Cheapest Asian Countries to Visit on a Budget

El Nido in the Philippines, one of the cheapest Asian countries to visit

We all want adventure in the great wide somewhere, but sometimes our bank accounts don't coordinate. Luckily, a lack of funds doesn't mean we have to give up travel, just that we have to forget the idea of luxury resorts and yachts. 

Asia is known for being a perfect affordable travel destination, providing amazing experiences, rich history and great food for a very reasonable price. Vietnam and Thailand come to mind first, but there are several other low-cost countries you can venture around for less than $100 a day. 

These are the cheapest Asian countries to visit on a budget.

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Taipei Gate in Taiwan

Average daily cost: $98*

As one of the smallest countries in Asia, Taiwan is often overlooked by travelers. But those wise enough to get to this island nation find one of the coolest places on the whole entire continent. 

Let us put it like this — we have never  met anyone  who didn't like Taiwan. There are very few other places that hold this honor. The locals are notoriously open and friendly (Taiwan is often deemed as the safest and most welcoming Asian country for LGBTQIA people), and there are a million things to do.

Taipei offers a typical bustling city vibe and great nightlife. It's also just a short train ride away from beaches and mountains. Food, particularly in street stalls, is very affordable and delicious. And it's easy to find bargain prices for accommodations. What's not to like?

*All average daily costs are based on estimates from Budget Your Trip .

Best Budget Stay in Taiwan

Yi Su Hotel-Taipei Ningxia

For less than $20 a night, you can enjoy an actual hotel experience at the Yi Su Hotel – Taipei Ningxia .

That's right, you don't have to stay in a hostel dorm to keep within budget. Amenities include free tea and coffee-making facilities in-suite, air conditioning and free WiFi.

13. Thailand

Kao Sok National Park lake and villagers sheds

Average daily cost: $94

Ah, Thailand, the place where every backpacker with no money and a proclivity for walking around barefoot ends up. The large Southeast Asian country has an undeniable charm with swirling temples hiding giant golden Buddhas, jungles vibrating to the stomps of elephants, limestone cliffs dipping into turquoise waters and some of the best food you will ever eat in your life. And it offers all this for very, very cheap. 

It's really no wonder why this country has become a broke gap-year traveler paradise, though some (us) would argue that this popularity has brought overtourism and overdevelopment to the country.

Our advice would be to head to the touristy spots for a couple of days and then hop to other places that aren't yet plagued with stalls selling tacky T-shirts to tourists. Oh, and get a Thai massage as often as possible.

Best Budget Stay in Thailand

Flower Power Thai resort

For about $10 a night, the Flower Power Farm Village & Restaurant offers an idyllic escape on the island of Ko Phayam.

It offers simple and cozy bungalows, a restaurant that serves fruits right from the property and a peaceful setting. 

12. South Korea

Bukchon Hanok Village in Seoul, South Korea

Average daily cost: $93

It's a bit surprising to see South Korea have a slightly lower average cost than Thailand, though we suspect this has to do with the fact that there are many ultra-luxury Thai resorts. 

Still, the beautiful peninsula of South Korea is much more affordable than people think. Accommodations will be your biggest expense, and food is generally very cheap and very good. You can easily pay $10-$15 for a Korean BBQ dinner at a restaurant in Hongdae, one of the most frequented nightlife districts in Seoul (yes, New York's K-Town prices are an absolute scam). Other delicious dishes like red pepper soup (gochujang) or kimchi fried rice are generally under 10 dollars — and that's including all the numerous and generous side dishes.

Soju is also extremely cheap , as is norebang (the Korean equivalent of karaoke), so going out and having fun won't leave you destitute. Plus, you can travel around the country in the low-cost and highly efficient train and bus system. 

Best Budget Stay in South Korea

Hostel Korea exterior

Accommodation isn't cheap in Korea, especially in Seoul. But Hostel Korea provides a stay in a convenient location for less than $30 a night. 

If that's still over budget for you, let us bring you into a local secret: jjimjilbangs. These public bathhouses are great for relaxing during the day. But people often also stay the night in the common areas where day users take naps.

Shanghai, China

Average daily cost: $69

It's difficult to make sweeping statements about the second-largest country on Earth. But we can say with certainty that a budget trip to China is easy to achieve.

Large cities offer something for every budget, from accommodations to food and things to do. Landmarks are also fairly priced. For instance, the entrance to the Forbidden City in Beijing is less than $10.

Outside of the major metropolises, food and accommodations are even cheaper, though you're also less likely to find someone who speaks English. Hey, that's part of the adventure.

While traveling within China with a limited budget, keep in mind that you'll need to pay around $140 to apply for a travel visa.

Best Budget Stay in China

Ibis Hotel Beijing Jian'guomen

You'll have to pay around $50 a night to stay at the Ibis Hotel Beijing Guloudajie , but that's a great deal for Beijing. 

In smaller cities or more rural areas of the country, you'll be able to find much better prices.

10. Malaysia

Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Average daily cost: $68

Bordering Thailand and Indonesia, many travelers make the mistake of skipping over Malaysia. Most people associate the country with its ultra-modern capital Kuala Lumpur, whose iconic Petronas Twin Towers give off a feeling of opulence rather than being budget-friendly. Thankfully, this couldn't be farther from the truth. 

The country is split into two main parts. One is at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, and the other is in Borneo. While we personally think Borneo is one of the coolest places you could ever visit (two words: pigmy elephants), it's more cost-effective to head to the "mainland."

Besides visiting modern cities, you can go to temples hidden in caves, visit national parks and enjoy perfect beaches that aren't as overrun by tourists as those in neighboring Thailand.

Best Budget Stay in Malaysia

Moon Eleven Hostel

At Moon Eleven Hostel , you can spend a night in Kuala Lumpur for about $11.

Even better, a private room will only set you back $15.

9. The Philippines

Batad Rice Terraces in Northern Luzon, Philippines

Average daily cost: $56

With more than 7,000 islands (2,000 of which are inhabited), no one ever really gets to see the entire Philippines. But you can definitely enjoy parts of it without breaking the bank. Use Manila to fly in and out of the country, as flights will be cheaper, but don't stay too long here. Leave the dizzying capital behind in favor of some of the absolute best and most beautiful beaches in Asia (and the world). 

El Nido, in Palawan, has become a favored place to visit after Boracay temporarily shut down due to overtourism. You won't find the quiet secluded island you would've seen a decade ago, but if you choose your location right, you'll still get plenty of time to enjoy nature without pollution and crowds. 

Beer, food and accommodations are so cheap that many people stay an entire month. And then they simply leave because that's the limit for visa-less travel.

Best Budget Stay in the Philippines

Mad Monkey Nacpan Beach

You don't have to spend the big bucks to enjoy the gorgeous beaches of El Nido.

Mad Monkey Nacpan Beach offers dorms for $8 to $30, and it's located right on the sand. 

7. Vietnam (Tie)

Ninh Bình in Vietnam on canoes

Average daily cost: $52

It may be cliché, but Vietnam is one of our most favorite countries in the entire world. Yes, there are so many motorcycles that they often require entire sidewalks as parking spaces. And yes, crossing the street can be scary. But these don't even count as minor inconveniences, really.

You'll forget about obstructed sidewalk when you're being revitalized by a hot plate of pho or in complete awe seeing one man and five dogs ride down the street on a single bike (true story).

Plus, the long country has incredibly diverse landscapes — from beaches to rice terraces to cities hiding a colonial past. The most astonishing place is without a doubt Ha Long Bay. Limestone cliffs form a dragon descending into emerald waters that, at the right time of year, glow with magical bioluminescence .

Like Thailand, Vietnam is a backpacker's delight, one that most people begrudgingly leave, wanting to come back as soon as possible. 

Best Budget Stay in Vietnam

Little Charm Hanoi Hostel and Homestay

Stay in a renovated Art Deco building in Hanoi's Old Quarter at Little Charm Hanoi Hostel and Homestay. The price is dirt cheap — we're talking around $10 a night, and the reviews are great.

Plus, there's a pool that helps you escape the heat of the Vietnamese city.

7. Bangladesh (Tie)

Sunset on the Batiaghata in Khulna, Bangladesh

Bangladesh is just as cheap as Vietnam but definitely not as popular. The South Asian country has historically been ignored by travelers, probably because it still lacks a developed international tourism infrastructure. In our book, this is a plus. 

Travelers who want to get off the backpacker trail but still want an affordable (and veritable) adventure will love Bangladesh. You won't have a cushy vacation where English-speaking staff caters to your every need. But you'll get to see how people really live when they're not shaping themselves to the tourism industry.

And you definitely won't find entire streets that exist for the sole purpose of selling cheesy souvenirs to drunk tourists (sorry Thailand, it's hard to psychologically recover from Khaosan Road). 

Learn a bit of the local language (which you should do anyway when you travel), and dive head first into an intrepid quest. 

Best Budget Stay in Bangladesh

Hotel Omni Residency in Dhaka, Bangladesh

How often do you get to stay at a four-star hotel for $52 a night?

Enjoy luxury on a budget at the Hotel Omni Residency in Dhaka. 

5. Indonesia (Tie)

Uluwatu Temple in Bali, Indonesia

Average daily cost: $50

Few places embody the spirit of digital nomadism as much as Bali. Or, depending on how you look at it, few places have been invaded by remote workers as much as this Indonesian island. 

Either way, it's undeniable that Indonesia has landscapes so beautiful they will make you cry, as well as intricate temples, tall volcanic peaks that provide great sunrise views and plenty of secluded beaches.

For around $50 a day, you can enjoy a jungle bungalow not far from the beach on many islands, including Bali. This unrivaled charm at a great price is what has attracted so many expats to the country. If you have time, try to island-hop a bit, as each region has its distinct culture, cuisine and landscape.

Best Budget Stay in Indonesia

Villa Purin Royan

A villa with a pool that's a five-minute walk from the beach usually costs money.

But at Villa Purin Royan , you'll enjoy great amenities and a great location for less than $10 a night.

5. Cambodia (Tie)

Faces of Bayon temple in Angkor, Cambodia

Most people go to Cambodia to see Angkor Wat and then leave without a second thought. And don't get us wrong, the largest religious complex on Earth is one of the most awe-inspiring places you will ever see. It's also affordable for pretty much any traveler, especially since everything else is so economical. 

But after crossing that off your bucket list, make plans to head back to the country and visit its less-explored (and even more affordable) areas. Many travelers rent a motorbike for the entirety of their stay and explore freely, but hiring a tuk-tuk driver is also doable.

Plus, if you ask, they can take you to the places where locals eat. Based on our personal experience, these are more than 10 times cheaper than the touristy eateries. 

Best Budget Stay in Cambodia

Happy Guesthouse Siem Reap

Siem Reap travelers who stay at Happy Guesthouse seem to indeed leave quite happy.

Part of that is the cheap price (around $13 a night), but we imagine the accommodation's great hospitality, convenient location and good vibes have something to do with it as well. 

Women walking into Amber Fort in Jaipur, India

Average daily cost: $33

Heading to India with few earthly possessions to seek spiritual enlightenment is so overdone, that it has almost become a cartoonish representation of travelers. But you don't have to "Eat, Pray, Love" your trip to India. In fact, we encourage you not to.

It's entirely possible to experience all the best things this country has to offer without being reductionist about its religion and culture. And you can do so with very little money. This is part of what has driven droves of young travelers to the region since the 1960s. 

What's best, because India is so incredibly big (it's the seventh-largest country in the world), you can go back again and again and never step into the same river twice. The country provides a lifetime of wallet-friendly travel experiences.

Best Budget Stay in India

Mavens White Gurgaon

At New Delhi's Mavens White Gurgaon you'll get amenities like free bike rentals, a private bathroom and a flat-screen TV for as little as $7. 

There's also a shared kitchen where you can cook meals if you're looking to save even more money.

Machhapuchhre and terraced fields in Nepal

Average daily cost: $32

Similar to India, Nepal offers temples, mouthwatering food and the Himalayas for a little over $30 a day. 

Many people come to try to conquer the crown jewel of the country: Mount Everest. And while that's definitely an experience only for the rich or sponsored, climbing other areas of the impressive mountain range, or getting to Everest Base Camp is not out of reach for the average traveler. 

Outside of the mountains, you'll find deep spiritualism, not unlike that of Nepal's neighbor, but one that has not yet been as exploited for the sake of pleasing tourists. And do we even have to mention momos? We'd get on a plane just for Nepalese dumplings any day.

Best Budget Stay in Nepal

Hotel Lapha in Nepal

You'd usually expect only hostels to be as cheap as $6 a night, but Hotel Lapha offers a no-frills experience that doesn't require you to share a room or a bathroom. 

The hotel is conveniently located near landmarks such as the Garden of Dreams and the Narayanhity Palace Museum in Kathmandu.

1. Sri Lanka (Tie)

Stilt fishermen of Sri Lanka

Average daily cost: $19

India, Nepal and Bangladesh are not the only affordable places on the Indian subcontinent. The clear winner in terms of cost-effectiveness is the very underrated island of Sri Lanka. 

Floating on the Indian Ocean not too far from India, Sri Lanka is a hidden treasure. Tourism was driven away by conflict in the '90s and early 2000s, but the area has enjoyed relative stability for many years now, and it won't be too long until groups of travelers start popping up more and more frequently on its shores. 

Hinduism and Buddhism are the main religions, as evidenced by the imposing temples scattered throughout the country. There are also landmarks that are almost hard to believe, like the City of Sigiriya, an ancient settlement almost entirely carved into a 660-foot-tall rock.

Sri Lanka ties with another underrated destination as the cheapest country in Asia.

Best Budget Stay in Sri Lanka

Hive 68 hotel in Colombo

Sri Lanka is so affordable, that you can stay at a three-star hotel for $10. Sure, you could find even cheaper hostels, but for just a few more bucks, we'd recommend staying at Hive 68 . You'll get a private room and bathroom and could also have a private balcony overlooking the water.

Or treat yourself to a five-star hotel for only $57 a night by booking the Mandarina Colombo .

1. Laos (Tie)

Patuxai Monument In Vientiane

If you're looking for the absolute cheapest Asian country to visit and don't want to do Sri Lanka, head to Laos. It's interesting that this country hasn't been invaded by tourists like its neighboring countries, though many committed gap-year travelers do take the time to cross into it from Vietnam or Thailand. 

But regardless of why it's managed to keep overtourism at bay, the authenticity of Laos is what makes it a memorable destination. Even Vientiane, the capital, is nowhere near as busy and loud as its counterparts, even though it has many beautiful temples.

With a delightfully slow pace and prices that few other countries could offer, Laos should top your list of the best Asian countries.

Best Budget Stay in Laos

V Hotel Vientianne

Located in the Vientianne city center, the three-star V Hotel costs about $6 a night. While amenities are limited, you won't have to stay in a dorm, and many of the rooms have private balconies. 

Plus, you'll be in the middle of the action and close to landmarks like the Lao National Museum.

23 Cheapest Asian Countries to Visit in 2024

Pagodas on Ngwe Saung Beach

If you’re looking for some of the cheapest Asian countries to visit on your next trip, you have come to the right place!

With 48 countries, Asia is the largest continent in the world, and it’s also my favourite one. This continent is home to some of the world’s friendliest people, tons of beautiful landmarks , interesting cultures and delicious food. Although not all Asian countries are cheap (think about Bhutan, Japan or Singapore, for example), Asia has plenty of budget-friendly destinations too.

This guide contains some of the best budget destinations in Asia, from popular destinations like Thailand and Sri Lanka to more off-the-beaten-path countries like Bangladesh and Kazakhstan.

I’ve been travelling through Asia for over two years as I’m writing this and I’m updating this post frequently to make sure the information is up to date.

Cheapest Asian Countries to Visit

cheapest country to visit from vietnam

It’s important to know that your daily budget will depend on your travel style and the activities you choose to do. While it’s possible to travel with a budget of $20 a day in many of the destinations featured in this list, you might have to stay in dorms and eat street food to do so.

But without further ado, let’s dive right into it! Here are the cheapest countries to travel to in Asia.

Cheap Destinations in Southeast Asia

1. indonesia.

cheapest country to visit from vietnam

Indonesia is one of these incredibly varied destinations I just can’t get enough of. With over 17,000 islands , you could easily spend a lifetime exploring this country alone.

Every island is different and there are more than 300 ethnic groups in the country, each with its own culture and traditions.

Apart from that, you will also find lush green forests, picture-perfect beaches, beautiful volcanoes and much more here. And the best part is that Indonesia is one of the most affordable countries in Asia.

It’s good to know, however, that some islands are cheaper than others . Bali, for example – home to the famous digital nomad and party destination Canggu – is one of the most expensive ones. Sumatra and Java, on the other hand, are some of the cheaper islands.

Conical hat souvenir from Vietnam

With mesmerizing sights like Ha Long Bay, the Ban Gioc Waterfall, the Mekong Delta , Hà Giang and many, many more, Vietnam is one of the top travel destinations in Asia .

This country is known for its delicious food, mesmerizing landscapes, vibrant culture and some of the most beautiful caves in the world . It’s a place where you will be able to visit sacred temples one day, then see the remnants of the Vietnam War and learn more about its history the next.

As Vietnam is also one of the cheapest Asian countries to visit, it’s the perfect place to head to if you’re looking for an affordable destination with an abundance of places to explore.

I travelled around Vietnam solo for two months and had a great time.

>> Read: 21 Souvenirs From Vietnam That Don’t Suck

3. Cambodia

Angkor Wat in Cambodia

When mentioning Cambodia, many people will immediately think about Angkor Wat , the largest and oldest religious monument in the world. After all, watching the sunrise at this immense temple complex is one of these bucket list travel experiences you can’t miss when you’re visiting this country.

But there’s more to Cambodia than Angkor Wat alone. This destination is also the perfect place to explore vibrant cities, go diving, relax at the beach, try delicious food, visit the salt fields in Kampot and learn more about the country’s culture and history.

Cambodia is cheaper than its neighbours Vietnam and Thailand, making it one of the cheapest exotic destinations in Southeast Asia.

Cheapeast Asian countries Laos

Laos is known for being one of Asia’s most relaxed and laid-back destinations . This is an authentic country with colourful temples, French colonial architecture and breathtaking landscapes.

Here, you will truly feel as if you were stepping back in time. You will get to soak up the country’s rich traditions and savour some of the world’s best food.

From Khone Pabeng , Southeast Asia’s largest waterfall to the city of Luang Prabang with its former royal palaces – Laos is a budget-friendly Asian destination that will make sure to astonish you. This is the perfect place to go if you’re looking for a cheap Southeast Asian country that isn’t packed with tourists (yet).

Prices here are pretty similar to, yet slightly cheaper than, neighbouring Cambodia.

5. Myanmar (Burma)

Bagan Sunrise with pagodas

Ah, Myanmar – this is one of my favourite travel destinations in the world!

This country’s landscapes are filled with temples and gilded pagodas, and the Burmese are some of the most friendly people in the world.

From the beautiful temples of Bagan to the mountains and caves of Hpa An, there are plenty of beautiful places in Myanmar and this is a country that simply doesn’t disappoint.

The thing I love the most about this country is its authenticity . Myanmar has only been opening up to tourists recently and it hasn’t much been influenced by the globalised world yet.

Although Myanmar is one of the cheapest Asian countries to visit, prices here have increased over the years, especially when it comes to accommodation. It’s good to know that this country is more expensive than countries like Cambodia and Vietnam, for example.

6. Thailand

Cheapest Asian countries to visit Thailand

Often nicknamed “The Land of Smiles”, Thailand may just be the most popular stop along the Southeast Asia backpacking route.

This country is known for its glorious beaches, glittering temples, lush green jungle and delicious cuisine. On top of all that, Thailand is a great scuba diving destination too.

This country is easy to travel through and has something to offer to nearly any type of traveller, whether you’re looking for a crazy bucket list adventure , a lazy beach holiday or an all-in vacation.

Although Thailand remains one of the cheapest Asian countries to visit, the cost of travelling here has increased over the years and the Kingdom is slightly more expensive than its neighbours Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos. It’s also good to know that the north of Thailand is cheaper than the south of the country.

7. The Philippines

Philippines

If diving, snorkelling and island hopping sound like your kind of holiday, then The Philippines should be on top of your Asian travel bucket list. This country is home to over 7,000 islands full of tropical white-sand beaches, palm trees and blue lagoons.

And there’s more – swimming in waterfalls, climbing volcanoes, admiring the colonial architecture and visiting rice terraces are just a few of the other highlights of The Philippines.

This country is a bit more expensive than other Southeast Asian destinations but still very affordable compared to Western countries.

8. Malaysia

Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Malaysia is one of the most developed countries in Southeast Asia. It’s also a very diverse destination with towering skyscrapers, countless temples and mosques, stunning nature, beautiful beaches and amazing wildlife.

Although a lot of visitors will spend most of their time in Kuala Lumpur, the capital, Malaysia has much more to offer. From scuba diving and jungle trekking to visiting the famous Batu Caves , this country doesn’t lack activities.

On top of that, Malaysia is one of the cheapest Asian countries to visit (except for alcohol, which is pretty expensive) and quite contrary to what many people think, Malaysia is cheaper than Thailand!

It’s also good to know that thanks to its good infrastructure with high-speed internet, Malaysia is a great destination for digital nomads .

Cheapest South Asian Countries to Visit

Laura Meyers at Annapurna basecamp in Nepal ABC trek

Nepal is one of my favourite destinations in the world and it’s also one of the most affordable Asian countries to travel to.

With its vibrant culture, lush green jungles and stunning Himalayan Mountains (including Mount Everest ), this country has a lot to offer. If you’re an adventurous type of traveller who also enjoys learning about different cultures, you will LOVE Nepal.

Some other reasons to visit Nepal are that the Nepali are renowned for being some of the friendliest people in the world and that country is full of beautiful landmarks and unforgettable adventures.

When visiting Nepal on a budget, it’s good to know that it is possible to hike and trek in the Himalayas without spending a fortune on a guide. However, this is not recommended for all treks, so it’s advisable to do some research in advance.

Famous landmarks in Asia Taj Mahal India

With places like the Taj Mahal and the Hawa Mahal, and states like Goa and Rajasthan , India is one of the top travel destinations in the world.

Not only is the packed with incredible Indian landmarks , but it also offers a lot of variation. Not every country offers the possibility to combine mountains, deserts, beaches, jungles and cities in one trip, after all. On top of that, India is huge. I spent over 10 months travelling through this country and there are still so many places left to discover.

One of the things India is best known for is its incredibly rich culture. It was here that Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and other religions were born. So if cultural or spiritual travel is your thing, India should be on top of your list.

When it comes to the cost of travel in India , it’s good to know that the south of the country is a little more expensive than the north. Still, India is one of the cheapest Asian countries on this list.

11. Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka, a cheap Asian destination

Often nicknamed “The Teardrop of India”, the country island of Sri Lanka is located in the Indian Ocean. This is a very diverse destination with white sand beaches, a rich culture and beautiful Sri Lankan landmarks .

On top of that, with hikes like Littl e Adam’s Peak , Ella Rock and World’s End, Sri Lanka is also a great place for hiking and nature lovers.

Although Sri Lanka might be small, there’s an incredible amount of things to do in this country. Whether you’re a wildlife enthusiast, adventure seeker, history buff or beach lover, Sri Lanka has got something for you.

I spent 6 weeks exploring this country and, although I’m not much of a beach person, this is a place I would love to go back to. Sti Lanka’s lush green jungles, exotic wildlife and friendly locals stole my heart!

Sri Lanka is less expensive than India, so it’s a very budget-friendly destination where you won’t need to worry about spending too much money.

12. Bangladesh

Bangladesh, one of the cheapest countries in Asia

If you’re looking for a cheap, off-the-beaten-path destination in Asia, then Bangladesh is the place for you. This country, which borders India and Myanmar, is often skipped by tourists, meaning you will probably have all the tourist sites to yourself.

Bangladesh has got a lot to offer, though. With its numerous archaeological sites, large forests, beautiful beaches and friendly locals, it’s a destination that will surely surprise you. This country is also home to the world’s longest sea beach – Cox’s Bazar – which is 120 km (74,5 mi) long.

I spent a month backpacking in Bangladesh and it was an unforgettable experience! Bangladeshi are some of the most hospitable people in the entire world (along with Pakistanis, #13 on this list) and believe me, travelling here will be memorable!

All in all, Bangladesh is one of the most hospitable and cheapest Asian countries to visit and it’s perfect for those who are looking for a more off-the-beaten-path travel destination.

13. Pakistan

Badshahi Mosque in Lahore, pakistan

Pakistan might not be the first destination to think of when you’re planning a trip to Asia, but it is one of my favourite destinations in the world.

With some of the highest mountain peaks in the world, beautiful deserts, untouched beaches and historical cities like Lahore , this is a dream destination for both nature lovers as well as history buffs.

Contrary to the country’s reputation, Pakistan is now – relatively – safe to travel to (although it speaks for itself that you should always be cautious and use your common sense) and it is attracting more and more adventurous tourists.

Pakistan is cheaper than India, which makes it one of the cheapest countries on this list.

>> Read: What to Wear in Pakistan: Dress Code + Outfit Ideas

Cheapest Countries to Visit in East Asia

Terracotta warriors xian

With fascinating ancient places like the Terracotta Warriors of Xi’An, the Forbidden City of Beijing, and the famous Great Wall, China is one of these countries you could explore for years on end because there’s so much to see. This is one of Asia’s best cultural destinations .

One striking thing about China is the contrast between ancient and modern . You will find traditional Chinese architecture on one side of the city and hyper-modern buildings on the other side.

Keep in mind that some places are more expensive than others when you’re visiting China. Shanghai, Bejing and the autonomous region of Macau, for example, are some of the pricier destinations in the country. If you avoid these places and do some research in advance, it is possible to travel to China on a shoestring budget though.

Taiwan

Taiwan may be pretty small, but this island doesn’t lack beautiful places to visit or interesting things to do.

This country (which is officially called the Republic of China) is home to very diverse landscapes consisting of mountains, beaches, hot springs, waterfalls and more.

If you’re more of a city person, you will love Taipei, the vibrant capital which is known for its modern architecture, traditional temples and food markets.

Although Taiwan is one of the more expensive countries on this list, it’s just slightly more expensive than China and still pretty cheap compared to Western standards.

16. Mongolia

Mongolia, one of the cheapest asian countries to visit

Mongolia, landlocked between Russia and China, is a mountainous country with unspoilt nature and unique culture . It’s one of these beautiful, off-the-beaten-path destinations where the tourism industry is still in its early stages.

For many travellers, one of the top experiences to have here is to stay with a nomadic family and learn about their way of life. After all, Mongolia is home to one of the last remaining traditional nomad cultures.

While it is possible to visit Mongolia independently, it’s not the easiest country to travel through if you don’t want to hire a guide or take tours. The reason for this is a lack of transportation to tourist sites. It is possible, however, to rent a jeep in Ulaanbaatar.

Cheapest Western Asian Countries to Visit

Iran

One of the things Iran is most famous for is its architecture with gorgeous colours and pretty mosaics. This country is home to some of the most beautiful landmarks in Asia. But there’s much more to this country!

If you’re interested in Persian culture and history , for example, this destination will surely astonish you. On top of that, Iran is filled with natural wonders, from mountains and deserts to caves and waterfalls. All in all, Iran has got something to offer to any type of traveller, whether you’re into history, culture, art or nature.

Iran is a country that only started attracting more tourists in the last couple of years and it was gaining popularity among travellers quickly. However, due to the current political situation, tourism in Iran has been declining again.

18. Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan is a mysterious country that’s often nicknamed “The Land of Fire” due to its large amount of natural gas reserves.

Back in the day, gas often leaked to the surface in Azerbaijan, which resulted in spontaneous fires. Today though, most of these fires have been extinguished, but Yanar Dag is one of the few remaining natural gas fires.

Fire isn’t the only thing Azerbaijan is famous for, though. With its ancient temples, modern capital, mud volcanoes and remote mountain villages, this country is quite diverse. It’s a unique destination that you will fall in love with if you enjoy travelling off the beaten path.

19. Armenia

Armenia, one of the Cheapest Asian countries to visit

If you’re looking for the cheapest Asian countries to visit on your next trip, you might want to consider heading to Armenia, a small country sandwiched between Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Iran.

This little-visited country is full of stunning monasteries and churches (over 4.000 in total), vibrant cities and incredible hikes . It’s an underrated destination with plenty of things to discover.

It’s good to know that although Armenia may be geographically located in Asia, culturally, this country leans more towards Europe (though it has Asian influences as well).

Cheapest Countries to Visit in Central Asia

20. kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan, one of the cheapest asian countries to visit

Kazakhstan is another beautiful, off-the-beaten-path destination with plenty of hidden treasures. This former Soviet Republic is the biggest country in Central Asia .

If you enjoy spending time in nature, then this country full of canyons, mountains, lakes and deserts is the one for you!

Apart from that, Kazakhstan will also astonish you if you enjoy visiting more unusual places. From the futuristic capital, Nur-Sultan to the abandoned seaport of Aralsk, this country is full of unique sights.

The best part is that Kazakhstan is one of these affordable destinations where you won’t need to worry about spending tons of money on your travels.

21. Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan cheapest destinations

Another great country for lovers of nature and the great outdoors is Kyrgyzstan. With its high mountains, undiscovered canyons and beautiful glaciers, this destination has a lot to offer.

Some of the best cultural things to do here are staying in a yurt, learning about the traditional handicrafts of felt-making and eagle hunting, and learning about the country’s Soviet history. Kyrgyzstan is a country that won’t bore you, as there’s so much to see and do here!

Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan share similar traditions, but it’s good to know that the latter is slightly cheaper.

22. Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan, the last of the Stans featured on this list, is a little bit more expensive than Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, but it’s still pretty affordable.

This country is home to some amazing Islamic architecture and interesting historical sites . The highlights of Uzbekistan are the medieval cities of Samarkand, Bukhara and Kiva, where you can immerse yourself in the country’s history and traditions.

With places like the ship graveyard of the Aral Sea and the ghost town of Angren, Uzbekistan is another affordable destination that will delight you if you enjoy exploring more remote and unusual places.

23. Tajikistan

Iskanderkul Lake in Tajikistan.

I’m in Tajikistan as I’m writing this and, although it’s slightly more expensive than neighbouring Uzbekistan, this is another pretty cheap Asian country to travel in.

Tajikistan is most famous for the Pamir Highway , which stretches over more than 1,300 km (808 mi). This is one of the highest roads in the world and it offers spectacular mountain views. But you will also find plenty of other beautiful places in Tajikistan, like Iskanderkul Lake, Panjakent and Jizeu Valley.

So, if you like the mountains, Tajikistan is a great, affordable option!

Asian Countries to Avoid if You’re Travelling on a Budget

Burj Khalifa and Gold Souks

If you’re planning on heading to Asia and don’t want to spend a fortune, there are some countries that you will want to avoid.

There may be lots of cheap destinations in Asia, but this continent is also home to some of the most expensive cities in the world.

So if you’re on a tight budget, you will want to avoid the following countries, these are the most expensive countries in Asia:

  • South Korea

Check out my post about the cost of travelling in Dubai if you’re curious to know how much it costs to travel here.

Tips to Save Money While Travelling in Asia

Apart from the local prices, how much money you will spend also depends on your travel style.

Travelling on a shoestring budget mostly comes down to planning and researching your destination before heading there and avoiding expensive activities . Capital cities tend to be more expensive, for example, so try not to spend too much time there.

