VIETNAM | Three Weeks Itinerary + Travel Guide + Budget | Lakad Pilipinas

Vietnam Travel Guide Budget Itinerary

We planned on staying in Vietnam for a month, backpacking from its southern city, Ho Chi Minh, to its northern capital, Hanoi, by land. Everything was well planned. What we hadn’t counted on was our visa validity in Vietnam—Filipinos are only allowed twenty one days in Vietnam—well, at least for free. Should we want to extend, we would need to shell out some dongs. Weighing things down, we decided to scrap some places to visit on our list and shorten some stay on others. Finally, we trimmed it down to three weeks. Our Vietnam backpacking itinerary still looked good, and we were quite excited to explore this country!

 

 

UNDERSTAND VIETNAM


Vietnam Travel Guide Budget Itinerary

Vietnam is a socialist country, it may come as a surprise to some to see communist flags and propaganda posted on walls along the street, but don’t panic—the country is replete with friendly people and the police won’t arrest you without reason. Actually, during our stay, we didn’t feel its communist roots at all. It seemed like any other country in South East Asia—frenetic pace, friendly locals, cheap food and transportation, and extremely crazy streets filled with herds of motorbikes.

The main language of Vietnam is Vietnamese, and that’s also what you call its people. Their currency is dong, which has a really small value, USD 1.00 equals roughly to VND 22,000.00. You can actually use US dollars to pay in Vietnam, with a consistent conversion rate of USD 1.00 to VND 20,000.00.

 

HOW TO GET TO VIETNAM


Vietnam Travel Guide Budget Itinerary

From Manila, there are numerous flights that fly directly to either Ho Chi Minh or Hanoi. For the former, Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, and AirAsia have daily flights to the former capital with a flight time of almost three hours. For the latter, only Cebu Pacific has daily direct flights, except Mondays and Thursdays.

For backpackers, Vietnam can also be reached by land from Cambodia and Laos through various border crossings. It’s also bordered by China on the north, but I’m not sure if you can enter from there.

For Cambodia, there are five border crossing for foreigners—Bavet / Moc Bai, Kaam Samnor / Ving Xuong, Phnom Den / Tinh Bien, Prek Chak / Xa Xia, and Le Thanh / O Yadao crossings.

From Laos, there are six border crossings for foreigners—Tay Trang / Sobboun, Nameo / Banteui, Namkan / NamCan, Keoneua / Nam Pho, Chalo / Napao, and at Lao Bao / DAnsavanh crossings.

Filipinos don’t need a visa to go to Vietnam since our countries are both members of the ASEAN, but as I mentioned earlier, you can only stay up to three weeks or twenty one days for free. More than that, you’d need to get a visa extension which would cost you at least USD 33.00.

 

HOW TO GET TO THE CITY FROM THE AIRPORT


Vietnam Travel Guide Budget Itinerary

Even with the chaos of Vietnam’s roadways, it’s surprisingly easy and very affordable to transfer from the airport to the city via public transport—perfect for backpackers like us with limited budget.

From Ho Chi Minh Airport or the Tan Son Nhat International Airport, there are two buses, Bus 152 (VND 6,000.00 | 5:45 AM to 6:15 PM) and Bus 109 (VND 20,000.00 | 5:45 AM to 1:30 AM the next day), that transfers passengers directly to the city. There’s also a van or shuttle bus Number 49 which is slightly more expensive (VND 40,000.00 | 5:15 AM to 2:00 AM the next day), but would transfer you directly to your lodging.

From Hanoi International Airport or the Noi Bai International Airport, you can ride Bus 7 or 17 (VND 5,000.00 | 5:00 AM to 10:00 PM). If you want to head straight to your hotel door, you can avail of the airport mini-bus (VND 32,000.00).

If you’re feeling rich and adventurous, there are taxis all along the arrival area, but for a hassle and scam-free ride, I recommend that you book a Grab or Uber ride instead. These ride-hailing services are both available in Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi.

 

HOW TO GET AROUND VIETNAM


Vietnam Travel Guide Budget Itinerary

Our main mode of getting to the cities and provinces of Vietnam is by bus, particularly their hop-on hop-off buses which they dub as the Open Bus. This is preferred by most backpackers as you can actually save a bit of money with this rather than manually buying each bus ticket to wherever province you’re going next. We availed the service from one of most trusted bus companies in Vietnam, The Sinh Tourists.

You can choose where you’ll be starting, either from Ho Chi Minh or Hanoi. In our case, we started our Vietnam route from the former. So, from Ho Chi Minh, we went to The Sinh Tourists office in Pham Ngu Lao, chose our route (Saigon ► Mui Ne ► Hoi An ► Hue ► Hanoi) and paid VND 825,000.00 or USD 36.38 per person. You choose when you’d be hopping on the bus on these designated places right there and then, or whenever you want. Not bad, really, considering the price, convenience, and condition of their bus coaches.

