Southeast Asia in 20 days: A backpacker’s budget

Southeast Asia in 20 days: A backpacker’s budget

Traveling to Southeast Asia is cheaper than it seems, especially if you travel to Asia where accommodation & meals are significantly cheaper than in Europe. Would you believe it if I told you that we spend less than 1,400 € per person traveling 20 days across Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia? This price include all the flights (all 5 secondary flights), excursions, meals, and accommodation. Absolutely everything.

But before you get too excited, I’ll tell you that we were traveling to Southeast Asia as backpackers. We are those who don’t mind where we’d spend the night or how many people we’d be sharing a room with. If you like adventures and low-cost travels, this post is for you.

GUIDE TO PREPARE A SOUTHEAST ASIA TRAVEL BUDGET

First, we will talk about our particular case and how much we spent in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia within 20 days. We will also break down how much we spent on reservations before the trip and how much we spent during our trip in Southeast Asia.

Then, we will make a section where we generically account for how much it cost to travel to Southeast Asia, independent from your trip itinerary and the days that you travel. In this section, we will discuss the topics on flights, accommodation, meals, excursions, travel insurance, etc. in general terms.

Finally, I will leave you a very useful tool to help calculate your travel budget to Southeast Asia in less than a minute.

Our 20-days Southeast Asia travel budget

EXPENSES BEFORE TRAVELING

MAIN FLIGHTS

As I mentioned in the article on how to prepare a trip to Southeast Asia, we decided not to take a round trip flight between Spain and Southeast Asia. The two main entrances to Southeast Asia are Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, and we since wanted to see both cities, we decided to take two separate flights. This may increase the budget a little, but not enough to make it unworthy.

The price of our plane tickets were: one-way (Madrid – Singapore) for 260 € and return (Kuala Lumpur – Madrid) for 261 €. We bought the tickets three and a half months before the trip.

Airfares are usually cheaper if purchased between 3 to 4 months before the trip. This expense is the first thing to consider when preparing your travel budget for Southeast Asia.

SECONDARY FLIGHTS

After choosing different destinations that we wanted to visit in Southeast Asia, we researched for the best combination of flights, considering times and prices. We compared different companies, and in the end, AirAsia was always the most economical.

Within the 20 days we spent in Southeast Asia, we visited Singapore, Penang, Sumatra, Yogyakarta, Bali and Kuala Lumpur.

These were the prices of domestic flights:

Singapore – Penang – 37.09€

Penang – Sumatra – 28.09€

Sumatra – Yogyakarta – 85.42€

Yogyakarta – Bali – 32.35€

Bali – Kuala Lumpur – 52.22€

ACCOMMODATION

Since it was our first time in Southeast Asia, we didn’t want to travel without pre-booking our accommodations. If you are backpacking, want to stay for cheap, and have enough time during your trip, looking for accommodation as you arrive at destinations is the best option. That way, you will find better prices and be able to see your room before deciding.

In our case, we didn’t leave one night to improvisation. We booked the accommodations through these platforms.

We booked:

However, we only had to pay 8.5 € / pers. total in advance. The rest was paid during the trip.

TRAVEL INSURANCE

The best option to travel to Southeast Asia is undoubtedly with MONDO which has far greater coverage than other travel insurance for a similar cost. We also have a discount for our readers.

If you hire insurance through our link, we get a small commission. But we are not recommending it just for that. If you find another insurance that is cheaper with similar coverage , please let us know. I assure you that as of today, we haven’t found any travel insurance as cheap and with so much coverage.

The price of insurance for 20 days is 80 €. With the discount we provide, the total price of insurance would be 76 €.

OTHER EXPENSES PAID IN ADVANCE

The last thing we paid in advance was the ferry that goes to Gili Trawangan from Bali with Marina Srikandi (40 € round trip).

For this particular journey, I recommend that you book in advance because the prices were more expensive if you book when you get there, not to mention, there was quite a difference between companies.