You will save a lot of money by staying in dorms , choosing street food or local restaurants over tourist restaurants and using public transportation , for example.

It’s also good to learn how to haggle and avoid restaurants or shops near tourist attractions , as these tend to be way more expensive.

But even if you’re planning on staying in 5-star hotels and eating out every night, you still won’t spend nearly as much money in these cheap Asian countries as you would in most European countries.

Hawa Mahal in India

Cheapest Asian Countries: Final Thoughts

I hope that you have found exactly what you were looking for in this list and that it inspires you to travel to Asia. After all, this continent is full of beautiful and affordable destinations.

From popular backpacking destinations like Thailand, Vietnam and Nepal to off-the-beaten-path destinations like Azerbaijan and Bangladesh , Asia has something to offer to every type of traveller.

As I’m living/travelling in Asia at the moment and have been doing this for the last couple of years, I’m keeping my eyes open for the price of each country I visit and am updating this post regularly.

Which of the cheapest Asian countries would you like to visit and which ones have you visited already? Let me know in the comments below!

Are you curious to find out what the cheapest countries in the EU are too? Check out the following post next: 11 Cheapest EU Countries to Live In

Pin it for later: Did you find this post helpful? Save it on Pinterest and follow me on Instagram and Facebook for more travel tips and inspiration.

Cheapest Asian countries to visit

Laura Meyers

Laura Meyers is the founder of Laure Wanders. She was born in Belgium and has travelled to over 40 countries, many of them solo. She currently spends most of her time between Belgium and South Asia and loves helping other travellers plan their adventures abroad.

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Hey, Laura! My solo backpacking dreams were itching to be released as soon as I saw your post. Now I can finally get a rough estimate on how much a two-month-long trip in Southeast Asia would cost me. This post has truly been insightful and informative. Thank you for sharing!

Hi Dakota, thank you for the lovely comment, I’m happy to hear that 😊 Asia is wonderfull, I can’t wait to return myself 🤩

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Hi Laurie – love your blog post on Asia. Obviously, with Covid, trying to work out destinations is difficult. Maybe things will improve in a few months. The other issue is off course, airfares… From Australia, all the cheap airfares to Asia have dried up thanks to Covid and low cost Airline disruptions. (think Air Asia) . with the exception of Bali, which is like a suburb of Australia !

Hi Lawrence, thank you for your comment! 🙂 I sure hope things will improve soon and that the airfares will go back to normal as well. I haven’t been to Bali myself but it must be a nice place to start exploring Indonesia. 🤩

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India is indeed an affordable and budget-friendly destination. I am glad that you added it to the list. The best part is India offers both budget-friendly and luxury stays. I mostly travel via train and public transport, which helps me to save more.

So do I, it’s a great way of saving money! 🙂

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14 TOP cheapest countries to visit as a Worldpackers volunteer

14 of the most affordable destinations around the world. These countries are full of culture, history, and natural beauty, and they can all be explored on a backpacker budget.

cheapest country to visit from vietnam

Gabrielle Budget Travel With Gabby

Mar 04, 2024

Cheapest countries to visit

After the numerous lockdowns and border closures of 2020, people all over the world are dying to get out and travel. We’ve all spent so much time stuck at home, reading, watching movies, and scanning social media, intrigued by photos and videos of beautiful, far-off places. Seasoned travelers like myself are itching to book a flight somewhere as soon as borders re-open. And there are plenty of novice travelers who have never felt more inspired to go see the world.

Lots of people are trying to get back on their feet financially. Luckily, traveling the world can be insanely cheap if you visit the right places! There are lots of gorgeous destinations in the world that make excellent vacations, but they don’t cost a fortune to visit. 

Read more articles about travel on a budget:

The 10 cheapest cities to live in the world

  • The 12 cheapest places to travel in the USA right now

How to find cheap airfare anytime of year

So for anyone looking to plan a trip somewhere affordable , here are the cheapest countries to visit as volunteer 

cheapest countries to visit

14 Of the cheapest countries to visit

1. cambodia.

Southeast Asia is a notoriously cheap area to visit. It is also incredibly beautiful and filled with art, history, flavorful food, religious architecture, and mindblowing natural landscapes. 

Cambodia is probably the cheapest country to visit in Southeast Asia.  

Top things to do in Cambodia include visiting the magnificent ancient Khmer temples in Siem Reap and touring the museums and palaces in the capital city of Phnom Penh. 

A hostel in Cambodia can cost as little as 4 USD per night, and you can get a full meal for 1 USD.

If you're wondering if Cambodia is a safe place to visit , let me tell you that definitely is! Of course taking the usual safety precautions .

You can visit Cambodia as Worldpackers volunteer and help in some positions:

  • Teach English for childrens in Cambodia
  • Help in digital marketing for pepper farm in Kiriving, Cambodia

Laos is another affordable country in Southeast Asia . From the glittering Buddhist temples to the lush forests and waterfalls, this nation is perfect for history lovers and outdoor enthusiasts alike. 

Monuments, palaces, temples, museums, shrines, and other stunning pieces of architecture can be found all over the country. 

There are also lots of picturesque waterfalls scattered around the landscape, including the Kuang Si Waterfall, the Khone and Pha Pheng Falls, the Tat Sae Falls, and more. 

Entry fees to all the best man-made and natural attractions usually only cost 1 or 2 USD, and many people can successfully travel around Laos for less than 30 USD per day.

You might also like:   The secret to travel the world for free (that no one tells you)  and The most unique places to stay for cheap around the world .

cheapest countries in Asia

As one of the best countries in the world for street food, Vietnam should have a place on every foodie’s travel bucket list. 

The markets in Vietnam are outstanding; you can indulge in a wide variety of local dishes and barely spend more than a couple of USD. 

Vietnam is also famous for its unique natural attractions, including the limestone islands of Ha Long Bay and the world’s largest cave, Hang Son Doong. Accommodation and transportation are both very affordable here as well, contributing to why Vietnam is one of the cheapest Asian countries to visit.

Travel to Vietnam and help in Worldpackers positions:

  • Collaborate in a children's NGO teaching languages and caring
  • Teach English in Vietnam and know that cheap country in Asia 

4. Indonesia

Indonesia is a country in Southeast Asia composed of thousands of islands. This means is it incredibly diverse. You can visit the most popular island of Bali, or head to the quieter tourist islands such as Lombok, Java, or Sumbawa. 

Regardless, Indonesia is a very cheap country to travel to . It is wise to just pick a handful of islands and fully explore those, rather than hopping from island to island constantly and spending lots of money on transport.

But once you find a nice place and stick to it, you can eat delicious, flavorful local food and stay in fun hostels or guesthouses for 20-30 USD per day in total.

Travel to Indonesia and help in Worldpackers positions:

  • Help to farm and teach English in a village surrounded by nature!

One of the cheapest countries to visit is Nepal. For adventurous travelers looking to explore the most remote corners of the globe, Nepal is a great place to go. It’s one of the cheapest Asian countries to visit outside of Southeast Asia. 

Many people come here to hike Mount Everest, but that is only for extremely fit and ambitious travelers, and with lots of money saved, because hiking Mount Everest is super expensive! But if you want to trek in some less touristy mountains, you can do so in Nepal for very cheap. 

Stay in cozy local guesthouses and eat home-cooked meals for just 10-20 USD per day or travel as a Worldpackers volunteer in Nepal .

  • Help in a organic farm while travel around Nepal.
  • Be a volunteer in a orphanege at Kathmandu, Nepal 

Keep reading: 10 cheap Spring Break trips for students on a budget  and  15 budget-savvy hacks to travel smarter in the new year

travel on budget

As far as African countries go, Morocco is one of the most affordable . It’s not as cheap as Southeast Asia, but it’s still overall one of the cheapest countries to visit if you can avoid the tourist traps. 

For example, Marrakech is a chaotic and colorful city in Morocco. Most travelers visit here to explore the massive Medina and to book tours into the Sahara Desert or the Atlas Mountains. 

Marrakech can be very cheap if you buy your food at local eateries instead of tourist restaurants in Jema El Fnaa, the main tourist square. Hostels around Morocco generally cost between 8 and 10 USD, and tours are affordable as well. 

Be sure to check out the Blue City of Chefchaouen, the beaches along the west coast, and of course, the mountains and the desert.

Travel to Morocco with Worldpackers :

  • Be a volunteer at a Hostel in Marrakesh and travel around the Saara
  • Help an animal sanctuary in Morocco

cheapest travel in Africa

7. Nicaragua

If you’re living in the USA and you’d like to travel somewhere cheap, Central America is the place to go. 

From the low prices of food, accommodation, and activities, to the short and cheap flights to get there, Central America has some of the cheapest countries to visit from the USA. Nicaragua is a gorgeous country. 

Most travelers tend to congregate near San Juan Del Sur, a party beach town, or in the towns of Leon, Managua, and Granada. 

Popular things to do in Nicaragua include hiking and sandboarding on volcanoes, admiring the Spanish colonial architecture in the cities, and surfing at the remote beaches.

  • Learn permaculture at a Hostel in Omepete Island, Nicarágua while help in the garden 
  • Work in the night shift at a Hostel in Nacarágua

8. El Salvador

Also one cheapest countries to visit in Central America, El Salvador are a small place is known for its natural beauty. 

There are lots of beautiful lakes, volcanoes, beaches, and waterfalls to explore, as well as some fascinating Mayan ruins and archeological sites. 

So if you love history and nature, El Salvador is the perfect country to visit. As with most countries in Central and South America, food is cheapest if you stick to the local dishes. 

You can find big plates of local food for 3 USD, whereas a meal of foreign food like pizza or burgers costs closer to 10 USD. But if you travel on a backpacker budget, you can get by in El Salvador on 30 USD per day or travel as Worldpackers volunteer in El salvador.

  • Travel in the Costa del Sol, El Salvador while help playing music and make the party happen

9. Guatemala

Guatemala is a geographically diverse and stunning country. Located just below Mexico, it’s very close to the USA so you can find flights there for as cheap as 100 USD.

Guatemala has a thriving Mayan culture. You’ll find lots of traditionally dressed locals living the way their ancestors did. You’ll most likely hear other indigenous languages in addition to Spanish here as well. 

Guatemala has beach towns, highlands and mountains, and tropical rainforests within its borders. 

You can paddleboard on Lake Atitlan , hike volcanoes near Antigua, swim in natural lakes and waterfalls in the rainforest, and explore Mayan Ruins in the north. And you can do it all on a backpacker budget!

You may also be interested:   How to satisfy your wanderlust without spending a fortune

cheapest countries to visit from USA 

10. Bolivia

As one of the cheapest countries to visit in South America , Bolivia is a favorite among backpackers and budget travelers.

You can travel around Bolivia for 20 USD a day if you eat at local restaurants and stay in hostels. This country is very traditional, so you’ll get to see the real South American way of life.

Highlights in Bolivia include the surreal landscape of Salar De Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat, and the blue waters of Lake Titicaca, the world’s highest navigable body of water. For a real adventure, venture off the tourist trail and visit remote local villages or hike in the Amazon jungle.

  • Live in La paz and help in housekeeping
  • Travel around Bolívia and know Copacabana while help and learn permaculture 

11. Colombia

Located in the north of South America, Colombia is an underrated tourist destination. With breathtaking beaches and marine life on the coast, and colorful architecture and historic villages inland, Colombia has something for everyone. 

Popular things to do in Colombia include touring coffee plantations, hiking volcanoes, trekking in the national parks, snorkeling near the northern beaches, and exploring the cities of Medellin and Cartagena.

Hostels in Colombia cost around 10 USD per night, and public bus journeys around the country cost only a few dollars and Worldpackers have many volunteer positions in Colombia.

Keep reading our tips  How to travel on a budget  and  The best ways to save money while traveling

countries to visit in south america

12. Bulgaria

Many people don’t think of Europe as a super cheap place to visit . Scandinavia is extremely expensive, and most of Western Europe is quite pricey as well. But eastern Europe is often just as cheap as Central America or Southeast Asia. 

Bulgaria is actually one of the cheapest countries to visit in Europe. It’s not very touristy, so the locals are extremely welcoming. 

In Sofia, the Bulgarian capital city, locals host daily free walking tours for tourists so they can teach you all about their culture and history. 

Hostels in Bulgaria cost around 5-9 USD per night, and you can treat yourself to an amazing meal at a nice restaurant for less than 20 USD. Bulgaria has lots of amazing historical architecture as well as natural beauty, so I think it should be on more people’s European travel bucket list.

For history lovers, Poland is a great place to visit. Full of museums and historical sights, you most likely won’t have to pay more than 5 or 10 USD to enter some of the country’s most popular attractions. 

Poland is also home to lots of colorful, photogenic architecture, which you can obviously admire and photograph for free. 

Big plates of hearty local food usually cost less than 10 USD, and hostels generally cost around 8-10 USD. Poland has all the delicious food and amazing sights of western European countries but without the high prices and the swarms of tourists.

14. Romania

And finally, another cheapest country to visit in Europe is Romania. Not to use a cliche, but Romania is truly a hidden gem of Europe. 

It is a beautiful country with so many cool things to see, but it has very few tourists and it is extremely cheap. A highlight of the country is the Transylvania region , which is home to numerous impressive castles and lots of quaint, charming, colorful villages. 

You can also visit Romania to explore the wilderness, including the majestic Carpathian Mountains and the beaches bordering the Black Sea. 

Traveling on a budget through Romania means you’ll probably spend only 30-40 USD per day, so it’s one of the cheapest foreign countries to visit in Europe. 

budget travel in Europe

You can to visit all these cheapest countries listed here as a  Worldpackers volunteer and make your trip cheaper. 

Worldpackers is a global community of conscientious travelers and welcoming hosts who, since 2014, have fostered thousands of connections and unique experiences in pursuit of developing and transforming the world into a more socially and environmentally sustainable place. On our search pages, you can choose from many volunteer positions around all the world.

Keep reading about  budget travel tips  with Worldpackers:

  • 16 awesome places worldwide to get free accommodation in exchange for work
  • How easy traveling on a budget with Worldpackers actually is
  • The lazy-traveler's guide to budget travel tips

Join the community!

Create a free Worldpackers account to discover volunteer experiences perfect for you and get access to exclusive travel discounts!

Gabrielle Boucher

Budget Travel With Gabby

Hello! I am a 25 year old from the USA with a knack for traveling on a budget. I fell in love with traveling while studying in Europe, and that love grew even more when I started volunteering abroad in South America. Since then, I've worked odd jobs and volunteered all over the globe while cultivating passions for hiking, wildlife photography, food, wine, animals, permaculture, and more!

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cheapest country to visit from vietnam

Aloyse Christian

Dec 27, 2022

seems so interesting, looking forward to Cambodia 🇰🇭, Philippines 🇵🇭, Bolivia 🇧🇴 and Poland 🇵🇱

cheapest country to visit from vietnam

Mar 27, 2023

cheapest country to visit from vietnam

May 01, 2023

There are many tourist attractions in the Philippines that offers free entrance, public beaches, park, hiking spots, and many more. The Philippines deserve to be listed here. For now, I don't know an establishment or organization that offers and connects volunteers offering opportunities to work in exchange for accommodation and other benefits. Thank you.

Philippines Travel Guide https://www.philippinestravelguides.com/

hey good one

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How to travel for free: the secret that no one tells you

cheapest country to visit from vietnam

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21 Cheap Places to Travel in 2024

By Caitlin Morton

Uzbekistan cheap places to travel

All listings featured on Condé Nast Traveler are independently selected by our editors. If you purchase something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

There are many factors to consider when planning a vacation, from finding cheap places to travel and the safety of your intended destination to hotel options . But like it or not, there’s one thing that influences our travel decisions more than anything else: money. All those resort fees, plane tickets , and life-changing meals add up pretty quickly—so at the end of the day, we really want to prioritize places where our greenbacks have the most spending power.

We did a little digging to find the countries where the U.S. dollar goes the furthest, based on current exchange rates. And while our fickle global economy means those rates can change at any time, certain places have consistently offered more bang for our buck over the years—and, fingers crossed, they should stay that way well into 2024 .

Without further ado, here are 21 of the best cheap places to travel around the world.

Budapest Hungary

Budapest, Hungary

1 USD = 351.21 HUF

Hungary’s favorable economy is great news for anyone planning a trip to Budapest , where a growing scene of Michelin-starred restaurants and high-tech spas are calling to us from across the globe. The city just celebrated its 150th anniversary in November 2023, which means there are even more reasons to visit during the next calendar year, including the newly reopened Chain Bridge and the brand-new House of Music Hungary . Be sure to book a room at the art deco W Budapest —formerly a palace and on a UNESCO World Heritage-listed street—which opened in July 2023 opposite the Hungarian State Opera.

South Korea

1 USD = 1,301.45 KRW

While other travelers head to the popular tourist destinations of Seoul , Busan, and Jeju Island, we have our eyes set on another South Korean city:  Mokpo , located in the Jeolla region at the southern tip of the peninsula. The port city offers some of the most interesting dining in the country, and specialty dishes like  hongeo (a naturally fermented, extremely pungent skate-fish dish) attract food lovers from around the world.

1 USD = 17.22 MXN

Mexico is consistently one of our favorite places to travel on a budget. In Mexico City , with a street food culture rivaled only by its forward-looking restaurant scene, you’ll be spending most of your money on eats. But make sure to leave some bucks to visit all the cultural wonders the city has to offer, starting with the iconic Museo Jumex . If you’re looking to go a little farther afield, head to Jalisco to see tequila being made at the source, or Isla Holbox for a sleepy beach scene.

An eagle hunter riding near the Altai Mountains in Mongolia.

An eagle hunter riding near the Altai Mountains in Mongolia.

1 USD = 3,449.69 MNT

We’ve long been fans of Mongolia for its seemingly limitless expanses and adventure camps—and the fact that travel here costs as little as $75 per day (including accommodations). The country is on a mission to lure even more travelers into its borders in 2024, with upcoming initiatives like its first-ever direct US flight and visa-free travel for dozens of nationalities. You can also expect even more offbeat cultural experiences next year: Local operator Breanna Wilson is expanding her 2024 tours to include a digital nomad week, a women-only retreat in Orkhon Valley, and a three-day archery training session.

1 USD = 24,275.00 VND

Plenty of countries in Southeast Asia are great deals for dollar carriers right now, but we recommend a trip to Vietnam—in part because of the steadily increasing exchange rate, but mostly for the country’s mind-blowing beauty. Hanoi is arguably the most romantic city in the region, but don’t be afraid to venture off the beaten track during your next visit: Places like  Ninh Van Bay and Phú Quốc island have pristine beaches and intimate resorts you won’t find in the more touristed areas.

1 USD = 4.94 BRL

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Like much of South America, Brazil is a good place to visit if you don’t want to break the bank. But the fact that a dollar gets you nearly five Brazilian reals means you can get even better value than usual. Rio de Janeiro is the most obvious place to spend time and money, with incredible restaurants—like  Lasai , a 2023 Hot List winner—just steps away from some of the world’s  best beaches . But don't forget to visit  São Paulo , too, where a younger generation has introduced hip galleries, museums, and bars to several long-neglected neighborhoods.

South Africa

1 USD = 18.30 ZAR

The value of the South African rand has fluctuated a lot over the past few years, but we’re pretty happy with where it is today. (To compare, one U.S. dollar only got you 8.57 ZAR 10 years ago.) Stretch those bucks on the  Test Kitchen ’s 21-course tasting menu in Cape Town , then head into the wilderness at  Singita Castleton Lodge in the Sabi Sand game reserve.

Sri Lanka

Traditional stilt fishermen in Sri Lanka

1 USD = 327.31 SLR

The Sri Lankan rupee has slowly gotten more and more favorable over the past couple of decades, but it completely skyrocketed starting a couple of years ago (a dollar converted to 200 SLR in February 2022, and now look where we are). We’re more excited than ever to explore this incredible island nation, where you can see leafy tea plantations, Buddhist temples, golden beaches, and 200-mile hiking trails in one memorable trip.

1 USD = 525.96 CRC

The Costa Rican colón has depreciated a bit in recent months, but it remains favorable for US travelers. Then there’s the fact that the country’s best asset (i.e. its natural beauty) is mostly free to enjoy. From trekking through the tropical cloud forests in the mountains of Alajuela to surfing off the coast of Peninsula Papagayo, Costa Rica is one of the world’s best countries for outdoor adventure. (And the  hotels are pretty great , too.)

Philippines

1 USD = 55.89 PHP

We’re never not dreaming about island hopping in the Phillippines. It’s hard to believe that places like Palawan and Siargao are so economically accessible, given that they are some of the most beautiful places on the planet. Even five-star resorts like  Shangri-La Boracay can be reserved for under $350 per night, which is all the incentive we need to book a trip right now.

1 USD = 4,580 MGA

For your next tropical island vacation, skip pricey, popular locations like the Maldives and Bora Bora for inexpensive Madagascar—an Indian Ocean treasure filled with breathtaking rainforests and lemur-filled national parks. Plan your visit around the opening of Namoroka Tsingy Exploration Camp ( scheduled for mid-2024 ), which will feature seven luxury safari tents inside the essentially unvisited Namoroka National Park. Alternately, swing by the island nation as part of a cruise itinerary: Luxe cruise lines like Silversea , Lindblad , Swan Hellenic , and Seabourne have all added the country as a port of call on new voyages.

Cairo Egypt

Cairo, Egypt.

1 USD = 30.93 EGP

Following in the footsteps of pharaohs in Egypt feels like it should be expensive, but the Egyptian pound has skyrocketed this year—that means touring the Pyramids, cruising the Nile, and exploring Cairo has never been more affordable. We’re excited to check out relatively new openings, like St. Regis Cairo and the beach villas at Four Seasons Hotel Alexandria . And we’ve been anxiously awaiting the official opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum for years now, but it looks like it might actually happen in 2024.

1 USD = 4.67 MYR

Your cash will stretch far in Malaysia, especially if you fill up on street food and explore cities like Kuala Lumpur on foot. It’s also inexpensive (or in some cases, free) to visit the country’s pristine beaches, limestone caves, and some of the most beautiful tea plantations. If you’re ready and willing to shell out the big bucks, however, we highly recommend shacking up at  The Datai Langkawi —it’s definitely expensive but wholly worth it.

1 USD = 83.04 INR

India has always been a cheap travel destination; now that you can get 83 rupees to the dollar, however, the country is more affordable than ever. Hotels run the gamut from $60-per-night bungalows to pricy Oberoi and Six Senses outposts, plus hundreds of options in between. But as long as you don’t hole up in your resort the entire time, you can visit plenty of attractions and dine at local restaurants on an extremely tight budget.

1 USD = 107.45 RSD

Belgrade continues to emerge as one of Europe’s most exciting cultural epicenters, but it’s massively less expensive than, say, Paris or Berlin (at least for now). It’s relatively easy to find hotels under $100, though accommodations aren’t all that important when you spend all night dancing in clubs around the city. But you will want to get some rest to explore Belgrade’s wealth of museums and contemporary art installations, many of which just opened in the  past few years .

Ohrid North Macedonia

Ohrid, North Macedonia

North Macedonia

1 USD = 56.44 MKD

Perhaps it’s because the coastal countries get all the attention, but North Macedonia remains one of the most  criminally underrated (and therefore affordable) countries in Europe. The landlocked nation is a sleeper hit for those in the know, especially if you head to the charming city of Ohrid. It has all the cobbled streets and quaint churches one would expect from a European town, with the added advantage of being right on the shores of the incredibly gorgeous and biodiverse Lake Ohrid.

1 USD = 132.92 NPR

Nepal is one of the cheapest countries to visit for all travelers, but the U.S. dollar is particularly strong there right now. Most people immediately associate Nepal with Mt. Everest, but the tiny nation has much more to offer than bucket-list climbs. Kathmandu is overwhelming at first, but it hides some great hotels and museums once you start digging. Bhaktapur and Patan—both close by in the Kathmandu Valley—are a bit more low-key but still packed with culture.

1 USD = 66.99 GMD

It may be continental Africa’s smallest country but don’t you dare overlook the Gambia . The ultra-affordable nation has long been a coveted spot for wildlife enthusiasts, but it’s starting to rise in the ranks as both a  food destination and luxury cruise  port of call .

1 USD = 15,556.65 IDR

Despite the post- Eat, Pray, Love influx of tourists, Indonesia remains an affordable vacation spot overall. While millions of people flock to Bali (where resort prices are steep in response), you can enjoy a much cheaper and more peaceful trip on  the islands of Sumba and Lombok. And don’t forget about Jakarta, where a solid day includes filling up on greasy noodles and  nasi goreng gila  from makeshift street stalls—all for just a couple of US bucks.

Beach near Ksamil Albania.

Beach near Ksamil, Albania.

1 USD = 93.95 ALL

Albania is much less expensive than other European countries—and it’s a bit under the radar as a tourist destination, which means there’s still a chance to visit before the word gets out and the crowds descend. One of the most enticing reasons to plan a trip is the food: Picture tables filled with rosemary-scented lamb, tart mountain cheeses, blackened sea bass, and bottles of fruit juices. In Tirana, book a stay at Agroturizëm Gjepali , a restaurant turned hotel with river views and doubles starting at just $70.

1 USD = 12,375.00 UZS

Uzbekistan is still on the up-and-up when it comes to foreign travel, which makes it one of the most exciting and affordable destinations in Central Asia. The major cities are filled with both intricate mosques and brutalist monuments—all free to explore—and you’ll be hard-pressed to spend more than $5 per meal at restaurants. There aren’t too many name-brand hotels set up yet, but even places like the Hyatt Regency Tashkent have nightly rates below $170.

cheapest country to visit from vietnam

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Never Ending Footsteps

The Cost of Travel in Vietnam: A 2023 Budget Breakdown

Vietnam is one of the greatest countries in the world.

I should know: I’ve spent a almost full year travelling across this country, making my way from the very top to its southernmost point and exploring a hell of a lot along the way.

I’ve spent months living in Hanoi and Saigon, and celebrated birthdays in Hoi An and Mui Ne. I’ve rented apartments with local families in lesser-known neighbourhoods, diligently worked my way through every street food cart in the area, then partied my way through all of the best backpacker haunts. I’ve travelled solo in the country, with my boyfriend and with friends, and even spent a month showing my boyfriend’s parents around the country. I spent two weeks riding a scooter through the smallest of towns in the Mekong Delta, visiting places that few tourists have ever passed through.

I’ve seen so much of this country and yet there’s something that still continually pulls me back.

(Confession: it’s the food. Vietnamese food is the best .)

But beyond the incredible meals, there’s also the beautiful scenery, the friendly people, the amazing architecture, and the most bustling cities. From the awe-inspiring views up in Sapa and the beaches of Da Nang, to the beauty of Hoi An, the scenery at Halong Bay, and the chaos of Saigon, Vietnam offers something for everyone.

Today, I want to focus on what you’ll pay for all of this magic. Of course, being in Southeast Asia, Vietnam is an affordable country to visit, in comparison to countries in North America and Europe, so your Dong will take you far. Yep, that’s the name of the currency here: the Vietnamese Dong, and you’ll find yourself with plenty of opportunity to make jokes about it.

I usually travel on a mid-range budget in Vietnam, along with occasional splurges, and often average around $50 — I’ve managed to get by on $10 a day when I was a tight backpacker, and splurged on a five-star hotel and been blown away by how much $100 a night can get you.

At the time of writing this, in 2023, $1 equates to around 24,000 VND. You’ll usually get 500,000 VND notes out of the ATMs, so remember that those are worth just over $20 each. Be careful with the 20,000 and 500,000 notes, though — they look very similar and could make for quite the expensive mistake!

A quick housekeeping point before we continue: everything in the post I paid for myself – as always, this is a comp- and press trip-free article.

With all that being said, it’s time to take an in-depth look into just how much it costs to travel in Vietnam. Let’s get started.

Hoi An Cafe

Where to Go in Vietnam

I recommend allocating a full month to travel in Vietnam. Here’s how I recommend spending your time over those four weeks:

  • Hanoi: 5 nights
  • Sapa: 2 nights
  • Halong Bay/Bai Tu Long Bay: 1 night
  • Ninh Binh: 3 nights
  • Phong Nga: 2 nights
  • Da Nang: 2 nights
  • Hoi An: 5 nights
  • Dalat: 3 nights
  • Saigon: 3 nights
  • Can Tho: 1 night

Fairy stream, Mui Ne

What’s Included in This Post

The budget breakdown you’re about to read covers accommodation, transportation, activities, food, and miscellaneous costs. All prices are in U.S. dollars, as that’s where most of my readers are located.

Flight costs will vary, depending on where you’re travelling in from. I recommending using Skyscanner’s flight comparison search engine to find the very best deals.

I often book activities and transport online, but generally have found that local travel agents offer cheaper prices. You’ll find one on practically every street in tourist-popular destinations, so there’s always many places vying for your custom; amounts can usually be haggled.

But if that’s not your thing, or you prefer the peace of mind of having things booked in advance, online booking works well, too. More on that below.

Vietnam offers up amazing value for money. Yes, I often splashed out on fun excursions that are a bit pricier, but even then, costs didn’t spiral. It’s all about balance. 

My ethos is: if I’m not going to experience at least some of the sights and activities a place is known for, what’s the point? But equally, I’ve also found some lesser-known – and free – things to do along the way that I’ll be mentioning as well.

Time to jump in.

mekong delta river

How to Save Money on the Cost of Accommodation in Vietnam

As always with travel, it’s possible to cut your accommodation costs down to zero if you have the time and patience to seek out an offer.

Housesitting  is a great option for free accommodation. This is where you’ll take care of somebody’s house while they’re away, and usually look after their pets, too. It’s best for long-term travellers or retirees as you can’t pick and choose dates and destinations, so you need to have a lot of flexibility as to where you go and at what time of year. If you do have that freedom, it’s a wonderful way to cut down your travel expenses, soak up some home comforts, and live like a local for a while. I have friends who have housesat in castles before! For free!  Trusted Housesitters  is the best site for getting started with housesitting, as they have the highest number of listings.

I’m suspecting, though, that for most of you, you’re not interested in the free accommodation and just want somewhere clean, safe, and affordable to rest your head each night. If that’s the case, there are several options available for you.

The first of these are  hostels . In Vietnam, you’ll come across hostels all over the country, finding them on tiny islands, in large cities, and even in the national parks. They’re one of your best options for saving money.

Hostels in Vietnam  are on a par with the rest of Southeast Asia, and you can expect to spend around  $5 a night for a dorm bed  for a well-reviewed hostel in Vietnam, with the price increasing to slightly about  $15 a night  for the absolute best of the best.

When it comes to private rooms in hostels, you can expect to spend around  $20 a night  for a clean, basic room in a good location, so if you’re travelling with friends or with your partner, you may find it cheaper to grab some privacy over settling for two beds in a dorm room.  $40 a night  will get you an exceptionally well-reviewed private room in a hostel or hotel.

I use  HostelWorld  to find the cheapest hostels, as they tend to have the greatest number of listings at the lowest prices.

And, of course, there are always hotels, which will usually come in at around  $20-$60 a night  for a decent, clean, mid-range property in a central location. I always use  Booking , as they have the most accommodation options for the cheapest prices. I share my personal recommendations below:

Being a digital nomad in Vietnam

The Cost of Accommodation in Vietnam

Places to stay in Vietnam are excellent value.

