Southeast Asia Backpacking: Cost of Travel Overview

January 28, 2017

Jump to: Thailand – Laos – Cambodia – Vietnam – Singapore – Malaysia – Indonesia – Philippines – Myanmar

Railay Beach, Thailand

Southeast Asia is an amazing region to travel even on a tight budget. Travel costs are extremely low while still giving you a lot of great value, so its popularity with backpackers is no coincidence.

That said, not everywhere in Southeast Asia is equally cheap, so it’s worth doing a budget calculation that takes into account which countries you’ll spend most of your time in.

On a longer trip, plan on spending about $35/day on average for one person, or about $1000/month. For two people sharing, a good rule of thumb is $50/day, averaged across the region.

My most recent trip in the region was in 2015, though all the cost examples and suggested budgets in this post have been updated for 2017 using the latest info available.

I also sampled at least 50 prices from accommodation booking sites for each country to calculate the average cost for a dorm bed or basic private double room (e.g. in a hostel or 1 or 2-star guesthouse). Accommodation cost is typically a great indicator for the cost of a country overall.

Some important caveats:

  • The data for accommodation prices are sourced from online booking sites, and these inevitably include businesses that are more established. Shoestring travellers may also find plenty of unlisted hole-in-the-wall places that cost half as much as the average. (Though you may also hear some things crawling inside those walls. 😉 )
  • Suggested daily budgets assume you are a backpacker willing to sleep mostly in fan-only rooms (without air conditioning), using mostly overland transportation, eating mostly local food, and avoiding resorts and upmarket hotels. As always, your mileage may vary.

Prices are in USD, though you may of course be used to another currency (I’m from Europe myself). For other currencies, see latest rates at XE.

Country Suggested Daily Budget
Thailand (beaches) up to $50
Thailand (central / north) $30
Laos $25 – $35
Vietnam $20 – $30
Cambodia $20 – $30
Singapore $40 – $80 (see notes)
Malaysia $35 – $45 (more with tours)
Philippines $35 – $45
Myanmar $30 – $40


In a nutshell: cheap in the north, close to Western prices in the south

Thailand has long been known as a backpacker mecca. But while the north around Chiang Mai remains one of the world’s cheapest places to travel, if you’re anywhere near a beach, expect to spend at least twice as much as in the regions further inland.


Dorm bed average:  $12.50
Basic room average: $32.70

The gradually gentrifying backpacker district of Khao San still has some ultra-cheap dives ($5–8), but for a bed in a modern and reputable hostel with full amenities, the cost averages at about $12.50 a night. Thanks to ubiquitous street food, an efficient metro system, and cheap tuk-tuks, your overall budget for Bangkok won’t need to be high.

Chiang Mai & northern Thailand

Dorm bed average:  $7.40
Basic room average: $16.50

The north can be delightfully cheap. A dorm bed goes for as little as $4 a night here, though keep in mind such ultra-cheap places may expect you to also book tours with them (and will get cranky if you don’t). Decent rooms can be found for $10 (e.g. think bamboo bungalows in Pai). In Chiang Mai, $30/night can get you a fantastic room with pool access.

Thai beaches & islands

Dorm bed average:  $14
Basic room average: $39

The beaches attract plenty of tourists on a short stay and with money to spend, so it should be no surprise it’s more expensive here. Prices are also more sensitive to seasonality.

The above average does hide some significant outliers. Koh Phi Phi takes the cake with basic twin rooms normally costing $50–80 and many dorm beds exceeding $20/night. Arguably this island is a victim of its own success, and I’ve noticed even Lonely Planet no longer lists it in its Top 20 (make of this what you will!). On Koh Phangan, prices will easily triple on or around the date of the Full Moon Party, rising to at least about $15 for dorms or $40 for rooms, though some dorms near the Full Moon beach may cost as much as $40/night.

For substantially cheaper and more laidback islands, go to Koh Lanta, Koh Lipe, Koh Chang, Koh Tao (for the most part), and many others.

Thailand in general

A meal from a street vendor or local restaurant should cost around $2 to $6 pretty much anywhere. Many activities are priced in the $10–20 range. For instance, half a day of cooking classes in Chiang Mai might cost you $20. Visiting the Grand Palace in Bangkok costs about $13. In northern Thailand, a day of caving or trekking with a guide will set you back somewhere around $20 as well.

