Are you looking for a Southeast Asia budget guide? Great! We can help! Before our travels, we surfed the net restlessly for a travel budget guide that will give us some sort of indication of how much money we need to save.
By the time we left London, we had around $11,000 (£9,000) between us in our bank account to spend on our adventures. Needless to say, we had to be very careful with the pennies if we wanted to last at least a few months on the road.
So we set a travel budget of $50 ($25 each) per day to spend on food, booze, transport, accommodation, and activities.
You might think it’s hard to backpack on just $25, but we can assure you that it’s actually not. Of course, there will be days when you will spend more when paying for transport and accommodation, but this will even out eventually if you budget carefully for the rest of your expenses.
From time to time we allowed ourselves to loosen up a little and splash out on a nice meal or book a private boat rather than a public version. Because what’s the point in travelling otherwise? You have to have all kinds of experiences.
This budget guide to backpacking Southeast Asia is based directly on our personal experiences of touring Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Singapore for over 8 months straight. We hope you will find it helpful.
Southeast Asia Budget Guide to Thailand
As you have probably imagined, Thailand is still a pretty affordable backpacking destination and you are right. $50 (if you are a couple) will easily cover your expenses if you stick to local street food and avoid tourist traps like the Ko San Road.
Our Expense Breakdown in Thailand (31 days) – $1,478
- Accommodation – $485
- Transport – $317
- Food – $373
- Drinks (including alcohol) – $100
- Entertainment – $176
- Clothing – $8
- Miscellaneous – $19
Later in our travels, we settled in Bangkok for 2 months where we lived as digital nomads. We paid around $430 for our one bedroom apartment and kept our living expenses below $300 per month.
For more details, you can read our guest post on the Goats on the Road travel blog: A Digital Nomad Guide to living in Bangkok.
Accommodation Costs in Thailand
You won’t be short of accommodation options in Thailand. Dorm beds in larger cities such as Bangkok or Chiang Mai start from $6 – $15 per bed. A double room in a boutique hostel starts at $27 per night.
Homestays in smaller towns are a good alternative if you are interested in experiencing local life. We paid $13 per night in Chiang Rai and were lucky to have a private Thai cooking class with our host Ann.
Resorts on the islands can be pricier starting at $100 per night at a luxury hotel on Koh Tao. A private villa on the picture-perfect Nang Yuan island can cost $180 per night in low season to $220 in high season. A superior family room on the beach costs around $270 per night.
You’ll have to do extensive research to find a decent quality bungalow that costs less than $30. Our original accommodation was cancelled on arrival and we were transferred to another bungalow for $38 per night. The accommodation was poor, but it was close to the beach.
If you are thinking of backpacking in Thailand, you’ll find cheap deals on the islands starting from $8 – $14 per bed in a hostel.
We didn’t go “full-on backpacker” with accommodation and mostly stayed in private rooms with air-con. Our accommodation costs varied between $13 – $40 per night. Since we could easily save elsewhere, we preferred paying slightly more for a decent private room in a hostel/hotel.
Here Are Some of Our Favourite Places to Stay in Thailand:
- Cooper Bangkok Hostel – You are welcome to read a full review of the hostel.
- Silom Birds House, Bangkok.
- Chommuang Guesthouse, Ayutthaya.
- Tawan Resort and Nana Beach Resort, Thung Wua Laen Beach, Chumphon.
- Ann’s Green House, homestay in Chiang Rai.
- Check out these cool Bangkok hotels with balcony views.
High-End Hotels in Bangkok
- W Home Bangkok – A lovely boutique hotel.
- Pullman Bangkok Hotel G – We spent our last night in Bangkok at this hotel surrounded by complete comfort. At $90 per night with a tasty buffet breakfast included this is a very good value luxury in Bangkok.
Transport Costs in Thailand
Travelling in and around Thailand can be pretty cheap if you book your tickets in advance.
Railway – The trains in Thailand are reliable and very affordable. We found the 2nd class sleeper trains very comfortable.
The cheapest journey we had in Thailand was the 3rd class train from Chumphon to Bangkok at $11 per trip. We took the train because we were out of options but wouldn’t recommend spending 8 hours with zero leg room. Unless you want to experience it all in Thailand.
