The cheapest travel destinations in the Asia in 2020

The cheapest travel destinations in the Asia in 2020

Lelp.net – Which countries in the world offer the most value? Where can you travel to in 2020 that will allow you to go for longer, enjoy a higher standard, and save more money? The following are 30 destinations around the world that offer the essentials – accommodation, transportation, and food – for less:

The cheapest travel destinations in the Asia in 2020

1. Vietnam, $30/day

Vietnam, $30/day
Vietnam, $30/day

I probably had the healthiest and cheapest street food in Vietnam. Think a soup with rice noodles, cilantro, amazing broth, and a whole shank of pork for $1.50, or a cup of strong, aromatic coffee for $1. As far as transportation goes, if you rent a motorbike, you are all set for the day. However, I understand that not everyone is comfortable riding a motorbike, especially in countries like Vietnam where the road traffic can be overwhelmingly chaotic.

The good news is that GrabBike (similar to Uber but on bikes!) is widely available in all major cities, and the cost is as low as $0.50 for a 2km ride! The long distance buses and trains are also affordable and reliable. Accommodation is similarly pleasant and easier to afford than almost anywhere else in the world.

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  • Meals: $5 – $10 per day. Some hostels provide breakfast that consist of a baguette, fruit, and coffee
  • Accommodation: $5-$10 per night in a hostel (here’s a full guide to the best hostels in Vietnam)
  • Transportation: $8-$15 for a motorbike for the day (prices may vary depending on the bike condition and your haggling skills) or for an intercity bus ticket
  • SIM card with data: $2 for 1.5GB with 30-day validity. Yes, it is that cheap!

2. Laos, $30/day

laos cheapest places to travel to
Laos, $30/day

Back in my budget backpacking days around Southeast Asia, Laos was one of the two destinations where I was able to keep my budget at $30/day, even though accommodation was slightly more expensive than most places in Southeast Asia at that time.

Many of the amazing activities you can do in Laos are cheap. I paid $2.50 to see one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the world, $7 for a full day tubing experience along the Vang Vieng river, and $6 for an awesome tiger balm massage.

You can also rent a motorbike for cheap and venture off to the smaller towns, where everything is even cheaper! With more and more new hostels built to cater to the increasing number of backpackers, you can go for cheaper for longer. However if you have a bit more to spend, you can get a gorgeous room for closer to $35 that would easily cost $100 in the US.

  • Meals: $3 – $9 per day. Some hostels provide a basic breakfast
  • Accommodation: $5-$10 per night in a hostel
  • Transportation: $6 – $15 for a motorbike for the day (prices may vary depending on the bike condition and your haggling skills), or up to $25 for an intercity bus ticket
  • SIM card with data: $6 for 1.5GB with 30-day validity

3. Cambodia, $25/day

Cambodia, $25/day
Cambodia, $25/day

I know for sure that if you choose to rough it, you can easily spend a month in Cambodia with just $1000. Dorms are very basic but can be dirt cheap, the same goes for food and alcohol. I also had my haggling skills to thank as I was almost always able to talk my way out of being charged unfairly by the Tuk Tuk drivers.

There are some one-off expenses such as the 3-day pass to Angkor Wat, which is currently set at $62, and diving trips that add up, but there will also be days of riding bicycle in a small village and eating cheap and delicious meat skewers, when just a dollar or two could stretch very far.

Another thing is to consider the gorgeous, mostly new boutique hotels on booking.com. They are obviously not as cheap as staying in hostels, but for the price, they are so worth it! I’d definitely splurge on a couple of nights and have some R&R time by the pool.

  • Meals: $5 – $10 per day. Some hostels provide breakfast
  • Accommodation: $3-$10 per night in a hostel (here’s a guide to the best hostels in Cambodia)
  • Transportation: $6-$15 for a motorbike for the day (prices may vary depending on the bike condition and your haggling skills) or for an intercity bus ticket
  • SIM card with data: $2 for 1.5GB with 30-day validity. Yes, it is that cheap!

4. Northern Thailand, $30/day

Northern Thailand, $30/day
Northern Thailand, $30/day

The north of Thailand is easy on a tight budget.  As one moves south, costs for accommodation start to double, triple, and even quadruple. If you are short on time and budget for your Thailand trip, stay up north! Even in popular places like Chiang Mai and Pai, you can easily find basic dorms for less than $5.

If you stick with eating street food (To each her own, but why eat pasta when you can have pad Thai, am I right?), not only will you save yourself some money, the experience will be much more authentic and delicious, too.

As far as activities go, you really do not need a lot of money to enjoy your day as most activities such as visiting the White Temple, hiking, or gathering 3 other people from your hostel to rent a car and go on some day trips, are all affordable.

