[UPDATED 2019] ULTIMATE SOUTHEAST ASIA TRAVEL BUDGET:
How Much does it cost to travel in southeast Asia
The ultimate question I constantly receive whilst travelling and on my email is “what is the right budget for Southeast Asia?” The truth is, there is no right budget because it will be down to the way you will travel, however, hiking alone for 90 days without your survival kit is almost like a suicide. Let’s make sure you get the trip of your life by giving you an idea of how to prepare the ultimate Southeast Asia travel budget.
Before you hop on your backpacking in Southeast Asia, first off, let’s list down the possible countries you want to visit and how long is the ideal time to spend in every destination. In this way, we can figure out the daily budget for travelling Southeast Asia.
HOW LONG SHOULD I STAY IN EACH SOUTHEAST ASIAN COUNTRIES?
- Brunei – 1-2 weeks ( this country is very small but have loads of attractions to offer)
- Cambodia 2-3 weeks is plenty to explore this fascinating destination
- Laos – 3 weeks (you can buy a motorbike and travel slowly)
- Indonesia – 1 month (or more) this country has 17.5K islands
- Malaysia – 3 weeks (you can easily spend more here, buy a motorbike and travel in your own way)
- Myanmar – 28 days (the maximum single entry visa is only for 28 days, you can always get another visa if you want to stay longer)
- Philippines – 1 month (or more) since this country has 7,000+ islands, mostly can be travelled by ferry or aeroplanes
- Singapore – 2 weeks (this will give you plenty of time to explore slowly)
- Thailand – 4 weeks (hopping on the islands takes time)
- Timor-Leste – 2 weeks
- Vietnam – 3 weeks on a motorbike | 2.5 weeks on public transportations
TIP: If your time permits, stay as long as you can to explore the small and unbeaten areas of each destination. You can never stay too long in places that you find fascinating.
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TRAVEL TOOLS FOR SOUTHEAST ASIA
SOUTHEAST ASIA TRAVEL BUDGET PER COUNTRY
This article of Southeast Asia backpacking budget is a roughly an estimation guide. People travel differently and in different styles. Even you prefer private room, it doesn't mean you can't go backpacking in this region.
All you need to do is to know what your preference are. For example, you can spend more money on accommodation and cheap out of food. Personally, I always cheap out on accommodation and transportation and prefer to spend money on food and tours.
LEGEND: VOA (Visa On Arrival) | Prices are in US Dollars
Brunei Travel Budget
Even Brunei is such a small country, located right next to Malaysia, it has something to offer to its visitors. From its stunning landscape, the local food can surely find its way to every traveller’s heart. Since it’s a relatively small country, travelling around in Brunei is easy and surprisingly affordable.
Visa: Free visa & VOA – check out the list
Dorm: $10 – affordable accommodations in Brunei
Private room: $18
Transportation: $1 for a short ride to go on the other side of the city
Tours: there are a lot of free things to do or check this things to do in Brunei
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Cambodia Travel Budget
Travelling around Southeast Asia can be cheap, but no one prepared me how affordable backpacking in Cambodia is! If you really want to travel Southeast Asia on a shoestring budget, head to Cambodia. Since Cambodia mainly uses US dollars, it feels like the prices are more expensive than the rest of Southeast Asia, but if you look closely and convert the prices in Thailand or Vietnam to US dollars, Cambodia is the cheapest on all of them.
Visa: 30 days VOA (check the visa guide for Cambodia) – Apply now!
Dorm: $2-$5 (check out the list of hostels where I stayed in Cambodia)
Private room: $5-$15
Food: $1 (side street food vendor) $2 (average small side street restaurants) $3-$4 (regular price on casual restaurants)
Sim Card: $4- Cellcard (this company offers cheap options but fast internet speed: 30 GB data for 30 days)
Transportation: $8 for a six-hour bus
Motorbike: $300-$400 (one of the few things that are more expensive in Cambodia compared to Vietnam)
Tours: $5 for short day tours (normally this is only for the transportation like in Phnom Penh) -There are great tours for only $15
Indonesia Travel Budget
Are you up for an adventure? Why not travel a country with 17,000 islands plus loads of active volcanoes? Indonesia attracts a lot of travellers not only because of these features but also for being such an affordable travel destination. Bali is one of the most visited cities in Indonesia, check this Bali on a budget guide.
