Tom is keen on seeing as much of Vietnam for as little as possible. He’s already picked up some cheap flights but wants to know if he can tour the country in three weeks for $2000. In today’s Travel SOS, Rachel shares her picks for inexpensive, yet comprehensive, tours of Vietnam.
On a whim I have managed to secure some affordable flights to Vietnam in October. I have three weeks there and a budget of $2000. On this budget, is it possible to join a tour so I can see as much possible?
A. What a great example of living in the moment! While $2000 for three weeks in Vietnam is a tight budget, it is still possible to take a tour and see the length of the country. In general, participating in a tour is more expensive than organising your own stay in a single city. Tours also tend to be quite brisk in pace, moving from location to location quickly. What I would therefore suggest is looking into a tour of about two weeks in length. This will give you three or four days at the start and end of your trip to settle in, and to take some time discovering your landing and departure cities at your own pace.
It is worth noting that many tours travel from one end of the country to the other, between Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. You may need to factor in a day at the end of your trip to return to your starting point, in order to catch your return flight home. Flights between these two cities start at $42, so it shouldn’t break the bank.
You can also choose to travel with an Australian-based tour company, or use a local provider. Here are some options with tours in October that fit into your budget:
This is a global company with a focus on budget-friendly adventure travel. Because of this you may find the tour is made up of a younger demographic, but they have great sales, and their tours are some of the most affordable. They offer a number of tours in Vietnam, or tours that combine Vietnam and Cambodia, so it is worth taking a look at their website.
Tour name: Vietnam Discovery
Cost: from $1106
Overview: Travel from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi. Highlights include a homestay in the Mekong Delta and three overnight train trips, to make the most of the daylight hours. This also allows the tour to slow down and spend more time in some of Vietnam’s more beautiful cities and beaches. It includes all accommodation and land travel costs, tours in various cities, and some (but not all) meals.
Previously ‘Exotissimo Travel’, this company is based in Vietnam and has been in operation for many years. They have stellar ratings on websites such as TripAdvisor, and can offer knowledge of the country from a local perspective. It also means your travel dollars are going to locals, which I always count as a plus. Rather than having a standard catalogue of join-in tours, EXO Travel arranges private trips with private guides. Travelling this way is obviously cheaper if you can arrange a group, so to make this work I would recommend checking some of the travel forums to see if others are looking to put together a travel group at the same time of year as your trip. Based on their average prices, if you wanted to go it alone with EXO Travel, a one-week trip would be all that would fit into your budget. This would mean a more personal experience, and more time to explore at your own pace before and after the tour. You can make an enquiry at EXO Travel.
Also based in Vietnam, Tonkin Travel is a family owned and run tour company with great reviews from other Australian travellers. They are also quite flexible about accommodating specific needs, such as extra travel to or from the start point of the tour, visa requirements and so on. The generic quote I requested ran to just over $2000 per person for a 15-day tour of Vietnam, which was definitely cheaper than EXO Travel, however, to get the price down further, all elements of the tour are customisable, so it would be possible to ask them to build something more cost-effective specifically for your needs, within reason. Just be aware that they have a tendency to bombard you with all the information you could possibly want (and more), so be ready to sit down and read through detailed itineraries and costings after making an enquiry at Tonkin Travel.
All the best on your travels, Tom!
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