Our most expensive trip was the sleeper train+bus+high speed ferry journey from Bangkok to Ko Tao. The total journey came to around $97 for both of us one way but will be cheaper with advance booking.
Buses – We haven’t used many buses in Thailand since the railway system is so well developed.
One of the longer bus journeys we took was from the Cambodian border (Poipet) to Bangkok. The 5-hour journey, which was very pleasant after our debacle at the border, cost us just $7.50.
For a bus from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai, we paid around $9 each.
TOP TIP: We booked our Thailand train/bus tickets using the super friendly 12GoAsia website. It takes away all the hassle of locating the train/bus station, getting lots of cash out and then keeping your tickets safe until your travels. All you need to do is book online and there’s no need to print your tickets, just show them to the station staff before you board on your smartphone. No running around looking for a place to print anything. Nice.
Taxis – Taxi prices vary greatly so before getting into one, make sure that the meter is running. Typically it costs around $0.06 per kilometre.
There’s a charge of around $2 every time you go over the overpass in Bangkok. The driver will most likely ask you if you want to use the overpass or not. While it might sound a little expensive, you will be avoiding traffic jams with the meter running and will save time.
Boat taxis in Bangkok are a cheap and cheerful way to go around the city. We enjoyed seeing Bangkok from a different angle for less than $1 per trip.
Tuk tuk – It’s definitely fun to use a Tuk-tuk once in a while, but it can quickly become a costly expense if you are in a touristy area, especially in Bangkok. So to save time and money, use a taxi with a meter instead.
Motorbikes – We rented motorbikes on Koh Tao island, Chumphon, and Chiang Rai and paid around $5 per bike for 24h. Petrol costs under $1 for a full tank so it’s a good way to get around, especially in less busy areas.
Food and Drink Costs in Thailand
One of the reasons to travel to Thailand is the abundance of tasty yet cheap food. Even in the centre of the city, it’s easy to find great street food for less than $2.
Breakfast – We typically spent from $1.80 – $5 for a breakfast but splashed a whopping $18 on a luxury, but much needed, morning meal in Chiang Rai.
Lunch – It can cost you as little as $1.80 up to $8 for 2 people.
Dinner – Because it was so hot all the time we kept our evening meals light and typically spent from $2.50 up to $12.
Snacking – Snacks are very cheap, but the expenses can mount up quickly if you keep popping into 7-eleven. We loved the Thai version of the Magnum ice cream at just $0.40 per lolly.
Tea and Coffee – A cup of coffee costs under $1 from most street vendors and from $1.50 in coffee shops. Try the iced coffee from the streets carts, it’s very refreshing.
The famous and very tasty Thai iced tea is a few cents cheaper and available on nearly every street around the country.
Beer – We quite enjoyed the cold beer in Thailand. It’s hard not to when the temperatures are soaring above +30C.
Beer Chiang in 7-eleven is pretty cheap, at $0.50 per can. On a night out we’d spend from $2.70 (Bangkok) to $8 (Chiang Mai) on a couple of bottles of large Chiang or Singha.
Cost of Attractions and Experiences in Thailand
There are so many things to see and do in Thailand and lots of attractions, such as temples, parks or waterfalls are free of charge. Here’s an example of what we really enjoyed:
- Grand Palace in Bangkok – $15 per person.
- Watching the sunset at Gold Mount – $0.60.
- Visiting the Jim Thompson House – $5.
- Entrance to Koh Nang Yuan island – $3.
- Ayutthaya ruins entrance – $3.
- Thai Cooking Class in Chiang Rai – $33 per person.
- Thai massage – $3 – $24 per person. We went for a professional Thai massage at Dahra Beauty and Spa which cost us 24$ each including a tip.
Visa Restrictions for Thailand
Our advice would be to get a 2 month Thai Visa in advance from an embassy which should cost around $55.
This can then be extended in Bangkok for 1 more month for an additional fee, giving you a 90 day stay in total. Contact your local embassy for longer stays and be aware that the rules and requirements are changing all the time.
We always advise checking embassy or your country’s government travel websites for up to date info as the visa requirements change regularly.
Read more: 27 things to see and do in Thailand.