On the cities and towns itself, we relied on local buses to take us from one place to the next. But to be honest, we mostly walked. The places we visited, even key cities like Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi are very walkable. Just mark the places you want to visit on your phone’s map before walking out the door, so you won’t get lost.

Our itinerary didn’t depend entirely on the route of the Open Bus, it extended further to Halong Bay and Sapa. The final route looked like this: Saigon ► Mui Ne ► Hoi An ► Hue ► Hanoi ► Halong Bay ► Sapa ► Hanoi. Since we’d be doing a two-day cruise around Halong Bay, we decided to leave our bags in Hanoi and bring just what we needed for the cruise. Plus the tours going to Halong Bay are usually based in Hanoi. Then we came back for our bags, left our dirty clothes and got new ones for Sapa, and again, left everything in Hanoi. We were just lucky our hostel allowed us to do that.

 

STAY CONNECTED IN VIETNAM


Vietnam Travel Guide Budget Itinerary

We immediately bought a simcard with 5GB worth of data for about USD 5.00 the moment we stepped into Ho Chi Minh. We got it from one of the telecom shops along the backpacker district of Pham Ngu Lao, apparently you just can’t buy a simcard from anywhere, like say a convenience store, it has to be on registered telecom shops. For a hassle-free purchase, you can buy your simcard online and pick it up at the airport.

Surprisingly, data connection in Vietnam is pretty fast and very reliable, even on some out of the way places. There were two of us using the simcard via hotspot and it lasted the whole three weeks without reloading.

 

WHERE TO STAY IN VIETNAM


Vietnam Travel Guide Budget Itinerary

Our choice of lodging when visiting cities and towns in Vietnam depended on its proximity to where it’s happening. We chose hotels near tourist spots, near the town center, or at backpacking districts to avoid having to avail of tours, save on transport costs, and long walks.

In Ho Chi Minh, we stayed at Le Home Phuc An Serviced Apartment along the Pham Ngu Lao area. In Mui Ne, we stayed at Joe’s Seaside Boutique along the main drag of the beach town. In Hoi An, we stayed at Kiman Hotel, not exactly right at the center of Hoi An Historical City, but fairly walkable and they have free bicycles for guests. In Hue, we stayed at Flora Hotel Hue, which is also at the backpacker district of the old capital. In Hanoi, we stayed at Cocoon Inn Hanoi, which is right smack at the Old District. And in Sapa, we stayed at Song Anh Hotel & Cafe, which has the advantage of overlooking the rice terraces of Sapa but still within walking distance of the town.

 

 

WHAT TO SEE AND DO IN VIETNAM


Vietnam Travel Guide Budget Itinerary

Since we were backpacking in Vietnam for three weeks, the list of things we wanted to see and do in Vietnam varied greatly. During our trip, we visited museums, war sights, ancient towns, UNESCO World Heritage Sites (they have seven of them and we got to see four), beaches, gardens, rice terraces, mountains, temples, old churches, and a whole lot more. Vietnam has a very diverse landscapes. For a breakdown of the places we went to, mostly by foot, check out these articles:

HO CHI MINH Ho Chi Minh DIY Day Tour | Cu Chi Tunnels Tour | Mekong Delta Day Tour
MUI NE Mui Ne Half Day Tour | Mui Ne DIY Tour 
HOI AN Hoi An Walking Tour | Temple Run & Museum Hopping at Hoi An 
HUE Imperial Citadel of Hue 
SAPA Sapa Without Trekking 
HALONG BAY Overnight Halong Bay Cruise Experience 
HANOI Old Quarter & French Quarter Walking Tour | Ba Dinh District Walking Tour | Hanoi Walking Street

 

TOURS IN VIETNAM


Vietnam Travel Guide Budget Itinerary

If backpacking and DIY isn’t your thing and you want convenience, then organized tours might be the thing for you. There are several agencies offering these services around Vietnam, and even DIY travelers like us tried a few of them out. The best place to book this is online. It helps you get around the language barrier, and you can actually see in black and white how much and what you’re actually getting before letting go of your hard-earned cash.

► BOOK DISCOUNTED ONLINE TOURS IN VIETNAM

 

WHAT TO EAT IN VIETNAM


Vietnam Travel Guide Budget Itinerary

Vietnam is one of our favorites countries when it comes to food. Not only is it extremely affordable, even for South East Asians like us, but it is supremely delicious as well! We usually eat on small stools most hawker stalls have along the sidewalks of the cities, but sometimes we got to eat on restaurants too, not the fancy ones though. But I tell you, from pho and banh mi, to cha gio and bun cha, those right on the streets are the good ones!

