Backpacking Southeast Asia itinerary for 2 months including destinations in Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, and The Philippines (from $17 per day).
Backpacking Southeast Asia is an unforgettable experience that everyone should have at least once in their life. It is one of the cheapest and easiest regions to travel within the world, making it perfect for all kinds of travelers. Even if you have the money to enjoy a higher comfort level, I think you will be missing out on a great adventure if you skip backpacking.
For four months of travel in Southeast Asia, Max and I spent around $500-$600 USD each per month or $17 per day on average excluding flights. We were able to travel this long because we managed our money carefully. If you have a bigger budget or a shorter vacation time, then you might prefer to spend more on activities or nicer hotels. But overall, we had an amazing time and wouldn’t change anything (except to make it longer!).
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In this article, you will find everything that you need to know about backpacking Southeast Asia including:
- Backpacking Southeast Asia for four months – costs and route (2019 update)
- Backpacking Southeast Asia for two months – costs and route (2018)
- What Southeast Asia on a budget means
- How to reduce the cost of backpacking Southeast Asia
- Our backpacking Southeast Asia budget (cost for each country)
- Planning your Southeast Asia backpacking route
- How to find cheap flights to Southeast Asia
Backpacking Southeast Asia for four months – costs and route (2019 update)
After traveling on a shoestring for four months in 2018, Max and I returned in 2019 but this time traveling more slowly. We also upgraded our comfort level but still managed to keep the budget below $27 USD per day.
Backpacking Southeast Asia for two months – costs and route (2018)
Here are the countries that Max and I visited over ten weeks, as well as the average cost per day converted into USD excluding flights and insurance. There are some sections I left out where we stopped longer to study and work, such as in Nha Trang (Vietnam) and Nong Khai (Thailand).
- Indonesia (20 days from $19 per day)
- Singapore (2 days from $32 per day)
- Malaysia (6 days from $13 per day)
- Vietnam (10 days from $15 per day)
- Thailand (16 days from $11 per day)
- Laos (14 days from $14 per day)
- The Philippines (7 days $15 per day).
Average daily spend: $17 per day for 75 days. Below are the individual breakdowns for each country.
What Southeast Asia on a budget means
We all have a different definition of budget travel. To help you plan your Southeast Asia trip, this article will provide the actual costs from our recent travels to seven countries. For this post, “budget” means saving money on accommodation, food, transport, and activities while splurging on cheap beers and desserts.
As my boyfriend, Max, and I were traveling together we mainly rented private rooms in guesthouses (normally with a fan), looking for the cheapest option. Most of our lunches and dinners were from street food vendors. If our guesthouse didn’t provide breakfast, we would try to purchase some cookies or pastries. We also carried around a small jar of coffee and either powdered milk or a carton of soy milk to save money.
When traveling smaller distances, we walked as much as possible (sometimes even up to an hour) or rode bikes if they were provided by our guesthouse. We tried to minimize our plane travel on mainland Asia, only flying between Jakarta (Indonesia) to Nha Trang (Vietnam) then Hanoi (Vietnam) to Bangkok (Thailand). Otherwise, we would take trains or buses between destinations. There were only a few times that we rented a scooter for a day and we were extremely careful.
Generally, I prefer traveling to get to know a country and its culture rather than just going through a checklist. For this reason and also to keep our budget low, Max and I visited a select number of paid attractions.
How to reduce the cost of backpacking Southeast Asia
I have traveled through Southeast as a solo traveler, with family, and in a couple. On the most recent trip, Max and I traveled slowly for four months, even renting an apartment in Vietnam for $300 USD for a month. The destinations you choose and how quickly you travel will have a big impact on your budget.
Generally, the most expensive countries are Singapore, Myanmar, and the south of Thailand. On this trip, we skipped Myanmar because of the higher prices as well as the cost of the tourist visa which is around $50 USD (we have Australian, Italian, and Argentinian passports). Laos was also more expensive than we expected with food approximately 50% more than the north of Thailand or Vietnam.
Even within each country, there may be some regions or cities that are more expensive than others. For example, we chose not to go to the south of Thailand where the prices can resemble those of the US or Western Europe, instead of spending more time in the north. The Philippines also can get pricey depending on where you travel, which is why we carefully planned our budget vacation to Palawan (from $15 per day).
Backpacking Indonesia cost (from $19 per day)
Destinations we visited in Bali and Jakarta, Indonesia and where we stayed:
- Kuta for 2 days – Warung Coco ($15 per night)
- Canggu and Ubud for 4 days – The Kayuri Guest House ($16.45 per night)
- Banyuwangi for 2 days – Umah Isun BSD ($8.23 per night)
- Surabaya for 3 days – Krowi inn ($15 per night)
- Yogyakarta for 3 days – Yogyakarta BNB ($11.85 per night)
- Bandung for 3 days – Fabu Hotel ($15.40 per night)
- Jakarta for 3 days – Ahira Backpackers ($11.52 per night).
The average cost of food and drink:
- Bali – $14 per person, per day
- Java – $8.45 per person, per day.
The average daily cost in Indonesia including accommodation, food drink, activities, and transport: $19 per day.
Resources to help you plan your backpacking Indonesia trip:
- Itinerary and budget breakdown for 6 days in Bali
- Itinerary and budget breakdown for 14 days in Java.
Backpacking Singapore cost (from $32 per day)
Where we stayed in Singapore:
- Singapore for 2 days – Beary Best! by a beary good hostel (beds starting at $16.67).
