SE Asia Costs and Review


Flights return UK-Bangkok £1,012      
Flights from Krabi(TH) to Kuala Lumpar (MY) £159      
Flights from Kuala Lumpar(MY) to Hanoi(VN) £250      
Insurance £195      
Vaccines £40      
Visa – Thailand (double entry) £132 £56+£10 fees each  
Visa – Cambodia £28 $22 each    
Visa – Laos £54 $41 each with fees  
Visa – Vietnam £45 $9 for letter; $25 stamp fee
Total overheads £1,915      
Overheads per day £15.96      
        With Overheads
  Cost Nights Per day Per day
Southern Thailand £1,369 32 £42.78 £58.74
Malaysia £296 10 £29.59 £45.54
Vietnam £926 20 £46.31 £62.26
Cambodia £741 19 £39.00 £54.96
Laos £810 20 £40.52 £56.47
Northern Thialand £791 19 £41.66 £57.61
Sub Total £4,934 120 £41.12 £57.07
Total per day £41      
Total  £6,849      
Total per day with overheads £57      

With 4 months in Asia, it is fair to say we now understand a lot more than when we left – and its scary on how little we knew about places before we left.  Whilst we were “backpacking” we didn’t slum it in the slightest and actually had some excellent accommodation, locations,  food and transport links.  Mostly things we didn’t know were available when we left!  Not sure we fit into the “flashpacker” category, but probably in somewhere between.

Our route overview was planned, and our idea was to roughly follow it, do anything we wanted, stay as long as we wanted, and see what happened.  If we went too slow then we’d miss a country off; and if we went to quick we’d go somewhere else.  As it was, our pre trip guestimate was pretty accurate and we used up the slack we built in easily. 

We would say, as novices, we didn’t do much outside of the ordinary.  A seasoned traveller/backpacker would look at our route and blog and fall asleep as it was so common and boring.  However, for us, for a first ever backpacking trip to Asia, we’re happy with what we’ve done and it suited us just right.

This trip has been vastly different to every other trip we have undertaken by probably an order of magnitude.  We have had to learn new skills on how to get around, eat and sleep – as without the campervan everything is more of a challenge!

Now without sounding like it was a perfect trip and everything was superb, overall – the trip was well, absolutely superb!  Yeah we had some challenges along the way; yeah we had the odd problem; and yeah we occasionally went to a duff place or somewhere we didn’t like.  But this just made the trip more interesting and added to the experience.  For the last couple of days in Bangkok we were reminiscing what we’d actually seen and done and can’t believe it – it really was an amazing and stunning trip, moreso than any van trip we’ve undertaken to date.

For the overall money we paid for everything, we think it has been excellent value for money.  We’ve had experiences that were awesome and out of this world; we’ve stayed on beaches that are in the Worlds top 10; we’ve eaten like Kings and been pampered and not had to do any chores for 4 months. 

Whilst we did plan a rough route before we left, and did some background reading, it is funny how little we know about countries, places and general stuff.  Also Asia is changing rapidly, and “new edition” books (even Lonely Planet) is wrong in some key areas, and even the Internet has duff information.  Here are some interesting views we had before we left compared to reality:-

  • WE THOUGHT:  We may have to sleep apart some times in same-sex dorms…  TRUTH:  There were very good value guesthouses everywhere, we always had a clean private double room; all-bar-once had en-suite; and had AC 95% of the time.  Rooms typically cost from £6-£20.
  • WE THOUGHT:  Mozzie nets would be needed, bed bugs would be everywhere.  TRUTH:  Only needed Mozzie net a couple of times in “basic” bungalows, but when needed they were provided.  No need to take your own.  No sign of bedbugs.  Bedding always spotlessly clean.
  • WE THOUGHT:  We will need to learn to use squat loos.  TRUTH:  Every guesthouse had western facilities, and western facilities available everywhere we needed to go.  Though maybe we planned well and were able to keep it in when needed!  Such that I never needed to use squat at all, and Mel only once.
  • WE THOUGHT:  Security, theft, and being ripped off would be common.  We bought numerous security devices.  TRUTH:  We never felt our personal well being was in danger, and we never felt at any more risk from theft than in Europe, and were probably more comfortable walking round at night than in the UK.  You do need to be aware of scams and being conned though.
  • WE THOUGHT:  Electricity and Internet would not be readily available and hence brought extra batteries.  TRUTH:  In the last few years things have changed – mains electricity everywhere unless you deliberately go out to remote places, power sockets in every room we stayed.  Internet and free wifi available everywhere – may not be quick but it is there.
  • WE THOUGHT:  Clothes would be good value and cheap to buy.  TRUTH:  Western brands not readily available, and whilst some clothes are cheap they are “market stall quality” only – and then not much cheaper than a cheap/junk shop in UK.  The only time we saw quality western clothes they were at (or above) Western prices.
  • WE THOUGHT:  We would be alone and doing some unique stuff.  TRUTH:  There are 1000’s of travellers from young backpackers to oldies doing the same thing, and you see the same people multiple times.  Its not unique, and its easier than you think!
  • WE THOUGHT:  It’d be tough to get around and between places.  TRUTH:  If you are in place A and place B is worth seeing, then there is a well trodden route to get there!  Its not worth looking at the next step till you get to a place, as each stop off will suggest alternative destinations you may not have considered. 
  • WE THOUGHT:  Laundry would be a pain to deal with, so we bought loads of undies.  TRUTH:  Everywhere does laundry, by weight, for next to nothing.  You can easily get your laundry washed and dried in a day – so don’t worry about taking too many clothes.  (Typically 50p-£1 per kg)

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