel in the region.


Philippines Backpacking Budget

Philippines Backpacking Budget

(Map of Philippines from wikitravel, can be re-used under CC BY-SA 3.0)


Daily Travel Costs in The Philippines on a Shoestring Budget

US$30 | 1400 Peso

The Philippines is perhaps marginally more expensive than most of mainland Southeast Asia but not by a considerable amount. There are certainly less backpackers here which can be both a good and bad thing depending on your perspective. One effect of that is there isn’t quite as much hostel style accommodation which can see you spend a bit more on that although the main destinations tend to have a few budget cheapies where you can find dorms with other backpackers.

Eating out is very cheap and certainly comparable to prices over on the mainland while beer and Filipino rum is also dirt cheap meaning you can certainly fit maybe a couple of nights out a week on this budget, perhaps more if you’re not doing many organised-type trips during the day.

However what really makes travel in the Philippines slightly more expensive than in say Vietnam or Laos is that there are 7,000 islands to choose from and getting from A to B is a bit more complicated and requires some planning in advance if you want to get the cheapest fares.

See where the Philippines ranks on our World Budget Travel Table.

Backpacking costs in all Southeast Asian countries


More Comfortable Philippines Backpacker Budget

US$40 | 1900 Pesos

If you are more of a fan of the ‘go with the flow’ kind of travel than rigid planning then you might want to allow for more like US$40 per day. You will need to take several boats and probably a few flights to really see the best the country has to offer and this kind of a budget gives you a bit more freedom to see more and book later on when you are more sure of your plans.

The Philippines does have some fantastic beach destinations but many cater more towards a mid-range budget than a shoestring one with the popular Boracay being a good example. A Philippines backpacking budget of $40/day will enable you to visit a few more of them and perhaps stay in a slightly better class of accommodation every now and then.


Sample Prices in The Philippines

Flight from Manila to Cebu (1 hour 15 mins) – about $25 + baggage (when booked a week + in advance)

Dorm bed in most destinations – from $6/night

Dorm bed in Boracay – from $10/night

Meal at a budget restaurant – $2.50

Large local beer in bar/restaurant – $1

Entrance Fee for Fort Santiago, Manila – 75 Pesos (about $1.50)

Compare prices with the cost of travel in Indonesia.


Money

Currency – Philippine Peso

£1 = 69 Peso

€1 = 52 Peso

US$1 = 47 Peso

(All exchange rates are correct as of June 2016)

One or two places accept US Dollars but most will not.


MFT Recommends

Get some travel insurance! We suggest World Nomads who are experts at providing cover for backpacking trips.


Philippines street art

street art in Bonifacio Global City, Manila (via Daniel GoCC BY-NC 2.0)


Share your Travel Costs!

If you’ve been to The Philippines recently, please let everyone know your typical daily costs by commenting below 😉


This page was published in June 2016.

Get our Backpackers Guide to Southeast Asia 2017-2018 for a summary of budget travel in the region.


Thailand Backpacking Budget

Thailand Backpacking Budget

(Map of Thailand from wikitravel, can be re-used under CC BY-SA 3.0)


Daily Travel Costs in Thailand on a Shoestring Budget

US$25 | 900 Thai Baht

How much money you need to travel in Thailand depends on who you speak to and how you travel. The main problem here is that large numbers of ‘travellers’ in Thailand are in reality on little more than an extended holiday and most spend well in excess of $25 per day, a large percentage of which goes on partying. Sure the party culture is big in Thailand and it’s hard to avoid unless you really find yourself off the beaten track. Even though alcohol is cheap, if you’re going out partying late every single night then you can’t expect to get by on so little.

However that is not to say it is not possible. As you will see from our sample prices below, you can still find some incredibly cheap accommodation and food. Our suggested Thailand backpacking budget of $25 per day will require a little discipline given temptation is all around but it should be enough to cover budget accommodation, eating out in local restaurants, street stalls or places that are obviously geared to backpackers and a bit of partying with the odd extra daytime activity thrown in. If you’re really sensible or are a non-drinker then you can probably get by on even less.

It is also worth noting there is a great deal of regional variation in prices. If you spend more time in the North, you will find it as cheap as anywhere in Southeast Asia or the world for that matter. Bangkok and the touristy South is more expensive.

See where Thailand ranks on our World Budget Travel Table.

Backpacking costs in all Southeast Asian countries.