There were a couple of exceptions where we treated ourselves and upped the budget a bit, but that’s not to say we didn’t see quality options within both price brackets.

For the most part, we stayed in hotels and guesthouses and picked places where breakfast was included. That way, our first meal of the day was covered by what was without exception a first-rate buffet, often with eggs made-to-order any which way we preferred. Going forward, whenever I mention breakfast, you can assume it was part of the rate.

Mid-range properties were super-reasonably priced. And even 5* accommodation doesn’t cost an arm and a leg – much less than a hotel room in Western Europe, Australasia or the USA, for example.

Hotel staff couldn’t do enough for us, from the concierge and the tour desk to the staff at breakfast. Honestly, the Vietnamese people were a delight: really friendly and helpful. Often they were keen to practice their English on us and claimed to not be very good, when in actual fact they were fluent. It put us to shame.

Read on for recommendations on places to stay in Vietnam.

Hanoi: Our stay at this contemporary hotel in the Old Quarter cost us $49 a night , and we can’t speak highly enough of this gem.

Just a five-minute walk from Hoan Kiem Lake and tons of restaurants and bars, our superior double was spacious and modern, with wooden floors, splashes of colour throughout, and a feature wall. The breakfast buffet was varied and staff were incredibly helpful, going above and beyond to help us with forthcoming bookings.

For us, the historic centre was definitely the best area to stay in. It was bustling, atmospheric, and within ambling distance of most attractions. Talking of walking: make sure you watch out for the pesky mopeds in Hanoi, and Saigon too. In fact, there were even more zipping about down south.

Sapa: We opted for a homestay in Sapa, because we really wanted to throw ourselves into things. If you go down that route, Mao and her family are the people to choose.

After an overnight train ride northwards from Hanoi, we were met by Mao’s sister-in-law. We paid $68 per person for a one-night stay in Mao’s home. But that price also covered a two-day excursion. More on the details in the activity section.

It was Mao’s mountainous family home that we stayed in. It was basic, but comfortable: mattress-style beds on the floor enclosed by mosquito nets and shared bathroom facilities. The hospitality was warm, and the family were generous with their time.

We loved our night there and would wholeheartedly recommend it.

cheapest country to visit from vietnam

Bai Tu Long Bay: Boat time! Bai Tu Long Bay is just eastwards of the more famous Halong Bay, but doesn’t attract the crowds of the former. It’s just as beautiful, so if you want to see those limestone karsts without hundreds of boats surrounding you, this is the way to go.

We chose a two days/one night trip here. Our boat – Viola – was striking yet comfortable – a traditional wooden vessel with 16 cabins featuring dark wood and large windows. We were lucky: the boat wasn’t full, so we managed to bag an upgrade to the Honeymoon suite with a balcony to admire the spectacular scenery from.

Our cost came in at $149 per person for the two night trip, but that did include transfers, separate excursions off the boat, and food.

Ninh Binh: Just a couple of hours south of Hanoi we reached Ninh Binh, and this rather lovely homestay . Run by a family of four, the hospitality was first-rate, and our room was large, with pretty views out to the mountains. There was a roof terrace for drinks and excellent local food, and complimentary bicycles.

The property is outside the centre of town on a quiet residential stretch. We were there to get out and about on bikes, so the quiet location worked well for us. We paid $19 a night and were impressed. The family even invited us to join them one night for a home-cooked meal – an unexpected and kind gesture that we took them up on. That was our first taste of jackfruit.

Phong Nha: We pushed the boat out in Central Vietnam – for us anyway – and spent $45 a night . Located off the beaten path a little (about 15 minutes from the centre of town), this peaceful hideaway was set among lush greenery and rice paddies, and came complete with a swimming pool, wonderful views, complimentary bikes, tasty food, and quaffable fishbowl gin and tonics.

Situated just outside the National Park and the caves the area is famous for, we enjoyed sitting al fresco watching the sunset, sipping on a drink with a plate of crispy spring rolls to munch on.

The vibe was French colonial, with plenty of dark wood, wicker furniture and colourful tiles. And the ethos was ethical, sustainable and local, which got a thumbs up from us.

Danang: We continued with a slightly increased budget here, and spent $62 a night at this stylish beachfront property in a bright and airy superior double. .

Just a couple of minutes’ walk from the white sands of My Khe beach and about 25 from the famous Dragon Bridge, this spot offered us the best of both worlds.

We made the most of the glorious rooftop pool and terrace and the plentiful breakfast buffet. And friendly staff were on hand to answer our questions – such as where to get the local bus to Hoi An from.

cheapest country to visit from vietnam

Hoi An: Just 45 minutes southwards on that bus we were advised about, we reached our next stop. We split our time here: three nights a short cycle from lovely Cua Dai beach at this contemporary hotel with a pool overlooking the Co Co river (we paid $40 per night ).

Our room was spacious, clean, and it was fab to have a balcony. Plus, we were just a 20-minute ride to the sea. And at the latter smaller property, we loved the eye-catching colourful tiles throughout and enjoyed a splash in the dinky pool.

Saigon: We stayed in this first-rate hotel in Saigon, with pale wood and bamboo decor, knowledgeable staff, a quality buffet breakfast, and a rooftop pool with city vistas. We paid $90 per night and were very happy.

Can Tho (Mekong Delta): We were here for just one night, and up very early for a Mekong Delta boat ride the following day. So we opted for a lower end of the price bracket option. And we couldn’t find fault with this virtually riverside boutique hostel , where we paid just $20 per night .

You can expect funky monochrome decor and air-con. Breakfast wasn’t included here, but we knew we’d be eating on our floating market trip.

OUR TOTAL COST OF ACCOMMODATION IN VIETNAM CAME TO $1178. THAT’S AN AVERAGE OF $42 PER DAY, OR $21 EACH.

Reminder: in Sapa and Bai Tu Long Bay, the cost I’ve used in the calculation included a whole excursion – so food, walks etc.

a door on a scooter vietnam

THE COST OF TRANSPORTATION IN VIETNAM

We chose to travel by bus throughout Vietnam for the most part. We generally found these to be clean, efficient and comfortable. Some had reclining seats that were bedlike, for longer journeys.

To reiterate: shop around for prices; we found there were deals to be had. If, however, you break into a sweat when you think about masterfully haggling with the experts, 12Go Asia is my go-to site for booking overland travel in Southeast Asia. They’ve got buses, trains, and private transport listed, and it’s usually only a dollar or two more than you’ll pay in person, so it’s definitely worth checking out.

Keep in mind that sometimes the buses take less time than advised and you may have to swap buses, which you’re not always pre-informed about. For example, from Phong Nha to Danang we switched buses in Hue. And from Hoi An to Dalat, we changed vehicles in Nha Trang (but did get to see a lovely sunrise at the beach there). Really, for the prices we paid, we couldn’t complain.

Here’s a breakdown of our journeys:

Train from Hanoi to Sapa: $32 per person . Note: we shared our cabin with two other (snoring) people, so would recommend opting for a private cabin if funds allow (around $61 per person).

Bus from Sapa to Hanoi: $12 per person . We used Sapa Express : comfy seats, lovely views, and a very friendly member of staff was on board. Water and a snack were provided, too. The company was also very accommodating when we nearly missed the bus.

Bus from Hanoi to Ninh Binh: $7 per person

Bus from Ninh Binh to Phong Nha: $12 per person

Bus from Phong Nha to Danang: $12 per person

Local bus from Danang to Hoi An: $1 per person

Bus from Hoi An to Dalat: $16 per person

Bus from Dalat to Saigon: $17 per person

Bus from Saigon to Can Tho: $6 per person

Shuttle bus from Can Tho to Ha Tien: $6 per person. Tip: don’t buy your ticket from the office, go directly to a shuttle and ask a driver for a price – they charged us less than what was quoted inside.

There are other modes of transport if buses aren’t for you. Trains are an alternative ( 12Go is a top website for those, too), and Grab was available in Hanoi, Danang and Saigon.

Similar to Uber, you just need to download the app. Scooters are an option with Grab; cheaper than booking a car. Watch out for taxis you hail off the street – they have a reputation for trying to rip off tourists, so it’s easier to use the app.

OUR TOTAL COST OF TRANSPORTATION IN VIETNAM CAME TO $242. THAT’S AN AVERAGE OF $8.60 PER DAY, OR $4.30 EACH.

Lauren and Dave in Vietnam

THE COST OF ACTIVITIES AND ENTRANCE FEES IN VIETNAM

We saw and did a lot in Vietnam, ranging from rice paddy walks and scenic boat rides to food tours. There were also some well-known activities that we chose not to do, because of personal preference. For example, Phong Nha is famous for caves, but we opted for a bike ride into the countryside instead.

Here’s a rundown for you, with costs.

Halong Bay two-day/one-night tour from Hanoi: $150 per person. If there’s one thing you have to do when you’re in Vietnam, it’s to visit their most famous attraction. Halong Bay is incredible and well-worth taking the time and spending the money to see it. The rock formations are breathtaking! We opted for a tour that took us to both Halong Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay, as the latter is free of the tourist crowds. That way, we got the best of both worlds. You can check availability for the tour we booked using the widget below (it is popular, so book well in advance!)

Food tour in Hanoi with Ha Food Tours: $25 per person . An amazing evening; we were fit to burst by the end. Our local tour guide was fun, friendly and very informative. She also gave us recommendations for other restaurants to try (Pho 10 below). We wandered our way around the Old Quarter sampling delights such as Bun Cha, egg coffee (nicer than it sounds!), dried beef salad, crab spring rolls, beef noodles, Bahn Mi, sticky rice, and coconut ice-cream. Told you there was a lot of food! We wouldn’t necessarily have known to go into some of the places, and it was lovely to be led by someone with first-hand knowledge of the city. We thought the price offered excellent value for money, when you coupled all of the food with the guided aspect.

Hoa Lo prison, Hanoi (pay at the entrance): 30,000 VND per person (approximately $1.50) . This was an eye-opening and moving experience. The former jail was used by the French colonists in Vietnam for political prisoners, and later by North Vietnam for US Prisoners of War during the Vietnam War.

Sapa walking and homestay with Mao and family : $55 per person (two days, one night). The scenery was amazing in Sapa and the Muong Hoa Valley: rice fields, terraces, tea plants, and lush greenery. If you’re into glorious views and walking (there was a fair amount, and it was medium difficulty at times), this is for you. We met Mao’s sister-in-law in the centre of town, and from there, up we went into the mountains. It was peaceful, picturesque, and a world away from busy Hanoi. Included in the tour were two lunches, plus a plentiful home-cooked dinner and breakfast at Mao’s. Do try the rice wine – ‘happy water’ Mao offers at dinnertime – it was potent, reminding us a bit of sake.

Bai Tu Long Bay boat tour with Premier Travel: $144 per person (two days, one night). Again, the scenery here was pretty spectacular, with limestone rock formations jutting out of the water across the bay. The trip included visiting a pearl farm and an impressive cave, all meals, a summer roll making class, a swim, and a kayak. Just to let you know, it was communal dining, which some people like, and others don’t.

Trang An caves, Ninh Binh (pay at entrance): 200,000 VND per person (approximately $8.50) . We were really pleased we chose to cycle out to the river and the Trang An caves. They were a much quieter alternative to Tam Coc (we rode via there another day and it was busy). At Trang An, we jumped aboard a small boat just before 4pm; it was quiet on the water. The scenery was wonderful and the caves we went through made the journey exciting and interesting. Watch your head in some of the caves – they were low. We made a few stops along the way and helped to row for some of the trip. It was a lovely way to spend a few hours. Lunch tip: Quoc Khanh Bamboo Homestay (great views, and very tasty pomelo, pork and shrimp salad).

Mua Caves, Ninh Binh (pay at entrance): 100,000 VND per person (approximately $4.50) . We cycled from our homestay through paddy fields which was fab. The caves involved a 500-step climb – so it may not be for everyone. Tough, but totally worth it for the amazing and far-reaching vistas.

Scooter food tour in Hoi An: $35 per person . Another fantastic food tour. We sampled a whopping nine dishes on this tour — some of which were served in a local’s home who specialised in that particular item. So good, so fun, and so informative; this is a must-do!

Countryside tour in Dalat : $40 per person . One word: loved! We stopped at a cricket farm, the Elephant Falls, a silk factory, a coffee plant, and wandered around a local market sampling bits and pieces. We also enjoyed a lunch pitstop with a fun fruit tasting, and then came the secret aspect. I won’t reveal what that was – it was worth it though.

Crazy House , Dalat (pay at the entrance): 40,000 VND per person (approximately $1.75) . This really was crazy. An unconventional building constructed by Vietnamese architect Đặng Việt Nga, designed to entice people back to nature. You can also stay there too, if that floats your boat.

Although, let's be honest: I mostly returned to Saigon for soups!

Saigon Pho Trail : $55 per person . A food and walking tour highlighting the ‘real’ Ho Chi Minh City. We wandered around authentic markets, enjoyed a first-rate breakfast beef pho, calamansi juice, and then a huge lunch. So much tasty food! And a super friendly pair of guides.

Saigon foot scrub: $15 per person . We’d done an awful lot of walking throughout our trip and our feet deserved some attention! There were so many places offering spa services, so we shopped around. Our treatment also included a quick neck and back massage, and a pedicure for me.

Mekong Delta boat ride: $18 per person . We loved this tour so much. It was an early start down to the water where we took a boat tour to the Cai Rang Floating Market. Next, we stopped at a noodle factory and then a cacao plant. A wonderful morning. Our advice? Don’t book online, ask your hotel for a tour recommendation.  

There were also tons of free activities we enjoyed. They can sometimes be just as enjoyable, we think. Read on for a handful of our faves.

Phong Nha Bong Lai Valley bike ride: This was one of my favourite days. So scenic, not too difficult, and two great places to stop for a beer and food – always a bonus! Their names? Pub with Cold Beer (it did what it said on the tin), and Eco Boar Farm.

Danang beach walk: Non Nuoc and My Khe – wide stretches with fine sand.

Hoi An beach walk: Cua Dai. Another lovely stretch; keep an eye out for colourful crabs scurrying along.

Where I’ve mentioned bikes, these were complimentary with our hotel stay.

OUR TOTAL COST OF ACTIVITIES IN VIETNAM CAME TO $418.50. THAT’S AN AVERAGE OF $15 PER DAY, OR $7.50 EACH.

Reminder: I’ve excluded the Sapa and Bai Tu Long Bay tours from my calculations because I included them in the accommodation costs above.

Hanoi street food

THE COST OF FOOD VIETNAM

I love, love, love food. Wherever we visit, we put a lot of research time into where to eat and what dishes we should try. We like to taste local specialities, and so we kept our ear out for recommendations. The food in Vietnam was among the best we tasted throughout the year, and super cheap too.

I’m going to list a handful of dishes we regularly ate across the four weeks, with an average price.

Like I said before, for the most part, breakfast was included as part of our room rate, so I won’t include that in this section. And on a handful of days when we were on an excursion, all of our meals were included. So I’ll calculate for the remaining days.

Let’s do it…

Bahn Mi: a super delicious snack that we had virtually every day! A baguette (Viet style – much lighter than the French version) filled with BBQ pork, pate, herbs, chilli, and pickled veg. Banh Mi 25 in Hanoi was our favourite by far and cost just 30,000 a pop (about $1.30). Madam Khanh, Queen of Banh Mi in Hoi An was also very tasty (25,000 VND, approximately $1).

cheapest country to visit from vietnam

Pho: fragrant noodle soup that struck the balance of being fresh yet filling.

Average cost: 65,000 VND ( approximately $3). Our recommendation? Beef pho at Pho 10 in Hanoi. The broth was delicate and the meat rare (it cooked a bit as it sat in the broth). There were sharing condiments on the table – fresh chilli, a fiery sauce and garlic. One portion and a beer came in at 85,000 VND (around $4).

Bun Cha: a tangy broth, with chargrilled pork patties, rice noodles, fresh vegetables and herbs. The average we paid for this scrummy dish was 90,000 VND ($4) per portion. We loved Bun Cha Ta in Hanoi.

Banh Xeo: super cheap and filling crispy pancakes filled with veggies, pork belly and prawns. Just 23,000 VND ($1) a portion in general.

Com Ga: chicken and rice. Simple yet delicious, and cheap at around 46,000 VND ($2) per portion.

Nem Nuong: pork sausage meat, greens, pickled veg, rice noodles and rice paper – a DIY meal where we wrapped the ingredients in the rice paper. So tasty, and only around 92,000 VND ($4) a portion.

Dumplings and wontons: need little explanation! Miss Ly’s well-known spot in Hoi An was a noteworthy place to try these. We shared, and paid 80,000 VND each (about $3.50).

A couple of evenings we fancied some Western food. For example, we had a yummy pizza each at Fatfish in Danang. That cost us 195,000 VND (about $8.50) per person. A bit more expensive, but still totally manageable.

Burger Bros in Danang cost us 100,000 VND (about $4) each – comparable to local food prices. And it was a really juicy burger.

A few times, we spent a bit more on Vietnamese meals. For instance, we enjoyed an early dinner at the Pub with Cold Beer. The family who owns the place offered a unique ‘kill your own chicken for us to cook’ service (you don’t have to; they can do it for you if you’d prefer). Dave opted to do the honours – brave man. A while later, a BBQed, spatchcocked bird appeared smelling wonderful. It was served with rice, greens and the most amazing sauces – peanut and fresh chilli. We really loved that meal. It cost us 230,000 VND ($10) each, and was so worth it.

Goc Ha Thanh in Dalat came in at 322,000 each (around $14) – that included a starter of spring rolls, coconut prawn curries, a side of veg, water, and local wine. Who knew very drinkable wine was made in Dalat?!

Average daily food cost: $8.57 per day, or $4.29 each

More on drinks next…

We sipped on plenty of bottled water which was dirt cheap, plus beers, and the odd cocktail here and there. A large water cost us about 50 cents.

In Hanoi, ‘fresh beer’ (bia hoi) is famous, and even cheaper than water. It cost us around 8,000 VND (35 cents) a glass. We only found this sold in the capital, out of big freezer chests. It was made fresh each day with few preservatives; foamy and quite light in alcohol. We highly recommend you try it.

Otherwise, we tended to share large bottles of local beer; they came in at about $1 a bottle.

Oh, and for lovers of the chocolate bar Bounty, or fans of coconut in general, you MUST pay Cong Caphe a visit. We stopped at outposts in Hanoi and Saigon. Their coconut smoothie was one of the best things I drank (a bold claim I know) – so good and so simple. It was made of coconut milk whizzed up with crushed ice and coffee. Yum. The chocolate and coconut version was equally delicious too. And the price? 45,000 VND each (about $2). Heavenly, and totally worth it.

In Saigon, we visited Pasteur Street Brewing , where a bottle was 70,000 VND (approximately $3). Dearer than local brands like Bia Saigon, but it was craft beer – and very good.

We indulged in happy hour cocktails at Mango Rooms in Hoi An a few times. They cost about 100,000 each (approximately $4). Keep an eye out for 2 for 1 deals – we found them a great way to be able to sample drinks we may not have done otherwise.

Average daily drink cost: $4.82 per day, or $2.41 each

Like I said, we can’t talk highly enough of the Vietnamese cuisine. Flavourful, packed a spice punch, and totally delicious. Such great value for money, too.

OUR TOTAL COST OF FOOD AND DRINK IN VIETNAM CAME TO $375. THAT’S AN AVERAGE OF $13.40 PER DAY, OR $6.70 EACH.

cheapest country to visit from vietnam

MISCELLANEOUS EXPENSES IN VIETNAM

A local SIM card:  I don’t know about you, but one of my least favourite aspects of arriving in a new country is having to figure out how to get connected. Specifically: buying a local SIM card so that I have data to use while I’m in the country.

There’s locating a store that will sell you one, language barriers to deal with, various forms of ID you might need to bring, scams to navigate, and… well, it’s a headache.

This year, I started using  Airalo , which sells local e-SIM cards for travellers. What that means is that you can buy your SIM card online  before  you arrive in Vietnam, and then as soon as you land in the country, you can switch on your data and start using it. It’s worked flawlessly for me and now, I’ll never go back to physical SIM cards. You’ll pay  $4.50 for 1 GB of data  for Vietnam and can also top-up through the Airalo app.

Make sure your phone is eSIM-compatible before buying — all recent iPhones and many Androids are.

Travel insurance : If you’ve read any other posts on Never Ending Footsteps, you’ll know that I’m a great believer in travelling with travel insurance. I’ve seen far too many Go Fund Me campaigns from destitute backpackers that are unexpectedly stranded in a foreign country after a scooter accident/being attacked/breaking a leg with no way of getting home or paying for their healthcare. These costs can quickly land you with a six-figure bill to pay at the end of it.

In short, if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel.

Travel insurance  will cover you if your flight is cancelled and you need to book a new one, if your luggage gets lost and you need to replace your belongings, if you suddenly get struck down by appendicitis and have to be hospitalised, or discover a family member has died and you need to get home immediately. If you fall seriously ill, your insurance will cover the costs to fly you home to receive medical treatment.

I use  SafetyWing  as my travel insurance provider, and recommend them for trips to Vietnam. Firstly, they’re one of the few companies out there who will actually cover you if you contract COVID-19. On top of that, they provide worldwide coverage, don’t require you to have a return ticket, and even allow you to buy coverage after you’ve left home. If you’re on a long-term trip, you can pay monthly instead of up-front, and can cancel at any time. Finally, they’re more affordable than the competition, and have a clear, easy-to-understand pricing structure, which is always appreciated.

With SafetyWing, you’ll pay  $1.50 a day  for travel insurance.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO TRAVEL IN VIETNAM?

Okay, so after adding everything up, here are costs per person:

  • Accommodation: $21 per day
  • Transport: $4.30 per day
  • Activities: $7.50 per day
  • Food and drink: $6.70 per day
  • Miscellaneous: $1.50 per day

Grand total spent in Vietnam: $41 per person per day .

Vietnam was excellent value for money, and a highlight of our year. We saw untold wonderful sights, ate incredibly well, and stayed at a range of quality accommodation.

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS? DID YOU EXPECT TO BE ABLE TO TRAVEL THROUGH VIETNAM FOR THAT PRICE?

Related Articles on Vietnam 🇻🇳 Photos of Ridiculous Things on Bikes in Vietnam

Lauren Juliff

Lauren Juliff is a published author and travel expert who founded Never Ending Footsteps in 2011. She has spent over 12 years travelling the world, sharing in-depth advice from more than 100 countries across six continents. Lauren's travel advice has been featured in publications like the BBC, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Cosmopolitan, and her work is read by 200,000 readers each month. Her travel memoir can be found in bookstores across the planet.

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13 comments.

An epic post, Laura! Covers everything I need to know about travel in Vietnam and how much it’ll cost me.

HI Laura, This as a great post – IM a new traveller so very helpful! Can you tell me how long did it take to organise a visa and do you have to have any vaccinations? (Im not partial to them …) Thanks!

It took about 48 hours for my visa to be approved — super easy process, so no worries about that.

There are a few vaccines that are recommended (although not required) — hepatitis A&B and typhoid, in particular — I got both of those vaccines back in 2011 when I first started travelling, then got a top-up a few years ago. Japanese encephalitis is a good idea if you’re going to be staying in any rural areas. It’s not worth taking anti-malarials, as dengue is the real problem there, not malaria — I have multiple friends who have contracted dengue in Vietnam and been really sick, one of whom was left with chronic joint pain from the virus. Because of this, definitely take care to cover up when mosquitoes are active (around sunset) and/or use lots of insect repellent. Dengue really is the biggest thing you need to worry about, as there’s a lot of it in Vietnam. COVID vaccines aren’t required to enter the country anymore.

I’ve had tons of vaccines, though — pretty much any travel-related ones you can get! As somebody who contracted cholera[!!] because I skipped getting the vaccine (and still have health issues from the illness, five years later), I resolved to get every vaccine I could. It sucked to get that sick and know I could have prevented it.

But either way, to answer your question, there’s several that are recommended but none that are mandatory.

Great post! Just confirming are your prices here in USD?

Thanks so much! Yes, they’re in USD.

Hi Lauren, my daughter and I are planning a trip to Vietnam in August. Great to find helpful info on your site, but just wondering what currency your pricing is based on? Travelling as a Kiwi I may need to double it!

Hi Jacqui, My hubby and I are also going in August. I was wondering the same thing as we are Aussies. We’ve been before but 12 years ago so I can’t remember alot and obviously things have changed. When we went last time I only booked the first 3 nights and the concierge at the hotel booked the rest of the 2 weeks for us for $600AUD each which included all accommodation, travel and sight seeing for the whole 2 weeks. It worked out at about a third of the price of what I’d have paid in Australia. I’m really tempted to just do the same again. Enjoy your trip and who knows – maybe we’ll see you on the road!

One of my favorite things about Vietnam was how inexpensive it was! I just came back from two weeks in SE Asia and I really can’t wait to go back. Vietnam was my favorite place we went. The people are SO a friendly and it really was an excellent experience. The food is amazing. And I love that you can get grabs for like $2 across Ho Chi Minh City. I came back to America and cringed paying $40 for my Uber back from the airport haha. I miss the food and people so much already! Planning to try my hand at making egg coffee- I saved a website that tells you how so hopefully it turns out well.

Fantastic article – thank you so much!

This post is really helpful, thank you so much.

How did you apply for a visa? I am in Australia and I hear there are lots of scams and I am not quite sure on what is the best process.

I would love to travel to Vietnam, but found it hard to figure out public transportation. is there a website you know of that is helpful? country is very long are there tips you recommend to save time ie special routes and travel time like overnight….

Hi Shiva! I use 12Go in Southeast Asia and book all of my buses, minivans, and trains through there. You’ll pay an extra dollar or so to use the service but it makes it sooo much easier than hunting down a travel agent to book everything in person! I personally am not a huge fan of travelling overnight as I find I always sleep terribly and lose much of the next day to napping and exhaustion — you may be different though. It’s worth experimenting with for sure! Plus you save money on accommodation by travelling overnight :-) Flying can definitely save you time for some longer legs and domestic flights in Vietnam are always pretty affordable.

Excellent post – thank you for such a thoughtful and detailed overview of your experience.

I’m looking for a place to stay in Hanoi – I was wondering the name of the hotel you have pictured near the top of the article, with a pool overlooking the river. If you could please let me know the name of this place I will be eternally grateful!

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Our mission is to serve the 50+ traveler who's ready to cross a few items off their bucket list.

The 10 Cheapest Countries To Visit In 2021

cheapest country to visit from vietnam

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Traveling on a budget isn’t especially difficult, provided that you’re willing to look at a variety of destinations — and take a great deal when you find one. Following the 2020 shutdown, the travel industry is pulling out all the stops to entice travelers back. In 2021, you can experience new cultures, lounge on exotic beaches, and sample the world’s finest culinary delicacies without breaking the bank. If you’re not sure where to start, this list should help you get your bearings.

We created this list by considering lodging, dining, and airfare prices for the destinations in question, using several major cities (Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York) as departure points. We also looked at other factors that might affect travelers, including safety and availability of public transportation.

Remember, you can save significantly on airfare by using websites like Google Flights and Flightscanner or apps like Hopper to monitor prospective flights (and no, we aren’t getting paid for any of those mentions). If you’re patient enough, you’ll eventually find a great deal. Be sure to check out our article on cheap flights for more airfare tips.

With that said, let’s dive in. If you’re traveling in 2021, here are some budget-friendly destinations you’ll want to consider.

Skyline of Mexico City, Mexico.

Suriel Ramzal / Shutterstock

Airfare to Mexico should stay low throughout 2021, and given the American dollar’s strength relative to the peso, there’s never been a better time to head south.

Coastal cities like Cancun and Cozumel are always a safe bet for beachgoers, but don’t overlook Mexico City. Here, travelers can easily find accommodations for $100 per night and under, and gourmet restaurants like Pujol and Zanaya make Mexico City an essential bucket-list stop for foodies. While you’re here, stop by Museo Soumaya , a private museum with an extensive collection featuring the works of Auguste Rodin and Salvador Dali.

In general, travelers can safely spend time in major Mexican cities by taking basic precautions , but some states have elevated travel advisories; check the Department of State’s advisory page before booking your trip.

We’ve written about Vietnam in other articles , and it remains a tried-and-true option for budget-conscious travelers. Even in Ho Chi Minh City, travelers can find a plethora of hotel rooms for under $50, and if you stick with local restaurants, you can easily keep your food budget under $10 per day.

Airfare is also remarkably affordable; with a quick Google Flights search, we found fares from Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles for less than $700.

Consider heading to Ha Long Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its breathtaking landscapes, or rent a bike in Hanoi to explore the capital’s many landmarks (Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and Hoan Kiem Lake certainly deserve some time). Wherever you go, you’ll find cheap accommodations, great food, and friendly locals.

Editor’s Note: Vietnam was also named as one of the top 10 best places in the world to retire. Find out more about retiring in Vietnam here .

Skyline of Tallinn, Estonia.

Oleksiy Mark / Shutterstock

While Baltic countries are generally affordable, Estonia is a perpetual entry on our budget travel lists. That’s partly because tourists don’t really know about it yet — Estonia attracted about 2.14 million foreign tourists in 2018, and that number wasn’t a significant increase from the previous year.

That generally means that you won’t have to fight the crowds, and you won’t spend too much of your budget on food or accommodations. You can find airfare to the country’s capital, Tallinn, for under $800 from most major American airports, and hotels are available from around $40 a night (less if you’re willing to book a private room in a hostel).

In Tallinn, be sure to take the free 2-hour walking tour of the Old Town district to gaze at the city’s enchanting architecture. You can also arrange brewery tours, enjoy remarkably affordable fine dining, or browse one of the city’s many art galleries. For more ideas, check out our guide to spending a day in Tallinn .

This former Soviet state is one of the cheapest European countries to visit. In 2018, former president Serzh Sargsyan resigned peacefully after popular protests, and the Armenian government is currently going through a period of positive political change. Apart from the Nagorno-Karabakh region on the country’s eastern border, Armenia is a safe place to travel , and its major cities are delightful destinations for cultural explorers.

Spend some time in Yerevan, where you can pay your respects at the Armenian Genocide Memorial . The core of the city is Republic Square, where travelers can visit the History Museum and National Gallery, but architecture aficionados will want to travel out to the nearby Zvartnots Cathedral ruins, about a half-hour’s drive from the city.

The city of Odessa, Ukraine.

Murat An / Shutterstock

You’ll want to avoid Eastern Ukraine, where Russian-backed separatists are still engaged in a conflict with the Ukrainian government. Coastal cities like Odessa and Lviv are perfectly safe options for travel; we found airfare to Odessa for less than $600, and lodging is available in the city for around $30 per night and up.

Odessa is famous for its beaches, but travelers should also check out the Odessa Catacombs , an enormous network of tunnels used by Soviet partisans during World War II. Aboveground, you’ll find an assortment of fine restaurants offering the best of Baltic fare; travelers can easily fill up for less than $10, though gourmet options like Sovremennik are certainly worth a little extra.

6. Argentina

Quite a few South American countries deserve a place on this list, but Argentina is our top pick. In cities like Mendoza, travelers can enjoy world-renowned wines at restaurants like Azafran, which we’ve covered in another piece on the city . Be sure to carry plenty of paper money, since regularly changing currency rates can make electronic payments a hassle.

