10 Examples On How Cheap Vietnam Can Be


Posted on : 31-01-2011 | By : Vietnam720 | In : Vietnam
Tags: , , , ,

I know ‘cheap’ and ‘inexpensive’ are 2 very different expressions. When I say ‘Cheap Vietnam’ in this blog post, I really mean ‘Inexpensive Vietnam’. It’s just that ‘cheap’ reads easier on the title :-)

The inspiration for this blog post comes from all the talks about how Vietnam should be sold as a travel destination. Yes, she has pretty beaches and a rich history. But people also need to appreciate how cheap (Ok, inexpensive) Vietnam can be. Even if cost is not an important factor to you, you’ll agree that there’s a special feeling when your $1 can stretch verrrryyyy far.

So I present to you 10 examples of how incredibly cheap (inexpensive :-) ) Vietnam can be:

Example #1: Cheap food

You can get a meal for a freaking US$1.

Example #2: Cheap Cigarettes

Ok, this is not a great example but still an example I’m going to use. 1 packet of cigarettes in Vietnam cost a mere US$0.30. Compare that to an average price of US$8/packet in the States, it is less than 4% of the cost. Or 27 times cheaper. I am unfortunately a smoker and even more unfortunately an expert in this subject. So trust me when I say that while this brand of cigarette is cheap, it is also very tasty.

ERA Cigarette

Example #3: Cheap Spectacles

Comparing to Singapore, getting a pair of spectacles done here in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) is 10 times cheaper. Quote from a friend: ‘One can fly to HCMC (from Singapore), make a pair of spectacles, have a 4D3N holiday that includes airfare, accommodation, food and shopping and probably still have some spare change leftover!!!” You can get the cost and location details from his post here.

Example #4: Cheap Beer

This is a popular fact but in case you don’t know, you can get a mug of beer in Vietnam for US$0.20. Even a can of local beer, 333, cost only US$0.45.

Hanoi, Vietnam 16

Example #5: Cheap Attraction

Cambodia’s Angkor Wat and India’s Taj Mahal entrance fee alone cost US$20+. Do 2 days 1 night tour to Vietnam’s Halong Bay and you pay only US$40 for an overnight stay onboard, 2 lunches, 1 dinner, 1 breakfast and enjoy more than 24 hours of her beauty.

Halong Bay, Vietnam 15

Example #6: Cheap Hotels

A 2-stars hotel like this, in the middle of a fantastic location, cost only US$26/night. At this price, you get plasma TV with cable service, water heater, clean bed sheet, air con, mini fridge, room service and 24hours security guard. Stealing Circle K Mart’s slogan- “what else do you want?”

Beautiful Saigon Hotel

Example #7: Cheap Shopping

If like me, you’ve got no morals, you’ll love all the imitation and hence very cheap stuff available in Vietnam. The pretty Abercrombie shirt you see me wearing below cost only US$6.

Saigon Tweetup 17Aug10 008

On the other hand, there are many good local brands with nice design and quality products costing a tenth of what you pay from your own country. My camera bag below comes from a local shop with their own brand. A similar bag from a branded oversea company would have cost more than US$200. I paid less than US$20 for that. It went with me from the mountains of Sapa to the rivers of the Mekong Delta. After more than 3 years and 300,000 photographs, the zip, straps and padding are still reliable and tough as nails.

Camera Bag 001

Camera Bag 002

Camera Bag 003

Camera Bag 004

Example #8: Cheap Gifts

Go home with lots of good gifts from Vietnam for your friend. They will make you look good. All the things pictured below can be bought for under US$2.

Vietnam Gifts

Referring to the conical hats here :-)

Saigon Opera House Performances 12

Vietnam Gifts

Example #9: Cheap Food Part 02

Example #1 talks about street food. Even if you go to a mid-level restaurant, 7 delicious dishes will come to only US$56. See this blog post for more pictures.

An Vien Restaurant 05

An Vien Restaurant 06

An Vien Restaurant 07

An Vien Restaurant 11

Example #10: Cheap Dental Treatment

In Singapore, it will cost at least US$500 to whiten your teeth. In Vietnam, it’s only US$75.


Your turn: What other cheap (ok, inexpensive) experiences have you got from Vietnam? And how do you think Vietnam should be sold as a travel destination?


Fredrick Bloggs

Some of the cheap things I have enjoyed in Vietnam aren’t strictly legal. So we will say no more about that…

KH Christian

You look good Ben !!



Hi, We coming to Saigon June, my wife wants to get some shoes made as she has a medical condition which makes one ankle larger. We will be staying in District 1, do you have any information on names, addresses etc would be appreciated.



@Chris – sorry, no idea of custom made shoes in Saigon.

@Christian – thank you! :-)

@Fredrick – yes, 100% agree. N thank you for being graceful with your comment :-)


Nice article! Where can you get a trip to Halong Bay for that cheap though?

Only big expense here seems to be housing, not much cheaper than the States.

Roy Ng

Hi Ben,

Love your post on Inexpensive Vietnam.

You forgot to mention the inexpensive Saigon Airport Bus 152 from the Airport to District 1 and the inexpensive 1 Day Tour to Mekong Delta. They are the real gems.

I never like to use “cheap” in my travel writing. Always prefered to use “inexpensive” & “affordable”.

Btw, have a happy Cat New Year in Vietnam. I was reading Lianhe Wanbao yesterday and was surprised the zodiac animal is a cat for 2011.

We will have a bunny long weekend in Singapore though. 4.5 days of rest hehe…

Have fun.


P.S. Thanks for the inexpensive Saigon Beer you treated me during my previous trip :)


Did I just hear someone say free beer? Ben…….free beer….really? I’m there!


Joel, I got it through one of the agencies in the Old Quarters.


When did I ever said free beers? Haha! :p


Hey Roy, I see you’ve been reading quite a bit (about zodiac) :-)

Yeah, I agree with you about ‘cheap’ vs ‘inexpensive’ which I already mentioned in the post. What I didn’t say is that it’s also easier on SEO :)

Thanks Roy for dropping by here. Return and we can do more Saigon beers again :-)


Tailored shoes made in Vietnam is inexpensive and they can make to your desire and order as seen in catalogue for only usd20-50 depend on leather and style.

Other inexpensive thing in VN is tailor. You can make your body fit shirt, pants, suit, tuxedo…with any design from world top brands here for the price of 1/10 (subject to material and fabric).

Not to mention that pirate DVD is supper cheap in VN too even it is illegal but it is the fact. :-)


Thanks Pierre for dropping by here.

Where did you get your shoes made?


inexpensive gifts? WOW..! It is cool..!!! I need it.
Thank you, Ben for this information.


hi. great blog! can you tell me where you got your camera bag from please.



Thanks Philip! Got mine from Saigon Square.


Interested to know the brand of the camera bag. Where can i get it in Saigon?


Hi Hiep,

It’s DunBach. You can get it at 222 De Tham Street.


ola ben!
i wud like 2 know the HR (hard rock) HCMC tshirt price.. any idea? glad if u can help ..


Hi Nan, they start from around US$30 :)


Hi there,

Where would you recommend for the teeth whitening?
I am in HCM now! :)


At the begining of CMT8, just right after the New World Hotel.