Looking for a more up-to-date budget for Southeast Asia? Check out this post here to see what my husband and I spent traveling in Singapore, Cambodia, Thailand, and Malaysia for about two months in early 2014.

Usually when people hear I’m traveling around the world for five months, they assume it’s expensive and I must have lots of money to do it. But it’s actually a lot cheaper than you would think. I’m not the most budget minded traveler out there, but I did try to watch my spending and keep track of it as much as possible. Here’s a breakdown of what I spent in two months traveling through Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. All figures have been converted to US dollars, and I’ve only counted my portion of any shared rooms. (Also, this is my 100th post, so I thought it was appropriate that it be about numbers.)

Lodging: $766.25

I spent 50 nights in Southeast Asia, so this comes to an average of about $15.33 per night. And really, I could’ve done better. If I kick out the two nights Amanda and I stayed in Seminyak ($76 for two nights) and the two nights we stayed in Brunei ($69 for two nights), both of which were a splurge, the average for the remaining 46 nights drops to $13.51 per night. I only spent two nights in a dorm during my time in Southeast Asia. The rest of the time was either in hotels, guesthouses, or a private room at a hostel.

More than half of the lodging included free wifi and some sort of free breakfast, ranging from toast to a full buffet or set menu. I stayed in many guesthouses that cost less than $10, or even $5, per person, and most of them were perfectly comfortable, clean and safe, and most were run by the friendliest people.

Where to stay in Southeast Asia
Here are a few of the hotels and guesthouses my husband and I stayed at while traveling in Southeast Asia a couple years after this trip.

  • Siem Reap, Cambodia: Motherhome Guesthouse (stayed here on this trip and again a few years later, one of the best hotels I’ve stayed at in Southeast Asia)
  • Penang, Malaysia: Apollo Inn (to be honest, it wasn’t the best because there were no windows in the room, but in a pinch, I would be ok with booking here again…and it did have a decent shower)
  • Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Crossroads Hotel (another great one with super comfy beds)
  • Singapore: Fragrance Hotel (nice pool, clean place, good location, but like most hotels in Singapore, the room was really small and the shower got the toilet wet)

Southeast Asia spending budget

Flights: $820.39

I learned early that I don’t like overland travel. Sitting on a bus for more than a few hours is uncomfortable, exhausting, and tedious. So even though it is usually the cheapest way to travel, I ended up booking more flights than most long term travelers would. This number includes the following flights: Singapore to Bali; Yogyakarta, Indonesia to Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia; Brunei to Phnom Penh, Cambodia; Siem Reap, Cambodia to Pakse, Laos; Pakse, Laos to Vientiane, Laos; Luang Prabang, Laos to Hanoi, Vietnam.

This averages out to about $16.41 per day, although I’m not sure how useful a daily average is for flights. (I used Delta Skymiles to get my round the world ticket, so all I paid for that was $167.80 in taxes, which is not included in this total. It was 180,000 Skymiles for an economy round the world ticket with SkyTeam.)

how much I spent traveling in Southeast Asia

Other transportation: $427.25

This is any mode of transportation besides airplanes. Taxis, tuk-tuks, metros, trams, buses, airport transfers, ferries, etc. This ranges from $1 tuk-tuks in Siem Reap to a $40 fast boat and mini van combo from the Gili Islands to Seminyak. Some of these are easy to negotiate, and I’m willing to bet someone with better negotiation skills could’ve gotten better prices on a few. I also got ripped off on my taxi from the Hanoi Airport, but I was running late to meet a friend I met in Siem Reap. Over 50 days, this averages out to $8.55 per day.

how much money to travel in Southeast Asia

Activities: $307

Just like everything else in Southeast Asia, activities were usually inexpensive. In Singapore, I went to the Night Safari. In Indonesia, I went snorkeling, saw rice terraces, got a pedicure, took a cooking class, saw two dance shows, went on a volcano tour, and visited Borobudur. In Malaysia, I saw orangutans, proboscis monkeys, and a rain forest park. In Cambodia, I went to the Killing Fields and the Genocide Museum, took a cooking class, and explored Angkor Wat. In Laos, the only activity I paid for was tubing. In Vietnam, I went to the Museum of Literature and the Hoa Lo Prison Museum. I averaged $6.14 per day for activities.