Airfare to Argentina can be expensive compared to airfare to other cities on this list (flights from Chicago averaged around $1,000), so if you’re planning on visiting, use the aforementioned flight-tracking tools to find deals. Once you arrive, you’ll find affordable accommodations for $20 per night and up, and you’ll be able to eat like royalty on a fairly slim budget.

Skyline of Bucharest, Romania.

Alexandru Nika / Shutterstock

Travelers often say that visiting Romania is like traveling back in time. That’s fair, to a degree; the Transylvanian countryside is littered with pre-Industrial villages, and you’ll see medieval architecture in nearly every major city. If that sounds appealing, good news: The prices are also a throwback. For under $700, you can easily find a flight to Romania in summer, and most cities have accommodations for less than $70 per night.

Most travelers will want to spend at least a few days in Bucharest, the country’s capital. Known as the Little Paris of the East, Bucharest has charming Bohemian architecture, numerous historic sites of interest, and fantastic shopping districts. Check out our guide to Bucharest’s hidden gems here .

Despite what you might have heard, American travelers can still visit Cuba — just not as tourists. The process for obtaining a travel visa is slightly more difficult than it was in 2018, but the United States government recognizes 11 authorized categories of travel, and dedicated adventurers can still find their way to Havana .

Of course, that could change at any time, so if you’re planning a Cuban vacation, you’ll want to go while it’s still possible. All U.S. flights must arrive in Havana, and the city is both affordable and beautiful. Excellent day-trip options from the capital are available as well.

Skyline of Sofia, Bulgaria, at sunset.

Boyan Georgiev Georgiev / Shutterstock

9. Bulgaria

A former Soviet satellite state, Bulgaria has developed its tourism industry substantially in recent years. Nearly nine million foreign tourists visited in 2017, and if you’ve always wanted to head to the Balkans, you’ll want to book your trip before that number grows.

Visit the capital city, Sofia, to see the Church of Saint George Rotunda, built by the Romans in the fourth century. The city also has numerous art galleries, bustling antique markets, and ancient Roman ruins. Our guide to Sofia can help you plan your trip to this often-overlooked capital.

If you’re looking for more of a traditional vacation experience, head to Varna, a seaside city with fantastic resorts, large public parks, and medieval cave monasteries.

Airfare to either city hovers around $700 from Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles, and accommodations are generally available for less than $60 per night (and yes, that includes seaside hotels in Varna).

We’re surprised to see Italy on this list, too — the country hosts record numbers of tourists year after year, but it’s still an affordable destination for American travelers, provided that you plan carefully. To avoid crowds and keep your expenses in check, consider traveling sometime between October and June.

Airfare to Rome , Venice , and Florence is fairly affordable year-round, with sub-$700 flights popping up from time to time. Unless you’re traveling for several weeks, pick one city and stick with it; many tourists overpack their itineraries, which can leave them fighting the crowds and overpaying for food and accommodations. Check out our guides to each of the cities (linked above), and don’t be afraid to explore.

For a less conventional vacation, consider heading to one of Italy’s beautiful small towns (and yes, we have a guide for that , too).

Image of Brian Thomas

Brian Thomas is a professional writer with over 15 years of experience. He’s traveled extensively during that time, frequently touring the American Southwest as both a musician and a tourist. In 2019, he visited Japan and Mexico, and he’s become passionate about spreading a simple message: Traveling isn't necessarily expensive, and it's one of the best paths to self-improvement.

Traveling Doesn't Have to Be Expensive.

10 cheapest countries to visit in asia (and why you should visit them).

Sep 6, 2022 | Asia | 0 comments

The Cheapest Countries to Visit in Asia (with data)

Looking to visit an affordable destination? Asia is home to a range of beautiful destinations that come at a great price. From the beautiful beaches of countries such as Vietnam, Thailand, and the Philippines, all the way to the Great Wall of China, there is a little something for everyone when traveling in Asia. 

What’s more, is that Asia, and in particular southeast Asia contains some of the cheapest countries to travel to in the world!  

Let’s go ahead and breakdown some of the best (and cheapest) countries to travel to in Asia.

What is the Cheapest Country to Visit in Asia?

In order to bring you a list of the cheapest country to visit in Asia, we used data from past travelers to get an accurate estimate. When doing so, we found that Laos was the cheapest country to visit in Asia overall at $16 per day per person on average, and that while Thailand is often touted as a cheap destination (it surely is one of the more popular ones), it actually was the most expensive country to visit on this list, costing $89 per person, per day on average.

While this may not be a perfect estimate of the cost to travel, it does provide a great rule of thumb as to how affordable the country tends to be overall for travelers. However, this data is collected by real travelers and is self-reported, which does lend it some credibility.

1. Laos – $16 Per Person, Per Day

A Pagoda in Laos.

Why Visit Laos?

Slightly off the beaten path from its more famous neighbors, Vietnam and Thailand, Laos still has a lot to offer to the curious traveler. In fact, Laos shares a similar modern history with Vietnam as both countries underwent a period of French colonialism. Moreover, like much of Southeast Asia, Laotian people are incredibly hospitable and kind to tourists.

However, what seems to set Laos apart, other than the fact that it is much more low-key than its neighbors is that it tends to have a lot of adventure sports and outdoor activities. This makes a bit of sense when you consider that Laos is a landlocked nation, so while you won’t be able to experience beaches in Laos, you will be to explore one of its many rivers and beautiful forests.

2. Nepal – $31 Per Person, Per Day

cheapest country to visit from vietnam

Nepal is famous for the Himalayas a set of mountains which run within the country and along Nepal’s border with China. So, it is no surprise if you go to Nepal you can have some serious outdoor adventures. For instance, you could go hiking on one of Nepal’s many mountains. If water is more your thing, Nepal has many lakes and rivers where you can do outdoor activities as well.

Simply put, more than anywhere on this list Nepal is great for outdoor activities, but also has a lot to offer in terms of temples and other cultural sites.

3. India – $33 Per Person, Per Day

cheapest country to visit from vietnam

Next on this list is India, which is quite a diverse destination when compared to the others on this list. While it may not be as easy to travel to some of the other destinations on this list from India, India is still a great place to visit. Indian culture is very unique, and they have some of the best and most famous food in the world ( which also happens to be very cheap ).

Moreover, India is a very large country, so there is no shortage of things to do. But, if you’re looking for a the quick answer as to what to do in India, the answer is certainly to visit the Taj Mahal.

4. Cambodia – $49 Per Person, Per Day

A photo of Angkor Wat, a tourist favorite in Cambodia.

Why Visit Cambodia?

Cambodia is well known for its breathtaking landscapes, cultural sites, and hospitable people. The cultural heritage of Cambodia is quite evident in the photo of Angkor Wat Temple shown above, which is just one of the many temples in Cambodia. What’s more, Cambodia has a similar reputation to Thailand, wherein the people are known for being incredibly hospitable and welcoming of visitors.

5. Indonesia – $49 Per Person, Per Day

A Bali temple which shows why Bali is nicknamed the Island of the Gods.

Why Visit Indonesia?

Indonesia, like many nations in Southeast Asia, has loads of beautiful beaches that come at an affordable price. Without a doubt, the most famous destination of Indonesia would have to be Bali, which is nicknamed ‘Island of the Gods’ due to the fact that it looks like a paradise and holds deep spirituality. The image selected, a temple surrounded by lush plants, helps convey the spirit of Bali, although no picture may do it justice.

6. Vietnam – $51 Per Person, Per Day

Ban Gioc Waterfall, just part of the amazing beauty of Vietnam

Why Visit Vietnam?

Located in Southeast Asia, Vietnam is a vibrant country with plenty of history, culture, and stunning landscapes to explore. Moreover, the weather in this beautiful, coastal country tends to stay above 70°F (21°C), making it a splendid destination year-round. You just need to take note of when the rainy season is for the destination you would like to go to, especially if it is a beach town.

Don’t be fooled by the nation’s tropical weather and amazing beaches, Vietnam still has much to offer beyond this, and you surely won’t be disappointed should you choose to visit.

Looking to find more places to explore in Vietnam? Check out our post on the must-visit cities of Vietnam .

7. The Philippines – $52 Per Person, Per Day

A beach with two visitors in the Philippines with mountains in the horizon.

Why Visit The Philippines?

The Philippines is a truly great vacation spot. It is home to over 7,000 islands, yet also contains many mountainous and urban landscapes as well. So, whether you want to go to the beaches of Boracay, see the urban sights of Manila, or check out the Taal Volcano, the Philippines surely has something for you!

Moreover, English speakers will feel right at home as the Philippines has the second best English in Asia according to Human Resources Online . This is because English is one of the official languages of the Philippines. While, the top spot goes to Singapore, which while it is a beautiful nation, it unfortunately does not usually work well for traveling on a budget. So, for our purposes, The Philippines actually has the best English on this list.

8. China – $66 Per Person, Per Day

The Great Wall of China, an absolute must-see when visiting the country.

Why Visit China?

China is a nation which needs very little introduction. Home to nearly one in five people in the world, China is a massive nation with a rich history spanning over 5,000 years. While the nation has been rapidly developing, there are still plenty of opportunities for travelers to explore the nation and its rich history. In fact, many of the greatest spots to visit in China are a little off the beaten path.

9. Malaysia – $67 Per Person, Per Day

A photo of Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia, at night.

Why Visit Malaysia?

Malaysia is famous for its cultural, religious, linguistic diversity. Malaysians also speak English quite well, just behind the Philippines, meaning that travelers who do not speak Malay will not have an issue whatsoever. This is primarily because the second official language of Malaysia is English.

Malaysia is home to a range of beaches, stunning rainforests, and unique wildlife as well. This, combined with its tropical climate makes it a great destination. Although, as you may have guessed from the presence of rainforests, if you are looking for beachgoing you will certainly need to watch out for the Monsoon season this is from May to September in the Southwest and from November to March in the Northeast.

10. Thailand – $89 Per Person, Per Day

The Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand.

Why Visit Thailand?

Thailand, also known as The Land of Smiles, is famous for its great food and friendly locals. In fact, it is thought that Thailand has some of the best hospitality in the world. Furthermore, Thailand’s tourism industry is very well developed, so fear-not if you are an English speaker, as you should be able to get by. However, it is still best to learn at least a few basic phrases for courtesy and respect. Whether you’re looking for a beach spot, some nightlife, amazing food, or some incredible cultural sites. Thailand has it all.

What’s more, Thailand has over 300 islands. That means that if you want to go beachgoing you are sure to be able to find a beach that has the right mix of popularity and serenity that you desire.

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Best & Cheapest Asian Countries To Visit

  • by Jonny Duncan
  • June 7, 2023 January 3, 2024

Asia has some of the best budget travel destinations in the world and for the budget backpacker, this is the ultimate cheapest Asian country to visit.

I’ve given a quick rundown of 9 more of the cheapest Asian countries to visit to begin with and the number one cheapest Asian country to visit is at the end of the article.

Let’s start with the first 10 cheapest counties in Asia.

10 Cheapest Asian Countries

Cheapest Asian country to visit, walking in hills in Laos.

Laos is undoubtedly an awesome country to visit on a budget and is part of the backpacker’s paradise of 4 countries all interlinked with each other that are great to visit, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos.

Laos also has some great temples in the city of Luang Prabang, which is one of the most chilled-out cities in southeast Asia to visit and hang out in, with many stunning nature trips nearby as well.

cheapest country to visit from vietnam

Cambodia is home to one of the most famous temple complexes in Asia , if not the world, Angkor Wat. If you have any interest in ancient architecture in Asia, then Cambodia is a must-visit country.

As far as the cheapest Asian country to visit goes, this is also one of the best, and apart from Angkor Wat, there is plenty of jungle activities to do and some laid back beaches in the south to relax on.

Things to do in Lopburi Thailand.

Thailand is known as the ‘Land of the Smiles’ and for good reason, it’s one of the friendliest countries and is seriously a cheapest Asian country to visit as far as things to do there go.

There’s a reason I spent several years of my life living in Thailand (it’s also where I met my wife.)

It also has some of the best food in Asia!

Add to that some of the best islands in Asia, beaches, nightlife in Bangkok, plenty of historic temples in the ancient old city of Chiang Mai, and hill-tribe hiking in the north where you can also stay in chilled backpacker hangouts like the village of Pai.

I have written many guides to Thailand but the one I will recommend here is my guide to the city of Lopburi which is where I lived for 2 years.

Cheapest Asian country to visit, man on horse with an eagle.

Ah, Kyrgyzstan! One of my favourite countries in the world. Friendly people. epic mountains and some of the best hikes in Asia, along with different cultures all sharing this small country together.

The best experience I had in the country was attending the World Nomad Games on 2 occasions, once in 2014 and the other in 2016, where nomadic tribes from around the world came to compete in ancient nomadic sports.

Tana Toraja, Sulawesi.

Having spent the best part of a year on different trips in Indonesia exploring many places, I can easily say that Indonesia is one of the best budget-friendly countries in Asia to travel to and also one of the most fascinating.

From great hiking and tribal adventures in Papua to ancient rituals in Tana Toraja in Sulawesi, and beach time relaxing in many areas, it’s the ultimate destination for backpackers.

Cameron Highlands attractions valley tea.

Many travellers just visit Peninsula Malaysia as it’s easy to get to between Thailand and Singapore or as a jumping-off point to the Indonesian Island of Sumatra. But Malaysia has some of the best adventures to offer in Asia on the Malaysian part of Borneo

The Cameron Highlands are a top choice for backpackers on Peninsula Malaysia for hiking and tea plantations to chill out in.

The one problem with being a cheapest Asian country to visit is that if you do go to the Borneo part and do some of the best activities there, then it will add up to your budget, such as flying to the Kelabit Highlands .

Sunset in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka is like a mini version of India and maybe a little easier for travelling, and not just for the obvious reason of being a smaller country than India, but also because it has a more relaxed vibe to it (read: less hassle.)

Backpacking in Sri Lanka is one of the best destinations in Asia for backpackers as it has so much to offer for its relatively small size.

You have epic surfer beaches, hills, mountains, wildlife safaris, ancient temples, and much more. It’s also one of the cheapest places in Asia to visit.

Hue or Hoi An. Palace in Hue.

Vietnam completes the ‘Golden Circuit’ of Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. These four countries are a backpacker’s haven.

Vietnam is one of the most fascinating countries to visit in Asia and offers up everything from ancient historical cities, beach hangouts, and nightlife in Ho Chi Minh City, with lots of jungle and nature activities as well.

Two of my favourite cities in Vietnam are Hue and Hoi An .

cheapest country to visit from vietnam

Nepal is one of the ultimate destinations in Asia for those seeking mountain thrills. I visited in 2001, and out of all the countries in Asia to visit, this is one of the best, by far.

It’s cheap to travel and as the main activity to do there is mountain trekking in the Himalayas, it won’t cost you much either, as long as you trek alone and not with an organised tour.

Kathmandu city has some awesome historical places to visit as well and the south has Chitwan National Park where you can adventure into the jungle and seek out wild elephants as well as crocodiles by the river, and more.

Backpacking in Pakistan.

Ok, Pakistan may not be the cheapest Asian country to visit overall, but it certainly is cheap if you get away from the cities and head into the mountains of the north where epic mountains await and friendly tribes welcome you to stay.

I’m a bit biased on this one, having lived for 3 years in Pakistan and exploring all over the country. It’s one of the best countries in Asia for mountain adventures, and off-the-beaten-path for many backpackers.

Read my guides to Pakistan .

Cheapest Asian Country To Visit

And the cheapest Asian country to visit is…

Train in India.

Yes, although there are plenty of budget-friendly countries in Asia to visit, India really is the best bang-for-your-buck destination out there.

When I spent several months backpacking in India I managed to travel very cheaply and yet had a great time and saw and did many things.

India just has so many experiences to have, from epic mountain hiking in the Himalayas in the north, the historic desert cities of Rajasthan state, mind-boggling big cities like Mumbai, ancient places like Varanasi on the holy Ganges River , to relaxing on the beaches of Goa and Kerala.

Go Budget Backpacking In Asia

Asia is a backpacker’s paradise and if you’re on a tight budget, then any of the countries listed here will be excellent places to visit.

For an overview of budget travel around the world take a look at the 25 cheapest countries to travel to .

For loads of more travel in Asia, have a read of my guides to Asia .

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My Vietnam Trip Cost: How Cheap Is Vietnam and My $25 Daily Budget (2024)

Find out exactly how much it will cost to travel Vietnam budget backpacker style and how cheap is Vietnam. Let’s talk about the price of accommodation, transportation, food, and more before I let you know my EXACT Vietnam trip cost!

Traveling can be expensive, even in Asia, so it’s good to keep track of costs and make a budget. I track my spending so I can share with you how much my Vietnam trip cost.

When I was researching online, Vietnam was on the cheaper side when compared to other countries on the banana pancake trail such as Thailand or Laos. Most websites seemed to recommend approximately $20.00 per person per day.

I actually ended up spending more for my cost to travel Vietnam than I had originally planned and what many other websites recommended during my 28 days. Though, this is due to some surprises which resulted in me changing my normal way of getting around as well as some splurges for bucketlist activities.

Though, before I get into my much my Vietnam trip cost, I will let you know the average prices of accommodation, food, and transportation. Then let you know my daily cost to travel Vietnam each day before we finally find out how much over budget I went and money-saving tips so you can avoid doing the same!

How Cheap Is Vietnam and How Much Does It Cost To Travel In Vietnam?

Accommodation costs in vietnam.

  • Food Prices In Vietnam
  • Transportation Costs In Vietnam
  • My Daily Cost To Travel Vietnam
  • Total Vietnam Trip Cost

Budgeted VS Actual Vietnam Trip Cost

  • Money-Saving Tips To Lower Your Cost To Travel Vietnam
How I Book Cheap Transport In Vietnam: 12.Go Asia

I am traveling around Vietnam with my partner, James. This allows us to split certain costs such as private rooms, taxis, hiring a motorbike etc. Where this is true I will state that the cost is ‘shared’ or ‘split’. Now time to get on to find the cost to travel in Vietnam…

farmers talking over rice fields in hoi an

For those travelers on a budget, you will absolutely love the accommodation prices in Vietnam. There are plenty of cheap options right throughout the country.

Hostels : One of the cheapest ways to travel Vietnam is by staying in Hostels. Rooms generally start around $5.00 for an air-conditioned dorm room. We found this a much cheaper choice than staying in private rooms so we would often end up booking shared rooms instead. In my opinion, they were great value for money and often would include extras such as free beers in the evening or a free walking tour.

Guesthouses: If you are traveling Vietnam with a friend or with your partner then a good budget option is by booking Guesthouses. These are usually locally owned accommodations that only have a few rooms. You will get a private bathroom and a clean room. Though the furniture might be a bit dated. It is much more of a local experience where it is expected you take your shoes off outside the building and you will be passing by a family every time you enter/exit.

Hotels: If you enjoy a bit of luxury, though cannot often afford it in Western countries. Then you will absolutely love Vietnam. You can find plenty of affordable hotels here starting from $20.00 per night. Brand-name hotels will be a bit pricier, though it is much cheaper than you can find elsewhere in the world. The service is often second to none and you will be living in uttermost luxury.

our homestay room in sapa cost to travel vietnam

Food Prices in Vietnam

Whenever I am asked which country has the best food, I always say Vietnam . The food here is absolutely incredible and extremely easy on the wallet. It is easy to eat out and only spend a couple of dollars. Whilst testing out the street food will cost less than $1.00. The flavors are incredible and no doubt I would come back just to visit some of my favorite restaurants again.

Street food: For those street food lovers Vietnam is the place for you. There are plenty of great options here such as the ever-popular Banh Mi and Pho. Meals start from less than $1.00 and there is no better place to appreciate the crazy hustle and bustle of Vietnam than on little plastic chairs on the curbside. As you will see a bit further down in my daily expenses I actually did not spend too much money on street food in Vietnam. This is simply due to the street food here not being to my personal taste.

Restaurants: I loved all the restaurants in Vietnam. There is plenty of places that cater to vegetarians and vegans, so it was so easy for me to find a delicious spot to eat. The restaurant prices here are insanely affordable and there is always a variety of choices available. I was always able to eat at a restaurant for whatever I was craving and even splurged on my fancier options a couple of times in Hanoi.

fresh coconut ice cream in vietnam

Transportation Costs in Vietnam

Vietnam is a large country and no doubt you will be needing to take some sort of public transportation to get around. Luckily the main tourist hubs are well connected and the network of trains, buses, and planes will deliver you there in one piece. Though, if you are traveling the whole country, prepare yourself for some overnight long and painful journeys. Definitely check out 12.Go Asia to book your transport for easy and comfortable options with reviews so you can know what to expect.

Trains: Taking the train is no doubt my personal favorite way of traveling around Vietnam. The main train line runs from Hanoi all the way down to Ho Chi Minh City and makes plenty of stops in popular tourist towns along the way. This includes Hue, Da Nang, Nha Trang , and more. I highly recommend booking the 4-berth cabins. They might be a bit more expensive, though are much more comfortable than chairs, roomier than the 6 berths, and are air-conditioned.

Buses: Now, this is where my Vietnam trip cost was blown, all thanks to the horrible bus journeys. The majority of the time this is my main way of getting around. It’s cheap, it’s simple and you eventually get to your destination. Though, after one too many squished journeys with insects crawling all over me, I said goodbye to buses in Vietnam and part of my budget.

Flights: Luckily for those travelers who cannot survive overland travel you can find cheap flights around the country. There are airports in all tourist hot spots, making it super easy to get around. Of course, this is the most expensive way to travel. Though there are plenty of budget airline choices and it makes a great alternative for those long 12+ hour overland journeys.

riding a motorbike in hue vietnam

How Cheap Is Vietnam and My Daily Cost To Travel?

Vietnam trip cost in hanoi, day one – hanoi.

Previous to arriving in Vietnam I had purchased a Visa approval letter online for $17.00 / 385000 VND – Linked is the same company I purchased through and I had no issues at the airport.

While going through immigration I had to buy my Vietnam Visa stamp which cost $25.00 / 565000 VND.

Then James and I split a taxi we had pre-booked from the airport to Chien Hostel $8.80 / 200000 VND.

Craving western food for dinner I grab mac n cheese, fries and a soft drink from S&L’s Diner costing $6.60 / 150000 VND.

We stay in a large dorm room at Chien Hostel which includes breakfast. It costs $5.05 / 115000 VND per night – Check out my review here .

Daily Cost In Vietnam: $62.45 / 1415000 VND

backstreet in hanoi vietnam

Day Two- Hanoi

Breakfast is included in the rate at Chien Hostel . For lunch, I grab a pizza and tea for $3.50 / 80000 VND. Then on the way back, we split a cookie for $0.55 / 12500 VND. We share the cost of a large bottle of water at $0.33 / 7500 VND each. I join in on a free walking tour which Chien Hostel organizes to familiarize newbies on the highlights of Hanoi. Dinner at Aubergine Cafe which costs me $4.40 / 100000 VND. I order a lemon juice, caramel, ginger and chili tofu with rice- Highly recommend this place for vegetarians!

Daily Cost In Vietnam: $13.83 / 315000 VND

the main market in hanoi vietnam trip cost

Vietnam Trip Cost In Sapa

Day three- sapa.

Breakfast is included in the rate at Chien Hostel .

We head to Sapa in Northern Vietnam by taking a bus we booked through Chien Hostel . This costs me $9.02 / 205000 VND.

Once in Sapa, we grab lunch at Little Sapa Restaurant . I grab 2 cups of green tea and a toastie which costs $6.16 / 140000 VND. Sapa is freezing in February so I purchase a Beanie to keep my head warm for $6.60 / 150000 VND.

Then we split a taxi to take us to our homestay in Ta Van $5.50 / 125000 VND. Entry fee into the Ta Van area costs us $3.30 / 75000 VND each. We have dinner at our homestay which is true family-style with a variety of delicious dishes. This costs $3.30 / 75000 VND each. The homestay costs $5.98 / 136000 VND per night for a private room including breakfast.

Daily Cost In Vietnam: $39.86 / 906000 VND

around our homestay in sapa vietnam

Day Four- Sapa

A basic breakfast is included in the homestay price. We split a taxi back to Sapa town which costs $4.40 / 100000 VND

For lunch, we hunt for the best deal in town which takes us to La Roma Pizza. We share a pizza, pasta dish, garlic bread and I grab a tea for $7.26 / 165000 VND. Then stop at a small supermarket we grab 2 chocolate bars each, large water and chips for $2.64 / 60000 VND each.

We hike back to Ta Van and visit Luckydaisy’s Bamboo Bar and Restaurant . We share a banana pancake and grab a green tea which costs $2.64 / 60000 VND. The homestay costs $5.98 / 136000 VND per night for a private room including breakfast.

Daily Cost In Vietnam: $22.92 / 521000 VND

foggy resort views over rice terraces in sapa

Day Five- Sapa

A basic breakfast is included in the homestay price.

We hike back to Sapa town and grab lunch at Little Sapa Restaurant again. I grab a cup of green tea, hot chips and an egg baguette which costs $4.84 / 110000 VND.

Then for dinner, we purchase a chocolate croissant from a bakery for $0.66 / 15000 VND.

While in Sapa Town we stay at Luong Thuy Family Hotel in a private room. We split the price which works out to be $4.62 / 105000 VND each per night.

Daily Cost In Vietnam: $10.12 / 230000 VND

trekking in sapa through the rain vietnam trip cost

Day Six- Hanoi

We take a bus from Sapa to Hanoi for $9.68 / 220000 VND. Because we are running late we split a taxi to the bus stop which costs $0.88 / 20000 VND each.

After we arrive in Hanoi we share an Uber to Chien Hostel which costs $0.70 / 16000 VND each.

It’s back for the delicious western food at S&L’s Diner . I grab mac n cheese, hot chips and a soda costing $4.84 / 110000 VND.

Then for dinner, we are craving Indian so stop at Namaste India . I highly recommend this place and is one of the best dining experience I have ever had. It is well worth the price. I order a curry, naan, rice and mango lassie for $9.24 / 210000 VND.

Before bed, we head to the supermarket and purchase a few snacks for our Ha Long Bay trip which costs $2.64 / 60000 VND.

Daily Cost In Vietnam: $33.03 / 751000 VND

fluffy waffles for sale in hanoi vietnam

The Cost To Travel Ha Long Bay

Day seven- ha long bay.

We purchase a 3-day / 2-night tour of Ha Long Bay . This is an all-inclusive tour and costs $111.81 / 2540000 VND each. I purchase two soft drinks throughout the day which totals $1.76 / 40000 VND.

Daily Cost In Vietnam: $113.57 / 2580000 VND

tasha amy on a junk boat cruise around ha long bay

Day Eight- Ha Long Bay

We spend the day relaxing in Ha Long Bay and Cat Ong Island. Purchase pringles and a soft drinks for snacks during the day which costs $1.76 / 40000 VND Daily Cost In Vietnam: $1.76 / 40000 VND

view from cat ba national park cost to travel vietnam

The Cost To Travel In Hanoi

Day nine- hanoi.

I purchase a bottle of water to keep refreshed while trekking on Cat Ba Island. This costs me $0.22 / 5000 VND.

Then we head back to Hanoi for dinner at Namaste India . I order a curry, naan, rice, entree and mango lassie for $13.20 / 300000 VND.

Daily Cost In Vietnam: $18.47 / 420000 VND

view over ha long bay from clifftop vietnam

Day Ten- Hanoi

We head to Geckos Cafe for Lunch. I purchase a pasta dish and a soda for $3.74 / 85000 VND. We grab some snacks for the sleeper train from a nearby supermarket. I split the total price with James which works out to be $5.06 / 115000 VND each, Then for dinner, I get a vegetable Banh Mi for $0.66 / 15000 VND A 4 berth sleeper train from Hanoi to Hue costs $31.70 / 720000.

Daily Cost In Vietnam: $41.16 / 935000 VND

church in hanoi vietnam cost to travel

Vietnam Trip Cost In Hue

Day eleven- hue.

After arriving in Hue we grab breakfast at Hung Vuong Inn where we share an egg baguette and a drink for $1.62 / 37000 VND. For lunch, we walk across the river to a local supermarket. Once there we purchase chocolate, cheese, baguette, crackers, and water for $2.42 / 55000 VND each. Then for dinner, we head to Lien Hoa which is quite a locals restaurant with an interesting English menu. It is sharing style so we order four dishes to share and some rice which works out crazy cheap to $1.98 / 45000 VND each. We are staying at Thanh An Guesthouse 2 in a private room with two double beds, a balcony, and a bathtub. The shared price is $3.52 / 80000 VND each per night. Daily Cost In Vietnam: $9.54 / 217000 VND

tasha amy at the imperial city of hue

Day Twelve- Hue

I have a basic breakfast of some of the food we purchased at the supermarket the previous day. We head over the river to explore the Imperial City of Hue . The entrance fee is $6.60 / 150000 VND. For lunch, we find a simple restaurant overlooking the street side called Lac Thien Restaurant . I order tofu, rice and a lemon juice for $3.30 / 75000 VND. We stop off back at the supermarket to purchase some bread, chocolate, soy sauce, water, and noodles. The price comes to $1.54 / 35000 VND each. Then for dinner, we are craving Indian again so head down the street to Ganesh Indian Restaurant . Here I order a curry, naan, soda, and rice which comes to a total of $7.48 / 170000 VND.

We are staying at Thanh An Guesthouse 2 in a private room with two double beds, a balcony, and a bathtub. The shared price is $3.52 / 80000 VND each per night.

Daily Cost In Vietnam: $22.44 / 510000 VND

beautiful buildings at the imperial city of hue vietnam trip budget

Vietnam Trip Cost In Hoi An

Day thirteen- hoi an.

I have a basic breakfast of some of the food we purchased at the supermarket the previous day.

We buy tickets and catch a train from Hue to Da Nang . The 4 berth ticket costs $5.63 / 128000 VND. Once in Da Nang, we catch the public bus to Hoi An for $1.32 / 30000 VND. Checked into our hostel we bicycle to the beach where parking costs $0.44 / 10000 VND. At the beach, we share a donut for $0.33 / 7500 VND each. For dinner, we head out for a western meal at Jim’s Snackbar . I order a burger, chips and a soda for $5.54 / 126000 VND. Checking out the old town at night costs $5.28 / 120000 VND for the entrance fee. Then the parking fee for my bicycle in the old town is $0.08 / 2000 VND. Once there we meet up with some friends and grab a beer ( $1.10 / 25000 VND), share a banana pancake ($0.22 / 5000 VND), ice cream ($0.22 / 5000 VND) and water ($0.22 / 5000 VND). We are staying in a dorm room at Little Leo’s Homestay & Hostel , this includes free breakfast and free bike hire. The cost per night each is $6.82 / 155000 VND.

