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.

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Stay

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)

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My crib at USD15 per night at Lala Hostel

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.

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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.

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Food

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.

Eat like a local at the local market at low tables and chairs
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Bun Nem Nuong Cha Gio (Vietnamese Rice Vermicelli with Pork & Spring Rolls at VND 35,000 ( USD 1.50) and Iced Coffee- VND15,000 ( USD 0.65)
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Vietnamese Broken Rice (Cơm tấm)- VND40,000-$ 2
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Bo Bia Ngot- Sweet Rolls (rice paper, shredded coconut, pulled sugar and black sesame seeds)
Ban Khot – Vietnamese Shrimp Cupcakes VND 35,000 ( USD 1.50)
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Clockwise : Banh Xeo ( Vietnamese Crepes) with salad – VND 35,000 ( USD1.50) and Vermicelli – VND 35,000- USD 1.50)
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Must eat when in Vietnam-Phở – VND 140,000 ( USD 6 )for 2 person

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

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Eat Breakfast at the Hotel ( inclusive of room booking)- Simple breakfast is inclusive for bookings made at Lala Hostel

Cafe Hopping

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.

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Coconut Milk Coffee at USD 3 overlooking the Vincom building and city View at Cộng 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.

Moving Around

Walk on foot from one place to another if you can stand the heat under the sun.

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Rent a scooter from USD15- USD20 per day

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A Vespa can be easily rented at USD20 ( MYR 80) per day. For bikes, scooter rental, click here

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.

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Our first eating pit stop of Light Up the Night Tour – Seafood Noodles
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My Butler of the day- Thomas, an marine engineering student

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

6.00pm

Pick Up at Hostel or Hotel

Dinner with a choice of 3 Vietnamese dishes- Com Tam, Banh Cuon and Mi Quang

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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)

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When night falls at HCM
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Magic performance at the Saigon Opera House

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.

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Stunning Night View of The Saigon City Hall
The Saigon City Hall French colonial architecture in Ho Chi Minh City, built between 1902 and 1908, the building was originally called Hotel de Ville de Saigon.
The building was designed by French architect P.Gardes and modeled on City Hall in Paris . It has a main hall, rectangular wings and manicured trees decorate the façade. The famous bell tower, a feature common to many European town halls, sits on top on a pyramid like pedestal and imparts style and elegance to the structure.
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Standing Tallest now as Vietnam’s Tallest Building- The Landmark which is visible from the river banks of Saigon river

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.

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The Cathedral currently undergoing renovation. Not able to enter and see much

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The Central Post Office constructed between 1886 and 1891 designed by Alfred Foulhoux

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The 30-4 park. Young people and families spotted here for picnic.

Walk

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)

Summary

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)

My Itinerary

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

Day 2

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

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Special thanks to Nguyen Ha Vy ( Wei) a Vietnamese friend whom I know 5 years ago in KL

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.

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