Southeast Asia Budget Guide – Your questions answered!

Southeast Asia Budget Guide

Travelling Southeast Asia can be quite a task when it comes to planning, money, countries to visit and all the other stuff you have to think about when organizing your trip. This is where my Southeast Asia Budget Guide comes in. After having travelled all throughout Southeast Asia and after living in Cambodia for 2 years I’ve got Southeast Asia down!

Here I’ll break down the budget you can expect per country. Please be aware that this isn’t travelling on a shoestring. I don’t think you would want to do Southeast Asia this way. Why be super cheap and miss out on all the good stuff when you can spend a few dollars more and have the experience of a lifetime. This budget is realistic, it will make sure you have fun and can do all the things you want to do, without going too crazy. 



Southeast Asia Budget Guide

Be aware that Southeast Asia is highly likely a lot cheaper than wherever you’re from. Exchange rates are often very favourable, get ready to spend!

So how much does it cost to travel to all these countries? Before we get into this, we’ll have to talk about a few other costs that you’ll have to budget for before we even get into the specifics of our Southeast Asia budget guide.

All prices in this article are in USD. If you’d like to find out prices in any other currency I recommend to check XE, this is a great currency exchange rate website with all current rates.

Siem Reap Phnom Penh Travel Asia - Cambodia Itinerary Killing Fields



Table of Contents


  • Flights

  • Travel Insurance

  • Travel Shots

  • Travel Gear

  • $30 Travel budget a day

  • Southeast Asia Budget Overview

  • Thailand

  • Brunei

  • Vietnam

  • Cambodia

  • Laos

  • Myanmar

  • Philippines

  • Singapore

  • Indonesia

  • Malaysia



  • Siem Reap - Angkor Wat - Overall Southeast Asia



    Southeast Asia Budget Guide Breakdown


    Flights

    How much you’ll spend on flights depends of course where you’re from. Prices vary greatly throughout the year and how far you book in advance. However, it is a good idea to set aside at least $900 for your flights in and out of Southeast Asia. 

    I would recommend booking two one-way flights. You will probably not end in the same spot as you start. This doesn’t mean that you’re flights will be more expensive, just means you’ll have to plan a bit more before you start traveling. You will need at least some kind of idea on where you’re going to start and end your journey.



    Travel Insurance

    Travel insurance: $100 (average per month)

    This is one of those costs that you really don’t want to make, but necessary should the worst happen. So, should you get travel insurance? I would say so, as you never know when your luggage is going to get lost, you accidentally step on a piece of glass. Or get the worst Bali belly ever! It’s often better to be safe than sorry.

    Something I learned the hard way. It is always cheaper to buy your insurance up front than to extend periodically. 

    Southeast Asia Budget Guide Travel Insurance Travel Budget Vietnam Thailand Koh Chang



    Travel Shots: $250

    If you’ve never had any of your shots it will probably cost you a lot more than when you’ve had a few already. Always be sure to check with your local healthcare clinic or a travel doctor what shots they recommend. 

    There are a lot of countries where you don’t need expensive malaria tablets. Rabies shots are also one that isn’t necessary before travel, as you can also get them on the spot when needed. I personally have never had rabies shots (before travel) and have also never needed to get them while I was abroad. And I lived in Cambodia for almost 2 years, so you must be out of luck if you do need it! I did take some malaria tablets when I was visiting Myanmar. However, they made me so sick that I stopped taking them after 2 days. I managed to sell my tablets to a fellow traveller who needed them, otherwise, it would be $100 down the drain on tablets I would never use.



    Travel Gear: $200

    My backpack cost about $160, this little fellow is still accompanying me on lots of travels even after 3 years of heavy use. I’d recommend investing in a good backpack or suitcase as they’ll last you throughout your travels and you will never have to worry about the quality. I would also recommend looking into packing cubes as they are a life saver when it comes to travelling with a backpack!

    Asia Cambodia - Dress Code Siem Reap - Angkor Wat - Blessing Southeast Asia Budget Guide Travel Budget




    $30 travel budget a day?

    It will be highly unlikely that you will manage to only spend $30 per day. This would mean really cutting back on some of the fun stuff that makes travel so exciting in the first place. I honestly would rather spend $2 on a leg massage in Cambodia while wondering around pub street and $1 for a banana pancake on a street corner in Thailand (seriously, don’t miss out on these). These are only two of the tiny things you’d be missing out on trying to not hit above that $30 mark but give me such sweet memories of my time in Southeast Asia.