Daily Cost In Vietnam: $27.20 / 618500 VND

main bridge inside the hoi an old town cost to travel vietnam

Day Fourteen- Hoi An

Breakfast is included in the hostel price. We hire a motorbike for the day and split the cost. It comes to $2.99 / 68000 VND each. Of course, I have then got to fill up the motorbike, again splitting the price of $1.98 / 45000 VND each. We explore Tra Que Vegetable Village which is free. Then for lunch, we head a bit out of town to Restaurant & Cafe Tuan . Here we share a pizza, tofu, rice and a soda which costs $3.30 / 75000 VND each. Exploring the Pottery Village and the entry cost is $1.10 / 25000 VND as well as $0.11 / 2500 VND each for parking the motorbike. Heading to the beach for a little relax parking costs are shared of $0.22 / 5000 VND each. Since beach chairs aren’t free we purchase a drink to use them. This costs $1.43 / 32500 VND. For dinner, we head to a vegetarian restaurant called Minh Hien Vegetarian Restaurant . I order a tofu dish with rice and a lemon juice which comes to $2.94 / 67000 VND. We get a bit hungry later and grab another amazing burger from Jim’s Snackbar . It costs $5.50 / 125000 VND for a burger and soda. We are staying in a dorm room at Little Leo’s Homestay & Hostel , this includes free breakfast and free bike hire. The cost per night each is $6.82 / 155000 VND.

Daily Cost In Vietnam: $26.39 / 600000 VND

basket boats in hoi an vietnam trip budget

Day Fifteen- Hoi An

This morning we take a tour of My Son Temple which costs $11.00 / 250000 VND. The entrance fee to My Son Temple is $6.60 / 150000 VND. After the sunrise tour, we grab breakfast at. Here I have avocado on toast for $2.42 / 55000 VND. That evening we pay $0.13 / 3000 VND for bicycle parking in the old town. Then its time for Indian again so we head to Namaste . Here I get a curry, naan, poppadom, rice, soda, and dessert for $6.60 / 150000 VND.

We are staying in a dorm room at Little Leo’s Homestay & Hostel , this includes free breakfast and free bike hire. The cost per night each is $6.82 / 155000 VND.

Daily Cost In Vietnam: $33.57 / 763000 VND

sunrise at my son sanctuary vietnam cost to travel

The Cost To Travel In Da Nang

Day sixteen- da nang.

Breakfast is included in the hostel price. We catch a public bus from Hoi An to Da Nang for $1.32 / 30000 VND. For lunch, we find an amazingly cheap bakery called BonPas Bakery & Coffee where I grab 1 slice of pizza, a cheese bun, cheesecake and ice tea for $2.20 / 50000 VND. Then I buy some new earphones for $2.64 / 60000 VND We do some more grocery shopping at a supermarket and grab some baguettes, peanut butter, water and noodles for $3.96 / 90000 VND. For dinner, we head back to BonPas Bakery & Coffee and I get 2 slices of pizza, a cheese bun and a drink for $1.10 / 25000 VND. We stay at Hachi Hostel in a dorm room. The price is $5.98 / 136000 VND which includes breakfast. Daily Cost In Vietnam: $17.20 / 391000 VND

motorbikes lined up in vietnam

The Cost To Travel In Nha Trang

Day seventeen- nha trang.

For breakfast/lunch, we stock up on food from BonPas Bakery & Coffee to take on the train with us. The cost is $1.54 / 35000 VND.

We take a train from Da Nang to Nha Trang . It costs $21.00 / 477000 VND for a 4 berth cabin.

Dinner is at a semi upscale restaurant costing $4.40 / 100000 VND We stay at Tabalo Hostel in a 4 bedroom dorm. It costs us $4.84 / 110000 VND each per night including breakfast.

Daily Cost In Vietnam: $31.78 / 722000 VND

Day Eighteen- Nha Trang

Breakfast is included in the rate at Tabalo Hostel.

Down at the beach, we relax and hire beach chairs at $1.54 / 35000 VND each.

For lunch is Cafe Des Amis for tofu, rice and a lemon juice totaling $4.18 / 95000 VND. Then it’s Indian again for dinner so we head to Taj Grill Indian Restaurant . I get a curry, rice, naan, and soda for $5.50 / 125000 VND. We visit a small supermarket and purchase some fruit, water and ice cream for $1.54 / 35000 VND. We stay at Tabalo Hostel in a 4 bedroom dorm. It costs us $4.84 / 110000 VND each per night including breakfast.

Daily Cost In Vietnam: $17.60 / 400000 VND

view from boat on a snorkeling tour in nha trang

Day Nineteen- Nha Trang

We decide to do an amazing snorkeling tour which costs $15.40 / 350000 VND. This rate includes equipment, lunch, water and entry fee into the protected area. We decide to be a bit fancy and have dinner at Da Fernando . I grab a pizza and soda which costs $5.72 / 130000 VND. Then on the way back to the hostel, I grab a bottle of water which costs $0.44 / 10000 VND. We stay at Tabalo Hostel in a 4 bedroom dorm. It costs us $4.84 / 110000 VND each per night including breakfast. Daily Cost In Vietnam: $26.40 /600000 VND

tasha amy snorkeling in nha trang vietnam cost per day

Day Twenty- Nha Trang

Breakfast is included in the hostel price. We have lunch at Ciao Vietnam where I grab a tofu and rice dish with a drink. This costs me $2.24 / 51000 VND. James and I share a box of donuts which we split the price of for $0.22 / 5000 VND. Then for dinner it’s back to Cafe Des Amis for another delicious tofu dish and drink which costs $3.30 / 75000 VND. On the way back from dinner we stop to get some snacks from the supermarket which costs $2.42 / 55000 VND. We finally were over hostels and decided to get a private room for the night at Forget Me Not Hotel . We split the room charge which comes to $5.06 / 115000 VND each. Daily Cost In Vietnam: $13.24 / 301000 VND

beach in nha trang vietnam

Vietnam Trip Cost In Mui Ne

Day twenty one- mui ne.

For breakfast, we eat some of the snacks to brought yesterday.

We catch the bus from Nha Trang to Mui Ne . It costs $5.06 / 115000 each. For lunch, we pop to a restaurant which is next door to our hostel. I order tofu, rice and a soda for $3.34 / 76000 VND. Then for dinner, we head down the road for more Indian at Mughal House Indian Halal Restaurant. I get a curry, rice, naan, and drink for $5.50 / 125000 VND. On the way back we stop off to grab a bottle of water which costs $0.19 / 4500 VND.

We stay at Mui Ne Backpacker Village in a dorm. It costs us $5.50 / 125000 VND each per night including breakfast.

Daily Cost In Vietnam: $9.59 / 445500 VND

main street in mui ne with seaside restaurants

Day Twenty Two- Mui Ne

For breakfast, we head across the road to The Bar for breakfast. I grab a scrambled egg baguette and water for $2.24 / 51000 VND. After relaxing in the pool lunch is back over at The Bar . I have a cheese toastie and water which costs $2.42 / 55000VND. Then we do for a bit of a walk for dinner down at Dong Vui Food Court . Here I get an Indian thali set for $5.50 / 125000 VND.

Daily Cost In Vietnam: $15.66 / 356000 VND

sorting shellfish in fishing village mui ne

Day Twenty Three- Mui Ne

I start the day with a highlights of Mui Ne tour . This costs $7.04 / 160000 VND each. Then for lunch, I head back to the restaurant next door and grab$4.84 / 110000 VND. Afterwards, we head to the supermarket to grab some snacks for tomorrow which split between us costs $2.20 / 50000 VND.

We stay at Mui Ne Backpacker Village in a dorm. It costs us $5.50 / 125000 VND each per night including breakfast. Daily Cost In Vietnam: $19.58 /445000 VND

white sand dunes in mui ne how cheap is vietnam

Vietnam Trip Cost In Ho Chi Minh City

Day twenty four- ho chi minh city.

We jump on a bus from Mui Ne to Ho Chi Minh City which costs $4.35 / 99000 VND each. I purchase a pair of sunglasses for $3.30 / 75000 VND. We a falafel lunch over at Gotcha! which costs $3.52 / 80000 VND. Then for dinner, we head to a local restaurant which costs $2.28 / 52000 VND. Tonight we are staying in a dorm room over at HewaHome . It costs $4.35 / 99000 VND per night which includes breakfast and water. Daily Cost In Vietnam: $17.80 / 405000 VND

milk drinks for sale in ho chi minh city

Day Twenty Five- Ho Chi Minh City

Breakfast is included in the hostel price. We visit the War Remnants Museum which costs $0.66 / 15000 VND each for entry. For lunch, we grab another delicious Indian meal over at Namaste India . I order a naan, rice, curry, and soda for $5.50 / 125000 VND. Then for dinner, I grab a couple of packets of noodles from the supermarket costing $0.26 / 6000 VND. Tonight we are staying in a dorm room over at HewaHome . It costs $4.35 / 99000 VND per night which includes breakfast and water.

Daily Cost In Vietnam: $10.77 / 245000 VND

ho chi minh statue in the city

Day Twenty Six- Ho Chi Minh City

For breakfast, we head to the supermarkets and grab some snack foods for $2.20 / 50000 VND.

We take the cheapest tour of the Cu Chi Tunnels which costs $6.16 / 140000 VND each. Also, the entry fee to Cu Chi Tunnels is an extra charge of $4.84 / 110000 VND. Then we stop back at the Gotcha! for another falafel lunch costing $3.61 / 82000 VND. Tonight we are staying in a dorm room over at HewaHome . It costs $4.35 / 99000 VND per night which includes breakfast and water.

Daily Cost In Vietnam: $21.16 / 481000 VND

inside the cu chi tunnels vietnam

Day Twenty Seven- Ho Chi Minh City

Breakfast is included in the hostel price. We split a Grab to the beginning of our free walking tour which costs $0.44 / 10000 VND each. The entry fee into the Independence Palace is $1.76 / 40000 VND. Then for lunch, we head to and I get a tofu dish with a soda which costs $3.08 / 70000 VND. We split a Grab to the beginning of our free night tour which costs $0.35 / 8000 VND each. I pay for petrol in the scooter of the free night tour $3.08 / 70000 VND. Next, we stop for a milk tea which costs $0.44 / 10000 VND. Another stop, this time for coconut ice cream which costs $1.76 / 40000 VND. Tonight we are staying in a dorm room over at HewaHome . It costs $4.35 / 99000 VND per night which includes breakfast and water. Daily Cost In Vietnam: $15.26 /347000 VND

ho chi minh city by night vietnam

Day Twenty Eight- Ho Chi Minh City

Breakfast is included in the hostel price. Then we stop at the supermarket and grab a snack for the bus which costs $0.44/ 10000 VND. The Grab to the bus terminal costs $0.44 / 1000 VND each. Daily Cost In Vietnam: $0.88 /20000 VND

ho chi minh train station

My Total Vietnam Trip Cost

There was a variety of things that put me slightly over budget. I will say that the times we took train journeys it would have been cheaper to take a bus. Though, due to mishaps that happened at the start of the trip we were well put off the idea.

Unlike a lot of other countries such as Cambodia or Vietnam, visiting Ha Long Bay was a crazy expense which was a one-off. This certainly bumped up my cost per day. Lastly, I did not really eat any street food in Vietnam (yes, I know, I am disappointed in myself as well). I just was not a fan of many of the general street food dishes so I choose to visit supermarkets or eat out in restaurants quite a lot. Though, all in all, my cost per day of $25.55 was not too much over budget and I had an excellent time in Vietnam. We did some unforgettable tours which I absolutely loved and I did not regret doing them at all.

ruins at my son sanctuary outside of hoi an

Money Saving Tips To Decrease Your Cost To Travel Vietnam

  • Book hostels with free breakfast.
  • Check out whether your accommodation also includes free water.
  • Share transport with other people, waiting ten minutes to see if anyone else is going to the airport/bus station could save you money.
  • Visit supermarkets! They were my go-to choice in Vietnam and I always seemed to be within a 15-minute walk of one.
  • Use Uber or Grab instead of taxis whenever possible. I swear this saved us from being scammed so many times and we always knew the price we would pay.
  • If the city does not have Uber make sure the taxi driver uses the meter.
  • Vietnam is one of the most popular destinations for teaching English abroad , which can be a great way of earning some extra cash!

Check out Passport Symphony’s visiting Vietnam tips.

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Find out exactly how much it will cost to travel Vietnam budget backpacker style so you can find out how cheap is Vietnam. Let’s talk about the price of accommodation, transportation, food and more before I let you know EXACT Vietnam trip cost!

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  • COST TO TRAVEL IN VIETNAM & MY BACKPACKING BUDGET
  • BACKPACKING VIETNAM TRAVEL TIPS
  • TAKING A VIETNAM SLEEPER BUS: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
  • SURVIVING A VIETNAM SLEEPER TRAIN
  • BACKPACKING HANOI TRAVEL TIPS
  • 3 DAYS IN HANOI ITINERARY FOR TRAVELERS
  • BEST HOSTELS IN HANOI
  • VISITING HA LONG BAY ON A BUDGET
  • DISCOVERING LAN HA BAY & CAT BA ISLAND
  • HANOI TO SAPA
  • 3 DAY IN SAPA ITINERARY
  • WHAT IS SAPA LIKE IN FEBRUARY
  • HANOI TO HUE TRANSPORT GUIDE
  • VISITING THE IMPERIAL CITY OF HUE
  • 2 DAYS IN HUE BACKPACKING ITINERARY
  • HUE TO DA NANG: ALL WAYS TO TRAVEL
  • DA NANG TO HOI AN: EASIEST WAYS TO TRAVEL
  • TRA QUE VEGETABLE VILLAGE IN HOI AN, VIETNAM
  • A MORNING AT THE MY SON TEMPLES IN HOI AN, VIETNAM
  • THANH HA POTTERY VILLAGE IN HOI AN
  • BACKPACKING HOI AN ITINERARY
  • BEST THINGS TO DO IN HOI AN
  • HOI AN TO NHA TRANG TRANSPORT GUIDE
  • SNORKELING IN NHA TRANG
  • BACKPACKING NHA TRANG TRAVEL ITINERARY
  • BEST BEACHES IN NHA TRANG WORTH VISITING
  • NHA TRANG TO MUI NE TRANSPORT GUIDE
  • BACKPACKING MUI NE TRAVEL GUIDE
  • BEST THINGS TO DO IN MUI NE
  • MUI NE TO HO CHI MINH CITY: ALL WAYS TO TRAVEL EXPLAINED
  • CHEAPEST TOUR OF THE CU CHI TUNNELS: IS IT WORTH IT
  • BACKPACKING HO CHI MINH TRAVEL GUIDE
  • HOW TO TRAVEL VIETNAM TO CAMBODIA: HO CHI MINH CITY TO PHNOM PENH

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. So, if you click on it and purchase something, I get a small percentage at no extra cost to you. As always all opinions are my own and your support is much appreciated

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18 Comments

Avatar for Tasha Amy

Tasha Amy is a true backpacker at heart and has been discovering the world on a budget since 2015. Based in Gisborne, New Zealand she will spend many months each year traveling overseas as a solo female traveler before coming home and sharing her adventures online with you.

21 thoughts on “ My Vietnam Trip Cost: How Cheap Is Vietnam and My $25 Daily Budget (2024) ”

Avatar for Malou Yatar

Wow! amazing experience. Definitely help my travel plans this April for a month. Although, I would spend a bit longer in Nah Trang for scuba dive and meet some friends there but travelling alone onwards. I enjoyed reading your blog. Thank you so much for sharing, great photos by the way.

Avatar for Ine

Wow I didn’t know Vietnam was that cheap! I should include it in my itinerary around Asia. I love street food, and meals for less than 1$ damn that is incredible! Gotta love Asia for its cheap prices… makes it possible to travel a lot longer!

Avatar for vietnamvisa.cheap

Thanks to this post. It’s very informative. Now I can comfortable create my itinerary and travel Vietnam without any worries. Thanks again!

Avatar for Billie-Rose

Really helpful post! Travelling Vietnam in December and wasnt sure how much I would need, but this is after really helping me. Thank you :)

Avatar for Thanh Tâm

Vietnam does not have Uber but you can use Grab in Vietnam. It is quite convenient. But I highly recommend you could use Grab bike to feel as local people

Avatar for Tasha Amy

Thanks! It has changed since I have been in Vietnam last.

Avatar for TICIANO

Hi Tasha thanks a lot for this post, I love budget expenses breakdowns. When you book through 12go do you have to print the ticket? How did you manage to rent a bike for 3 dollars? Was that a motorbike or just a bycicle? Thanks again

Hey! It depends on the different transport companies whether you need to print your ticket or can just show it on your phone. As far as I am aware you only really know which after booking, though plenty of hostels and guesthouses will happily print it out for you for a couple of cents. The 3 dollar bike was just booked through our guesthouse and was just a regular bicycle.

Avatar for Gareth Davy

Nice post. Very informative and useful, particularly for first time visitors. Surprised you paid an entrance fee to Ta Van hamlet. I stayed there last year, at Ta Van Ecologic Homestay and didn’t have to pay anything extra on top of my stay there.

Avatar for Lisa

im in vietnam right now and this post has been super helpful. Thanks for your links which dirrect me to the booking options as well. It also gives me a good idea on the average price for things to not get scammed. And another trip would be to use Grab transport app. Currently you get 10% off when you load credit on and 10,000 off for every trip you pay with thr credit. So a 50,000 trip easily comes down to 90% total 45,000 with additional 10,000 discount. Total 35,000 for a 25 minute ride in car. Around half price if you do the bike option but they can only take one person at a time.

Avatar for Ozzy

I’m so surprised to see how expensive Vietnam is. I was expecting much cheaper. I’m from Turkey and you can travel Turkey and have good food & visit beautiful places in better prices (less than 25$). Having dinner 4.40 $ and otel with breakfast included 5.05 $? It’s a bir unproportion!

Really? I cant imagine Turkey being chepaer than Nam. How much is a hostel with breakfast over there?

I think it all depends on how you travel (I am not an EXTREME budget backpacker, I would rather pay a couple dollars more to stay in a 6 bedroom dorm vs a 12 bed dorm and I do enjoy restaurants). I have been to both countries and Turkey was more expensive for my ‘travel style’.

Avatar for Kristin

My husband and I are VERY into our budget day to day, but when we travel we seem to let it go out the window! These kinds of posts are SO helpful for us planning our trips…you got to see and do so much while not being too far off your budget!

Exactly! It’s possible and i traveled very comfortably.

Avatar for Aarti Kamath

Wow! now that was so much detailed. I have pinned your post for a proper read again. We have been planning Vietnam for about 10 days – sometime later this year. I am not sure how much we can cover but definitely Ho-chin min and Hanoi. I loved the budgeting you have done for this tour; it is indeed helpful:)

I would recommend just visiting two maybe three places if you only go for 10 days. That way to can see more instead of rushing through ?

Avatar for Josy A

Wowza, what a detailed post!

I am so impressed that you managed to do so much for such a bargain price! Your photos are stunning too. You look happier and more relaxed as you get further into yuor trip. :)

Haha it definitely took a while to write! Yeah it’s a super affordable and I was able to travel very comfortably. If I was to take buses and eat street food it would have been even more cheaper.

Avatar for Abby Jo Bowes

This is super helpful! Hoping to visit this beautiful country soon :)

Glad you found this helpful!

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Travel Hiatus

9 Cheapest Places In Vietnam To Visit

For many years Vietnam has been one of the cheapest countries in the world to visit, and it still is today. But, like everywhere in the world, costs to visit have risen.

If you’re planning a trip to Vietnam and looking to explore on a budget, you’ve come to the right spot. These are the cheapest places in Vietnam to visit!

In this list of the cheapest places in Vietnam, you’ll find a mix of coastal cities, large cities, and a few small rural towns.

Remember, no matter where you choose to visit in Vietnam , you can always find affordable hotels/food, significantly cheaper on average than most countries.

Included under each city in Vietnam listed below are the average daily visiting cost and average monthly living costs. These are average, and each figure can be higher or lower depending on your budget and travel style —figures assisted by  BudgetYourTrip  and  Numbeo .

If you’re looking for the cheapest/ideal time to visit Vietnam, it’s best to visit during the shoulder season !

bright coloured temples amongst forests in Hue, Vietnam

Hue is a coastal city in central Vietnam best known for its many ancient historical sites, like the Imperial City and the royal tombs . The stunning old architecture, natural landscape, and beautiful beach shorelines make Hue a top city.

Those who appreciate cultural cities will adore Hue; not only does the city have several cultural sites like museums, temples, and more. Hue is also home to the famous Hue festival, which takes place every two years and is an absolute spectacle to experience.

Besides its historical attractions and beaches, Hue is also best known for its food and diverse mix of regional Vietnamese food in Hue. Make sure you give Dong Ba Market a visit; it is a food paradise.

If you’re looking for a calm, quiet beach town full of history, culture, and exceptional food, consider visiting Hue!

Average Daily Visitor Cost:  $47 US

Average Monthly Living Cost:  $870 US

locals sitting on a Vietnamese style boat on a cloudy day in Hoi An, Vietnam

Located along Vietnam’s central coast, Hoi An is a melting pot of history; the city’s French, Japanese, and Chinese influence is easily noticeable throughout its buildings and temples.

Walking through Hoi An, you will continuously be met with vibrant-colored buildings, beautiful temples, and lush green landscapes.

There are many things to do in Hoi An, such as visiting the Hoi An Ancient Town , An Bang Beach, the Hoi An Night Market, and the Golden Bridge. But the basket boat tour is the most popular thing to do in Hoi An!

Today, Hoi An has become quite popular with tourists and has become a digital nomad destination, along with its neighboring city, Da Nang.

Average Daily Visitor Cost:  $49 US

Average Monthly Living Cost:  $888 US

bright red hills of sand dunes in Mui Ne, Vietnam

Mui Ne is a charming fishing village on the southern coast of Vietnam. It’s only a 4-hour train ride from Ho Chi Minh City.

Besides its many beaches, Mui Ne is most known for being a top destination for many water sports, such as sailing, windsurfing, and kitesurfing, because of the city’s steady win conditions through the dry season.

But what makes Mui Ne stand out the most is its famous Red Sand Dunes ! These dunes lie close to the ocean; it’s safe to say there aren’t many places in the world where a desert-like landscape is so close to the sea!

For those who love nature, watersports, and an overall laidback town vibe, Mui Ne is a perfect place to consider visiting!

Average Daily Visitor Cost:  $52 US

Average Monthly Living Cost:  $947 US

several homes sitting on the hills in a rural village close to Dalat, Vietnam

The small town of Dalat is located around 5000 feet above sea level among the luscious green mountains of Vietnam in the central region.

National parks, epic mountain viewpoints, waterfalls, and an overall rich natural landscape are what Dalat is most well-known for.

Due to the town’s location, Dalat is known as the “ City of Eternal Spring ” due to its moderate temperature. It doesn’t get nearly as hot as other parts of Vietnam.

Dalat offers an ideal mix of touristy things to do and several more local experiences. And if you’re on a long trip around Vietnam , you’ll appreciate the cool Spring weather for a change along your travels!

Average Daily Visitor Cost:  $45 US

Average Monthly Living Cost:  $1,100 US

skyscraper buildings amongst a river and long bridge at sunset in Nha Trang, Vietnam

Nha Trang is a well-developed coastal beach city, and in the last few decades, the famous resort city has seen many changes. Located along the south-central coastline, Nha Trang has excellent beaches and many city amenities.

Besides its prominent extensive beach shoreline full of high-rise buildings, Nha Trang is famous for its unique landscape.

On one side you’ll notice the main beach and a developed city, on the other you’ll see mountains of green luscious forests.

Popular things to do in Nha Trang are visiting the islands nearby, diving/snorkeling, hiking to waterfalls, and seeing the many historical sites here.

Nha Trang is an excellent option for those looking to visit for an extended period and work remotely from; because of the city’s many developments, everything you need is here!

Average Daily Visitor Cost:  $53 US

Average Monthly Living Cost:  $1,150 US

aerial shot of the small village of Sapa, Vietnam, located amongst the forests and rice fields

Sapa is a small town located in northern Vietnam, and it sits amongst the Hoang Lien Son Mountains, offering mesmerizing views of the luscious green mountains and rice fields in the region.

Home to several different ethnic minorities, Sapa is full of unique cultural experiences. Surrounding Sapa are the small villages of Tiang Ta Chai, Ta Van, and Lao Chai.

The remote town is most well-known by tourists who enjoy trekking , and many agencies operate trips from Hanoi to Sapa, which is 5 hours away.

Besides trekking, make sure to try the unique cuisine in Sapa, take a boat ride through Sapa Lake, and visit Cat Cat Village !

Cable car rides through the mountainous landscape, hiking to off-beaten waterfalls, hiking through calm landscapes, and cozy evenings at homestays, this is what Sapa is all about!

Average Daily Visitor Cost:  $54 US

Average Monthly Living Cost:  $1,160 US

several locals driving by on scooters on a busy intersection in Hanoi, Vietnam

Famous for being the second largest city in Vietnam, Hanoi is most well known for its delicious street food, old architecture, and its vibrant, bustling city atmosphere.

Home of the famous bowl of soup pho , Hanoi is the best city in Vietnam for street food. As you walk around, you’ll continuously notice small restaurants with small colorful stools outside serving pho and other Vietnamese dishes.

Throughout the city, there are several night markets open all week long. Make sure to give a few of them a visit. Night markets are the soul of large cities in Southeast Asia.

Being the large, well-developed city it is, there are several things to do in Hanoi. Make sure to visit the many century-old temples, the French Quarters, St Joseph’s Cathedral, and the Opera House.

Besides the many things to do in Hanoi and many foods to try, the most popular thing to do in Hanoi is the Ha Long Bay tour . Ha Long Bay is a nature spectacle, with countless large limestone on the water, caves, and unique pass-throughs ideal for kayaking.

When visiting, you may spot the minority community who call Ha Long Bay home and have floating homes on the water. The bay is also a recognized UNESCO World Heritage Site as well.

Average Daily Visitor Cost:  $57 US

Average Monthly Living Cost:  $1,170 US

Ho Chi Minh City

aerial views at night of the brightly lit-up skies of Ho Chi Minh City, VIetnam

Known as the most well-developed city and populous city in Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City , formerly known as Saigon, is a mix of modern concrete jungle and old architecture. Surrounding the city is the extensive Saigon River.

Delicious food, lots of shopping, French architecture, nightclubs, historical sites, and many museums, the most popular being the War Remnants Museum from the Vietnam War. Ho Chi Minh City is a dynamic city that really does have it all!

The top things to do in Ho Chi Minh City are the following: firstly, make sure you have a few Bahi Mi sandwiches, the famous sandwich that originated here. If you’re limited on time, attend a food tour to best experience the cuisine here!

Have a drink on Pham Ngu Lao Street , a vibrant street in the evening. Visit the Ben Thanh Market , an ideal place to experience authentic Vietnamese culture.

Popular day trips to make from Ho Chi Minh City are visiting the famous Chi Chi Tunnels , a 220 KM underground tunnel network still intact today, and guided tours through the Mekong Delta River .

Today, Ho Chi Minh City isn’t just a popular place for tourists to visit; many expats call the big city home. Because of its developed infrastructure and its location in Southeast Asia, it’s a great base!

Average Daily Visitor Cost:  $70 US

Average Monthly Living Cost:  $1,190 US

a dense amount of crowd walking along the golden bridge in the ba na hills of vietnam

Da Nang is a lively coastal city in central Vietnam, known for its extensive beach shoreline and contrast between big city modern skyscrapers and mountainous surroundings.

Da Nang is the third most populated city and the most populated beach city in Vietnam.

The city offers the best of both worlds, and that’s the biggest draw of Da Nang. You can enjoy big city living, go to the beach and in a short drive be amongst the mountains!

There are many things to do in Da Nang, from exploring its vibrant streets and temples to island hopping, snorkeling, and more!

The most popular attraction in Da Nang is the Ba Na Hills SunWorld , a massive amusement park located in the mountains of Da Nang. The famous Golden Hands Bridge and the Marble Mountains .

In the last few years, Da Nang has gained quite some popularity amongst nomads and expats. That’s because it’s the largest city with nature in Vietnam. Besides that, the city is very easy to navigate overall.

Average Daily Visitor Cost:  $77 US

Average Monthly Living Cost:  $1,240 US

Best Time to Visit Vietnam

It depends on which area of Vietnam you’re choosing to visit, as the weather does vary between the three major regions: North , Central , and Southern Vietnam .

North Vietnam Seasonal Weather

Winter in North Vietnam: November to April / Average Temperatures 17-22 Celcius / Cooler and Dryer

Summer in North Vietnam: May to October / Average Temperatures 28 – 33 Celcius / Hot and Humid

Central Vietnam Seasonal Weather

Dry Season in Central Vietnam: February to August / Average Temperatures 25-35 Celcius / Dry and Low Humidity

Rainy Season in Central Vietnam: September to January / Average Temperatures 22 – 32 Celcius / Rainy with Wind; some months more than others

South Vietnam Seasonal Weather

Dry Season in South Vietnam: November to April / Average Temperatures 24-37 Celcius / Dry and Low Humidity

Rainy Season in South Vietnam: May to October / Average Temperatures 25-35 Celcius / Cooler and Rain; some months more than others

aerial photograph of the bright green slopping rice fields in Vietnam

Cheapest Places in Vietnam to Live

Now that we’ve covered the cheapest cities in Vietnam to visit let us take a look at the cheapest places to live in Vietnam, considering a few liveable factors.

No matter the city you choose, overall, Vietnam is one of the cheapest countries in the world to live in.

The main reason this list is different from the one above is that when considering a city as a place to live or stay for an extensive period of time. You’ll want to have modern conveniences in the city, a selection of housing, a variety of cuisine, decent internet, etc!

Da Nang : With excellent infrastructure, residential areas, coffee shops, and a picture-perfect landscape, Da Nang is an excellent place to consider living. The streets are wide, the airport is close to town, there are many things to do, and you’ll have no problem meeting other nomads here!

RELATED: Cheapest Places in Thailand

cheapest country to visit from vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City : Excellent cuisine absolutely everywhere in the city, high-rise modern condos, full of culture, and a bustling big city atmosphere; Ho Chi Minh City is a great option for those who appreciate big cities.

Hanoi : Despite being such a large city, Hanoi still embodies a laidback atmosphere at the same time. Full of excellent cuisine, affordable accommodation costs, and a great base to make day trips from, Hanoi is a top choice city to live in Vietnam.

several tourist sitting on the side of a train track close by, the famous Hanoi train that passes within the city

Nha Trang : In recent years, Nha Trang has had a growing expat community; that’s because, despite being a smaller town on this list, the city has developed infrastructure and all the amenities one may need in a city. Similar to Da Nang, it’s also a coastal beach city.

RELATED : Looking for another cheap country to live in, but not in Asia? Consider Turkey !

Is Vietnam a good place to live?

Vietnam is an excellent place to live; delicious food is at every corner, and locals are warm and hospitable.

Many of the larger cities have great city infrastructure and good healthcare.

Most importantly, the cost of living in Vietnam is very affordable. It’s one of the cheapest/best countries in the world to both visit or live in.

Despite rising costs everywhere in the world, Vietnam has remained affordable for many years.

Is Vietnam Cheap to Visit or Live? — Final Thoughts

Yes, it is cheap to visit or live in Vietnam. The average daily visiting cost for Vietnam is only $50 US , and the average monthly living cost is $720 US .

When compared to most places in the world, daily/monthly costs for Vietnam are significantly lower.

Needless to say, these figures are only averages, and costs depend on one’s way of traveling or living styles. It could be lower or higher, depending on your spending habits!

Recently, as of August 15, 2023 , Vietnam has announced a new convenient 3-month EVisa for travelers to explore Vietnam.

You can get the 3-month EVisa either on a single-entry or a multiple-entry. This means you can choose between entering once for 90 days or choosing to leave and return to Vietnam as you like for three months. Simply apply, pay the $25 US fee, and wait three days for email acceptance.

