South East Asia is a little bit more expensive than India for budgeting per week or month. Thailand due to tourism is now between that backpacker and holiday budget but it is still cheap compared to most places. Cambodia was the cheapest place in this region along with Laos. Vietnam you will need a visa before arrival and is below Thailand for budget along with Malaysia. Bali is very cheap for an island break. Singapore is very Western so expect cheap Western prices not to the level of the Australias, New Zealands or USAs of this world though. This budget will be based on the three months we spend travelling that very famous loop starting from Bangkok heading east all the way round back then down and back up to Kuala Lumpur.
Accommodation – Hostels were the choice of accommodation and will cost around £9-£10 a night in places like Bangkok, Chang Mai, Kuala Lumpur, Ho Chi Minh, Hanoi and Bali. The top hostels in Asia such as Lub D (Bangkok) and Reggae Mansion (KL) will cost around £9 for a shared dorm. Singapore will cost you around £13-£15 per night. Hostels can be as cheap as £3 in Cambodia only rising up a few quid around the cities for shared dorms. Guesthouses and private rooms in hostels can cost around £5. Luang Prabang in Laos has lots of cheap hotels or guesthouse and hostels are few and far between when there in 2013. These will cost around £5 a night but in a central location.
Travel – Buses were the travel of choice as they can cover long distances over night with sleep buses and are cheap. You have got to prepare for the long and potentially uncomfortable trips. Buses will cost between £6-£8 across the countries. Malaysia has a good train system and they are very comfortable and will cost the same as a bus if not a little more. Metro systems are easy to use in KL and Singapore and the cost is in the pence so not a budget smasher there. I have covered travel extensively on my travel tips page if you want to know more detail as you the cost is the most important at the bottom.
Flights – You can get into SE Asia for around £200 one way if you look extensively and you would be landing in Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur or Singapore. Air Asia provide cheap flights such as flights to Borneo return £40, Phu Quoc (Vietnam) £100 return, Bali £80 return.
Food + Drink – As always with Asia, street food and locally run restaurants is the best food and cheapest food to eat. Meals throughout the area will cost between £1-£3 for local food or street food. If you want to dine like a flashpacker for one night then expect at least £5. Singapore is an expensive country so expect your food to be home prices. Meals of choice were sweet and sour and rice which would always cost £1.50 in each country. Loc Lac in Cambodia is worth trying and Pho in Vietnam.
Activities – This has been covered quite extensively on the travel tips page but the main activities in SE Asia such as the Castaway Tour, Cu Chi Tunnels, Killing Fields + S21 Prison, waterfalls in Laos, jungle trekking in Chang Mai, island hopping, water sports and constant drinking will cost a fair part of your budget. Tourist attractions will have a higher price for tourists such as the Grand Palace, reclining Buddha etc.
Misc – I didn’t have a phone in SE Asia so couldn’t give you an idea on how much it is to run a sim card. Buying clothes on the market will require bartering but expect around the £2-£4 to be paid.
Summary – Cost per week
Accommodation – £50
Travel – £50
Food + Drink – £60
Activities – £75
Misc – £35
Total weekly budget – £250
This summary is obviously on a strict backpacker budget and I had to stick to it due to my own financial situation but the cost per week is more than enough to really enjoy yourself in SE Asia. Looking back at spending £3000 in 12 weeks it does look excessive but when you do a lot of activities money does build up. Travel is covering buses, trains, boats and various flights that we did as well.