Admission charges are usually levied at museums, historic sights, national parks and any place that attracts tourists – sometimes even beaches.
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Locating an address is rarely a problem in Vietnam, but there are a couple of conventions it helps to know about. Where two numbers are separated by a slash, such as 110 5, you simply make for no. 110, where an alley will lead off to a further batch of buildings – you want the fifth one. Where a number is followed by a letter, as in 117a, you’re looking for a single block encompassing several addresses, of which one will be 117a. Vietnamese cite addresses without the words for street, avenue and so on; we’ve followed this practice throughout the Guide except where ambiguity would result.
Admission charges are usually levied at museums, historic sights, national parks and any place that attracts tourists – sometimes even beaches. Charges at some major sights range from a dollar or two up to around US$4–5 for the Cham ruins at My Son or Hué’s citadel and royal mausoleums. Elsewhere, however, the amount is usually just a few thousand dong. Note that there’s often a hefty additional fee for cameras and videos at major sights.
Apart from those with some historical significance, pagodas and temples are usually free, though it’s customary to leave a donation of a few thousand dong in the collecting box or on one of the altar plates.
With the average Vietnamese annual income hovering around US$800–1000, daily expenses are low, and if you come prepared to do as the locals do, then food and drink can be incredibly cheap – and even accommodation needn’t be too great an expense. However, constantly rising petrol prices mean that transport costs are creeping up all the time. Bargaining is very much a part of everyday life, and almost everything is negotiable, from fruit in the market to a room for the night.
By eating at simple com (rice) and pho (noodle soup) stalls, picking up local buses and opting for the simplest accommodation there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to adhere to a daily budget in the region of US$15–20. Upgrading to more salubrious lodgings with a few mod cons, eating good food followed by a couple of beers in a bar and signing up for the odd minibus tour and visiting a few sights could bounce your expenditure up to a more realistic US$30–40. A fair mid-level budget, treating yourself to three-star hotels and more upmarket restaurants, would lie in the US$50–100 range, depending on the number and type of tours you took. And if you stay at the ritziest city hotels, dine at the swankiest restaurants and rent cars with drivers wherever you go, then the sky’s the limit.