Southeast Asia Budget Guide to Laos
Surprisingly, Laos was one of the more expensive countries we’ve visited. You might hear otherwise from other travellers, but in this Southeast Asia budget guide, we would like to prepare you for the worst. We don’t want you to be as shocked as we were right after crossing the Thai – Laos border.
Our budget was completely ruined at $88 per day! This was due to our extended stay in Luang Prabang and the breathtaking 2-day slow boat cruise along the river Mekong. Plus our last-minute flights from Vientiane to Hanoi pushed it to the edge.
Our Expense Breakdown for Laos (15 days) – $1,333
- Accommodation – $355
- Transport – $275 (including flights to Hanoi – $210)
- Food – $249
- Drinks – $49
- Entertainment – $324
- Visa costs – $81
Accommodation Costs in Laos
While travelling across Laos we stayed in double rooms with air conditioning in a guest house or hotel and paid between $15 and $32.
If you are a solo traveller, you might be lucky to find a private room with a fan for $5. If you are tight on budget, search for dorm rooms which can be as cheap as $2-$3.
During our one week stay in Luang Prabang, we paid $30 for a double room with an air conditioning. But we research hard to find this gem, wedged in between the most luxurious places in town. Rooms at the end of the peninsula can start at $200 and higher per night.
Homestays are a good option if you are venturing to the countryside. Just try booking directly with the hosts, if possible, that way you will contribute to the local economy. Homestays, if booked directly, can be as cheap as $10 per night.
Our Favourite Accommodation in Laos
- Oui’s Guesthouse – A lovely guesthouse in Luang Prabang. The best feature of this hotel is the terrace overlooking the river Khan. You can read our full review of the Ou’is Guesthouse.
Transport Costs in Laos
Unfortunately, there are no railways in Laos. So your best bet to get between places is to catch a bus or a minivan.
Roads in Laos, even though paved in places are still in a poor state across the country. Therefore, the journeys can be rather long.
Minivans – Landslides are common in the rainy season and can take out large sections of tarmac. We had had a rather bumpy and dusty ride all the way to Vang Vieng in a local minivan at a cost of $16 per person.
Buses – There are direct buses from Luang Prabang to Vientiane which take around 10 hours and can cost from $10 to $20 depending on the company you use.
Tuk tuk – We’ve noticed that the bus stations are often placed a few kilometers outside of town so you’ll need to take a Tuk tuk or a taxi. In this case, make sure you share a Tuk tuk. And most importantly – smile and haggle the cost down. It’s also more effective if you negotiate as a group and always agree on the price before you get in.
Jumbo – In the capital Vientiane, a Jumbo is a popular mode of transport – it’s a larger tuk-tuk where you can sit sideways. It costs around $2-$3 per journey. Again, make sure you agree on the price before you board. A Jumbo journey to the airport from central Vientiane cost us around $2.50 each.
Bikes – Bikes are available to rent across Vientiane for around $2. There’s not that much traffic in the capital city so cycling around can be quite pleasant if it’s not too hot.
Motorbikes – Motorbike rent in Luang Prabang is quite pricey starting at around $15. But it’s a good option for visiting the natural pools of the Kuang Si Waterfall.
TOP TIP: We booked our Laos tickets using the super friendly 12GoAsia website too. The best thing about this modern way of travel is that it takes away all the hassle of locating the bus station, getting lots of cash out and then keeping your tickets safe until your travels. All you need to do is book online and there’s no need to print your tickets, just show them to the station staff before you board on your smartphone. No running around looking for a place to print anything. Nice.
Food and Drink Costs in Laos
If you are coming to Laos from Thailand, you’ll notice the sudden change in street food. The cost of simple dishes here starts at around $3 and up. But the good news about the pastries! Due to the French influence, you’ll find many bakeries offering tasty baguettes or pastry sandwiches from around $2-$3.
Lunch – Meals in restaurants vary greatly with some great French and Indian options available in the tourist hotspots of Luang Prabang and Vientiane. Prices start at around $6 per dish with drinks starting at $1-2 in more touristy places.
Dinner -Luang Prabang food scene is incredibly good and hard to resist. But it will break your budget, just like it did ours. Dinner for two at a restaurant can easily cost over $20, including starters and a couple of drinks. Pizza at the famous Pizza Phan Luang starts at $7. Add a bottle of BeerLao ($1.80) on top and you have a fat bill coming your way. As always, sharing is a good way to save money. We usually shared a big bottle of beer between us.