For a list of dishes we tried, which are quite a handful, check out these posts:

What to Eat in Hoi An
Hanoi Food Trip

For foodies wanting to make the most of their Vietnam trip, there are culinary tours designed just for eating at these key areas in the country:

Ho Chi Minh Food Tours
Hoi An Food Tours
Da Nang Food Tours
Hue Food Tours
Hanoi Food Tours

 

VIETNAM THREE WEEKS ITINERARY


Vietnam Travel Guide Budget Itinerary

And finally, here it is, a summary of our three-week backpacking around Vietnam. There are places we wish we could’ve went to, but during the course of our travel, we didn’t feel that we should’ve left out this place or stayed too long on one place. Everything felt right. It’s just that we have less time than we originally intended the trip to be, which is supposedly a month long.

The expenses is budgeted not to include beer, which we drank a lot during the trip, lol. Lodging is also calculated by checking the cheapest accommodation via Agoda.

For the total expenses, don’t be surprised it cost quite a bit, this is due to the Overnight Halong Bay Cruise which constitutes almost half our expenses in Vietnam. You can trim down the final budget by a fourth if you avail of the Halong Bay day tour instead.

Asterisks * in red means optional tours. I included these for the convenience of those wanting a guided tours versus DIY ones.

Vietnam Ho Chi Minh Travel Guide Budget Itinerary

DAY 1 to 3 - HO CHI MINH | VND 2,586,728.00 FOR TWO


• Afternoon arrival from the airport 
    VND 20,000.00 x 2 – BUS FROM AIRPORT TO PHAM NGU LAO 
    VND 251,309.00 – CHEAPEST TWO NIGHTS HOTEL RENTAL FOR TWO IN SAIGON
    VND 136,419.00 – 5GB SIMCARD [AIRPORT PICK-UP]
    VND 825,000.00 x 2 – THE SINH TOURISTS OPEN BUS: SAIGON ► MUI NE ► HOI AN ► HUE ► HANOI 
• Ho Chi Minh walking tour
    VND 0.00 – DIY
• Optional guided tours
- CHECK FULL LIST
    * VND 317,875.00 – FULL DAY MEKONG RIVER CRUISE
    * VND 295,598.00 – HALF DAY CU CHI TUNNELS TOUR
    * VND 227,365.00 – HO CHI MINH CITY TOUR
• Meals on hawkers for two persons 
    VND 509,000.00 – 2 DINNER, 2 BREAKFAST, 2 LUNCH

 

Vietnam Mui Ne Travel Guide Budget Itinerary

DAY 3 to 6 - MUI NE | VND 1,257,657.00 FOR TWO


• Evening arrival in Mui Ne from Ho Chi Minh
    VND 0.00 – OPEN BUS DIRECTLY TO HOTEL
    VND 567,657.00 – CHEAPEST THREE NIGHTS HOTEL RENTAL FOR TWO IN MUI NE
• Local Mui Ne Tours
    VND 120,000.00 x 2 – MUI NE HALF-DAY TOUR (FAIRY STREAM, SAND DUNES, FISHING VILLAGE)
    VND 66,000.00 – MUI NE DIY TOUR (BUS FARE + CHAM TOWER ENTRANCE FEE)
• Meals on hawkers for two persons
    VND 384,000.00 – 3 DINNER, 2 BRUNCH

 

Vietnam Nha Trang Travel Guide Budget Itinerary

DAY 6 - NHA TRANG | 90,000.00 FOR TWO


• Quick stop at Nha Trang en route to Hoi An
    VND 0.00 – OPEN BUS
    VND 90,000.00 – DINNER ON HAWKERS FOR TWO

 

Vietnam Hoi An Travel Guide Budget Itinerary

DAY 7 to 10 - HOI AN | VND 652,452.00 FOR TWO


• Early morning arrival in Hoi An from Mui Ne 
    VND 0.00 – OPEN BUS, DROPPED NEAR THE HOTEL 
    VND 341,452.00 – CHEAPEST TWO NIGHTS HOTEL RENTAL FOR TWO
• Ancient Town of Hoi An visit 
    * VND 120,000.00 x 2 – ANCIENT TOWN OF HOI AN MUSEUM TICKETS  
• Biking to An Bang Beach
    VND 10,000.00 – BIKE PARKING FEE
• Optional guided tours - CHECK FULL LIST
    * VND 529,287.00 x 2 – HOI AN FULL DAY PRIVATE TOUR
    * VND 478,023.00 x 2 – MY SON DAY TOUR
    * VND 386,887.00 x 2DA NANG DAY TRIP 
• Meals on hawkers for two persons
    VND 301,000.00 - 2 BRUNCH, 2 DINNER

