Finding cheap places to travel in Asia – without compromising on the quality of your travel experience – has long been the dream of many a backpacker.
After all, what’s not to love about Asia? I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s a continent which has it all: centuries of fascinating history, amazing food, warm and welcoming people, stunning landscapes and favorable climates. The lands you’ll visit are varied, distinct in their culture, and possessed of a beauty that would make the most hardened traveler weep.
And if you can see and experience Asia on a budget which isn’t going to break the bank, that’s even better, right?
I’m going to help you find your ideal budget destination in Asia, with the help of some top travel bloggers who live, breathe, and love every corner of the continent.
Prepare yourself for some serious inspiration – as well as a few surprises!
Why are budget trips in Asia so popular?
As any traveler worth their salt will be able to tell you, Asia is one of the best places in the world to travel to on a budget.
Think about what kind of traveler is associated with Asia, and you’ll probably visualize young backpackers, long-term travelers, and the occasional hippy who looks like he’s been chillin’ there since 1967.
Your mind is bringing up those images because they’re reasonably accurate. Long-term budget travel is more than possible in Europe – even in expensive areas such as the Amalfi Coast – but the majority of budget travelers will head to Asia every time.
You don’t have to be a long-term traveler, nor do you need to be that hippy guy living on the beach for fifty years (though I’m certainly not going to judge you if you do!), but with a low cost of living, kindly exchange rate, cheap internal travel, and insanely affordable hostel or guest house accommodation, Asia is your best choice for a budget trip!
Cheap places to travel in Asia: the ultimate list!
Okay, let’s get to the juicy details!
I’ve asked some awesome travel bloggers to share their experiences in Asia – the best budget destinations, the cheapest countries, awesome things to do which will cost a mere couple of bucks (or free!), and the average cost of a day, including accommodation.
Basically, everything you need!
And bear this in mind: when you’re looking for cheap places to travel internationally, remember that you may be able to pick up a few places on this list at the same time. There’s no need to limit yourself to just one!
For example, Kuala Lumpur is one of the cheapest places in Asia to fly to, and it’s also an airport hub for most of the region. So not only can you explore KL and the rest of Malaysia, you can catch cheap flights to other Asian destinations. Start in Kuala Lumpur, move on to Bali, Vietnam, Sri Lanka… the possibilities are endless.
It’s time to get some serious Asia travel inspiration! Take it away, travel bloggers!
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Explored by James from The Travel Scribes
The home of many a digital nomad, and a not-to-be-missed spot on the Thailand trail, the charming city of Chiang Mai is one of the cheapest (and arguably best) places to travel in Asia.
A budget traveller’s dream the city has lashings of culture, cuisine and, of course, captivating landmarks to explore! Immerse yourself in the street food or tuck into delicious cuisine at one of the city’s many famous night markets. Not your typical Southeast Asian market, Chiang Mai’s night markets are famous across the region for their mix of gourmet dishes, but also the trinkets, souvenirs and hand-crafted clothing and crafts on offer. The best of the bunch is the Sunday Walking Street Market, which is closed to traffic each Sunday before being transformed into a hive of activity.
More keen on culture? Go temple-hopping at gorgeous pagodas like the Wat Doi Suthep, Wat Phra Singh and Wat Chedi Luang. That last one is unique in that each day the temple hosts ‘monks chat groups’ where you can arrive to talk freely with the monks; a unique experience. Wash it all down with a cuppa coffee (which Chiang Mai is renowned for) from local operators like Akha Amma Coffee House or tuck into more international (but vegan friendly) fare at Good Souls.
Want to add adventure to your Chiang Mai itinerary? One of the best things to do is to take a short day trip out to the ‘Sticky Waterfalls’. The Bua Tong Waterfalls are about 90 minutes out of the city and are a set of waterfalls where the mineral deposits have accumulated to make them ‘sticky’. You’ll be able to walk up (yes, up!) the waterfalls with just a rope in hand.
Regardless of your agenda, Chiang Mai is a must-visit destination with pocket-friendly prices. You could easily survive on 1000 THB (around $30) a day, particularly if you choose top-notch accommodation like Hostel by Bed, or one of the many cheap hostels sprinkled across the cityscape.
Perhentian Islands, Malaysia
By Katherine of Tara Lets Anywhere
Perhentian Islands is a must-see destination in Malaysia and best of all, it’s super budget-friendly!
Perhentian Islands is a group of islands on the northeastern coast of the country. It’s divided by 2 main islands: Perhentian Kecil (small island) and Perhentian Besar (big island).
For budget travelers, Perhentian Kecil is the best option. It offers different types of accommodation, from campsites to hostels and resorts. A safe budget for an overnight stay is around RM60.
There are several things you can do in Perhentian Kecil for free. You can follow the jungle trail to observe wildlife, visit the beach coves surrounding the island, or bring out your snorkel and mask and explore on your own. The island is fringed with wonderful house reefs where you can see fishes, sea turtles, and even manta rays.
If you want to see the best spots, there are boat tours that can take you to the nearby islands and snorkeling spots where you can see more of the island regulars, including turtles and sharks. The boat tours cost only RM30-60 per person.
Perhentian Islands is also known for diving. You can get a PADI certification for cheap! There are dorms that offer reasonable packages that include accommodation and dives.
For the food, there are cheap restaurants and bars and nearby fishing villages with food stalls. You don’t need to spend more than RM5-15 for good food!
An average budget for a day in Perhentian Islands (including boat tours) is around RM140-150 ($33-35) if you’re traveling solo.
Contributed by Wendy of The Nomadic Vegan
Most foreign visitors to Taiwan looking to experience city life on the island will head to Taipei, or perhaps Kaohsiung. The central Taiwanese city of Taichung is often overlooked, and yet it has so much to offer! Your money will go further here than in Taipei, too. In fact, all of Taichung’s top attractions are completely free.
The most famous one is Rainbow Village, a colorful Instagrammers’ paradise with an inspiring story behind it. To see more free street art, head to Painted Animation Lane. And if you’re an intrepid urban explorer, climb the rickety stairs to the top of the abandoned Qianyue Building, which has been taken over by an artist collective. Some visitors have reported that they were charged a NT$ 100 fee at Qianyue, but I was never asked for money when I visited (though I did leave a voluntary donation).
In addition to these great urban art locations, even the much more-official National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts has free entrance. As does the Taichung Cultural Heritage Park, which holds temporary art exhibits inside an old Japanese sake distillery. When it comes to food, the cheapest options are at Taichung’s incredible markets. The Taichung Second Market is a day market with good lunch options, including a vegetarian stall. And for dinner, Feng Chia night market is perhaps the most famous night market in all of Taiwan.
If you visit Taichung during the week instead of on a weekend, you should be able to get a double room at the conveniently located Chance Hotel for less than $25 per night. And while the city does not yet have a metro system, public buses are free for rides of up to 10 kilometers. Although most sights are within walking distance of each other anyway, apart from Rainbow Village. In total, you could easily experience all Taichung has to offer on a daily budget of $25 per person.
Hoi An, Vietnam
By Rachita of Nomilers
Vietnam is a gorgeous country, one of the best cheap places to travel in Asia, and one that has a diverse landscape to interest you. Out of all the gorgeous places to visit in this country, Hoi An is my absolute favorite, and I think it should be part of everyone’s Vietnam itinerary!
