Japan Backpacking Budget

backpacking budget japan

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


Daily Travel Costs in Japan on a Shoestring Budget

US$65 | 7000 Yen

Japan is about as expensive as it gets in Asia and consistently ranks as one of the costliest places in the world to travel in. Our shoestring Japan backpacking budget of US$65/day certainly reflects that and to put things in perspective it is over double what we have allowed in our piece on the cost of travel in China.

Lets start with some good news. Eating and drinking out is relatively affordable and overall prices are a bit cheaper than what you might find in more expensive parts of Europe or North America. Entrance to the main attractions also tends to be really good value with minimal entry fees.

Budget accommodation is found in most of the main travel destinations and all the bigger cities with capsule style beds all the rage here and they offer more privacy than you’ll find in your average dorm. However the high cost of accommodation is one of the reasons why Japan is an expensive place to visit.

The other more significant one is the cost of transport and the two questions you really need to ask yourself when setting your budget for Japan is how much travelling am I going to do? and how I am going to travel?

If you spend at least a few days in each destination and are taking the slower trains or perhaps even a budget flight between them, you can probably scrape by on $65/day and it should certainly more than cover your costs in days when you are not travelling around. If you opt for the popular rail passes which allow you onto the bullet trains then you will find it almost impossible to stick to this budget.

See where Japan ranks on our World Budget Travel Table.


More Comfortable Japan Backpacker Budget

US$100 | 10,500 Japanese Yen

By far the most popular option with travellers is to get a Japan rail pass which allows you onto all the bullet trains and also covers the cost of travel on the metro systems in the cities. It is by far the most hassle-free way to get around the country and in its own way whizzing around on Japan’s brilliant high-speed rail network is one of its biggest appeals.

However as you will see from the prices below it is not cheap although it still works out better value when compared to buying a few single tickets each week on the bullet trains. If you are in Japan for only 1-2 weeks and opt for the rail pass, there is simply no way you are going to survive on only $65/day. Even the slightly better value 3 week pass still works out at $25/day and given you might spend close to that again on accommodation each night, you are not left with an awful lot left on our previous budget.

Therefore for a typical 3-4 week trip to Japan with a rail pass you might want to think about budgeting more like $100/day. It is a lot of money for sure but the speed and efficiency of the rail network means you can easily visit 10 or more destinations in that time and experience all the best things that Japan has to offer.


Sample Prices in Japan

Flight from Tokyo to Osaka (1 hour 30 mins) – from 5000¥ ($47) (plus baggage)

7 Day Rail Pass – 28,000¥ ($260)

14 Day Rail Pass – 45,000¥ ($420)

21 Day Rail Pass – 58,000¥ ($540)

Meal at an inexpensive restaurant – 800¥ ($7.50)

Large local beer in bar or restaurant – 400¥ ($3.75)

Capsule Bed in Dorm – from 1500¥/night ($14) (bit more in Tokyo or cities with only a few hostels)

Budget double or twin room – from 3000¥/night ($28)

Temple Pass in Kyoto (access to all temples including transportation) – 1200¥ ($11)


Money

Currency – Japanese Yen

£1 = 154 Yen

€1 = 122 Yen

US$1 = 107 Yen

(All exchange rates are correct as of June 2016)


MFT Recommends

Booking online you can often get dorm beds for as little as 2000 Yen/night (a bargain by Tokyo standards) at the very swanky Emblem Hostel Nishiarai.


street art in Japan

street art in Tokyo, Japan (via Guilem VellutCC BY 2.0)


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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)


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Italy Backpacking Budget

backpacking budget Italy

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


Daily Travel Costs in Italy on a Shoestring Budget

US$60 | 55 Euros 

Even though Italy has experienced some pretty serious economic problems in recent years like Mediterranean neighbours Spain and Greece, it hasn’t really got any cheaper as a result and is still overall an expensive place to visit and it has more in common with France than those two countries in that regard.

Like France it is full of tourist traps and many of its finest cities are very hard to visit on anything like a shoestring budget. In somewhere like Venice for example it is almost impossible to get by on just 55 Euros a day with accommodation alone taking up over 50% of that while eating out is also expensive in the Northern tourist cities like Venice, Florence and Pisa.