Beer – Beer Lao is the national beer and a large bottle can start from just $1 and go up to $2 in fancier places.
Spirits – For a much cheaper local tipple grab a bottle of Whisky Lao (rice whiskey) and a can of Coke to take the edge off. We found a 750ml bottle for less than $2, it was lethal!
Coffee – Coffee & pastries for 2 in both Vientiane and Luang Prabang at a French cafe will set you back around $6.
Water – Bottled water prices range between $0.60 – $0.90 per bottle.
Sightseeing and Experiences in Laos
- Our most expensive experience in Laos was our scenic 2-day trip on the Mekong River. We chose the “slow boat” option at a cost of $150 per person including food, drink, and accommodation. But the trip was totally worth the money. The “public” slow boat for 1, 2 or 3 days starts at around $30 per person.
- The Gibbon Experience in the north of Laos starts from around $100 per day depending on the season.
- Entrance to the glorious Kuang Si Waterfalls costs $2.50 per person.
- Entrance to parks and temples ranges from $4 to $8.
Visa Costs for Laos
The cost of the visa on arrival starts at $30 depending on your passport. Some countries are charged more, we saw Canadians splash out $42 per visa.
We always advise checking embassy or your country’s government travel websites for up to date info as the visa requirements change regularly.
Southeast Asia Budget Guide to Vietnam
We spent 3 glorious and sometimes tough months in Vietnam. For us, Vietnam turned out to be one of the cheapest places to travel and live. Not only did we navigate all the way from Hanoi down to Saigon, but also lived our laptop lifestyle in the coastal town of Hoi An for 1.5 months.
Our budget was back on track with an average of $41 per day.
Our Expense Breakdown for Vietnam (3 months) – $3,706
- Accommodation – $1,349
- Transport – $487 (Including last-minute flights from Danang to Da Lat – $110)
- Food – $1,263
- Drinks – $218
- Entertainment – $108
- Clothing (we bought two rainproof The North Face jackets in Hanoi before our trip to misty Sapa) – $43
- Miscellaneous – $98
- Visa fees – $140
Accommodation Costs in Vietnam
You will find plenty of good, clean and comfortable accommodation in Vietnam. In smaller towns, a bed in a dorm can cost as little as $5, but the price will go slightly higher in bigger cities.
Mid-range accommodation with a private bathroom and aircon will cost from $16 and higher.
Throughout our travels around the country, we stayed in double rooms with an aircon and paid between $10- $35 per night.
At $40 per night, including breakfast, the homestay in Ta Van village in Sapa was the most expensive accommodation we stayed at.
Our cheapest accommodation was our spacious flat in Hoi An at just $10 per day. To live and work on our travel website in this coastal town for 1.5 months, we rented an apartment through an agency.
If you’d like to know more about the cost of living in Hoi An, you are welcome to read our guest post on Nomadasaurus travel website: The Digital Nomads Guide to Hoi An.
Recommended Accommodation in Vietnam:
- Our pad in Saigon.
- Hai Long Vuong Hotel, Da Lat.
- Tuấn Ngọc Hotel, Tam Coc village, Ninh Binh.
- Backpacker Beachside Hostel in Dong Hoi (read our honest review).
- Green Bamboo Lodge, Cat Tien National Park.
- Jade Hotel, Hue.
- Heritage by Night Hotel, Phong Nha.
- Luckydaisy Buffalo Homestay, Ta Van village, Sapa.
Travel Costs in Vietnam
Travelling around Vietnam is very easy thanks to its decent railway network. Wherever we could we took train journeys as they are usually the quickest and the most comfortable way to get to the destination.
Train journeys we took in Vietnam:
- Sleeper train Hanoi to Sapa (around 8 hours) – $17 per person.
- Sleeper train Ninh Binh to Dong Hoi (around 8 hours) – $11 per person.
- Dong Hoi to Hue (around 3 hours) – $5 per person.
If you are on a tight budget, then using buses will come handy. They might not always be the most comfortable mode of transport – especially if you are tall – but it can save you some money.
Bus Journeys we took in Vietnam:
- Haiphong to Nim Bingh (3 hours) – $6 per person.
