My Cost of Living in Saigon ~$1300 First Month

Propaganda bistro, District 1

I just wrapped up a month in Saigon and spent $1300 but definitely could have done it cheaper if I wasn’t on ‘vacation’ mode. I found a hotel that was ‘girl friendly’ with good internet in a good location for a reasonable price and just stayed there instead of finding a monthly rental.

I also overdid the BJ bars and massages because, well, I had absolutely nothing else to do. I found the Vietnamese girls to be very into their own kind and didn’t want to put in lots of work on dating sites looking for the 6’s and rare 7 that may go with a foreigner if I led her on.

Instead I went to Benny’s, the other BJ bars, and got lots of massages. If I lived there long term that would be my life strat also but I wouldn’t need to do it 18 times a month.

Wechat freelancers, some are fake

When I first got to HCM I was like wow the girls are so hot I love it here. By the end I was quite bored and as of now am not sure if I will ever return. I probably will, but overall I feel like it was a really hollow existence.

Accommodation $600

At ~$20 a day and with good internet I decided to just stay in hotels instead of searching around for a monthly apartment deal for a few reasons. I did look on Airbnb but that didn’t seem like a good city for that site, Agoda seemed better.

Example place in District 1 – My Anh Hotel

I had some solid online work going right when I first got into town and didn’t wanna waste to much time looking for a room when I could be working and making rare good online money.

It was also as hot as anywhere I can remember in Asia and walking around the touristy area in the brutal sun and traffic looking for ‘for rent’ signs wasn’t something I was wanting to do. So I took the lazy route and paid $150ish more then I probably would have paid if I put in more effort.

It’s annoying trying to cross the street in HCM

Vietnam is better value for hotels than the Philippines you can get something liveable in Ho Chi Minh City for $20/night that would cost twice that in Manila. If you do walk around and go down some alleyways you can find 350k a night ($15) even in D1.

In the end the girl friendly part didn’t really matter as I only had 1 girl over (non pro) and after 2 hours of making out she tells me she is a virgin.

After another failed date with a girl who wouldn’t go to my room even though we ate right next door to my hotel and said ‘I have never been to a boy’s room’ I called dating quits.

Next to Central park, view from My Anh Hotel

‘Entertainment’ $400ish

Most of the trips to the BJ bars were $18 (400k dong) and that was where I mostly went. One time I did negotiate with the doorman for 300k and tipped the girl 50k.

She seemed confused and had to confirm with the door guy after I paid. This was at one of the BJ bars in Nguyen Phi Khanh and I assumed the 400k rate I had to pay was the foreigner rip off price but judging by the girls reaction I would say that is the standard price and didn’t negotiate down anymore on future visits.

Massages were generally 100k for massage and 400k-500k for a BJ. I did get totally alpha’ed by this really hot girl who got me totally hard and wouldn’t do a BJ. Then when I tried to negotiate she kept getting me hard and I paid 500k for a HJ.

She was really hot and actually the HJ was probably better than what most massage girls do for BJ (huge different between massage girl BJ and blowjob bar girl BJ) but I still was disappointed in myself.

Boss Palace massage girl

I also got a more expensive BJ after an awesome massage at Boss Palace Hotel but sadly the BJ didn’t live up to the teasing. Overall it was nice to be in a city where you can see pretty hot massage girls quite often and have the BJ bars available, but it would get old I think.

Food $300ish

I probably spent more on food then I have in any month in Asia because I was living at a hotel and wasn’t able to do some of the tricks I do to keep costs down. I was told about a few good places to eat and found a few of my own.

Western food

Skins over at Singlemansparadise told me about ‘Chucks Burgers’ where you can get a damn good burger and fries for 110k (5 bucks). He also told me about ‘My Chicken Run’ where you can get a huge rotisserie chicken and veggies meal for 100k.

I also frequently ate at ‘The Daun’ restaurant which is right across from Ben Thanh Market and has a TripAdvisor 2015 Winner sign out front. Most meals everywhere I ate were around 100kish but every once in awhile I got the 30k shwarma on Bui Vien to mix in a cheap meal. Not your standard type of shwarma with some thick bread but still tasted pretty good.

Overall food was good in HCM and I can’t really remember trying anything and not being satisfied with it.

Bo la lot (left) streetfood and noodles

Long Term Saigon Budget

There really were no other big costs in what I spent. Actually I did buy some shoes for 400k next to Benh Thanh Market so that should be taken out of the budget but whatever.

Long term I would expect to spend maybe $250 on food, $300ish on entertainment, and maybe $400-500 ish on an apartment after utilities. It’s worth paying a bit more to stay in District 1.

Teaspoon Coffee & Tearoom, good date spot

So monthly spending in the $1k-$1100 range for a long term prediction. I do feel like a life there would be pretty hollow though. Not as many textmates as the chat happy Pinays and the ones that do text aren’t too great at English.