Visas: $125

Unfortunately a lot of countries charge for entry visas, and some need to be obtained ahead of time especially if crossing land borders. Indonesia charged a $25 fee for their visa on arrival. Cambodia was $20 for visa on arrival. Laos was $35 for visa on arrival. The visa on arrival process is very easy for these countries. You have to arrive by air at certain airports (check the embassy websites for more info) and you just fill out a form and pay the fee at the airport. Be sure to bring passport sized photos (two for each to be safe) for Cambodia and Laos.

Vietnam requires that you apply for a visa ahead of time. If you’re traveling by land, you need to know what date you will be arriving and complete the visa process ahead of time. However, if you’re traveling by air and arriving at certain airports, you can apply online for $20 (I used a site called My Vietnam Visa which was really quick and simple, but there are others) and tell them the earliest you will arrive. So for example, if you tell them you will arrive November 1, you can still book your flight for November 3, but you will still have to leave the country within 30 days if you have a 30 day visa. Then once you arrive at the airport, it’s another $25 to complete the visa process, so it cost me a total of $45 for my Vietnam visa. I needed a passport photo here too.

Also be aware that some countries also charge departure taxes at certain airports. Sometimes this is included in the price of your flight, but sometimes it isn’t. When Amanda and I flew out of Yogyakarta, Indonesia, I think it was 100,000 Rupiah, which is about US$12, but don’t quote me on that. We didn’t have enough Rupiah left, paid in US dollars and got Singapore dollars back as change for some reason. (Visa charges were current as of late 2011 for US citizens. Some charges vary depending on country of citizenship.)

how much money I spent in Southeast Asia

Food and other miscellaneous items: $1500?

Here’s where I didn’t do so well at keeping track of expenses. Eating is something you do two or three times a day, and it’s easy to lose track of what you spend quickly. So I had to work backwards, knowing what my bank balance was when I started and knowing what I spent on everything else. Hopefully I did my math correctly.

This category averages out to $30 a day. That’s all meals and snacks, random bottles of water or soda, ice cream stops on hot days, alcohol, bug spray, sunscreen, after sun gel, shampoo, toothpaste, contact solution, souvenirs, postcards and stamps. (Even if a handful of my postcards never made it to their recipients.) Again, this is an area that can definitely be done for less if you’re more careful about eating cheaply and not splurging as much, and I might have overestimated how much I actually spent in this category. Definitely check out the more recent trip to Southeast Asia where I diligently tracked every penny.

Southeast Asia travel spending

In 50 days in Southeast Asia I spent a total of $3,945.89, which is an average of $78.92 per day. Or $62.51 per day if you subtract what I spent on flights. Most people who travel extensively through Southeast Asia would probably say this is outrageously high. If you travel slower than I did, travel overland more than I did, and seek out even cheaper lodging and food, you can definitely get by on half or even less than half of what I spent.

There were days in Siem Reap when I spent $3 on dinner, including a beer. There were days in Laos I spent $3 a night for my half of a twin room. The hotel I stayed at in Siem Reap was $18 a night for a single room, and the hotel I stayed at in Hanoi was $10 a night for a single. Both were nice enough my mom would approve, and included good breakfasts and wifi. So it’s definitely possible to travel comfortably without a lot of money, and you can do it without sharing a hostel dorm room with eight other people.

So when are you buying your plane ticket to Southeast Asia? If you’ve already traveled through Southeast Asia, what was your daily average?

Budgets by country from this trip:

Looking for a more up-to-date Southeast Asia budget? Check out the 2014 Southeast Asia spending overview here.

To view all posts about travel spending click here.

I use the Trail Wallet – Travel Budget & Expense Tracker app on my iPhone to track our expenses, and I really love how helpful it is. I even use it to track my spending at home. I definitely recommend it if you’re looking for an easy way to track your travel expenses.

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75 comments on “How Much I Spent in Southeast Asia for Two Months

  1. Amy

    That just amazes me! I don’t know why, because I’ve heard SE Asia isn’t that expensive, but it does. I guess it’s just seeing the numbers broken out. Fantastic!

    1. Ali Post author

      I *really* could’ve done this part of the trip for less. Like I said, I wasn’t exactly counting every penny. You could probably shave off a huge percentage of my daily budget, especially if you go over land instead of flying as much as I did. It’s definitely an inexpensive part of the world.

