Tips for Travelling Asia on the Cheap

So now that the budget is in, we can happily say that we managed to travel through Asia without breaking the bank! To read more about our budget, click here.

While we travelled, we discovered lots of little things that helped us save money. We were in Asia for the first time, so making sure we didn’t miss out on things we wanted to do was key. Instead of slashing cities off the itinerary or cutting our trip short, we made a few little changes that helped us save money on the things that didn’t matter as much.

So here you go, some tips for budgeting when you’re travelling through Asia!

  • Bargain. This one is a given in Southeast Asia. When it comes to tuk-tuks, markets, and anything without a price tag (and some things with!), always haggle! It’s not rude, it’s expected of you. Just do it with a smile, and be prepared to walk away if it’s not worth your while! Sometimes they’ll even call you back and agree to an extra low price 😉 Make sure you learn a bit of the language too – especially numbers, and “how much is that?”. There are supposedly three prices in Asia – for locals, expats, and tourists. Learning a bit of the language will help you get at least the expat price!
  • Eat where the locals eat. Not only will this give you the most authentic experience, it’ll save you a ton of money! We were almost always disappointed on the rare occasion we went to the touristy places, the food just didn’t compare to a little street-side eatery with plastic chairs and two ladies with a wok. Plus, the food is prepared fresh right in front of you, so you’re much less likely to get sick (worked for us!).
  • Take the local bus option whenever possible. When it comes to transportation, nothing is as cheap (or “authentic”!) as a local bus. No, it’s never a first class leather seat coach. But it’s honestly on par with many of the tourist buses in terms of comfort (I’ve been squished on both!). Also, lots of cities have short distance buses that stop somewhere near tourist attractions, and are usually way cheaper than taxis or tuk-tuks! Don’t worry about getting lost – just tell the bus attendant where you want to go, and they’ll let you know if the bus goes there.
  • Never by bottled water – bring a water bottle and refill it! We estimate that we’ve saved around $150 by never buying water in a plastic bottle (except for that one time in Bangkok..). Instead, we brought a Nalgene bottle and asked to refill it at restaurants, our hotels, and anywhere else that had one of the big water jugs full of filtered water. It was super easy, we never got sick, and we didn’t have to pay a cent. Not to mention all the plastic water bottles we saved from the landfill!

Hopefully these tips are helpful! If there’s anything else that worked for you, feel free to let me know 🙂


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