Top 10 Budget Travel Destinations in Asia
From sharing accommodation and taking public transportation to food ideas, check out these southeast Asia travel tips before heading off on a backpacking /budget trip. If travelling as a family, you can read more about the travel hacks for making your travels affordable.
Due to its central position, Cambodia is the perfect place to start your trip in Asia. It is not only the best country to visit in South East Asia but also one of the cheapest places to backpack. The vibrancy and grandeur of the capital Phnom Pehn, the awesome history on display at Angkor Wat, the old-world charm of Battambang, the beautiful beaches of Sihanoukville, the stunning natural landscapes of the north, the chance to see Irrawaddy dolphins in the Mekong River, the delicious food, and, above all, the friendly people.
DAILY BUDGET: $30-$40 per person
The country, one of the cheap travel destinations in Asia, is most known for its famous Angkor Temples. Angkor Wat means “City of Temples.” It’s Buddhist temple complex in Cambodia and the largest religious monument in the world. Angkor Wat is a breathtaking place, and it’s relatively cheap to visit.
Other than Angkor Wat Cambodia actually has much more to offer! From taking a bike ride through the rice fields to relaxing on the white sandy beaches of the Koh Rong Islands. Indubitably cheaper than its neighbor Thailand, everything here is at a very low price. One can refer to Sky scanner for the cheapest flights to Cambodia.
You will find superb hostels and guest houses for just $3 a night. It’s possible for independent travelers to spend as little as $10/12 per day on accommodation, food, and travel.
For a budget of $20-$30 per day, you can live very comfortably, staying in a room with private facilities in a guest house and eating street food ($1/2 per meal) or in basic restaurants (US$3-$5 per meal). A twin room in a 5-STAR hotel ranges from $150 and a 3-STAR hotel stay costs around $30 per night.
If you are not a fan of street food, even more traditional restaurants are affordable for less than $5 – try the delicious local food like the Amok, a fish cooked in banana leaves with coconut cream. A Mid-range restaurant, 3-course meal for two $20. The food, in particular seafood, is terrific here. Kep cranks out some delicious seafood and is perhaps most famous for its crab. Head to the crab market where they will catch, prepare, and serve you some delicious crab.
Buses and tuk-yuk are also very cheap and convenient to get around. Bus travel between destinations in Cambodia is cheap and efficient. Expect to pay around $10 for a reserved seat on an air-conditioned coach between Phnom Pehn and Siem Reap or Sihanoukville. Don’t miss the boat trip between Siem Reap and Battambang.
How much you pay?
For $20, you get to spend 8 hours on a boat getting up-close and personal with the people who make their homes around Tonle Sap. The largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia and one of the richest fishing grounds in the world.
Overland transport connecting to neighboring Thailand, Vietnam and Laos are also frequent and affordable, making Cambodia the ideal place to base yourself whilst exploring this fascinating part of the world and making it a really cheap travel destination in Asia.
One must plan to visit Kep National Park, located up in the hills just outside of town you’ll be rewarded with a lush jungle offering up an array of activities.
Rabbit Island is another place that should be on your list. Just a 20-minute boat ride where you can enjoy even more sandy beaches.
The visit to the world-famous Angkor Temples will cost you extra. I highly recommend getting the 3 days pass to fully explore the area which costs around $60. It might seem a bit expensive but I guarantee that you will not regret it!
Cambodians are friendly and welcoming to visitors, relishing the opportunity to share the secrets of their homeland. Not only does it have all of these amazing attractions, but Cambodia is also a great place to visit if funds are limited.
Vietnam tops my list as it is one of the top value-for-money destinations in Asia. One can spend a great day in this region known for being budget-friendly by spending as little as $25 per day and still experience the best of what the country has to offer. Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, is known for its centuries-old architecture and a rich culture. The place is influenced by Southeast Asian, Chinese and French culture. Nothing could be a better value for travelers than Vietnam as it is the most cheap travel destination in Asia & quite budget friendly.
DAILY BUDGET: $25-$35 per person
Most western nationalities require a tourist visa to enter Vietnam. Don’t let this initial cost put your plans on hold, once you’re in Vietnam, everything is cheap. 15 bucks a day will be more than enough to travel, eat, sleep and discover this country. A meal will cost you less than $4 and you can easily find private rooms for under $10. A local SIM card with unlimited data is for 1 month for 15$.
Whether it’s biking through the country or camping in the third world’s biggest cave of Hang En, Vietnam will definitely offer you some of the best cheap holidays in Asia,
It’s a country with stunning natural beauty, and most of local people were humble when I interacted with them. The country is incredibly diverse, offering everything from trekking in the magnificent hills, to boat rides in the Mekong Delta backwaters.