    If you still want to try to hit on or under the $30 each day, here are some tips!

    • Eat local, look out for those $1 breakfast deals and $3 dinners!
    • No alcohol. Partying and drinking often cost hundreds if not thousands each month!
    • Travel local. Try to not get any private or tourists buses, it might take you longer to get to your destination, but will definitely save you lots.
    • Look for free accommodation with services such as couch surfing. The other option is staying in dorms. There’s often some $2 or $3 beds available, you might not stay in the centre of town, or have the cleanest place, but it’s a bed!
    • Don’t go on organized group tours. Figure out where activities are and make your own way here to explore. It’ll cost you some more time organizing but will be a lot cheaper. 




    Southeast Asia Travel Budget Overview

    Please be aware that this travel budget is mainly focused on solo travellers that go sightseeing and do activities at least every other day! If you are travelling in a couple your costs will obviously be less due to more accommodation options.

    While traveling through Southeast Asia you should be able to live on an average daily budget of $50 to $60. This includes everything while on the road from travel insurance and flights and other transports. 

    If you don’t take a lot of flights and balance your lifestyle with no crazy amounts of partying or other super costly activities you can easily achieve this travel budget. 

    Thailand - Elephant Jungle Sanctuary Southeast Asia Budget Guide Travel Budget Cambodia

    TIP: Drinking alcohol is one of the biggest costs while travelling. If you can stick to only drinking the occasional beer once in a while (instead of bucket loads of Samsong rum and coke) you’ll save a lot of money.

    There will be many others that are going to tell you that you’ll easily survive off of less a day, and they aren’t lying. People that travel on such a budget are really just surviving. All they do all day is making sure they don’t spend too much money and don’t go over their budget. In the end, they miss out on so many great things because they were trying to make sure that at the end of the line they could tell everyone they did it on $30 a day.

    There isn’t one budget that covers every country in Southeast Asia. As you’ll learn here, most of the countries have very similar prices. But in the end, they are different countries, different cultures and have different costs attached to other activities.

    Country    
    Thailand (south)    
    Thailand (central/north)    
    Brunei    
    Vietnam    
    Cambodia    
    Laos    
    Myanmar    
    Philippines    
    Singapore    
    Indonesia    
    Malaysia    

        Suggested daily budget
        $45 – $55
        $35 – $45
        $50 – $60
        $40 – $50
        $35 – $45
        $35 – $45
        $35 – $45
        $40 – $50
        $60 – $70
        $35 – $45
        $45 – $55

    Hanoi - Halong Bay - Canoeing Southeast Asia




    Thailand 

    Thailand is often the start of many Southeast Asia and backpack adventures. When it comes to costs in Thailand there is a massive difference between the north and south. The rule in Thailand is often that if the destinations near a beach are twice as much as the regions inland (north). 

    Thailand Travel Budget Guide Southeast Asia Budget Guide

    Northern Thailand

    The Northern part of Thailand can also be seen as the cheaper part of the country. Bangkok can still be on the pricey side, especially if you are planning on spending your time partying on Khoa San Road. The cost of a basic double room averages around $14. With lots of good street food and cheap tuk-tuks your overall budget for this part of the country doesn’t need to be too high. 

    Be sure to keep into account that there are a few pricier day or multiple-day activities that can be done in this region. A lot of people end up spending time at an elephant sanctuary, these places are often really expensive for Southeast Asian standards. You can spend 3-days at an elephant sanctuary in Chiang Mai for about $300 to $400. This does include most of your meals, transport and accommodation. 

    Southeast Asia Travel Budget Thailand Brunei Laos Cambodia Vietnam Malaysia Myanmar Philippines Singapore Indonesia Travel on Budget Asia Travel Asia Backpacking budget Backpacking Asia Budget


    Southern Thailand

    The beaches in Thailand attract tourists from all over the world, making it no surprise that it is quite expensive here. If you are planning to go island hopping in Thailand, be aware that prices are also highly dependent on the season. If you go in wet season you might be able to stay here at comparable to northern Thailand. 