However if you try and get out and spend more time in the real Italy and perhaps just visit those places as part of a day trip or perhaps a one night stay then our Italy backpacking budget of 55 Euros/day becomes much more realistic. There is a fair degree of regional variation in prices too and generally the further South you go the cheaper things get with even Rome perhaps a fraction cheaper than the likes of Milan in the North. Certainly if you head into the more rural South you should be able to see your money lasting longer.

See where Italy ranks on our World Budget Travel Table.

Backpacking costs in all European countries


More Comfortable Italy Backpacker Budget

US$75 | 70 Euros

As is the case in many countries, the expensive places are generally the ones that are most worth visiting. The problem with Italy is that there are so many of them and a city like Venice really doesn’t need budget travellers to make a huge amount of tourism and as such does little to cater for them. By pushing your budget up to 70 Euros a day, you can afford to spend more time in the pricier destinations but you will still have to be a bit smart with where you eat and drink in order to stick to that.


Sample Prices in Italy

Train from Pisa to Rome (4 hours) – from €24

Meal at an inexpensive restaurant – €12-15

Large local beer in a bar or restaurant – €4

Dorm Bed in Rome or Florence – from €15

Private Double or Twin room in Venice – from €60

Entrance to Rome Colosseum – €15.50 ($10.50 for 18-24 year olds from EU countries)

Compare Italy prices with the cost of travel in Greece.


Money

Currency – Euros

£1 = €1.16

US$1 = €0.95

(All exchange rates are correct as of January 2017)


MFT Recommends

It’s no secret that the majority of the fairly limited budget accommodation that exists in Rome is not of a great standard. The centrally located Hard Rock Rooms is a rare exception.


street art in Italy

street art in Roma, Italy (via Claudio VaccaroCC BY-NC-ND 2.0)


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USA Backpacking Budget

USA backpacking budget

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


Daily Travel Costs in the USA on a Shoestring Budget

US$65

Much of the advice we gave in our Canada budget applies here too. Like Canada it is a very large country but with considerably more places of interest so your expenses really depend on how ambitious you want to be. Focusing on just one area of the country for example California or the North-East then our USA backpacking budget of $65/day is realistic enough. However if you want to visit several different parts of the country in say a month or less then you might want to check out the budget below and perhaps still add a bit more.

On an every day level, USA is perhaps slightly cheaper than most of Western Europe or countries like Japan and Australia. Food is pretty good value when you consider the enormous portions and one meal can leave you pretty full for the day while alcohol is also quite cheap compared to most of Europe.

However aside from the cost of covering large distances, which isn’t that great by bus, what makes USA a bit more expensive for the shoestring traveller is the relative lack of real budget accommodation. Whereas in other parts of the world you will find plenty of hostels with dorms in even the smallest towns, that isn’t really the case in the US. The biggest cities do of course have them but not that many and given the lack of competition they are not that cheap and therefore accommodation costs tend to take up quite a big chunk of your budget.

See where USA ranks on our World Budget Travel Table.


More Comfortable USA Backpacker Budget

US$85

You can easily end up spending $30 or more a night on accommodation in the United States, perhaps more than half our previous budget so it doesn’t leave you a lot left over for anything else. Therefore adding another $20 on is probably a good idea if your trip is a short one of say a few weeks and you want to see as much as you can. This will give you a bit of room to take a few domestic flights that will allow you to see more of the country.

It is also worth noting that travelling with a few friends will generally cut your costs somewhat. If you are a group of 4 or 5 then renting a car might prove more cost effective and will certainly give you more flexibility and that should be easy to fit into this budget, especially if you spend a few nights on the road and manage to save on accommodation that way.


Sample Prices in USA

Flight from New York to Miami (3 hours) – $80 (when booked in advance) + baggage

Bus from San Francisco to LA (8 hours) – around $35

Meal in an inexpensive restaurant – $12-15

Large local beer in a bar or restaurant – $4

Dorm Bed in Chicago – from $22/night

Dorm Bed in New York – from $35/night

Private Double or Twin room in New York – from $70/night

Private Double or Twin room in New Orleans – from $45/night


Money

Currency – US Dollars

£1 = $1.44

€1 = $1.14

(All exchange rates are correct as of June 2016)


MFT Recommends

Accommodation is the big budget killer in the United States so couchsurfing really is a very good option here and even if you’ve never done it before, there’s not a better place to try it for the first time.


street art in New York City

street art in New York, USA (via Rodrigo BernalCC BY-NC-ND 2.0)


Share your Travel Costs!

