Backpackers Guide: How to Travel in Southeast Asia on a Budget

Backpackers Guide: How to Travel in Southeast Asia on a Budget

Last Updated on March 13, 2023

If you are looking for the best countries to go backpacking, this guide on how to travel in Southeast Asia on a budget is what you need! The 11 countries that make up the region (Brunei, Cambodia, East Timor, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philipines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam) offer diverse and colorful cultures and history, great food, the most beautiful beaches, uninhabited islands and mountains, and so much more. You can see breath-taking sights and have experiences you cannot find anywhere else in the world – all while keeping your spending low.

Here is how you can have an adventure in Southeast Asian countries without breaking the bank:

Streetfood is Where It is at


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In Southeast Asia, the best foods are served right on the street.

You do not have to go inside a restaurant and pay a premium for a delicious meal. You can get a decent bowl of noodles or a plate of meat and rice for about a dollar in whichever country in Southeast Asia you may end up exploring.

Each country has something different to offer to your palette, as long as you are open to trying out everything handed to you. From the kopi luwak brewed from partially digested coffee cherries in Indonesia to the Philippines’ burong mangga, or street food markets in Bangkok and extremely sour pickled green mangoes eaten with either salt or Barrio Fiesta shrimp paste.

In Southeast Asia, you will never be hungry.

Take the Road Less Traveled

Southeast Asian countries are still holiday destinations. If you go to popular places like Boracay or Bali, you likely will see a lot of tourists like you. Where there are tourists, you can expect prices for food, accommodation, and other services jacked up higher.

So, if you are traveling on a budget, go to places that are not packed with tourists. These places are harder to get to since you may have to walk a lot, go hiking, ride a boat, etc. to get to your destination. However, for your efforts, you will be rewarded with paradise where only you can explore for the rest of the day.

Sleep Under the Stars


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You can find decent hotels for cheap across Southeast Asia, but why should you spend money when you can sleep surrounded by nature.

There are local rules that vary from country to country. Some places are not open to wild camping (camping in the wilderness) or camping may not be safe. But, setting up a tent in the middle of a forest, on top of a mountain, and on a remote island is possible in Southeast Asia.

Make sure to ask around before you spend the night out in the open.

Opt for Surface Travel


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Traveling from town to town and, sometimes, country to country can be very cheap in Southeast Asia. As much as you can, take the bus or the train to get to your destination. This is a great way to see places that you otherwise may not see and meet friends along the way. You can take the train from Thailand to Singapore, for example, or take the night bus from Malaysia to Thailand. There are plenty of options for you aside from a plane.

Although it takes longer and less convenient, the journey alone is an adventure.

Do not fall into the trap of underestimating your expenditure. Make sure you have money saved up in addition to your budget and keep your valuables in safe storage.

Savor every moment of this trip. The adventure waiting for you to travel in Southeast Asia on a budget is one of a kind.

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