Absolutely cannot wait to kick start the year with one of the top favorite activities of typical +65-ers – Vacationing!
With excitement levels stoked by a fellow traveler eager to re-visit Hanoi (on a budget), we pretty much booked the tickets & settled accommodation in less than a week. #YOLO indeed
During that week I read a very interesting article “Here’s Why Singaporeans Can’t Afford A Vacation Every 3 Months” and thought what better way to make this trip more interesting, by trying to keep within a budget while having fun (do note that fun is highly subjective depending on the type of traveler mindset one has). And while doing so, why not share some of the highlights of how we have been and will be doing in keeping costs down!
How to Get There?
JUST before you make your purchase, check out if Shopback (a cashback site for online transactions), has your airline has offerings on the site. If so, you can easily get cash rebates for your air ticket purchase even before you fly!
We were in a rush to book, hence our tickets were a little expensive, SGD 270 a pop for a return trip with Tiger Airlines but still pretty budget. On short trips, I recommend carry-on luggage so you don’t waste costs on check-in luggage. For those who love their luggage space, there is an alternative, full-fledged airline (30kg check-in luggage all included), Vietnam Airlines which cost about SGD 230 – an even more budget deal, if you are okay with the slightly inconvenient flight timings.
Where to stay?
Flights and accommodations are usually the most expensive portion of a trip, so if you get good deals for the above, you would usually be able to stick to a reasonable budget.
Working on a budget, we checked out only Hostels & Airbnb (which I personally prefer over hotels). The accommodations basically needed to fulfill a couple of key criteria to be considered:
- Clean – Does not need to be SG standards but definitely not sleeping on moldy sheets and rats infested areas
- Convenient – Any accommodation in the Old Quarter pretty much fulfills this
- Good reviews of service – I trust in my fellow travelers alot more than what any establishment can say about themselves
Here are some of the top few choices that were in my list of consideration :
Hostel Dorm Beds – SGD 22 a night (Free breakfast, WiFi, towel, locker, Air conditioner)
A Condominium in Hanoi -SGD 28 a night (Possibly cleanest and most modern option)
Hanoi Homestay – SGD 34 a night (With very hospitable live-in hosts)
Especen Hotel: Family Room + Balcony – SGD 31 a night (functions like a small cozy hotel with convenient location and comfortable beds)
We ended up with the last option (the reviews of the comfortable beds really sold me on it). Plus they provide cheap market rate prices for secure airport transfer at USD 16 to hotel, and USD 12 to airport! How awesome!
Budget till now: 270 (flight) + 50 per person (accommodation for 3 nights) + 15 per person (airport transfer) = SGD 335
What to do?
What else can we do with a remainder of SGD 165 per person for 4D3N? It may not sound like a lot, but do remember this is Vietnam where the standard of living is alot lower than our homeland.
Food & Beverage – With a variety of street food costing around the range of 10,000 Dong (SGD 0.70), cafe styled coffee at 40, 000 Dong (SGD 2.5o), and beer going for 17,000 Dong (SGD 1.30), we should be able to enjoy comfortably on a budget of SGD 60 per person for food.
Massage – No trip to countries like Vietnam/Thailand/Malaysia/Indonesia is complete without a proper massage. And what better way to get your relaxation and give back to the local community at the same time? Omamori Spa, is a chain of massage studios run by Blind-Link, a not-for-profit social enterprise that provides employment, support, and training opportunities for the Vietnamese visually impaired community. Half of your massage cost goes to a donation to the community. And how much exactly does it cost you for an hour of massage? 170,000 dong (SGD 11)
Attractions – Free (from the Cathedral, the famous Sword Lake, the day and night markets & the bridge and free walking tours)
Day Trip – Want to explore the nearby attractions around Hanoi? Day trips to popular destinations like Sapa, Halong Bay and Perfume Pagoda are usually around the range of USD45 (SGD 65)for a reasonable package.
Total Expected Expenditure: 335 (flight + accommodation) + 60 (food) + 11 (massage) + day trip (65) = SGD 471
Seems like with so many things to do and a reasonable standard of travelling, we’ll still be able to stay within the SGD 500 budget set for the trip! Absolutely cannot wait to take off! More details of the trip to be shared when I’m back in February! 🙂