Suggested Backpacker Budget: $30 a day (north) or $50+ a day (south)

Thailand guide »



In a nutshell: very inexpensive

Dorm bed average:  $7
Basic room average: $24

Laos may be marginally more expensive than Cambodia or Vietnam (mainly due to being landlocked and having to import many of its goods), but most travellers still surely won’t bat an eyelash at the prices. Those on a shoestring budget can find a dorm bed for as little as $4. Basic but nice rooms go for about $30, though if all you need is a purely functional room you can find them for as little as $12 in places like Vang Vieng.

Entrance fees to parks and temples are typically in the single digit dollars. A good rule of thumb for transportation cost is that every hour spent on a bus costs about a dollar, so a 10 hour overnight bus from Luang Prabang to Vientiane will cost somewhere around $10. A popular way to enter the country from Thailand is the 2-day slow boat from Huay Xai to Luang Prabang, which costs about $50, though this includes an overnight stay in Pak Beng.

Suggested Backpacker Budget: $25 to $35 a day

Laos guide »



In a nutshell: very inexpensive

Hostel dorm bed average: $8
Basic private room average: $20

In Vietnam, money leaves your wallet at a syrupy slow rate.

Accommodation is among the cheapest in Southeast Asia, and entry fees to museums and national parks are rarely more than a dollar or two. Those wishing to save on their meals will find that Vietnam is simply a street food paradise; just grab a little plastic chair at a roadside eatery for some delicious pho noodles (about $1 per bowl) or some passable local ‘fresh beer’ (about $0.20 per cup).

Among your big expenses may be your entry visa ($45 for the visa itself and the stamping fee), a tour of Ha Long Bay (about $60 for two days, or much more for increased comfort), or a day tour of the Mekong Delta (about $40).

You do often get the sense that tourists here are seen as chickens to be plucked, so keep your eye out for taxi meter scams and other trickery, particularly in the cities.

Suggested Backpacker Budget: $20 to $30 a day

Vietnam guide »



In a nutshell: very inexpensive

Hostel dorm bed average: $6
Basic private room average: $21

Cambodia may well be the cheapest country in Southeast Asia. Tourism is very backpacker-focused, with $4+ dorm beds and $15+ twin privates being the norm. One exception is Siem Reap near the temples of Angkor Wat, which attracts a few well-heeled tourists as well, but even here you’ll find a brilliant buffet of budget options.

Your biggest single expense is likely to be your entry ticket to the temple complex of Angkor Wat, which is $20 for a 1-day pass or $40 for a 3-day pass. Update: as of February 2017 this is now $37 for 1 day and $62 for 3 days. This could impact your budget significantly if your main focus is visiting Angkor Wat.

Hiring a tuk-tuk to take you around the temples for a day costs around $15. Entry fees to museums are typically in the low single digit dollars. For instance, the entry fee to the Killing Fields memorial is $3.

Street food options are a bit more limited here than in Thailand or Vietnam, so you may have to hit up restaurants a little more often.

Suggested Backpacker Budget: $20 to $30 a day

Cambodia guide »



In a nutshell: clutch your wallet, this place ain’t cheap!

Hostel dorm bed average: $24
Basic private room average: $60

Singapore is an ultra-modern city-state with obscene cost of living (just ask anyone who’s had to rent an apartment here). Prices can be a shock for travellers coming from Indonesia or Malaysia. A dorm bed averages at $24 a night, which can be a whole day’s budget elsewhere. To stay cost-effective, some dorm rooms in Singapore have up to 20 beds—not a fun prospect if you’re a light sleeper or want some semblance of privacy.

At least the excellent metro gets you just about everywhere for a few bucks, and cheap and delicious food is available at big food courts called Hawker Centers. There are a number of things to do in Singapore on a budget, but if pressed you may wish to skip paid attractions like the Singapore Zoo. Alcohol is taxed heavily so you may wish to avoid a big night out as well.

Suggested Backpacker Budget: it depends hugely. If you’re just transiting through you can keep it to $40–50 a day, but a lot of sightseeing, going out, or restaurant food can push this to $50–90.

Singapore guide »



In a nutshell: budget appropriately for multi-day tours and adventure activities, but otherwise excellent value for money

Hostel dorm bed average: $9
Basic private room average: $19

Independent travellers sometimes label Malaysia as an ‘expensive’ country, but I don’t think this reputation is entirely deserved.

Your opinion of the costs will probably be highly dependent on what exactly you do in Malaysia. If you’re crazy about adventure activities, then be prepared to spend relatively more. For example, if your goal is to climb Mount Kinabalu on Borneo, a 2- or 3-day guided trek will easily cost several hundred dollars. Permits are limited and demand is high, pushing up prices for this bucket list experience (be sure to book early). Similarly, a 2-day jungle river expedition in Kinabatangan park costs around $90, which is definitely more than it would have cost in some other Asian countries.