Home to Hoi An Ancient Town, a UNESCO Heritage Site, Hoi An gives you a glimpse into the culture and the life of locals there. You can explore the ancient town on foot and marvel at the beautiful colors, architecture, and gorgeous temples which you can find there. Moreover, the entire place looks absolutely breathtaking at night, when the entire street is lit up with lanterns – you’ll find people from all over the world setting lanterns free into the sky.
Apart from the famous old town, Hoi An is also home to some gorgeous beaches such as An Bang Beach, Cua Dai Beach, and so on. There is also the Japanese Covered Bridge, Hoi An Night Market, Tra Que Village, Assembly Hall of Fujian Chinese, and more! The best part is that most of these amazing sights are free to visit, so all you need is a ride, and you’re set to explore the town on a budget.
Ideally, you can expect to spend around 20 USD for a day here, including your accommodation, food, transportation, and sightseeing. The food is pretty cheap here, and Hoi An is the best place to try the local delicacy, Banh Mi. You can sample this at Madam Khanh – The Banh Mi Queen, where you get a wide range of options, and the food costs just 3 – 4 USD.
You can find plenty of hotels and hostels here. If you’re on a budget, stay at a hostel, as a 4-bed dorm will charge you 6 – 7 USD per night. They will also include many services, including free bicycle rental, breakfast, water, and so on.
In my opinion, the best and most economical way to explore Hoi An is by renting a bicycle or motorbike. Bicycle is usually the best way, especially for exploring the beaches in Hoi An and the Ancient Town! For a day trip to the Than Ha Pottery Village and My Son Sanctuary, you can rent a motorbike for an entire day for 5 USD, and cover the ground in a short time.
By Samantha Karen of Sam Sees World.
Asia is one of the best places to travel to for budget travelers who are seeking beauty and amazement on a budget. There are so many stunning places to visit in Asia on a budget, but none are as great as Lombok, Indonesia. Indonesia is a notoriously cheap country and you can find various places here that will help stretch your budget. However, Lombok is a magical island in Indonesia that is not only cheap but also a stunning travel destination.
Lombok is located right beside the very famous island of Bali and as a result, it is often overlooked. However, focusing on Bali and missing out on the beauty and magic of Lombok could not be more of a mistake. Lombok is full of stunning white sand beaches, vivid blue waters, lush jungles, authentic rice fields, and private islands. The best part? There are far fewer tourists in Lombok which means prices are lower and attractions can be enjoyed in a semi-private way.
There are a ton of amazing things to do in Lombok, and many of them are free. The best free thing to do is to go to one of the many beaches. Lombok is home to beaches like Tanjung Aan, Pink Beach, and more that are postcard-perfect and some of the best beaches in Asia. As for non-free things to do, you cannot miss out on the rice terraces in Lombok which are actually used by the locals and stunning to explore.
What’s great about Lombok is that all restaurants and hotels are budget-friendly. You can enjoy a 5-star experience, like the one offered in Rascals Hotel, at 3-star prices! Plus you can enjoy amazing meals that cost a quarter of western standards. That being said, a daily budget of 20 euros is more than enough for all meals, transportation to attractions, and accommodation.
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
By Jackie Szeto of Life Of Doing
If you’re visiting Vietnam, stop by Ho Chi Minh City, also referred to as Saigon. While it’s a big city and a bit crowded with cars, motorbikes, and people everywhere, it has a fun and memorable ambiance. The best part about visiting Ho Chi Minh City is that it’s also a budget-friendly city. You can easily spend around $30-$40 per day which includes admission cost to local attractions, food, transportation, and accommodations.
Many of the local attractions are free or have a minimal admission cost. During your Ho Chi Minh City itinerary, check out the free places to visit such as Central Post Office, Notre Dame Cathedral, Book Street, Nguyen Hue Walking Street, and Ben Thanh Market. You can also walk along the riverfront for an evening stroll. For the museum lovers, check out the Independence Palace and War Remnants Museum. While not free, admission is less than $2 per person.
Food is affordable if you stick with the local Vietnamese food. Experience the local way of eating by squatting on the tiny plastic chairs and table. Enjoy a bowl of hot noodle soup (phở or bún riêu) for $2, sandwich (bánh mì) for $1, drink iced Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk (cà phê sữa đá) for $1, or beer for $.50.
To travel around the city, you can walk, hire a taxi, or call a Grab grab or motorbike. Grab is Southeast Asia’s version of Uber ride-hailing service. Traveling around the city by car is only a few dollars.
There are plenty of budget-friendly guesthouses and hostels available. Many cheaper accommodations are around Bui Vien Street. This street is in the main city center, but a 20-30 minute walk from Ben Thanh Market. Bui Vien is where many of the backpackers stay. You can easily find a private room or shared accommodations between $10-$20 USD per day. Plus, the area is known for late-night activities with the bars and clubs. Plus, you’ll find restaurants with cheaper foods such as Bún Chả 145 or Baba’s Kitchen for Indian cuisine. Hope you get a chance to visit Ho Chi Minh City in the future!
Hiriketiya, Sri Lanka
By Rich of The Surf Atlas
Hidden somewhere along the stunning south-west coast of Sri Lanka is the horseshoe bay of Hiriketiya. It spreads out between two headlands topped by lanky palm trees, offering a long arc of yellow-tinged sand with a couple of beach shacks and surf rentals for good measure. The water is crystal clear, and early mornings mean encounters with sea turtles if you get there with the sunrise.
Hiriketiya is nowhere near as built-up as many of the main resorts that run along this popular part of Sri Lanka. The small town clustered behind the beach is a medley of ramshackle cottages and bungalows. The upshot? Budgets here stretch further. It’s possible to get by on under $40 a day, including accommodation.
The Hiriketiya Beach surf is the main reason the spot is even on the map. Waves – of course – come free. Meanwhile, a board rental right on the beachfront will set you back about 500 LKR ($2.50). Riders have two separate breaks to pick from. One’s a challenging left-hander that’s good for intermediates. The other is a chilled beach break that’s perfect even if you’ve never surfed before.
If you’re not thinking about those glassy Sri Lankan waves, you can always kick it on the sands and soak up a tan. Alternatively, take the coast road and stroll through to nearby Dickwella Beach. There, stooping coconut trees silhouette across a gorgeous tropical bay where there’s hardly ever another soul in sight. A quick tuk-tuk that costs less than a dollar can also whisk you to Kudawella village. That has a curious blowhole and a lookout point over the Indian Ocean.
For budget eats, be sure to check out Garlic Café. It’s a true local Sri Lankan buffet joint. For just a fraction of the cost of the hipster places on the shoreline, you can indulge in all-you-can-eat dals and rice and sambals. Nearer to Dickwella is also Jayantha Restaurant – think spicy patties and okra curries that’ll never break the bank.
Siem Reap, Cambodia
By Emma of Emma Adventures
Siem Reap is located in the heart of Cambodia and is easily one of the best budget friendly destinations in Asia. Home to the world-famous Angkor Wat, there’s so much more to Siem Reap that people often don’t realise, and I recommend at least 5 days in Siem Reap to truly experience everything it has to offer. Accommodation, food, drink and transport are all incredibly budget friendly, but it doesn’t feel that way. Luxurious hotels are budget friendly, and you can get amazing food and drinks for amazing prices – plus there’s plenty to explore without breaking the bank.