    The average high price of rooms here can be blamed on islands such as Koh Phi Phi and Koh Phangan. Most of the other islands in the south aren’t too crazy. If you plan to go to Koh Phi Phi be prepared to pay up to $50 for a basic double room. On Koh Phangan, famous for it’s Full Moon Party can cost up to $40 a night when the famous party is on. If you are planning to go to the Full Moon Party, be sure to book in advance, as the whole island is often fully booked days in advance.  

    If you are looking for cheap islands in the south. Make sure to check out Koh Lanta, Koh Lipe, Koh Chang, Koh Tao, and lots of others!

    Southeast Asia Travel Budget Thailand Brunei Laos Cambodia Vietnam Malaysia Myanmar Philippines Singapore Indonesia Travel on Budget Asia Travel Asia Backpacking budget Backpacking Asia Budget




    Brunei

    The small nation of Brunei located on the massive island of Borneo is often a big mystery to travellers. Many people believe that a trip here will be super pricey. But they might be wrong there. Yes, Brunei is more expensive than places such as Thailand and Cambodia, but it is definitely possible to do it on $50 to $60 a day!

    Make sure to book your accommodation in advance, you’ll be able to get rooms for a better price than on the spot for only a few days in advance. As for finding a dorm bed, you might be able to find some homestays that have bunk beds and dorm size rooms. There aren’t many though, so make sure to also book these in advance. Also, make sure that you check how to get places. The public transport system isn’t all that great, all they have is a few different bus routes. If planning to go to a different part of the country, the best option is a rental car. I haven’t done this myself as I never really travelled out of the capital.

    Many places in the capital are only a short walking distance away from each other so I only got around on foot. I’ve taken a taxi here and there but mainly had negative experiences so I tried to only take one when there was no other option. Just try to find accommodation centrally located so that you can save money on taxis!

    Southeast Asia Travel Budget Thailand Brunei Laos Cambodia Vietnam Malaysia Myanmar Philippines Singapore Indonesia Travel on Budget Asia Travel Asia Backpacking budget Backpacking Asia Budget




    Vietnam

    Vietnam has some of the cheapest museums and national parks in all of Southeast Asia. Most are only $1 or $2 to get in. They have similar prices as the street food all over this country. You’ll be able to find some delicious Pho noodles and one of the local shops for only $1 a bowl. Just sit down on one of the small plastic chairs next to the road and enjoy a Vietnamese meal. 

    Some of the most expensive activities in Vietnam will be the Ha Long Bay tour (a must!). This will be at least $60 depending on how luxurious and long you want your boat trip. There is also a day tour on the Mekong Delta that can’t be missed, and costs about $40. 

    Vietnam Southeast Asia Budget Guide Travel Budget

    Getting from place to place will be done via bus or train, the train is often a little pricier. I would recommend the train, especially if you are traveling overnight and are longer than 1.70 meters. The busses are nice and cosy but anyone above this height will feel super squashed as the beds aren’t very long. 

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    Cambodia

    Probably one of the cheapest stops on your Southeast Asia trip! For those travelling on a shoestring, this is the place to be. They have dorm beds going for a ridiculous $2. Delicious Cambodian BBQ for dinner for only $1 to $2 a meal. And don’t forget the $0.50 beers during happy hour (every hour is happy hour in Cambodia). 

    Hiring a tuk-tuk for a full day of riding around Angkor Wat is only $15 (for the whole tuk-tuk!!) and a public bus from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh is $6 for a 6-hour bus ride!

    Southeast Asia Travel Budget Thailand Brunei Laos Cambodia Vietnam Malaysia Myanmar Philippines Singapore Indonesia Travel on Budget Asia Travel Asia Backpacking budget Backpacking Asia Budget




    Laos

    Laos is often seen as a little more expensive than Cambodia and Vietnam. This is more than travellers gossip than that it is the truth as prices are in general similar to both those countries. If you’re on a budget you can find dorm beds as cheap as $4, but nice basic double rooms also go for $24. Looking for a cheap double room, no worries, you can also find these here! 

    Entrance fees to temples and parks are often under $10. Where local transportation such as buses and tuk-tuks are between the $2 and $10 margin. 

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    Myanmar

    Myanmar is a bit of a special one on this list when it comes to prices. Accommodation here is expensive, while all other costs are some of the lowest we’ll find in Southeast Asia.

