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Balancing the Global Budget: Vietnam

Elephant Falls, Dalat


We finally make it to South East Asia…. backpacker paradise when it comes to living on the cheap, cheap, cheap! You can live in SEA for pennies a day (or so) – it is ridiculous!!

But wait…. how is it then, that our average daily spend has actually gone up!??!

Did Shawna shop a little too much in Vietnam?


It’s true, ever since Ghana our daily spend has been on the rise!

It wasn’t supposed to happen this way.

The good news is that we can explain this oddity, and if we can be honest about things, we aren’t terribly bothered by it. In our minds, the extra expenditure was worth it – absolutely!

So, what happened? Well, first there was Jordan…. and then there was Israel…and then there was Mom and Dad!! No point in getting too worked up if these are the things that are causing you to spend a little more money, right?

These are Shekels, and in Israel we spent many of them.


It is true, both Jordan and Israel (spending $143 and $121/day respectively) were very expensive places for us to travel. In fact they were the third and fourth most expensive countries we have spent time in (after Italy and France). And despite the fact that we travelled these two countries for a mere 16 days, we spent enough to bump up our average by a substantial amount.

And then of course there was the parent’s visit. As we have discussed, we were living a pretty rich lifestyle over the month of February. We took four internal flights (which DO count towards our average), stayed in places ‘slightly’ above our normal price range, and well….went golfing. Yeah, we don’t expect any pity here…

As I have mentioned before we do not include any international flights in our Daily $ Average. I know this may seem bizarre, but before we left we decided to keep this budget separate. So although flights are included in our Total $ Spent, they are not included in our Daily Average.

Also, these posts are about how much it costs us to travel the world. We are not the world’s cheapest backpackers; that has become fully apparent to us. We don’t mind spending a little extra money on things we love to do. We watch our shekels and dong, but we don’t let it stop us from having a few mai tais or spending a little more to upgrade our Halong Bay Cruise. The good news is, that if we can live on a $100/day….so can you!!

Maybe we're crazy for spending all this cash?!


Here is a look at our spending of dongs on Vietnam:

Dollar to Dong Conversion

$1 CDN = 21,000 Vietnamese Dong
1€ = 27,400 Vietnamese Dong

Vietnam Spending

Total # of Days – 41
Total Dollars Spent (CDN) – $4,332.95
Daily Average (CDN) – $105.68 (or 81€)

Total Spending To Date

Total Dollars Spent (CDN) – $31,756.75
Daily Average (CDN) – $105.40 (or 81€)

So, How Much CAN it cost??

Accommodation - With a small amount of research, it should still be possible to find a private room with A/C (and maybe even an ensuite) for $20-25 CDN/night. We paid $18 for this in Saigon, and $25 for the same thing in Dalat (breakfast included!) Although we didn’t stay in budget accommodations in Nha Trang or Hoi An, we did enough digging to know that prices can be similar.

Our guesthouse in Saigon.


Food - If your content to live off of street food, and small independent Vietnamese-owned restaurants (and you should be – the food is phenomenal!) expect to be spending $2-4 CDN per meal.

Spring rolls, anyone?


Drink - One of the first things I noticed when we arrived in Saigon was a sign that said “Cold Beer 10,000 dong”. Not a typo. That’s fifty cents a bottle!!! It was probably a little more common to find it for 20,000 dong…but the frugal beer-lover should rarely pay more than a buck a beer.

From a non-alcoholic perspective….when it wasn’t Tiger beer, it was a Mango Smoothie for the bargain price of $1.25!

15,000 dong?! Outrageous!


Vietnam – our wallets will miss you.


Have you been to Vietnam?? How many dong were you dropping? We’d love to know in the comments below!

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8 Responses to “Balancing the Global Budget: Vietnam”

  1. Derek March 19, 2012 at 8:08 pm #

    My father-in-law just got back from Vietnam and brought back some Dong.. we had a laugh about it.. just a weird name for their money. He also said the food was really cheap.
    Derek recently posted..Nightmare Redeeming Delta SkyMiles For Reward Tickets

    • Skott March 21, 2012 at 4:15 am #

      He was right, Derek… he was right. The food is cheap, no doubt about it, which is only one of the reasons it is such an incredible country to visit. And yes, I would say that the ‘Dong’ is the currency we have run into so far!

  2. Jennifer Burton March 30, 2012 at 7:20 am #

    How much did you guys set aside for flights? How much have you already spent on flights? Sorry, did you post this somewhere else and I just missed it?
    Jennifer Burton recently posted..Baby talk, Salad speak…

    • Skott and Shawna March 30, 2012 at 8:51 am #

      Hi Jennifer – In the beginning we set aside $5,000 CDN for international flights. This wasn’t counting the first flight from Calgary to London, because in our minds we didn’t think our journey began until we landed in London…. anything to keep that budget down, I suppose. So far we have spent $3700 on the following flights: 1) Edinburgh-Memmingen, Germany 2) Madrid, Spain – Tangier, Morocco 3) Accra, Ghana – Cairo, Egypt – Amman, Jordan 4)Amman – Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam 5) Bangkok-Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (return) I suspect we have a couple big flight still planned as we are currently considering India, and then getting to the American continent…. we haven’t looked into those flights yet, but the latter of the two will be very expensive…especially if we are trying to get from somewhere in India to somewhere in South America. Hope that helps! Let us know if you have any more questions!

      • Jennifer Burton April 4, 2012 at 6:07 am #

        Sweet! Thanks for the details Skott and Shawna. The reason I got turned onto this blog is b/c I made a off-hand comment on Facebook re. travelling the world. Then Shawna commented and linked to this site, saying that she was doing exactly that. Through your site I am now discovering that this is truly possible. So slowly we (my husband and I) are wrapping our minds around the idea that this is something we can do, if we plan for it right.

        I’d love to sit down with you both when you get back to hash out some details. Until then I’ll just watch from afar.

        Thanks ;)

        p.s. Shawna beat me in the beep test when we played volleyball together. She’s fierce!
        Jennifer Burton recently posted..Life is like coffee

        • Shawna April 5, 2012 at 4:29 am #

          Yay Jen!!!! I’m so glad that you are seriously considering this trip. As soon as I saw that Facebook post I just knew we would connect over our love for traveling. We would be more than happy to get together with you guys when we get back! That’s part of the fun of seeing all these amazing places-being able to pass on ideas to our friends and family. I’d love to hear about your adventure in South Korea too…I don’t think we’ll make it there this time around so we’ll have to live vicariously through your experiences! Take Care!

  3. Shawna April 5, 2012 at 4:26 am #

    Thanks Kyla! I think Vietnam is definitely a little less traveled and a little overlooked in comparison to Thailand but I really liked the distinctly different culture and vibe there. I was also blown away by the city Hoi An…it was so quaint and a really nice treat from the bigger cities that were crazy with traffic. Dalat was also a great place for exploring the countryside.

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  1. Balancing The Global Budget: Guatemala | Get Up and Globe - June 26, 2012

    [...] currency we have been dabbling in most recently. Yikes, we haven’t posted anything since Vietnam and that was February!! But here we are again, time for a budgetary check-up and this round we are [...]

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