On the other hand, day-to-day travel costs are extremely reasonable. In fact, Malaysia offers excellent value for money despite having a higher standard of living. Hostels are modern and often equipped with AC but still charge around $10. Basic private rooms are available at essentially Vietnamese prices but with much better facilities. Hawker centers provide all kinds of delicious Malay, Indian, Chinese and Burmese dishes all in the $2 – $4 range.

If you’re a party backpacker, you may be aghast to learn a half-liter beer costs about $3.50 and immediately scuttle back to Thailand. (Malaysia is generally a more conservative country and not a party destination.) If instead you’re here for cultural sights or for that hammock on a quiet beach, you may feel right at home.

Suggested Backpacker Budget: $30 – $45 a day (increase this if going on many jungle tours and other organized activities)



In a nutshell: while it’s not as cheap as mainland Southeast Asia (and southern Bali is super commercial), it’s still a very budget-friendly country

Hostel dorm bed average: $10.50
Basic private room average: $23

The cost of travel in Indonesia will be fairly elastic depending on where exactly you go.

Bali is the main tourist hotspot, and southern areas like Seminyak and Kuta are popular with many short-stay tourists from Australia and elsewhere, so these places are the most commercialised and expensive. But head to nearby Canggu or Ubud and prices already drop considerably. You can find wonderful bungalows and homestays here at around $20 a night.

On the super popular Gili islands, many hostels charge $12 and up for a dorm bed. If you go to less-visited Java, Sumatra or Flores, you can still find many $6 or $7 a night hostels. This is just to illustrate the differences between focusing only on the Bali and the Gilis, or travelling Indonesia at large (which can easily be 50% cheaper).

As of 2014, entry fees for national parks or UNESCO sites such as Borobodur or Prambanan are substantially higher than before. It typically used to be just a few dollars, but nowadays it’s around $10–15 (for international visitors only). Some travellers working with outdated travel guides still complain about these costs or even perceived discrimination because Indonesians can enter at the old prices.

As with Malaysia, adventure tours can be more pricey compared to Vietnam, Thailand, or Cambodia. For instance, a 3-day tour of the Bromo and Ijen volcanos on Java will cost about $130 once you’ve factored in all the add-ons you need to buy (extra fees for a jeep ride, guide, etc.). A multi-day boat trip from Lombok to Labuan Bajo costs about $140. It’s well worth it, but it’s just a relatively larger expense than, say, the slow boat in Laos or boat trips to Ha Long Bay.

Suggested Backpacker Budget: about $30 to $40 a day

Indonesia guide »



In a nutshell: reasonably priced, but keep in mind the higher cost of accommodation and likely need for domestic flights

Hostel dorm bed average: $12
Basic private room average: $26

When budgeting for the Philippines, there are some things to keep in mind. First, accommodation prices are definitely on the higher end for the region. Second, since the Philippines is such a huge collection of islands, it’s not always possible to travel cheaply overland. Ferries between the islands can be impractically slow, so some internal flights may be necessary. AirAsia, Cebu Airlines, Zest Air, and other airlines do offer domestic flights at budget prices.

That said, entry fees to parks, wildlife sanctuaries, caves, and so on are typically in the $1 – $4 range, and guided tours and treks are all reasonably priced—around $10 to $15 for a day’s activities. An area where you’ll find some exceptions is Palawan, where a 2-hour tour of Puerto Princessa Underground River costs $11, and a day of island hopping around El Nido costs about $28 (this is up from $10 a few years ago).

Boracay island is the Philippines version of Phuket or Bali (i.e. a more commercial holiday destination), but it’s more mid-range priced and still quite backpacker-friendly.

Suggested Backpacker Budget: about $35 to $45 a day

Philippines guide »



In a nutshell: beware of high accommodation prices, though other travel costs are at relatively lower levels

Hostel dorm bed average: $15
Basic private room average: $37

Myanmar is a bit of an odd duck in this list, as its average accommodation prices are not necessarily indicative of travel costs overall.

Under the old pre-2012 regime Myanmar received very few visitors, so the country has historically had few hotels. High demand and a limited selection kept prices up. While many brand new hostels have opened in recent years—making things easier for budget travellers—accommodation costs do remain relatively high.

That said, other expenses like food, activities, and tours may be lower than you might expect based on the costs of accommodation. A 5-day pass to the temples of Bagan costs $20 (compare this to $60 for Angkor Wat in Cambodia). A train from Yangon all the way to Mandalay is just $15. You can rent a bicycle or motorbike to explore Bagan or Lake Inle for as little as $5 a day. With tourism still in relative infancy, fewer businesses charge hiked up tourist prices.

