Finance and money forum

Budget for 6 months in SEA

  • Toxifer

    Joined Travelfish
    10th May, 2011
    Posts: 12

    Hi everyone, I'm planning on taking a gap year after I graduate high school this June and I've decided I would like to go to South East Asia!

    I'm planning on going as cheap as possible, staying in hostels, etc..

    I'm hoping to make it a 6 month trip, flying into Bangkok.
    My very, very rough itinerary, in chronological order is:

    Northern Thailand
    Laos
    Cambodia
    Vietnam (fly from north Vietnam to Bangkok)
    Southern Thailand

    I may also visit Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia if there's time/ money.

    Currently I'm budgeting for CAD$10,000 including flights from and to Canada, which each way will probably be about $1,500. So I'll have around $7,000 to live off of for 6 months. Is this possible? If not, how long do you think I could stay for with that amount of money, or how much would I need for 6 months?

    Thanks so much for your help guys!

    Oh, and I'm planning on leaving sometime in January 2012.

    #1 Posted: 10/5/2011 - 05:59

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  • Toxifer

    Joined Travelfish
    10th May, 2011
    Posts: 12

    Also, forgot some additional information. I am not planning on drinking at all! And I'm willing to stay in rooms without A/C.

    #2 Posted: 10/5/2011 - 06:02

  • Thomas922

    Joined Travelfish
    1st July, 2007
    Location Global Village
    Posts: 346

    It will be tight. Some people will say..oh that's fine. But if you are going to move around and its your first time there will be surprises. Did you get travel insurance? With this budget even at my tightest it would last me 4 months. You CAN do it but remember it is a NEW experience and you are super young! There WILL be unexpected surprises. People WILL want to seem trusting because you are a young newbie! There WILL be people you are attracted to that will throw your plans off. You don't know how you will react to many things. So give yourself a little cushion. I doubt very seriously if you will make it to all the extra places at that rate. But remember. Many of us are seasoned travelers. It does not have to be a once in a life time thing. Never believe that.

    #3 Posted: 10/5/2011 - 10:45

  • mmcphee7117

    Joined Travelfish
    11th May, 2011
    Posts: 16

    That sounds like plenty to me. I can't speak from experience but everywhere I look daily budgets are estimated between 15-30 dollars a day in all SE countries. So even if you were on a 30-35 dollar a day budget you would be fine. The only thing this doesn't really take into account are flights around SE, activities, tours, guides, etc. 7000 over six months (181 days we'll say) leaves you with 38 dollars a day. Now if you factor in an estimate of say even 750 dollars for flights, being new to the game, surprises....That still puts you at around 34 dollars a day which is not a very tight budget. This looks very doable. I would set your ideal budget between 20-30 dollars on a given day which will leave you plenty of money for unexpected circumstances.

    #4 Posted: 12/7/2011 - 00:28

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6256
    Total reviews: 10

    Well, the big variables are what do you actually want to do while here? It's enough money to live, but once you start doing things - going to the clubs, going to the national parks, taking buses to get somewhere... now it gets tight.

    #5 Posted: 12/7/2011 - 00:40

  • Toxifer

    Joined Travelfish
    10th May, 2011
    Posts: 12

    Thanks for the replies everyone!

    I'm really just looking to visit the temples, historical and natural parks. I'm not really into partying or anything like that so hopefully that will reduce some costs. I also found out that my flight should be significantly less, and will leave me with at least C$8,000 while I'm there, and I should be able to have more than that by the time I leave. I'm hoping I won't have to use much more than $10,000 though, as it would be nice to have some money going into university!

    #6 Posted: 17/7/2011 - 10:33

  • lunar

    Joined Travelfish
    3rd August, 2011
    Posts: 10

    I spent about C$7,000 for 6 months in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia Peninsula and Sabah, Singapore and Indonesia (Java, Bali, Nusa (Glili and Lombok).

    Expensive were Singapore, Sabah due to climbing Mt. Kinabalu and Kinabantangan trip, and transport in Indonesia. I used local transport in Indonesia, but got too tired, so I switch to more luxury transport, like first class trains and speed boats. I could afford all activities I wanted to do except Komodo trip.

    #7 Posted: 5/8/2011 - 03:25

  • DLuek

    TF writer
    Joined Travelfish
    19th June, 2008
    Location Thailand
    Posts: 891
    Total reviews: 14

    Hi,

    I'd say with $8000 you'll be okay if you're smart about it. The fact that you don't drink/party is a huge help, not only because alcohol is fairly expensive but also because, in my own experience anyway :), the dumb decisions that tend to eat up $ (or make $ somehow disappear into thin air) are often made while under the influence.

    Still, I'd suggest you put at least a little money away for when you get home. The first time I did a decent trip to Thailand I didn't factor anything in for myself once I returned home. I recall checking my balance in the New York airport and it was something like -$3. So not only did I deal with the inevitable slight depression from an amazing trip being over, but also the stress of being broke... I don't recommend that!

