Vietnam is a budget travelers dream. Extremely cheap and affordable, there are few things to worry about in terms of price.
Reasonable accommodation can be acquired for $10 a night, and even extravagant lodging will rarely rise above $100.
Vietnam uses the Dong. Bills are different sizes and colors, but all carry the image of Ho Chi Minh. Be careful when paying in cash that you hand the correct bill. 20,000 and 200,000 Dong bills look very similar.
ATMs exist in tourist areas, but can be sporadic elsewhere. With limited acceptance of credit cards, be sure to have enough cash on hand.
$1 USD = 20,000 VND (Dong)
A local bowl of pho will cost 40,000 VND
A high range 3 course meal for 2 will cost 200,000 VND
A 1 bed apartment in the city center will cost $390 per month
Vietnam has a long history, influenced heavily by invasion and dynastic rule. Vietnam underwent multiple Vietnamese dynasties, each of which fought off invasion by the Chinese, Khmer, and Mongols. In the 16th century, the Nguyen lords unified Vietnam into a single state.
Beginning in 1859, Vietnamese independence was eroded by French colonization. This colonization period led to a development of a plantation culture, with a heavy focus on tobacco, indigo, tea, and coffee; and a trade of cultural items – particularly with cuisine.
The French maintained control through World War II. However, revolutionaries such as Ho Chi Minh began a movement that would later result in independence. After the first Indochine war, Vietnam was partitioned into two countries to later be unified in 1957.
This never happened, instead fighting erupted between the north and south. In 1964, the USA used the Gulf of Tonkin incident as reason to interfere with the war, and began the Vietnam War which came to a conclusion of US loss in 1973 and the unification of Vietnam under communist rule.
With the nation reunified, Vietnam interfered in Cambodia in 1978 with the Khmer Rouge. Vietnam was successful and installed a new Cambodian government. President Bill Clinton of the USA sought diplomatic relations with Vietnam and today the USA and Vietnam are allies.
Vietnam remains under communist party rule, however is increasingly opening itself to capitalist and free-market trade.