  2. Keith

    I was surprised that Singapore was not listed on your costly Lodging. It was the most expensive city I visited in SE Asia. Look forward to seeing your cost after SE Asia and how it compares.

    1. Ali Post author

      Thanks Keith! Singapore was the only place in SE Asia where I stayed in a hostel dorm, so I think it was only about US$15 per night for my bed. An actual hotel would’ve definitely been more expensive. Also, it was all downhill after SE Asia.

  3. Nomadic Samuel

    Hey Ali,

    I’m always interested in posts about budgets for certain destinations. Although your budget is higher than what most backpackers might spend in the region, I feel it was appropriate given the amount of time (only 2 months) and all the activities you covered. I think if you were on a 6 to 12 month trip in the region, it would make more sense to pace yourself but given your situation I think your budget was reasonable.

    1. Ali Post author

      Thanks Samuel! I definitely traveled a little faster than most, and I totally did not pay attention to what I was spending on food and misc items. All the flights bumped up my spending too. I still love how cheap SE Asia was though, especially after all I spent on the rest of my trip.

    1. Ali Post author

      Except that it only had salt water! It was fine for 1 night but I don’t think I could’ve handled too many salt water showers!

  4. Sabrina

    I heard that SE Asia is cheap, but it never occured to me that you could spend that little and experience so much. Very cool!

    1. Ali Post author

      Thanks Sabrina! I could’ve spent even less but when things are that cheap, it’s hard to make yourself count pennies.

  5. Andrea

    I’d love to get back to SE Asia someday – it’s so cheap compared to most other places and what you get for your money is quality. Congrats on your 100th post!

    1. Ali Post author

      Thanks Andrea! It’s crazy looking at what I spent, knowing how little that number is and still knowing I could’ve easily done cheaper!

  6. Maddy

    Congratulations Ali! I always feel a sense of victory when I nab a bargain. The guesthouse Steve and I stayed in, in Vang Vieng, was 35,000 kip per night and it was one of the biggest and most comfortable rooms I’ve stayed in! I’m interested to know… how did you choose your accommodation? Did you book in advance or wing it on the day? Did you choose places that were in the guidebooks or go by word of mouth/on-the-ground research?

    PS Congrats on 100 posts! 🙂

    1. Ali Post author

      Thanks Maddy! Sounds like a great place you stayed at in Laos. I picked my accommodation a few different ways. Sometimes I booked ahead of time through Hostel Bookers or Hostel World, sometimes I went off of recommendations from other travelers, and sometimes I just waited until I got there to look around and find something. I definitely prefer booking ahead of time, but that has its disadvantages.

  7. Dan Thompson

    Ah man… interesting post! I too am always wondering how much being gone so long costs. Thanks for sharing!


    1. Ali Post author

      Thanks Dan! The rest of my trip was expensive, but at least I started inexpensively!

  8. Christy

    I think your budget is pretty decent considering you got to see a lot of different places in such a short amount of time. We probably spent more than most backpackers in SE Asia, but we did 3 countries in a month and we didn’t always stay in $5/night hotels. We enjoy splurging on nicer hotels every once in a while and going out to a nice dinner.

    1. Ali Post author

      Thanks Christy! I think it’s important to splurge every once in awhile when traveling, otherwise it would be hard to keep up with the penny pinching the rest of the time.

  9. Matthew Cheyne

    That’s much cheaper than I thought South East Asia would cost. I think for me the biggest expense would be airfares from Australia and then everything else would pale in comparison. No wonder why tonnes of people are going to Asia for their holidays rather than stick around at home. With the Australian dollar so high you’d be crazy not to.

    1. Ali Post author

      The airfare would definitely be the only big expense. SE Asia is not expensive at all, and even if you don’t want to stay in hostels, there are plenty of nicer places that are still really affordable.

  10. Kent

    Wow, Ali – I think that’s incredible – especially for flights. We must pick your brain about Cambodia.

  11. Susana

    Thanks for sharing your budget. It’s always interesting to see what other travellers spend.
    A quick question just to clarify: the final numbers are just for you and not both you and Amanda, right?

    1. Ali Post author

      Thanks Susana! Correct, just for me. I was traveling solo more than half of the time I was there, and the times I did have a friend with me, I only showed my portion. So if a room was US$20 per night, I only included US$10 for my half. Let me know if you have any other questions!

