I backpacked northern Vietnam for about 3 weeks and spent 988 EUR.
As far as prices go, Vietnam is a bit cheaper than Bali, you can get small beer for less than 1 EUR, a coffee for less than 2 EUR and a traditional Pho Bo (beef soup) for about 2 EUR. Also, transporation is important in backpacking and on average I paid about 10 EUR for a 6h sleeper bus trip.
988.47 EUR Expenses 13.80 EUR ATM 352.31 EUR Accommodation 62.71 EUR Homestay 76.78 EUR Hostel 212.82 EUR Hotel 10.20 EUR Clothing 8.98 EUR Coworking 75.71 EUR Drinks 29.10 EUR Alcohol 27.80 EUR Coffee 5.31 EUR N/A 5.92 EUR Tea 0.08 EUR Tip 7.51 EUR Water 237.96 EUR Food 2.24 EUR Baquette 3.47 EUR Burger 18.86 EUR Desert 3.14 EUR Fries 2.86 EUR Frog 4.08 EUR Hotpot 2.65 EUR Icecream 20.04 EUR Indian 4.82 EUR Japanese 1.31 EUR Milk 1.84 EUR Noodle 5.31 EUR Pasta 14.65 EUR Pizza 7.96 EUR Rice 1.84 EUR Rolls 2.04 EUR Salad 9.59 EUR Seafood 2.24 EUR Shawarma 3.55 EUR Snack 61.22 EUR Snake 0.78 EUR Tax 0.08 EUR Tip 4.49 EUR Vegetarian 19.18 EUR Vietnamese 1.22 EUR Yogurt 6.12 EUR Laundry 11.66 EUR Online:Revolut 0.61 EUR Others 8.57 EUR Phone 10.00 EUR SPA:Massage 2.45 EUR Sports:Cycling 4.08 EUR Tickets 14.29 EUR Tours 203.28 EUR Transportation 146.38 EUR Airplane 44.65 EUR Bus 12.24 EUR Taxi 28.45 EUR Visa -------------------- 988.47 EUR
1. Ha Noi
Unfortunately there is not much to do or see in Ha Noi, pretty much everything happens in or around Old Quarter (Phố cổ Hà Nội), the old town, central area full of bar/restaurants/massage parlors/etc. Cheap alcohol (as cheap as 0.20 EUR / draft beer, the famous Bia Hoi), cheap food and very crowded during the weekends or football game nights.
2. Sa Pa
The mountains near the north-west Chinese border, the Fansipan, the hightest mountain peak in Viet Nam / Indochina peninsula and by far the most over developed mountain I've ever seen.
Here is my hiking activity if you plan to climb the highest peak in Viet Nam but be aware of the fake guides. There is a security post at the start of the trail and they won't allow you to go up the mountain without so called guides which are just scammers. If you are confident climber and want to go by yourself then do what I did, just start the the hike very early morning before the sunset when nobody is at the security post. If you want to play safe then go to a travel agency and get a tour with real guides, not the scammers that rip off tourists at the bottom of the mountain.
3. Cat Ba
Cat Ba island and town is part of the world famous Ha Long bay which is an area full of karsts (rock formations full of vegetation) that raise from the water, the same as the ones that you can find in Guilin (China), Krabi (Thailand) or EL Nido (Philippines). Cat Ba town is important because it is a starting point of most of the tours and you can get a 1-day boat tour for around 20 EUR that includes kayking, swimming, sight-seeing traditional sea villages and so on.
4. Ninh Binh
The land of karsts that raise from the ground that is sometimes called dry Ha Long bay. Personally, I liked Ninh Binh more, is very green, quite/peaceful, you can walk by the rivers and admire the karsts that are everywhere. I would say that Ninh Binh and Ha Long bay are MUST SEE places in northern Vietnam, especially if you've never seen karsts before.
When it comes to bargain and price inflation then Viet Nam has no limits, its way ahead other countries in South-East Asia.
Act 0: 5 donuts for 150 VND - the very first ask price
Act 1: 5 donuts for 40 VND - I did bargain to this price
Act 2: 5 donuts for 10 VND
Act 3: 5 donuts for 5 VND - my best buy
Act 0: 1 pair for 20 VND - the very first ask price
Act 1: 1 pair for 10 VND - I did bargain to this one
Act 2: 1 pair for 2 VND - my best buy
And here are a few rules to apply when you have no idea about the price of an item:
the worst thing to do is to ask "how much" then buy it
the best thing to do is to ask "how much" to get a price reference then walk away
usually the very first ask price is at least 10x the price they are willing to sell for
when you want to buy, just give them a price, what ever you feel is fair, dont be shy