For budget travellers Vietnam has stay options for all pockets. The lowest will be 5-7$ for a bed in a shared dorm room.
On an average 3 meals costs 8$ a day when you are eating at a mix of 2 meals at a local restaurant and street food once a day. Street food is delicious and available easily in Vietnam. A bowl of pho or any one of the county’s other delicious local cuisine will cost you about 2$ to 5$.
Renting a motorbike, which is highly recommended to truly explore the country, costs around $13 per day. Buses are a good option to get around different cities. Transportation charges for an inter-city bus or train ticket is depending on the distance, one can expect to pay between $5 and $20. An excellent way to experience the country is to travel between Hanoi and Saigon on the Reunification Express train, stopping at beaches, historic towns, and national parks along the way.
There’s always an option to book different kind of tours while in Hanoi, the capital of vietnam. I did a 2-days tour to Halong Bay from Hanoi. And I spent 20 to 25$ each day without counting accommodation. It was the low season (June-July), so I’m not sure how expensive Vietnam will be during high season.
India is a great destination for backpackers and tourists looking for one of the cheapest places to visit in Asia. There are several reasons that make it an affordable travel destination. From its superb beaches in the south to the Himalayas in the north and the historical sites in the center, India is a world in its own right, a fascinating country-continent to discover at a low budget making it the cheapest Asian country to visit.
The place initially might not please because of noise, confusion and being overcrowded. After a while once you adjust to the organized chaos which is a routine in India you will be ok. It has a mix of different cultures where everybody lives together in harmony.
There are no second thoughts about India being vast and cheap depending on different areas.
Luckily it is also one of the cheap destinations in Asia, especially the northern half of the country. Though the south is more touristic and slightly more expensive, it also remains very affordable. India has many palaces that leave you speechless, heritage homes and old colonial mansions with a lot of character, delicious food, friendly people, and a relaxed atmosphere that makes it a great country to explore.
It is not for nothing that it has become the yoga capital and many travelers have made it their home for several weeks or months attending one of the professional yoga courses it has to offer.
DAILY BUDGET: $25-$35 per person
The good thing is one can stay for a long time on a minimum budget. India can offer you so many experiences and beautiful sights at a minimum cost. Being a diverse place India can be visited through many airports in different cities. Your budget will totally depend on the city you are going to explore. As metropolitans are a bit expensive as compared to small towns.
Some cities to be visited are listed below:
Delhi – Other than many historical buildings, old Delhi is excellent for shopping (Indian wedding shopping) and is cheap with great street food to try. Read about the oldest Market in Delhi 6.
Kerala: has beautiful backwaters, tropical weather and great food. Sometimes you get lucky to explore luxury on a budget in Kerala.
Mysore: Mysore can be as cheap or expensive as you like, but for 20 dollars a day you can have a very comfortable time in Mysore.
Goa: Beautiful beaches, relaxing vibe of the city with lovely churches to see that’s what Goa is all about.
Jaipur: The pink city is actually pink and has its history well preserved through beautiful palaces and forts which are Instagram worthy.
The cost of living is so low that you can fully enjoy your trip without the guilt of spending too much. Accommodation in India is also cheap with a night in a dormitory varying between $2 and $5. In India, one can find some great small guest houses for $15-$20 per night. Also in many cities homestays are a good option that includes home cooked meals and stay. I know Kerala has many of those. In most cities in south India hostels will cost you less than 6$, but even a private room doesn’t break the bank with 10$
In India there are variety of foods which is cheap and easily available. Don’t be afraid to try street food, there is no better way to eat cheaply like this., a glass of fresh fruit juice costs only a few cents and classic restaurants are about $4/7. For just a few dollars, you can taste many different dishes. You can start your day with a Dosa. These rice pancakes are a perfect breakfast for less than 1$
For lunch, a South Indian set meal will cost you between 2 or 3$ and they are absolutely delicious. For dinner, you can go to one of the vegan restaurants, where a sandwich or healthy soup will set you back 3 or 4 dollars. Ask the locals about good street foods to try or go for a thali at a local Indian restaurant which is a big plate with a selection of various spiced curries, rice and breads. A normal Thali price is starting from $2.50.
Traveling in India is also very cheap. Transports (rickshaw, taxis, buses or trains) are incredibly pocket friendly, for example, a 20-hour train ride will cost you less than $9. India has a good rail network. There are different classes but if you opt to travel in second class you will pay approximately $10 for every 200km travelled. To book all your transportation in India, I recommend booking with 12go.Asia, from bus tickets, train tickets, to ferries.
