I just came back from a 3 days 2 nights road trip adventure from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City (or known as Saigon). As usual, I received questions like if I am on sponsored staycation trip ( #TrollPost) knowing that I blog and people having the disbelief that I funded my own travels and how much money did I spent?
One of the questions raised to me was if USD50 (RM200) enough for one to explore the city in 3 days 2 nights. I wasn’t very sure of this for I have definitely used more than USD50 for the trip . So, a poll was conducted on my Instagram account on Instastory and results showed that 87% said Yes 13 % said No. The below ways elaborated here are written based on the honest responds by the poll voters and some on my experience which DIDN’T cost me as low as USD50 for 3 days 2 nights.
Book a stay ( dormitory style for as low as USD 8 per night at the Backpacker street at Phum Ngu Lao, District 1. On special deal days on the OTAs ,you might get a private room like this ( picture below) at USD15 per night at the hostel. Cost : USD 15 per night x 2 nights = USD30 ( RM120 after conversion)
Meet & Stay with the Locals and travellers via Couchsurfing . You might think that it is a night ‘s stay without any cost involved but that’s more of a myth actually. Think about the time and cost spend to travel to the place. Yes, your host is not charging you but since you are staying at their place, don’t you think cooking a meal, bringing your host out for a meal or a small gift as a gesture in return to them hosting you? Cost is involved here.
Camp at the park or in the jungle ( #TrollPost) suggested by a traveller. This suggestion is great ! Even the internet agrees that it will be fun.
Cost : Free but brace yourself for mosquitoes.
One of the best things of travelling to Saigon is street food and the Vietnamese style coffee. True enough that street food here are very affordable and easily found at the local markets like these delicacies with the pricing as follow. Please note that the prices may vary from what I have eaten depending on where you eat them and how stall owners charge.
Now here comes the math as simple like this. Cost : USD3 per meal x 3 meals per day USD9 per day x 3 days = USD27(almost RM110)
Eat a full breakfast from the hotel
Ha ! Looks like we still have some money left from eating street foods. Try cafe hopping at some cool hipster cafes like Cong Ca Phe.
Click here for more info on Cong Ca Phe.
No visit to Ho Chi Minh city is complete without at least stopping by at Vietnam’s most instagrammable and talked about ‘ The Cafe Apartment’ at Nguyễn Huệ Bến Nghé , District 1 where old apartments turned into trendy cafes, indie fashion houses and creative work spaces.
This is a tea house by the name of ‘Partea’ where you get to choose your tea and cups to enjoy your tea with.
Walk on foot from one place to another if you can stand the heat under the sun.
Rent a scooter from USD15- USD20 per day
Hail a ride with Grab
Moving around in motorbikes in the bustling city of Vietnam is one of the fastest ways of moving around the city. With the rise of ride hailing apps like Grab and Go Viet, it has certainly made moving around cheaper and faster. What are the fares like ? Check out Grab Vietnam
Guided Tour & Attractions
Book a tour with the Saigon Free Walking Tours. The Saigon Free Walking Tours is a social enterprise dedicated to create a platform for volunteer university students guide who are locals who knows Saigon at their fingertips. Most importantly, people who are passionate about Vietnam and willing to share the beauty of Saigon with travellers The Saigon Free Walking Tours are priced at VND 80,000 – USD 4 ( scooter ride) and VND 300,000 ( USD 12) for the entire trip ( usually 3-4 hours) and VND20,000 ( USD1) for the NGO’s maintenance and development. Please note the fees here are excluding ticket fees to attractions and meals. Don’t forget to your new friends a meal too for them being your guide of the day. Click here for more info.
Saigon Free Walking Tours itinerary – Light Up the Night Tour
Overall, the guided tour is easy, hassle free yet informative as places of interest are explained in detailed by the guides and I am sharing with you a copy of how does the itinerary of Light Up the Night Tour look like
Pick Up at Hostel or Hotel
Dinner with a choice of 3 Vietnamese dishes- Com Tam, Banh Cuon and Mi Quang
For my tour, I have chosen to try the Mi Quang at Banh Canh Cua 14.
645pm Sightseeing at Thu Thiem Tunnel, city night view ( The Landmark- Vietnam’s Tallest Building currently) near the banks of Saigon river
730pm Night Strolling at The Municipal Theater of Ho Chi Minh or the Saigon Opera House, Saigon City Hall and Nguyen Bun Hue walking street ( near The Apartment Cafes)
One of Ho Chi Minh City’s most prominent landmarks, the Saigon Opera House was custom built in 1897 by the French architect Eugene Ferret. In 1955 it was transformed into South Vietnam’s Assembly House and has undergone several refurbishments since.
915pm Milk Tea and Ice- Creams ( optional)
I am not a fan of sweet stuffs so my guide took me to get Saigon beers at the store nearby instead and called it a night by ending thetour having a plate of Broken rice with pork.
Cost of Beer : Less than USD2
Day 2 – Free & Easy tour at Non Entrance Fee required attractions
Since, this post is still revolving on frugal travelling with a maximum spend of just USD50 for 3 days 2 nights, let’s move on to some non money needed attractions namely the Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica, Saigon Central Post Office and swing by the 30-4 park located nearby.
The Central Post Office constructed between 1886 and 1891 designed by Alfred Foulhoux
Now, let’s see if USD50 is enough for a 3 days 2 nights travel in Ho Chi Minh city. Expenses does not include Air Flight yet because swiping Mastercard and Visa cards are not a form of spending money ( #TrollPost)
Stay ( 2 nights at the hostel dorms)- USD15 ( bunk beds and share bathrooms)
Food (Street food for breakfast lunch and dinner – USD27- USD3 per meals ( for 3 days 2 nights)
Cafe Hopping- One Coffee only – USD 3
Transport- Walking & FOC entrance attractions.
TOTAL : USD 45 (Emergency cash in hands = USD5 ( safe in hands if nothing happens)
Transport – USD 24 ( PP- HCM and HCM-PP) – 2 ways
Hostel- USD 30 ( 2 nights)
Day 1- Lunch ( USD2)
Dinner + Guide ( USD 5 + USD 2 ( Beer) + USD 8 ( meal with my guide) = USD15
TOTAL = USD71
Grab Bike ( 2 places ) – USD 4 ( due to distance)
Breakfast – USD3
Lunch- Pho ( with Vy)- USD 7
Tea- USD 5 ( pot of tea)
Dinner at Thoc Oc ( 2 person)- USD 12
Transport- Walking & scooter ride with Vy ( No cost)
Total : USD 31
In conclusion, the idea of USD50 for 3 days 2 nights is not for everyone. Honestly, not for me because I prefer better rooms, food and best of comfort. For those who asked and said that the USD50 is only for our expenses while at the city not inclusive of flight and room because they are swiping their Mastercard Visa Card so there is no cash involved. I don’t where does the logic comes from. Do you mean, you don’t have to payback after swiping your cards after a purchase? Teach us please.