7 Budget Tips: How To Live Cheap In Southeast Asia

Traveling around and exploring all corners of Asia is one of the coolest things you can do, but a lot of people abstain from doing so because they feel like they don’t have enough money saved. The fact is that you can travel very cheaply if you make a budget and follow other people’s tips and tricks. Here are some of the things we’ve learned to do to save money while traveling.

1. Planning

When you’re traveling and have a budget to stick to, some planning is required. And by planning, we don’t mean planning out your entire day – you can still have spontaneity. But make sure to calculate how much money you have and how much you can spend per day. Then you can easily see if you’re able to stick to it, and if not, you’ll realize that you either need to increase your daily budget or live cheaper.

2. Fruit Is Your Best Friend

A country’s resources often form the basis for what is cheap to buy there. Fruit is such an example when you travel in Asia. Bananas, mangoes, or watermelons are perfect for breakfast or an afternoon snack. You’ll be amazed at how sweet and delicious the fruit is, so this is really a great tip to keep costs down.

Fruitstand in Thailand.

3. Don’t Book More Than One Night Through Booking Services

Even if you plan to stay in one place for a longer period, never book more than one night before going there. At least we never do. You can usually get a better deal when you arrive and ask what the price would be for a certain number of nights. The longer you stay, the cheaper the price you can get. 

Check this website for comparing prices on different accommodations for your first night.

4. Buy LARGE Jugs of Water

If you’re going to stay in one place for more than a few days, you can save a lot of money by buying large 20-liter jugs of water. This lasts us about 4 days, and we not only drink the water but also use it for brushing our teeth and making coffee. We pay 1 baht per liter instead of between 7-10 baht per small bottle from 7/11. Totally worth it!

Man holding a 20l jug of water.

5. Avoid Taxi

Sure, if you’re coming straight from the airport with all your luggage, it’s sometimes necessary to jump in a taxi before you’ve had a chance to acclimate to the environment and rent a scooter or figure out bus schedules. But in general, taxis and other paid transportation are a big trap that can easily cause costs to skyrocket and blow the budget you planned to follow

Couple sitting on a moterbike in the jungle.

6. Explore Without a Guide

Something expensive, while you’re traveling, is paying for tour guides. Sometimes it’s a necessary evil to experience certain things. But often, you can actually get to places yourself. It’s more challenging, but it also means a greater adventure and very fun memories. We try as much as possible to visit places without a guide.

Girl standing in a river in the middle of the jungle.

7. Eat at Local Food Places

We know how tempting it could be to visit and eat at “Insta-friendly” places with cute decor or an unreal view. The fact is, however, that you can’t eat at those kinds of places very often if you’re on a budget, because they charge based on their reputation. The absolute best food you can eat in Asia will be found at local restaurants that know which spices and flavors taste the best together. Plus, you’ll be able to get away cheaply.

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