India is an incredible country. If you can open your mind and be accommodating, you will improve your patience the more you stay in India.
Few places have made an impact on me as big as Nepal. There are so many reasons to love Nepal but its affordability is a big one. It is one of the cheap travel destination in Asia that offers everything from the snowy peaks of the Himalayas, peaceful Buddhist temples and lush green nature parks. Nepal really has something for everyone. What’s even better, is that this trekker’s paradise is friendly on a shoestring budget.
Some of the must do’s things in Nepal are :
• Visit to Phewa Lake – Nepal’s largest lake that butts up against the mountains of Annapurna.
• International Mountain Museum – A museum dedicated to the people of the mountains. Famous mountaineers, showcasing the culture and lifestyle of mountain people
• World Peace Pagoda – It’s a place famous for a spectacular view of a sunset or sunrise
• Trek in Annapurna circuit – Pokhara is town located on Phewa Lake, in central Nepal. It’s considered the gateway to the Annapurna Circuit, one of the world’s most popular treks. The Annapurna Circuit is about a 12 -15 day trek taking you from 3,000 feet to over 18,000 feet. A must try!
Backpackers can spend as little as $20-30 a day in total for a bed for the night, transport, attraction prices, and food.
Hostel beds are as cheap as $3 in Kathmandu or Pokhara.
budget guesthouses are $5-$6 for a double room.
5-STAR resort stay for a family costs $100 and a 3-STAR hotel accommodation is around $20
• In Nepal a 3-course meal for two in mid-range restaurant you pay $10. If you’re feeling hungry lentils with rice (Dal Bhat), is a local favorite and will cost you less than $1. A bowl of Thukpa (noodle soup) and Momos (steamed dumplings) are tasty Himalayan delicacies that you can get for a mere $1-3 for a meal. Chai tea, a sweet hot drink with herbs, is only 20 cents. Pint of beer costs $2. A Cappuccino at a local café is $1.50.
As you’re in a mountain country, buses are the best way to commute here and typically cost $5-8 to get to your next destination.
Guided trekking in Nepal can be expensive, especially if you need equipment. But, there is the option to do treks self-guided and make use of the tea houses which provide cheap shelter for hikers along the way.
Nepal is a paradise. Waking up to mountain views each day, hearing the chimes of the stupa temples and experiencing the welcoming hospitality of the Nepali people all make it a spectacular destination.
If you’re up for an adventure, but don’t want to stretch your purse strings, Nepal is one the perfect cheapest destinations to visit in Asia on a budget.
Myanmar, also known as Burma, is unlike any other country in Southeast Asia. Because they have opened up to tourism in the last decade, you’ll find that infrastructure can be lacking and travel can be challenging. However, visitors will be rewarded with hundreds of temples, pagodas, and monasteries, plus of course, some of the friendliest people in the world. It is still one of the cheapest countries to travel in Asia and is perfect for a wide range of travelers wanting to maximize their dollar. Rumor has it that the government wants to make the country a luxury destination. Nothing very surprising as the country has so many wonders to offer.
DAILY BUDGET: $25-$35 per person
Myanmar is a cheap travel destination in Asia that will take you off the beaten track and leave you in awe every day. Myanmar can be slightly more expensive than some of its Southeast Asian neighbors, but not significantly so. Most services are still pretty cheap, including accommodation, transportation, and tours. Expect to pay around $3 for a basic meal, $2 for a bottle of beer, $10 for a dorm bed, and $2 for a short taxi ride. I’d say that $25 or $30 a day is a pretty realistic budget.
Even though the prices are skyrocketing, it is still possible to find cheap food. The train is very affordable but the buses are a bit more expensive compared to other Asian countries but the comfort they provide makes up for it.
The main costs in Mynamar will be on accommodation as it is sometimes difficult to find dorms yet private rooms go for about $20 to $25 in the peak season. Otherwise it is approximately $10 per night.
Accommodation here is what will probably take up the majority of your budget, but don’t worry it will all even out!
Many hostels in Myanmar include breakfast in their rates so that is saving you one less meal to buy. Also, the quality of accommodation in Myanmar is some of the highest I have seen in South East Asia.
Daily meals in Myanmar come extremely cheap, especially if you want to eat like a local. Don’t expect to pay more than a few dollars for a meal. Whether you are feeling like a Western or Burmese bite to eat you will find plenty of options and all competitively priced.
Oftentimes in budget destinations, accommodation and food can be cheap but activities can cause you to break the bank. Well, you don’t need to worry about this in Myanmar!
Among the best things to do in Myanmar, we can highlight: visiting Yangon and Mandalay, cycling around the temples of Bagan, climbing up to the Golden Rock and visiting the Inle lake.
