Earlier this year, I spent my second long period of time traveling through parts of Southeast Asia. I didn’t track my spending the first time as well as I did this time, especially when it came to food and miscellaneous spending, so it was interesting to compare the two trips from a travel spending perspective. Both times I spent nearly two months in the region, but the first time around I traveled solo for about half the time, whereas this time was me and Andy together. Here’s how much we spent traveling in Southeast Asia.
Total Southeast Asia travel costs
This includes expenses such as our international airfare to give you a better idea of what a full trip like this would cost. Our trip was 47 days, and all expenses listed are for two people. I’ve listed costs in US dollars and euros.
$1,753.91 / 1,290.22€ – accommodation
$2,784.45 / 2,048.31€ – flights
$476.60 / 350.60€ – other transportation
$1,386.81 / 1,020.19€ – food and alcohol
$244.30 / 179.72€ – activities
$142.11 / 104.11€ – miscellaneous
$6,788.18 / 4,993.15€ – total
Cost of accommodation in Southeast Asia – $1,753.91 / 1,290.22€
Here’s a breakdown of how many nights we spent in each country:
Singapore – 4 nights
Cambodia – 13 nights
Thailand – 21 nights
Malaysia – 9 nights
For 47 nights, this averages out to $37.32 (27.45€) per night, or $18.66 (13.73€) per person per night. Lodging in Singapore was pretty expensive, but in Cambodia, Thailand, and Malaysia, prices were a lot lower. Actually, about 21% of what we spent on accommodation was for four nights (8.5% of the total 47 nights) in Singapore.
Where to stay in Southeast Asia
Here are a few of the hotels and guesthouses we stayed at while traveling in Southeast Asia.
- Siem Reap, Cambodia: Motherhome Guesthouse (one of the best hotels I’ve stayed at in Southeast Asia)
- Penang, Malaysia: Apollo Inn (to be honest, it wasn’t the best because there were no windows in the room, but in a pinch, I would be ok with booking here again…and it did have a decent shower)
- Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Crossroads Hotel (another great one with super comfy beds)
- Singapore: Fragrance Hotel (nice pool, clean place, good location, but like most hotels in Singapore, the room was really small and the shower got the toilet wet)
Cost of flights in Southeast Asia – $2,784.45 / 2,048.31€
The bulk of this was for our flights from Zurich to Singapore and back, which cost $2,194 (1,590€). Our flight from Singapore to Phnom Penh, Cambodia was $132.50 (96€). Our flight from Siem Reap, Cambodia to Bangkok to Krabi, Thailand cost $457.95 (336.50€), and I’m sure we could’ve gotten that cheaper if we had booked more than a week ahead of time. This comes to $1,392.23 (1,024.16€) per person for flights.
Other transport costs in Southeast Asia – $476.60 / 350.60€
This includes anything other than planes. We had round trip train tickets to the Zurich airport from Freiburg, quite a few bus or van transfers between cities, one taxi, one moto taxi, public buses, metros, long tail boats, lots of tuk-tuks and other forms of public transportation. Transportation in Southeast Asia was incredibly affordable. For 47 days, we averaged $10.14 (7.45€) per day, or $5.07 (3.73€) per person per day on transportation.
Cost of food and alcohol in Southeast Asia – $1,386.81 / 1,020.19€
Food is another thing that’s cheap in Southeast Asia. We ate out for almost every meal since we didn’t have access to a kitchen. Occasionally we had granola bars or (unfortunately) junk food from 7eleven when there wasn’t a decent breakfast option around. We had some amazing food in Thailand and delicious satay in Malaysia, though food in Cambodia didn’t impress us too much. We did have a few alcoholic drinks here and there, but not a ton. We averaged $29.50 (21.68€) per day, or $14.75 (10.84€) per person per day on food.
Cost of activities in Southeast Asia – $244.30 / 179.72€
While in Southeast Asia, we did spend some of our time working, so this number might be a bit low. The activities we did that weren’t free include going to the Singapore Night Safari Zoo, the Angkor Wat temples and the Phare Cambodian Circus in Siem Reap, the Krabi 4 Islands tour and the Hong Islands tour in Thailand, and Penang Hill in Malaysia.
Miscellaneous spending – $142.11 / 104.11€
Andy bought a pair of flip-flops in Singapore and got a haircut in Siem Reap. This also includes $20 each for tourist visa for Cambodia. We did several loads of laundry throughout the almost two months in Southeast Asia. I was sick at the beginning of our trip and needed tissues and cough drops. We bought antibiotics (Andy got a bit sick right at the end of our time in Cambodia), after-sun lotion, stamps, postcards, magnets, and two beach towels in Thailand. I had to buy contact solution in Malaysia, and I bought some Tiger Balm at the Singapore Airport. We also paid for showers at the Singapore Airport.
You could certainly spend less than we did by staying in cheaper guesthouses, skipping Singapore altogether, and being more careful about what you spend on food and extras. We didn’t pinch pennies, but we didn’t splurge too often either. Backpacking Southeast Asia does not have to be expensive – it’s a cheap part of the world. Our flights to and from Singapore were about a third of our total spending, so it’s just getting there that’s expensive. We averaged $144.43 (106.15€) per day, or $72.21 (53.07€) per person per day, traveling in Southeast Asia for almost two months. Although if you take out our international flights, the average drops to $97.75 (71.84€) per day, or $48.87 (35.91€) per person per day.
For a closer look at spending per country:
- How Much We Spent Traveling in Cambodia
- How Much We Spent Traveling in Thailand
- How Much We Spent Traveling in Malaysia
- How Much We Spent Traveling in Singapore
- Or check out more real travel budgets