Suggested Backpacker Budget: $30 to $40 a day

Myanmar guide »


  1. Issabella Reply December 28, 2018 at 5:18 pm

    Hi! Would you be able to recommend a rough route for Northern Thailand and Laos? I’m looking to travel for about a month and I’m a solo female 🙂

    • Marek Reply December 29, 2018 at 5:34 pm

      It’s hard to say without knowing anything about your personal goals/interests! Maybe read this Thailand itinerary which is pretty standard. There are also some Laos routes here.

      You could do Chiang Mai, Mae Hong Son, Luang Namtha, Luang Prabang, Nong Khiaw, and maybe some southern Laos. Just one example.

    • Hugh Carpenter Reply December 29, 2018 at 8:32 pm

      Heya Marek. Doing a similar trip. 3 months on my own through mostly Northern Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, potentially finishing up in Gili T Bali. Backpacking on the cheap, mostly overland travel, interests include tramping, nature, people, meditation, etc. I’m thinking around 6k NZD tops. This a good estimate?? Thanks in advance my friend.

  2. Shannen Reply November 20, 2018 at 6:31 am

    Hi Marek ,
    Best S.E A blog I have come across! My partner and I are planning a trip from OZ starting in Bali to Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines then onto Vietnam and Cambodia and travelling to the UK from there. Do you think this is the best route to take in Asia and what would you estimate the costs to be? Thanks! 🙂

    • Marek Reply November 20, 2018 at 3:43 pm

      Hi Shannen. Sounds like a fine itinerary! No reason why you shouldn’t do it in that order 🙂

      For the costs just try to estimate how long you’ll be in each country, multiply by estimated daily budget, and add the cost of your flights. There’s not much more I can do without knowing your trip duration or travel style! But you can make a back-of-the-envelope calculation based on info here and elsewhere online.

  3. TICIANO Reply October 14, 2018 at 5:27 am

    Hi buddy. Im gonna travel thru Thailand, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam for 70 days. Do you believe 2500 dollars for everything, including transportation, is totally possible or will I find some struggle?

    Thanks a lot

    • Marek Reply October 15, 2018 at 8:21 am

      Yep should be just about OK. Depends how long you’ll spend in Myanmar though (accommodation is more expensive there) and if you’re going inland in Thailand or on the coast (Thai coast is among the most expensive areas).

      • Ticiano Reply October 15, 2018 at 3:35 pm

        About 10 days in Myanmar and only about 5-6 days on Thai coast. Thx

        Ps: and cambodia as well!

        • Marek Reply October 15, 2018 at 6:11 pm

          It always depends on your travel style but yeah should be sufficient as a backpacker 🙂

  4. Jennifer Reply October 12, 2018 at 2:04 am

    Hi Marek,

    I’m planning a trip to SEA for January 2019. I’m going for about a month. I’m a solo female traveler and I am more interested in the nature/cultural side of things, rather than partying. I was wondering what you would suggest regarding how many countries (which ones?) you would suggest seeing in this amount of time.


    • Marek Reply October 17, 2018 at 12:36 pm

      Hmmm well I love Laos for its nature, culture, and rural life. You could combine it well with northern Vietnam, which has a lot of great food and city culture in Hanoi.

  5. Ticiano Reply August 22, 2018 at 2:54 am

    The Angkor temples seem very expensive. Is that the only way to check them out, paying those fees?

    • Marek Reply August 31, 2018 at 1:15 pm

      Yeah it’s a protected park with entry fees. If your budget is tight you could maybe go for a 1-day pass. There are also various smaller Khmer temples around the region that are free or cheap (and have waaay fewer tourists 🙂 )

    • Lewis Evans Reply September 13, 2018 at 3:46 pm


      Hope someone would be able to help and advise me. Me and my girlfriend are planning a trip from the UK to SEA. Beforehand we are going to fly into New Delhi see th Taj Mahal and then get a flight from there to Yangon in Burma.

      We then are going to go by plane to Chiang Mai, and then do Thailand, (maybe Indonesia), Cambodia, and Vietnam.

      We have around £9,000 to spend, and want to go for around 5 months. This figure is for;
      Accomodation (preferably private room)
      Internal transport
      Food & drink

      We will be buying our flight to New Delhi and to Yangon separately.

      Would this be a sufficient amount to last us? Many thanks!

      • Marek Reply September 13, 2018 at 5:55 pm

        Hey Lewis. Yeah not counting the cost of those flights I’d say you should be good with your budget. (And assuming you’ll be staying in budget private rooms.)

