Vietnam on a shoestring budget

2016-04-07 21:00
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Cape Town - It's easy to get caught up in the rand’s exchange-rate, putting you off all the amazing world of travel opportunities out there - but consider the few that won't cost the earth, including Vietnam.

The Far East has long been a fantastic value option for local travellers. Visas are inexpensive at under $20  (about R263 at R13.16/$) and available online, street food is cheap and tasty and the opportunities to step outside your comfort zone and discover a whole new culture are immeasurable.

So what are the possible costs to consider when spending two weeks travelling through Vietnam?

Accommodation and Transport are going to be your biggest expenses.Travelling independently means you could check out bus and train schedules, but keep in mind these may not be the most reliable or safest options - they certainly aren’t built for comfort.

Keeping a tight budget also means, options become limited and you don't want to be stuck in a cesspit of fleas and questionable cleanliness. You also need to factor in your food costs, sightseeing, entertainment, drinks and more.

A bottle of water will cost about R4, a coke will set you back just under R7 and a local beer (they’re very good) costs only R11. 

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Busabout Adventure could one option to consider with daily costs pegged at R1 197, take a look at this breakdown and you’ll soon discover how easy (and cheap) it is to travel Vietnam with Busabout on a shoestring. 

This includes hotel accommodation and one night’s special stay, breakfast, sightseeing, transport in air-conditioned mini bus, and selected meals: 

- Daily meals: about R60 per day
- Entertainment: about R40 per day
- Drinks (booze and water): about R60 per day

That said here are a few other top tips to consider if you're really keen on visiting Vietnam: 

• South African travellers need a visa to enter Vietnam. These can be issued on arrival at the airport and must be paid for in US dollars.

• The currency in Vietnam is … wait for it… the Dong. Yes, you can laugh now.

• Eat at the local markets – the food is fresh, delicious and very well priced at about R30 per meal.

• You simply must try Pho – traditional Vietnamese soup made with the most incredible stock and loaded with tasty noodles and fresh vegetables.

• Never leave your chopsticks sticking up in the bowl, this is symbolic of death. Always use the chopstick holder or place next to your bowl.

• Tipping is not expected, with the exception of your travel guide.

• The iconic conical Vietnamese hat is known as a Non La.

• There might be nine million bicycles in Beijing but there are at least 10 million motorbikes on the roads of Vietnam every day. And despite it not being the safest option it is fun to take a ride on the back of one. 

• When shopping in the markets for souvenirs you must haggle. The store owner will throw out a price, which is usually three times more than what he or she will accept. Offer them less than half and start the negotiations. Be prepared to walk away if the price is not right – they’ll follow you.

• When in Ho Chi Minh pay a visit to the War Remnants Museum – a stark reminder of the Vietnam War of the sixties and seventies which lays bare the good and the bad on both sides of the conflict.

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