  12. Ayngelina

    It may be high but I think it helps people understand if they don’t want to go bare bones how much they can expect to pay. And it’s still a steal!

    1. Ali Post author

      Thanks Ayngelina! Definitely still a cheap area to travel in even if you don’t go completely as cheap as possible.

  13. Maria D.

    it’s amazing that you kept good track of all of your expensive. it seems like it will help for future trips.

    1. Ali Post author

      Thanks Maria, I hope it’s helpful to lots of people!

  14. drenouch

    If you are a wise tourist it would be much better if you will only buy those things that is much important. Probably it would be much helpful if you will not buy things or spend money because of impulse. Anyway having a vacation doesn’t mean to spend. Enjoy and be practical; just enjoy the place and food.

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  16. Tony

    Love seeing everything broken out like this! SEA is on our itinerary for the summer, so we’re really hoping we can have a blast and still keep it cheap. South America has been more expensive than we thought! Chile and Argentina at least…

    I wish more people kept such good detail of their expenses. Super inspiring to see how reasonable travel can be!

    1. Ali Post author

      Thanks Tony! I’m glad it’s inspiring! Chile & Argentina can definitely be more expensive than the rest of South America. You can do SEA cheaper than I did if you don’t fly as much and if you’re a little more conscious of your food & misc spending.

  17. Jodi

    Thanks for posting this! I loved your bungalow and your tuk tuk in Siem Reap looked just like mine did! As for your budget, I don’t think you did too badly at all! In Asia, where things are cheaper.. it’s easier to spend more money without realizing until you check your bank balance! Flying vs Overland travel is always a personal choice. I like mixing the two, because I would easily get annoyed if I took 5 long haul buses in a row! I appreciate you taking the time out to formulate this post. Very helpful!

    1. Ali Post author

      Thanks Jodi! I’m glad you found it so helpful!

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  20. John

    I love posts like this. It’s fascinating to check out how much other people are spending in Asia. I’ve been living in the Philippines and one thing that continually blows my mind is how cheap it is to live like a king here.

    1. Ali Post author

      Thanks John! I knew it was a cheap region before I got there, but somehow seeing it in person makes it that much more amazing just how cheap things are. And I totally could’ve done this part of my trip for less if I had tried. I hate that I didn’t make it to the Philippines though.

    2. Grant Lucas

      There are more amazing places in Asia. I also have the chance to live in the Philippines for 2 years time. You get to spend not too much of your money yet you can still get the feeling of contentment and satisfaction. I miss the beaches and the food! Especially Palawan and Puerto Galera. Will definitely be back to visit again.

      1. Ali Post author

        I haven’t been to the Philippines but it does look gorgeous!

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  22. Janelle

    Wow! I haven’t done much traveling, but this blew my mind. And gave me some great tips!
    Me and my husband (both 25 years old) plan on traveling Asia for 2-3 months. My husband is a very outgoing, extrovert person, whereas I am quite shy, and (I will admit it) a bit of a scaredy cat when it comes to traveling and trusting foreign places and people. My question is, what countries/cities did you find that you felt “safer” in?
    Also, we are pretty big partiers – can you suggest where we should go, if we want that type of trip?

    1. Ali Post author

      Thanks Janelle! Keep in mind, I traveled a little faster than average and flew more often where others usually took buses, so my spending was higher than average.

      Honestly, I felt safe in all the SE Asian countries I traveled in. I didn’t feel unsafe at all there. I can understand about being scared, but you will be fine once you get there. Check out a post I wrote on my other site for a pep talk: http://travel-made-simple.com/is-traveling-safe/

      As far as partying, sometimes it just depends on what hostel you stay at in any city. Vang Vieng, Laos is known for parties and tubing down the river while drunk and/or high, but people also die because they get out of control or jump off a rope swing into a shallow part of the river.

      I’m going to send you an email with some info. Happy travels!

  23. Jordi

    I am flying soon to Indonesia and I am planning to go to Gili Air. Can you tell me if you booked that Bungalow with time and how much did it cost? Can you give me the contact. It seems a wonderful place to stay a couple of nights.