    • Johann del Rosario Reply September 24, 2018 at 1:59 am

      Hi everyone, I hope i can get an answer for my inquiry. Im planning to take a cross-country trip to South east asia. Is this site talking about visiting all 8-9 countries in just one tour package? If it is, how long is the entire tour? How many days of stay per country?

      • Marek Reply September 24, 2018 at 3:36 pm

        This site is about independent travel (making your own plans) not tour packages.

  6. Hugh Carpenter Reply July 24, 2018 at 4:27 am

    Just found some really good info about this on Tigit motorbikes website so if you like you may ignore my previous comment 🙂
    Thanks Marek.

    • Marek Reply July 24, 2018 at 9:14 am

      Glad the site’s been useful to you! Buying and selling a motorbike might work out better for long term use. Check the rules for the borders though as sometimes there’s paperwork involved in taking a vehicle out of the country. 🙂

  7. Hugh Carpenter Reply July 24, 2018 at 1:48 am

    Hey Marek, thanks heaps for the info my friend. Your website and books have been my main source of info for planning a 4 month SEA adventure 😉
    Just one question. I am planning on travelling by motorcycle for much of the trip (Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Laos) and am just wondering what the best/cheapest option will be. ie. renting for months at a time (seems to be ~ $450 odd) or just buying and then selling later on?
    Any thoughts on this?
    Thanks so much for your time Marek, really appreciate it.
    All the best,

  8. Andrew Reply May 14, 2018 at 9:09 pm

    I’m planning a 3 mo SEA trip with my GF starting at the end of August through beginning of December. I know monsoon season can be a concern but that’s how my availability works. In no particular order we want to do something like your 2 month plan and add in Malaysia and or Indonesia. How would you suggest planning the countries/order the trip based around weather?

    • Marek Reply May 14, 2018 at 9:38 pm

      Hey Andrew, in that case I’d start in Indonesia as the monsoon is it’s dry season there in August/Sept. Then go to the mainland and head north first. (E.g. do northern Thailand, keep islands for Dec.)

  9. David Jennings Reply March 22, 2018 at 3:45 pm

    Hi Marek,

    Just want to clarify, and not sure if you have covered this already in previous comments, but when you say ”On a longer trip, plan on spending about $35/day on average for one person, or about $1000/month. For two people sharing, a good rule of thumb is $50/day, averaged across the region” is the rule of thumb of $50/day for two people sharing 50$ each or 25$ each?

    • Marek Reply March 25, 2018 at 2:08 pm

      I meant 25 each, based on the idea that as a couple you can share your accommodation costs, cook meals yourself more often, etc. It could be a slightly optimistic estimate now that I consider it again – but the main thing is really that you can split the cost of a room.

  10. Michael Sitibe Reply February 20, 2018 at 9:29 pm

    Hi Marek

    First of thanks for your quick response.
    Countries that are near like; Bangkok, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, I can travel by land. Not sure if it’s safe.
    But i hear flights are affordable. Do you think 2 months is not enough?

    • Marek Reply February 21, 2018 at 12:42 am

      Welllll you could do it in theory, but I personally don’t recommend it. It’s a long list of places that are all very far apart. (You’re the guy who posted below this, right? 🙂 )

      You’d spend just several days in Bangkok (which is hardly a great impression of Thailand), then sit in a bus for 12 hours passing by many beautiful places you’ll only see through the window, to only get the shallowest impression of Cambodia (as I guess you’d end up only in Siem Reap). And so on. You won’t get any of the culture or nature or any depth, just hubs + lots of intense travel in between.

      I wrote a bit more about that here:

      I’m counting 16 countries and with 2 months that’s only 3 days per place (counting the 4th as travel day). I’d say that’s incredibly ambitious. Though of course that’s just my 2 ct 🙂 I acknowledge that everyone has different travel goals etc.!

  11. Mj New Zealand Reply February 20, 2018 at 9:24 am

    My route is as
    Start Singapore> Malaysia> Bangkok> Thailand> Cambodia> Vietnam> Laos>
    China> Hong Kong> Taiwan> South Korea> Japan> Manila> Philippines> Bali> Indonesia>… back to Singapore and return to New Zealand.

    We plan on 4 nights and 5 days stop each country,
    budget of $7 000. Will that cover and can i do route as this?

    • Marek Reply February 20, 2018 at 10:59 am

      Not sure as I’m not really up to date on north Asian cost of travel (Japan, South Korea, etc.) and I don’t know how you plan to travel (overland? flying?). It sounds like an ambitious plan to me though! Personally, I would go to half the country and double the time in each, or you just end up seeing a lot of airports and capitals only. Then again, I don’t know your goals for this trip 🙂

  12. mj Reply February 20, 2018 at 9:12 am

    Wow Thank you so much for the update and the info. My girl and i have been planning since last November for a 2 months trip. I read your work and it helps allot. Keep up the good job buddy.