    My next suggestion is to be flexible. With that much time there's really no need to make many (if any) bookings in advance other than the initial airfare to/from the region, or to feel like you'll need to stick to a previously planned out itinerary. So if you're feeling like money is getting tight you'll have the ability to head somewhere fairly cheap but interesting, and just chill out and conserve for a week or two.

    Another good way to extend a trip with little money is to do some volunteer service. If you search travelfish there are some good threads and recommendations for volunteering at schools and other places where all you have to pay is a few dollars per day, if that. Another great resource is www.idealist.org, where you can search and apply for all kinds of direct volunteer opportunities throughout the world, thereby skipping the big, expensive and often sketchy "middle-man" volunteer placement organizations.

    Finally, you mention you're interested in visiting temples. Perhaps you're just interested in temples for the sightseeing quality, which is certainly fine, but if you actually have an interest in the practice of Buddhism and meditation you could spend some time staying at a monastery or meditation center in Thailand. This is a good experience for many reasons and should only be done if there's a genuine interest, but an "added bonus" for the budget traveler is that most temples/centers are on a donation basis or charge a small fee. In any case it's another way to make good use of a week or two here and there while spending very little money. That said, temples are not guesthouses and should not be taken advantage of as a means of cheap housing for a low budget traveler. A sensible donation that one can afford is always the right thing to do, but that would end up being quite a bit less than your normal daily budget. If interested in researching temples/meditation centers that are suitable for foreigners check out www.buddhistravel.com.


    Good luck,

    DL

    #8 Posted: 5/8/2011 - 04:50

  • DLuek

    TF writer
    Joined Travelfish
    19th June, 2008
    Location Thailand
    Posts: 891
    Total reviews: 14

    Hi,

    I'd say with $8000 you'll be okay if you're smart about it. The fact that you don't drink/party is a huge help, not only because alcohol is fairly expensive but also because, in my own experience anyway :), the dumb decisions that tend to eat up $ (or make $ somehow disappear into thin air) are often made while under the influence.

    Still, I'd suggest you put at least a little money away for when you get home. The first time I did a decent trip to Thailand I didn't factor anything in for myself once I returned home. I recall checking my balance in the New York airport and it was something like -$3. So not only did I deal with the inevitable slight depression from an amazing trip being over, but also the stress of being broke... I don't recommend that!

    My next suggestion is to be flexible. With that much time there's really no need to make many (if any) bookings in advance other than the initial airfare to/from the region, or to feel like you'll need to stick to a previously planned out itinerary. So if you're feeling like money is getting tight you'll have the ability to head somewhere fairly cheap but interesting, and just chill out and conserve for a week or two.

    Another good way to extend a trip with little money is to do some volunteer service. If you search travelfish there are some good threads and recommendations for volunteering at schools and other places where all you have to pay is a few dollars per day, if that. Another great resource is www.idealist.org, where you can search and apply for all kinds of direct volunteer opportunities throughout the world, thereby skipping the big, expensive and often sketchy "middle-man" volunteer placement organizations.

    Finally, you mention you're interested in visiting temples. Perhaps you're just interested in temples for the sightseeing quality, which is certainly fine, but if you actually have an interest in the practice of Buddhism and meditation you could spend some time staying at a monastery or meditation center in Thailand. This is a good experience for many reasons and should only be done if there's a genuine interest, but an "added bonus" for the budget traveler is that most temples/centers are on a donation basis or charge a small fee. In any case it's another way to make good use of a week or two here and there while spending very little money. That said, temples are not guesthouses and should not be taken advantage of as a means of cheap housing for a low budget traveler. A sensible donation that one can afford is always the right thing to do, but that would end up being quite a bit less than your normal daily budget. If interested in researching temples/meditation centers that are suitable for foreigners check out www.buddhistravel.com.


    Good luck,

    DL

    #9 Posted: 5/8/2011 - 04:54

  • busylizzy

    Joined Travelfish
    31st December, 2007
    Location New Zealand
    Posts: 2084
    Total reviews: 20
    Places visited:
    At least 107

    Nice post, DL!

    #10 Posted: 5/8/2011 - 06:10

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  • DLuek

    TF writer
    Joined Travelfish
    19th June, 2008
    Location Thailand
    Posts: 891
    Total reviews: 14

    thanks Bizzy, so nice it posted twice! Not sure why that keeps happening....

    #11 Posted: 5/8/2011 - 07:34

  • Thomas922

    Joined Travelfish
    1st July, 2007
    Location Global Village
    Posts: 346

    First off my most recent trip was with Canadians. Their money was worth more than mine on paper at the exchange rate websites but I still got more than they did on exchange everywhere we went. that pissed them off. (haha)

    He said cheaply as possible. OK.
    A dorm room anywhere in Thailand that is livable. 300 baht. About 10 bucks. sure go lower if you want in the tourist zones. You DO want lockers and towels. OK food. Sure you can eat for 3-5 bucks on the street but for 6 months everyday that is not realistic and just plain looney. I see many long term travelers (more than 2 months) get sick because they can't adapt to the food and miss a lot of nutrients. Street food is good but not always the most nutritious or sanitary. You do not have the immune system of a local who grew up there. Getting better food now and again is necessary. In Chiang Mai and the Beaches I would recommend 10bucks to eat. At least you can drink clean water as much as you want and some 711 snacks/yogurt/chip/diet coke/ or a beer. Or some cookies. Until you are on the street you will not know how much that stuff saves you mentally.