- Danang to Hoi An (around 1 hour) – $1 per person.
- Shuttle Bus from Dalat airport to the city centre (around 1 hour) – $2 per person.
- Cat Tien National Park to Saignon (5 hours) – $9 per person.
- Saigon to Phnom Penh in Cambodia (including border crossing, 5-6 hours) – $14 per person.
Minivans – For an even cheaper option, there are local minivans that go between towns. But they can be a bit of a nightmare if we are completely honest. To book a local minivan, ask at your accommodation and see if the host can organise one for you.
We took one from Dalat to Cat Tien National Park for $6 per person. The locals and the drivers were very friendly, but it was quite an experience.
Air travel – Budget permitting, flying is a great option if you are planning to hop between larger cities. We flew from Danang to Dalat at the last minute for $58 per person with the Vietnam Airlines and had a great experience.
A high-speed boat is available from Cat Ba Island to Haiphong. It takes around an hour to get back to the mainland for around $8 per person.
Taxis – Taxis in Vietnam are readily available and we found them reliable and relatively affordable. We took taxis on numerous occasions and paid between $1.50 to $10. However, prices are very inconsistent and vary during peak times. A taxi from the airport to our accommodation just outside the old town of Hanoi cost us $10.
Motorbike – Riding a motorbike in Vietnam is not for the faint-hearted, but it is a great way to get around the sights if you are exploring independently. Bike rent costs between $4 – $9 plus $2 for a full tank of petrol.
Cycling – It’s a cheap and fun way of getting around smaller towns and villages of Vietnam. During our 1.5 month stay in Hoi An, we cycled pretty much everywhere which saved us a lot of pennies.
TOP TIP: We booked our Vietnam tickets using the super friendly 12GoAsia website. The best thing about this modern way of travel is that it takes away all the hassle of locating the bus station, getting lots of cash out and then keeping your tickets safe until your travels. All you need to do is book online and there’s no need to print your tickets, just show them to the station staff before you board on your smartphone. No running around looking for a place to print anything. Nice.
Food and Drink Costs in Vietnam
You can eat in Vietnam for as little as $0.50 per bowl of Pho at a street stall. We enjoyed a fresh steamy bowl of Pho Ga (chicken noodle soup) and Pho Bo (beef noodle soup) for breakfast every morning in Hanoi and Saigon.
But eating out in mid-range restaurants can push the cost to $2-$5 per dish.
Lunch & Dinner – Apart from the local delicacies, there’s an array of western style food across the country. Some of the best we found in Hoi An starting from $10 up to $16 for a 2-course meal (usually a nice fat burger) including 2 bottles of beer. For our local food recommendations check out our Hoi An City Guide.
Local food markets – Shopping at a local fruit and veg markets can save a lot of money. Ripe and juicy mangoes cost $0.30 per fruit and make a nice breakfast.
When we shopped at our local food market in Hoi An, we usually spent from $2 to $7 for a bag full of local produce which lasted us for a few days.
Beer – Drinking can be dirt cheap in Vietnam. Look out for Bia hơi (fresh beer). At $0.30 per glass, it’s cheaper than water! Bottled local beer Bia Saigon or Bia Hanoi cost from $0.70 – $1.50.
If you are ready to splash out, drinks at the rooftop bars with panoramic views can cost $17 and up for a beer and a cocktail.
Coffee – Coffee in Vietnam is pretty unique and best enjoyed together with the locals. Hanoi is one of the best places to sample the iconic egg coffee – ecà phê trứng. A cup of tiramisu-like coffee and a lemon drink will cost you under $2.
In smaller towns, coffee at a local stall can cost a mere $0.40 per cup, but you have to smile and be nice!
To learn more about Vietnamese coffee, read our full Guide to Finding Great Coffee in Hanoi.
Costs of Sightseeing and Experiences in Vietnam
The list of sightseeing is never ending in Vietnam. There’s an incredible volume of things to see and do in the country.
Here is an example of the sightseeing we’ve done and how much it cost us:
- The Imperial Citadel (museum), Hanoi -$ 1.50 per person.
- Hospital Cave on Cat Ba island – $1.30 per person.
- Historic Cannon Fort on Cat Ba – $1.80 per person.
