Monday, November 10, 2014

Vietnam: Affordable & Ho Chi Minh

With at least three months of constant traveling and with no foreseeable income in sight, I decided to kick off my trip in Vietnam where most things are inexpensive and the food is phenomenal.

Flights from Bangkok or Singapore are less than $100. So we departed Melbourne and dropped off our heavy luggage with family in Singapore before heading north to Vietnam for three weeks with two medium-sized backpacks and our pre-approved visas.

A photo posted by Raquel Minh (@globaltumbleweed) on

Luckily, Rumblesteeze and I have good people around the world that were hospitable enough to put up with us vagabonds. This saved us thousands during our trip, but also helped us bond with each other's family and friends. So other than Hawaii, Vietnam was the only place where I had to budget for accommodation.

Fortunately, Vietnam is one of the most affordable countries in the world to visit. A two or three star hotel may only cost you $20 a night. If you're splitting rooms with a partner and friend (like I was) then you're only paying a few USD per night!

We started our trip in the southern city of Ho Chi Minh, formerly known as Saigon. I recommend staying in District 1 if you are a backpacker. There are decent hostels, tons of nightlife, and many of the tourist attractions are within walking distance.

We visited rooftop bars, street-side pho shops, war museums, and markets. I have spent a lot of time in southeast Asia and I felt Ho Chi Minh is similar to other cities in the region, until I went on a tour of the Mekong River. Many tour operators offer similar $10 day tours which include transport (bus, boat, and sometimes bicycle) and a chance to see the hidden river communities of the Mekong.

A photo posted by Raquel Minh (@globaltumbleweed) on

I wrote more about my overall impressions of Vietnam here.

A few tips which may make your visit through Vietnam more comfortable:

  • Always carry around a spare toilet paper roll. More often than not, you will encounter a bare minimum toilet. So unless you're comfortable air drying or using a squat toilet - just bring your own TP.
  • Always carry a packable rain jacket during rain season. It rained almost everyday during our stay. We did experience plenty of sunshine, but the rain will find you for a few minutes (or a few hours), so be prepared!

Bonus: Check out my Travel Essentials:Adventure on Pinterest. I loved my Patagonia duffel bag and Kathmandu packing cell.

We stayed in Ho Chi Minh for about 5 days before taking an overnight sleeper bus north to the hill town of Dalat. In Dalat, we stayed in a wacky hotel known as Crazy House and went rappelling through waterfalls... Rumblesteeze and I will be sharing our Vietnam travel video this week!