I’ll admit, I got lucky on this one. Years ago, I subscribed to this amazing guy, Chris Myden’s Montréal airport flight alerts and it really paid out for me. In November 2015, I got an email from Chris, saying he’d just found some Montréal-Bangkok roundtrip flights in 2016 at $700!!! (For the record, all prices in this post are in CANADIAN dollars). I couldn’t believe it; those tickets were worth at least double if not more! Coincidently, I knew my friend Olivia was already heading to SE Asia in December and would be there for a couple months.
Everything happened so quickly. Here I am, sitting at my desk at work, reading this email from Chris and the next thing you know, I’ve just purchased a roundtrip flight to Bangkok (after getting my 3 week vacation approved by my boss).
Because I’m a very visual person, I decided to organize everything in pie charts and tables. As you’ll see, my trip cost me a few hundred dollars OVER the 2k I promised you you could get away with, but that’s because of my personal spending habits (I love food). Let me take you through my expenditures and show you how you can spend three weeks in SE Asia, for less than 2k:
MY SE ASIA EXPENDITURES IN 3 WEEKS
As you can see, my three biggest expenditures were: my (international) flight, my food and my other transport. Luckily for you, two of these three categories can be significantly reduced, based on two things: (1) your willingness to do so and (2) the time at your disposition.
Let’s start with the first point: Food. I’m a huge foodie, so indulging in expensive meals once in a while was a must for me (I also picked up the bill at my friend’s birthday dinner, so that was my food budget for a couple of days gone right there). I ended up spending, on average, $30 a day on food, drinks, water and snacks, which to me isn’t bad. However, you can easily get away with spending $15 a day, especially in SE Asia, something Olivia and Louise easily managed (I think their food budget was even less, like $10 a day). So, at $15 a day on food, you’re looking at spending around $315, versus my $648 (savings of $333!)
The second category you can also really save on, is local transportation. As mentioned, this one really depends on the time at your disposition, aka whether or not you are pressed for time or have all the time in the world to get from point A to point B. For me, it was about maximizing what I could do and see within three weeks, so that meant dishing out more money so I could fly to places (versus a bus or train). Additionally, the cities and countries you decide to visit also play an important role. Because I’d already been to Cambodia and Vietnam, I wanted to go to other countries that were further away from Thailand – so I didn’t have too much of a choice in flying (although flights in Asia are sooo cheap compared to North America). But, if you do decide to do the traditional Thailand-Cambodia-Vietnam-Laos loop, then you can definitely stick to just busses and trains, which are cheaper than flights.
So, based on the itinerary that I had, there is a little flex on the transport. For example, when my international flight landed in Bangkok, I proceeded to flying down to Krabi and ferrying over to Koh Phi Phi, which cost me $125. Instead, you could bus from Bangkok to Krabi for roughly $37** and then take a ferry for about $20**, for a total of $57. This represents savings of $68. Otherwise, there isn’t really anywhere else I or you can save on local transportation (based on my itinerary) because a lot of it involved getting from one country to another that is separated by water (okay, Thailand and Malaysia aren’t, but the cost of the bus from Krabi to KL is about the same as the flight).
With savings of $333 on food and $68 on local transportation, you’re now sitting at $2023. You can easily cut $24 from the souvenirs budget, if you’re not big on shopping. Otherwise, I’d say $2023 is very close to less than $2000. So there you go, how to travel to SE Asia for less than $2000 🙂
SE ASIA IN 3 WEEKS, FOR LESS THAN $2000
UP NEXT: my travels to Portugal!
*All prices are in Canadian dollars
**Prices are approximate and based on my internet research, as well as calculations done in February 2017