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Which is Cheaper: Vietnam or Thailand?

by yang

When it comes to planning a vacation or an extended stay in Southeast Asia, one of the most common questions that travelers ponder is, “Which is cheaper: Vietnam or Thailand?” Both countries offer incredible cultural experiences, stunning landscapes, and a wide range of activities for tourists, but they also differ significantly in terms of cost. In this article, we will compare the costs of traveling in Vietnam and Thailand, considering various aspects such as accommodation, food, transportation, and activities. By the end of this comprehensive analysis, you’ll have a clearer understanding of which destination might better suit your budget.

Accommodation Costs

Accommodation is a significant factor in determining the overall cost of your trip. In both Vietnam and Thailand, you can find a wide range of lodging options, from budget hostels to luxury resorts. However, the price you pay can vary greatly depending on your choice of accommodation and the location within each country.

Cheaper Accommodation in Vietnam

Vietnam is often considered the cheaper option when it comes to accommodation. In cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, you can find clean and comfortable hostels for as little as $5 to $10 per night. Budget hotels and guesthouses typically range from $15 to $30 per night, providing excellent value for money. Even in popular tourist destinations like Hoi An or Da Nang, you can find affordable lodging options without much difficulty.

If you’re willing to splurge a bit, Vietnam also offers mid-range and luxury hotels at a fraction of the cost you’d find in Western countries or even Thailand. A four-star hotel in Vietnam might cost you around $60 to $100 per night, offering great amenities and services.

Accommodation Costs in Thailand

Thailand, on the other hand, offers a wide range of accommodation options, but they tend to be slightly more expensive than their Vietnamese counterparts. In popular tourist areas like Bangkok, Phuket, or Chiang Mai, budget travelers can find hostels and guesthouses starting at around $10 to $15 per night. Mid-range hotels typically cost between $30 and $60 per night, while luxury hotels and resorts can range from $100 to several hundred dollars per night.

It’s worth noting that in Thailand, you can also find exceptionally luxurious accommodations that cater to high-end travelers, with prices that can easily exceed $1,000 per night.

Verdict on Accommodation Costs

In the battle of accommodation costs, Vietnam comes out as the cheaper option. While Thailand offers a wider range of luxurious options, budget travelers will find better value for money in Vietnam, where even mid-range hotels are significantly more affordable.

Food Costs

Food is a central part of any travel experience, and the cost of dining out can have a substantial impact on your overall expenses. Let’s compare the food costs in Vietnam and Thailand.

Cheaper Food in Vietnam

One of the highlights of Vietnamese cuisine is its affordability. Street food stalls and local eateries are abundant, offering delicious dishes for just a few dollars. A bowl of pho or a banh mi sandwich from a street vendor might set you back around $1 to $2, making it an excellent choice for budget-conscious travelers.

Even dining in sit-down restaurants in Vietnam is quite affordable. A meal at a mid-range restaurant typically costs between $5 and $10 per person, while high-end dining can still be relatively affordable, with prices ranging from $20 to $50 per person.

Food Costs in Thailand

Thailand also boasts a vibrant street food culture, and you can find cheap and delicious eats on nearly every corner. A plate of pad Thai or a green curry from a street vendor can cost between $1 and $3, depending on where you are in the country.

In Thailand, dining in restaurants can be more expensive compared to Vietnam, especially in tourist-heavy areas. A meal at a mid-range restaurant might cost between $5 and $15 per person, while high-end dining can range from $20 to $100 or more per person, depending on the restaurant’s reputation and location.

Verdict on Food Costs

When it comes to food costs, Vietnam is generally the cheaper option. Street food in Vietnam is incredibly budget-friendly, and even dining at restaurants won’t break the bank. Thailand also offers affordable street food, but dining out in restaurants, particularly in tourist areas, can be slightly more expensive.

Transportation Costs

Getting around in a foreign country can significantly impact your budget. Let’s explore the transportation costs in Vietnam and Thailand.

Cheaper Transportation in Vietnam

Vietnam’s transportation system is both efficient and affordable, making it a budget traveler’s dream. Public buses and trains are cheap and reliable, with fares typically ranging from a few dollars for short journeys to around $20 for longer trips between major cities.