There’s plenty to see and do in Siem Reap for free – take yourself on a walking tour along the lake and see the main sights, such as the Royal Palace, and explore the Night Markets to hunt for some bargains. Of course, you can’t miss visiting Angkor Wat, and although entry is $37 US dollars for a day, it is well worth the price tag to explore the brilliant temples. You should also go on a boat tour to see Tonle Sap lake at sunset as well as the floating villages, go on a village tour and do a cooking class, all of which are affordable when you book through local guides.
For eating and drinking, Pub Street is the heart of Siem Reap, and where all the action happens. Here, you’ll find a huge range of restaurants, bars and cafes, all offering incredible food, both local and international, for prices as low as $3 US dollars for mains. You’ll also find amazing happy hour deals (happy hour runs all day and night in Siem Reap), with beer from 0.50c and 2 for 1 cocktails. I recommend Paper Tigere Eatery and Café Latino.
Accommodation wise, you can stay in one of the amazing hostels, such as Onederz Hostel, or you can opt for a nice hotel stay for a fraction of the price as anywhere else. I highly recommend the Hotel Somadevi Angkor Resort and Spa. Depending on your choice of accommodation, you can easily get by on $20 per day for food and drinks, and transport will only set you back a couple of dollars per day, at most. You’ll fall in love with everything about Siem Reap once you get there, and the fact that everything is budget friendly is just a bonus!
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
By Manpreet of Your Vegan Adventure.
On arrival to Kuala Lumpur from Singapore, we were immediately surprised at how cheap the lifestyle was in comparison. Extremely cheap food in street markets and fruit markets, with some of the sweetest fruit for incredible prices too!
Kuala Lumpur is so well connected that its easy to reach all the main city spots by public transport, and stay in a hotel on the outskirts. On average, you can get by with a budget of $15 a day per person, which will get you plenty of fruit, water and good street food meals.
KL is famous for its Petronas Twin Towers, which in reality is just a mall with lots of expensive shops. Going off the beaten path a little, there are two amazing free places to visit. Firstly, the Forest Eco Park is a small rainforest in the middle of the city, and you can spend ages tree top walking, for free!
Secondly, you must visit the Kanching Falls, which is slightly out of the city but easy and cheap to reach by a local taxi. There is lots of wildlife in this rainforest and as you walk through it, you will arrive at different levels of this beautiful waterfall. Entry to the forest falls was $1 per person and you can spend the best part of 5 hours there hiking and having a picnic.
Manila, The Philippines
By Noel Morata of Travel Photo Discovery
If you’re looking for that perfect budget starting point to visiting the Philippines then you can start in Manila, the main hub and capital of the country.
With so many regional Asian and budget airlines flying to Manila, you’ll have your pick of cheap to affordable flights to the city. Your money and budget can really stretch far in this city depending on the area, transportation, food and other daily attractions and entertainment you choose to spend on your visit. Transportation is inexpensive with a variety of cheap bus, Jeepney, small SUV service, trains and other fast rail services throughout the city – there’s also Grab which is the Asian version of Uber to use in Manila.
Staying closer to the waterfront and historic areas will give you easier access to the main and central parts to visit the city, with the outer lying areas not being quite so interesting unless you want to stay in more modern and cosmopolitan districts with restaurants, shopping and entertainment venues.
I would definitely stay in Manila for a few days to enjoy the capital and explore more of the culture and history of this city, and then use Manila as a hub to fly to other islands that appeals to your sense of adventure, open space and more unique places of interest outside of the urban environment.
For more inspiration, check out the top 20 things to do in Manila for more details, images and places of interest to visit around the city.
Luang Prabang, Laos
By Roshni of The Wanderlust Within
As the most visited city in Laos, and with plenty of free things to do in Luang Prabang, the city remains one of the most affordable destinations in Asia.
Free activities include visiting the ancient Buddhist temples, experiencing the sunset views along the Mekong River and exploring the famous Night Market. The other top things to do in Luang Prabang are super affordable, such as visiting the beautiful Kuang Si waterfalls (2 USD admission), hiking Mount Phousi (2 USD admission), doing a luxury sunset river cruise (15 USD) and having a traditional Laos massage (starting from 8 USD).
Luang Prabang has plenty of options for cheap accommodation, myLaosHome is conveniently located and has rooms to suit all budgets as well as an in-house Spa and tours desk that can arrange your whole stay for a great price.
There are also plenty of options for affordable food, I can highly recommend the Luang Prabang Spirit House, Utopia, Indigo Cafe and the food market that runs every evening at the Night Market – the fresh coconut pancakes are must!
A daily budget of 25 USD will be plenty to enjoy all the city has to offer
By Rose of Where Goes Rose
Taiwan isn’t well-known as a budget backpacker destination but that’s likely to change as word gets out about this friendly, colourful island with cool cities and amazing nature. Being in East Asia, many people assume it will have costs in line with South Korea and Japan but that’s not the case.
One city that won’t break your Taiwan budget is Kaohsiung, the second-largest city in Taiwan. Free attractions in Kaohsiung include the colourful Dragon and Tiger Pagodas, where you enter via the Dragon’s mouth and exit through the tigers, as well as the rest of the temples set around the scenic Lotus Pond. You can also visit Fo Guang Shan Monastery for free, a huge temple complex home to one of the largest seated Buddhas in Asia.
Because the public transport is so good you won’t even need to shell out for taxis. The MRT (metro) costs around 50 cents per journey and the many efficient local buses are even less. There are some fantastic street food markets in Kaohsiung where you can eat cheaply and still sample the best of the local cuisine. Visit Raohe Street Night Market for noodles, dumplings, TFC (Taiwanese fried chicken), scallion pancakes, seafood, Japanese snacks. Most dishes will set you back less than $2.
By Martina of PlacesofJuma
Borneo in Malaysia is not only a fantastic adventure destination, but also a really cheap place to visit in Asia!
Perfect for backpackers and individualists who love to travel well and cheaply, the highlights of Borneo are mainly to be found in the unique nature. Here you can expect beautiful national parks, and discover an interesting wildlife including nose monkeys, oran-gutans and pygmy elephants, and go on spectacular hikes and cave tours. Especially interesting is the region around Kuching, the area around Kota Kinabalu, and as a real wildlife-highlight, the Kinabatangan River. In addition, Borneo has beautiful beaches for sunbathing and marine areas that are ideal for diving and snorkelling.
Although Borneo is a bit more expensive than perhaps other places in South East Asia, you can still travel very well on a budget. Many tours can easily be organised on your own, public transport is well developed and cheap, and you will also find accommodation and hostels with very moderate prices.
If you are a backpacker, you can easily plan a daily budget of 30-40 Euros for your trip. The cheapest flights can usually be found from Kuala Lumpur or Singapore. With a bit luck they will cost only 30 Euros! Also street-food is also very cheap and delicious.
Backpacking in Borneo is unbelievably beautiful and for us, definitely one of the most interesting low-budget destinations in Asia!
Koh Tonsay, Cambodia
By Mario of Rest and Recuperation
If you are looking for a cheap country to travel in Asia, Cambodia must be on the top of your bucket list. You can visit ancient monuments (Angkor Wat), experience modern tragedies (all the history linked to the Khmer Rouge regime), and see wonderful panoramas.
For the latter, I recommend you take a tour of the coast of Cambodia from the border with Thailand in the north, to Vietnam at the southernmost point. My favourite spot in Cambodia is indeed here, close to the famous towns of Kampot and Kep: Koh Tonsay, Rabbit Island for the locals who see a rabbit in its shape.