Girls will meet you less often and then when they do you still aren’t gonna get much of any action on early dates. No malls to roam…… Saigon has a lot going for it and if you want to find a hot girlfriend then you will love it. But if you want to play the field……. good luck.

jspill’s sushi hokkaido date

One last note on money most of the ATMs only allow you to withdraw 2 million dong ($90!) a pull so you definitely need to have an ATM card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees.

HSBC allowed 4 million but they charge a higher fee. Of all the ATMs I tried the best ones were at IndoVina Bank. There is a branch pretty near Pham Ngu Lao.

16 Responses

  1. RealGuy says:

    For cheap street food, I liked the banh mi place on Le Thi Rieng and Hem 150.

    Theres some malls, like vincon, but theyre pointless. Theyre all stocked with overpriced shoes, jewelry etc. Saigon square is actually decent, but Philippines is still king of mall culture.

    I actually had a great time there. I know a group of expats living there, and we would get together for drinks and hangouts often. Makes a huge difference. Cu chi tunnels was a tourist trap but definitely worth it in my opinion. Also, Id avoid benh tanh market altogether. Most of what they sell is way overpriced unless youre willing to haggle hard.

    Overall Vietnam had a good vibe. The people felt friendlier than Thai or Khmer, and less of a headache to deal with customer service compared to Filipinos. Crossing the street was the biggest headache.

  2. Great review as always. Definitely a great place to find a cute girlfriend and affordable. It’s a shame you couldn’t find anything else to do.

    Have you given any thought to a place like Taipei? It’s fairly close and can easily be done on ~1k usd a month. Very niche city with a Japanese/Chinese fusion feel to it.

  3. BangkokBaller23 says:

    As always….great, sincere review!
    LOL at crossing the street. You can always tell the tourists who just arrived. They stand there waiting for a “gap” that’s never going to come. You just have to go for it….or tag along next to a fearless old Viet lady to get across.

    Good tip on the ATMs. Didn’t really know that.

    I’m willing to put up with the “challenges” of Fing multiple hotties in Vietnam because they are the most MY TYPE in SEA. Whiter skin, fit, small, good bodies, VERY sensual, more educated, etc.

    Just my $.02. Not trying to “sell” anybody on Vietnam. Just really appreciate the 100% no BS reviews!

  4. V.T. says:

    I stay in northern Vietnam in a beach town a couple hours from Hanoi. My cost of living for 1 month is around $900 USD. Monthly rent at a hotel $263, food $200, transportation $40. I can order a hooker to my room for $11 for a 30 minutes of full service. That’s so cheap that I order girls to my room everyday. This place is off the beaten path for Western tourist but popular with Chinese and Japanese tourists. I don’t bother with dating girls in Vietnam because they are generally conservative and boring. I lost interest in dating after meeting a few girls. I hooked up with a couple single moms and they were DTF within the first few dates. In Hanoi and Saigon you can withdraw 8 million dong at a time at Citibank ATMs.

    • jspill says:

      Damn $11… off wechat? Those ones wanted $40 in saigon for an hour, didn’t try asking for 30 mins that sounds like a good plan

    • What is there to even do in that town besides eat, monger, and beach? TBH Saigon is kinda boring during the day. It’s even harder to imagine some tier 2-3 beach city in the North, man.

  5. V.T. says:

    The prices you pay in Saigon are tourists prices and they hassle you to pay up front. The places the locals go aren’t in your face so you won’t find them unless a local or taxi driver takes you. I do all of my mongering in the north outside of Hanoi. The girls that come to my room aren’t on WeChat. It’s an organized setup with certain hotels in a certain area. I just tell the hotel staff I want a girl and minutes later they bring girls to choose from. This is a link to some of the girls I’ve had

  6. dreamer says:

    Nice vid. Name of the hotels V.T.?

  7. ali says:

    is it really cheap?

  8. Gary says:

    Saigon can definitely be done for cheaper, probably half your cost while still maintaining quality of life.
    For rentals, try to use a local real estate website or get a friend to search for one for you. You can easily save 30%-40% off the listed foreigner prices. Also avoid those bloodsucker real estate agents on those expat accommodation pages. They mark everything up tremendously.

    For food, I would recommend you stay away from district 1, If you go further away such as d3 or d4, your food costs can be reduced by as much as half. A bowl of pho should be around 40k, broken rice between 25-35k. 100k is definitely on the expensive side. Also if traveling a distance is an issue, you can order food using apps as well which will still leave you coming out ahead after delivery fees are tacked on.

    As for ATM withdrawal limits and atm fee’s you can look at citibank in d1 or hsbc in d1 as well. I’m able to withdraw 6 million at a time at the citibank atm on nguyen hue street while 8 million at the hsbc at the saigon center or 6 million at vincom. They all used to be 8 million but then the banks got greedy and reduced the limit.

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