If you prefer more comfort and convenience, Vietnam also has a robust network of sleeper buses and trains, which are a great way to save on accommodation costs while traveling between cities. Domestic flights within Vietnam are also reasonably priced, often costing less than $100 for a one-way ticket.

Transportation Costs in Thailand

Thailand’s transportation system is well-developed, but it tends to be slightly more expensive than Vietnam’s. In major cities like Bangkok, you have access to a variety of transportation options, including buses, the Skytrain, and tuk-tuks. While these options are affordable, they can add up if you’re using them frequently.

If you plan to explore different regions of Thailand, you may need to take domestic flights, which can be more expensive than their Vietnamese counterparts. For example, a one-way flight between Bangkok and Chiang Mai might cost around $50 to $100, depending on the airline and booking time.

Verdict on Transportation Costs

Vietnam wins the battle in terms of transportation costs. The country’s affordable buses, trains, and domestic flights make it easier on your wallet when traveling between cities or exploring different regions. While Thailand also offers reasonable transportation options, it tends to be a bit more expensive.

Your travel experience is not just about accommodation, food, and transportation; it also involves activities and entertainment. Let’s compare the costs of activities and entertainment in Vietnam and Thailand.

Cheaper Activities in Vietnam

Vietnam offers a wide range of budget-friendly activities and attractions. Many of the country’s cultural and historical sites, such as temples and museums, have low entrance fees, usually ranging from $1 to $5. Exploring natural wonders like Halong Bay or trekking in Sapa can also be done at a relatively low cost.

If you’re into adventure sports, Vietnam offers options like trekking, caving, and motorbike tours, which are typically affordable. Even joining a cooking class or a local market tour won’t put a significant dent in your budget.

Activities Costs in Thailand

Thailand is famous for its beautiful beaches, lush national parks, and vibrant cultural attractions. While many of these attractions are worth the visit, they often come with higher entrance fees compared to Vietnam. For example, visiting popular temples or historical sites in Thailand can cost around $5 to $10 or more.

Adventurous activities like scuba diving, snorkeling, or jungle trekking can be more expensive in Thailand than in Vietnam. However, Thailand’s diverse range of activities means that there are options for travelers with various budgets.

Verdict on Activities and Entertainment Costs

When it comes to activities and entertainment, Vietnam generally offers more budget-friendly options. Entrance fees to attractions are lower, and adventure activities are often more affordable. Thailand, while offering a wide array of experiences, tends to be a bit more expensive in this regard.

Overall Cost Comparison

In the battle of which is cheaper between Vietnam and Thailand, it’s clear that Vietnam often comes out as the more budget-friendly destination. Here’s a summary of the key points:

Accommodation: Vietnam offers cheaper options, even for mid-range hotels.
Food: Vietnam wins in terms of affordability, especially with its street food.
Transportation: Vietnam’s transportation system is more budget-friendly.
Activities: Vietnam generally has lower entrance fees and more affordable adventure options.
However, it’s essential to consider your personal preferences and travel style. While Vietnam may be cheaper, Thailand has its own unique charm, and some travelers may find the slightly higher costs worth it for the experiences it offers.

Additional Factors to Consider

While cost is a significant factor, there are other aspects to consider when deciding between Vietnam and Thailand:

Visa Requirements: Check the visa requirements for your nationality, as they can vary between the two countries.
Safety: Both Vietnam and Thailand are relatively safe for tourists, but it’s always a good idea to research any safety concerns before your trip.
Language: English is not widely spoken in rural areas of both countries, so consider this when planning your itinerary.
Cultural Differences: Both countries have unique cultures and customs, so take the time to learn about them to ensure a respectful and enjoyable trip.


In the battle of “Which is Cheaper: Vietnam or Thailand?” Vietnam often emerges as the more budget-friendly choice. With cheaper accommodation, food, transportation, and activities, Vietnam is a fantastic destination for budget-conscious travelers. However, it’s crucial to consider your personal preferences, interests, and travel style when making your decision. Ultimately, both Vietnam and Thailand have their own unique charm and offer incredible experiences that are worth exploring, regardless of your budget.

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