Budget Exploration To Southeast Asia

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Southeast Asia — a haven of cultures, economic vigor, and leisure destinations. It is home to the most beautiful islands and beaches in the world. The region is a top choice for tourists from colder areas in North America and Europe, thanks to its agreeable tropical climate. Another reason why Southeast Asian destinations are widely popular is affordability. If you’re visiting Boracay in the Philippines this summer, your $1 can buy you a budget dinner worth Php50. You can book an overnight stay in a three-star hotel in Phuket, Thailand for as low as $20.

In 2016, Conde Nast named Boracay the Top Island in the World. “This itty-bitty island (10 square miles) in the Western Philippines is as close to the tropical ideal as you’ll find in the Philippines, with gentle coastlines and transporting sunsets. Add in a thriving nightlife scene, and you have one of the top tourist spots in the region,” according to the travel magazine. Do you know that you can enjoy tourist spots in Boracay and other Southeast Asian destinations on a shoestring budget? Here are 5 budget travel tips for you.

Plan your flights well

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Southeast Asia is composed of 11 major countries: Brunei, Cambodia, East Timor, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, and Vietnam. One of the backpacking tips you should know is how to smartly book your flights. You can tour Indochina from Hanoi in Vietnam to Yangon in Myanmar. You can spend a night or two in Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand in between. You can also have a two-country beach getaway in the Philippines and Thailand. Booking round-trip is cheaper than one-way flights. Moreover, stick to your itinerary as much as you can. Moving your travel dates will cost you penalties.

Deal with the right people

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Traveling on a budget may require you to do a lot of haggling (except for plane tickets). Once you arrive in ports, you may be approached by agents offering accommodations and tour packages. Don’t agree on the first price. Most of the time, these offers are overpriced by 20 percent, although agents are already given commissions by their business partners. Do some research in travel blogs, discussion boards, and social media sites. You can also ask tourism offices for guidance.

Be realistic in budgeting

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You will notice that most Southeast Asian travel tips seem to paint a picture that everything is cheap. This might get you in trouble if you’d be traveling on a tight budget. First, consider the exchange rate. You know that you’ll not get the exact converted amount because of fees charged by banks or money changers. The black market offers higher rates, but you’re strongly advised against dealing with them. Second, prices vary per destination in Southeast Asia. Expect to spend more in Brunei or Singapore compared to Laos or Cambodia. Third, prices are higher in peak seasons. Generally, the dry months of March to May are the costliest time to travel to Southeast Asia. Prices drop by as much as 50 percent in June to September, before peaking again in the last quarter of the year.

Don’t compromise your safety

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While it is true that there are inns and hotels as low as $15 per night in certain Southeast Asian destinations, these are no-frills accommodations. You’ll get what you pay for. Some rates include free breakfast, others don’t. Travelers’ inns may not have air-conditioning but might offer a functional electric fan. Choose an accommodation that’s not too cheap nor too expensive. A five-star hotel in Manila or Yangon is around $230 per night during peak seasons. You can find a safe and comfortable hotel for $50 per night in Thailand or Indonesia. Couchsurfing may be appealing in the West, but this is not advisable in parts of Southeast Asia where locals are generally not used to this setup. Always prioritize your safety when saving money while traveling.

Avoid expensive misfortunes

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One incident can ruin your entire vacation. Before traveling to Southeast Asia, contact your health insurance provider regarding accredited facilities in your destination. Many tourist spots in the region are in the countryside where clinics and hospitals are lacking. Make sure you’re covered for medical repatriation. Get your vaccines updated, protect yourself from insect bites, and take caution in buying your food. Bring a jug of distilled water when backpacking. Falling ill abroad can be an expensive misfortune.

The booming global tourism has made traveling abroad affordable for many. Whether you’re visiting the majestic temples in Laos or the white beaches in Boracay, budget trips are something you can aspire for this year!

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