Otherwise, most passports can simply come and get a 30-day entry visa upon arrival .

aerial view of boats sailing along the many large limestones in the waters of Ha Long Bay in Vietnam

Is Vietnam still cheap to travel to?

Vietnam is a very cheap place to travel to; the average daily spend for visitors in Vietnam is only $50 US , which can be lower depending on your travel style!

Is Vietnam the cheapest country to visit?

Vietnam is one of the cheapest countries in the world to travel to and has been for many years now. In contrast, it isn’t officially the cheapest country in the world but one of the cheapest five countries.

Is Vietnam cheaper than Thailand to visit?

Vietnam is significantly cheaper than Thailand . The average daily visitor cost in Vietnam is around $50 US a day ; in Thailand, it’s around $90 US a day . Quite the difference!

Is it cheaper to go to Laos or Vietnam?

Laos is cheaper to visit than Vietnam. In Laos, the average daily visitor cost is around $23 US daily , and in Vietnam, it’s around $50 US daily . While both countries are cheap, the difference is double!

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Owity founded Travel Hiatus in 2022 to document his travel, food and cultural experiences from all over the globe in order to help fellow travellers along the way. His slow travels allow him to research and explore places in-depth, meaning only the best and most informational guides for fellow readers! From Europe to North America, Asia and more, so far Owity has visited 21 countries.

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Getting around Vietnam is easy whatever your budget

Joe Bindloss

Mar 14, 2024 • 10 min read

Rower using her feet to row a boat along the Ngo Dong River at the Tam Coc between giant karst mountains.

From bike to bus, this guide to transportation in Vietnam can help you plan your trip © Efired / Shutterstock

Wrapped around the east coast of mainland Southeast Asia like a mythical Naga serpent, Vietnam naturally lends itself to overland travel. Its two biggest cities – Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) – are divided by 1100km of rice paddies, tropical jungles, historic townships, wartime relics, national parks and sandy beaches, and most people plot an itinerary that takes in both of these lively hubs.

How you traverse the lush, green Vietnamese countryside is up to you. The famous Reunification Express train line linking Hanoi and HCMC is the obvious choice, with great views and stops all along the Vietnamese coast, but you can also hopscotch around by local bus or zip around by motorcycle, taking in places off the main tourist trail. Traveling by boat is a particularly evocative way to explore, tracing Vietnam’s meandering rivers and buzzing out to islands offshore.

If you're in a neighboring country, there’s no need to fly to Vietnam. Trains and buses provide easy access from China , with smooth connections from Nanning through to Hanoi, and from Kunming to Hanoi via Lao Cai. If you’re heading south or west, international buses run daily to Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) from Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville in Cambodia and to Hue from Savannakhet in Laos .

Whichever route you plan to take around the country, here’s our guide to getting around Vietnam. 

A train runs along a train track alongside the sea in Vietnam. On the other side of the tracks is thick forest.

Take Vietnam’s most famous train between HCMC and Hanoi

If you’re looking to tick off both Hanoi and HCMC and the many sights in the center of the country, there’s no better way to explore than the train. The country’s main railway line weaves along the coast between these two teeming cities, stopping almost everywhere you’d want to break the journey. 

Trains also run from Hanoi to Haiphong (for excursions in and around Halong Bay) and Lao Cai, about an hour's drive from Sapa , Vietnam’s busiest trekking hub. If you’re bound for China, trains connect Hanoi to Kunming, via Lao Cai, and Nanning, via the border town of Lang Son, with onward services to Beijing . 

Trains classified as SE (Super Express) are the smartest and fastest, while those referred to as TN (Thong Nhat) are slower, older and less comfortable. The term “Reunification Express” is used as an umbrella term for many different trains running between Hanoi and HCMC – the SE1 and SE3 leave Hanoi in the evening, reaching HCMC in the morning on day three. To arrive in Hanoi in the morning, take the evening SE4 or SE2 from HCMC.

Ticket options for trains in Vietnam

There are four main ticket classes on trains – hard seat, soft seat, hard sleeper and soft sleeper – in increasing order of cost and comfort. These classes are also split into air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned options, with a higher fare for AC seats and berths. Some trains have wifi, but connection speeds can be slow (you are better off getting a local data SIM for your mobile).

Hard sleeper carriages have berths in three tiers; the top berth is the cheapest and the lower berth is the most expensive. Soft sleepers generally have two tiers, with four berths per compartment, all at the same price. The Man in Seat 61 website has an excellent in-depth guide to the different classes of train in Vietnam.

Great for daytime journeys, “soft seats” are airplane-style chairs that recline, usually arranged in rows of four, with two chairs on either side of the aisle. “Hard seats” are essentially wooden benches; expect these carriages to be busy and hazy with cigarette smoke. Use some clothes as an improvised cushion to avoid a bruised behind!

Tickets can be bought at railway stations a few days in advance of travel, or online 60 to 90 days in advance. When booking online, many travelers use the booking sites Bao Lau and 12Go.Asia ; booking via the official Vietnam Railways website is only possible with a Vietnamese credit card. 

A man watching TV in long distance sleeper bus in Vietnam

Buses go almost everywhere in Vietnam

Bus travel in Vietnam can be either convenient and comfortable (when traveling between major cities) or slow and cramped (when traveling in the backwaters), but it’s rarely expensive. In popular traveler hangouts such as Hanoi and HCMC, you’ll see signs advertising “Open Tour" or "Open Ticket" buses – these services run between major cities and you can hop-on and hop-off the bus at any major city along the way. You’ll pay more than for ordinary buses, but routes start and stop in conveniently central locations.

Normal bus services run from dedicated bus stations, and there may be more than one station in each town, serving different destinations, so always check which station you need to go to. Most have dedicated ticket offices and prices and departure times are clearly displayed; buy tickets a day in advance to be certain of securing a seat.

In larger cities, main bus stations are often out of the city center. Have your hotel (or someone Vietnamese-speaking) ask where the nearest pick-up point is (and what time you should be there) which might save you a time-consuming trip to the bus station.

Different bus companies offer different levels of comfort. At the top of the scale are deluxe sleeper services between major cities, with minimal stops en route. You’ll get a reclining seat or even a seat that converts into a horizontal bed, but you’ll need earplugs to sleep through the onboard karaoke sessions and screenings of music videos and martial arts films. Companies such as The Sinh Tourist and Mai Linh Express offer online booking.

In rural areas, buses stop repeatedly to drop off and pick up passengers, so journeys can take an age and buses can be crammed to bursting. Whichever class you travel in, road travel in Vietnam is never fast ­– don’t expect to cover much more than 30 miles (50km) per hour due to the sheer volume of motorbikes, trucks, pedestrians and livestock on the roads.

Mopeds in busy street of Ho-Chi-Minh-City.

Motorbikes offer freedom for adventurous travelers

Riding the length of Vietnam is a lifelong dream for many seasoned bikers, and a busy industry has grown up supplying motorcycles to travelers attempting the journey between Hanoi and HCMC. The ride is certainly rewarding, but with local driving conditions, it’s not for novices, and some of the bikes available for rent or purchase are in poor condition; check over machines advertised in hostels and hotels thoroughly before you agree to buy.

Exploring the mountainous northwest is an even bigger adventure, with challenging switchbacks and dramatic vistas appearing around every corner, but you’ll need a more powerful machine to tackle the steep inclines and potholes. Along the coast and in tourist hubs, it’s easy to rent a low-powered scooter or motorcycle from cafes, hotels and travel agencies for local exploring, sometimes for as little as US$5 per day.

Rental agreements tend to be somewhat informal, and you’ll often have to leave your passport as security. Seek out rental firms that offer insurance and provide a formal rental agreement (so you know what’s covered in the event of an accident), and always wear a motorcycle helmet – it’s a legal requirement. As an alternative to hiring your own wheels, some local riders are willing to provide driver services on two wheels for around US$30 per day.

If you have an accident in Vietnam while riding without a valid license (and an International Driving Permit), your travel insurance is unlikely to cover your costs – including the cost of damage to the vehicle, to yourself, and to other vehicles and people. Many travelers wing it, but this means taking a significant risk – every day in Vietnam, around 17 people die and 22 people are injured in road traffic accidents.

Rent a car and driver for hassle-free road transport

Self-drive rental cars are almost impossible to find in Vietnam, but it’s easy to rent a vehicle with a driver who will also double as an informal tour guide and (hopefully) take you to places you would otherwise miss. You'll definitely want to check their ability to communicate in English beforehand. You also won’t have to worry about getting the right driving license or extra car insurance.

Travel agencies in tourist areas offer all sorts of ready-made car-and-driver packages but it’s just as easy to arrange a custom itinerary. Bank on paying US$60 to US$150 per day plus petrol; your driver will cover their own food and accommodation. Split the trip with other travelers to bring down costs. A 2WD car is fine for lowland areas but you’ll need a 4WD for the mountainous north.

Cyclists and pedestrians on Pham Ngu Lao street in the backpacker district of Ho Chi Minh.

Cycling is a great way to explore Vietnam’s backroads

Cycling can be a delightful great way to get around Vietnam, so long as you stick to quiet rural roads and avoid the crowded highways. Much of the country is agreeably flat and bike workshops are easy to find if you have a flat tire or mechanical issue (just don’t expect to find parts for foreign-made bikes).

Bikes can be rented for local exploring from hotels and travel agencies wherever travelers gather, but the quality and mechanical sophistication of bikes varies. For long-distance trips, join a cycle tour or rent a higher quality bike through a cycle-tour company such as Vietnam Cycling or Indochina Bike Tours . To cut out long highway rides, bicycles can be transported on the roof of many buses or in train baggage compartments.

Domestic flights will save you time (but not carbon)

If you’re short on time, domestic flights are a reasonably economical way to get from A to B in Vietnam, but you’ll be churning out extra carbon. Cancellations are common so avoid leaving a short gap between a domestic flight and an international connection (travel a day early if you can). 

Airlines operating domestic routes in Vietnam include Bamboo Airways , Pacific Airlines (formerly Jetstar), Vietjet Air and Vietnam Airlines (who have the most reliable schedules and the best safety rating). 

Beautiful view of karst isle and tourist boat in the Ha Long Bay (Descending Dragon Bay) at the Gulf of Tonkin of the South China Sea, Vietnam. The Halong Bay is a popular tourist destination of Asia

Go by boat to reach the islands or explore the mighty Mekong

Many of Vietnam’s winding rivers are navigable, but the most important thoroughfare for boats is the mighty Mekong River, which splits into a maze of smaller channels as it reaches the East Sea. Locals use passenger boats to get around all over the country, but tourists tend to stick to organized day cruises from HCMC, Hoi An , Nha Trang , Danang , Hue and Tam Coc .

Boats also run to islands offshore, including tropical Phu Quoc in the south, the islands scattered around Nha Trang Bay, the Cham Islands near Hoi An in central Vietnam, and – of course – the myriad islands and outcrops in Halong Bay and neighboring Bai Tu Long Bay . It's possible to reach the Con Dao Islands by boat from Soc Trang, Vung Tau or Can Tho on the mainland.

Note that sea transport can be disrupted during the May to December typhoon season , particularly in August and September; monitor the weather reports and be ready to change your plans if a storm approaches.

Cities are easily explored by bus, taxi and rickshaw 

Buses provide inexpensive local transport in towns and cities, but routes can be confusing, and pickpockets can be a problem on crowded buses. If you prefer to travel by taxi, the companies Mai Linh and Vinasun are reputable options. Rideshares (sometimes provided by motorcycle) can be booked via Grab , Gojek or Be .

A more fun way to explore is by cycle rickshaw – the buggy-like Vietnamese version is known as a cyclo (although these are becoming increasingly rare). Always agree on a fare before you start your journey. If you have steady nerves, xe om (motorcycle taxis) are the fastest way to navigate city traffic but luggage will have to go in your lap or on your back.

Accessible travel options are limited in Vietnam

While locals are happy to help out, Vietnam is not an easy destination for travelers with disabilities.

If you prefer to travel independently, come with a travel companion, and rent a vehicle with a driver (minivans are available, and can often fit a folding wheelchair) or use open tour buses. Boats and trains, sadly, are not particularly accessible, but with assistance, you may be able to travel in “soft” class carriages without too much trouble.

Many travelers find it easier to come on a disability-friendly tour – packages are easy to find through specialist operators such as Roll in Asia and Enable Holidays . For more information on accessible travel, see Lonely Planet’s Accessible Travel Resources . 

This article was first published Apr 1, 2021 and updated Mar 14, 2024.

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cheapest country to visit from vietnam

Economical Escapes: Exploring The Cheapest Places To Reside Abroad

Dreaming of a life of adventure, exploration, and financial freedom without breaking the bank? Moving to a new country, whether for retirement, work, or simply a change of pace, is an enticing prospect for many. One of the key considerations for anyone considering such a move is the cost of living. Luckily, there are several countries across the globe where you can stretch your dollars and live comfortably without compromising on the quality of life. Here are sIX of the cheapest countries to consider for your next affordable living adventure.

With its rich culture, stunning landscapes, and delicious cuisine, Vietnam is not only a popular tourist destination but also an affordable place to call home. The cost of living in cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City is remarkably low compared to many Western countries. Rent, groceries, dining out, transportation – all are budget-friendly, making Vietnam an attractive choice for expatriates seeking a vibrant lifestyle without the high expenses.

2. Thailand

Known for its tropical beaches, ornate temples, and bustling markets, Thailand offers a low cost of living coupled with a high quality of life. Cities like Chiang Mai and Bangkok are expat hotspots where rent, food, and entertainment are incredibly affordable. The warm climate, friendly locals, and diverse expatriate community make Thailand an inviting destination for those seeking an affordable yet fulfilling lifestyle.

3. Indonesia

Indonesia, with its mix of stunning landscapes, rich culture, and diverse cuisine, presents an affordable haven for expats. Places like Bali, Yogyakarta, and Bandung offer a low cost of living, beautiful surroundings, and a relaxed lifestyle. From beachfront living to lush green landscapes, Indonesia provides a variety of living environments that cater to different preferences and budgets.

Bordering the United States, Mexico is not only geographically close but also offers a significantly lower cost of living. Cities like Mérida, Puerto Vallarta, and Guanajuato provide expats with affordable housing, delicious cuisine, and a rich cultural experience. The pleasant climate, friendly locals, and diverse landscapes make Mexico an attractive destination for those seeking an affordable yet diverse lifestyle.

5. Bulgaria

In Eastern Europe, Bulgaria stands out as an affordable gem. Cities like Sofia and Plovdiv offer a low cost of living while providing a blend of history, culture, and modern amenities. Affordable rent, dining, and transportation options make Bulgaria an appealing destination for those looking to explore Europe on a budget.

6. Philippines

The Philippines is a Southeast Asian archipelago known for its stunning beaches, warm climate, and friendly locals. Cities like Cebu and Davao offer expats a low cost of living, allowing for comfortable living on a budget. The affordable housing, delicious cuisine, and welcoming communities make the Philippines an attractive destination for expats seeking an affordable tropical lifestyle.

While these countries offer a lower cost of living compared to many Western nations, it's essential to research thoroughly, consider visa requirements, healthcare access, and other essential factors before making the big move. Each person's lifestyle preferences and needs vary, so what suits one may not suit another. However, these destinations present a starting point for those seeking affordability without compromising on the richness of experience that living abroad can offer.

Living affordably abroad can be an enriching and life-changing experience. By exploring these budget-friendly destinations, individuals can find a place that aligns with their lifestyle goals while keeping expenses in check. Embrace the adventure, immerse yourself in new cultures, and enjoy the affordability that these incredible countries have to offer.

 Economical Escapes: Exploring The Cheapest Places To Reside Abroad

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Travel credit cards help you earn valuable points and miles on your purchases. For maximum value, some cards earn rewards not only on travel, but also everyday purchases like dining, groceries and gas. You can redeem these rewards for free or discounted flights, hotel stays or to cover other travel-related expenses.

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Bankrate's Best Travel Credit Cards of June 2024

  • Best starter travel card:  Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
  • Best for flat-rate rewards:  Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
  • Best for luxury travel:  The Platinum Card® from American Express
  • Best for no annual fee:  Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card  ( See Rates & Fees )
  • Best for foodies:  American Express® Gold Card
  • Best for everyday spending: Citi Strata Premier℠ Card
  • Best for intro APR:  Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
  • Best for point values:  Chase Sapphire Reserve®
  • Best for practical perks:  Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
  • Best for pairing:  Chase Freedom Unlimited®
  • Best for hotel bookings: Wells Fargo Autograph Journey℠ Card
  • Best no-annual-fee hotel card:  Hilton Honors American Express Card
  • Best luxury hotel card:  Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card
  • Best for transfer partners:  Bilt Mastercard®
  • Best for gas:  Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card
  • Best for companion tickets:  Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card
  • Best starter airline card:  Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
  • Best for expedited security screening:  Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card
  • Best for first-year value:  Discover it® Miles
  • Best for fair credit:  Credit One Bank Wander® Card
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Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

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Intro offer

Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's over $900 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

We calculate this number by multiplying the card's intro offer by Bankrate's valuation of this issuer's rewards program , showing you how much your points or miles are worth in dollars.

Rewards rate

5x on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠. 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries. 2x on all other travel purchases. 1x on all other purchases.

Regular APR

  • 5x 5x on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠.
  • 3x 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries.
  • 2x 2x on all other travel purchases.
  • 1x 1x on all other purchases.

What we love: This popular card comes loaded with features that can make it easy even for occasional travelers to offset the modest $95 annual fee without eating into hard-earned rewards. Plus, its rewards program is one of the best, giving you some of the most valuable travel redemptions — through both Chase and transfer partners — and Chase card pairing opportunities if you want to build your card portfolio eventually. Learn more: Why expert Margaret Weck loves using the Chase Sapphire Preferred Alternatives:   If you’re looking for an even simpler travel card, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is a terrific option. Its flat rewards rate makes it easy to know exactly how much you’ll earn with every purchase and though it can’t match the Sapphire Preferred’s redemption flexibility, it offers more redemption options than the typical travel rewards card. 

  • You earn Ultimate Rewards points with this card — some of the most valuable and flexible rewards around, especially if you pair it with Chase’s cash back cards in the future.
  • The card touts significant long-term benefits like anniversary bonus points and travel credits, as well as travel protections like trip cancellation insurance and a car rental collision damage waiver.
  • Doesn’t offer airline- or hotel-specific perks like free checked bags, elite status or free night stays.
  • The sign-up bonus is decent, but the card has previously offered higher, chart-topping bonus points.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's over $900 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.
  • Enjoy benefits such as 5x on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases, $50 Annual Chase Travel Hotel Credit, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Travel℠. For example, 75,000 points are worth $937.50 toward travel.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get complimentary access to DashPass which unlocks $0 delivery fees and lower service fees for a minimum of one year when you activate by December 31, 2024.
  • Member FDIC

Best for flat-rate rewards

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Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

New Venture cardholders can earn 75,000 miles once they spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening

5 Miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel 2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

2 Miles - 5 Miles

  • 5 Miles 5 Miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
  • 2 Miles 2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

What we love: It’s a great option for travelers looking for a straightforward rewards program and flexible redemption options. You'll earn unlimited miles on all eligible spending and can redeem not only for travel bookings, but also as a statement credit to cover travel purchases made in the past 90 days. Learn more: Why expert Jacqueline DeMarco loves the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card Alternatives: The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers a higher rewards rate in some everyday spending categories and potentially more valuable points. Chase points are worth 1.25 cents each if you redeem for travel through Chase, while Capital One miles are only worth 1 cent each when you redeem for travel. Plus, Chase rewards are more helpful for occasional travelers since you can redeem as cash back at 1-cent-per-point value.

  • Carries solid perks given its low annual fee, including expedited airport purchase security and hotel experience credits, lost luggage reimbursement and more.
  • Zero foreign transaction fees make this an excellent choice for international travelers.
  • You can’t offset the annual fee with annual travel credits or bonuses alone as you can with some rival cards.
  • The card’s sign-up bonus carries a high spending requirement, so it may be tough to earn if you don’t have large purchases on the horizon.
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your miles to get reimbursed for any travel purchase—or redeem by booking a trip through Capital One Travel
  • Enrich every hotel stay from the Lifestyle Collection with a suite of cardholder benefits, like a $50 experience credit, room upgrades, and more
  • Transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs

Best for luxury travel

Image of The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $8,000 on eligible purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year. Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.

  • 5X Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
  • 5X Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.

What we love: Luxury travelers and big spenders will appreciate the bevy of travel benefits, including annual statement credits worth around $1,700, elite hotel loyalty status and access to perhaps the most comprehensive airport lounge access available with a credit card. Learn more: Why expert Holly Johnson loves the Platinum Card® from American Express Alternatives: The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card offers a taste of luxury at a lower cost than many premium travel cards. You can unlock a generous rewards rate on both travel and general purchases, complimentary access to popular airport lounge memberships and valuable annual travel credits and anniversary miles.

  • Comes with a generous welcome offer and a longer time period to earn it compared to most rewards cards.
  • A robust line-up of airline and hotel partners and related perks make this card truly valuable for travelers.
  • The $695 annual fee may not be worth it if you don’t spend much on travel frequently or can’t take full advantage of the card’s luxury — and often niche — perks.
  • Redeeming and maximizing the card’s credit and benefits requires some legwork and can be a bit confusing.
  • Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $8,000 on eligible purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • $200 Hotel Credit: Get up to $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings with American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®. The Hotel Collection requires a minimum two-night stay.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back in statement credits each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Disney+, a Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, The New York Times, Peacock, and The Wall Street Journal. Enrollment required.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With complimentary access to more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more airport lounge options than any other credit card issuer on the market. As of 03/2023.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Save on eligible delivery fees, shipping, and more with a Walmart+ membership. Use your Platinum Card® to pay for a monthly Walmart+ membership and get up to $12.95 plus applicable taxes back on one membership (excluding Plus Ups) each month.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Select one qualifying airline and then receive up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year when incidental fees are charged by the airline to your Platinum Card®.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only. Terms Apply.
  • $189 CLEAR® Plus Credit: CLEAR® Plus helps to get you to your gate faster at 50+ airports nationwide and get up to $189 back per calendar year on your Membership (subject to auto-renewal) when you use your Card. CLEARLanes are available at 100+ airports, stadiums, and entertainment venues.
  • Receive either a $100 statement credit every 4 years for a Global Entry application fee or a statement credit up to $85 every 4.5 year period for TSA PreCheck® application fee for a 5-year plan only (through a TSA PreCheck® official enrollment provider), when charged to your Platinum Card®. Card Members approved for Global Entry will also receive access to TSA PreCheck at no additional cost.
  • Shop Saks with Platinum: Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases in Saks Fifth Avenue stores or at saks.com on your Platinum Card®. That's up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually. Enrollment required.
  • Unlock access to exclusive reservations and special dining experiences with Global Dining Access by Resy when you add your Platinum Card® to your Resy profile.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.

Best for no annual fee

Image of Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card

Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card

  • Earn a bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel

5 Miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel 1.25 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

1.25 Miles - 5 Miles

  • 1.25 Miles 1.25 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

What we love: This card offers some of the same advantages as the Capital One Venture, without the burden of an annual fee. It gives you the chance to earn flat-rate miles on your everyday spending and the option to transfer miles to over 15 loyalty program partners to even cover travel purchases outside Capital One — a unique level of redemption flexibility for a starter travel card. Learn more: Reasons to get the VentureOne Rewards Card Alternatives: A general-purpose flat-rate credit card that offers 2X points or 2 percent cash back on all purchases may bring more value if you don’t travel often and aren’t ready to upgrade to a travel rewards credit card with an annual fee. However, the Discover it® Miles earns a flat-rate 1.5X miles that can also be redeemed for cash back at 1-cent per mile, which is unusual for travel rewards.

  • The welcome offer is generous for a no-annual-fee travel credit card.
  • Booking hotel stays and rental cars through Capital One Travel nets you an impressive 5X miles.
  • Unlike several no-annual-fee travel cards, redeeming for non-travel purchases waters down your rewards’ value.
  • Capital One has no major U.S. carrier in its line-up of travel partners.
  • $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • Earn unlimited 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Enjoy 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months; 19.99% - 29.99% variable APR after that; balance transfer fee applies

Best for foodies

Image of American Express® Gold Card

American Express® Gold Card

Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S. Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X). Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.

  • 4X Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
  • 4X Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • 3X Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.

What we love: Few credit cards are more rewarding for traveling foodies than the American Express Gold Card. Both the food-related annual credits and the rewards rates at restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and on flights booked directly with airlines or via the Amex travel portal are some of the best on the market. In fact, the up to $240 in credits each year alone nearly make up for the annual fee. Learn more: Why the Amex Gold is worth the annual fee Alternatives: If the Amex Gold Card’s annual fee sounds high, consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card . It carries key travel perks, high travel and dining rewards rates, and a much lower annual fee.

  • This card features one of the best rewards return rates available on dining, groceries and food deliveries.
  • There is no preset spending limit, so you can enjoy extended purchasing power, and you also have the option to pay off purchases with Pay Over Time if necessary.
  • Although the card touts a solid collection of travel perks, it doesn’t include popular premium card perks like airport lounge access or trip cancellation/interruption insurance.
  • Only eligible airfare earns more than 1X points, while rival cards often earn similar (or higher) reward rates on hotel stays and other travel purchases as well.
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Get a $100 experience credit with a minimum two-night stay when you book The Hotel Collection through American Express Travel. Experience credit varies by property.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.

Best for everyday spending

Image of Citi Strata Premier℠ Card

Citi Strata Premier℠ Card

  • Earn 70,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months of account opening, redeemable for $700 in gift cards or travel rewards at thankyou.com

Earn 10 points per $1 spent on Hotels, Car Rentals, and Attractions booked on CitiTravel.com. Earn 3 points per $1 on Air Travel and Other Hotel Purchases, at Restaurants, Supermarkets, Gas and EV Charging Stations. Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases

  • 10X Earn 10 points per $1 spent on Hotels, Car Rentals, and Attractions booked on CitiTravel.com.
  • 3X Earn 3 points per $1 on Air Travel and Other Hotel Purchases, at Restaurants, Supermarkets, Gas and EV Charging Stations.
  • 1X Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases

What we love: This card’s high rewards rate in everyday bonus categories makes it an especially good choice for occasional travelers and people looking for a standalone rewards card. Its practical bonus categories mean you can earn rewards quickly, even if you don’t actually spend a ton on travel. Alternatives:   As long as you don’t mind buying groceries online, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card could be an even more lucrative everyday rewards card. That’s thanks mostly to its high point redemption value (1.25 cents per point when you use points to book travel with Chase, versus just 1 cent per point when you book with Citi using the Strata Premier).

  • It’s one of the only travel cards that offers a high rewards rate on groceries, dining and gas, so it should work well whether it’s your standalone card or just one part of your card stack.
  • Its annual hotel benefit carries enough value to potentially offset the annual fee on its own.
  • The annual hotel benefit, though generous, isn’t very flexible: You’ll only get the $100 discount if you book a single hotel stay of $500 or more (excluding taxes and fees) through CitiTravel.com.
  • Based on Bankrate’s latest point and mile valuations, Citi ThankYou rewards carry a lower average redemption value than Chase, Amex and Capital One rewards.
  • Earn 10 points per $1 spent on Hotels, Car Rentals, and Attractions booked on CitiTravel.com.
  • Earn 3 points per $1 on Air Travel and Other Hotel Purchases, at Restaurants, Supermarkets, Gas and EV Charging Stations.
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • $100 Annual Hotel Benefit: Once per calendar year, enjoy $100 off a single hotel stay of $500 or more (excluding taxes and fees) when booked through CitiTravel.com. Benefit applied instantly at time of booking.
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases

Best for intro APR

Image of Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

  • 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire as long as your account remains open.
  • 1.5X Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire as long as your account remains open.

What we love: This entry-level travel card keeps things simple for occasional travelers. It offers simple flat-rate rewards and lets you redeem for a broad mix of travel options not typically available on many travel cards, such as cash back toward purchases with travel agencies,  zoos, art galleries and more. It’s even more valuable if you’re a Bank of America customer and can qualify for a rewards boost through the Bank of America Preferred Rewards® program. Learn more: Is the Bank of America Travel Rewards card worth it? Alternatives: The Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card is another great starter travel card, but, unlike many cards in this category, it lets you transfer your miles to airline and hotel partners, potentially for a higher redemption value.

  • Its easy-to-earn sign-up bonus and intro APR offers give this card good short-term value.
  • No annual fees or foreign transaction fees sweeten this offer.
  • It only offers 1.5X points on purchases, and you can’t transfer points can’t to airline partners for more rewards value, so it may not be as lucrative as competing cards.
  • The top tiers of the Bank of America Preferred Rewards® program may be out of reach for many cardholders.
  • Use your card to book your trip how and where you want - you're not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions.
  • Redeem points for a statement credit to pay for travel or dining purchases, such as flights, hotel stays, car and vacation rentals, baggage fees, and also at restaurants including takeout.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. After the Intro APR offer ends, a Variable APR that’s currently 19.24% - 29.24% will apply. A 3% Intro balance transfer fee will apply for the first 60 days your account is open. After the Intro balance transfer fee offer ends, the fee for future balance transfers is 4%.
  • If you're a Bank of America Preferred Rewards® member, you can earn 25%-75% more points on every purchase. That means instead of earning an unlimited 1.5 points for every $1, you could earn 1.87-2.62 points for every $1 you spend on purchases.
  • Contactless Cards - The security of a chip card, with the convenience of a tap.
  • This online only offer may not be available if you leave this page or if you visit a Bank of America financial center. You can take advantage of this offer when you apply now.

Best for point values

Image of Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,125 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

Earn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Travel℠. Earn 5x total points on flights through Chase Travel℠. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining. Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

  • 10x Earn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Travel℠.
  • 5x Earn 5x total points on flights through Chase Travel℠.
  • 3x Earn 3x points on other travel and dining.
  • 1x Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

What we love: Rewards-savvy travelers will be hard-pressed to find a card with better rewards potential than the Sapphire Reserve. Points are worth 50 percent more through Chase Travel, and potentially more with the right transfer partner. It’s a stellar partner for Chase’s cash back cards and stacks on even more value with enough perks to recoup the annual fee without relying on hard-earned rewards. Learn more: Why expert Holly Johnson loves the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card Alternatives: The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card offers some of the same key perks as the Sapphire Reserve at a much lower cost. Along with a generous rewards rate on both Capital One Travel and general purchases, the card boasts valuable, practical benefits like competitive airport lounge access , up to $300 in annual Capital One Travel credits and 10,000 bonus miles every year on your account anniversary.

  • You can kickstart your rewards bank with one of the most valuable sign-up bonuses on the market.
  • Its top-tier benefits include up to $300 in annual travel statement credits, Priority Pass airport lounge access, exhaustive travel protections and stand-out partner perks.
  • The card’s cost could be a deterrent for some new cardholders, especially if they plan on encountering adding multiple authorized users.
  • You won’t get as many luxury hotel and airport lounge perks with this card as you would with some of its rivals.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,125 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Travel℠ immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Travel℠. For example, 75,000 points are worth $1125 toward travel.
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®

Best for practical perks

Image of Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

10 Miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel 5 Miles per dollar on flights booked through Capital One Travel 2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

2 Miles - 10 Miles

  • 10 Miles 10 Miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
  • 5 Miles 5 Miles per dollar on flights booked through Capital One Travel

What we love: This is the perfect middleground for travelers who want the practical benefits from luxury travel cards without dealing with bloated features and an annual fee upwards of $500. It offers complimentary lounge access, high-earning bonus rewards categories, anniversary credits and bonus miles, which can easily make the card worth it for frequent travelers. Learn more: Capital One Venture X Benefits Guide Alternatives: If a higher annual fee is no issue, consider The Platinum Card® from American Express. It’s a top choice for frequent travelers thanks to its impressive welcome offer and luxury perks like annual travel credits, lounge access and hotel elite status. However, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® may be better if your luxury travel experience calls for racking up more rewards.