    What best romantic sites, can you recommendation includes , food, sea view, activities such as caving, hiking, islands and accommodation. I hope she says yes after asking if u know what i mean. hahahah

    • Marek Reply February 23, 2018 at 2:59 pm

      That’s a tough one! I guess Bali is traditionally thought of as being quite romantic.

  13. Morten - Denmark Reply January 2, 2018 at 1:34 pm

    Hi Marek,
    Fantastic tips, facts and info regarding traveling SEA and much appreciated as me and my gf are planning a 3 month trip through SEA.
    We are looking for a bit of advise or at least some sort of like guidance too see if our ‘plan’ is alright or if this is a common route for backpackers.
    Start Philippines -> Hanoi -> Ho Chi Minh -> Cambodia -> Laos -> North Thailand -> South Thailand. Of course with all the stops on the way, but after Thailand we were either thinking of Myanmar(Burma) or Malaysia (if time and money are there).
    My question is: Is this a common route for backpackers and possible?
    2: if time and money is available .. Myanmar or Malaysia?

    Many thanks mate.

    • Marek Reply January 16, 2018 at 7:16 pm

      Sorry for my slow reply Morten! I suppose it’s not a common route, but it seems sensible to me. Between those countries, I would personally go for Myanmar for the cultural experience.

      • Morten - Denmark Reply January 25, 2018 at 12:46 pm

        No worries mate, all good!
        Just a quick question regarding visa’s to the different countries, is there anything we should be aware of or is it very easy to get it once you cross the border?

        • Marek Reply January 25, 2018 at 11:26 pm

          With your EU passport you normally just show up and get a visa on arrival, so very easy. It’s more complicated with Vietnam though. See: Myanmar I believe also still requires making some arrangements in advance.

  14. Q Reply August 1, 2017 at 2:08 am

    US$20 to US$30 in Cambodia sounds rather unrealistic now, the enter fees have soared!
    Angkor Wat 1-day pass: US$37
    Angkor Wat 2-day pass: US$62
    (Don’t forget the cost of hiring tuk-tuk…)
    Getting to some of the less visited temples can be very expensive too (e.g. Preah Vihear) as you probably need to get there by private transport, cheaper if you can go there with friends or other travelers.
    Phnom Penh Royal Palace: US$10 now
    Killing Fields memorial: US$6 now (not sure)
    Angkor Museum: US$12

    Fortunately, it seems Vietnam remains very inexpensive, though some Taiwanese travelers said dining in Vietnam can be rather expensive

  15. Francesca Reply May 5, 2017 at 4:08 am

    Hi, wonderful article!! I am def using this a a reference. Learned so much. I will be going to SEA for a for 4 months. I am a solo female traveler. The countries I’m going to are thialand, loas, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Bali. In this amount of time what countries should I spend more time? I’m interested in more nature .vs. partying. My budget is also about $1000 a you also recommend getting visas when I arrive. I arrive in Bangkok. Thank you for wonderful article

    • Marek Reply May 5, 2017 at 10:46 am

      Heya! If you like nature then Laos is a nice country to stay a bit longer, also northern Thailand and northern Vietnam (Sapa etc.). 4 months should be plenty of time for these countries, so you can play it by ear and move on when you think you’ve seen everything you wanted to see in a place. Visas on arrival are typically easy to get if you’re from a Western country. Make sure you check for Vietnam though as this country still usually requires already having a visa before you cross the border. You can get them in Laos or Cambodia during your trip, but you might have to wait a couple of days for them to be delivered.

    • Jimmy Richford Reply May 11, 2017 at 7:55 pm

      Sounds like you and I have a very similar itinerary. I’ll be leaving New York at the end of June for three to four months.

  16. Sara Reply March 2, 2017 at 4:32 pm

    Hi. Love the blog.
    I’m travelling se.a for five months, starting in july. I was wondering if you would recomand bying tickets in the region before travelling, or just during? What is the cheepest, and what would you recomand?

    • Marek Reply March 2, 2017 at 6:30 pm

      Hey Sara. By tickets do you mean flights? On such a long trip I think it’s generally better to book things (flights, tours, accommodation) only a few steps at a time and while you’re traveling. It’s often cheaper that way, and you keep things flexible.

  17. kris Reply October 30, 2016 at 10:48 pm

    mate, this is one of the most detailed and accurate info that i have seen about back packing. very well written and thank you for your writting.

