Budget itinerary: 6 days in Vietnam, Cambodia for P25,000
This post was originally published on Andrea Javier's blog, and is republished here with her permission.
I recently came back from a week-long trip to Vietnam and Cambodia and I was very eager to blog about our trip, due to a lot of messages I received asking for our itinerary and expenses on this trip.
People often have a misconception that travelling is expensive. I thought so too, but after travelling for quite some time – both local and international – and researching and making itineraries, I learned how you can save and still make the most out of your trip.
With that, let me share how we came up with a trip that cost us P20,000 to 25,000 to 2 Asian cities in 6 days.
Here, I will give you an overview of our expenses and activities in Ho Chi Minh and Siem Reap – plus some tips on how you can save while on your trip.
(P10,200.15 or about $218)
Our airport transfer to our hotel was $17 (per group) in total. Tuktuk ride for Angkor Wat tour was $15 (per group). So this will still change depending on how big your group is.
(P4202.20 or about $89)
I strictly followed my intended budget for this trip. My pocket money was P20,000. Adding the airfare, this trip cost me roughly around P25,000.
For further reference, please refer to this conversion:
- P46.79 = $1
- $1 = 22, 316 VND (Vietnam)
- 1USD = 4,060 KHR (Cambodia)
To give you an idea how much to allot for food:
In Vietnam, one meal ranges from 60,000 to 100,000 VND. One plate of spring rolls costs 60,000 VND, Pho costs 60,000 VND, Banh Mi on the streets costs 15,000 VND, and coffee is around 20,000 VND (cheaper on the streets).
Luckily, our hotel offered free breakfast, so we only had to worry about lunch and dinner. During our Mekong Delta tour, lunch was included also. I spent $25 to 35 for food and drinks (beer and water). So, that is P1000 – 1600 max.
In Cambodia, one meal ranges from $3 to 5. Our hotel also offered free breakfast, so we only had to worry about lunch and dinner. I spent around $20 to 25 for meals in Cambodia – around P1,200 max.
- It is advisable to buy big bottled water (1 or 1.5L) which only costs 8,000 VND in the convenience store. Then have a small bottle that you will refill every time you go out. This will keep you from buying water or juice when you dine out (which costs more). Probably, during the entire trip I bought 5L of water, 1 beer, 1 cocktail, 1 fruit shake, 3 coffee only.
- I also brought snacks and instant food for our vacation. I brought some chips, cookies, cup noodles and canned goods because I know Vietnam food includes A LOT of veggies. And I don’t really like veggies. If you’re like me, who is picky with food, make sure you bring along some food that you like.
- Try street food! Vietnam is known for their sidewalk stalls. Bahn Mi costs 15,000 VND only, we had grilled porkchop with rice, and it only costs 40,000 VND. While eating at a restaurant is pleasant, I would also suggest to try eating like a local. Maybe have Banh Mi for breakfast or eat at Ben Tanh’s Night Market, where you’ll find cheaper food.
Our hotel in Vietnam was located in the backpackers' area. We can walk to the market if we wanted to, but we opted to ride cabs instead. It saved us a lot of time. Taxis in Vietnam are all metered. Their flag down rate for small cars is 11,000 VND and for big cars is 12,000 VND. Our cab ride ranges from 15,000 to 45,000 VND. So per person, we usually pay 5,000 – 15,000 per ride. It depends on how often you will take the cab, but it is safe to allot 100,000 VND or P225.
Meanwhile, in Cambodia, I have noticed that there are no taxis around. Your main transportation is a tuktuk. We were always charged $1 per person, but later on we haggled for $2 (for the 3 of us). That is with the exception to the Angkor Wat tour.
Tuktuk for sunrise viewing of Angkor Wat (4:30AM) is $20, but if it’s not for the sunrise viewing, it costs $15. Also, we were offered a Floating Market and Angkor Museum tour, the tuktuk price was $5 each. We declined the tour, but we asked to be toured in the city instead. We went to the market, Pub Street, souvenir shops, for the same tuktuk price $5. So, it depends on what your activity is, but I think it is safe to allot $25 or P1,125.
- You could rent a motorcycle in Vietnam and bike in Cambodia if you want to go around for a day. That would save you from riding cabs and tuktuk every time you go out. You can inquire with your hotel if they have motorcycles or bikes for rent.
