Okay, so things aren’t THAT dire. But heading into my third month living on savings, I’m definitely feeling the crunch in the lead up to that sign-on bonus at ILA. Here’s how I’m staying cheap in Vietnam.
- Bia Hoi. Paying $5000 VND (about 33 cents) for a beer sure alleviates (if not obliterates) morning-after guilt. There’re a few bia hoi joints in the backpacker district on Bui Vien, the best of which is right around the corner from Do Quang Dau (I’d give a name, but I don’t think it has one).
- Free movies at Bobby Brewers. This western-style coffee shop screens movies back-to-back all day long on its top floor, which features stadium seating couches. Best of all, they don’t even get miffed if you only order a coffee (20,000 VND).
- Pho. Because my girlfriend is a vegetarian, I haven’t had much opportunity to get acquainted with Vietnam’s signature beef soup. However, with the misses occupied getting certified to teach English, I’m slowly working my way through the many variations of pho, which go for about 16 – 20,000 VND. Note: Avoid the franchised Pho 24. It’s overpriced and serves weak portions.
- Trà Dá. Literally iced green tea. This is consistently the cheapest beverage on the menu: from about $1000 – 6000 VND. It’s amazing how much you save when you’re not forking over 12-20K VND for lunchtime beer.
- Pirated Movies Everywhere in Saigon. There are no copyright laws in Vietnam, so DVD shops are ubiquitous and dirt cheap. A good price is 10 – 12,000 VND, and don’t be shy about returning DVDS that skip.