Photo: Street food Phetchaburi Soi 10, Bangkok.

Southeast Asia forum

$30 USD a day for travel in SE asia?

Posted by getawayfromit on 9/12/2012 at 21:34

Hi guys, hope youre all having a good night, day , afternoon, whatever time zone you are in! I was hoping you guys would help me out with something. Im a single female traveler who doesnt mind staying in some dives and eating dollar pad thai every day, so basically Ive worked out $10 a day on food and accomodation combined and $20 a day for transportation and activities.
The only costly activities I want to do is one elephant ride, nagi of the mekong cruise from xuay xai to luang prabang and maybe a tour of halong bay. I will be going from thailand to laos to vietnam to cambodia back to thailand then to the thai islands , all overland.,(so no pricey airfare)
I also dont drink or party too much, and I wont be shopping since I will have a very small backpack with me
sooo, considering all Ive told you, is $30 a day a doable budget to have a nice time in SE asia for the sole purpouse of travel and enriching myself? ( $30 a day=$900 a month)

(Im mostly interested in the temples, islands and museums)

Thank you for your time!

#1 getawayfromit has been a member since 9/12/2012. Posts: 2

Posted by DLuek on 10/12/2012 at 10:47 TF writer

Hi there,

Based on what you wrote, I imagine you'll be fine. Although, $10 for food and accommodation is quite low while $20 for transport and activities is rather high -- I'd guess it will balance out more equally. Places like Bangkok and some of the Thai islands can be more expensive, but if you're okay with hostels or bare bones single rooms with shared baths it should be okay. You'll need to stay disciplined as that's not a very big budget, but it's definitely doable.

A couple suggestions:

1. I assume you'll be traveling relatively long-term, but with that budget you might need to limit the amount of destinations you hit. For instance, if you get towards the end of the month and it looks like you'll be over the budget for that month, just stick to someplace cheap (but good - don't worry that's practically everywhere in the region) as it's always cheaper to stay in one place for longer (unless it's a very expensive place obviously) than it is to jump quickly from one to the next. Personally I like to spend a solid 4 days to a week or more in a given destination as it takes some time to really get a feel for a place.

2. Take overnight trains and buses wherever possible as that will save money on accommodation.

3. If you have time, you might consider volunteering and/or staying at a temple to learn meditation if you're interested in either of those activities. These can be enriching experiences that also can save you serious cash over extended periods of time as it's often free or on a donation basis.

4. Don't forget to factor in some 'cushion' money for when you return home. I once made the mistake of coming home from a big SE Asia trip with like $19 left in my account and I'll tell you, it doesn't make the transition back to the 'real world' any easier.

5. Don't skimp by passing on travel insurance -- if you can't afford insurance then you can't afford to travel!

6. Also don't forget to factor in the costs of visas. It sounds like you'll be needing a few given all that border hopping.

#2 DLuek has been a member since 19/6/2008. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,304
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Posted by getawayfromit on 10/12/2012 at 12:10

Thanks so much for replying, Im young so Im used to having to rough it, One time I ate only potatoes for three days... Not one of my prouder moments, but you see where Im going with this. I dont really have a good idea with how much taking tuk tuks around the city would cost me, Ive gotten so many different figures that Im just confused. I feel like I have it all worked out except for this. So I just left $20 up for transport but I can see how that would be a bit much, what was your experience?

#3 getawayfromit has been a member since 9/12/2012. Posts: 2

Posted by DLuek on 11/12/2012 at 08:41 TF writer

It all depends on the destination and how much you use tuk tuks, taxis etc. In Bangkok you can save money by using sky train / subway / express boats. In Hanoi or Saigon you'll probably need to pay for taxis, but you can go a long way just by walking too. In smaller destinations, I usually try to rent a bicycle as I find that to be the cheapest and most enjoyable way to get around. At times I also rent a motorbike if I'm exploring a larger area, which can be a lot cheaper than chartering a songthaew or taxi or tuk tuk. Tuk tuks are expensive in some places, like Vientiane for example, but you can walk or bicycle just about anywhere there. But then, at a place like Angkor it's nice to pay a tuk tuk to tour you around. You can do it by bicycle, but it's a lot easier when you have a local showing you around.

By the way, another expense you might be forgetting is national park and historical site fees. Angkor for example is US $20 per day while a lot of sites and parks in Thailand are in the 100 - 200 baht range.

If I were you, I'd get the walking shoes ready and don't take for granted the fact that just strolling around an Asian city without spending money is a great experience in itself. Try not to have too many expectations or 'must do's' but rather view it as traveling for the sake of traveling, not for seeing every single site, because if you try to do too much you simply won't have enough money.

#4 DLuek has been a member since 19/6/2008. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,304
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Posted by altmtl on 12/12/2012 at 02:26

Agree with all of DL's points. $30 is about my daily budget, at least that's what I aim for... some days may cost me $80, others $20 - but it usually all works out in the end. The point of budgeting is keeping track of what you spend and not getting into the "this is so cheap" tourist mentality, it will just end up costing you more.

#5 altmtl has been a member since 18/5/2009. Location: Canada. Posts: 1,003
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Posted by daawgon on 12/12/2012 at 19:44

I think $40. is much more realistic for this year - inflation is alive and well in SE Asia too

#6 daawgon has been a member since 17/4/2007. Posts: 1,152
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Posted by MADMAC on 12/12/2012 at 22:41

Visas... each one will eat around one to 1.5 days worth of budget. At least in Thailand, finding anything habitable for less than 300 baht will be tough. So I'd say 15-20 dollars for food and accomodation is more realistic. I would highly recommend you bring an ebook reader... to read when on the move or chillin somewhere.

#7 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
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Posted by Xircal on 25/12/2012 at 12:23

One thing to bear in mind is the validity of visas in Thailand. You can stay visa free in the country for 30 days provided you arrive by air. If you arrive via a land border, you only get 15 days.

Thai immigration closed this loophole a few years back which expats were exploiting to remain in the country without a visa by doing visa runs via a land border.

If you arrive by air, leave within your 30 days visa free period and then return via a land border, the 15 days only rule still applies.

Because you're on a tight budget, you're not going to be flying much I don't think, so it would be in your best interest to obtain a 60 day tourist visa valid for two entries. That way, you can arrive by air, leave and then return again via a land border and still have a valid visa for your 60 day period. See this site for details:

If you want to remain beyond the expiry date of your Thai visa, you can obtain a 30 day extension at any Thai Immigration office. That costs 1900 Baht which is about $63 and needs to be applied for about a week prior to its expiry date. Don't wait until it actually expires because the immigration office may be closed for some reason or other and then you'll be forced to leave the country the same day, or risk becoming an illegal alien a.k.a. an 'overstayer'. Overstayers are liable to a fine of 500 Baht a day.

#8 Xircal has been a member since 24/12/2012. Posts: 95
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