Asian travel is often seen as luxurious, but that doesn’t mean it has to be cost-prohibitive. Here are five tips for cutting your costs while enjoying amazing Asian travel. Whether you’re headed to India, Indonesia, the Philippines, or another destination, these pointers will help you save.
Backpacking is among of the best ways to enjoy Asia’s beauty while saving money. It’s a slow, insightful way to travel, and it’s a fantastic way to get to know your fellow travelers as well as friendly locals. This guide to backpacking in Asia provides useful pointers for specific destinations as well as general backpacking tips to help you on your way.
Save Money on Phone Calls
Whether you need to call India for travel reservations or contact friends in the Philippines or another Asian destination, Viber Out can help you do it – without spending a lot of money. Communicating is essential – you probably need to stay in touch with people back home, and there are other calls that you’ll need to make. Instead of purchasing expensive calling cards or paying high roaming fees, take advantage of VoIP! You can talk for hours for about $5 USD, and you can call any landline or cellular number. Calls to others who use the Viber Out app are free, offering yet another way to stretch your travel budget. All you need is a free app, your favorite device, and an internet connection.
Explore the Outdoors
Asia offers incredible sights: Beautiful blue waters teeming with tropical fish to white sandy beaches, to amazing wildlife reserves where you can photograph tigers, elephants, and other animals in their natural habitats, the options are endless. Many outdoor adventures are free or low-cost, and you may be able to cut your expenses even more by camping during at least part of your trip.
Try jungle trekking at destinations like Thailand, Malaysia, or Laos, or enjoy inexpensive side trips to tropical islands. If you want to take up scuba diving, you’ll find that it’s far cheaper to get certified to dive in Asia than it is to take scuba instruction in a western nation. Big bonus if you decide to explore the underwater world: Asia offers some of the best scuba diving on the planet, with destinations like the Philippines, Thailand, and Indonesia being among the most popular.
Eat Where the Locals Eat
Whether you want to enjoy amazing Indian food or delicious Thai delicacies, you’ll save plenty of money by eating at local hot spots for most of your meals. Asian street food is often delicious, and it’s far better for you than more expensive western options that do nothing to expand your palate. Some fantastic options to try:
- Traditional Japanese favorites like tonkotsu ramen or vegetable tempura
- Vietnamese dishes such as Pho ga, Pho bo, or simple sticky rice
- Favorite Singapore foods like Chili crab with mantou, Kaya toast, or Chai tao kway
- Korean Tteokbokki, Gimbap with veggies and/or seafood, Mandu, or sweet cinnamon-sugar crusted Hotteok
- Filipino foods such as Taho, Banana cue, or crispy deep-fried Lumpia, along with all the rice and noodles you care to eat
- Cambodian delicacies like Num Pang sandwiches filled with pickled green papaya and savory meat, Nom banh chok, or Num sang khya l’peou
- Indian food favorites such as Churumuri puffed rice, Masala Pav with veggies and/or cheese, chicken momos, or simple Palak and peas Kachori
You can also save money by purchasing simple foods at the same markets locals shop in, and carrying those foods along with you throughout the day. This is a great strategy for eating healthily and avoiding temptation while sticking to your travel budget, even if you do it every other day or every third day.
Solid planning is the first step to traveling Asia on a budget. Some things to look for and questions to consider follow, and can be applied to any destination:
- When is the best time to travel? Can I save a lot of money by traveling at night, or by visiting during the off season?
- What kind of accommodations are available? How much time will I be spending in my hotel room, if I opt to stay at standard hotels? Can I stretch my travel budget by Couchsurfing or staying at a hostel?
- What will I eat while I am traveling in Asia? Are there any particular delicacies that I would like to try? Where is the best place to get them?
- Are there certain attractions that I want to see? Are discounts available on specific dates or at certain times of the year?
- What is my travel budget? How much should I realistically expect to spend per day, and how much should I set aside for potential emergencies?
- Do I need travel insurance or health insurance? Will I need to pay for any vaccinations?