A handy breakdown of my 'flash packers' budget, as well as my detailed breakdown of how much we spent in each country on a 3 month trip around SE Asia.
It's sometimes hard to know where to start with budgeting for a big trip. The last thing you want to do is run out of money but until you get there it can be difficult to know how much things cost and how much you'll need.
Everyone is different but there's some broad buckets that you will need to factor in:
- Vaccinations before you go
- Flights - your main flights in and out of the region
- Travel whilst you are there (train, boat, sleeper bus...)
- Food, drink and general living
- Bigger excursions
I'll cover each of these buckets broadly, before going into the details of how much I spent in each country in SE Asia, you can read more about what I did here. In total for the 3 month trip I spent £4,111. It's worth noting my travel style, as this will make a big difference to the budget...
My travel style
I travel with my husband and I'd probably class us as 'flash packers' - we stay in hostels but always in private rooms and get a private bathroom where we can. The whole point of travelling for us is to experience and see all the amazing places the world has to offer, so we do try and see as much as we can in each place we visit. We also don't tend to cook ourselves whilst travelling, so we eat out although always eat local. We often rent motorbikes to see as much as we can for ourselves, rather than guided tours.
Now you know our travel style, below are the buckets to budget for, along with a breakdown of expenditure:
Boring, right? But pretty important. As a bit of a worrier myself I decided to go all out on the vaccinations I needed before I left, whilst I had a job it didn't feel like too much of an expense but is always annoying to be spending your hard earned money before a trip on admin, rather than amazing experiences.
However, after cutting my finger open on a chair at breakfast on the first morning in Delhi I was grateful for topping up on the tetanus. Then about a week later an aggressive monkey came at my camera, I was suddenly really glad I'd had a rabies jab! And it put my mind at rest when getting up close and personal with wildlife throughout our trip.
So I recommend getting yourself a travel appointment at your local GP's, getting them to do the research for you. And use that good old NHS to top up on any vaccinations that are covered by them. Anything more specialist you will need to get yourself, your doctor may be able to offer them for a fee, or else I'd highly recommend Nomad - very friendly and multiple brands in London. www.nomadtravel.co.uk
Also take a look at Fit For Travel - this is the website the NHS use to look up what you need!
Rabies x 3 £35 each = £105
Japanese Encephalitis = £95
Combined diphtheria, polio and tetanus booster = Free on NHS
Hep A and Hep B = Free on NHS
Typhoid = Free on NHS
Malaria tablets** = £10
** Check how many you will need depending on which regions you are visiting, you might not need them for the whole duration of your trip.
Vaccination total: £210
I used gov.uk to get all my visa info and booked each visa we needed before hand, other than the visa's I knew we would get on route whilst crossing land borders. Depending on how long you stay in a country, you may not need a visa, so its worth considering.
We paid for visas into India, Myanmar, Vietnam and Cambodia. Myanmar was the most expensive, but then we paid at the border in Cambodia, and they only took USD too so make sure you have some USD handy.
Visa total: £124
As I mentioned in my itinerary blog, I booked all of our flights using skyscanner.com and watched the prices like a hawk! The main tip I have here is to search around, and also search the airline prices directly too, if I can I will always book directly. If you are flying into one place, and flying back from another consider:
- Multi-city flights will probably be cheaper than doing 2 single leg flights.
- Or do a return trip from the same place which can be the cheapest still... regional flights in SE Asia are really cheap and distances fairly short so this could be a good idea.
I pre-booked most of the flights to save time organising boring bits whilst away.
Main flights (London - Delhi, Melbourne - London) - £550
India - Myanmar - £206
Internal Myanmar flights - £125
Myanmar - Thailand -113
Laos - Vietnam - £80
Vietnam internal flights - £76
Cambodia - Kuala Lumper - £80
Kuala Lumper - Bali - £45
Bali - Melbourne - £140
Flights total: £1,409
We opted for private rooms at hostels, or budget hotels, and had £10 each as a budget in mind not really knowing the exact prices of where we were going to stay. This more than covered us, especially in Cambodia and Laos where we stayed in places for as little as £4 per night each. We splashed out when we got tired from our travels and looked up places that had a pool we could chill out at.
I booked everything as we went, using mainly agoda.com app which was really good for cheap hotels and also a couple of hostel options.
Accommodation total: £723
Excursions / general spending / food
I find this bucket the hardest to put a budget to. Think about those 'bucket list' things you want to see and do on your trip and find out the cost for those as your starting point. Then there will be all the little costs whilst on your trip that add to this (entrance fees to museums, national parks etc). Compared to other parts of the world the bigger activities in SE Asia (such as the Taj Mahal and Ankor Wat) are still pretty cheap, so I never counted up the cost of these beforehand.
Instead I saved up a budget I thought would more than cover it all. Plus an allowance for food and drinks. I've added these costs together in the 'average daily spend' below.
Excursions / general spending / food: £1622.79
Cost breakdown per country:
Average spend per day: £10.84
We went veggie in India to try and save our stomaches, so this maybe made food cheaper. Although it's dirt cheap already. I pre-booked train tickets to take us around the golden triangle which ended up being around £45 for 2nd class A/C. These aren't included in the spend above.
Average spend per day: £13.88
Again Myanmar was very cheap living costs and food. It was Thingyan festival when we went there, so a lot of our 'entertainment' costs were free - joining in with the festival fun!
Average spend per day: £24.12
When we got to Thailand we hit up the cold beers big time as they were so hard to come by in Myanmar! We enjoyed a lot of big meals and beer so this put the cost up. As well as spending the day at an elephant sanctuary. This was probably one of the most expensive excursions of the trip but was important to me to do it ethically.
Average spend per day: £12.37
The food in Laos was fresh, delicious and amazing value. We really enjoyed all the natural scenery we came across in Laos, and lead the backpacker lifestyle a bit more which helped the average daily costs.
Average spend per day: £20.52
Vietnam was my husbands no.1 place he wanted to go on the whole trip, so we packed LOADS in and saw as much as we possibly could. This included a crazy amount of night buses to travel the length of the country, so I think this is what put the cost up. That and all the beers on 'beer corner' in Hanoi.
Average spend per day: £21.23
We didn't spend very long in Cambodia, so almost every day was jammed packed with seeing the sights. We paid a driver to take us around for the day to maximise what we could see but this obviously came at a price. The other thing with Cambodia is US Dollars are widely accepted / requested here which I always think makes it slightly more expensive.
Average spend per day: £11.68
The 2 days we spent it Kuala Lumpur won't be reflective of the country as a whole, this was more just a stop over to get to the Indonesian islands. We just mooched around the city and saw the sights on foot.
Average spend per day: £16.42
We stayed in a pretty smelly wooden hut on one of the first nights in the Gili Islands, so after this experience, we upgraded our accommodation for this section of the trip as spending £5-£10 more per night meant a massive upgrade in terms of quality. We found the area we stayed in Bali to be more expensive too as its the Australian version of going to Spain for your holiday!
Average spend per day: £25.00
Accommodation: Free (we stayed with family!)
When you've spent the best part of 2.5 months in SE Asia, be prepared to be shocked at the cost of everything when you get to Australia! The exchange rate crashed whilst we were there too as the UK had just voted to leave the EU (thanks, Farage) so all of a sudden a beer was around £10... Ouch. Luckily we stayed with family so that kept things cheaper. We ended our trip on a high though, eating out, seeing friends and family and having a great time.