Sometimes we're on a tight schedule and need to choose between two (or more) places to visit. Besides things to do, places to see and food to eat, we're also looking for what's cheaper. This is a breakdown and comparison of these two fantastic cities, both worth visiting.
The average cost per day in Hanoi is $23, while the average cost per day in Bangkok is $38. Hanoi takes the win being $15 cheaper per day. This includes accommodation, food, entertainment and transport. The cost is on a backpacker budget so accommodation prices are based on hostels, full breakdown below.
Hanoi vs Bangkok Expense Breakdown
|🍕||Food & Drink||$8.5||$12.5|
|💰||Total per day||$23||$38|
|📅||Total per week||$161||$266|
- Accommodation is calculated through averages using prices listed on Hostelworld for hostels in particular.
- Food, drink and entertainment data is gathered from Nomadlist, government data, and traveler experiences/recommendations.
- Transport costs are calculated through Grab and average public transport figures.
- Daily budgets don't include allocation for souvenir/clothes purchases.
Should I go to Hanoi or Bangkok?
Both cities are fantastic and regardless of the budget, both prices in absolute terms are quite cheap. There's plenty to do in terms of cultural experiences, cuisine, nightlife, and more for both Hanoi and Bangkok. There are no wrong decisions here, but we'll break down each option so you know what to expect.
Hanoi | Things to do
You'll most likely find yourself exploring the old quarter with beautiful french architecture from the colonial days, drinking and chatting up a storm on beer street, and letting your taste buds roam free in the markets.
Hanoi has a lot to do within the city but is also a hub to explore most of what North Vietnam has to offer. There's easy access to multiple other destinations like Sa Pa and Ha Long Bay, here's a guide on how to get to these places.
Some things to do:
- Explore the architecture in the french quarter.
- Spend a weekend evening joining in the dancing, hacky-sack playing, skipping and ice-cream on the north and east side of Hoan Kiem Lake - the roads are closed for cars during the weekend for some wholesome fun with families, couples and travelers all joining in.
- Try the Bun Cha Restaurant that Obama famously ate at, delicious.
- Explore the many bars and restaurants on Beer Street - walking through here at night you'll see hundreds of people on the side of the road sitting on small tables drinking a cheap beer and downing some delicious food.
- See St. Joseph's Cathedral in all it's glory.
- Do a bicycle tour of the city - note that there are many tour guides that are littered around the city that will offer these for cheaper than the link.
- Explore the Hanoi Night Market or the Long Bien Market for a range of food, clothes, souvenirs, and gadgets.
Bangkok | Things to do
Bangkok is the gateway to Southeast Asia and one of the most important cities of the world on account of how central it is. It's a bustling city with more things to do then there's time in the year.
From markets, to temples, and nightlife to shopping - Bangkok has the goods. Bangkok and Hanoi have a similar population, but Bangkok is half the size in terms of surface area. So you'll definitely get the crowded city feel in Bangkok, a lot more than in Hanoi.
Bangkok, unlike Hanoi won't have many short land travel options to interesting areas that surround it, but the perks of being the gateway to Asia means that flights can get incredibly cheap - so keep that in mind. Here are some things to do:
- Have a night out on Khaosan Road, the more time passes the more touristy it becomes but it's a right of passage and will always be a fun gritty night out.
- Visit Lumphini Park for a relaxing morning/afternoon, go for a run, hit up an outdoor gym for the experience.
- Visit Wat Arun, Temple of Dawn, right on the river, then cross back to see it lit up for a beautiful site in the evening.
- Have a delicious night of food, beer and treats at the massive Ratchada Rot Fai Train Night Market.
- Visit one of the largest Chinatown's in the world for an array of Chinese/Thai fusion cuisine.
- Climb atop Golden Mount for a 360 degree view of the city.
- Have a cocktail at the famous Sky Bar from the movie Hangover 3, the views are phenomenal.
- Visit some of the largest malls in world like Centralworld and ICONSIAM.
All in all, there's no clear winner and it's very subjective. If you're looking for cheap and amazing, Hanoi is your choice. If you're looking for slightly more expensive but more temples and a big city feel, Bangkok could be where you want to go. Both have amazing food culture.
Like I mentioned before, there is no right or wrong answer, but the breakdowns and some of the most popular things you could do are above. Hope you enjoy your trip!