Why do I like it? It is beautiful. And not touristic. And wild. And cheap! These are all the characteristics I need in a place to visit.
Located off the coast of Kep, you can reach Koh Tonsay by boat in around thirty minutes. You will land on the main beach where you will find the only touristic structures of this tiny island: a dozen bungalows, two restaurants, hammocks and huts to rest and have a good read.
Do not spend all your time here. Move to the western end of the beach and follow the coast, you can tour the whole island in two hours. You will see at least two more beautiful and deserted beaches, a village of fishermen, and no tourists. Once back to the landing point, enjoy some fresh fish with coconut sauce and just let the day pass slowly until night falls: that is the moment, during some periods of the year, for a swim to see the bioluminescence phenomenon!
Cameron Highlands, Malaysia
By Nic of The Roaming Renegades
The Cameron Highlands are the perfect budget escape from the heat of Malaysia and the ideal place to explore some of the diverse landscape of the country. Sitting in the hilly central area of the Peninsular Malaysia it’s position ensures mild temperatures all year round and is why the region is famous for it’s tea production. Surveyed by the British explorer William Cameron in 1885 the region was used extensively for tea and vegetable growing by the British and became on of the country’s first tourist destinations.
The two towns of Brichang and Tanah Rata are ideal bases for exploring the region. They offer well-developed tourist infrastructure, including a range of accommodation from hostels to luxury hotels. The main bus station also offers great transport links to the rest of the country too, with buses being reliable, cheap and frequent. Food options in the town are varied in cuisine and budget, with a combination of local and international options on offer – and due to the British influence, tea and scones is also very popular here too!
What is great in The Cameron Highlands is that the best things to see and do here are mostly free or very cheap, being an outdoors destination.
The rainforest-covered mountains feature a vast array of numbered trails which offer an up close look at the unique plant life that only occurs in this region, as well as some incredible views over the valleys below. Many of these trails can be accessed on foot directly from either town.
Exploring the tea fields is a must do whilst in The Cameron Highlands, and the area around Tanah Rata is the perfect starting point. Hiking up to the BOH plantation and further exploring the roads and trails, you will find yourself in a stunning sea of meticulously lined tea fields impossibly hugging the undulating hillsides. There are many other plantations to visit along the main road, some are free to wander around whilst others cost very little to enter. Our favourite area has to be on the way to the summit of Mt Gunung just beyond BOH.
Transportation options around The Cameron Highlands are a little limited, but there are buses that run between Brichang, Tanah Rata and the turn off to BOH in the morning. Hitchhiking around here however is very popular, easy and safe. It is common to be picked up by locals, holidaying Malays and even foreigners renting cars. It’s a great way to travel for cheap and also to meet people too! Bike and car rental is also easy to organise but bikes are not recommended for Mt Gunung. Taxis are also available from the roadside too.
Budgeting for a trip in the Cameron Highlands is quite easy, with transport and food being very cheap. Accommodation can be a little bit more expensive than other areas of the country, given how small these towns are, but hostels are available for an affordable price.
By Jade of Two Tall Travellers
It might not be on the typical backpacker’s trail, but Beijing is a fantastic city to explore, and best of it’s totally doable on a tight budget!
Beijing has an incredible history, and there are plenty of monuments, temples, and sights to explore! Many of these are either free, or extremely cheap to do so. For example, you can visit the famous Tian’anmen Square for free, and then walk across the road and pay 60 yuan (in summer, 40 in winter) to discover the Forbidden City‘s rooms, halls, passageways and gardens!
The Great Wall is obviously the most special thing to see in Beijing, and you really don’t have to spend a lot to visit it. The cheapest option is to take the public bus yourself. You can get a bus ticket for around 50 yuan one-way from the city center. The price of entry at the Wall depends on which section you visit, but you can expect to pay between 40 and 60 RMB.
You can easily find low-cost guesthouses and hostels dotted around the city – to get the cheapest price you’ll need to stay in a dormitory, but there are some great options. Try Peking Youth Hostel for a traditional stay with modern facilities, or Happy Dragon City Center Alley Hotel Forbidden City for a cheap room in a central location.
Getting around Beijing is super easy and ridiculously budget-friendly. The subway system is clean, spacious, and fully air-conditioned. The easy to read signs are in English, and the color-coded map makes to easy to get from A to B. The best part is that a ticket for most journeys will only cost you 3 RMB, which is roughly $0.40! It means that you can go for full sightseeing days, moving around the city as you wish, and not worrying too much about transport costs.
If your budget is a little higher and you’d prefer to stick to taxis, then they’re also really affordable. Flag down an official cab (they’re easy to spot with taxi signs on the roof), and show them a written-down Chinese address of where you want to go. These taxis start their meter at just 13RMB, and the price slowly ticks up at around 2 RMB per km.
If you’re looking to try typical Beijing food, then you need to find the best local restaurants. Find the small places, with people spilling out on to the street and sitting on plastic chairs. That’s where you’ll find the authentic Chinese food, and it will be delicious and cheap! Grab a beer for 6 yuan, a meat dish for two at 25 yuan, and standard rice for 2 yuan. Look for places that have pictures on their menus, as these places often have English translations too.
Beijing is a fantastic city to visit and surprisingly wallet-friendly, so add it to your bucket list and see what you think!
By Caroline of CK Travels
Taipei in Taiwan is surprisingly affordable and a great destination for budget travellers. Food, accommodation and transportation will not break the budget here, and there are heaps of fun and free things to do in the city.
Night markets are aplenty across Taipei, selling inexpensive and delicious Taiwanese food and is very popular with both visitors and locals. It is so much cheaper to eat here than it is at restaurants, with most dishes costing around $1-2. 7-Eleven convenience stores can also be found pretty much everywhere in Taipei, and sell very good quality snacks, drinks and microwave meals.
There are plenty of free and cheap activities to enjoy when visiting the city, so a day of sightseeing can be very affordable. Getting around the city is super cheap too, with a single-journey metro ticket costing from just a dollar.
We recommend taking the metro to Beitou to wander around the Thermal Valley and hot spring lakes (free), and if you fancy a dip in the hot pools there are some communal public pools in the area costing just a few dollars admission fee. The Ximending district in the city is a great place to hang out for a few hours – it is a neighbourhood popular with youngsters and has some great souvenir shops and cheap street food stalls.
Nearby is the hipster Huashan 1914 Creative Park which has lots of pop-up shops and exhibitions dotted all over the park – some of which are free entry. End your day of sightseeing by taking a short hike up Elephant Mountain to enjoy views of the Taipei 101 skyscraper and the city at sunset.
There are many highly rated hostels across the city, and plenty of very affordable chain hotels such as CityInn. A hostel dorm bed will cost you around $18 and a budget hotel room around $50. An average days spending money if you were to stay in a hostel and eat cheap street food/convenience store food would be around $30-$40 per person.
Colombo, Sri Lanka
By Christian of Punta Cana Travel Blog
Colombo is not your typical budget destination as the city is loud, chaotic, and dirty. However, it’s worth spending at least a day or two in Sri Lanka’s capital, as you will most likely arrive and depart here – Colombo is home to the only international airport in the country. And with Colombo being the biggest city in the country, as well as the main trading outpost, everything is dirt cheap here!
Three areas of Colombo are most worth visiting when you visit the city. The first one is Fort / Pettah, the central market area, downtown, and home of the train and bus station. The second is the whole stretch along Galle Road, one of the busiest streets in Colombo, close to the ocean and with all kinds of shops, eateries and businesses – a true Sinhalese experience! The third area, although already a bit outside of the inner city limits of Colombo, is Mount Lavinia, a not-less busy district of Colombo, but with access to a pretty beach, especially considering the proximity to bustling Colombo.
Most accommodations are based along Galle Road and Mount Lavinia, both of which I can recommend as a base to explore the city!
When visiting Colombo, a tour through the market is a must, even if you don’t want to buy a lot. Seeing the vivid market life, haggling for some delicious tropical fruits and getting an authentic impression of Sinhalese life are the key experiences in Fort and Pettah. The train station is also very close to the market in case you need to book tickets for your onward journey.
Another thing to do is to visit the area around Beira Lake, as it is one of the nicest areas of the city. The lake itself features a temple right in the water, the Seemamalakaya temple. The Viharamahadevi Park as well as the Gangaramaya Temple can be reached within walking distance from Beira Lake. All these places can be visited for free, or for a minimal entrance fee of around 1 USD.
In case you’re getting hungry during your tour around the city, just eat at the local eateries and restaurants. The food in Sri Lanka is amazing, and I never had anything bad – but be prepared for a full portion of spice as they add hot peppers everywhere! I particularly loved all the different kinds of curries as well as Kottu, another national dish.
When visiting Colombo, you can easily get along with a daily budget of 20 USD. Good hostels are available between 6 and 8 USD per night when booking a bed in a dormitory. Public transport prices within the city range from 0.25 to 0.50 USD, and usually a filling meal does not cost more than 1 or 2 USD. Colombo is the perfect place to start your trip to Sri Lanka cheaply and authentically!
By Kerrie of Just Go Travelling
Krabi in Thailand is a tourist magnet, but not just because of the beautiful beaches!
The city is probably one of the cheapest places a backpacker could travel within Thailand. It attracts people from all around the world, to places such as Krabi Town, Ao Nang Beach, Railay Beach and many other islands dotted around, which can be accessed via boat tours.
Accommodation within Krabi Town is best for saving your budget. Prices can be as little as 350 baht per night for a good-sized queen room.
Krabi also boasts one of the cheapest markets you will ever come across. Between Friday – Sunday the weekend market sells bric-a-brac, clothes, and mouth-watering food. The food prices can be as little as 10 baht for traditional Thai fish cooked in banana leaves, or fried rice for a mere 30-40 baht per portion.
To view locations around Krabi, you could hire a taxi or take local buses; however, for a better use of your time and to have a greater adventure, hire a scooter for a few days. This can be as little as 250 baht per day! It’ll save you loads of time which can be better spent doing useful thing, like laying on golden sands and enjoying the sea breeze, topping up that tan!
With regards to beaches, Ao Nang Beach is completley free and easily accessed. However, we would highly recommend visiting Railay Beach. This involves buying a return ticket and getting transported by local long-tail boat, but it’s well worth the 200 baht. You’ll be spoiled with pristine blue waters and limestone cliffs bursting out of the sea, giving you a jaw-dropping view.
A final tip would be to avoid restaurants along Ao Nang Beach, as these are targeted to tourists and have a premium. Instead, seek out local family-run restaurants away from the beach for delicious local cuisine!
Koh Phangan, Thailand
By Veronika of Travel Geekery
Koh Phangan in Thailand can be enjoyed plentifully even on a low budget. The paradise island near the bigger Koh Samui offers a wonderful diversity of sights and activities. However, if you visit during the time of the Full Moon, due to the uber-popular Full Moon parties taking place in Koh Phangan, accommodation prices tend to escalate for a few days, especially in the Haad Rin area.
One of the best free things to do in Koh Phangan is to go hiking. There are numerous trails, most of them well marked and offering stunning views over the island. Hike to the highest peak called Khao Raa, or to the secluded Bottle Beach.
Most beaches in Koh Phangan are fully accessible to the public and free to use. Whether you’ll prefer the Long Beach or the smaller beaches in Sri Thanu, they’re all worth exploring.
If you want to eat on the cheap, stick to the Thai restaurants. My favorites are Pum Pui and Anuta on the Middle Road. They cook delicious food that’s super affordable. Especially meatless options such as simple fried rice or noodles with vegetables and tofu can cost as little as 50 – 60 baht.
Accommodation in Koh Phangan comes in all sizes and prices. If you don’t need A/C, you can get a simple bungalow near a beach just for about 400 baht a night.
You’ll need a scooter to get around Koh Phangan. Day rentals start at 200 baht. Unless you keep travelling long distances every day, you can get under 50 baht a day for gas.
In total, you can get on with 800 baht a day, which is just $26 or €22. If you can handle spending 1000 baht ($32 or €27) a day, you can additionally treat yourself to beer and coffee to your heart’s content.
By Jiayi of The Diary of a Nomad
Lahore, Pakistan may not be your typical holiday destination in Asia, but it’s definitely an underrated one. Filled with history, architecture, culture, and exquisite food, this city definitely deserves to be explored just as much as its more popular counterparts. The best part is that traveling in Lahore is very cheap, making it a great option if you’re looking to travel somewhere off the beaten path!
Some of the best places to see in Lahore are its stunning mosques: Badshahi Mosque and Masjid Wazir Khan are the two most famous ones. Both places are filled with architectural wonders and require no entrance fee! You can spend hours admiring the intricate details of these mosques; their beauty is indescribable. Some of the other top places to visit in Lahore are Fort Road Food Street for a taste of the delicious local cuisine and the Delhi Gate Market to get a glimpse of local life.
While restaurants in general are not expensive at all in Lahore, one of the best places to eat in town — Butt Karahi in Lakshmi Chowk — is super affordable. In fact, food should cost you just around $7 USD in total per day. There are also some really cheap hostels in town. Lahore Backpackers is the most known one, and shared rooms there start at $4 USD, while private rooms at $6.50 USD.
I also recommend using Uber or Careem (the local Uber app) to get around as they’re cheaper than taxis. A typical day’s budget in Lahore would only amount to $20-25 USD, so definitely consider visiting this overlooked city on your next trip to Asia!
Lake Toba, Indonesia
By Carly of We Are Sumatra
Sumatra in Indonesia is famed for its steamy jungles, incredible wildlife, and diverse cultures. But in North Sumatra, there’s another unmissable attraction waiting to be discovered.
As the largest volcanic crater lake on the planet, Lake Toba isn’t hard to miss. This caldera lake is surrounded by pine-tree-blanketed cliffs reminiscent of an alpine scene straight out of Europe.
In the centre of the lake lies the world’s largest island within an island – Samosir. With a refreshing climate, gorgeous views, and a fascinating local culture, this is one spot that should slide into the top space on your Sumatra travel itinerary!
Although it’s one of the more popular spots in Sumatra, Lake Toba remains authentic, uncrowded, and affordable.
Tuk Tuk, the central tourist spot on Samosir, was a prime player on the backpacker trail back in the ‘80s, but the shine wore off eventually, leaving this tiny spot blissfully quiet for the few travellers who arrive.
Guesthouses line the shoreline, along with dozens of restaurants, tourist shops, and the odd bar. Wandering the streets here is a pleasure; there’s none of the pushiness or urgency of many other hotspots in Asia.
For backpackers on a tight budget, there are plenty of options. Bagus Bay Homestay and Liberta are affordable yet charming places that start at around 50,000 IDR per night for a basic room and shared bathroom.
For just a little more, you can get pretty fancy. Our favourite budget spot, Reggae Guesthouse, is right on the edge of the lake and has the best views in the area. Private rooms start at around 100,000 (IDR) with a hot shower and western toilet. Pay a little more and you can stay in a real Batak-style house or bed town in one of their newer rooms.
Food is super affordable. A Western-style meal will set you back around 50,000 IDR per person. We recommend Jenny’s for mouthwatering seafood or pizza, Bagus Bay’s enormous menu, or a delicious healthy lunch at Tabo Cottages! To save money, go budget at one of the local warungs with a delicious nasi campur or mie goreng for 25,000 IDR.
The best things to do in Lake Toba are free, but you’ll be able to enjoy more of them if you hire a scooter; you can easily get one for 100,000 IDR a day.
Once you have wheels, head off to enjoy the breathtaking scenery for free! Go up the mountains behind Tomok for endless viewpoints; zoom off in search of one of the many waterfalls in the region, or explore the “beaches” around Samosir.
In the evenings, entertainment is refreshingly free, but you might want to invest in a Bintang or two to make it that much sweeter! Head to Roy’s pub for fantastic live music, have dinner at Bagus Bay and stick around to watch the traditional Batak dancers and band, or chill at your homestay, where there are likely to be a few locals sitting around with guitars.
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
By Manpreet of Hello Manpreet
Cambodia is one the most popular countries for backpackers on a budget. Everything is very cheap compared to other South East Asian countries, but also due to it having a fairly small population, the streets aren’t as busy as their Asian counterparts.
The city of Phnom Penh is not well connected by transport, but taxis and tuktuks are fairly cheap to get you around. Depending on the food you prefer to eat, you can comfortably get by on $15 a day. There’s plenty of things to see in the city, most of which are free or require an entrance fee of $1. The food is great and with lots of street food, you wont be out of pocket too much.
You must visit Wat Phnom, which was built in the 1300s, and situated at the top of a hill which is 27 metres above the ground. There are quite a few stairs to climb before getting to the temple entrance, so be sure to carry some water with you in the heat. Once you are inside, you will be surprised at how quiet it is, considering it is located so close to a very busy road.
Aside from Wat Phnom, it is a must to visit the famous Killing Fields. Though, they have a very dark history, these fields carry a lot of emotion for the people of Cambodia. The struggle that the population went through, with almost every citizen knowing of someone who was part of this history, it will help understand the culture of Cambodia and why they are still recovering to this day.
By Amber of Amber’s Destinology
All budget travellers worth their salt know that Hanoi deserves the top spot in any southeast Asia destination list. Why? Well, Hanoi is achingly beautiful, a prime travel hub in Asia and extremely budget-friendly!
A great day in Hanoi can cost as little as $25 per person, including accommodation and three local Vietnamese meals. If you book ahead of time, you can get a private double room at a 3-star hotel in the Old Quarter for $12 per night. Or a bed in a lovely hostel dorm for $9. Hanoi must be one of the cheapest capital cities in the world…
It’s easy to stick to a budget in Hanoi and still have a fabulous time. Food can suck up most of a holiday budget, so be sure to eat as the locals do. Pretty much any Vietnamese restaurant you patronize will be cheap for a western traveller. The trick is to keep an eye out for places that are packed to the rafters with locals, and you’re sure to find a good quality restaurant or vendor who sells delicious food.
The best advice I can give for securing budget accommodation in Hanoi is to book online and in advance. It used to be true that you could show up in person and negotiate a good price, but that’s not so much the case anymore.
As for seeing the sights, if you’re genuinely on a shoestring budget, I would recommend hiring a motorbike or scooter and exploring different parts of the city. There’s more than enough to see without having to spend lots of money. If you’re in Hanoi, you MUST visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, walk around Hoan Kiem Lake and the Old Quarter during the evening and, hang out on the train street. A visit to Hanoi isn’t complete without ticking these sights off your list.
When you do go to Hanoi, be sure to try to haggle and negotiate EVERYTHING. Haggling is part of Vietnamese culture, and you’re sure to be overcharged for things if you don’t engage in a bit of negotiation! If you’re any good at haggling, you could save yourself quite a bit of money! Above all, you should go to Hanoi, enjoy yourself, soak up the culture and rest easy that the trip won’t put too much strain on your purse strings.
Jaffna, Sri Lanka
By Lara of Both Feet On The Road
Sri Lanka is a beautiful destination for budget travelers. And if you are looking for an even cheaper place to travel in Sri Lanka, Jaffna is the place to go.
Jaffna is a big city in the north of Sri Lanka, but despite its size and the many fun things to do around the city, it is not often visited by tourists. And this exactly why it’s such a cheap place to travel. Many top sights are free to visit, and the best restaurants in the city are cheap local restaurants!
So what are the best (free) things to do in Jaffna?
Jaffna is filled with colorful Hindu temples, which are free to visit. A visit to the fort, the public library, Point Pedro (the most northern point of Sri Lanka), the lighthouse, the northern beaches, and the northern islands, are all free of charge. And more importantly, fun things to do around Jaffna.
The only thing you do need to pay for in the city is your transportation. Ideally, you would be traveling with someone else, so you can share the costs.
The easiest way to see all the sights is by renting a tuk-tuk for a day and drive around (let someone drive you around). One benefit of having someone to drive you around is that they can also tell you about the history of Jaffna. And how it has been affected by the civil war of Sri Lanka that only ended in 2009.
The best place to try local and cheap food is Malayan Café Veg. And since Jaffna is so close to India, you can also find delicious Indian food. The most popular Indian restaurant is Mango’s, the food is more expensive than Malayan Café Veg. However with prices between 2-5 USD it’s still very affordable!
There are plenty of budget hotels or rest houses in Jaffna. You could find a two-person room as cheap as 5 USD per night. Or you could opt for the only hostel in the city, Hostel Yaarl for 7 USD per night.
Depending on whether you are traveling alone or with someone else a budget of as little as 15 USD per day could be enough. Though this would be a strict budget and assumes that you split accommodation and transportation costs. A budget of 20-25 USD per day would be more realistic if you are traveling alone and want to be able to see and do everything.
Seoul, South Korea
By Mikaela of Low Maintenance Traveler
South Korea is known as a highly-developed country in East Asia, along with Japan and China. So when we say budget-friendly destinations in Asia, Seoul is probably not at the top of the list! The country made an incredible rise to economic growth and became one of the richest countries in the world, shown by its modern skyscapers, high-tech metro system, dashing tourist attractions, and high quality of life. This gives a lot of people the impression that they need to spend large amounts of money when traveling to its capital – Seoul.
Although it’s true that it’s more expensive than other capital cities in Asia, it’s not impossible to get by just having 60,000 won a day in your pocket!
Not many people are aware that there’s loads of things you can do for free around Seoul, such as walking tours in Cheonggyecheon Stream, free museums, and taking advantage of Culture Day (every last Wednesday of the month), where you can visit the palaces and other participating attractions for free.
Aside from this, you can save money by eating like a local (try their Jajangmyeon) and spending less on transportation by walking around Seoul – the city is safe and walkable.
When you’re planning your Seoul itinerary and accommodation, it’s recommended that you book a hotel near many attractions such as in Jongno or Myeongdong area, and avoid the Gangnam district or Itaewon, as these are more luxurious.
Overall, Seoul is a must-travel Asian destination, even on a budget. The city has a lot to offer that’ll definitely give you a good travel experience!
By Marco of Penang Insider
Penang island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is also a very cheap place to travel in Asia. If you are a penny pincher, you’ll be able to eat, sleep in a hostel and visit some free sites for about $15 per day, otherwise, there’s a great choice of boutique accommodation and great Penang AirBnbs to choose from. Keep in mind that with $50 you’ll generally have a pretty luxurious day.
Penang’s UNESCO area is in George Town, and in itself, it holds most of the island’s famous temples, Chinese clan-houses, and the very well-known street food. You don’t have of course to pay for any of that: just walk around, follow the tourists and get one for the ‘gram next to the many street murals that made George Town famous around the world – and don’t forget that the UNESCO heritage is the multicultural people of this charming colonial town.
Nature lovers may head to Penang Hill which has a funicular train (30RM) that whisks tourists to the top — but you can strike off on one of the many hiking trails, not spend a single cent, and climb to different stations for a good sweaty workout and a chance to mingle with local trekkers.
Penang beaches are not the best, to be honest, but those around the National Park in the northwestern corner of the island make for a good break – like Balik Pulau, the least developed southeastern part of the island. The main activity here is visiting durian and nutmeg farms, cycle along paddy fields, and bask in the sun on Pantai Pasir Panjang, the island’s best.
By Samantha of Intentional Detours
Peshawar, Pakistan is known to be the oldest city in South Asia, but what you might not know is that it’s also one of the cheapest. With most (delicious) food options being priced between $1-$4, it’s easy to try all of the best dishes in town on even a backpacker’s budget!
The Al-Ibadat Hotel speaks to just how affordable this historical Pakistani city can be: a private room goes for between $4-$5 per night. As Peshawar is known for its incredibly hospitable people, many travelers have had great experiences with the Couchsurfing app as well. Couchsurfing might be free, but more importantly, it allows you to experience local life in ways that you never would have on your own.
In addition to affordable stays and cheap, tasty eats, Peshawar is home to several of Pakistan’s historical landmarks that also happen to be free to enter. The beautiful Mahabat Khan Masjid is a 17th-century Mughal-era relic is a must-visit, as is the famed Khyber Pass Gate (an important part of the Old Silk Road) AND the Qissa Khwani Bazaar, which is known for its beautiful Havelis.
$10-$15 a day should be the maximum you spend in this fascinating city, making it a place you can definitely spend some time in. If you’re looking to slightly splurge on what may be the city’s best food, head over to Charsi Tikka. It’s a well known Peshawari restaurant, and it is well, well worth the hype!
By Erin of Love To Travel, Stay-Eat-Do
If you are looking for a budget holiday in an awesome country, be sure to consider Laos. Laos is a great holiday destination, with loads to do and at a very accessible price. Luang Prabang and Vang Vieng are probably more well known and visited more so than the capital, but rest assured Vientiane is a fantastic city to visit, with lots of great attractions to see and a very affordable price. Here are our top tips on what to do in Vientiane on a budget!
You absolutely cannot go to Vientiane without visiting the Buddha Park. There are tours from the main city, or you can hire a taxi to take you out there, however, for those travelling on a budget, we recommend taking the local bus from Talat Sao bus station. Be sure to have your destination written down on a piece of paper so you can show the bus driver before you get on. Keep track of the pick-up times at the end of the day too, as you are a long way out of the city centre with no real way of returning if you are not organised.
Everything else you can access by foot from the city centre and it is such a great way to see more of everyday life in Vientiane. Visit the C.O.P.E. Visitor Centre and learn about the organisation which supports people with mobility related disabilities across the country. You can go in and explore freely and you are welcome to make a donation or purchase something from their store which goes back into the organisation’s work.
The Victory Monument – Patuxai, is equally as impressive from the ground as it is from the top. You can pay a small fee to climb the stairs to the top and get panoramic views across the Laos capital. We would recommend it – on a clear day, it is a great vantage point to view the city. Patuxai was built in dedication to those who fought for the independence of France.
Another place we would recommend to visit is Pha That Luang. It is an easy walk around the outside, observing daily life, visiting temples and taking in the Laos way of life. There are market stalls around the edges and purchasing snacks or lunch from there is a nice way to support the locals.
The night markets are an excellent option for budget meals and an all round great experience. There are loads of local restaurants that line the streets in the city centre as well, and very happy and welcoming faces to greet you at the street.
As is the case anywhere you travel, there is a great range in prices for accommodation and style. We stayed at Champa Garden Hotel comfortably as a family of 4 sharing one room with a private bathroom, a pool and daily breakfast. Accommodation aside, our family budgeted for $50AUD per day.
By Bhushavali of My Travelogue By Bhushavali
Mumbai is the commercial capital of India and is that city which never sleeps! For a visitor, Mumbai can be done super expensive or super cheap! To begin with – the currency exchange! For a western traveler, may it be dollars or euros, Indian Rupee is much cheaper and for every dollar/euro, you’d get Rs.75-85 and that’s enough for a lunch at a small-ish eatery anywhere in India, including Mumbai.
Mumbai is very well connected by the local train (suburban railway) and a 1,3, or 5 days tourist ticket, it is super economical to travel all over Mumbai and surrounding regions as well. Otherwise autos (tuk-tuks) & taxis run here by meter which also wouldn’t turn out too expensive.
While certain monuments are ticketed, quite a few aren’t! Mumbai is filled with so many forts which are free to enter including Bandra, Madh, Borivali, Vasai etc. While in Mumbai, it is a must to visit Elephanta Caves, one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India. Though this is ticketed, it is only Rs.50/- for Indians & SAARC nationals (Rs.600/- for other foreigners). This is a tiny island which has to be reached by ferry from Gateway of India.
Mumbai, of course, has a stunning shoreline. While Juhu Beach or Queen’s Necklace are crowded, there are secluded beaches like Manori, Madh etc, which all can be reached by Mumbai suburban railway.
By Vrushali of Couple of Journeys
Bali is a budget traveller’s paradise. The currency difference helps even travellers from other developing countries experience Bali on a budget, and it’s one of the best inexpensive places to travel in Asia. You can get a free on-arrival visa for up to thirty days.
There are plenty of cheap homestays and hostels available in most tourist areas of Bali. However, Kuta, in particular, has plenty of budget accommodation options available where the cost of stay will range between 5 to 8 USD. Similarly, one can find cheap homestays in the area surrounding central Ubud.
The best way to save food costs is by eating filling Indonesian dishes such as Nasi Goreng or Mie Goreng at any of the beachside shacks. A full meal here will only cost about 3 USD.
The cost of travelling can be greatly reduced by renting a scooter. One can get a scooter for an entire day for as little as 3 USD. Alternatively, you could even rent a bicycle to further save costs if you only plan on exploring nearby places.
In terms of things to do, Bali has plenty to offer. Even 10 days in Bali will not do justice to its touristic beauty. Every beach in Bali is charming in its own unique way. Padang Padang, Sanur and Pandawa are tourist favourites. Up in the hilly region of Ubud, you could visit the many waterfalls or explore the spectacular rice terraces. In addition to that, visiting the temples in Bali is a great way to connect with the rich Balinese culture.
