Like any seasoned traveller knows, visiting the magnificent destinations in Southeast Asia is like a rite of passage. From mountains to beaches, adventure sports to luxury, the region brings together almost every kind of travelling experience. Combine that with warm people and amazing food at a fraction of the cost – it’s a no brainer! And while it is perhaps the easiest international holiday to take, the real thrill lies in doing it at a steal. If you plan your trip wisely, you can get by in as little as Rs. 900 per day. Here are some tips to get the best with minimal spending-
- Avoid being a tourist: Southeast Asia has been on the backpackers’ trail for so long that it doesn’t take a lot to get off the beaten track. Do your research and find places that are less commercial to get a more authentic experience. Whether it’s an overlooked city or a beach nobody has heard of, there’s a wealth of information available on the internet.
- Avail the local transport: Unlike the west, local transport is very economical in this region and pretty uniform too. Taking a bus in between cities works out much cheaper, albeit more time consuming. Overland transport between neighbouring countries is also fairly straightforward so long as you have the right paperwork and are prepared to be patient.
- Find a hostel with perks: Staying at hostels instead of hotels is not only economical, but a great way to meet travellers and backpackers from all corners of the world. But the key is in finding one that has added benefits – for eg. the Hanoi Backpackers Hostel in Vietnam has an hour of free unlimited beer every evening.
- Eat local: This is one of the best places in the world for street food – go ahead and indulge! If you’re queasy about safety, a good trick is in going where the locals eat. A common perception is that the street food is only good for non-vegetarians – from the sweet coconut flavoured pancakes or khanom krok (Thailand) to crispy and spicy soybean satay called tempeh (Indonesia) to doughnut-like nom korng (Cambodia) – you just have to be hungry enough to follow your nose through the jumble of stalls to find the right kind of food for you.
- Shop at night markets: A flourishing concept, a night market is a quintessential Southeast Asian experience. The best place to buy souvenirs for home and get a taste of road shopping, this is where you’ll find great knock-offs of designer goods.
- Bargain, bargain, bargain: As Indians, we’re very familiar with the idea of bargaining, but we try to hide that side of us while travelling. There is nothing you can’t haggle for in Southeast Asia – from fried insects to accommodation to hiring a kayak – you can save up to 20% on everything by being persistent and haggling. Knowing a word or two in the local tongue like “how much” and “this is too expensive” often gives you the added help.
South East Asia is perhaps the best destination on the world for budget travellers – where you lose none of the hospitality and the experiences for wont of money.
Ofcourse, at Bragpacker, travel budgeting begins with your pre travel shopping and packing. By renting gear, you can save as much as 90% and yet be better equipped for your trip. Give it a try!