 

Vietnam Hue Travel Guide Budget Itinerary

DAY 10 to 11 - HUE | VND 792,925.00 FOR TWO


• Afternoon arrival in Hue
    VND 0.00 – OPEN BUS
    VND 295,925.00 – CHEAPEST ONE NIGHT HOTEL RENTAL FOR TWO IN HUE
• Hue Citadel DIY Tour
    VND 150,000.00 x 2 – ENTRANCE FEE 
• Optional Guided Tours - CHECK FULL LIST
    * VND 842,741.00 – HUE BY NIGHT MOTORBIKE TOUR
    * VND 751,634.00 – PHONG NA CAVE EXPLORATION
    * VND 546,643.00 – HUE HALF DAY TOUR
• Meals on hawkers for two persons
    VND 197,000.00 – 2 DINNER, 1 BREAKFAST, 1 LUNCH

 

Vietnam Hanoi Travel Guide Budget Itinerary

DAY 12 - HANOI | VND 1,753,160.00 FOR TWO


• Early morning arrival in Hanoi from Hue
    VND 0.00 – OPEN BUS TO OLD QUARTER 
• Walk around Hanoi
    VND 0.00 – DIY 
• Meals on hawkers for two persons

    VND 251,000.00 – 1 BREAKFAST, 1 LUNCH, 1 DINNER
• Optional guided tours
    * VND 649,138.00 – HALF DAY HANOI CITY TOUR
    * VND 478,312.00 – HIDDEN HANOI AFTERNOON TOUR
• Depart for Sapa by train

    VND 751,080.00 x 2 – CHEAPEST TRAIN TO SAPA

 

Vietnam Sapa Travel Guide Budget Itinerary

DAY 13 to 16 - SAPA | VND 1,016,600.00 FOR TWO


  • Early morning arrival in Sapa from Hanoi
    VND 291,600.00 – CHEAPEST THREE NIGHTS HOTEL RENTAL FOR TWO IN SAPA
• Walking tours around town
    VND 0.00 – DIY 
• Meals on hawkers for two persons
    VND 725,000.00 – 4 BREAKFAST, 4 LUNCH, 4 DINNER

 

Vietnam Halong Bay Travel Guide Budget Itinerary

DAY 17 to 18 - HALONG BAY | VND 8,058,336.00 FOR TWO


• Early morning arrival in Hanoi from Sapa
    VND 751,080.00 x 2 - CHEAPEST TRAIN FROM SAPA
• Halong Bay Overnight Tour
    VND 3,278,088.00 x 2 – HALONG BAY OVERNIGHT DELUXE CRUISE, INCLUSIVE OF TRANSFERS & MEALS
    * VND 979,401.00 – HALONG BAY DAY TOUR CRUISE, INCLUSIVE OF TRANSFER & MEAL

 

Vietnam Hanoi Travel Guide Budget Itinerary

DAY 18 to 21 - HANOI | VND 1,528,800.00 FOR TWO


• Late afternoon arrival in Hanoi from Halong Bay
    VND 670,800.00 – CHEAPEST THREE NIGHTS HOTEL RENTAL FOR TWO IN HANOI
• Hanoi Old District walking tour
    VND 0.00 – DIY
• Hanoi French District walking tour
    VND 0.00 – DIY
• Hanoi Ba Dinh District walking tour
    VND 30,000.00 x 2 – TEMPLE OF LITERATURE ENTRANCE FEE
    VND 30,000.00 x 2 – HANOI CITADEL ENTRANCE FEE
• Optional guided tours - CHECK FULL LIST
    * VND 683,303.00 – HANOI IN A DAY
    * VND 706,080.00 – HANOI EVENING STREET EATS
    * VND 797,187.00 – TRANG AN DAY TRIP
    * VND 1,890,472.00 – TWO-DAY SAPA TREKKING TOUR
• Meals on hawkers for two persons
    VND 688,000.00 – 4 BREAKFAST, 4 LUNCH, 4 DINNER
• Depart Hanoi
    VND 20,000.00 – UBER TO TRAIN STATION
    VND 30,000.00 x 2 – TRAIN TO AIRPORT

 


TOTAL BUDGET:
 VND 17,736,658.00 (USD 782.19 | PHP 40,728.46) for two persons

 VND   8,868,329.00 (USD 391.09 | PHP 20,364.23) per person
 VND      422,301.38 (USD 18.62 | PHP 969.73) per person, per day

* BASED ON TWO PERSONS TRAVELING TOGETHER FOR TWENTY ONE DAYS IN VIETNAM






Posted by Christian Sangoyo on Monday, March 12, 2018

0 comments

Post a Comment