- If you decide to take the cab, follow the meter. We’ve encountered a taxi driver who was asking us for 50,000 VND for a 17,000 VND meter. We just gave him the exact amount and left.
I would say the biggest portion of my pocket money (aside from the basic expenses) went to souvenirs. I did not take note how much exactly I spent for souvenirs, but based on what I spent for basic expenses, food and transportation, I think I was left with roughly P6,000 to spare.
I’m not sure if that amount for you is big or small, but with that amount I was able to buy: 2 original North Face backpack, a satchel bag, a shoulder bag, an elephant designed body bag, 4 Tshirts, 5 sando tops, 1 Alibaba pants, 1 painting of the Angkor Wat, 8 small boxes of Vietnam Coffee, 1 pack of chocolate, 1 pack of dried fruits, 1 chili powder, 20 ref magnets, 2 Pashmina scarves, 8 small and medium pouches, 1 Vietnam farmer hat.
- For souvenirs, I strongly suggest for you to buy in Saigon Square not in Ben Thanh Market. The vendors in Ben Thanh are pretty aggressive. They will hold you firmly and will not let you go if you ask for their price.
- Haggle, haggle, haggle! Most of the time the vendors will give you the calculator to ask how much you’re willing to pay. Negotiate wisely!
- For North Face bags, there is a stall in Saigon Square 2 which is famous among Filipino tourists. Even the vendor knows how to speak in Tagalog because of a lot of customers. This stall is located at the back end of the mall, corner of the first aisle. But take note, most of the time your negotiating skills won’t work on her. If you try to leave her stall if she doesn’t give you your desired amount, she won’t stop you from leaving. Eventually, you’ll come back because her stall has the cheapest price among other stalls.
Our strategy was to stay in a budget-friendly hotel in Vietnam and splurge on a boutique hotel in Cambodia. We booked Blue River Hotel and Petit Temple, our hotels in Vietnam and Cambodia, respectively, through Booking.com.
Blue River Hotel is a budget friendly place and is located at the heart of the backpackers district. It is accessible to a pub, a convenience store, a pharmacy, restaurants and sidewalk stalls. They have a very nice and accommodating staff and we even befriended our host, Thuy. We converted our dollars thru her and she also booked our tours and activities, so it was less of a hassle for us. We also had free breakfast and they offered a pick up transfer from the airport with a fee of $17. Our hotel rate was $37 per night.
Petit Villa Hotel is worth spending our money for. Our room was super nice. It had temple lamp shades, the bathroom had a tub and, the room had a closet, fridge and TV.
When you go out of your room, they have a table and 2 chairs where you can have your morning coffee. Their food was outstanding and came in big servings. Not to mention their pool, which I loved with all the greenery surrounding me. Our hotel rate was $65 per night.
- I highly suggest booking through Booking.com. I liked it because I was not required to pay immediately via credit card. We paid on the day we arrived at the hotel. The hotel also contacts you via email (in our case, Blue River Hotel did).
- In Cambodia, I suggest book a hotel near the market. I saw some hotels near the airport, they are very far from the night life and the restaurants! Our hotel is in a good location, it is also near Angkor Wat.
Our activities in Vietnam were all booked by our hotel. We did our own City Tour, which covered the War Remnants Museum, Notre Dame Cathedral, Independence Palace and Post Office. They are all near each other, so you can just walk from one place to another. We regret not seeing the Opera House though. We also booked Cu Chi Tunnel and Mekong Delta Tour.
There are other activities you may want to try like the Floating Market in Can Tho. It would be best to check with your hotel’s receptionist.
In Cambodia, we limited our tour to Angkor Wat only. The one-day tour is $20, and the tuktuk ride is $20 for sunrise viewing or $15 if you start at 8AM. We were offered the Angkor Museum for $12 and Floating Market for $20, which we declined.
We opted to do a city tour, to see the market and the souvenir shops. We wanted our stay in Cambodia to be less tourist-y, with exception of the Angkor Wat tour. Our favorite hangout places are the Pub Street, Old Market and Night Market. We ate crepe, pancake, chicken, and more at the food stalls. We also had beer in Angkor What?
To sum it up, here's my suggested allotted money for this trip. But it still depends on how big of a spender you are. But this is already a safe amount for a tipid-budget trip!
So there, I hope I gave you a pretty clear overview of our itinerary and expenses in Vietnam and Cambodia. Feel free to leave comments or questions. – Rappler.com
All photos provided by Andrea Javier