If you’ve travelled in the USA recently, please let everyone know your typical daily costs by commenting below 😉

Ireland Backpacking Budget

Ireland Backpacking Budget

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

This article refers to the Republic of Ireland rather than Northern Ireland which is covered in our United Kingdom backpacking budget. That said prices are pretty similar in Northern Ireland to Southern Ireland although the currency is different.


Daily Travel Costs in Ireland on a Shoestring Budget

US$60 | 55 Euros

The cost of travel in Ireland like much of Europe depends on the strength of the Euro at the time you visit. It has fluctuated considerably over recent years and Ireland briefly became quite a bit cheaper than the UK for example but is evening up again now. Dublin in particular is known for being quite an expensive city to visit with the cost of the main attractions regularly around 20 Euros while the city’s famous pubs are by no means cheap so if you are someone who likes a drink then you might struggle to stick our suggested Ireland backpacking budget of 55 Euros.

However you can still have quite a lot of fun on that sort of budget with costs generally a fair bit lower outside of the capital. It’s a relatively small country and the cost of travelling around isn’t that much so that is one positive and in terms of overall costs in ranks probably as an average Western European country. Accommodation and food prices are certainly more reasonable than somewhere like Scandinavia or France and given the large number of visitors the country receives, Ireland is pretty well equipped to cater for budget travellers.

See where Ireland ranks on our World Budget Travel Table.

Backpacking costs in all European countries


More Comfortable Ireland Backpacker Budget

US$75 | 70 Euros

The Irish are known to like a drink and although the country has plenty to offer in terms of rural charm, unquestionably the pub culture is a big appeal for many visitors to the country. Budgeting for 70 Euros per day will give you a lot more freedom to immerse yourself in that and with some form of live music and lively pubs almost every night even in the smaller towns, you will find plenty of temptation. Certainly if you are only on a short trip to Ireland you might want to allow for this sort of budget which will allow you to pack a lot more in. If you don’t drink then you can certainly get by on less.


Sample Prices in Ireland

Train from Galway to Dublin (2 hours 20 minutes) – €25

Meal at an inexpensive pub or restaurant – €12

Pint of lager or Guinness – €5-6 (a bit less outside Dublin)

Dorm bed – from €15/night

Cheap private double or twin room – from €50/night

Entrance to the Guinness Storehouse – €20 (includes a free pint of Guinness)


Money

Currency – Euros

£1 = €1.16

US$1 = €0.95

(All exchange rates are correct as of January 2017)

If you head north of the border, remember that British Pounds are used in Northern Ireland.


MFT Recommends

Dublin’s enormous Generator Hostel is one of the best places to stay in the Irish capital with budget beds, good conditions and a lively and pretty cheap bar that is nice for meeting other travellers.


ireland street art

street art in Dublin, Ireland (via Guiseppe MiloCC BY-NC 2.0)


Share your Travel Costs!

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

Spain Backpacking Budget

Spain backpacking budget

(Map of Spain from wikitravel, can be re-used under CC BY-SA 2.5)


Daily Travel Costs in Spain on a Shoestring Budget

US$50 | 45 Euros

Spain is cheap by Western European standards and considerably cheaper than neighbouring France while it is roughly the same as its neighbour to the West, Portugal. There is a good deal of regional variation though with the Southern part of the country certainly the cheapest, particularly Andalusia. Prices are a bit higher in Barcelona and Madrid than in the smaller towns but not considerably so and the same is true of some of the more tourist-orientated resorts, which line the Costa del Sol, Costa Blanca and Costa Brava.

Backpacker accommodation is plentiful and pretty good value but it is a good idea to book in advance during peak times and certainly national holidays and festivals of which there are many. Eating and drinking out is cheap if you are a bit savvy and head away from the tourist areas but a night out anywhere can still set you back close to our suggested Spain backpacking budget of 45 Euros with entry to clubs alone typically 10-20 Euros including a drink or perhaps two. On the plus side, drinking in squares and parks is generally tolerated and you can get a litre of beer for little over a Euro in the supermarkets.

Getting around Spain is fairly straight forward with plenty of budget flights around the country for longer trips and an excellent if quite expensive high-speed rail network that links the main cities. On a shoestring budget though you are probably best to stick to the inter-city buses which are almost always the cheapest way to get from A to B.