- Paradise Cave in Phong Nha – $11 per person.
- Hue Imperial City – $7 per person.
- Hue Imperial Tombs – $2 – $4.50 per person.
- Cable Car ride in Da Lat (one way) – $4.5 per person.
- Entrance to the Hoi An Old Town (one-off fee) – $5.
- Vietnamese massage, Hoi An – $15 per person.
- Sapa Trekking experience – $30 per person.
- Ha Long Boats Tours (overnight cruises) – start from $100 per night.
Visa Costs Restrictions for Vietnam
The cost of the visa varies depending on the passport you are travelling with. We paid $70 each for our 3 month Vietnam visas.
To give you a better idea of what the cost involves, here’s the breakdown:
- $45 per approval letter for a 3-month visa on the 1-day service (we used an agency to obtain the official letter).
- $25 each for the “stamping fee” on arrival at Hanoi airport.
Check out the Visa section on our Ultimate Vietnam Guide to find out how we applied for the letter of approval.
We always advise checking embassy or your country’s government travel websites for up to date info as the visa requirements change regularly.
Southeast Asia Budget Guide to Cambodia
We loved Cambodia. It has a chilled and friendly vibe which made us feel very relaxed after coming here from Vietnam. Cambodia soon became one of our favourite counties we’ve visited in SE Asia and we hope to come back here one day.
But for now, let’s have a look at our Southeast Asia budget guide to Cambodia.
Average Budget: $41 per day.
Our Expense Breakdown for Cambodia (31 days) – $1,273
- Accommodation – $416
- Transport – $146
- Food – $377
- Drinks (including alcohol) – $39
- Entertainment – $180
- Clothing (t-shirt at a local market) – $3
- Miscellaneous – $43
- Visa fees – $69
Accommodation Costs in Cambodia
Accommodation wise, Cambodia is very affordable. You can find a bed in a dorm room for as little as $4 per night or a private beach hut for $10 (during the rainy season). The huts are very basic with just a mattress for the bed and a mosquito net, plus a shared outdoor shower and toilet.
As a travelling couple, most of the time we went for a double room with aircon. Prices in the capital Phnom Penh, in a decent hotel, vary between $20 to $25 per night (with breakfast included). Outside of Phnom Penh, for us, it worked out between $14 and $18 per night.
Where to Stay in Cambodia:
- Alibi Villa Guesthouse, Phnom Penh.
- The Artist Guest House, Phnom Penh.
- Angkor Orchid Central Hotel, Siem Reap.
Transport Costs in Cambodia
Travelling around Cambodia is pretty stress-free. The most popular mode of transport and the one we used is buses.
Buses – Asia Win Alliance, Mekong Express, and Giant Ibis are the bus companies recommended for visitors. We found them reliable and fairly comfortable.
Here’s our bus travel breakdown:
- Phnom Penh – Siem Reap (around 6 hours): $14.50 per person.
- Siem Reap – Battambang (over 3 hours): $6.50 per person.
- Kampot – Otres Beach (around 3 hours): $5 per person.
- Battambang – Thai border Poipet: $5.50 per person.
Boats – Boats can be a good alternative to bus travel in Cambodia. There is a daily speedboat service from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap and vice versa. It costs $35 per person and takes around 7.5 hours to reach the destination. However, keep in mind that during the dry season, when the water level is low, the speedboats can get cancelled.
Tuk tuk – These are available pretty much everywhere and cost between $1.50 – $2 depending on your journey length.
If you are visiting places like Killing Fields in Phnom Penh or thinking of a tour around Battambang, it works really well hiring a Tuk tuk for a day. We hired one for our return journey to the Killing Fields for around $14. The driver picked us up, waited and dropped us back at our guest house which was very convenient.
Instead of renting a motorbike in Battambang, we decided to contribute to the local economy and hired a Tuk tuk for an all-day tour for $20. Our local driver was super organised and friendly and made our day extremely enjoyable.
We also hired a Tuk tuk for our 3-day tour around Angkor temples in Siem Reap. At $15 per day, we felt it was the right choice for us. Visiting the temples was fun, but extremely exhausting and knowing that there’s a Tuk tuk waiting for us at the exit, made the exploring so much more bearable.
