Wednesday, July 11, 2007


The first thing I bought in Vietnam was a much needed morning snack during a break on the first day of class. I found the university canteen and grabbed a water and a bag of shrimp chips. The woman at the counter held up four fingers, indicating that I owed 4,000 Vietnamese Dong (VND). I mentally divided that by 1,600 and estimated that my snack cost about $2.50. Pretty reasonable for chips and a drink. But as I was walking back to class, I remembered—the exchange rate is actually 16,000. The entire package set me back 25 cents!

That first purchase set the tone for most of the rest. Almost everything here is delightfully cheap. Excluding hotel arrangements, I’ve averaged about $13 per day, and that’s covered two meals per day in decent restaurants in the tourist district, taxi rides, snacks, and entertainment. It's a nice relief from America, as well as some of the other places I've travelled. I’m hardly living on a shoestring, but my daily budget wouldn’t even cover one lunch in London.

Here’s a list of local prices…

Moonshine Rice Wine FREE (See “Central Vietnam”)
Shrimp chips $0.12
Fruit Menthos $0.18
Tourist entry fees $0.30
Vietnam Daily News (English) $0.30
Bag of Ly Chi berries $0.30
1.5 L Water $0.36
Local draught beer $0.60
6 Bananas $0.60
Internet café, 1 hour $0.75
Coke at restaurant $0.93
Big bag of chocolate wafers $0.93
Gym entrance fee $1.25
10 minute taxi ride $1.40
Tiger beer (bottle, decent bar) $1.55
Cigarettes $1.55
Souvenir T-Shirt $2.20
Complex cocktail $2.50
Sit-down Vietnamese lunch $3.50
10 minute taxi rid (ripped off) $4.10
Pasta lunch at trendy restaurant $4.40
Vietnamese dinner $4.75
Nice Tapas dinner with Sangria $8.20

Feeling rich in Vietnam: PRICELESS

There are many things a few dollars can buy
For everything else, there are expensive imports