Traveling South-East Asia truly changed my life in many ways, and I’m always recommending people to plan a trip out this beautiful region of the world. So many people think that traveling is expensive, but that honestly can’t be further from the truth. South-East Asia is the perfect place for budget travel, and I’ve learned quite a bit during my time out there. So if you’re looking for some travel tips for Asia on a shoestring, I’m here to help!
1 ) Travel Slow
To begin, when I was backpacking through South-East Asia, I had all the time in the world. I arrived in Bangkok on a one-way ticket, and had no set return date. If you’re in the same situation, then my absolute best tip I can give you is to travel slow. Stay in each destination a bare minimum of 4-5 nights. This is going to give you the opportunity to get to know each destination, figure out the best and affordable accommodation, and learn your favorite budget places to eat. You never know, you might enjoy a place so much you will find yourself getting a job at the local pub-crawl or hostel.
2 ) Eat Like The Locals
South-East Asia is the street food capital region of the world. In almost every place you will visit, there will be night markets with delicious food stalls, and I can guarantee they will always be cheaper than any restaurant. This is especially crucial if you are in Thailand, which is my personal favorite for street food dining! I stayed in Chiang Mai for one month, and the food was absolutely incredible!
3 ) Stay at Hostels
This should be an obvious one for anyone looking to save money in Asia. There are so many incredible and budget friendly options to choose from, and you can find beds for as low as $5 per night. I always like to do ample amount of research on Hostelworld before I book anything, and try to find a hostel with a lively backpacker atmosphere! Traveling is all about the people you meet, so you want to be in an environment where it’s easy to meet like-minded travelers
4 ) Practice & Master Bargaining
You’re definitely going to get ripped off once or twice. Don’t worry — it happens to all of us, but you will need to practice and master your bargaining skills. The locals in these countries will try and get as much money out of you as possible (especially in Vietnam), so know how much you should be paying for each item, and bargain them down!
5 ) Bring Your Own Drinks
If you were to walk into a restaurant in the U.S or Australia with your own water bottle, you might be told that that’s not allowed or get some awful looks. Well, in South-East Asia it is completely fine! I NEVER ordered drinks when I ate out, because the price were always much higher than what you would find at the 7-11 across the street. It’s a tip that I think can save tons of money throughout your trip in Asia.
6 ) Pre-Game Wisely
South-East Asia is one of the best places to party, but just like anywhere in the world, drink prices will add up. That’s why I always recommend buying a bottle of a local spirit, and play some drinking games at the hostel before you go out. It’s a fantastic way to start your night, make some friends, and save some money (since you won’t have to spend a lot out at the bars).
7 ) Don’t Buy Souvenirs
As a long-term solo traveler, I never had the space nor budget for souvenirs. It’s my personal belief that the best souvenirs and pictures and the memories. Obviously, if there is something you really want, then definitely get it! Just be careful, it can be very easy to see all these fancy little tourist shops and want to buy stuff, only to realize you don’t have the space or need for any of it.
8 ) Join The Facebook Groups
While this may not be an actualy money saving tip, these groups are absolutely essential! You can ask all your important questions here (or feel free to email me), and learn about cool stuff going on in each destination. I was an active member in the south-east Asia backpacker groups during my time out there, and truly found them useful!
Check out these ones:
- South-East Asia 2014-15-16 & Beyond
- Thailand Backpacker Group
- Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam Backpackers
9 ) Overnight Busses & Trains / Cheap Flights
While some people may disagree with me on this point, I always found that the overnight busses and trains were a great way to save money. They can get you from Point A – Point B in a decently comfortable way, and they save you a night of accommodation. With that being said, South-East Asia has some incredible budget airlines that you can find some great deals on! If you can take a 2-hour plane ride instead of a 12 hour bus…then why not?
10 ) Download My Free E-Book
If you’ve found these tips helpful, then you will absolutely love my Free E-Book “77 Amazing, Helpful, Money Saving Tips for Backpacking South-East Asia“. I wrote while I was staying on Perhentian Kecil, Malaysia — and tons of people have said they really love it! It’s short, easy to read, and you will learn a lot. *Download link below post*
If you’re ever planning a trip, feel free to email me and ask me any question you can think of. I love helping people plan their travels!
THANKS FOR READING!