Visa: Free-visa is offered to almost everyone in the world for 30-days (check if you need a visa)
Dorm: $5 – (affordable accommodations in Indonesia)
Private room: $10
Food: $2 – you can easily find them from the street vendors, get away from where tourist hangout to find the cheap eats
Sim Card: $10 – XL or Telkomsel (you get 12 GB)
Transportation: $0.50 for the intercity public transportations, ferries are about $2-$3
Motorbike: $5-20 per day
Tours: $12 - check here the cool tours, for as low as $30
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Malaysia Travel Budget
I didn’t originally plan to visit Malaysia, but I’m glad I did. I find the locals very friendly and the food super tasty. Malaysia is also great for travellers on a budget, make sure you visit Langkawi for probably the most affordable destination in Southeast Asia since it’s a tax-free island. For more details, check this Malaysia travel cost guide.
Visa: Free visa – 90 days for EU (check the visa guide for Malaysia) – Apply now!
Dorm: $5-$8 (check hostels that I personally stayed in Malaysia)
Private room: $10-$15
Sim Card: $10 – Digi (this company offer high-speed internet that works from the North of Malaysia to the South: 10 GB for 30 days )
Transportation: $18 (domestic flight) $15 (9-hour bus)
Tours: $15 tours can be found in Langkawi - Tours can be pretty pricey especially in Kuala Lumpur - but you can find affordable ones here
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Myanmar Travel Budget
Myanmar is not as affordable as I thought, however, I managed to travel for 21 days and spent $750 including a one-way flight from Bangkok and a bus from the border of Myanmar to the city centre of Bangkok. I find the accommodation is the most expensive, so the best way is to travel with someone and share a private room instead of staying in dorm rooms. I also hitchhiked in Myanmar and slept in monasteries which I highly recommend.
Visa: Free visa – ASEAN countries (check the visa guide for Myanmar) – Apply now!
Private room: $10-20
Sim Card: $10 – Telenor (the internet in Myanmar, in general, is painfully slow, I was only able to use it on my online map)
Transportation: $10 (9-hour bus)
Tours: $20 (admission fee in archaeological areas; Bagan, Mandalay Hill) - it's hard to find trustable tour agencies in Myanmar, you may check out my recommendations
Philippines Travel Budget
The Philippines is not bordered to any countries, therefore, if you decide to let this country show its charm to you, flights from the neighbouring countries can be as low as $50 for one-way. The Philipines also has 7,000+, the warm and hospitable locals speak English, and the scenery can easily capture your heart.
Visa: Free visa & VOA (check the visa guide for the Philipines)
Dorm: $5 (check the best hostels in the Philippines)
Private room: $8-$10
Food: $.50 (side street places) $1 fast food $1.5 casual restaurants
Sim Card: $10 – Globe (take note that the internet is not very good in the Philippines, personally I use the company Talk N’ Text. I can register on an unlimited mobile data for $.50 valid for 24-hours, which I can use as a hotspot for my laptop)
Transportation: $5 (9-hour local non-AC bus)
Tours: $10 day tours - you can get an organised tour for cheap as $30
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Singapore Travel Budget
Despite being such an expensive country to live and travel to, Singapore can easily be part of your itinerary. Why? Because this country has such wealthy economy, great public transportation, and beautiful skyscrapers. A lot of travellers are curious what Singapore is like.
Visa: Free visa for Europeans, Americans (North and South), and Southeast Asians (check here to see if you need a visa)
Dorm: $15 (affordable hostels in Singapore)
Private room: $30
Food: $2 – Look out for hawkers for cheap but awesome local food
Sim Card: $10 – Klook travel sim card (can be picked up at the Changi Airport- 100 GB mobile data)
Transportation: $1.50 – make sure to get yourself either the regular train card (can be used up to 6 times) or EZ Link Card to get around using public transportations
Tours: $20 (entrance fees on popular amusement parks) - you can find less pricey tours around $20
Thailand Travel Budget
The land where the islands are made to charm you. Thailand can easily win your heart through its beautiful scenery and mouthwatering local food. Despite the huge number of travellers coming to Thailand every year, a lot of backpackers and holiday still include this country on their list.