The average daily cost in Singapore including accommodation, food drink, activities, and transport: $32 per day.
Resources to help you plan your backpacking Singapore trip:
- 5 things to do in Singapore for first-time visitors
Backpacking Malaysia cost (from $13 per day)
Destinations we visited in Malaysia and where we stayed:
- Malacca for 4 days – Victor’s Guesthouse ($9.50 per night)
- Kuala Lumpur for 2 days – Pudu Hotel 88 ($12.69 per night).
The average cost of food and drink: $6.76 per person, per day.
The average daily cost in Malaysia including accommodation, food drink, activities, and transport: $13 per day.
Resources to help you plan your backpacking Malaysia trip:
- Itinerary and budget breakdown for 6 days in Malaysia
- Budget travel guide for Penang written by a local.
Backpacking Vietnam cost (from $15 per day)
Destinations we visited in Vietnam and cost of accommodation:
- Da Nang and Hoi An for 3 days ($5 per night)
- Hue for 3 days – Daisy Hostel ($5.40 per night)
- Vinh for 1 day – Thanh Dat Guesthouse ($8.84 per night)
- Hanoi for 3 days – Airbnb ($11.42 per night).
The average cost of food and drink: $6.12 USD per person, per day.
The average daily cost in Vietnam including accommodation, food drink, activities, and transport: $15 per day.
Resources to help you plan your backpacking Vietnam trip:
- Itinerary and budget breakdown for 10 days in Vietnam
- Ex-pat guide to moving to Vietnam (from $12 per day)
- Itinerary and budget breakdown for 3 days in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon).
Backpacking Northern Thailand cost (from $11 per day)
Destinations we visited in Thailand and cost of accommodation:
- Bangkok for 4 days – TT Guesthouse ($12.12 per night)
- Chiang Mai for 5 days – The Dorm Chiang Mai ($9.70 per night)
- Pai for 3 days – PaiZen River Jam Hostel & Campground ($9 per night)
- Chiang Rai for 3 days – Baan Nukanong Guesthouse ($8.76 per night).
The average cost of food and drink: $4.76 per person, per day.
The average daily cost in Thailand including accommodation, food drink, activities, and transport: $11 per day.
Resources to help you plan your backpacking Thailand trip:
- Itinerary and budget breakdown for 16 days in Thailand
- Itinerary and budget breakdown for 2 days in Bangkok
- Choosing an ethical elephant sanctuary in Thailand
- Finding affordable paradise at a spa resort in Chiang Mai.
Backpacking Laos cost (from $15 per day)
Destinations we visited in Laos and cost of accommodation:
- Huay Xai for 1 day – Oudomsin Hotel ($11.71 per night)
- Pakbeng for 1 day – Hotel booked on arrival ($11.71 per night)
- Luang Prabang for 7 days – Vanvisa ($11.36 per night)
- Vang Vieng for 2 days – Outland Hostel ($8.78 per night)
- Vientiane for 2 days – Avalon B&B ($10.54 per night).
The average cost of food and drink: $4.76 USD per person, per day.
The average daily cost in Laos including accommodation, food drink, activities, and transport: $15 per day.
Resources to help you plan your backpacking Laos trip:
- Itinerary and budget breakdown for 14 days in Laos.
Backpacking The Philippines cost (from $15 per day)
Destinations we visited on the island of Palawan and cost of accommodation:
- Puerto Princessa for 3 days – Travelite Hostel ($8.57 per night)
- Port Barton for 4 days – El Busero ($11.23 per night).
The average cost of food and drink: $6.34 per person, per day.
The average daily cost in Laos including accommodation, food drink, activities, and transport: $15 USD per day.
Resources to help you plan your backpacking Philippines trip.
- Itinerary and budget breakdown for 7 days in Port Barton, The Philippines (from $15 per day).
Planning your Southeast Asia backpacking route
The route that you take through Southeast Asia will be influenced by your arrival city (see the next section). I highly recommend not booking too much in advance as you will likely change your mind once you are traveling. To begin with, Max and I bought a one-way flight to Bali. But when we arrived at Brisbane airport, Jetstar Airlines told us that we needed an outward flight. So at the last minute, we booked a ticket online from Jakarta to Singapore.
If you want to at least create an outline of your trip, then you can use 12Go Asia to check transportation and Booking for accommodation. Once you start planning, you will notice that there are well-worn backpacker trails. In some cases, you might be tempted to go in a direction less-traveled by tourists but could find that the transportation options could be more difficult or expensive. We found this when looking at traveling from Vietnam to Laos by land, or to the south of Laos.
Another thing to consider is if you need to apply for visas in advance. We needed a visa for Vietnam before arriving and a visa on arrival for Laos. However, your situation may be different so it is best to check directly with the official government website of that country.
I didn’t have any vaccinations or take any medication while traveling in Southeast Asia. The first time I traveled to Thailand and Cambodia, I took malaria tablets but found that they made me really sick. Therefore on this trip, I was just very careful to always use mosquito repellent.
How to find cheap flights to Southeast Asia
The best flight for you will depend on your city of departure. As Max and I were leaving from Brisbane, Australia the cheapest was to Denpasar, Bali. For Americans or Europeans, your cheapest arrival city maybe Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, or Bangkok.
Once you have taken the lengthier international flight to Southeast Asia, it will be much cheaper to fly between countries with airlines like AirAsia and Scoot. When searching for your flights, you can use the Skyscanner website to find cheap flights then book directly with the airline.
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