Backpacking Budget (Part 1 of 3)

I'm sure many of you who are planning to start their first trip have asked or googled "How much do I need to travel 3 months in Southeast Asia or Europe?" or "Is $20,000 USD budget enough to travel around the world for a year?".  I've read my share of travel budgeting articles on Google and r/travel subreddit before my trip to try to get an idea what to expect for my monthly budget. Curious to see if other travelers have kept track of what they spent on a daily basis so I could get an idea to prepare myself mentally. No one likes surprises, especially when it comes to their own hard earn cash. 

I have saved up well over $24,000 USD by the end of December of 2012, but I still questioned myself if that is enough to be able to travel for a full year! Family and friends who have lived and traveled there assured me a bowl of noodles will cost as cheap as $1, accommodation can get as cheap as $5 per night, and a 10 hour train with a sleeper will only cost $30 the most. I wanted to believe it, but it's hard when I have gotten used to how much things cost in a first world country. 

I don't know about you but for me it's always interesting to see how travelers who travels long term manage their finances. I couldn't find any of that information on the web so I decided to record my own on what I spend on a daily basis for the majority of my year long trip. The photos are just an example when I was in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand for the month of December 2012 and January 2013.

I wanted to keep the categories as general as possible just to make it easier for myself to keep track. Alcohol, bottled water, snacks...etc are all under the food category. The rest are pretty self explanatory. 

My budget for SE Asia was $1000usd a month and it wasn't so hard to achieve that goal. As you can as, I was able to keep my meal costs pretty low. I was able to eat pretty well just for $10 to $15 per day. I was eating really well anything over that amount. Hostels were usually between $2 to $10 per night. Again, at $10 I was able to have my own room. The $2 ones were pretty much staying at a refugee camp. Depending on the distance and how comfortable you want the rides to be, bus rides from one destination to the next could cost between $7 to $30. 

If you are a smoker which I'm not, you could buy a pack of local cigarettes for as low as $1 or less. Compare to an $8 pack in the states, no wonder why so many backpackers smoke over there. 

Alcohol was pretty darn cheap as well. It cost around a $2 or less for a bottle of Saigon beer or Tiger beer. Any local beers should cost around that price. In Hoi An, $.12 cents was the cheapest beer I have ever bought in my life. It comes in a small plastic cup and probably not the best beer to drink but backpackers will pretty much do anything at that price. I'm not a big drink to begin with but I did get a fruit drink every day. 

Of course, it depends on the person's traveling style. I certainly did not have to be so frugal but my objective was to stay on the road as long as I possibly can. While others might just want to go for 3 months and be able to stay in a decent nice hotel or try out different types of fine cuisines. 

So if you feel like you will be traveling on a tight budget and don't mind staying at cheap hostels or trying out dirty looking streets stalls (It's really not that bad) then I hope this will give you a brief idea of what to expect if you are heading to SE Asia. 

To other backpackers who have traveled in the region before, what was your budget like?


  1. Great post! Lots of interesting and useful insight. +1 to you my friend!

  2. Replies
    1. sorry Judy. Just saw you message. haha Its just a calendar I pasted onto google doc. Then I just put in my spending every day.

  3. There are many sights to see when looking into Asia travel. You can find a travel agency that can set a curriculum to visit quite a few of the different attractions found in Asia. There are many tour packages available at very reasonable costs to enjoy the rich culture, traditions and attractions of Asia travel. home


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