    1. Ali Post author

      Hi Jordi! We didn’t book the bungalow on Gili Air ahead of time. We didn’t find too much lodging listed on line, so we just took the boat over from Gili Trawangan assuming we’d find something. A guy who owns the bungalows was waiting at the dock for people looking for a room, so we went with him. It was about US$28 for one night (there were 2 of us, so $14 each) and we were there in October 2011. If you want to look for that one in particular, when you get off the boat, turn left and go all the way down until the dirt path kind of ends. It’s at that end of the island (it’s a very small island) but I don’t know if the place even had a name. Also, keep in mind that the bathroom was salt water only, so you might not want to shower in that for too many days. Sorry I can’t give you any more specific info!

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  27. Donna

    Hey Ali!

    I’m just starting to plan a 1.5 month trip to SE Asia, and this post has been so helpful! It’s nice to hear that you were traveling by yourself for a little and felt safe, because I plan on being by myself for parts of my trip and meet up with friends for the other. Since I’m still in the beginning stages of my planning, I’ll definitely be emailing you with some more specific questions that come up!

    1. Ali Post author

      Thanks Donna! Yes, I felt completely safe in SE Asia. The people are so incredibly friendly. Always be aware of your surroundings and use common sense, but you shouldn’t have any problems there. Feel free to email me with any questions, I’m glad to help! Have fun planning!

  28. Sofia

    It is amazing how cheap SEA is, and it’s funny how easy it is to take it for granted when you’re there, you just start to expect it, and after a while you stop comparing it to western prices. I think the cheapest hotel room we stayed in was 150 baht.

    1. Ali Post author

      It does amaze me how cheap SEA is! Being able to find such cheap rooms and really great food for next to nothing was really nice. It certainly made it harder to deal with western prices when I left SEA though!

  29. Claudine

    I stayed in a bungalow in Thailand for a few days, but I wouldn’t mind revisiting Asia and staying longer.

    1. Ali Post author

      I never made it to Thailand, but it’s high on my list. Wouldn’t mind revisiting a few other places in Asia too!

  30. Max

    Great that you were able to use your SkyMiles for the RTW trip. Delta’s availability otherwise is terrible, so at least you got to get rid of those miles in the best way possible.

    1. Ali Post author

      I think it’s hit or miss, depends on a lot of factors. I’ve used miles a few times successfully with them, but other times I just couldn’t make it work.

  31. Paul

    This is a really good website.
    it puts things into perspective when you break things down like that.

    i never had a budget or kept track of what i spent on things but i worked out my daily spending was about $52 a day over 92 days.

    i think i could of done it alot cheaper aswell!!

    1. Ali Post author

      Thanks Paul! I definitely could’ve done this cheaper too.

  32. emma

    Hi thanks for this! I’m planning to travel around southeast asia for 4 months next year with my partner and it helps to see how much it should cost! Just a quick question, how much do you think i would need to have for 4 months?

    1. Ali Post author

      Hi Emma! A lot of it depends on how you travel – will you be going slowly, spending a lot of time in each place and taking buses when you go to a new destination, or do you want to travel quickly and possibly fly from one city to the next? The faster option, especially if you take planes, will be close to what I spent, but I wouldn’t recommend going that quickly. But 4 months, instead of my 2, will give you lots of time to slow down. My food and misc. spending is crazy high and only an estimate since that’s the one category I didn’t track too well. But you can easily eat for $2-$6 a meal all over SE Asia.

      I like to overestimate when I’m trying to figure out how much money I’ll need for an upcoming trip because it’s better to have a little extra than not enough. If it were me, I’d probably say around US$6000 for 4 months, but if you’re really good about being on a budget you can certainly do it for less.

      Sorry it’s difficult to give a simple answer to this question! Feel free to email me if you have any other questions, and have a great trip!

  33. uche

    I would be travelling to philippine, china, and Singapore on a very tight budget. I would need advice on how to go about it (from flights, accomodation, activities, food, etc) as it is my first time

    1. Ali Post author

      Hi Uche! Unfortunately I have never been to China or the Philippines so I can’t help you much there, but if you look at sites like hostelworld.com and hostelbookers.com you can find inexpensive hostels or guesthouses for just about anywhere you’re going. Look for hostels or guesthouses that have kitchens so you can cook some of your meals to save money. When you get there, look for street food and hawker stalls for cheap but delicious food. Try skyscanner.net to look for cheap flights and compare what you find with the airline’s site. Let me know if there’s anything else I can help you with!