More Comfortable Thailand Backpacker Budget

US$40 | 1450 Thai Baht

These days $40 per day is becoming more the norm, particularly in the South of Thailand, which has islands that are now more like Ibiza than the secret paradise they once were. With US$40 per day, you can certainly afford to go out partying every night and will have a bit more for extra excursions and trips. It should be pointed out that if your intention is to do a diving course or something major of that ilk, you are still likely to need extra funds.


Sample Prices in Thailand

Flight from Krabi to Bangkok (1 hour 20 mins) – from $18 with Thai Lion Air including hold baggage

Train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai (about 12 hours) – $30 AC sleeper, $20 AC seat, $9 Non AC seat

Large Chang Beer in cheap restaurant/bar – 60-80 Baht (roughly $2)

Pad thai in street stall or cheap restaurant – 40-80 Baht ($1-2)

Dorm bed in Bangkok – from 150 Baht (roughly $4)

1 hour massage (traditional thai or oil) – 300-400 Baht ($8-11)

Basic beach bungalow in Koh Phangan – from 200 Baht (only away from the main backpacker beach)


Money

Currency – Thai Baht

£1 = 52 THB

€1 = 40 THB

US$1 = 36 THB

(All exchange rates are correct as of June 2016)


MFT Recommends

The Aris Hostel, Bangkok, a stones throw from the Khao San Road, the world’s biggest backpacker hub.


street art in bangkok

street art in Bangkok, Thailand (via Cody YantisCC BY-NC 2.0)


Share your Travel Costs!

If you’ve been to Thailand recently, please let everyone know your typical daily costs by commenting below 😉


This article was published in June 2016

Get our Backpackers Guide to Southeast Asia 2017-2018 for an overview of budget travel in the region.


Vietnam Backpacking Budget

Vietnam backpacking budget

(Map of Vietnam from wikitravel, can be re-used under CC BY-SA 3.0)


Daily Travel Costs in Vietnam on a Shoestring Budget

US$20 | 450,000 Vietnamese Dong

Vietnam remains very budget friendly despite an enormous rise in visitor numbers over the past decade. Costs are pretty typical by Southeast Asian standards and you are likely to find it slightly cheaper than Thailand or Laos but a fraction pricier than Cambodia although it is likely to get more expensive over the coming years. $20 is a realistic Vietnam backpacking budget but doesn’t allow much lee-way for extra excursions and activities. If you eat in ‘local’ restaurants and street stalls all the time, you can probably get by on even less, certainly if you aren’t doing much partying.

See where Vietnam ranks on our World Budget Travel Table.

Backpacking costs in all Southeast Asian countries


More Comfortable Vietnam Backpacker Budget

US$25 | 560,000 Vietnamese Dong

You travel pretty comfortably on US$20 in truth and doubling that doesn’t really provide an enormous upgrade. The temptation to waste your money on partying and alcohol isn’t quite as great here as in Thailand as the backpacker scene is slightly calmer and bars and clubs are less plentiful and shut earlier. Allowing for $25-30 will allow you to fork out on the odd extra excursion/activity every now and then, such as a more extensive boat trip around Halong Bay or kite-surfing lessons at Mui Ne.


Sample Prices in Vietnam

Hue to Hanoi by Train (13-14 hours) – $25-35 (air-con berth on sleeper train)

0.5 litre domestic beer in Ho Chi Minh City bar/restaurant – $1

Meal at a cheap restaurant – $2-3

Cheap dorm bed in a big city – from $3

Budget double/twin private room – from $8

Full day kayaking trip around Halong Bay – $25-30

For money-saving tips, read How to bargain in Vietnam.


Money

Currency – Vietnamese Dong

£1 = 32,700 VND

€1 = 25,000 VND

US$1 = 22,400 VND

(Exchange rates correct as of June 2016)

US Dollars are accepted in many places and are frequently used for larger transactions such as paying for excursions or accommodation in places geared towards foreigners. Therefore it is useful to carry a stash of both currencies.


MFT Recommends

If you find yourself in the Vietnamese capital then we suggest staying at the Hanoi Traveller Hostel, in the charismatic old town, Hanoi’s backpacker hub close to Hoan Kiem Lake. Beds start at around $5/night.


street art in Vietnam

street art in Hanoi, Vietnam (via Mike HauserCC BY 2.0)


Share your Travel Costs!

If you’ve been to Vietnam recently, please let everyone know your typical daily costs by commenting below 😉


This article was published in June 2016

Get our Backpackers Guide to Southeast Asia 2017-2018 for an overview of budget travel in the region.