Visa: Free visa and VOA (check my Thailand visa guide)
Dorm: $5 (check affordable hostels in Thailand)
Private room: $10
Food: $1-$2 for street food or light meals $4
Sim Card: $10 for tourist sim card (can be bought at the airport of any 7eleven stores)
Transportation: $1.50 for subway and $12 for 9-hour bus ride
Motorbike: $15 per day (make sure you have a driver’s license that is valid in Thailand)
Tours: $10-$20 for day tours, but only for transportation-based tours - affordable organised tours for as cheap as $22
Timor-Leste Travel Budget
Timor-Leste is probably not on your list, but why not explore here for a bit to find a little getaway from the heavy touristic destinations in Southeast Asia? The other country in Asia where is Catholicism is the main religion (the other is the Philippines) and US dollars is widely used.
Visa: Free visa for Europeans (check if you need a visa)
Dorm: $12 (backpacker’s favourite hostel in Timor Leste)
Private room: $30
Food: $2-$5 (street food or decent affordable restaurants)
Transportation: $2 for one-hour bus ride
Tours: $20 small day tours - find a tour that fits your need here
Vietnam Travel Budget
Vietnam is supposed to be cheap, although it looks like that is not the case anymore. After receiving millions of travellers every year, Vietnam managed to up their economy game which resulted in making this country a little more expensive than it used to. When I was travelling here two years ago, I can easily find hostels for $3 per bunk bed, nowadays, it’s still affordable to travel in Vietnam but it’s slowly changing.
Visa: Free visa – ASEAN (check the visa guide for Vietnam) – Apply now and get your visa in a few hours only
Dorm: $5-$8 - best Vietnam hostels
Private room: $10-$20
Food: $1.5-$2 (side street food) $3-$5 casual restaurants
Sim Card: $8 – Viettel (for $8, you get 5 GB mobile data valid for 30 days)
Transportation: $8 (4.5-hour bus)
Motorbike: $200-$350 (second-hand – it’s cheaper to buy a motorbike in Hanoi compared to Ho Chi Minh City) - find more information about motorbiking in Vietnam
Tours: $5 for a day tour (mostly transportation only tours) - there are tours for as low as $9
If you need suggestions for hostels in Vietnam check out this article, Best Hostels in Vietnam
WHAT IS THE DAILY BUDGET FOR TRAVELLING SOUTHEAST ASIA
You can divide the places in Southeast Asia into three categories.
First group; Thailand, Cambodia, Philippines, and Myanmar, I would put it on $35 per day. In these countries, either the accommodation or food are on the pricey side, transportation and tours are falling on almost same price range.
While the second group; Vietnam, Laos, Malaysia, and Indonesia, can easily be on $30 a day or even less. I personally find these places affordable on most aspects; accommodation, food, and transportation. Sometimes even the tours are really on the budget side. Accommodation can be as cheap as $5 except if you decide to stay around in the very touristy areas like Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia or Canggu - main tourist town in Bali, Indonesia.
The third group; Singapore, Timor Leste, and Brunei will be on the expensive side especially Singapore where dorm beds cost around $18/night, a beer is $5 a can, and food for $5 a meal. While Timor Leste and Brunei are expensive on tours and transportation (especially flying there). In this group, I would easily put it on $40-$50/day to really enjoy your time.
So in general, I'd calculate a $25-$40/day, you can save money from the second group and be ready to put more budget on the third group.
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I hope this Southeast Asia budget guide gave you enough idea about travelling in this part of the world and point your planning in the right direction. Travelling is not always colourful but keep in mind that it’s something you will forever look back into, the stories you will get to share in the future are yours and forever yours.
So, are you ready to travel Southeast Asia on a budget?! If you have travelled in this part of the world, let us know what you think is the cheapest or mos expensive destination or if you have a great tip to share!
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