  34. Tom

    As much as this is a helpful guide i will point out that if you are a backpacker and are looking to budget then you can potentially do it for a quarter of the amount in expenses i.e food, lodging etc and still have a great time!

    1. Ali Post author

      Yes! Tom, yes you can totally do this cheaper! I didn’t penny pinch at all, my comfort level when it comes to lodging is probably a little different than the average shoestring backpacker, and as I mentioned in the post, I didn’t do such a great job of tracking my food/alcohol/misc spending, so that might be an overestimation. And then the fact that I flew a lot more than most backpackers would definitely increased my expenses.

  35. Gwen

    Hi, I’m planning a month long trip by myself to SEA and something that I am concerned with (possibly overly concerned with) is theft. I’m really worried about leaving my belongings in the hotel or guesthouse that I stay at. I’ve specifically heard issues with guesthouses getting robbed. Am I being ridiculous in spending so much time thinking about that. It’s gotten me to the point where I don’t want to bring anything anybody would want. But then, I want pictures. And I want pictures with a good camera. But I might not want to carry that huge camera to the beach (partly because I’d like to swim and I don’t want it get swiped at the beach either), but I’m concerned wit will be gone when I get back. Or leaving cash in the room because I don’t want to swim with it. Etc…

    I got robbed in Hawaii, so maybe I’m more sensitive to it.

    What do you think, am I overreacting?

    1. Ali Post author

      Hi Gwen! I can understand your concern, especially since you were robbed in Hawaii. (So sorry about that!) But things like that can happen in your hometown just as easily as when you’re traveling. I felt completely safe when I was in SE Asia, but that’s not to say something can’t happen. My advice is to not let this hold you back. Try not to bring too many valuables, though I do understand how important it is to bring your camera. Look for hostels or guesthouses that have lockers (though you might not always find them in some parts of SE Asia). Try to read reviews on the hostel sites to see what people say about safety. Go with your gut, if you don’t feel safe somewhere, turn around and find someplace else to stay for the night. Always keep your stuff hidden, and bury things like cash in your bag so it’s not so easy for someone else to find. Sometimes a simple luggage lock is enough to deter someone who’s just looking for something quick to grab, but also check out pacsafe.com. They sell lots of really great anti-theft products. I traveled with a girl for about a week in Laos who had this thing that wrapped around her backpack and locked so no one could get in it, it’s made out of some kind of material you can’t cut with a knife, and she secured it around one of the legs of the bed. You might not ever need something like that, but having it for peace of mind could be well worth the money. But most of all don’t let fear stop you from traveling, there’s so much out there to see, and most people are good. Feel free to email me if you have any other questions or want any help planning!

      1. Gwen

        Hi Ali,

        Thanks for the quick response. I’m definitely going! I’m just having a hard time deciding on what valuables to leave behind. Originally, I wasn’t even going to bring my big dslr camera and just take iPhone pics. But then I was like, this is exactly the kind of thing I bought it for! And as good as everybody likes to claim iPhone pics are… they hare highly limited.

        I had considered the pac safe thing, but then I read somewhere that it just draws more attention to your stuff and they’ll think you have something worth the extra effort of bringing wire cutters over for. Seems to be a valid point. An opportunistic thief would most likely be just as deterred by a lock, as you mentioned. I always request that the maid service doesn’t come in during multiple days at one hotel. So made that limits access? I don’t know.

        I am definitely worrying too much about it though. For instance, I’d like to bring an older laptop so that I can upload my pictures to a cloud device every day. Pictures would be horrible to lose! But I’ve been planning on not bringing it due to fear of theft.

        I’m also concerned about my time at beaches. I like to swim. I also like to take pictures. Maybe I need to make two trips a day. PIcture trip, and fun trip? It’s interesting, because I’ve left my bag full of stuff on the beach in San Diego numerous times and never worried too much about it. I mean, I kept an eye on it. It’s places that are 95% tourists that seemed to be targeted. I never would do that in Hawaii for an example. You can literally see guys watching your things and you. Plus they have people hiding up on the hillside keeping an eye out and doing cat call type things. That’s how I got robbed the first time. I remember hearing them making sounds and my GF and I just thought it was funny. Come to find out… 🙁

        And I might take you up on that email. But I have tons of questions lingering around in my head, so you may want to retract the offer. 🙂

