I have traveled pretty extensively across Southeast Asia since I first hit the road and I know that it has pretty much become a rite of passage for many backpackers. I am often asked how much it costs to travel through Southeast Asia, given that most people will take in at least 3 or 4 countries en route. The truth is that this is a pretty broad question to answer but I thought I would put an article together to answer it as best as I can.
The first thing to mention is that like traveling anywhere, it really depends how much you have. Let’s take a look at this based on budgets and things to do.
More or Less
You can travel comfortably through Southeast Asia on $50 per day covering food, board and attractions. It is possible to travel in some parts such as northern Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia for less, but we are talking general figures here which will give you a comfortable and worry-free lifestyle
Th food which falls into this $50 price tag comes from a mixture of local food, store bought food and the occasional treat such as pizza or a burger from a more ‘western’ establishment. If you are on a shoestring then stick to eating street food and market shopping and you should be able to trim that budget down quite a bit.
Thailand – $50 per day is a really comfortable budget for Thailand and you can enjoy guilt-free beers, great food in restaurants and some pretty comfortable accommodation throughout the country, including the capital Bangkok.
Laos – Laos is actually a little pricier than Bangkok and most of this will go towards your accommodation. Food will come in a little cheaper but even for basic accommodation you will be looking at paying around $15-$20 per night. I would recommend closer to $60 per day to live well here, those on a shoestring will have to be smart, share in hostel dorms and eat on the street at all times.
Vietnam – A little cheaper than both Laos and Thailand, with $40 – 45 per day you can live very well, enjoy foods, attractions like Angkor Wat and get around in style on this budget. If you are going to Vietnam, plan it towards the end o your trip so that you don’t have to worry about squirreling money away for it.
Malaysia – The cheapest of the lot, malaysia will cost around $35-40 for a very nice stay, eating great Malay food and staying in some comfortable accommodation. I find the sights and attractions here to be much cheaper than the rest of Southeast Asia and if you want to really enjoy yourself, that $50 per day budget will go very far indeed.
The key to budget traveling throughout Asia comes down to the planning, the further ahead that you plan your trips, tours and accommodation, the better prices you will get and you can enjoy yourself without watching the bank balance. All in all, this is one of the cheapest continents I have visited and for that reason it is highly popular amongst the travelers.