See where Spain ranks on our World Budget Travel Table.

Backpacking costs in all European countries


More Comfortable Spain Backpacker Budget

US$65 | 60 Euros

If partying is likely to be a big part of your trip or you are restricted on time and want to fit a lot in then you might want to consider stretching out to a 60 Euro daily budget. This will allow you to go out regularly and perhaps take the odd flight or train for those longer trips.


Sample Prices in Spain

Flight from Madrid to Barcelona (1 hour) – €35 + baggage fees (more at weekends)

Bus from Sevilla to Granada (3 hours) – €23 with Alsa

Meal in an inexpensive restaurant – €8-10

‘Jarra’ (large beer) in a Cerveceria Montaditos – €1.50

Dorm bed in Barcelona – from €15/night

Dorm bed in Madrid – from €12/night

Budget private Double or Twin Room – from €25/night (more during peak times)

Entrance fee for Granada’s Alhambra – €14

Compare that to the cost of travel in Italy.


Money

Currency – Euros

£1 = €1.16

US$1 = €0.95

(All exchange rates are correct as of January 2017)


MFT Recommends

In Barcelona, stay at Factory Gardens, a good value hostel close to Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia.


street art in Madrid

street art in Madrid, Spain


Share your Travel Costs!

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

New Zealand Backpacking Budget

new zealand backpacking budget

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


Daily Travel Costs in New Zealand on a Shoestring Budget

US$60 | 90 New Zealand Dollars

Prices in New Zealand are fairly similar to Australia but we have our New Zealand backpacking budget at slightly less than our budget for Australia. One reason for that is that NZ is considerably smaller with the main destinations more closely bunched together so journeys tend to be a lot shorter and therefore less expensive. On a day to day basis in a typical town there isn’t a great deal of difference between the two although there’s not quite as much nightlife in New Zealand so again less money tends to be spent on going out in the evening.

Like Australia, there is a lot accommodation and plenty of activities that are geared towards backpackers and budget travellers and you can typically get some good deals. That said New Zealand is still overall an expensive country and you will struggle to get by on much less than 90 NZ Dollars per day unless you really aren’t doing many daytime activities or specific excursions and just want to take in the scenery and experience life in the towns.

See where New Zealand ranks on our World Budget Travel Table.


More Comfortable New Zealand Backpacker Budget

US$90 | 135 New Zealand Dollars

Many travellers in New Zealand are attracted to the adventure sports aspect of it and almost everywhere you go, there is something new to try and another experience to tick off your bucket list. These things aren’t cheap though and if you want to do a lot and only have a few weeks in the country then more like 130+ New Zealand Dollars per day might be a more realistic travel budget.


Sample Prices in New Zealand

Flight from Auckland to Christchurch (1 hour 20 mins) – from 45 NZD (plus 26 NZD for backpack with Jetstar)

Christchurch to Queenstown by bus (8 hours) – 55 NZD

Meal in an inexpensive restaurant – 20 NZD

Large local beer in a restaurant/bar – 8 NZD

Dorm bed in Auckland – from 22 NZD/night

Dorm bed in Queenstown – from 27 NZD/night

Cheap private double or twin room – 60 NZD/night

Bungy jump off Kawarau Bridge – 150 NZD


Money

Currency – New Zealand Dollar

£1 = 2.18 NZD

€1 = 1.66 NZD

US$1 = 1.49 NZD

(All exchange rates are correct as of June 2016)


MFT Recommends

New Zealand isn’t cheap. Get a working holiday visa for NZ, which will allow you both more time in the country and the opportunity to work and earn while you are there.


Street art in Christchurch, New Zealand

street art in Christchurch, New Zealand (via Jocelyn KinghornCC BY-SA 2.0)


Share your Travel Costs!

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

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$25 | 1200 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.


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


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 😉

Top 10 Budget Travel Tips For First-time Travelers In China

A guest post by Jason Blondo

Traveling across China can be pretty tough for first-timers, and even tougher if you are short on cash. Let’s face it, the days of having supremely cheap travel in China are long gone and just a distant memory. Prices for food, airline tickets and hotels are gradually increasing, with China’s economy and tourism picking up steam over the last thirty years. But with a little travel planning and research, you can have a blast and experience a cozy trip to this Asian hub, without having to starve to yourself or sleep on crappy beds.

