If you’re after exciting and tasty food packed with fresh flavours and tongue tingling spices, beautiful beaches, temples and ancient history galore, then look no further than Asia. Home to some of the friendliest locals in the world and perfect for backpackers and travellers on a budget, the continent should top anyone’s itinerary.
When backpacking on a shoestring budget, low cost of living is something that really counts and Asia has some of the cheapest destinations you’ll find around the globe; especially in Southeast Asia which is where you’ll find the countries we’ll be focussing on in this article:
A personal favourite of mine, Thailand has lots to offer the tourist and you’ll probably find that you don’t want to leave. With beautiful and fiery food (thanks to the chilli being a common ingredient in Thai cuisine) packed with fresh herbs and influenced by Thailand’s neighbours, you’ll find your taste buds are kept happy too.
The locals are especially friendly and you’ll really get to experience the culture that there’s so much of here due to the many temples and sacred sites to be found throughout the country. You’ll also find plenty of the white sandy beaches that Southeast Asian countries are so well known for and scuba diving and snorkelling can be enjoyed in the crystal clear waters surrounding Thailand’s beautiful islands (check your holiday insurance policy to make sure you are covered for water sports before taking part in any).
Images by eGuide Travel
Make sure you see: Bangkok (the capital city with its floating markets and china town), Chiang Mai (Thailand’s metropolitan yet bohemian city with its many temples), Ko Samui (an island with white sandy beaches and excellent snorkelling opportunities) and Ko Phangan (home to the full moon parties Thailand is also famous for).
Glass of beer will set you back around: £1.25*
A cheaper destination than Thailand but less travelled to due to the country’s turbulent past. If you add Cambodia to your itinerary you’ll be rewarded with really cheap food and accommodation, beautiful scenery and many photo opportunities, including temples, beaches and jungles.
The country is now much safer as security has improved a lot over the last decade and the horrors of the civil war are becoming little more than a bad memory. With temples and beaches to rival those in Thailand, it’s easy to see why Cambodia is becoming much more popular.
Make sure you see: Phnom Penh (the capital city), Angkor Wat (lots of photo opportunities at this spectacular temple complex), Bokor National Park and finally, the Mondulkiri Province Jungles (where you can take a ride on an elephant).
Glass of beer will set you back around: £0.61*
Another extremely cheap destination with low cost of living, Vietnam is certainly a country of contrasts which go from verdant, watery rice fields to beautiful mountain backdrop and then back to metropolitan cityscapes which merging into stunning coastline scenery.
You’ll find that even the weather seems to vary wildly here as the country spans several different climate zones which means you’ll experience both tropical and subtropical weather depending on which part of the country you’re in. Whatever the time of year you visit, you’ll be able to find somewhere that’s just right.
Make sure you see: The Mekong Delta (home of the watery green fields which produce the majority of the country’s rice and many rare species of flora and fauna), Hanoi (the country’s busy capital city), Quoc Island (with more of those white sandy beaches so typical of Southeast Asia) and Hoi An (the city with all the tailors as it is known; the perfect place to get a handmade tailored suit or dress).
Glass of beer will set you back: £0.46*
Indonesia is the world’s largest archipelago and the country encompasses over 17,000 islands so you’ll need to stay for a while if you plan to see everything the country has to offer. Located in the feisty Pacific Ring of Fire, you’ll see plenty of evidence of volcanic activity on your travels and you should add a visit to at least one of the many volcanoes to your list – there are over 70 that have been historically active – such as the popular Mount Bromo.
You’ll have to learn to be patient here as the infrastructure is only rudimentary in places so it’ll take some time to travel between the various sights to see and places to visit. You’ll find that accommodation is cheap though and the people are very friendly and welcoming so your budget should stretch that little bit further.
Make sure you see: Mount Bromo (the most popular of Indonesia’s many volcanoes), Bali (the well known tourist destination with the white sandy beaches and party atmosphere), Borobudur (a UNESCO world heritage labelled 8th century Buddhist monument), Lake Toba (Southeast Asia’s largest lake and one of the world’s deepest) and finally, the Prambana temple (one of the largest Hindu temples in Southeast Asia).
Glass of beer will set you back: £1.25*