Things to do and buy under $10 in Vietnam
Immerse yourself in Vietnam’s rich culture and discover mouthwatering traditional food while on a budget.
Travelling to Hanoi had been on my bucket list since 2017, but I only managed to head there for a short vacation just last month.
Spending five days in the capital, I realised that the city beckons with its blend of rich history, vibrant culture and culinary delights.
There, not only did I immerse myself in Vietnamese culture, I also got to explore traditional street food that is value-for-money.
If you are travelling on a budget but would still like to get the authentic local experience, here is what you can do or buy in Hanoi for under $10:
1. Try traditional Vietnamese fare
A trip to Hanoi is barely complete without a piping hot bowl of pho.
During my trip to the bustling city, I spotted many street vendors selling the classic dish when walking down the streets of the Old Quarter. The noodle dish, usually made from beef or chicken bones, is garnished with cilantro. They typically cost no more than 100,000 VND (SGD $5.70).
The Hanoi Train Street is also lined with cafés and you can enjoy the famed ca phe trung (egg coffee) for 55,000 VND (SGD $3.10) while witnessing a train pass through the street — just inches away from the buildings.
The coffee is often served in small cups and can be enjoyed both hot and cold.
2. Discover artefacts and paintings in the Vietnam National Fine Arts Museum
Looking to immerse in the rich history of the country? Then the Vietnam National Fine Arts Museum may be the place for you.
Preserving the rich artistic heritage of Vietnam, the museum is housed in the French colonial-style building that was originally a boarding school for daughters of French officials.
The museum exhibits sculptures, traditional applied art, folk art and various mediums of paintings — lacquer, oil, silk and paper. You will also be able to view artworks from the 11th to the 19th Century AD.
Admission to the Vietnam National Fine Arts Museum costs 40,000 VND per pax (SGD $2.29). Guided tours are also available at 150,000 VND ($8.60) per group.
Each group is limited to a maximum of 25 people.
3. Visit the Temple of Literature
A revered place of study, the Temple of Literature is a symbol of Vietnam’s cultural heritage, serving as a reminder of the country’s long-standing commitment to education.
The temple was constructed to worship the Chinese philosopher, Confucius.
At just 30,000 VND ($1.70), you can marvel at the 54,000 sqm architecture that is surrounded by an ancient brick wall and five courtyards in differing styles. The fifth courtyard houses the Temple of Literature itself that is dedicated to Confucius and other scholars.
4. Stroll along the West Lake
Thinking of soaking in tranquillity? You can take a leisurely stroll along the West Lake for free.
The lake offers a serene environment and is surrounded by walking paths that can be perfect for a relaxing stroll. It is also a popular spot for joggers and street vendors.
However, if you want to experience the lake from a different perspective, you can rent a pedal boat around the lake for 80,000 VND (SGD $4.58) per hour. This can be a fun activity, especially when visiting with family or friends.
As the lake is centrally located, you will also be able to visit neighbouring attractions like the Tran Quoc Pagoda and the Quanh Tanh Temple.
5. Buy a pack of 100g of Vietnamese Ground Coffee
Coffee connoisseurs would be happy to know that there are many stalls selling Vietnamese ground coffee in the Hanoi Old Quarter.
Unlike many other coffee-growing regions that predominantly cultivate arabica beans, the Vietnamese ground coffee is typically made from a blend of robusta coffee beans.
Each pack of 100g ground coffee can retail anywhere from 150,000VND (SGD $8.57). The coffee can be filtered through a traditional Vietnamese coffee filter called a “phin”.
Condensed milk is then added to the brewed coffee. This combination of strong coffee and sweetened condensed milk creates the famous Vietnamese iced coffee, also known as “ca phe sua da.”