Living in Malaysia on a Budget: Week 20 (Ipoh, MY to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam)

Traveling from Ipoh, Malaysia to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam means TRAVEL INSANITY. While the flights were cheap, random extras like taxis and visas added up quickly, so we'll be dialing back our daily spending to get back to traveling on a $50 per day budget. We will miss Ipoh, but Saigon is super cheap and crazy and already has our hearts!

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Our goal: $50 per day total, including transportation, accommodation, visas, and bills back home. For two people.

In every budget update I will add a prorated estimate of our bills back home (loans, phone plan, etc. which may vary slightly by month), to include in our $50/day travel budget. I am not including travel insurance -- this would add about $5.75 per day to our total.
  • Days: 7
  • Location(s): Ipoh, Malaysia to Ho Chi Minh City,Vietnam
  • Avg. spending per day: $69.58
  • Avg. spending per day incl. bills back home: $72.78
  • Avg. spending per day overall in Asia: $47.11 
Vietnamese iced coffee and a fluffy cat. What else is there, really?
So what are our living expenses in Ipoh and Ho Chi Minh City this week?
  • Conversion rate: 1 Malaysian Ringgit (MYR) = US$0.25 (4 MYR to $1 US)
    • 22,573 Vietnamese Dong (VND) = US$1.00 (100,000VND is about $4.50)
  • Accommodation: $133.47 
    • Our place in Ipoh, Malaysia, the Vintage Cafe Guesthouse was about $23 per night. We enjoyed it overall, but the mosquitos and constant noise really got to us. We also were pretty annoyed by all of the restaurant staff using the living room as a break room.
    • In Ho Chi Minh City we are staying at an AirBnB homestay (AirBnB discount code here for signing up!) where we have a private room, small balcony, shared bathroom and public space. Our hosts, Mrs. Hang and her husband Tien, are wonderful and sweet and are helping me learn Vietnamese. We are, so far, very happy to be here! More honest review next week when we have been here longer than two days.
  • Transportation: $129.37
Click it!
    • We took an Uber XL to the Ipoh bus station because normal ones weren't running (15.36myr or $3.84), then took a bus (book here) from Ipoh to Kuala Lumpur (41.91myr or $10.29). We missed our pre-booked bus to the airport, so we wasted 23.49myr ($5.77) and instead got a Grab car for 72.80myr ($18.20).
    • Once at the airport we took AirAsia to Ho Chi Minh City. We got nice and cheap tickets for $53.44 for both of us!
    • We got swindled (seriously, read my budget fails post) into a taxi from the airport to our homestay for 840,000vnd ($37.22) -- kill me.
  • Food and drinks: $126.02
    • We will definitely miss the food of Ipoh... but not for long! Vietnamese food is remarkable and we have been excited about it for so long!
    • On our first day, we had phở and bánh mì a nhiều, two of our favorite foods in general (let alone in Vietnam)! So good, so cheap, so fresh. Oh, and my favorite -- ICED COFFEE!
Just add noodles and he's happy.
    • We also picked up a 5litre water bottle for keeping boiled drinking water (25,000VND or $1.11) and had a few beers at around 12,000VND a piece ($0.53), to relax in the evening.
  • Misc.: $98.19
    • Netflix ran out, but not before we binged on Skin Wars -- such a good show!
    • Visa stuff was important this week. It's always good to be prepared so check out my visa round-up before you leave. We had paperwork printed and passport pictures taken/printed for 32myr total ($8.06). We used for our approval letter, which only took two days and cost just $30.38 for two people! Finally, at the airport we paid $50 for the visas. Overall, our three month single-entry visas for two people cost $88.44.
    • We bought a one-month MobiFone sim card at the airport, with 2gb data per day and calling/texting, for 220,000VND ($9.75)! Imagine that bargain in the US!

Curious about Malaysia? Find out more below:

Traveling from Ipoh, Malaysia to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam was long and stressful in one day. However, you can keep it under wraps by booking ahead of time. Both cities are great for digital nomads, with delicious cheap food and relatively straight-forward visas for foreigners. If you're traveling on a budget, we highly recommend a relaxing visit to Ipoh and a crazy trip to Ho Chi Minh City!


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