  • Offers anniversary bonus miles and a chance to earn credits worth hundreds of dollars starting at your first account anniversary.
  • Comes with complimentary lounge access at over 1,300 lounges for you and two guests per visit.
  • To earn the anniversary credit, travel must be booked through the Capital One Travel portal. That’s not as flexible as some other cards, which offer credits that cover any travel purchases, regardless of how you book.
  • Lacks some perks found on other premium travel cards like airline or hotel elite status, which can get you benefits like free checked bags or room upgrades.
  • Receive a $300 annual credit for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,300+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and the Partner Lounge Network
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Elevate every hotel stay from the Premier or Lifestyle Collections with a suite of cardholder benefits, like an experience credit, room upgrades, and more

Best for pairing

Image of Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Earn an extra 1.5% on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) — worth up to $300 cash back. That's 6.5% on travel purchased through Chase Travel, 4.5% on dining and drugstores, and 3% on all other purchases.

Enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service 1.5% on all other purchases

  • 5% Enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more
  • 3% 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service
  • 1.5% 1.5% on all other purchases

What we love: Not only does it earn 1.5 percent cash back on general spending, but it also has a bonus cash back rate for drugstores and dining at restaurants. And if you pair it with one or two premium Chase travel cards, you could pool your rewards for better travel redemption value.  Learn more: Why I love the Chase Freedom Unlimited Alternatives: If you want to take advantage of even more rewarding cash back categories and remain in the Chase family, consider the Chase Freedom Flex℠ .

  • You can pool rewards with other Chase cards to maximize your earnings.
  • The additional rewards rate offer can add even more cash back to your pocket for the first year.
  • The welcome offer isn’t as competitive as other cards’ offers.
  • Maximizing rewards with this and other Chase cards can get complicated for people who like simple rewards programs.
  • Intro Offer: Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!
  • Enjoy 6.5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more; 4.5% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and 3% on all other purchases (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year).
  • After your first year or $20,000 spent, enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back. You can choose to receive a statement credit or direct deposit into most U.S. checking and savings accounts. Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open!
  • Enjoy 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 20.49% - 29.24%.
  • No annual fee – You won't have to pay an annual fee for all the great features that come with your Freedom Unlimited® card
  • Keep tabs on your credit health, Chase Credit Journey helps you monitor your credit with free access to your latest score, alerts, and more.

Best for hotel bookings

Image of Wells Fargo Autograph Journey℠ Card

Wells Fargo Autograph Journey℠ Card

  • Earn 60,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 in purchases in the first 3 months – that’s $600 toward your next trip.

Earn unlimited 5X points on hotels Earn unlimited 4X points on airlines Earn unlimited 3X points on other travel and restaurants Earn 1X points on other purchases

  • 5X Earn unlimited 5X points on hotels
  • 4X Earn unlimited 4X points on airlines
  • 3X Earn unlimited 3X points on other travel and restaurants
  • 1X Earn 1X points on other purchases

What we love: It offers a great rewards rate on hotel bookings and gives you a chance to earn a $50 annual statement credit with a $50 minimum airline purchase. Add in a solid rate on airline purchases, other travel and restaurants and this card carries great value as a standalone mid-tier card for occasional travelers. Alternatives: If you want to earn travel rewards but don’t actually spend much on hotels and airfare, the lower-tier Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card is also worth a look. Though it earns also rewards on travel, it boasts a great mix of other practical everyday categories (including gas stations).

  • You can transfer points to Wells Fargo’s new list of airline and hotel partners, including popular programs like British Airways Executive Club, Choice Privileges and more, which could boost the redemption value of your rewards.
  • The $50 annual statement credit offsets more than half the card’s $95 annual fee and should be a cinch to earn if you fly at least once per year.
  • Wells Fargo only offers one other card that earns travel rewards (the Autograph), and there is some category overlap between the two, so they may not be as lucrative as some competing card stacks.
  • The card doesn’t carry some popular travel perks available on other mid-tier travel cards, such as credits for expedited airport security screening or rideshares.
  • Select “Apply Now” to take advantage of this specific offer and learn more about product features, terms and conditions.
  • Earn unlimited 5X points on hotels, 4X points on airlines, 3X points on other travel and restaurants, and 1X points on other purchases.
  • $95 annual fee.
  • Book your travel with the Autograph Journey Card and enjoy Travel Accident Insurance, Lost Baggage Reimbursement, Trip Cancellation and Interruption Protection and Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver.
  • Earn a $50 annual statement credit with $50 minimum airline purchase.
  • Up to $1,000 of cell phone protection against damage or theft. Subject to a $25 deductible.
  • Find tickets to top sports and entertainment events, book travel, make dinner reservations and more with your complimentary 24/7 Visa Signature® Concierge.

Best no-annual-fee hotel card

Image of Hilton Honors American Express Card

Hilton Honors American Express Card

  • Earn 70,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points plus a Free Night Reward after you spend $2,000 in purchases on the Hilton Honors American Express Card in the first 6 months of Card Membership. Offer Ends 7/31/2024.

Earn 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your Card directly with hotels and resorts within the Hilton portfolio. Earn 5X Points per dollar on purchases at U.S. restaurants, at U.S. supermarkets, and at U.S. gas stations. Earn 3X Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.

  • 7X Earn 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your Card directly with hotels and resorts within the Hilton portfolio.
  • 5X Earn 5X Points per dollar on purchases at U.S. restaurants, at U.S. supermarkets, and at U.S. gas stations.
  • 3X Earn 3X Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.

What we love: This card earns rewards in a terrific mix of everyday bonus categories, so it should be easy to rack up Hilton points even if you don’t spend a ton on hotel bookings. Since it charges no annual fee and provides a few Hilton Honors benefits like Silver status, it’s also a great fit if you’re new to hotel cards and want a single no-annual-fee option instead of juggling multiple rewards cards. Learn more: Why expert Holly Johnson loves the Hilton Honors American Express Card Alternatives: The American Express® Green Card could be more flexible since it lets you earn and redeem rewards on a much wider variety of travel purchases, including airfare and bookings with several hotel brands, not just Hilton. You can transfer points to the Hilton Honors program as well, but the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card may be better if you prefer upgraded Hilton-specific rewards, loyalty status and other perks.

  • Comes with automatic Silver Elite status, which includes a free fifth award night when you book at least four consecutive nights with points.
  • Earns rewards in three of the average person’s biggest spending categories, making it a terrific standalone option for earning Hilton points.
  • A higher-tier Hilton card would earn more on Hilton bookings and could be more lucrative for frequent guests, even with an annual fee.
  • You can only redeem points with Hilton and its partners, which limits the rewards value you earn on the everyday categories compared to a general-purpose cards’ rewards.
  • Earn 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your Card directly with hotels and resorts within the Hilton portfolio.
  • Earn 5X Points per dollar on purchases at U.S. restaurants, at U.S. supermarkets, and at U.S. gas stations.
  • Earn 3X Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.
  • Enjoy complimentary Hilton Honors™ Silver status with your Card. Plus, spend $20,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year and you can earn an upgrade to Hilton Honors™ Gold status through the end of the next calendar year.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees. Enjoy international travel without additional fees on purchases made abroad.
  • No Annual Fee.

Best luxury hotel card

Image of Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card

  • Earn 95,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new Card to make $6,000 in purchases within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

Earn 6X Marriott Bonvoy points for each dollar of eligible purchases at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy® 3X points at restaurants worldwide and on flights booked directly with airlines 2X points on all other eligible purchases

  • 6X Earn 6X Marriott Bonvoy points for each dollar of eligible purchases at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®
  • 3X 3X points at restaurants worldwide and on flights booked directly with airlines
  • 2X 2X points on all other eligible purchases

What we love: Frequent Marriott guests looking for luxury card-level perks and elite status should be able to justify this premium card. Along with a terrific rewards rate on Marriott bookings and an annual free night award, you could enjoy generous annual credits for restaurant purchases and Marriott property stays, airport lounge access, elite night credits and more. Learn more: Best Marriott credit cards Alternatives: If you’re looking for top-tier travel perks but want the flexibility to earn and redeem rewards for stays at any hotel chain, consider an elite travel card from Chase or Amex, which can come with generous travel benefits, airport lounge access and the ability to transfer points to Marriott. The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card is another lucrative alternative.

  • Outperforms other Marriott cards with its boosted rewards on travel-related categories and 21X points at Marriott Bonvoy hotels, thanks to the automatic Platinum Elite status.
  • It’s one of the only hotel cards that includes complimentary Priority Pass lounge access, top travel protections and credits for expedited airport security screening.
  • Unlocking some of the card’s best perks — like Five Suite Night Awards — requires a $60,000 annual spend, which may be tough to reach even for frequent Marriott guests.
  • Unless luxury perks are at the top of your wishlist, the annual fee may not be worth it and a lower-tier hotel card may offer more value overall.
  • $300 Brilliant Dining Credit: Each calendar year, get up to $300 (up to $25 per month) in statement credits for eligible purchases made on the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card at restaurants worldwide.
  • With Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite status, you can receive room upgrades, including enhanced views or suites, when available at select properties and booked with a Qualifying Rate.
  • Earn 6X Marriott Bonvoy points for each dollar of eligible purchases at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. 3X points at restaurants worldwide and on flights booked directly with airlines. 2X points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Free Night Award: Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Award can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 85,000 Marriott Bonvoy points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Each calendar year after spending $60,000 on eligible purchases on your Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card, you will be eligible to select a Brilliant Earned Choice Award benefit. You can only earn one Earned Choice Award per calendar year. See https://www.choice-benefit.marriott.com/brilliant for Award options.
  • $100 Marriott Bonvoy Property Credit: Enjoy your stay. Receive up to a $100 property credit for qualifying charges at The Ritz-Carlton® or St. Regis® when you book direct using a special rate for a two-night minimum stay using your Card.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®: Receive either a statement credit every 4 years after you apply for Global Entry ($100) or a statement credit every 4.5 years after you apply for a five-year membership for TSA PreCheck® (up to $85 through a TSA PreCheck official enrollment provider) and pay the application fee with your Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
  • Each calendar year with your Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card you can receive 25 Elite Night Credits toward the next level of Marriott Bonvoy® Elite status. Limitations apply per Marriott Bonvoy member account. Benefit is not exclusive to Cards offered by American Express. Terms apply.
  • Enroll in Priority Pass™ Select, which offers unlimited airport lounge visits to over 1,200 lounges in over 130 countries, regardless of which carrier or class you are flying. This allows you to relax before or between flights. You can enjoy snacks, drinks, and internet access in a quiet, comfortable location.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on international purchases.
  • With Cell Phone Protection, you can be reimbursed, the lesser of, your repair or replacement costs following damage, such as a cracked screen, or theft for a maximum of $800 per claim when your cell phone line is listed on a wireless bill and the prior month's wireless bill was paid by an Eligible Card Account. A $50 deductible will apply to each approved claim with a limit of 2 approved claims per 12-month period. Additional terms and conditions apply. Coverage is provided by New Hampshire Insurance Company, an AIG Company.
  • $650 Annual Fee.

Best for transfer partners

Image of Bilt Mastercard®

Bilt Mastercard®

Intro offer is not available for this Wells Fargo credit card.

3x points on dining 2x points on travel 1x points on other purchases Earn up to 1x points on rent payments without the transaction fee, up to 100,000 points each calendar year. When you make at least 5 posted transactions in a statement period using your Bilt Mastercard, you'll earn points on rent and qualifying net purchases.

1X Points - 3X Points

  • 3X Points 3x points on dining
  • 2X Points 2x points on travel
  • 1X Points 1x points on other purchases
  • 1X Points Earn up to 1x points on rent payments without the transaction fee, up to 100,000 points each calendar year. When you make at least 5 posted transactions in a statement period using your Bilt Mastercard, you'll earn points on rent and qualifying net purchases.

What we love: Not only is this card is a terrific choice for renters since it earns rewards and waives transaction fees when using it to pay rent, it’s also great for rewards strategists considering the extremely robust travel rewards program. You can earn rewards on travel and dining and your points carry a high value whether you redeem through the Bilt travel portal or one of the many airline and hotel transfer partners. Alternatives: If you like the Bilt card’s travel rewards program but don’t see yourself renting long term, consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. It earns generously on both travel and dining and also boasts high-value points and transfer partners. If the way you pay rent doesn’t incur credit card payment fees, a flat-rate card may also be worth weighing. 

  • It’s the only card that helps you avoid the fees typically associated with paying rent with a credit card.
  • Offers a solid collection of travel perks for a no-annual-fee card, including trip cancellation and interruption protection, trip delay reimbursement and other high-level travel protections.
  • You can only use rewards to cover rent, toward a future home down payment or for travel and shopping. Cash back isn’t an option.
  • There is no sign-up bonus. Most competing travel cards — even those with no annual fee — offer at least a $200 bonus.
  • $0 Annual Fee.
  • Earn up to 1x points on rent payments without the transaction fee, up to 100,000 points each calendar year.
  • 2x points on travel.
  • 3x points on dining.
  • 1x points on other purchases.
  • Earn points when you make 5 transactions that post each statement period.
  • When renting at a Bilt Alliance property, you can choose to have your rent payments automatically reported by Bilt to the three major credit bureaus each month; Experian™, TransUnion™, and Equifax™.

Best for gas

Image of Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card

Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card

  • Earn 20,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months - that's a $200 cash redemption value.

Earn unlimited 3X points on restaurants, travel, gas stations, transit, popular streaming services and phone plans. Earn 1X points on other purchases

  • 3X Earn unlimited 3X points on restaurants, travel, gas stations, transit, popular streaming services and phone plans.

What we love: The Wells Fargo Autograph card is a great option for occasional travelers and households on the go looking to earn rewards while avoiding an annual fee and reduced redemption value for cash rewards. It’s one of a few entry-level travel cards to offer high, year-round bonus rewards for gas, dining, transit and other key travel needs. Learn more: Is the Wells Fargo Autograph worth it? Alternatives: If you’re looking for ways to maximize the value of your rewards, you should consider a travel card that lets you transfer your points to airlines or hotels, like the Bilt Mastercard® or Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.

  • While some issuers only reward travel purchases made directly with airlines or through issuer portals, this card lets you shop around for the best deal on third-party travel sites and still earn extra rewards.
  • Carries decent perks such as rental car collision damage waiver coverage, roadside assistance and Visa Signature® Concierge benefits, like access to Visa’s Luxury Hotel Collection (terms apply).
  • Unlike with traditional travel cards, you cannot transfer your points to airlines or hotels
  • The travel perks and intro APR are weak compared to competing travel-oriented cards’ offers.
  • Select "Apply Now" to take advantage of this specific offer and learn more about product features, terms and conditions.
  • Earn unlimited 3X points on the things that really add up - like restaurants, travel, gas stations, transit, popular streaming services, and phone plans. Plus, earn 1X points on other purchases.
  • $0 annual fee.
  • 0% intro APR for 12 months from account opening on purchases. 20.24%, 25.24%, or 29.99% variable APR thereafter.
  • Up to $600 of cell phone protection against damage or theft. Subject to a $25 deductible.
  • Redeem your rewards points for travel, gift cards, or statement credits. Or shop at millions of online stores and redeem your rewards when you check out with PayPal.

Best for companion tickets

Image of Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

  • Earn 85,000 Bonus Miles after you spend $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels. Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide including takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets. Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.

  • 3X Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • 2X Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide including takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • 1X Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.

What we love: The annual companion certificate on Main Cabin domestic flights (taxes and fees apply) comes with this card after the first year is valuable enough to justify the annual fee even if you’re just looking for great Delta perks to make travel smoother with a partner. Plus, the companion certificate is easier to obtain than other airline cards’ since it carries no spending requirement that must be met beyond the card’s annual fee. Alternatives: The American Express® Green Card could be a great alternative since it charges a lower $150 annual fee, lets you earn and redeem rewards on travel with any eligible airline (not just Delta) and offers credits for Loungebuddy lounge access and Clear Plus. You can even transfer points to Delta at a 1:1 ratio.

  • Boasts several valuable travel perks, including priority boarding, a free first checked bag and specialized annual credits for select rideshare services and reservations with Delta Stays and Resy.
  • Gets you closer to Medallion Status and discounts on in-flight purchases, complimentary upgrades, and more.
  • Its rewards rate on non-travel purchases is lacking — a general-purpose travel card could potentially offer better rewards value and flexibility for rewards travel outside Delta.
  • No longer offers complimentary Delta Sky Club lounge access as of this year, although airport lounge access is a staple perk for premium travel cards.
  • Receive a Companion Certificate on Main Cabin domestic, Caribbean, or Central American roundtrip flights each year after renewal of your Card. The Companion Ticket requires payment of government-imposed taxes and fees of no more than $80 for roundtrip domestic flights and no more than $250 for roundtrip international flights (both for itineraries with up to four flight segments). Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Receive $2,500 Medallion® Qualification Dollars each Medallion Qualification Year and get closer to Status with MQD Headstart.
  • Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card Members get 15% off when using miles to book Award Travel on Delta flights through delta.com and the Fly Delta app. Discount not applicable to partner-operated flights or to taxes and fees.
  • Earn $1 Medallion® Qualification Dollar for each $20 of purchases made on your Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card in a calendar year and get a boost toward achieving Medallion Status for next Medallion Year.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide including takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Receive Zone 5 Priority Boarding on Delta flights; board early, stow your carry-on bag and settle in sooner.
  • Receive either a statement credit every 4 years after you apply for Global Entry ($100) or a statement credit every 4.5 years after you apply for a five-year membership for TSA PreCheck® (up to $85 through a TSA PreCheck official enrollment provider) and pay the application fee with your Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
  • Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card Members with an eligible ticket will be added to the Complimentary Upgrade list, after Delta SkyMiles Medallion Members and Reserve Card Members.
  • $350 Annual Fee.

Best starter airline card

Image of Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

  • Earn 85,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Earn 2X points on Southwest® purchases. Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare. Earn 2X points on internet, cable, and phone services; select streaming. Earn 2X points on Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partners. Earn 1X points on all other purchases.

  • 2X Earn 2X points on Southwest® purchases.
  • 2X Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare.
  • 2X Earn 2X points on internet, cable, and phone services; select streaming.
  • 2X Earn 2X points on Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partners.
  • 1X Earn 1X points on all other purchases.

What we love: This card’s anniversary bonus offers enough value to nearly offset the annual fee on its own, so it should be a terrific low-stakes option whether you’re new to airline cards or a regular Southwest flyer looking for a low-maintenance card. Plus, its sign-up bonus value is on par with the value you’ll get with much pricier airline and travel cards. Learn more: Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus benefits guide Alternatives: The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card could offer better value overall, despite its $149 annual fee. It carries an annual $75 Southwest travel credit and 7,500 bonus points each year on your account anniversary — more than enough value to justify the higher fee.

  • You’ll automatically earn 3,000 Rapid Rewards points each year after your account anniversary, which could offset much of the card’s already-low annual fee.
  • Delivers the same hefty sign-up bonus as higher-tier Southwest cards.
  • Unlike several travel cards, it doesn’t carry rewards categories for popular everyday purchases like gas or dining.
  • It may not be the best Southwest value for frequent flyers since it poses a 3 percent foreign transaction fee and doesn’t offer perks like upgraded boardings or elite status benefits.
  • 3,000 anniversary points each year.
  • Earn 2X points on Southwest® purchases.
  • Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare.
  • Earn 2X points on internet, cable, and phone services; select streaming.
  • 2 EarlyBird Check-In® each year.
  • Earn 1 point for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

Best for savers

Image of Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card

Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card

  • Receive 60,000 online bonus points - a $600 value - after you make at least $4,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.

Earn unlimited 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases. Earn unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

  • 2X Earn unlimited 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases.
  • 1.5X Earn unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

What we love: If you do your banking with Bank of America and qualify for Preferred Rewards status, this card could provide an exclusive 25 percent to 75 percent rewards rate boost. The  rewards rates — 2X points on dining and travel, with 1.5X points on all other purchases — could increase to an incredible 3.5X on travel and dining with an unrivaled flat 2.62X points rate. Learn more: Why expert Sara Coleman loves the Bank of America Premium Rewards Card Alternatives: The similarly-priced Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is one of the best alternatives thanks to its stellar travel protections, yearly bonus rewards and stronger rewards program. However, flat-rate cards like the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card or the Discover it® Miles card could be lucrative if you don’t think the $95 annual fee is worth it.

  • The $95 annual fee is relatively affordable for this card category thanks to the up to $100 in yearly airline incidental statement credits.
  • You can smooth out your travel experience with great benefits like credits toward TSA PreCheck or Global Entry and comprehensive travel insurance.
  • Attaining the highest rewards rate is not an easy feat, since you’ll need to hold significant funds in Bank of America accounts.
  • This card does not offer a few popular premium travel perks like lounge access.
  • Low $95 annual fee.
  • Earn unlimited 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases and unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases. No limit to the points you can earn and your points don't expire as long as your account remains open.
  • If you're a Bank of America Preferred Rewards® member, you can earn 25%-75% more points on every purchase. That means you could earn 2.5-3.5 points on travel and dining purchases and 1.87 - 2.62 points on all other purchases, for every $1 you spend.
  • Redeem for cash back as a statement credit, deposit into eligible Bank of America® accounts, credit to eligible Merrill® accounts, or gift cards or purchases at the Bank of America Travel Center.
  • Get up to $100 in Airline Incidental Statement Credits annually and TSA PreCheck®/Global Entry Statement Credits of up to $100, every four years.
  • Travel Insurance protections to assist with trip delays, cancellations and interruptions, baggage delays and lost luggage.
  • No foreign transaction fees.

Best for first-year value

Image of Discover it® Miles

Discover it® Miles

  • Unlimited Bonus: Unlimited Mile-for-Mile match for all new cardmembers—only from Discover. Discover gives you an unlimited match of all the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year. You could turn 35,000 Miles to 70,000 Miles. There’s no signing up, no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a Miles-for-Miles match.

Automatically earn unlimited 1.5x Miles on every dollar of every purchase.

  • 1.5X Automatically earn unlimited 1.5x Miles on every dollar of every purchase.

What we love: In addition to the exceptionally valuable Discover Match® , this card combines solid flat-rate rewards with consumer-friendly terms, like minimal fees and an equal value for both travel and cash back redemptions. Travelers who value simplicity will appreciate this card’s straightforward rewards and adaptability — even when you aren’t traveling. Learn more: Why expert Holly Johnson loves the Discover it® Miles Alternatives: The Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card carries a more straightforward and still easy-to-reach welcome bonus. The VentureOne card also gives you the option of transferring miles to more than a dozen airline and hotel partners, which could increase the redemption value of your rewards.

  • All miles earned in your first year will be matched at the end of the year, which could make it one of the most valuable first-year offers for no annual fee.
  • Miles don’t lose value when they’re redeemed for cash back, which gives it a leg up over many travel rewards programs for occasional travelers.
  • You’ll miss out on pretty standard travel perks like travel insurance, and car rental damage protection.
  • The rewards structure lacks flexibility; you won’t be able to transfer your miles or use them to book travel.
  • Automatically earn unlimited 1.5x Miles on every dollar of every purchase
  • No annual fee
  • Turn Miles into cash. Or redeem as a statement credit for your travel purchases like airfare, hotels, rideshares, gas stations, restaurants and more.
  • 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases. Then 18.24% - 28.24% Standard Variable Purchase APR will apply.
  • Discover could help you reduce exposure of your personal information online by helping you remove it from select people-search sites that could sell your data. It’s free, activate with the mobile app.
  • Discover is accepted nationwide by 99% of the places that take credit cards.
  • Terms and conditions apply.

Best for fair credit

Image of Credit One Bank Wander® Card

Credit One Bank Wander® Card

Intro offer is not available for this Credit One Bank credit card.

Earn 10x points on eligible hotels and car rentals booked through the Credit One Bank travel partner site Earn 5x points on eligible travel, dining, and gas Earn 1x points on all other purchases

  • 10X Earn 10x points on eligible hotels and car rentals booked through the Credit One Bank travel partner site
  • 5X Earn 5x points on eligible travel, dining, and gas
  • 1X Earn 1x points on all other purchases

What we love: The Credit One Bank Wander® Card is a solid option if you want to earn points on travel but have trouble qualifying for mainstream travel cards. Not only is this card accessible with only fair credit, but its rewards program boasts generously high rewards rates in key travel categories. Learn more: Best travel cards for people with bad or fair credit Alternatives: If you don’t mind putting down a refundable security deposit, consider a no-annual-fee secured card like the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card *. It’s a unique secured card that lets you build credit while earning rewards in a category of your choice (with travel just one of many popular options) as well as grocery stores and wholesale clubs.

  • It’s one of the only travel rewards cards available with a fair credit score, making it a decent option if you want to earn travel rewards as you work on your score.
  • Provides 5X points in travel, dining and gas, plus 10X points on eligible hotel and rental car bookings through Credit One Bank — rare and impressive rates with only fair credit.
  • Its annual fee is high compared to other cards you can get with a fair credit score , so it may not be the best fit if you prioritize building credit over earning rewards.
  • Other travel cards may offer better perks, fewer redemption restrictions and more value, so it may be worth working on your score with a lower-cost card before committing to the costly annual fee.
  • Earn 10x points on eligible hotels and car rentals booked through the Credit One Bank travel partner site
  • Earn 5x points on eligible travel, dining, and gas
  • Earn 1x points on all other purchases
  • Redeem your reward points for statement credits, gift cards, merchandise, flights, hotels, and more
  • With $0 Fraud Liability, you won’t be responsible for unauthorized charges
  • Free Online Credit Score and Credit Report summary, terms apply
  • If you are a Covered Borrower under the Military Lending Act, you may get a different offer
  • See Rates & Fees

Eligibility and benefit level varies by card. Terms, conditions and limitations apply. Please visit  AmericanExpress.com/benefitsguide  for more details. Underwritten by Amex assurance company.

The information about the American Express® Green Card and Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Secured card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuers.

Compare Bankrate's best travel credit cards of 2024

What are travel credit cards.

Travel credit cards allow cardholders to earn points or miles on a variety of purchases (typically travel-related), which are redeemable for travel bookings, statement credits, gift cards and more.

The best travel credit cards do more than help you foot the bill for your next flight — travel cards also offer perks to upgrade your entire travel experience. Trip insurance , annual travel credits, concierge services and lounge access are all common benefits. Airline and hotel co-branded credit cards sometimes offer specific discounts and perks for loyalty program members.

Pros and cons of travel credit cards

Although a well-chosen travel card can pay huge dividends, it might not be the right move for every traveler. Before you apply, take time to weigh the benefits versus the drawbacks of travel credit cards .

Tips on choosing the best travel credit card for you

The right travel credit card for you will carry features and benefits that give you the best value. To help you narrow down your choices, here are the steps to choosing the best travel card.

How to choose a travel credit card

1. know how you prefer to travel.

Knowing whether your travel expenses lean toward airfare, hotel stays or a mix of other travel will help you decide whether you should get an airline card, hotel card or general-purpose travel card. A co-branded airline or hotel credit card may be a good fit if you mostly travel with a certain brand and want exclusive privileges to enhance your experience. A general-purpose travel card is better if you prefer to keep your travel options open.

2. Prioritize redemption value

You may have to pick between simplicity and maximum value when comparing cards and rewards programs. Many travel cards offer a standard point or mile redemption value of 1 cent when you redeem toward travel through the issuer portal, but some cards can get you a higher redemption value when you transfer rewards to airline or hotel partners. However, it's common for many travel reward programs to reduce the redemption value toward non-travel options or limit these redemption options altogether. If you prefer simplicity over maximizing rewards, you may want to consider cards that allow you to redeem points or miles at an equal 1-cent value toward general travel purchase credits, cash back or other non-travel options.

3. Match your card to your spending habits

Take a look at your typical spending and find which travel categories and non-travel categories you spend the most in to help you choose a card that offers a high rewards rate for your regular spending. Just make sure you factor in rewards spending caps.

4. Note what's worth the extra money

High rewards rates and valuable travel perks are the biggest reasons to get a travel card, but many of the best cards carry a high annual fee. You could stick with a no-annual-fee travel card (or at least one with around a $99 fee) if you're mainly focused on earning rewards, but you may have to pay up to $500 or more for luxurious perks like airport lounge access, comprehensive travel insurance and hundreds of dollars in annual travel credits .

5. Look toward your next trip abroad

If you travel overseas, check to see if the card you're considering charges a foreign transaction fee. And since some credit cards aren't as widely accepted as others, you'll also want to make sure your credit card will work when traveling overseas . For example, merchants may not accept Discover and American Express cards as widely as Visa and Mastercard. If a trip is coming up in the next three to six months, keep an eye out for the big sign-up bonuses travel cards are known for. As a rule of thumb, the higher the annual fee, the higher the sign-up bonus should be.

Co-branded travel cards vs. general travel cards

Experts typically divide travel credit cards into two categories: co-branded travel cards and general travel cards. Co-branded cards are linked to a particular airline or hotel, while general travel cards offer more flexible reward opportunities. Here’s why and when you might want one or the other.

  • Co-branded cards
  • General travel cards

Co-branded travel cards tend to offer higher rewards rates on eligible travel purchases in exchange for limiting your reward redemption options to just one airline or hotel program . These cards may also feature more specific perks associated with the respective hotel or airline, such as free award nights, complimentary airline elite status or priority boarding — which general-purpose travel cards don’t often carry).

However, you won’t be able to use your rewards with a wide variety of different hotels and airlines like general-purpose cards allow. Plus, despite co-branded travel cards’ typically higher rewards rates, many brand-specific rewards tend to be worth less than the potential value of general-purpose cards’ points and miles.

When to get a co-branded travel card : When you often fly or stay with a specific airline or hotel and want to maximize your benefits with that brand.

General travel cards earn rewards on various travel categories and aren’t limited to a particular airline or hotel. Such cards may lack some of the dedicated perks you’ll find on a co-branded travel card, such as in-flight discounts, but make up for it with rewards flexibility and broader perks like general travel credits, expedited security screening and wider airport lounge access. 

The top travel cards even let you transfer your points or miles to airline and hotel loyalty programs, often at a 1:1 rate. Redeeming with some airlines and hotels can even make your rewards more valuable than they would be if you redeemed with the card issuer.

When to get a general travel card : When you have no preferred airline or hotel and want the additional flexibility a general travel card offers. 

Who should get a travel credit card?

A travel credit card is almost always worth it for frequent travelers or anyone who wants to earn rewards toward their next vacation.

If you can save up airline miles, rack up points for free nights at hotels or get discounted travel through your credit card issuer, you’re on your way to significant travel savings. However, the right travel card for you will depend on your travel habits.

Frequent travelers

Naturally, the ideal candidate for a travel card is someone who travels a lot or plans to book several flights and hotel stays per year. However, in some cases, you don’t have to be a frequent traveler to reap the benefits of a travel rewards card. A number of cards offer good rewards rates on general purchases.

