Part of why I love staying in Vietnam is because I feel like I’m rich there. I can afford to stay in awesome Airbnbs and buy basically whatever I want, without caring about the costs. It’s great.
But what is actually “rich” in Vietnam, when you look at the stats? Today, let’s address that question. First, the quick summary:
The top 5% of earners in Vietnam make over 32,400,000 VND per month (~$1,360 USD). That said, most expats in Vietnam would start to feel “rich” with $2,000+ per month, and especially $3,000+. Meanwhile, when it comes to wealth, the top 5% in Vietnam have over ~$112,343 USD in assets.
Below, I’ll share many more reference points to help you understand what is “a lot of money” in Vietnam. We’ll look at salary percentiles, cost of living, and more. I’ll also share my own experience as a digital nomad who feels rich in Vietnam.
What is Rich in Vietnam?
“Rich” can be measured many ways, and of course, there are different levels to it. Let’s start by looking at wealth, and then we’ll cover income.
I’ll try to use mostly USD amounts to discuss money in this post. But if you need to convert between Vietnamese Dong and US Dollars, I also cover that below.
So, what is “wealthy” in Vietnam? Well, if you have over $61,313 USD in assets, you are supposedly in the top 10% wealthiest people in Vietnam. Meanwhile, if you have over $112,343 USD, you’d be in the top 5%. (source)
Another source reports if you have $160,000 USD, you’re in the top 1% of wealthiest Vietnamese. These figures mean Vietnam is richer than Indonesia and the Philippines ($60,000 each), but less rich than Malaysia ($540,000).
As of 2021, there are 72,135 “dollar millionaires” in Vietnam. So, with a total population of about 97.5 million people in the country, that’s only 0.07% of Vietnamese who have a million dollars, or about 1 in 1,350 people. (source)
However, this is changing quickly. The number of millionaires in Vietnam is forecasted to grow rapidly over the coming years. In fact, Vietnam has been referred to as “the fastest growing market in the world.”
So, the amount of wealth needed to be considered “rich” in Vietnam may be increasing over the coming years, too.
What Is a Good Salary in Vietnam?
Obviously, a “good salary” is relative to your personal needs. The vast majority of Vietnamese people live on low incomes, less than $500 USD per month. But most expats would want more than that to “live well” in Vietnam.
Let’s first start by understanding the lower end of Vietnamese wages. The minimum wage in Vietnam varies by region, but it is roughly 4,680,000 VND, or ~$200 USD per month (source).
Next, let’s look at what might be a standard wage for an expat moving to Vietnam.
Ninja Teacher is a company that helps foreigners get English teaching jobs in Vietnam. According to them, teaching 15-25 hours per week will usually earn you $1,200 to $1,800 USD per month—enough to live comfortably in Vietnam.
Now let’s also look at some salary percentiles in Vietnam. According to Salary Explorer, the upper classes in Vietnam earn the following amounts:
- The top 35% earn 9,850,000 VND or more per month (~$410 USD).
- The top 15% earn 25,300,000 VND or more per month (~$1,060 USD).
- The top 5% earn 32,400,000 VND or more per month (~$1,360 USD).
- “Almost everyone” earns 76,900,000 VND or less per month (~$3,240 USD).
Finally, another random point of reference—dentists in Vietnam are reported to earn about 41,700,000 VND per month (~$1,760 USD).
If you’re from America or another highly developed country, these salaries may be surprisingly low. But this should help you understand the very low cost of living in Vietnam, which we’ll discuss next.
Cost of Living in Vietnam
Cost of living can vary a lot in Vietnam depending on location and lifestyle. But let’s start by looking objectively at how costs of living in Vietnam compare to other countries.
The following table compares the “cost of living with rent” of Vietnam vs other countries, according to Numbeo:
|Country||How Vietnam Compares|
|United States||Vietnam is 163% cheaper.|
|Australia||Vietnam is 150% cheaper.|
|Canada||Vietnam is 123% cheaper.|
|United Kingdom||Vietnam is 107% cheaper.|
|South Korea||Vietnam is 92% cheaper.|
|Japan||Vietnam is 59% cheaper.|
|China||Vietnam is 15% cheaper.|
|Thailand||Vietnam is 13% cheaper.|
|Philippines||Vietnam is roughly equal.|
|Indonesia||Vietnam is 12% more expensive.|
|Colombia||Vietnam is 21% more expensive.|
|India||Vietnam is 37% more expensive.|
So, if you’re familiar with how much it costs you to live in any of those other countries, you can work out a quick estimate of your potential cost of living in Vietnam using this table.
However, next let’s look at some actual specific estimates for how much you need to live in Vietnam.
Cost of Living Estimates in Vietnam
As one point of reference, Ninja Teacher says the cost of living in Vietnam is $500 to $1,000 USD per month. But in my view, that’s a low estimate for how most expats will want to live.
For most expat destinations in Southeast Asia, I’d personally say a realistic and enjoyable “minimum budget” starts at ~$1,500 USD per month, and I think that applies to most of the common destinations in Vietnam, too.
If you want to “live like a king” in Vietnam, you’ll probably want a budget of at least $2,000 USD per month to work with.
And of course, as covered above, if you can get up to a budget of $3,240 USD per month or more, you’ll have more spending money than “almost everyone” in Vietnam. So, you’ll definitely live very well on that.
Cost of Common Items in Vietnam
Now, let’s check out some daily expenses in Vietnam. I made the table below which has estimated costs from Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang.
For most of these expenses, Da Nang was the cheaper option, and Ho Chi Minh City was the pricier one, as shown in Numbeo:
|Product||Cost in THB||Cost in USD|
|Meal at inexpensive restaurant||40k – 50k VND||$1.70 – $2.10|
|Meal at mid-range restaurant||475k – 575k VND||$20.00 – $24.20|
|Domestic Beer (0.5 L)||20k – 27k VND||$0.80 – $1.10|
|Imported Beer (0.33 L)||45k – 50k VND||$1.90 – $2.10|
|Fitness club membership (1 mo.)||706k – 714k VND||$29.75 – $30.10|
|Internet (1 mo.)||230k – 288k VND||$9.70 – $12.10|
|Phone plan with data (1 mo.)||~149k VND||~$6.30|
Those numbers came from Numbeo, but they’re pretty close to my own experiences I would just mention that you can find better and worse deals in Vietnam.
Basically, if you want to live on a tight budget in Vietnam, it’s possible. But if you want to live a high-end lifestyle, you can do that, too.
Converting Vietnamese Dong to USD
I’ve tried to make this guide easy to understand without converting Dong to anything else—but let’s briefly discuss how to convert Vietnamese Dong (VND) to US Dollars (USD), too.
Of course, the conversion rate is always changing. But here’s an easy “rule of thumb” I personally use.
Generally, $1 USD is about 25,000 VND. It’s actually more like 23,700 VND, but for quick mental math, we can round it to 25,000.
In that case, 100,000 VND is ~$4 USD, and we can easily convert other amounts of Dong to USD, too:
- 100,000 VND = ~$4 USD
- 500,000 VND = ~$20 USD
- 1 million VND = ~$40 USD
- 2 million VND = ~$80 USD
- 3 million VND = ~$120 USD
- 4 million VND = ~$160 USD
- 5 million VND = ~$200 USD
- 10 million VND = ~$400 USD
- 100 million VND = ~$4,000 USD
- 1 billion VND = ~$40,000 USD
If you want more precise conversions, I would recommend downloading a currency conversion calculator on your phone.
What It Takes to Be “Rich” in Different Asian Countries
Read my other guides to what counts as “rich” in Asia—complete with salary data, net worth statistics and more: