Planning Your Budget For South East Asia

If your South East Asia dreams go as far as acquainting ladyboys and only seeing the bottom of a beer bottle, you’re going to need a pretty large budget. But if you’re willing to soak in the culture, live partially like a local and also fit in some good old backpacker boozers, then I’ve got some tips to help plan how much of those hard earned pennies you’re going to have to save.

Organise your lack of planning

I know, that’s just one massive oxy-moron to make you choke on your Cheerios. The key to knowing how much money you’re going to need is making a rough plan of where you’re going to visit. We’re all the same in that we want to be able to turn up to a new country armed with only our backpacks and figure it all out when we get there. However, I suggest you have a rough guide of countries you know you want to visit, how much a beer costs, average price for a hostel and how much it’ll cost you to get around. If you know this, it’ll be easier to designate a certain proportion of your money per country.

General rule of thumb

Although its entirely impossible for me to tell you exactly how much money you’ll need day to day or monthly; I CAN advise you from experience that you will need around £600-£1000 per month in SE Asia if you are not planning on working, and if you want to do most things on offer. Of course if you only eat from street food vendors, sleep in the cheapest bed, find yourself visiting all the free attractions and not getting boozed up with your new bezzies; you will be able to survive on a LOT less. FYI: This general rule of thumb is for the backpackers on a budget, not those of you who like knocking back the Belvedere!

Live like a local

One of the best parts of travelling is being able to truly immerse yourself in that culture and live like a local as best you can. I’m not saying go and drink the dirty tap water, but if you take local public transport, not only will it lead to a thankful bank account, but you will also find yourself surrounded by the most fantastically bizarre parts of SE Asia. We’re talking live chickens on buses, mid-journey carriage hopping on trains, and the wonderful local friendliness towards our explorations.

Don’t fill your backpack before you go

If you’re still in the saving stage back home and you’re wandering through town looking at all the new garms that would make you look like the freshest traveller around; THINK AGAIN. Most likely all your clothing will feel the wrath of travel holes, loss of possessions and shrinking in the local laundrette. Not to mention the fact that clothes in SE Asia are SO cheap. You can get a better wardrobe than you could have had back home and all for a tenth of the price. Bring your essentials and your practical travelling gear, but for your cute holiday extras and three pairs of flip flops; just hang on until your first night market! It wont be long!

Shop around

One thing I love about SE Asia is your ability to haggle anything down from a Nasi Goreng to a new suit. You can save a wedge of cash by being smart to their over pricing. In SE Asia, the locals are wise to us Westeners with our brimming bank accounts of hard earned cash ready to splurge in their economy. Whilst local tourism is great for their countries, we must also take care not be ripped off for cheap products. Haggle, learn to say no, shop around and you’ll be saving loads before you know it.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re mid-travels or fresh meat. Pack your bags, fill your wallet and have a blast! Worrying about money whilst travelling is a deal breaker, so try to use these tips to be mindful about your money whilst still being the ultimate YES man!

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  • Great tips! I often have a rough idea of what I want to do, without actually making the commitment to buy something (like budget airline flights around Europe and Thailand), and end up paying more because I waited until the last minute! Lack of planning can definitely come back to haunt you!

    • Yes for sure! Sometimes its nice to have nothing planned until you have the hefty bill at the end of it!

  • Those are really good tips, and I agree about the budget per month. There’s plenty of options for local street foods and even budget accommodation too!

    • Yeah definitely! I think I prefer local street food to flash restaurants sometimes as it’s always packed full of flavours!

  • Backpacking in Southeast Asia is cheap, relatively easy, and there are more places, sights, and activities than you can shake a stick at. If you are very budget conscious you can manage on budgets as low as $25 a day… In order to give yourself a few luxuries and activities, around $45 will give you plenty of activities and comfortable rooms in most parts of the region. And it is really pays off to book accommodation in person. You can find some incredible deals 🙂

    • Totally agree with booking accommodation in person. The online prices/middle mans/search engines just make them rocket up

  • I’ve never been good at haggling, but I finally got my first win in Kuala Lumpur! Although I don’t think she was impressed when I asked if she had a smaller size afterwards 😹

    Great tips! Always good to budget before a trip!

  • THANK YOU, for this. You’ve basically said everything I was thinking of how I budgeted for Southeast Asia as well. The affordability of the area allows for such flexibility but your tips are killer for knowing what to DO with that flexibility… if that makes sense, hahah.

  • Some great tips here, takes me back to when I was in SE Asia. Defintely agree with the space in your backpack. I bought so much stuff when I was there and loads of clothes because travelling pants are the most comfortable thing ever and stop things from eating your legs!!!

  • Oh I LOVE Cambodia!! I visited 2 years ago and still is in my mind!! Your tip of do not fill your backpack before you go its true!!! I could not but anything coz I just had no space left! 🙂

  • Definitely agree with NOT filling your backpack before you go. I did this when I first started traveling and ended up having to ditch stuff as I went. Plus lets be real, we always buy stuff along the way 🙂 Love your pics! xx Steph

  • These are good tips. I’d also add eat locally. You can save SO much money if you eat where the locals eat instead of going to touristic restaurants!

  • Great tips, thanks for sharing! I’ve been struggling with filling my backpack to the utmost at home – still have to learn to buy clothes and other stuff on the road. Touring Borneo during the last weeks opened my mind a bit, as I suddenly had to find new trousers and against my expectations, it turned out to be extremely easy task – just 15 minutes of shopping at a local mall!