    Like Dleuk said...be smart about it. If you don't spend $5 today it adds up for other days.
    If you don't move around $15 is fine. The OP plans to be busy. When he meets some mates a 500 baht room now is split. So an extra 50 baht just freed up. Off the beaten path a dorm might be 250. I paid 10 for a room in Cambodia once while my friends paid $3 and had no screens and not hot water and no clean towels. They stunk too. Have fun with that.

    So not moving around and we are at dorm 250 plus food 300 which includes water and snacks.Hell I will lower it to 200 baht. I have yet to meet a grown man not a smaller woman who can live off of 3 30 baht small meals but they exist. Plus a lil extra.
    450 baht is 15 dollars. But now you want to move around.
    Do you wan to rent a moto? 200 baht (went up) plus gas. No moto? OK. Try depending on baht buses all day or local taxis..if alone it ads up. With friends for taxis the price drops.
    You do wanna see the place and hang out and take pics and use the internet or buy a sim card or....
    Hell....count on 300 baht for a room/300 for food and snacks/200 for local transpo and 200 baht extra.That is about 30,000 baht for the month. 1000 baht is 33 dollars a day.

    But leave room for the unexpected things. 6 months is a long time and there WILL be times when a luxury room with nice (non mildewed) towels and piping hot water and decent soap and shampoos will invigorate you. You may want to dive...you may wan to take out a girl you meet, you may want to buy new drawers..(they get ratty), you may want to have your laundry done professionally after many things get lost or messed up, you may want to hang out with some locals who are actually richer than you and go some where nice, you may want to take a nicer mode of transport after buses and mini vans break down with no air....

    TO HELL WITH THE ALWAYS CHEAPER. After hanging out with dirt cheap backpackers a while I wanted to actually enjoy a city like Bangkok just as if I were home. Restaurants on the roof, a movie with locals, nicer meals. Seeing every place from the dirt bucket poor vantage point ALWAYS can be a drag. I enjoy Qbar and Bed Supperclub and an RCA disco. If I do it at home I can do it anywhere at least ONCE OR TWICE in a trip.

    Then I meet travelers who brag about the lowest cost while I look at their faded clothes and ratty tshirts and the old fisherman pants and the stinky hair. I have bought meals several times for morons who were counting pocket change to eat street food. pathetic.

    #12 Posted: 5/8/2011 - 08:14

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6256
    Total reviews: 10

    "Bed Supperclub"

    Man, I hate the Bed Supperclub. You liked it huh? To each his own. I much prefer La Rueda over on Soi 18...

    "Then I meet travelers who brag about the lowest cost while I look at their faded clothes and ratty tshirts and the old fisherman pants and the stinky hair. I have bought meals several times for morons who were counting pocket change to eat street food. pathetic."

    It doesn't bother me if people want to do that - except when they cop an attitude about it, as if it made them somehow better humans or more knowledgeable about the local culture. Otherwise, whatever floats your boat is fine with me.

    #13 Posted: 5/8/2011 - 22:11

  • Thomas922

    Joined Travelfish
    1st July, 2007
    Location Global Village
    Posts: 346

    It doesn't bother me MAc..but it is ridiculous to go halfway around the world and barely have enough money to eat properly. But I am sure the ones I am talking about had enough for all the weed and beer that so much of their money went on. Or trying desperately to extend a trip and extra month or two trying to hand wash all your funky clothes with bar soap and have no money left for deodorant. Some even steal from other travelers. But that is the KSR/PAi life for those who want so bad to be "backpackers" like back in the day. Back in the day is gone and you stink. Bring extra money..you don't use it...fine. It is still in your account.

    But Like I said..I just shake my head at those who brag at how cheap they got something. You live there and you know what things cost....the thing is if they realized how many packers get scammed/ripped off/drugged /assaulted/ and other stuff many times by other backpackers they would actually listen to good advice. That stuff does not make the local news and the tourist police could care less. Most of them don't even bother with it. But hey its all about the bucket and the red bull!

    #14 Posted: 6/8/2011 - 08:28

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6256
    Total reviews: 10

    I guess the part I think is somewhat comical is when someone is slumming it and they think they are now down with the locals. It is a total misunderstanding of the psyche here. What it does is apply a western psyche to this environment. Locals respect money and wealth. The more you have, the more you display, the cooler you are. Dressing like a poor rice farmer is not going to earn you street cred here. It doesn't work that way. And for those who've spent enough time here, they know that - IF they actually spend time with the locals, which most don't.

    Obviously being hygenic is just a given. Don't be a funk monster. It's just gross.

    Like I said, it's a free country (pretty much. The Maoists lost in Thailand) so they can do what they want and I don't much care. I'll never identify with them. But the only time it's going to rankle is when on the rare occassion I do run into one and he starts trying to tell me what's what.

    #15 Posted: 6/8/2011 - 11:11

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