  18. Laura Reply October 17, 2016 at 11:58 am

    Hi Marek,

    Do you have any info on getting visas?

    I’m pretty confused and don’t really know where to start.


  19. Cici Reply October 4, 2016 at 8:50 pm

    When you say your budjet is like 35-40 us dollars a day .. does that include the travelling from country to country or is that an additional cost. I’m trying to figure out how much I need to save for 4 months in se.a

    • Marek Reply October 6, 2016 at 11:26 am

      That budget takes into account local overland travel (e.g. buses and trains)

    • Juraj Reply March 5, 2017 at 11:35 pm

      Hi Laura,

      That really depends on what country you mean.

  20. Hayley Reply September 29, 2016 at 1:37 pm

    Amazing amount of info – thanks for sharing your experience!

  21. Melissa Reply September 18, 2016 at 6:45 am

    Hi Marek!, Awesome article, thank you very much for your research. I wanted to ask you, have you been in China? I would like to know the prices compared to South East Asia

    • Marek Reply September 22, 2016 at 10:59 am

      I’ve not yet been to China unfortunately. Searching on booking sites for accommodation costs and looking on sites like Price of Travel might help.

  22. Fabio Reply August 14, 2016 at 7:36 pm

    I’m looking to travel around SE Asia in January 2017 from the UK for approx. 2 months. I was thinking of starting in Philippines and finishing in Thailand. could you give me any advice on which is the best country route to take on a budget.

    • Marek Reply August 15, 2016 at 10:55 am

      Since it’s such a spread out archipelago many routes are possible in the Philippines – have a look at my Philippines page for more. From Manila you could fly into Bangkok, go north in Thailand to explore the area in Chiang Mai, then head back south to the Thai beaches and islands (most people like to put some beach time near the end of their trip).

  23. Tania Mukherjee Reply August 9, 2016 at 5:06 am

    Excellent information, I was thinking about visiting Cambodia and Vietnam on a shoestring budget and this just answered many of my questions. I am from India and have only been to Nepal other than India; not much acquainted with hostel accommodation. Hence I have a question: If we are two people visiting Cambodia and Vietnam,does it make much sense in booking dorm beds(Since we will have to pay for 2 beds)? It looks like booking a private basic room is a better option. Are 2 people allowed in one single private room? Not sure if I expressed myself well.

    • Marek Reply August 9, 2016 at 4:00 pm

      Sharing a room between 2 people will unusuall be equal or cheaper to getting dorms, so that certainly makes sense.

  24. Nicola Royle Reply June 19, 2016 at 10:25 am

    Hey Marek,

    I’m planning my backpacking route at the moment and would like to go from Bangkok into Cambodia from there, Vietnam, Laos and then go back into North Thailand for Chaing Mai, then through the crossing into Myanmar. However, I heard the multi-entry visa is very expensive? Are backpackers who usually take this route happy to pay this extra cost? Is it just me being tight with my money? lol

    Any advice?

    Thankyou 🙂

    • Marek Reply June 19, 2016 at 12:44 pm

      Not sure which country you’re from (as things can be different depending on your passport), but instead of a multi-entry visa for Thailand you could just get a visa-on-arrival twice.

  25. Lauren Reply June 10, 2016 at 6:11 am

    Hey Marek,

    Fantastic article! My boyfriend and I are traveling to Southeast Asia this September and I am in the process of figuring out our budget. This article is very helpful so thank you for posting! I do have a question for you regarding accommodation; if it is a couple, would you say that the price would be the same for each individual or would you say it would be slightly cheaper?

    • Marek Reply June 10, 2016 at 1:51 pm

      Yes as a couple, travel costs will be slightly cheaper. It’s easier to share certain costs, for instance transportation (taxis etc.) 🙂

  26. Anna Reply April 18, 2016 at 8:13 am

    Hey, really useful post here! Loved the way you broke down and explained all the prices in the different countries. Super useful, Thanks! 🙂

  27. Juraj Reply April 1, 2016 at 1:08 pm

    Hi yuyazz,

    You demand respect for other cultures and yet your vitriolic post is full of hatred and disrespect towards English and Australian tourists.

    I understand that you may have had some negative experience but that gives you no right to throw everyone in the same category.

    Also, I am not sure what problem you have with swimwear or young people enjoying themselves.

