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Living in Vietnam / Living Information and Cost

Living Information and Cost (5/6/2009)

According to a recent survey by the ADB, Vietnam ranks the 2nd lowerest living cost country compared with 23 other countries in the Asia Pacific region. As a developing country, Vietnam is facing many problems such as environmental polution, traffics, inflation and quality of life. However foreigners to Vietnam regardless of choices for living costs, have been exploring appropriate level of living costs to them. The brief information below is the basic information for estimation of living costs for foreigners in big cities in Vietnam. The exchange rate is currently applied is 1 USD to 17,000VND.



Tourists can easily choose an appropriate accomodation for a stay in Vietnam. Number of 5 star hotel in Hanoi and HoChiMinh city is not large, however there are many mini hotels or guest houses ranged from 20USD/room/per night. If foreigners would want to have a long stay, they can rent houses or apartments with different ranges of prices depending on locations, facilities, or they rent a proper house for the whole family in the downtown or in the new city centers which are not very far from the downtown and can be easily accessed. Foreigners can check the following references:

-          Luxury apartment: rental price from 1,200USD to 3,000USD per month depending on areas (excluding other condition fees)

-          A house: rental prices ranged from 1,800USD to 5,000USD per month depending on areas

-          Condition fees: including electricity with prices from 550 dong to 1,780 dong/KWh and water fees from 2,800dong to 7,500dong/m3 depending on the accumulation prices for utilisation (excluding VAT). An average 4 person family spend around 1 million dong for electricity and 200,000 dong for water per month.

-          Housemaid: Housemaids who can speak English can be paid around 200USD per month while the normal price for domestic housemaid is 1 million dong per month.



Vietnamese cuisin is very diversed and considered as cheapest in the world. Foreigners in Vietnam can find different types of food with acceptable prices. Vietnamese foods are less fat in comparision to Chinese foods. Vietnam is famous for some typical dishes such as pho (noodle) and fried spring rolls (nem ran). It is very popular to purchase food from supermarkets since they provide food with better quality and food safety in comparision to food bought from local markets.


-          Average costs for food for one 4 member family is around 4 million dong per month (250 USD)

-          Average cost for 2 persons to go to a meal in a good restaurant is around 500,000 dong and to a luxury restaurant is around 1 million to 1,5 million dong.

-          Drinks: normally a cup of coffee costs 15,000dong while it might cost 200,000 dong for 2 persons for drinks in a more luxury café.



Transportation system in Vietnam has been improved and upgraded in order to meet demands of increased travel in recent years. In big cities, public transports such as taxi, bus are rather popular and cheap. Travelling between provinces or cities are quite easy now. Tourists can choose different types of transportation means either through airway, railway or by cars. Renting a car to drive yourself is a bit of risky due to poor infrastructure and poor practice of traffic rules by some people. Driving a motorbike is the most popular and accessible, however it compulsorily requires to wear a helmet.


-          Taxi: 15,000 dong/2 first km and around 9,000 dong to 10,000 dong for next 30 km

-          Bus ticket: 3,000 dong/ticket

-          Train ticket: Depending on types of tickets, for Hanoi-HoChiMinh route, the lowest fare is 420,000 dong for one way and the most expensive ticket is around 1 million dong one way.

-          Airticket: Airticket for Hanoi and HoChiMinh route from Vietnam Airlines for economy fare is 1,7 million one way and 3 million dong one way for a business fare. Apart from Vietnam airlines, there are cheaper airlines offering better prices.

-          Car rental: car rental prices for luxury cars (such as Mercedes) is around 1,200 USD to 1,500USD per month (excluding driver salary, petrol, insurance etc) and other types of cars ranges from 700 USD to 1,000USD per month for net car rental prices. While driver salary is ranged from 3 million to 5 million per month.




Communication services is considered as advanced and popular in Vietnam. Telecommunication fees have been reduced gradually in recent years in Vietnam. There have been also many diversified types of telecommunication means such as fixed telephone, wireless phones, public telephone stations and mobile phones (pre-paid or monthly paid). Internet is very popular and cheap, for instance in some internet shops it costs only 2,000dong per hour and some other cafeteria offer free wifi internet.


-          Fixed telephone: 27,000dong per month for fixed monthly charge and fees for calling domestically in cities is 40 dong to 80 dong per minute depending on length of calls. International calls through 171 service is around 0,25 USD per minute.

-          Mobile phones: pre-paid fees is 1,750 dong per minute while paid after uses is 750 dong per minute and monthly charge is 60, 000 dong. Pre paid card (top up type) is around 100,000 dong to 150,000 dong.

-          Internet: ADSL monthly service charge 25,000 dong while utilisation fees or access fees is 50 dong /MB




Shopping, especially textile and shoes are prefered by tourists and foreigners thanks to the good quality and cheap prices. Most of products are made in Vietnam. Small, private and diversifieds shops are still the major channels for goods distribution. Additionally, more and more shopping centers have been developed in the Vietnamese market with famous brand names, making the market more diversified.


-          Men clothes: A T-shirt, a pair of jeans or a pair of trouses made in Vietnam with high quality costs around 200,000 dong to 500,000 dong per one while the imported products cost around 800,000 dong to 2 million per item.

-          Women clothes: a T-shirt made in Vietnam costs a round 150,000 dong to 500,000 dong while the imported one costs around 400,000 dong to 2 million per item. A pair of jeans made in Vietnam costs around 200,000 dong while the imported products cost around 800,000 dong to 1,5 million dong.

-          Shoes: a pair of women shoes cost 250,000 dong to 800,000 dong on average while a pair of men shoes costs around 400,000 dong to 1,2 million dong.

-          Suite: tailoring costs including materials for a suite costs around 1,5 million to 5 million.


Health and Education


Health care and education services have been considerably improved in recent years in Vietnam. Although number of international standard schools and hospitals is still limited, these services have contributed to increase quality of services for Vietnamese and foreigners in the domestic market. In aspect of health care, some Vietnamese hospitals are approved with quality in diagnose and treatment for some special diseases.


-          Regular costs for a health check for foreigners in the international hospital ranged from 25 USD to 50 USD per visit and a comprehensive health care ranges from 120 USD to 150 USD per person.

-          Medicine: medicine prices in Vietnam is cheap compared with other regional countries of which domestic medicine cost 30% to 50% lower than the imported products.

-          School fees for children: kindergarten and preschool in English taught school costs around 150USD to 800USD per month, primary schools costs around 4,000USD to 10,500 USD per year and secondary costs around 12,000USD per year.


Entertainment - Relaxation


Entertainment and relaxation services in Vietnam are diversed. Sports such as tennis and golf have become more popular. Many entertainment activities after work for foreigners have been increased such as cafeteria, beer or clubs. Foreigners can also choose to join traditional arts or theatres such as water puppets or visit historical traces etc.


-          Cinema: 30,000 dong to 150,000 dong per ticket depending on types of cinemas

-          Musical performance: 150,000 dong to 500,000 dong per ticket

-          Clubs, discotheque or bars: 300,000 dong to 1 million dong for 2 persons depending on drinks or beverage.

-          VCD/DVD: films are very cheap ranging from 15,000 dong to 50,000 dong per disk




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