The famous circular train in Yangon costs $0.15, hiring an e-bike to explore Bagan will set you back about $5.00 and I even found a day tour in Mandalay for just $6.50.
It’s no secret that Southeast Asia has some of the cheapest countries in the world to visit, as well as to settle in. While many visitors’ flocks to well-known places in Thailand or the Philippines, Indonesia is probably one of the best and cheapest countries in Asia.
With over 17,000 islands, Indonesia is a land of contrast and variation. From forests, volcanoes, beaches to wildlife, Indonesia has so much to offer if you are willing to go off the beaten tracks. Each island is different when it comes to food, language, religion, and culture.
DAILY BUDGET: $35-$45 per person
So versatile, it is difficult to establish a budget for the food, accommodation or transportation as the cost of living differs from one region to another! Many visitors flocks to the touristy island of Bali, which is a very beautiful part of Indonesia. But if you want more value for your money, try different parts and islands of Indonesia, such as Lombok, Sumatra or Java.
There are some beautiful places to explore in Indonesia as heaven on earth.
On Java, the densest island on earth, you can always rely on public transportation. Hop on a shared cab, rickshaw or trains to go around – and even flights are frequent and reasonably priced.
Bali or Jakarta can be extremely expensive but once you get away from the most touristic areas, prices become lower. Even though the daily budget immensely differs from island to Island, Indonesia is still one of the cheap countries to visit in Asia. You might have noticed in the recent years that Instagram influencers have become obsessed with Bali and it is on top of all their travel lists.
You will also be able to find dorms for $5 and private rooms starting at $15. Budget backpackers can expect to pay $10-$30 per day on Java, by staying with locals, or budget hostel and eat in local establishments. you can travel comfortably around Bali for roughly $50 a day. Cheap accommodation is very common in Bali and you can find your perfect room stay on Airbnb for only $25 a night.
As a rule of thumb, street food is the cheapest way to go to eat in any country. A normal meal costs between $3 and $5 in a restaurant. In many of traditional warungs (food stalls), you can expect to pay no more than $1.50 to get a full meal.
Intercity flights are a way to explore different parts of the country. You can rent a motorbike for daily transportation to get around for only $3 a day
There is so much to love about Indonesia. This vast nation with more than 17,000 islands offers so much cultural diversity and natural beauty. From the ancient Buddhist temple of Borobudur to the underwater marine paradise of Raja Ampat, there is always something to explore.
Bali is a beautiful Indonesian island known for its forested volcanic mountains, iconic rice paddies, beaches and coral reefs. The island is home to religious sites such as Cliffside Uluwatu Temple. The island is also known for its yoga and meditation retreats. With accommodations and food being incredibly cheap, it’s popular with the younger crowds.
7. Sri Lanka
If you’re on the lookout for a destination that’s not only cheap but stunning and offers lots of great things to do, then Sri Lanka should be number one on your list. You can get by easily on a low budget but there are things you must know before visiting Srilanka. Read more in my Srilanka blog.
DAILY BUDGET: $30-$40 per person
Sri Lanka is a beautiful country with gorgeous beaches, stunning waterfalls, mountains, culture, and wildlife. You’ll never get bored and you’ll struggle to leave. It is a pocket friendly destination where you get the best for your buck!
Hostels and hotels in Sri Lanka are very reasonable. Dorm rooms start at around $5-10 per night, or you can get shared rooms in a hotel for as low as $17 per night (and that typically includes air conditioning).
It is very affordable to get around: if you use local buses/trains, don’t expect to pay more than $1-2 for long journeys.
And the trick with food is to eat where the locals eat and the food in Sri Lanka will be super cheap. Local food hovers around the $2-3 mark for a meal. If you decide to eat at international restaurants (like pizza hut), expect to pay around $6 upwards depending on the quality.
Thailand is an incredible destination for budget travelers. It is one of the cheapest countries to visit in Asia. It’s beautiful, well set up for travel, and incredibly cheap. Visitors can see everything from jungle to temples, white beaches, and amazing blue water. Not only are there blue water beaches, exotic landscapes, ancient temples, and historic ruins and monuments, but it’s also inexpensive to see them all. The weather is warm all year round so one can plan for a visit anytime. Bangkok, Thailand’s capital, is a large city known for ornate shrines and vibrant street life.
DAILY BUDGET: $30-$45 per person
Bangkok welcomes more visitors than any other city in the world, and it doesn’t take long to realize why. This exotic city is one of the world’s cheapest places to travel. My ultimate guide for Thailand travel can be useful if you are planning to visit.
