Traveling doesn’t have to be expensive. I’m here to tell you that you can visit incredible destinations on a budget. Southeast Asia is full of amazing islands, cities full of history, and stunning nature waiting to be discovered.
I traveled for the past year and a half across SE Asia, visiting 9 countries and I’ve done it all on a budget. I’ve been to Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and the Philippines and in some of these countries, I’ve spent more than a month.
In this blog post, I want to share with you the top budget destinations in SE Asia, perfect for your 2021 holiday. Let’s start!
Disclaimer: The hotel prices are for 2 people. Also, I have not taken into account the costs of flying into these countries (it depends on where you are located).
Good to know: When traveling to Southeast Asia, I recommend using the Grab App. It’s the Asian version of Uber and it’s a cheap way to get from point A to point B. Grab App is available in most of the destinations below.
1. Hoi An – Vietnam
This charming town in Vietnam has it all – beautiful beaches, fascinating history, colorful lanterns, and endless rice paddies. For as little as $10-$15 you’ll get a private room in a nice guesthouse and a free bicycle to explore the city.
-> Read about the top Instagrammable places in Hoi An
While in Hoi An, don’t hesitate to go shopping for clothes and shoes! This town is world-famous for its affordable custom-made clothing items. For a pair of leather shoes, expect to pay somewhere around $30 while a tailor-made suit for men costs only $150. Shopping in Hoi An is awesome!
If you’re a foodie, definitely try the Vietnamese cuisine. A local dish will cost somewhere between $3 and $5. Also, while in Vietnam, I totally recommend trying the famous Banh Mi. You’ll thank me later. As an average daily budget, I recommend around $40 (for 2 people). This is one of the most affordable destinations in Asia!
-> These are the top things to do in Hoi An
2. Ninh Binh – Vietnam
For a private room in a guesthouse, you’ll have to pay only $15 while renting a motorbike for one day costs $6. If you’re not confident about riding a motorbike, you can also rent a bicycle for $3.
-> Read about the stunning Tam Coc in Ninh Binh here
Ninh Binh is full of restaurants with both local and international dishes. If you want to save up some money, go for the local food. For a meal expect to pay somewhere around $3-$5. The recommended average daily budget for two people is around $50.
3. Siquijor – Philippines
Let me just start by saying that the Philippines, in general, is not a budget destination. After Singapore and Malaysia, I think that the Philippines is the most expensive country in Southeast Asia. However, there are a few budget-friendly destinations around the country and one of them is the beautiful island of Siquijor.
Not many people know about this little hidden paradise and this is exactly what makes Siquijor so special. With only a few tourists on the island, Siquijor is perfect for snorkeling, exploring waterfalls and enjoying some of the best beaches in the Philippines.
-> Read more about Cambugahay Falls here.
A night at a guesthouse will cost you around $20 while a meal at a local restaurant costs around $5-$7. To get around the island, you’ll need to rent a motorbike which will cost you $5. An average daily budget of $50 should be more than enough for 2 people.
4. Yangon – Myanmar
Have you ever thought about visiting Myanmar? One thing that surprised me about this country was how welcoming and generous the locals are. Apart from being a super budget-friendly destination, Myanmar is one of the most beautiful countries in Southeast Asia.
With some of the most impressive temples and natural landscapes, Myanmar should be on your travel list. Yangon is the capital city of the country, a place rich in history and culture.
While in Yangon, you must visit the famous Shwedagon Pagoda and ride the fascinating Yangon Circular Train. Also, if you also want to explore some rural areas of Myanmar, I recommend planning a trip to Hpa An from Yangon. You won’t be disappointed.
For a night in a guesthouse, you’ll spend as little as $8 and for a meal in the city, you’ll have to pay around $3. Yangon is a great destination for those who are looking for a budget holiday, with an average daily budget (for 2 people) of just $35. Myanmar is one of the most budget-friendly destinations in SE Asia and the perfect place to spend your holiday in 2021.
-> The perfect Yangon itinerary
5. Mandalay – Myanmar
Myanmar might be known for the famous Bagan temples but there are other places worth visiting too such as Mandalay. Take a half-day trip from Mandalay to Mingun and you’ll discover one of the most beautiful temples in Southeast Asia.
Also, Mandalay is home to many tourist attractions such as U Bein Bridge, Mahamuni Buddha Temple, Sandamuni Pagoda, and Kuthodaw Pagoda or Mandalay Hill. The city is rich in history and culture.