Motorbike – If you are heading to Kampot, we recommend hiring a motorbike. While the place itself is relatively small, there are some interesting sights to explore such as the Bokor National Park or the pepper farm just outside the town.
Bike – Hiring a bike costs around $5 for 24 hours. We hired one for 4 days at our accommodation. Petrol in Kampot is pretty cheap and can be purchased from the locals in a 1l bottle on a roadside for around $1.70.
TOP TIP: We booked our Cambodia tickets using the super friendly 12GoAsia website. The best thing about this modern way of travel is that it takes away all the hassle of locating the bus station, getting lots of cash out and then keeping your tickets safe until your travels. All you need to do is book online and there’s no need to print your tickets, just show them to the station staff before you board on your smartphone. No running around looking for a place to print anything. Nice.
Food and Drink Costs in Cambodia
Lunch – There’s a great variety of street food in Cambodia starting from just $2 for a plate of delicious Lok Lak. However, eating lunch at your hotel can greatly impact your budget. You are looking at around $10 for a couple of sandwiches or a Lok Lak. So it’s always better to get out and get some street food.
If you choose to eat at a restaurant within the Angkor complex, keep in mind that the food costs here are slightly higher than eating at a local stall. First time around we paid $17 for two main dishes. But, to save the costs, you can share one main course as the portions are pretty big.
Dinner – Naturally, western food costs more starting from $5 up to $10 per person. The famous Khmer BBQ in Phnom Penh can make your wallet lighter by $20 for a 2-course meal with a couple of beers.
Beer – Beer is tasty and costs as little as $0.60 per can at a street stall or even cheaper at a shop. In a bar, the price will quickly rise to around $2-$3.
Surprisingly, Siem Reap is a bit of a party town. The Bar Street is studded with flashy cocktail carts selling cheap drinks. We had two rather weak, but cheerful Cuba Libres for $1.50 each.
Costs of Sightseeing and Experiences in Cambodia
Just like anywhere in the world, Cambodia has a lot to see, from the heartbreaking Killing Fields to the incredible Angkor Archaeological Park.
The cost of our sightseeing in Cambodia:
- Admission fee to the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh – $6 per person.
- Admission fee to the Killing Fields including an excellent audio guide – $6 per person. Plus $15 for a Tuk tuk to take us there and back.
- 1-day tour around Battambang – $20 for 2.
- Entrance to the Phnom Sampeau Mountain (Killing Cave) in Battambang – $1 per person.
- 3-day pass to Angkor temples – $40 per person. Plus a total of $45 for a Tuk tuk for 3 days. To fully understand what a 3 day Angkor tour entails, have a look at our Ultimate Guide to Visiting Angkor Temples. Keep in mind that the price for a 3-day pass has recently jumped to $62 per person and budget accordingly.
- The indigenous Bamboo Train in Battambang – $5 per person for a return trip plus a tip for the driver.
- Seeing Hands Massage in Phnom Penh – around $7 per person.
- Wine and whiskey tasting session at Cambodia’s only winery – $2.50 per person.
- A visit to Kampot Pepper Farm – free entry.
Visa Costs for Cambodia
Visas are available on arrival at both land borders and airports and cost $30 for a 30-day tourist visa.
We crossed over via bus from Vietnam and paid the mandatory $5 extra to the assistant to sort the visas for us.
A 30-day single entry visa can be extended once for an additional 30 days for a $45 fee. There are several travel agents in Phnom Penh which can arrange this for you, usually within 2 business days.
Southeast Asia Budget Guide to Singapore
Our main reason for flying to Singapore was to obtain our 2-month Thai visas. Visiting Singapore was fun and painfully expensive. One week in this city/country cost us nearly as much as one month in Vietnam.
Rough Daily Budget for Singapore – $1,000 (1 week)
You can just about get by on under $40 per day if you stay in dorms, eat at the ‘hawker’ food courts and don’t spend any money on attractions.
If you prefer staying in hotels and private rooms and eating out in mid-range restaurants, you are looking into the budget of $150 to $200 per day.
We, unfortunately, don’t have a detailed budget breakdown for Singapore, but all expenses combined, we spent around $1,000 in one week. This is excluding return flight costs from Bangkok which are listed below.