For the super budget traveler, it’s possible to find basic dorm accommodation for as little as $4. Mid-range accommodation can be found for around $30, in some places much less, and go up to about $60 for a western-style three-star hotel such as an Ibis in Bangkok.
There’s lots of great value accommodation in Thailand, even if you’re traveling solo. I recommend staying at cheap guesthouses and home stays for an authentic local experience, especially if you’re traveling with someone else and can split the cost.
Often home stays and guest houses have shared bathrooms, but you can book a private bedroom. Prices vary hugely but you can pretty easily find a room at a cost of $10-$15. They also have a lot of character.
At the markets or in a local restaurant it’s possible to get a dish of noodles and a non-alcoholic drink for $1.50-$3 In a more western or touristy restaurant, expect to pay about $8-$10 for a meal. Try a traditional Thai breakfast like soup or curry. The best Thai curry I have had in my life was for breakfast at a homestay in Bangkok.
On the topic of food, Thailand is also a great destination for cheap but totally AMAZING street food. You can buy incredible food to eat on the roadside or in markets for literally 1-2 dollars, and it genuinely tastes better than a lot of expensive restaurant food.
Local transport can be as little as just a few Baht depending on how you are getting around. Tuk – Tuks are easily available all around the city. Long-distance buses can also be very cheap. The ten-hour trip between Chiang Mai and Bangkok, for example, starts at around $19.
Malaysia is a great country to visit for those who are traveling on a budget. We as family recently spent a few weeks exploring Malaysia and found it to be relatively cheap, especially in comparison with neighboring countries.
One of the highlights of Malaysia was actually visiting Kuala Lumpur. We had heard mixed reviews from other travelers but we thought it was a brilliant city to spend a few days.
DAILY BUDGET: $25-$50 per person
Kuala Lumpur is a big transportation hub in SE Asia but, nevertheless, it’s a wonderful cityscape in itself, not least because it’s relatively affordable with lots of awesome things to do. Malaysia is definitely a great country to visit on a budget and if you are a foodie you will absolutely love it.
We spent an average of $10 USD per night for a double room. If your budget is 20$ per day, you can find bunk beds for 8$ a day. The big hotel booking sites always have special offers, though, so if you don’t fancy sharing a room, you can find a single room bed for 12 bucks or so. If you are a couple or traveling with a friend, there are plenty of rooms which cost around 20-22 dollars.
$5 is the price for a meal in a local restaurant. The food in Malaysia is incredible, especially if you like Indian food. Kuala Lumpur is dirt cheap, If you eat where the locals eat, noodles and rice portions are around 2$. Beer at a local supermarket costs 1,4$ since this might be useful knowledge to someone 😊
Short bus journeys cost a couple of dollars while journeys of several hours cost $10 USD plus.Taxis in cities like Kuala Lumpur are super affordable and inside the city, the fare should always be less than 6$.
Besides Petronas Tower, I’d recommend having a visit to KLCC Park and the Botanical Garden. Sri Maha Mariamman temple in Chinatown is a great place to be, worth seeing in addition to the market.
The Petaling Street market reminded me of china town in Singapore. It offers an abundance of fake goods at inexpensive prices if you are a bargain hunter.
What I love about Philippines is that it offers pretty much everything: cities, mountains and lots of beautiful beaches. Especially Palawan is an archipelagic province of the Philippines that is located in the Mimaropa region. It’s one of the most beautiful tropical islands in the world and one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Philippines. Nothing defines Palawan more than the water around it.
DAILY BUDGET: $35-$50 per person
This paradise island is a very affordable place to visit. Southeast Asia is home to among the cheapest countries to live in, and the Philippines is no exception. We traveled as a family (2 adults, 2 kids) for almost a week and spent less than $700. When traveling around the Philippines, living on $80-$100 a day as a family is a good deal. No wonder Philippines is the cheapest travel destination in Asia with amazing things to do.
A twin room in a decent hotel is around $35 per night and the average cost per night in a hostel will run you about 9-10 bucks.
Meals at local restaurants can cost around $2 per person or around $6-10 in a fine dining setting. You can stretch this budget further if you rent an apartment and cook your own food.
As for transportation, you may have to budget a bit more. Expect a lot of boat trips that can start at $10 per way, depending on the type of accommodation (economy or premium) and the destination. Some smaller motorized boats can already bring you to the next island for as little as $0.40. Or you can use the local budget airline to travel to different cities and book a round-trip ticket for as low as $50.
For trips around the city, you can take the jeepney at minimum of $0.15, bus for $4-$10 depending on the destination. Taxis and Grab cars cost around $6 for a 1-hour trip.
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