Saturday, April 8, 2017

SEA Backpacking Series: Traveling on a Budget to 4 Countries in 11 Days!

Traveling to 4 different countries in one trip might seem expensive for most travelers but the reason why we’ve decided to do a South East Asian Backpacking trip was in fact to save on cost! After seeing a lot of people traveling round trip to these countries where they spend around 20,000-25,000 PHP (or USD 400-500) for each trip, we thought that having one trip to all these cities would be much cheaper since we can cut on a lot of the additional costs associated with roundtrip travel (e.g. airfare and taxes).

After spending 11 days and 10 nights in 5 cities, 4 countries – we’ve spent a total of PHP 40,000 (USD 800) each! That is actually the same amount we normally spend in our previous travels to Korea or Japan. The daily living expense (which does not include airfare, taxes, and shopping) was only PHP 16,000 (USD 320) for the 11 days. 

Here’s a breakdown of our expenses in our SEA Backpacking Trip:
 
 Here’s a breakdown per city that we’ve visited:

We’ve spent the most in Bali as it is much more expensive than previous cities and we stayed there the longest across 3 different places (Kuta, Seminyak, and Ubud). Just a disclaimer though – we did not spend a lot on our Jakarta leg as we visited a friend who generously provided us with 1 night stay at his house, transportation throughout the trip, and paid for a lot of the meals!

WHY WAS IT INEXPENSIVE?
  • Cheap airfare (even without promo fares) and we did not have baggage carry on which accounts to around 500 pesos per trip.
  • Shared all cost between 2. If you’ll be travelling alone, then it would be more expensive specifically on  hotel and transportation.
  • Hotel for total trip was only PHP 3,194 each or PHP 6,388 for both of us. This was for total of 11 days which is equal to 1 night cost in regular hotel! Find out how we did it here.
  • We did not spend on entrance fees (very minimal) where you spend a lot on countries such as Japan or Korea. We also did very few shopping since most of the things you can buy are similar to what you can buy in Manila.

HOW TO SAVE ON COST?
  • Save on FLIGHTS! This will be the biggest expense for your backpacking trip. 50% of our budget went to flights since we had to book 5 flights. If you’re traveling within Southeast Asia, the cheapest will be AirAsia. Look for dates with lowest flight and create your itinerary around flight prices instead of booking flights based on itinerary. There were cities where we compressed the agenda for 1 day only because there was a cheap airline ticket if we leave after 1 day instead of spending 2-3 days.
  • Ride the sleeper bus from Cambodia to Vietnam! It saves 1 hotel night traveling overnight in the bus and bus cost is 3-5 times cheaper than flights.
  • Find the cheapest accommodation! We’ve been to the smallest and cheapest accommodation and we continually don’t mind staying in cheap accommodations since we spend only 6-8 hours to sleep and we leave the place early. Our average hotel cost is around PHP 800 per night for the two of us. In Bali and Cambodia – hotels are extremely cheap (even good ones!) while in Malaysia and Vietnam – Airbnb is cheaper and much more decent.     
  • Ask the locals for tours! We don’t hire tour guides or go on organized tours since it’s expensive and it limits your itinerary. But there are cases where it’s required (e.g. DMZ Tour in North Korea).  We joined a half day Cu Chi Tunnel tour since you can’t go there on your own. We asked our Airbnb host for the tour guide which was much cheaper than what we found online. For Cambodia, we almost booked a tour through our taxi driver from airport which he offered for 40 USD but we resisted and decided to book the next day through our hotel and the Angkor Wat tuktuk tour cost only 15 USD!
  • Have a cramped and well thought of itinerary! Traveling to 5 cities within 10 days is NOT easy especially given that we wanted to spend a long time in Bali and you need to account for all the travel and waiting time in airports. If you decide to stay longer to be stress-free, it will cost you more money. We did a lot of research and stayed in cities where there are less things to do (e.g. Cambodia and Kuala Lumpur) for 1 full day only (which we did not regret) and spent more time in Vietnam and Bali (which we also did not regret!).
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