Travel beginners

If you’re new to travel rewards, a good place to start is with a travel card that makes it easy to earn and redeem points, without requiring you to navigate a complex rewards program or worry about tiered rewards rates or varying point redemption values. 

Brand loyalists

If you tend to book travel with the same brands frequently or already belong to an airline or hotel loyalty program, a co-branded travel card can offer terrific value.  Airline- and hotel-specific rewards cards often earn a top rate on bookings with the brand as well as exclusive perks like lounge access and automatic elite status. 

Business travelers

Some of the most valuable travel credit cards are business cards . Whether you're a freelancer on the go or the CEO of a Fortune 500, the right travel credit card can help you earn high rewards rates on everyday business purchases. 

International travelers

If you frequently travel abroad, a card with no foreign transaction fees is a great way to help you avoid extra costs on overseas purchases. Plus, if you hate waiting in line at airport security or customs, a lot of travel cards offer statement credits to reimburse you for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fees.

Luxury travelers

Luxury travel cards often charge a pretty penny but also offer a ton of value via perks like lounge access and annual travel credits. These perks not only make travel more comfortable, but also often carry enough value to offset the card’s cost on their own.

Still unsure if a travel credit card is right for you? Check out our Credit Card Spender Type Tool where you can get personalized credit card recommendations based on your credit score, spending habits and daily needs.

Here’s how a Bankrate editor chose his travel card

Here’s how a bankrate editor chose his travel card.

With all of this advice in mind, let’s see how a credit card expert made their pick. Here’s Bankrate editor Nouri Zarrugh on how he chose his travel card:

When it comes to earning rewards, I’ve always stuck with cash back cards, preferring the simplicity of knowing exactly how much my rewards are worth and the ease of redeeming for statement credits. Recently, though, I decided I wanted to travel a bit more frequently, and I figured a new travel rewards card could be a great tool to help me earn free trips. When choosing the right card for me, a few major points of consideration stood out: Cost: I didn’t feel like I traveled enough to justify a huge annual fee. Simplicity : I wanted to stick with a single, streamlined travel card and not worry about juggling multiple rewards programs or rewards rates. Perks : While I didn’t need anything too fancy, I thought it might be nice to have a perk like TSA Precheck included, since I hate waiting in long airport security lines. To my surprise, the card that stood out most was the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card. Though it carried an intimidating annual fee of $395 ( See Rates & Fees ), I found this cost was more than worth it once I dug into the details. In fact, its benefits were so valuable, I barely needed to worry about offsetting the cost.  Two of its annual perks — a $300 Capital One travel credit and 10,000 bonus miles every year on my account anniversary — are valuable enough to offset the fee on their own. This means as long as I take one flight a year, I can basically break even on the card. Any rewards or perks I get beyond that feel like pure upside. It’s a huge bonus, then, that the card also includes practical benefits like Priority Pass lounge access and a credit of up to $100 toward the cost of Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. While I’ve never frequented airport lounges, I see these privileges as essentially free considering the value of the annual travel credit and bonus miles. So, I figure, why not take advantage?  For me, the Venture X strikes the perfect balance: A flat rewards rate that makes it easy to earn miles on everything I buy; flexible redemption through Capital One or via transfer to airlines and hotels, and practical perks I know I’ll use when I travel. I never imagined I’d have a $395 travel card in my wallet, but for me, it’s at worst a coupon for a flight every year, which can nudge me to take that next trip. — Nouri Zarrugh, Editor, Bankrate

Travel benefits may differ from card to card, but some of the most popular travel cards available often feature a few key perks. 

Travel insurance

Travel cards may offer various travel insurances , such as trip delay protection, trip cancellation insurance, lost baggage insurance or car rental insurance. These benefits aren’t worth anything until you need them, but you’ll be glad you have them when your flight is canceled or your luggage gets lost.

Travel credits

Credits toward TSA PreCheck or Global Entry are a popular and common benefit on many travel cards. You can typically use this credit once every four years, which roughly corresponds to how long a TSA PreCheck or Global Entry membership lasts. Some cards may also provide an annual credit toward Clear Plus — another expedited security membership. Higher-end travel cards often offer annual statement credits toward travel purchases, and many of these credits nearly offset these cards’ annual fees. 

In-flight perks

Co-branded airline cards typically offer some airport and in-flight benefits on top of their reward-earning capabilities. These can include discounts on in-flight purchases (usually 25 percent back on refreshments and WiFi), free checked bags, flight seating upgrades or priority boarding. 

Free hotel award nights

Co-branded hotel cards may include free hotel award nights annually as part of their benefits. Some cards also add an extra complimentary awards night to your stay if you’ve booked a certain number of consecutive nights. These nights are typically capped at a certain value (sometimes based on the card or your elite status), and may be valuable enough to make up for some cards’ annual fees.

Airport lounge access

One of the most popular (and valuable) travel benefits featured on high-end and luxury travel cards is complimentary access to airport lounges. The lounges you gain access to depend on the card, though co-branded cards will often grant access to the lounge corresponding to the card’s airline. The Amex Platinum card currently offers the best airport lounge access .

If you want to add a credit card to your portfolio for your travel needs, knowing what cards are popular and why people like them can help steer your decision. We regularly stay abreast of these conversations online and noticed two travel cards come up regularly: the Chase Sapphire Reserve and The Platinum Card from American Express .

These cards shine because they offer some of the best rates on travel purchases and the most comprehensive set of benefits and perks . Despite their annual fees, what you get in return can far outweigh your costs. And the conversation around these two cards isn’t new: Is the effort of maximizing their perks worth it?

What people say about travel credit cards perks

The Sapphire Reserve is often referred to as the gold standard in travel benefits and protections, and the value of its trip insurance is a big part of that. A member of the Rick Steves Forum remarks on the value of the insurance: “It has pretty extensive coverage wherever I travel … my entire trip is covered as long as I charged any portion of the trip to my card.” This feature is unique to the Sapphire Reserve and sets it apart from other premium cards, which require you to charge your entire trip purchase to the card to have active coverage.

But using trip insurance isn’t always a simple process. As a user in the r/CreditCards forum on Reddit cautions: “Credit card travel insurance in general is very specific on what it covers, and people tend to overestimate just how useful the coverage actually is,” they write. “These are named peril policies, so unless you see your exact situation as a covered hazard the policies won't pay out.”

The Platinum Card from American Express gets a lot of buzz for reasons similar to the Sapphire Reserve. The card gives so many benefits, credits and additional perks that it’s often called a coupon book for luxury travel. But for many people, the value comes down to whether they’re willing to do the work to maximize its features. Another r/CreditCards member says they use the card’s Hilton and Marriott status boosters, rental car company loyalty program automatic status features, Centurion lounge access, hotel and airline incidental credits, membership credits and more. Using all these features helps them offset the annual fee.

While some people love maximizing the card’s features to extract  as much value as possible, others, like this Redditor, think it’s too much work:

“The only benefit the Platinum card really adds is Centurion but only to the [cardholder] … I believe the Platinum is worth [it] at least the first year for the [sign-up] bonus but then it doesn't get much use after that. Trust me the credits are really annoying to use.” — r/CreditCards user

These two premium cards stand out from the rest because they offer the most comprehensive features available to suit your travel needs and protect you from any issues that arise. The Chase Sapphire Reserve is an exceptional option to protect you from travel issues, but make sure you know the fine print. While the Amex Platinum may not be as ideal for travel protections, the credits offered more than offset its annual fee if you can put in the effort to fully maximize them.

Whether you’re a beginner or seasoned cardholder, your travel card should always work in your favor by offering the features and benefits you’ll actually use and that make your travels more enjoyable. But whether you’re willing to put in the effort to maximize a card’s value is something you’ll need to decide for yourself.

*The quotes and citations included on this page have been verified by our editorial team and are accurate as of the posting date. Be sure to check the issuer's website/terms and conditions for all up to date content. Outlinked content may contain views and opinions that do not reflect the views and opinions of Bankrate.

Credit card points and miles are two of the key types of credit card rewards , along with cash back. You’ll earn points and miles by making purchases with your credit card, but you can typically redeem these rewards for travel, gift cards and more — not just statement credits.

Points and miles tend to be more flexible than cash back, but since their value depends on how you redeem them — and, in the case of travel redemptions, where you’re going, when you book, your fare class and more — it may take a bit more effort to make the most of them.

What are your points and miles worth?

Since many airlines and hotels use dynamic pricing models that continually optimize airfare and room prices, it can be hard to know exactly how much your rewards are worth without doing a little math.

Luckily, you don’t need to be a travel hacker to get a sense of this idea. Before you redeem, you can check your reward redemption value by dividing the cost of a plane or hotel booking in cash by its cost in points or miles. This calculation will result in the cash value of your points or miles.

You can also compare this value to Bankrate’s latest points and miles valuations to determine if you’re getting a good deal on your redemptions. Bankrate collected data on hundreds of bookings across dozens of airline, hotel and credit card rewards programs and estimated how much each program’s rewards are worth on average .

  • Airline rewards values
  • Hotel rewards values
  • Credit card program rewards values

The table below shows Bankrate’s estimated reward redemption value for a variety of popular airline loyalty programs. You’ll notice how widely the value varies between airlines, with some offering close to 3 cents per point in average redemption value and others struggling to meet a 1-cent-per-point value.

Keep in mind, however, that these values are averages based on a variety of fare classes, destinations, booking periods and more. For example, while Bankrate estimates Delta SkyMiles carry an average redemption value of around 1.2 cents per mile, they could be worth more or less depending on the details of your booking. 

*Based on weighted average of median point/mile values across economy and first/business class fares.

Like airline miles, hotel points fluctuate in value. The table below shows Bankrate’s estimated point values for some of the most popular hotel brands. 

As you can see, hotel points tend to be worth less than airline and credit card rewards on average, often carrying less than 1 cent per point in redemption value. That said, hotel loyalty programs sometimes offer more favorable exchange rates when you transfer rewards from a credit card rewards program. For example, you may be able to turn 1,000 credit card points into 2,000 hotel points (a 2:1 transfer ratio). 

*Based on median point values across budget, mid-tier and luxury hotel bookings.

Unlike hotel and airline rewards programs, credit card reward programs typically earn points or miles that offer a consistent redemption value when you use them with the issuer. Though the redemption value of your rewards may vary based on how you redeem, each redemption method should offer a consistent baseline value. 

Some credit card rewards programs may also allow you to transfer your points or miles to airline and hotel loyalty programs, which could boost their value considerably. For each major credit card rewards program, we estimate a baseline redemption value (assuming you book for travel with the issuer) and a Bankrate’s Value, which averages the program’s best-value transfer partners.

*Based on an average of the issuer’s five highest-value transfer partners (if available).

When to use rewards vs. cash

To demonstrate when it’s best to use your reward miles versus paying in cash, we set up this example:

We estimate American Airlines AAdvantage miles are worth 1.0 cents. If you book a seat in the main cabin on a one-way flight from Boston to Miami, and it costs either $139 or 21,500 miles, your miles are only worth $0.006 ($139 / 21,500 miles = $0.006). Since your miles for this flight are worth less than 1.0 cents, you may want to save your miles and pay cash for this flight.

But if you book a first-class seat on the same flight for $433 or 31,500 miles, your miles are now worth $0.013 ($433 / 31,500 = $0.013). Since 1.3 cents is higher than our latest valuation, you’re coming out ahead if you use your miles to pay for this flight.

Bankrate experts share their advice on using travel credit cards

It’s important to know how to maximize your rewards and perks. Otherwise, a travel card could end up being a money pit. Here are a few pointers from our experts for making the most of your travel card: 

Combine cards to maximize rewards

Knowing how much you spend in different categories and which merchants are eligible for rewards will help you earn more and build an optimized stack of rewards cards. A flat-rate card is often a great starting point to earn the same rate on every purchase you make. As you build out a rewards strategy, you can incorporate a card with bonus categories to earn even more in your highest spending areas.

Expert Insight:

“For a long time, I’ve used a combination of Chase credit cards known as the Chase trifecta for all my family’s spending…. [I] don’t typically use my Sapphire Reserve for everyday spending and bills. Since it only offers 1X points on non-bonus category spending, I use my Freedom Unlimited to make sure I earn a minimum of 1.5 percent cash back on everything I buy.” “I use each card strategically to earn as much in rewards as possible, then I pool them in my Sapphire Reserve account to redeem them for airfare, excursions, hotels and more.” — Holly D. Johnson — Award-winning personal finance writer and Bankrate contributor: Why I love the Chase Sapphire Reserve

Maximize your rewards value with transfer partners and issuer travel

Save your rewards for the most valuable redemption options. Travel points and miles often lose value toward non-travel options like cash back, so you’ll want to redeem your rewards for travel through the issuer portal for at least 1 cent per point or mile. However, transferring your rewards to the right airline or hotel partner program is usually worth the extra effort since it could net you even more value.

Expert Insight

“When I redeem my points through the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, the most I can get is 1.25 cents apiece, which is pretty good. However, if I transfer them to a partner airline’s loyalty program, I will often get much more. For example, I can transfer my points to United Airlines MileagePlus and use them to pay for flights. When I do, I generally get a value of 2 or more cents per point — in line with Bankrate estimates that Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth around 2 cents apiece on average when used with the right transfer partner.” — Margaret Wack — Personal finance expert and Bankrate contributor: Why I love the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

Make the most of your travel perks

Travel benefits are one of the main reasons to get a travel card, and are often key to making up a card’s annual fee. Be sure to read the fine print to make sure you can take full advantage of these offers . For example, one card’s travel credit may apply to any travel purchase, including airfare, while another card’s may only cover costs like baggage fees or in-flight purchases. 

“This is the year to take inventory of your credit cards and make sure they’re serving you well. If you’re paying an annual fee, look for a card with recurring benefits. Whether it’s annual award nights, waived luggage fees or elite status benefits, these perks can offset your annual fee and make your travels more pleasant … Despite putting minimal spending on my Hilton Honors Amex Aspire card, I keep renewing it every year. That’s because the card provides automatic Hilton Diamond elite status, which can easily offset the $550 annual fee. Recurring card benefits like [these] can save you a lot on travel and are worth considering when shopping for a new credit card.” — Ariana Arghandewal — Travel rewards expert and Bankrate contributor: Five benefits you need from a travel credit card

Plan for the sign-up bonus

The best travel cards come with generous welcome offers, but these bonuses may require a high spend in a short timeframe. That’s why it’s important to consider whether the spending requirement fits with your typical spending habits or whether you need to plan purchases to meet the requirement. Just be sure not to overextend yourself or take on debt you can’t pay back just to earn a bonus — interest and fees can easily eat through any value you’d get.

“Keep in mind that credit card sign-up offers change often. So if you’re interested in a particular card but not blown away by its current offer (there are some for 100,000 points or more that aren’t always worth the trouble), it could be worth your while to wait for a better one.” — Ariana Arghandewal — Travel rewards expert and Bankrate contributor: 6 ways to get bigger credit card bonuses

Look out for limited-time offers, partner perks and other benefits

Keeping an eye out for limited-time offers like extraordinarily high sign-up bonuses, perks with partner services (like rideshares or delivery services) and other reward-earning opportunities is a great way to squeeze the most value from your travel card. Issuers sometimes provide shopping and travel portals and card-linked reward programs for select purchases (like for pre-paid dining or participating merchant spending), which can help you bank extra rewards.

“Keep an eye on your email inbox and rewards portal for any limited-time promotions your issuer may be offering. Many American Express cards feature Amex Offers, which lets you access perks like statement credits for spending a certain amount on specific hotels and other retailers.  Other cards, like the Capital One Venture X, also have occasional promotional offers, such as a credit for 5 percent back on VRBO rentals.” — Lori Zaino — Travel expert and Bankrate contributor: How to maximize credit cards for cheaper accommodations this holiday season

Track your spending and rewards each account statement

Track your favorite stores’ and services’ merchant category codes (MCCs) to fine-tune your spending habits for maximum rewards. If you notice your expenses changing, this practice may also help you notice whether you need to change which rewards cards you carry.

“The first step to optimizing your spending is to take the time to collect the MCCs of stores you frequently shop at. During the process, you might find that some stores in the same chain may have different MCCs, depending on their primary inventory. Even different counters or sections in the same department store may carry different MCCs. You can use this to your advantage if you know one location near you will provide a better cash back rate than the other. These “loopholes” can provide great opportunities to reap cash back on purchases that typically wouldn’t earn rewards.” — Garrett Yarbrough — Writer and credit cards expert at Bankrate: Merchant category codes: How to earn more cash back

Our data: What credit score do you need for the best travel cards?

It’s no secret that your credit score heavily influences which cards you’re likely to get approval for. But how good does your credit need to be to get the best credit cards for travel? We analyzed our data of Bankrate readers who applied for credit cards on our pages in 2023 and compared the approval rates of readers’ different credit tiers.

We found that, on average, 61.9 percent of users with excellent credit were approved for travel cards on our site. Then, an average of 39.5 percent and 19.5 percent of users with good and fair credit, respectively, got approval for travel credit cards they applied to.

If you have fair or bad credit, you still have options for travel credit cards. For example, the Credit One Bank Wander Card caters to people with fair credit — 57 percent of people with fair credit who applied on our site in 2023 were approved for this card , according to our data.

Obviously, the better your credit, the more likely you are to get the card you apply for , but other factors can affect your application. Issuers may also consider your income, recent credit applications, homeownership status and monthly rental or mortgage payment. Keep these other factors in mind with your credit score when you apply for credit cards.

Have more questions for our credit cards editors? Feel free to send us an email , find us on Facebook , or Tweet us @Bankrate .

When evaluating the best travel cards, we consider a mix of factors, including how cards score in our proprietary card rating system and whether cards offer features that fit the priorities of a diverse group of cardholders, from earning rewards in popular categories to scoring a large sign-up bonus or high-value perks. Whenever possible, we also feature cards that are available at various credit levels and price points. 

We analyzed over 150 of the most popular cards and scored each based on its rewards rate, estimated annual earnings, welcome bonus value, APR, fees, perks and more to determine whether it belonged in this month’s roundup of the best travel cards.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the key factors in our rewards card scoring methodology — our primary scoring category for travel cards — and details we considered when putting together our list of the best travel cards.  

  • Flexibility 15%
  • Customer experience 5%

Great rewards value

The primary criteria for a rewards-earning card’s rating is its rewards value. This includes the card’s average rewards rate, estimated annual rewards earnings, sign-up bonus value and reward redemption value.

To estimate a card’s average annual rewards earnings, we first calculate its average rewards rate based on how much it earns in different bonus categories and how closely its categories align with the average person’s spending habits. In other words, we assess whether the card earns rewards at a high rate in the most popular spending categories. 

We use consumer spending data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to get a reliable third-party measure of people’s spending habits. The most recent BLS data estimates average total spending in 2022 was $72,967 per consumer. We then narrow our focus to which purchases are likely to be put on a credit card and earn rewards, subtracting expenditures like housing, vehicle purchases and education. This gives us a total “chargeable” annual spend of around $25,500.  

This includes the following spending by category:

  • Groceries: $5,700
  • Dining out: $3,600
  • Entertainment: $2,400
  • Gas: $3,100
  • Apparel and services: $1,900

Using this data, we assign a weighting to each of a card’s bonus categories. For example, a card’s grocery rewards rate receives a 22 percent weighting based on how much of the average person’s budget is spent on groceries.

We also estimate the redemption value of points or miles from various issuer, airline and hotel rewards programs.

This weighting and rewards valuation allows us to estimate a card’s average annual rewards earnings — how many points or miles you’d earn with a given card if your spending was about average and you used the card for all of your purchases — as well as what those points are worth. We also use point valuations to determine a card’s sign-up bonus value

With these calculations complete, we assign each card a score based on how its average rewards earnings, sign-up bonus value, rewards rate and redemption value stack up against other rewards cards.

The better these values, the higher its score will be, making it more worthy of inclusion in our list and increasing its potential ranking.

Reasonable rates and fees

We also score cards based on how much it costs to keep them in your wallet or carry a balance. 

To start, each card is scored based on whether it offers an intro APR and how its ongoing APR compares to the rates available on other rewards cards. However, the latter rating only has a slight influence on the card’s score and whether the card is included in our list, since rewards card users generally try to avoid carrying a balance.

More important to both a card’s score and its inclusion in our list is how its annual fee influences its overall value. We consider a card’s annual fee in two ways — how it ranks relative to the fees you’ll find on other cards in the category and how it impacts a card’s overall rewards value. 

Cards with an annual fee will always be at a slight disadvantage in our scoring system since annual fees inherently cut into your rewards value. However, if a card offers terrific value via its ongoing rewards and perks, it can earn a high score and a spot in our list even if it carries a high annual fee. After all, the highest rewards rates and most valuable perks are often found on cards with annual fees. 

With this in mind, we rate a card based primarily on how its ongoing rewards value and ongoing perk value (such as annual credits or bonuses) stack up against those of other cards in the category when you subtract annual fees.

That said, we strive to include as many no-annual-fee options in our list as possible since many people would rather not worry about offsetting fees, even if a card carries impressive rewards and perks.

Redemption flexibility

Rewards cards may make it easy to earn a lot of points, miles or cash back, but how easy is it to use those rewards? After all, if it takes a ton of effort to redeem rewards or you can only redeem rewards in a couple of ways, a card may be more trouble than it’s worth. 

As such, we rate each card’s flexibility based on the restrictions it imposes on earning and redeeming rewards. We factor this rating into a card’s overall score and consider it when deciding on a card’s inclusion in our list. 

Flexibility factors include whether a card only allows you to earn a high rewards rate on only a small amount of spending or requires you to meet a certain earning threshold before you can redeem rewards. We also examine whether your points are worth less when you opt for some redemption options over others and whether a card gives you the flexibility to transfer rewards to travel partners.

Valuable perks

We also score each card’s set of features – its perks and benefits — against five tiers of features to provide a rating. 

We break down these tiers as follows:

  • Tier 1 includes fewer features than even standard credit cards (for example, an ultra-streamlined card that offers basic utility and next to nothing in the way of ancillary benefits). 
  • Tier 2 includes the benefits you’d expect on standard Visa or Mastercard credit cards, such as free access to your credit score, car rental insurance and $0 liability for fraudulent charges. 
  • Tier 3 includes “prime card” or better-than-average card features like cellphone insurance, lost luggage insurance, concierge services and purchase protection. 
  • Tier 4 includes luxury features such as airport lounge access, elite status with an airline or hotel and credits for expedited security screening membership programs. 
  • Tier 5 includes the sort of exemplary benefits you’ll find on top-tier luxury cards, such as high-value travel credits, cardholder memberships and other unique and valuable perks.

In evaluating the best cards, we tend to favor cards that offer at least Tier 3 benefits, unless they include other unique features that could make up for less-impressive perks.

And since this list focuses on travel cards, we tend to favor cards that carry travel-centric features like travel insurance, airport lounge access and credits for expedited security screening, instead of more general perks like food delivery credits or shopping discounts.

More information on travel credit cards

Frequently asked questions about travel credit cards, are travel credit cards worth it.

Travel cards can be well worth it since they often have exclusive travel perks like credits for airfare, hotel stays, expedited airport security services and more, as well as complimentary airport lounge access and airline or hotel privileges. However, many of the best travel credit cards come with annual fees. It’s important to at least offset the cost of these cards by taking advantage of the various travel perks and features included on the card. 

What credit score do you need for a travel credit card?

It’s possible to get a travel credit card with bad or fair credit, but most travel rewards cards are geared toward people with good or excellent credit (a FICO score of at least 670, or a VantageScore of at least 661).

Do travel miles or points expire?

Even though many major credit cards earn rewards that don’t expire, you may lose your points and miles if your account closes or isn’t in good standing. However, some co-branded cards’ rewards may expire if you don’t earn or redeem rewards within a certain timeframe (typically 12 to 36 months after the rewards are earned).

Check out our guide to credit card rewards expiration for a thorough breakdown of several popular issuers’ policies.

Are points or miles better on a credit card?

Whether points or miles offer better value will depend on the specific rewards program and how you redeem rewards. One airline loyalty program may earn miles that offer less than 1 cent each in average redemption value while another program’s points may offer close to 3 cents each on average. Similarly, a hotel card’s points may be worth less than half of a credit card issuer’s rewards points. Some programs offer points with only average baseline redemption value but high value when transferred to a partner airline or hotel. 

Ask the experts: Is it a good idea to have multiple travel credit cards?

cheapest country to visit from vietnam

Thomas Nitzsche

cheapest country to visit from vietnam

Stephanie Zito

cheapest country to visit from vietnam

Erica Sandberg

cheapest country to visit from vietnam

Financial Educator, Debt and Credit

Whether you should have multiple travel credit cards depends on several factors, including your brand affinity, frequency of travel and ability to pay off your cards in full each month. As a credit counselor, I see many people carrying credit card debt at high interest rates while continuing to make charges to the account for the sake of earning rewards. They lose far more than they earn each month. Having more than one travel credit card could make sense for you if you’re able to maximize your earnings by strategizing spending across each card. Just take into account annual fees and actual interest paid.

Contributor, Personal Finance

If you’re up for managing multiple cards and their benefits, then there are definitely big reward payouts to be had. But if the thought of multiple cards is overwhelming, it’s also a good strategy to have one or two more flexible cards and focus on maximizing your earnings and redemptions until it becomes second nature.

cheapest country to visit from vietnam

Contributor, Credit Cards

Definitely! I currently have two travel credit cards. In addition to the Chase card that I use for my United Airlines purchases, I have the Capital One Venture card for all other airlines. I earn a solid amount of miles on everything I buy with it, so it's an easy go-to for non-travel related expenses.

Article sources

We use primary sources to support our work. Bankrate’s authors, reporters and editors are subject-matter experts who thoroughly fact-check editorial content to ensure the information you’re reading is accurate, timely and relevant.

Global entry: Trusted traveler enrollment program . U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Accessed on Feb. 21, 2024

Discover International acceptance . Discover. Accessed on Feb. 21, 2024.

* See the online application for details about terms and conditions for these offers. Every reasonable effort has been made to maintain accurate information. However all credit card information is presented without warranty. After you click on the offer you desire you will be directed to the credit card issuer's web site where you can review the terms and conditions for your selected offer.

Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, is accurate as of the publish date. All products or services are presented without warranty. Check the bank’s website for the most current information.

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    Renowned as one of the cheapest countries in Asia to visit, Vietnam stands out as a prime destination for budget-conscious travelers. Vietnam travel offers a rich tapestry of nature, culture, and cuisine at average Vietnam travel costs of around $64 per day.. The best places to visit in Vietnam offer distinctive traveling experiences. Hanoi boasts rich history and vibrant street scenes, while ...

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    Still, India is one of the cheapest Asian countries on this list. 11. Sri Lanka. Colombo. Often nicknamed "The Teardrop of India", the country island of Sri Lanka is located in the Indian Ocean. This is a very diverse destination with white sand beaches, a rich culture and beautiful Sri Lankan landmarks.

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    14 Of the cheapest countries to visit. 1. Cambodia. Southeast Asia is a notoriously cheap area to visit. It is also incredibly beautiful and filled with art, history, flavorful food, religious architecture, and mindblowing natural landscapes. Cambodia is probably the cheapest country to visit in Southeast Asia.

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    Bali, Indonesia, is one of the many affordable places to visit in Asia. Asia is the largest continent in the world, with 48 countries in total. It has an impressive mix of some of the most expensive places to travel to, like the United Arab Emirates and Singapore, and lots of the cheapest, such as Laos and Thailand.

  7. 4 Of The Cheapest Countries In Southeast Asia For ...

    The cheapest places in SE Asia are by far Indonesia and Vietnam, followed by Thailand and Myanmar. In comparison of all travel costs Thailand is still cheap, except in tourist ghettos like Phuket or Ko Samui. @Dee, you can't compare ferries in Thailand to landlocked countries like Laos, where they don't exist.

  8. Vietnam on a budget

    A sit-down dinner for two: US$15. A bottle of beer in a bar: US$1. A glass of bia hoi (local beer): from US$0.30. Average daily cost: US$40-70. One of the many great things about Vietnam is how much you spend is within your control - just choose wisely. Here's how to visit Vietnam on a budget.

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    Discover 10 cheapest countries to visit: Explore budget-friendly destinations, learn how to save cost, find affordable food & stay, and more. ... Vietnam is another great and cheap travel destination in Southeast Asia that offers a unique experience and an abundance of things to do without breaking the bank. Like most countries in Southeast ...

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    Vietnam. 1 USD = 24,275.00 VND. ... Nepal is one of the cheapest countries to visit for all travelers, but the U.S. dollar is particularly strong there right now. Most people immediately associate ...

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    Andrea from Happy Days Travel Blog. Cambodia is a country we return to again and again. It has so much to offer: the vibrancy and grandeur of the capital Phnom Pehn, the awesome history on display at Angkor Wat, the old-world charm of Battambang, the beautiful beaches of Sihanoukville, the stunning natural landscapes of the north, the chance to see Irrawaddy dolphins in the Mekong River, the ...

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    Editor's Note: Vietnam was also named as one of the top 10 best places in the world to retire. Find out more about retiring in Vietnam here. Oleksiy Mark / Shutterstock. 3. Estonia. While Baltic countries are generally affordable, Estonia is a perpetual entry on our budget travel lists.

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    Ban Gioc Waterfall, Vietnam Why Visit Vietnam? Located in Southeast Asia, Vietnam is a vibrant country with plenty of history, culture, and stunning landscapes to explore. Moreover, the weather in this beautiful, coastal country tends to stay above 70°F (21°C), making it a splendid destination year-round.

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    Laos. Laos is undoubtedly an awesome country to visit on a budget and is part of the backpacker's paradise of 4 countries all interlinked with each other that are great to visit, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos. Laos also has some great temples in the city of Luang Prabang, which is one of the most chilled-out cities in southeast Asia ...

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    Asia offers incredibly affordable destinations for budget travelers, where the cost of living and attractions are surprisingly cheap. Travelers can enjoy affordable vacations in countries like ...

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    Here I get a curry, naan, poppadom, rice, soda, and dessert for $6.60 / 150000 VND. We are staying in a dorm room at Little Leo's Homestay & Hostel, this includes free breakfast and free bike hire. The cost per night each is $6.82 / 155000 VND. Daily Cost In Vietnam: $33.57 / 763000 VND.

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    Laos . Laos is a laid-back Asian country worth visiting for its natural beauty and rich cultural heritage. This overlooked destination is one of the cheapest Asian countries to visit and is a ...

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    Most importantly, the cost of living in Vietnam is very affordable. It's one of the cheapest/best countries in the world to both visit or live in. Despite rising costs everywhere in the world, Vietnam has remained affordable for many years. Is Vietnam Cheap to Visit or Live? — Final Thoughts . Yes, it is cheap to visit or live in Vietnam.

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    Wrapped around the east coast of mainland Southeast Asia like a mythical Naga serpent, Vietnam naturally lends itself to overland travel. Its two biggest cities - Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) - are divided by 1100km of rice paddies, tropical jungles, historic townships, wartime relics, national parks and sandy beaches, and most people plot an itinerary that takes in both of these ...

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    Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. Bankrate score. 4.9. Bankrate review. Recommended credit score: 670 - 850. Apply now. on Capital One's secure site. See Rates & Fees. Intro offer.