  28. Maddie Reply March 27, 2016 at 5:51 pm

    Hey Marek. I love this post! My boyfriend and I are finding it extremely helpful as we plan for our trip to Southeast Asia this summer. One question though: When you say “$25 per day” or “$35 per day” as a suggested backpacker budget, does that figure include the cost of a night at a hostel, or are you recommending $25, $35, etc. in addition to the costs of accommodation? Thanks for taking the time to share all of this info. 🙂

    • Marek Reply March 27, 2016 at 6:18 pm

      Hey Maddie, glad you’re finding this post is useful! That per-day figure is meant to include all your daily expenses, e.g. accommodation, transportation, food, sightseeing, etc. (However, I’m not counting any one-time expenses you might make before travelling, for instance for travel insurance, visas, buying a new backpack, etc.)

  29. Gabi Reply March 20, 2016 at 6:36 am

    Hi Marek! This is awesome!! Now I feel my nerd research before travelling is not at all alone! Lots of work for me to process all this info though! So thanks a lot for saving me heaps of time.

  30. Tham WL Reply March 18, 2016 at 10:05 am

    Superb article, in fact your comprehensive reviews and helpful tips have inspired to to undertake a backpacking trip around my own backyard of Southeast Asia at the end of the year.

    Just a very minor point to note after reading your article, when I was reading this part on Singapore:

    “Prices are essentially similar to those in the developed world.”

    I can’t help but feel as if Singapore is being regarded as a third world country simply because of its geographical location. Singapore IS part of the developed world, in fact the most recent survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) continues to place Singapore as the most expensive city in the world to live in. Singapore’s GDP also trumps most countries within the Western Europe as well as the Americas.

    Nevertheless, it was a excellent article! I hope that you don’t take offence with my overzealous patriotic remarks, do continue to post on your travels!

    • Marek Reply March 18, 2016 at 6:22 pm

      Hi Tham. Oh dear, I must not have had my coffee before writing that sentence. Thanks for correcting me – you’re totally right of course and I’ll amend the post soon. 🙂

  31. jason carter Reply February 19, 2016 at 9:18 pm

    great post, very useful thanks. i never went to the adamant coast only the gulf coast of thailand and didn’t find it too expensive other than diving or a heavy nights drinking. my top tip is stick to drinking buckets when out or buy bottles of sangsom from the 7/11 and use it to make some new buddy in your hostel before you go out. always a winner.

  32. Leslie Reply January 14, 2016 at 12:41 am

    Hi Marek. Love this post, the comparative numbers are really helpful. Do you include travel insurance or getting TO the country in your numbers?

    • Marek Reply January 14, 2016 at 9:30 am

      Thanks! I’m only counting day-to-day costs in this post, not including up front investments like flight, insurance or equipment.

  33. Oliver Mortimer Reply January 13, 2016 at 1:32 pm

    Great article, Myself and my girlfriend are travelling on the 10th of February for 167 days. We will be going to Thailand Laos Malaysia Indonesia and Cambodia. We will be taking with us just over 9000 euro and have our flights booked travel insurance bought and vaccinations done.

    I’m wondering if you think this will be enough money? We would like to see and do as much as we can and will be mostly eating street food but will be staying in our own rooms and not in dorms.

    Thanks 🙂

    • Marek Reply January 14, 2016 at 11:34 am

      Hmmm translated to around 800 EUR/month per person it might be a bit tight – the usual recommendation is around 900 or 1000 EUR a month. That’s without knowing your exact travel style though, so it’s always hard to say. If you watch your spending you will probably be OK though. Keep an eye on your budget in southern Thailand or the touristy parts of Bali as the euros can flow more quickly here – maybe go elsewhere for beaches (e.g. Cambodia) as it’ll be much cheaper. If you share basic fan-only (non AC) rooms your accommodation shouldn’t be any more expensive than dorm beds.

  34. Christian Vielma Reply December 29, 2015 at 6:56 pm

    Nice post! My wife and I traveled this year around Asia, including SEA. We really thought the costs were pretty similar. It’s hard to make it cheaper unless you stay longer and prepare your own food (live more like local)

    If someone is interested in another cost opinion (from our trip), can check them here:

    • Marek Reply December 29, 2015 at 9:17 pm

      That’s a fantastic breakdown. Thanks for sharing!

  35. joey Reply December 17, 2015 at 10:02 am

    manila is the worse traffic in the world and hotel in tourist area are expensive.. i recommend vietnam or cambodia..

  36. Georgijus Reply October 27, 2015 at 7:39 pm

    Thank you for the information specially that you didn’t hide the date when you post it 🙂

  37. Adi Reply October 12, 2015 at 10:58 pm

    Very useful!! Thank you very very much! 🙂

  38. Surf Me Geek Reply July 8, 2015 at 12:35 pm

    Nice collection. It may useful specially for me. Thank you

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