    The reason that prices for accommodation in Myanmar are so expensive has a reason. Under the old regime (pre-2012), not a lot of tourists could visit Myanmar. This mend that hotels weren’t a necessity and not many were build. However, since 2012, demand has risen drastically. A lot of new hotels have opened up but the demand is high and prices are still a bit high due to the high demand of hotel rooms. 

    As mentioned before, all other expenses are low and can be compared to Cambodia. The public train from Yangon to Mandalay is only $15 and a 5-day pass to the temples of Bagan can be bought for only $20. However, as tourism here is still in it’s infancy, prices will be rising in the next few years. 

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    Philippines

    When planning your budget for the Philippines, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, since the Philippines exists mainly of islands, it is not always possible to travel cheaply over land. Second, accommodation prices are often a lot higher in the south of the Philippines. Another thing to think about when travelling between islands is that ferries between the islands can be impractically slow. Some internal flights may be necessary. AirAsia, Zest Air, Cebu Airlines,  and other airlines offer budget flights.

    Entry fees to parks, caves, wildlife sanctuaries, and other attractions are usually between $1 and $4. Guided tours and treks are all fairly priced and cost between $10 to $15 for a full day. An area where activities will be a bit more expensive is Palawan, here a 2-hour tour of for example Puerto Princessa Underground River costs $11, and a day to El Nido costs about $28.

    Boracay island is Philippines party island and can be compared to Phuket or Bali, prices are mid-range and the island is also still backpacker friendly.

    Southeast Asia Travel Budget Thailand Brunei Laos Cambodia Vietnam Malaysia Myanmar Philippines Singapore Indonesia Travel on Budget Asia Travel Asia Backpacking budget Backpacking Asia Budget




    Singapore

    Singapore will probably be the modest modern stop you’ll have during your Southeast Asia travels. Prices can be a bit of a shock for travelers and often lead to only short visits. A dorm bed is at it’s cheapest $22, which is the same price for a nice double room in most other Southeast Asian countries. 

    A plus for this beautiful country/city is the excellent public transport. They have a great metro system that gets you around easily for not a lot of money. There’s quite a lot of street food to be found in Singapore, prices are still drastically higher than elsewhere in the continent, but it’s better than paying $30 for a restaurant meal. Be sure to check out the food courts called Hawker Centers, you’ll be able to find lots of cheap delicious food there!

    If you’re looking to party. Singapore might not be the place to do it. Alcohol is taxed heavily making a night out crazy expensive. 

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    Indonesia

    The cost of travelling in Indonesia will depend on where exactly you go.

    Bali and areas like Seminyak and Kuta are popular with many holidayers from Australia, these places are therefore most expensive. However, go to nearby Ubud or Canggu and prices drop. You can find beautiful homestays and bungalows at only $20 a night.

    The small paradise islands of the Gili’s are also on the pricier side with dorm beds at $12.  If you head to the less-visited islands of Java, Sumatra or Flores, you can still find $6 or $7 dorm beds. This is just to show the major difference between going to the more touristsy Bali and the Gilis, or travelling to other places in Indonesia, which can be a crazy 50% cheaper.

    Since 2014, entry fees for national parks or UNESCO sites such as Borobodur or Prambanan are a lot higher than previously. It used to be just a few dollars, but now it’s around $10–15.

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    Malaysia

    Often Malaysia is mentioned as an expensive country. I find this reputation very undeserved and I bet a lot of travelers agree with me. 

    Your opinion on whether or not Malaysia costs a lot will depend highly on what you will be doing. If you’re in Malaysia to go climbing on Mount Kinabalu you will be paying hundreds of dollars more than those who don’t do this. However, if this is on your list of things to do, make sure to book in advance as spots are limited. 

    For all other costs, yes Malaysia isn’t as cheap as for example Vietnam and Laos. But prices are only a dollar or so higher for food and transport. You’ll be able to find lots of cheap local food (they love Indian here) for $2 to $4. 

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    Southeast Asia Budget Guide - Always wondered how much you have to save before you can visit Southeast Asia. I'm here to help you with some insider advice on a budget for all these countries! Thailand, Cambodia, Brunei, Myanmar, Indonesia, Philippines, Laos, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, I'll go in depth for all of them!

    Southeast Asia Budget Guide - Always wondered how much you have to save before you can visit Southeast Asia. I'm here to help you with some insider advice on a budget for all these countries! Thailand, Cambodia, Brunei, Myanmar, Indonesia, Philippines, Laos, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, I'll go in depth for all of them!

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