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  • Meals: $5 – $15 per day. Some hostels provide breakfast
  • Accommodation: $5-$10 per night in a hostel
  • Transportation: $6-$10 for a motorbike for the day (prices may vary depending on the bike condition and your haggling skills) or a rental car split between 4 people
  • SIM card with data: $7 for 1.5GB with 30-day validity

5. Indonesia, $30/day

Indonesia, $30/day
Indonesia, $30/day

The thing about Indonesia is that it can be really cheap, or it can be quite expensive, depending on one big thing – transportation. Intercity traveling can be very time-consuming and costly, so is traveling from one island to another with a private boat. To save costs, stick with a region or two!

There’s a lot to do and see, and spending more time in one place will only allow you to travel deeper and have a more meaningful experience anyway. If you want to travel far and wide on a budget, my biggest tip is to take the local transportation! That’s what I did backpacking in Indonesia a few years back, and sure enough, I ended up with some funny stories.

On the flip side, food and drinks are cheap throughout the country, not to mention absolutely delicious too! Riding a scooter through the mountains costs very little, so does hiking, chasing waterfalls, and slouching in a hammock by the beach all day long. Hostels are plentiful, social and affordable, especially in places like the Gili Islands.

  • Meals: $5 – $15 per day. Some hostels provide breakfast
  • Accommodation: $5-$10 per night in a hostel
  • Transportation: $8-$15 for a motorbike for the day (prices may vary depending on the bike condition and your haggling skills)
  • SIM card with data: $5 for 2GB with 30-day validity

6. The Philippines, $35/day

The Philippines, $35/day
The Philippines, $35/day

The Philippines’s archipelago can cost quite a lot of both money and time to get around, and the hostel options aren’t nearly as abundant as other Southeast Asia countries. While these two factors seem like a big turn off for travelers trying to stretch their budget as far as possible, there are ways to keep your travel cost in the Philippines low.

If you choose to travel during shoulder seasons, book your flights and plan your journey way in advance (it is not the country to always wing it!), and try to stick within 1-2 regions, the Philippines can still be affordable.

On top of that, the country has some of the most gorgeous islands, beautiful dive sites, and hidden gems that you’d have had to pay so much more to experience in other parts of the world. In that sense, the Philippines is worth every peso you spend.

  • Meals: $5 – $15 per day. Some hostels provide breakfast
  • Accommodation: $7-$13 per night in a hostel
  • Transportation: $10-$15 for a motorbike for the day (prices may vary depending on the bike condition and your haggling skills) or $15 – $20 for a boat ride from one island to another
  • SIM card with data: $6 for 2GB with 30-day validity

7. Malaysia, $35/day

Malaysia, $35/day
Malaysia, $35/day

Being one of the most economically developed Southeast Asian countries, Malaysia is often perceived as expensive. On top of that, when I visited Malaysia for the first time, a few people told me it wasn’t worth staying long.

However, I ended up meeting lots of locals, more able to communicate and find more common ground with them than I had in Cambodia or Laos, and had so much fun exploring Cameron Highlands, the jungles of Borneo, and the gorgeous islands.

The cherry on top? They were all affordable. An overnight bus from Kuala Lumpur to the Perhentian Islands costs as little as $8, there are so many interesting local neighborhoods and markets that are free to explore, and finally, the Malaysian cuisine is like no other – you can find food from just about any culture and it’s so cheap and delicious – but not necessarily healthy. Malaysia is also one of the cheapest places in the world to get a PADI scuba diving certificate.

The one thing that could make Malaysia expensive to travel in is alcohol, which is highly taxed. However, if you don’t plan on drinking every night, that will not be an issue.

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  • Meals: $5 – $10 per day. Some hostels provide breakfast
  • Accommodation: $5 – $15 per night in a hostel
  • Transportation: $3 – $5 for a full day of train and bus rides, or $8 – $15 for an overnight intercity bus ride
  • SIM card with data: $8 for 2GB with 30-day validity

How Low Can You Go?

The suggested budget above includes basic accommodation, transportation, and 3 meals with a mix of simple breakfasts, hearty lunches, and light dinners, as well as Internet and 1 paid activity for the day. You will need to add on the other costs like shopping, alcohol, little splurges here and there to understand how much exactly is needed.

Some may want to dive, which are typically higher cost activities, and some just want to walk around and explore the local neighborhoods. If you are on a shoestring budget, the suggested budgets can be cut down further should you choose to couchsurf, hitchhike, and skip certain activities.

Are there any that you would add to this list? Let us know in the comments below!

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