Accommodation Costs in Singapore
Saving money on accommodation doesn’t always work in Singapore. It sure didn’t work for us when trying to stay in a dorm at 5 Footway Inn.
To quickly fix the problem, we turned to our trusted Airbnb the next day and found a private room in a funky flat on the east side. We paid $90 per night, but it was the cheapest we could find at the last minute.
Dorm beds in Singapore start at $30 per bed and can cost up and above $70 for a double room with a shared bathroom.
A private room in a hotel in central Singapore starts from $90 and rockets up to $800 per night at the iconic Marina Bay Sands Hotel.
Transport Costs in Singapore
Air travel – Our return flights to Singapore from Bangkok with AirAsia cost $280 for both of us. These were booked at the last minute so could have been cheaper if booked in advance.
Rail – The easy to navigate MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) and LRT (Light Rail Transit) makes it very easy to go around Singapore. It costs $0.80 – $2.20 per journey.
If you’re staying in Singapore for 2 or more days, we recommend getting an EZ-link or Nets FlashPay farecard. The card can be purchased at the ticket window in any station and includes a $5 deposit which you get back if the card is returned at the end of your stay.
Buses – buses are pretty easy to use and accept the card mentioned above. Just tap in and out for the correct fare.
TOP TIP: The super handy 12Go Asia website is not only convenient for booking train and bus travel but also compares flights to find the best price. To save time and pennies, we used it to find our last minute flights from Bangkok to Singapore.
Food and Drink Costs in Singapore
Breakfast – To keep your food and drink expenses as low as possible in Singapore, stick to the ‘hawker’ food courts. Dishes here start from $2.50 for a delicious and very filling bowl of chicken or fish porridge.
Lunch & Dinner – The East side of Singapore, Katong/Joo Chiat has some pretty good food options with prices slightly lower than central Singapore. We found a nice restaurant next door to our apartment where we had lunch and dinner on a couple of occasions. While lunch dishes started at $9 per course, our dinner costs doubled in price.
Drinks – Drinks at the food courts start from $1, but you’ll have to stay away from alcohol. Draft beer is costly and will set you back from $8- $12 per glass.
However, you can get beer in shops for $1-$2 per can, but remember that drinking in public areas is not allowed.
Despite the tight budget, we still splashed out at the SuperTree by IndoChine. We paid $18 each for the entrance and a drink at the rooftop bar and it was pretty awesome with some stunning view across the city-state.
Cost of Sightseeing and Activities in Singapore
We didn’t spend any money on sightseeing except $2 each for the entrance fee to Sentosa island. If you are planning to head to this theme park, budget $45 per adult and $40 per child for a 1-day pass. A 2-day pass will leave you poorer by $142 per adult and $72 per child.
There are several walking trails across the island to explore for free and also don’t miss the superb Botanical Gardens which are also free to enter.
Visa Costs for Singapore
People travelling to Singapore on a passport from most countries will not require a visa in advance, this covers around 80% of the world’s population. A stamp issued on arrival will entitle you to a visa-free stay of between 30 and 90 days depending on your nationality.
For more information, you can check our full Guide to Visiting Singapore.
Money We Spent Before the Trip
- Flights to Thailand – from London via Cologne/Bonn $760.
- Insurance – 10 months cover for 2 people $500.
- Vaccinations – $230 per person at a private clinic.
- Visas – 2-month Thai visa (obtained in advance in London) – $26 per person.
Budgeting Apps and Resources We Used on the Road
To track our expenses we used the brilliant TrailWallet app. It allowed us to easily record our spendings and track the budget on the road. And even download the CVS file which allowed me to put together this Southeast Asia budget guide for you.
The app is built by a digital nomad couple that understands how important tracking travel expenses can be. Check out their app site for details and to download the app.
XE Currency Converter
This app was invaluable when we just crossed the border and tried to work out how many KIPs or DONGs to the Dollar to avoid being ripped off. Details and download links here.
For more resources that we use on the road, check our Travel Resources Page.
Once you book online, there’s no need to print your tickets, just show them on your smartphone to board or collect your tickets. No running around looking for a place to print anything. Nice! Use the search box above to find the cheapest tickets for your Southeast Asia adventure.
What is your experience of backpacking Southeast Asia? How much did you spend? Let us know in the comments below…