How to Find Great Budget Tours in Vietnam (and not get ripped off!)

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How to find budget tours in Vietnam, without getting ripped off!

 

When I travel, I’m a tourist and a traveler.

Although I like schedule time to get lost and wander the streets of a city, I also enjoy a good tour, which whisks me away and takes the stresses of planning a day’s itinerary and transportation, off my shoulders.

Budget tours in Vietnam are worthwhile looking into. Tour packages are seductive and tour operators are everywhere, vying for your business. Ordinarily, you  might pay over a couple of hundred dollars for a one or two day tour that picks you up from your hotel. But walk into Vietnam and sign up for a budget tour and you will easily find yourself paying a fee as low as $20 for an all-inclusive overnight package. Yes, Vietnam can offer you jaw-dropping prices, all-inclusive packages and the promise of a good English-speaking tour guide, for prices you might think were a scam.

How to find budget tours in Vietnam

What I loved aside from the value of a good budget tour, was that it took the stress out of transportation and hotel research so I could enjoy Vietnam without the worry. In all cases, it even turned out cheaper than if I planned it myself!

1.   Book your tours and transportation tickets in Vietnam

Booking tour and bus tickets never felt so easy as when I was in Vietnam. There’s a ridiculous variety to choose from too. Go to the Old Quarters in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh and there will be signs, pamphlets, wall-to-wall tour operators at your disposal, all offering tours with scanty prices. The prices run cheaper than what you’d find online and you can find group tours with little to no single supplement mark-up.  Tour prices start at $7.00 USD.  I took tours from both,  Sinh Tourist (www.thesinhtourist.vn)  & Delta Adventure Tours, who offered well-serviced tours at great prices.

You can also safely book Mekong Delta & Saigon tours here.

2.   Shop around

Shop around with a few agencies before settling on one.

Get as much information as you can about what you’re being sold and the ballpark rate for it. Trust your gut. It always knows best.

It’s been my shoppers rule to never take the first offer. Believe me, you’ll feel sick when you see that tour cost cut in half at the agency down the block!

3.   Your hotel or hostel can be a tour agent.

Hotels will help outfit you with a tour . As their name and reputation depends upon it, it stands a good chance the tour will be good. You can book either, a personal guide or group tour. Meanwhile, hostels and guesthouses often deal with budget tours, due to the needs of their backpacking clientele. Often, their markup is very little to none. My hostel in Ho Chi Minh City booked me two-day tour of the Mekong Delta. My hostel assured me they were very good and they were right!

 Room accommodations for a two-day/one night tour to the Mekong Delta.

At the rice paper factory. Woman making rice paper;. Below, our guide tells us about the process.

4.   Hold realistic expectations

You get what you pay for”  is a common saying.  But in Vietnam, paying for an expensive tour, does not actually guarantee you a better tour. I took a few group tours I bought either, through my hostel or a local tour agent.  I  was sold a tour package at a much cheaper rate than travelers, who booked that exact tour through their hotel. In fact, we were on the same tour. They just paid more for it.

Of course, you have to be realistic also.  If I pay for a budget tour that costs something crazy like $20 for a full day tour, which provides a hotel, I don’t have grand expectations for it outside what I paid.  Although Vietnam can surprise you. It did with me.

Do you get what you pay for? Apparently, not always.  Some of us cheap-o’s get more.

5.    Beware of counterfeit agencies

 Vietnam has a lot of counterfeit agencies (aka copy cat agencies that steal customers from reputable agencies).   For every reputable agency there’s a swarm of mock companies disguised with the same name and logo, hoping to lure in the business of unsuspecting tourists.

Sinh Tourist Cafe is a well-known Lonely Planet recommended operator that travelers go to. I booked a Sapa trekking tour with them and took a shuttle direct from the Hanoi airport to their street.  When I arrived, I didn’t find one Sinh Tourist Cafe, but five, each brandishing the same business sign!   Two of them were located next to each other and sitting directly across of the real Sinh Cafe!  Fortunately, I researched the address to know better.

Outside the Sinh Tourist, Hanoi (the real Sinh Cafe); Inside Sinh Tourist, HCMC

Watch my Top 5 Tips for Traveling Vietnam:


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50 Comments. Leave new

[…] think that those, who book tours are unimaginative or don’t value an authentic experience. This is simply not the case. Taking tours has advantages and prices can range from expensive to free. In some cases, it’s […]

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Great post thank you

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We did a food tour in Old Quarter Hanoi and wish we’d done it on day one. We booked through our hotel, but maybe save $5 and book direct. Our guide was Rose or Hường Trần She will feed you beautifully and give you suggestions for the rest of your stay.
Also 4P Pizza was really good for a western fix.

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Thank you very much for creating these videos, I am sure it takes some time and work. You’ve done a great job, they are well made and fun to watch. I haven’t decided to go to Vietnam, I would like to. I am actually retiring to Ecuador in late July so thought I would go somewhere I haven’t been (I lived in Germany and Australia for many years). I won’t ask any questions as so many do, I’ll just enjoy your videos, learn, and then figure things out by myself. Thank you again and enjoy all your future travels. They are ALL worth it. David

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Hi Christine,

I have just come across your post about Vietnam:) Sapa looks interesting. I got my flights sorted and some accommodation HCMC @ Hanoi. I wanna do Halong Bay should I book the cruise once I get there in April? Prices are varied online and through agencies here in Aust not cheap too. Any places you recommend to eat / drink in Hanoi and the area?

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