Top 10 Budget Travel Tips For First-Time Travelers In China

1. Travel by train

A sure-fire way to save a huge amount of money, when traveling across China, is to ditch the plane, and take the train. Train tickets are usually 75 percent cheaper than airline tickets to the same destination in China. And if you travel overnight, you can also save the cost of a hostel or hotel room.

A railway map of China

2. Book your airline tickets on a Chinese trip planning site

While I recommend that you take the train as often as possible, sometimes the distances and long hours make train travel an impractical option. If flying is your best and only option, make sure to buy your tickets from Chinese travel planning sites like ctrip.com, elong.com and qunar.com since they offer far cheaper airfare deals than you would find on Kayak, Expedia and other US-based travel search engines. You can book internal flights on these Chinese sites and pay with your debit or credit card and by the way, these websites are in English, so there is no language barrier.

3. Eat like a Chinaman

Eating in a nice and fancy restaurant in China will cost you around 44 CNY (9 USD). A simple meal of street food or noodles, however, will only cost you around 7 CNY (1 USD)! China has a plethora of mouthwatering and cheap food (which is nothing like what you will find in Western “Chinese” restaurants), meaning you won’t have a problem eating on a budget here.

4. Ditch the hotels and stay in a hostel

Sounds so cliché? Of course, this is an absolute no-brainer for traditional and experienced travelers. But if you are someone who’s used to luxury travel, this may not be such an obvious tip-off.

People, for the most part, think that hostels in Asian countries such as China are loud, uncomfortable and untidy. Though there are a few hostels like that in China, I can honestly say that most Chinese hostels are just as comfortable as 3-star hotels.

If you are traveling solo, you can save a ton of cash by staying in a hostel community room. For those who are traveling with a family or a group, and want some privacy, most hostels in China also offer a private room option, which as a little more expensive, but is still cheaper by 50 percent than most hotels in the country.

Planning on taking this route? I suggest that you take a look at Hostelworld. Not only does it have a great and wide selection of hostels, but it also includes photos as well as honest reviews from recent customers.

Staying in hostels in China

5. AirBnb or Couchsurfing

Coursurfing and Airbnb are also becoming rather popular in this East Asian destination, and can be a great alternative for those who are traveling on a tight budget.

6. Buy a local SIM card in China

China’s pay-as-you-go (prepaid) SIM cards are extremely cheap, and definitely a great investment when traveling in China. With this kind of SIM card, you’ll get to save yourself the trouble of dealing with expensive and awkward overseas data plans. Plus, it will make it a lot more convenient for you to stay in touch with your fellow travelers and hostels.

7. Try to limit your time in big Chinese cities

I’m not saying that you skip out a visit to Shanghai, Xi’an, Hong Kong, Beijing and other big cities during your trip to China. After all, anyone who visits China wants to see its main and most celebrated attractions, such as the iconic Great Wall of China in Beijing and mystical Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an. What I’m trying to say, though, is don’t linger in these cities.  Based on my estimations, a day of expenses in a major Chinese city is equivalent to three or four days anywhere else in this sprawling nation.  Trust me, food, diversions and lodging all cost a lot less once you get out of the big cities.

So, when visiting a major city in China, spend a couple of days or less hitting all the attractions that matter to you the most. Afterwards, get out of there as quickly as possible.

Shanghai Bund Skyline at night

8. Visit lesser known places in China

Visiting the lesser known areas in the country not only lets you experience the real Chinese culture (not its touristy side), but it can save you money as well. In Hunan province, for instance, you can happily live paying local prices – or not paying at all because it is a great honor for the Chinese to present a foreign visitor with a gift. Plus, it allows you to see amazing natural wonders and unique sites that have yet to be featured in lifestyle and travel magazines.

9. Learn a few important Chinese phrases

You don’t have to become fluent in Mandarin, but mastering a few simple and basic phrases will help you save a ton of cash. Folks and locals in China will treat you better if they notice you making a great effort in speaking their native language. If you try to learn and speak their language, they will sometimes offer their house or apartment as a place to stay overnight. In addition, they will take you for a dinner, lunch or karaoke show, and they will pay for everything.

10. Teach in China 

Teaching English in China

One of the best and cheapest ways to travel around China is to work there as an English teacher. Not only will it give you free accommodation, but it also lets you know China’s culture on a more intimate level. Plus, the salary is decent, and it gives you a home base for affordable weekend trips.