The only tourist attractions which are usually quite expensive are the ones that are man-made or those that are built specifically for attracting tourism such as the Bali Zoo, Bali Bird Park or Waterbom. However, one could easily experience the essence of Bali even without visiting these places.
On average, when travelling on a budget, one could easily spend an entire day in Bali in under 30 USD which would include stay, all meals, transportation as well as some local sightseeing.
Kinabatangan River, Malaysia
Malaysian Borneo is one of the best area to undertake some wildlife spotting for a low, low budget! In particular, the Kinabatangan River area of Borneo gives you the opportunity to see orangutans in the wild, as well as the endangered Borneo pygmy elephant too.
Easily reachable by bus from Kota Kinabalu, the Kinabatangan River is the second-longest river in Malaysia, and is close to the town of Sandakan. Along this river, you can see the proboscis monkey, orangutans, monitor lizards, macaques, and a huge number of different birds. The riverbank is also the home of the smallest elephants in Asia, and there are only 1,500 of these Asian Pygmy Elephants left in the world!
The Kinabatangan River is easy to visit on a budget – book a seriously budget-friendly lodge on the river banks – even the basic ones are rather luxurious and virtually all of them include guided hikes and river trips to spot wildlife. As the river is not a protected area, there is no National Park fee to pay either.
The Borneo Natural Sakau Bilit Resort built directly onto the river even offers dorm room facilities and is all-inclusive of all transfers, accommodation, food, entertainment, and trips! You can also pick up room for GBP9 per night, and buy your transfers, food, and tours locally.
By Meenakshi of Polka Junction
Dubbed the cultural capital of southern India, and, the capital city of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, Chennai has got ample experiences and sightseeing options to explore for every kind of traveller. With ancient UNESCO heritage sites on the outskirts of the city to the second longest beach in the world, and, brilliantly styled Hindu temples to fascinating colonial architectural structures and churches, the city has it all.
Chennai is one of the culturally rich and the most affordable of the Indian metropolises. This 380-year-old city also has a thriving food scene with its vibrant ‘mess’ culture that has been enticing everyone. One could indulge in a plate of Idlis (fluffy steamed rice cakes) for breakfast accompanied by an assortment of chutneys for under 50 cents. While an elaborate lip-smacking south-Indian saapadu (meal) could be devoured for a dollar or two. And, there still would be no comprise on the quality of the food. The good old Ratna Cafe in Mylapore is a must-visit. Are you fond of shopping? Then do take a stroll around the T.Nagar area.
I would highly recommend visiting Chennai during the winter, which is from December to January. It’s a perfect season to catch one of the many music and dance recitals that happen across this city, as part of the Maargazhi festival. Sometimes, you could even watch a LIVE performance for free at the Kapaleeswarar temple at Mylapore.
While in Chennai, do not miss hitting the longest beach in India — the Marina beach. Of course, there is no entry fee!
By Mukund of Discover New Paths
Yangon is the largest city in, and former capital of, Myanmar and a fantastic budget destination for travel in Asia!
Myanmar is known for being the land of pagodas, and Yangon has some incredible pagodas you can visit for free. These include the Maha Wizaya Pagoda and the Chauk Htat Gyi Pagoda, known for its huge statue of the reclining Buddha.
Other great free things to do include checking out the local Bogyoke Aung San market, where you can find authentic Burmese items, and the Kandawgyi Lake which is a lovely area to just walk, relax and enjoy the beautiful surroundings.
To get a taste of real Burmese life and the local people, catch the famous Yangon Circular train, which costs just $0.15! You will be able to see all kinds of locals going about their daily lives, and can also get some bargains with people walking up and down the train selling a variety of things such as fresh fruits, local handicrafts and even phone chargers.
A trip to Yangon isn’t complete without visiting the Shwedagon pagoda, a huge gold-plated pagoda. Entrance is about $7 but it is well worth it. The pagoda is one of the most revered pilgrimage sites for Buddhists in Myanmar which is still visited by thousands of pilgrims daily. It will truly take your breath away.
Burmese food is fresh, spicy and delicious. The best way to sample the local delights is by going to street food markets. Local eateries are on most streets where you can have a tealeaf salad or Shan-style rice with curry and wash it down with a Myanmar beer. Chinatown in Yangon is the main hub of street food vendors and here you can pick up some tasty food for just a couple of dollars – check out 999 Shan Noodle House to get an authentic Yangon food experience.
Of course, you’ll want to stay somewhere cheap, cheerful and well located. Hotel Zara and Rangoon Boutique House are a couple of clean and affordable hotels worth checking out. For anyone looking at hostels, Hostel President is a new hostel and a great option.
All in all, you can easily get by on $30 or less a day which includes accommodation, food, transport and sight-seeing. So if you’re looking for budget trips in Asia, look no further than Yangon!
By Constance of The Adventures of Panda Bear
Hong Kong is usually known for its huge skyscrapers, east meets west culture, and its high cost of living. However if you know what you’re doing, you can definitely make your trip to Hong Kong a budget one.
For the most budget friendly way to travel, make your trip to Hong Kong quick. Take advantage of a long weekend in Hong Kong or make it a layover stop. Stay at a hostel in Chungking Mansions for the best prices while staying in the middle of the city. You’ll usually be able to find a room for $50US or less during low season.
For budget travelers, you’re in luck because some of the best things to do in Hong Kong happen to be free. Walk along the Tsim Sha Tsui promenade for amazing nighttime views of Victoria Harbour and the Hong Kong skyline. Hike up to Victoria Peak, the highest point on Hong Kong Island, for beautiful views of the city below.
Take a stroll in Sheung Wan and the older, residential parts of Central for a more local experience. In Sheung Wan be sure to check out Man Mo Temple, one of the most famous temples in the city.
Ride an electric tram, a remnant of British colonialism, these trams remain one of the cheapest ways to get across Hong Kong Island. For an affordable way to get across Victoria Harbour and to see gorgeous views on the water, take the Star Ferry.
The cheapest dining options in Hong Kong are obviously local eats! Affordable eats are easily found in the less touristy areas. Hop inside a cha chaan teng for delicious Hong Kong milk tea, wonton noodle soup, fish ball noodle soup, congee, and chow fun. A decent meal is easily afforded for $10USD as long as you keep it local.
Though Hong Kong might not be one of the cheapest places to travel in Asia, you can easily make it a budget trip.
Well folks, I think we’ve proved beyond doubt that when you find the best cheap places to travel in Asia, there’s no need to compromise on quality!
Asia is a continent of delightful surprises, and one of them is that you really can have the trip of a lifetime on a relatively small budget. Look at all of the amazing places we’ve explored above – some of them might even be in places that you didn’t previously consider to be the cheapest country to visit (did you really expect to see Hong Kong on this list? But it’s absolutely possible!).
If you ever feel that there’s things holding you back from traveling, budget shouldn’t be one of them. Look at what you can achieve in Asia for relatively small sums – and start making plans to visit!
If you’ve found this guide on cheap places to holiday in Asia useful, how about sharing the love?
Cons: it’ll take up two seconds of your day.
Pros: You get to proudly display this on your social media feed like a total travel pro, you get to help other people realize their dreams, and you give me a happy fuzzy feeling!
And if you’re super-smart:
Share the below images on Pinterest! That way, you’ll have a bookmark back to this page for when you need it, right when you’re showing it your travel companion, or making plans. Handy, right?