Vietnam is famous for the low prices amongst holiday makers and travelers. It’s easy to find decent accommodation for US$20, but you can find similar standard even for US$3 per room. Here’s few things for you to know before or during your travel to Vietnam, which will save you some money and let you spend it on the extraordinary Vietnamese cuisine or excursions.
Know what to look for – Nha Nghi
Depending on the way you’ll travel, you may visit the most crowded places in Vietnam or go a bit off the path, you will find different names for the same thing, i.e. hotels. Whereas near major tourist attractions or biggest cities you can find hotels, hostels, guest-houses, “rooms to rent”, in smaller places it will be all in Vietnamese. Look for “Nha Nghi” and a good price is nearly guaranteed. Only exception is the major cities like Hanoi or HCMC, where Nha Nghi will be more expensive or unavailable to foreigners. This is an effort to scare you off and get you to go to hotels for foreigners. You’ll find that Vietnamese people are very loyal. Nha Nghi is commonly translated by Vietnamese people as motel and it is as comfortable as most of the hotels, at lower price. It should never be more expensive than 200,000 VND per room, meaning that 2 people traveling together won’t pay more than 5 US dollars per person. The price however can get as low as 50,000 VND ($2.5).
Getting the right price
In Vietnam, it is a common belief that foreigners SHOULD pay more. Don’t assume that the first quoted price is right, you need to haggle. Be positive, polite and smile a lot and ask them nicely to drop theprice down, to about the half of the original price. So, from 250k VND, say that you’re looking for something for 120k and chances are that in the end you’ll pay 150k. One night savings can get you a nice tour the next day, so it’s worth trying. The most important thing to know is – don’t settle on the first one you walk into. If you like the first one and the price is good, say you need to go get some cash and will come back in 10-20 minutes. In this way you have secured a good deal and have time to ask around. It may turn out that in this place all hotels are cheap and the first one you liked is the most expensive without offering any extra comfort.
Know what should be included
10 Us dollars, or 200,000 VND should get you a comfortable room with air con, tv, towels, wifi and all the toiletries. Some Nha Nghi’s and hotels would also offer a fridge and some other extras (drinking water, etc.). If any of these is not available and you don’t necessarily need it, use it to your advantage, and ask for lower price. Air condition is the biggie here. It’s normally priced at 20,000-50,000 VND per night. If you can survive without it, and want to save some money, ask for price without air con. Don’t worry, you will get a good fan to cool you down.
I have cycled the from China to Saigon with Agness for less than 2 months. Within this time, we have never paid more than 200,000 VND ($10). The prices varied from 60k and 180k with the most stays at 120k or 150k. Although sometimes we had to forgo air condition in a bid to get a lower price and hot water was rarely available, it is really something you can live without few nights. Never worry about going off the path in Vietnam. Every single village will have at least one place where you can find shelter. Do it and you won’t regret it. Bicycle or motorbike adventure is what I strongly recommend :)