For a private room in a guesthouse in Mandalay, you’ll have to pay around $15 while a meal at a local restaurant costs as little as $4. Transport around the city is also very affordable and the average daily budget for two people is around $35.
6. Yogyakarta – Indonesia
When you think about Indonesia, the first thing that comes to mind is Bali. However, there are many other beautiful destinations to visit outside of Bali. I had the chance to explore Java and I loved it.
One place that stole my heart was Yogyakarta. Home to the famous Borobudur Temple and Prambanan Temple, Yogyakarta is a mix of colors and tastes. I loved this city and I only wish I had more time to explore it!
The good news is that Yogyakarta is an affordable destination. You can easily find a private room for 2 people in a guesthouse for $15 and a meal in the city will set you back only $4. For two people, an average daily budget of $50 should be more than enough. When planning your budget holiday in Southeast Asia, make sure to consider Yogyakarta.
7. Bali – Indonesia
I know some may say that Bali is overrated and busy. I won’t lie – during the peak season the island can get pretty busy but its beauty compensates. I’ve spent 7 months on this beautiful island and for me, Bali is my second home.
There are a few reasons why I chose to spend so much time on this island – the food is delicious and cheap, the accommodation options are endless and there is so much to explore!
-> Read more about the famous Bali Heaven Gate
Although I’ve spent most of my time in Canggu, I’ve also explored Ubud, Denpasar and the northern part of the island and I can honestly tell you that Bali is one of the most affordable destinations in Southeast Asia.
You can easily find a private room in a guesthouse with a pool for $17 per night and if you choose to eat at local warungs, a meal will only cost you $3. Renting a motorbike for one day shouldn’t cost you more than $5 which leads to a total average daily budget of $50 for two people. Not bad.
8. Nusa Penida – Indonesia
Just a boat ride away from Bali is the beautiful Nusa Penida island. It has become quite popular in the last few years but it’s still an incredible budget-friendly destination.
With famous views such as Angel’s Billabong, the Broken Beach, and Kelingking Beach, Nusa Penida is full of stunning natural landscapes. If you want to get away from all the tourists, I recommend visiting Atuh Beach and Diamond Beach.
As a day trip from Nusa Penida, you can also visit two other nearby islands – Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Lembogan. However, keep in mind that you’ll need to rent a motorbike to explore these two islands.
Finding accommodation on Nusa Penida is easy and you can find a beautiful private room for $20. A meal at one of the local restaurants will cost you around $6 while renting a motorbike costs $6. If you choose to explore the island with a guided tour, the costs will be a bit higher. However, if you choose to explore Nusa Penida on a motorbike, you can definitely enjoy all this island has to offer for about $50 per day for two people.
9. Chiang Mai – Thailand
Thailand is more than beautiful beaches. Head north to Chiang Mai and you’ll discover a small town with an incredible vibe. Full of temples, tasty food, and friendly people, Chiang Mai should be on your bucket list when visiting Thailand.
If you have time, you can also visit Chiang Rai, a city famous for its White and Blue temples.
A nice room in a guesthouse costs around $15 per night, while eating at a local restaurant costs $4. When in Chiang Mai, don’t forget to try the delicious Pad Thai! Overall, be prepared to spend around $40 per day in this awesome city. Chiang Mai is the perfect choice for those looking for an affordable destination for their holiday in Southeast Asia.
10. Siem Reap – Cambodia
Siem Reap is by far the most touristy destination in Cambodia. Everybody who comes to Siem Reap comes for a reason – to visit the famous Angkor Wat. Wandering around the Angkor Wat ruins is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
However, if you have plenty of time, I also recommend taking a day trip to the lesser known floating houses of Kampong Phluk. You can book your tour directly from Siem Reap and you won’t have to worry about transport or other fees.
You can easily find accommodation for as little as $10 per night in Siem Reap. A meal at a local restaurant costs around $4 while renting a tuk-tuk for a trip to Angkor Wat costs $15-$20. Keep in mind that the entrance fee at Angkor Wat is a bit expensive but you’ll only have to pay it once. Put aside about $35 per day (except Angkor Wat entrance fee) in Siem Reap.
These are the cheapest destinations in Southeast Asia for 2021. I hope that this post helped you find inspiration for your next holiday. All these destinations are incredible and full of history. Which one do you choose? Let me know in the comments section below.
May the travel bug bite you!
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