        1. Ali Post author

          I have to agree with you on the iPhone pictures. I’m not really a fan either. Some people have really perfected iPhone photography, but it’s not my thing. Bringing an older laptop might be a great idea, less to worry about. As for the beach, it’s very likely that you will meet other travelers, and if you trust them, maybe they can watch your stuff while you take a quick dip in the ocean? Or if you have an old point and shoot, bring that to the beach. That’s usually what my husband and I do for anything water-related, mostly because we don’t want to accidentally get the good cameras wet, but the same would apply for theft reasons. Also if you have an old point and shoot, you could probably find something waterproof (I’ve seen small plastic pouches) to put it in, that way the only stuff you’re leaving on the beach is a towel and whatever clothes you wore over your bathing suit.

          I got your email, just been busy, but I’ll write you back today or tomorrow!

          1. Gwen

            I was thinking of brining an old point and shoot too. Trying to pack light, but the gadgets keeping weighing me down (metaphorically speaking as well).

            Oh no worries; it’s a long email. Can’t say I didn’t warn you! 🙂 I’m wordy and slightly and extremely detail oriented. It’s been a very busy week for me so I’ve had to take a few days off from planning anyway.

            Thanks again!

          2. Gwen

            And clearly very tired. No edit on these posts. Forgive my extra words and general inability to form a sentence.

  36. Nina

    Hi, loved the breakdown. I was thinking of planning a three week vacation that included Thailand and Vietnam, but was wondering what’s best for hotels. To show up at the door or book in advance? What did you do? I was thinking about traveling in January or February, or maybe Sept.

    1. Ali Post author

      Hi Nina! I generally like to plan at least a little bit ahead. Sometimes you can save by showing up and booking on the spot, but the few times I did that, I just got stressed out wandering around with my luggage. Especially if you have a set schedule of three weeks between the two countries, you’re probably better off searching for rooms online and booking ahead. If your schedule is open a little, so you don’t know for sure where you’ll be until a couple days ahead, just wait until you know where you’ll be and when. Plus that way, maybe you’ll meet someone who was just in the city you’re going to and they might be able to recommend a place they just stayed at.

      One other thing, if you’re going to Vietnam in January or February, make sure you look up when Tet (their New Year) is because it’s normally in January or February. I haven’t been there at that time, but I’ve heard that Saigon isn’t so bad, but lots of places close down all around the country during the holiday. It makes traveling more difficult and more expensive. Something to think about.

      Have a great trip and let me know if you have any other questions!

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  38. Sam

    Hi, thank you for sharing this!

    I’m planning to visit SE asia alone, but I’ve just started researching.
    Is it possible to visit those countries (and perhaps some more) in a month or so? I was thinking about travelling by land and staying at cheap accommodations.

    1. Ali Post author

      Hi Sam! Possible? Yes. Recommended? No. Remember, this is a huge area. I spent 7 weeks traveling through these countries and flew quite a few times, especially when crossing boarders, and I felt like it was rushed. And I only saw one city in Vietnam (Hanoi). Plus traveling overland will take longer, and almost any day you’re going from one destination to another, you’ll lose a day sitting on a bus. If the bus company tells you it will take 6 hours to get to where you’re going, chances are it will actually take 7 or 9 or even 10 hours. If you’re willing to do overnight buses, where available, they will save you time simply because you’ll be in transit while you’re sleeping, or at least attempting to sleep. If you’re planning on going to Indonesia, you pretty much have to fly.

      My suggestion is to research the region and make a list of must-see places and places you’d like to see but are less important to you. Start in a country on your must-see list (Thailand and Singapore are usually the easiest to get flights to, sometimes Vietnam) and go from there. It’s an extremely easy part of the world for being flexible and planning as you go. Especially if you’re mostly traveling overland, it’s difficult (and in some places impossible) to book transportation ahead of time anyway. You could easily spend a month in almost any country in SE Asia and not run out of things to do and see. I’d happily spend a month in Thailand or Vietnam. If you really want to plow through the highlights, you could probably spend a week or so in Cambodia and a week or so in Laos and be ok. Malaysia is really spread out so it depends on what you’re interests are. Indonesia as well. Singapore is the only one where I don’t think I’d spend more than a few days, mostly because it’s really expensive.

      I hope this helps, but feel free to email me if you have any other questions! Enjoy your trip!

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