Finances & Money

Wanna be a millionaire? Move to Vietnam!

One of my wife’s college friends moved from the DC area to Vietnam temporarily and has something to say about Vietnamese currency. If you’ve visited southeast Asia, you’ll know how much your American dollar can get you. In the case of Heather, it’s made her into a millionaire.

Heather’s site is more of a personal blog, but this article really highlights the luxuries we have here in America, but also makes you question why things aren’t cheaper here. Here’s an example from her site:

  • Meal bought on the street (popular for Vietnamese) ~20,000 VND ($1)
  • Meal in a restaurant ~60,000 VND ($3)
  • Fruit from the market (the 2 pomegranates, 2 oranges, and 1 bunch of bananas I just bought were a total of 30,000 VND, or $1.50)
  • Taxi (to go 3-4 miles) ~40,000-60,000 VND ($2-3)
  • Taxi with a broken meter that completely ripped me off  80,000 VND ($4)
  • Cell phone (with service that should last the entire time I am here) 700,000 VND ($35)
  • Cotton tank top 30,000 VND ($1.50)
  • Rent 3,000,000 VND/month ($150/month)
  • Gym membership 1,200,000 VND/month ($62/month)  almost half the cost of my rent you can see there is little demand/competition in this market!
  • Cost to stay for 1 night in a hostel ~100,000 VND ($5)

Have any of you visited (or lived in) southeast Asia? Were you born there and found it difficult to move to America?

About the author

Clever Dude


  • I’m actually Vietnamese! My parents took me back to visit in 6th grade, a few years ago (I was born here, they were born there and came here).

    It was amazing, the exchange rate. One of my favorite treats is a fresh coconut with the top chopped off to drink the milk from… So delicious! Here, it costs quite a bit, over there, it was less than a dollar for organic, fresh coconuts! Sugar cane juice was also nice.

    The pho there was also extremely mouthwatering and cheap.

    It’s also a great place for beaches, depending on where you go. My dad’s hometown was awesome. You could go to the beach when it was still dark at about 5:30AM, swim in warm water, get out when the sun came up, and dry off without a towel, walk back to the hotel and get a fresh sandwich on the way. It was great.

  • I’m from Singapore, another part of Southeast Asia which is more developed and where things are more pricey. However yes the exchange rate is really very worth it for Americans to travel to SEA to live like a king. Other places that you must visit in SEA are Thailand and Indonesia, especially Bangkok and Bali =]

  • I was in Korea this summer and coming back to the US was depressing. It was hard for me to justify spending more money on something than I would spend on it in Korea. Like while I was there it was summer and in Korea (if you’ve ever been) it’s hot in the summer so I had ice cream almost every day. The drumsticks (which is my favorite kind of ice cream) you could find for 750 won which is maybe 66 US cents. Here the same kind of ice cream is usually 2 dollars. I hate it! It’s not just that it’s a lot of things. I actually bought most of my jewelry for my wedding there because it was so much cheaper.

  • It’s funny actually. I read the article, and I think to myself, “Heather is getting ripped off!” Depending on what you eat, a full meal in a restaurant shouldn’t be more than $1.50. Food from a street cart shouldn’t be more than about $0.25. If I remember correctly, banh mi (Vietnamese hoagies) cost 5,000 VND.

    Remember that you can negoiate anything. If they see that you’re a tourist, they’ll charge you 4x or 5x more than the locals.

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