EXPENSES DURING THE TRIP

Once we got there, we used my smart Evo account card to handle money during the trip, as we were able to withdraw from any ATM for free even with currency exchange. Apart from what we had already paid in advance, we spent 1060 € in total (530 € each) in Southeast Asia on the following:

Meals

Food, fruit smoothies and beers. We paid anywhere from 0.90 € to 15 € with any given menus. We spent the day trying new things, usually avoiding the most touristic sites to live the essence of the local scene. I think that I ate more on this trip than in any other place. There wasn’t a single day that I did not drink exotic fruit shakes and eat banana pancakes, among other gastronomic delights.

Depending on the type of diet you want to have during your trip, it will change your travel budget within Southeast Asia.

ACCOMMODATION

As I mentioned before, although all of our accommodations were booked from Spain in advance, we only paid 8.5 € for reservations. During the trip, we had to pay 108 € in accommodation costs for 15 nights. The rest of the nights of the 20 that we were traveling in Southeast Asia, we slept in the jungle or at some airport.

TRANSPORTation

In addition to flights and the ferry, we used different means of transportation. Buses, tuk-tuk, taxi and even a private driver we booked from Spain, to go to the jungle of Bukit Lawang from Medan airport (42 € one way).

EXCURSIONS

Some excursions and activities were arranged directly in Southeast Asia, such as entrances to different temples in Yogyakarta (approx 15 €), snorkeling in Gili Trawangan (approx 10 €), and traditional dance exhibit in Ubud (€ 5). Others were booked from Spain, like our two-day trek through the Bukit Lawang jungle to see orangutans in the wild + return to the village for tubing (60 + 10 €), and the trek to see the sunrise at Batur volcano in Bali (16.5 €).

If you want to know how much it costs for each of the transportation and activities that we carried out during those 20 days in Southeast Asia, you will find them in the specific guides to each destination that we will leave you at the end of this article.

In total, the cost of our trip was € 1,400 per person, including what we paid in advance and what we spent during the 20 days while in Southeast Asia.

But now we are going to help you create your own Southeast Asia travel budget as each trip is different.

General budget of Southeast Asia for backpackers

FLIGHTS

Traveling to Southeast Asia (Kuala Lumpur or Singapore) from Madrid, buying your flight 3-4 months in advance should cost between 400 and 600 € depending on whether you choose a round trip or two one-way flights as we did.

The average price of domestic flights with AirAsia between one point and another is 50 €. Add 50 € for each trip you want to fly.

SECONDARY TRANSPORT

If you are going to take a trip on the ferry, I suggest calculating the approximate cost using this ferry comparator that works very well for Southeast Asia. This is just to have an approximate price. Then you can contact the company directly to get a cheaper price.

Also, if you want to do a long road trip and want to know the cost beforehand, I recommend you to check it using Grab. This low-cost taxi service (the Asian version of Uber) operates in almost all Southeast Asian countries (Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines).

TRAVEL INSURANCE

The best way to know how much travel insurance is going to cost you, is to set up a quote which takes less than half a minute here. It is basically dependent on the length of your trip.

ACCOMMODATION

If you do not mind sharing a room with other backpackers, the price per night in Southeast Asia should not exceed 10 €. Keep in mind that cities like Singapore or Kuala Lumpur are more expensive than other destinations like Bukit Lawang or Penang.

Meals

Our budget ranged between 1 to 15 € per meal. Of course, there are other more expensive options, but if you want keep it cheap, you should budget about 10 € a day in terms of food.

EXCURSIONS

On excursions, you will not spend more than 15 € on average per day, but we still think that it is too much. We were very happy to realize that we have spent less than expected after we came back.

Budget Calculation Tool for Traveling to Southeast Asia

By clicking on the following icon, you will download an Excel sheet, with which you can calculate your approximate travel budget in less than 1 minute. Note! This travel budget to Southeast Asia is only valid for true backpackers. Couples organizing their honeymoon or the like will surely want to spend more on private rooms in hotels etc.

tool to calculate southeast asia travel budget

photography and travel guide travel budget to southeast asia


– other posts of the southeast asia collection

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