15.10.18

How I Traveled Around Asia For Cheap

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I've spent the last two months traveling around Southeast Asia on a budget and you'd be surprised at how little money I've spent. Many people dream of packing a bag, booking a flight and traveling across the world for a few months, and that's exactly what I did.

Earlier this year I was fed up with my job and living situation and really wanted to travel so I could see more of the world. I was in no means extremely well off financially, but I had the drive to get out of my city and comfort zone and travel somewhere completely new where I've never been before, specifically, I wanted to travel around Asia.

The one thing that kept stopping me from traveling, like a lot of others, was money. I didn't want to just go on a week-long holiday to Spain, I wanted to spend a few months traveling around Southeast Asia, and I just needed to find a way to travel cheaply. I didn't have a huge budget or a pot of money to rely on, so I knew I had to find a way to travel on the cheap, which is exactly what I did.

If you're unsure of how to afford to travel the world for cheap, if you're on a gap year or want to travel around Asia, these are some cheap travel hacks I used while traveling through Southeast Asia for two months and the best money saving tips for traveling around Asia cheap.

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1. Use Skyscanner To Book Your Flights

Skyscanner gives you cheap and affordable flight options and is the easiest, quickest and most reliable way to book flights for traveling. I booked my return flights to Bangkok from Ireland and booked all of the additional flights to Vietnam and Cambodia through Skyscanner so you can choose your flights from anywhere in the world with them.

2. Book Your Accommodation Through Affordable Apps

I stayed in two types of accommodation while in Asia to keep costs down and that was by staying in hostels and hotels. Accommodation is incredibly cheap in most parts of Asia and you can get a four-star hotel from as cheap as $15 dollars per night. The two apps I used to book all of my accommodation were Booking.com and Hostel World. I  would stay in a hostel for a week, followed by a few nights in a hotel, so I really got the backpacker experience as well as a bit of luxury, which is needed when traveling around Asia for two months. I booked all of my hotels through Booking.com and booked my hostels through HostelWorld.

3. Go Backpacking Instead Of Traveling With A Suitcase

Traveling with a backpack is a lot easier than traveling with a suitcase because not only do you look less like a tourist with a backpack instead of turning at with a big suitcase, you have limited room to carry things around in your backpack. It's easy to get carried away with buying fakes and souvenirs when traveling, but having limited space to pack stops you from overspending on unnecessary things. 

4. Use A Currency Card To Pay For Things

Travelers often get caught out with big credit and debit card fees when spending abroad and I avoided this by using a currency card. I used the FairFx card to get money out in Asia and I usually withdrew my money for the week in one go so as to keep card fees low. Many banks charge a high fee no matter how much money you withdraw so a currency card is a much more affordable way to manage your money when traveling abroad. Also in Asia, your money comes out of the cash machine first, so don't leave your card behind! 

5. Book Tours Through Your Hostel or Hotel

There are a lot of companies that scam tourists into booking tours with them at extortionate prices and try to make them think that they offer the best service. It's always safest to book tours through the accommodation you're staying at and your hotel or hostel will usually always have the cheapest prices and won't rip you off. You'll see lots of travel agencies but the prices are usually always very high so it's best to steer clear from them. I booked all of my tours and excursions through hostels I found on HostelWorld.

6. Eat Locally

I always ate in our hostel or in local nearby restaurants because the food is incredibly cheap in Asia. You'll find many streets buzzing with restaurants and the prices are so cheap that we ate out every night of the week for two months! In Vietnam, it's custom to eat on miniature tables and chairs along the street which is a really nice and authentic eating experience.

7. Learn How To Barter

You can't travel to Asia without visiting the vast array of night markets which sell amazing quality fake clothes, handbags and shoes. The key to visiting the markets in Asia is to barter hard and haggle your way to the lowest price. I was hesitant at first when bartering in markets but I soon realized that the locals will try to charge you the highest price but with a bit of haggling they'll go very low from their first offer. In Vietnam, I was able to get two handbags down from 3.5 million Dong to 1 million Dong! You'll often get cheaper goods if you buy more than one so find a stall that you can buy a few things from. 

8. Don't Get Scammed By Taxis And Tuk Tuks

If you travel by bus or train throughout Asia, you'll be met with a big group of taxi and tuk tuk drivers once you reach the station at your destination. Always agree on a price before you step into a tuk tuk or taxi because they will charge you whatever they want if you don't. We made this mistake when arriving in Hoi An in Vietnam when two motorbike taxis grabbed our bags and put us on bikes without agreeing on a price and we were forced to pay them an extortionate amount of money for the short journey. So always agree on a low price before getting in! If a driver refuses to agree to your price then don't take the journey with him, you'll find another tuk tuk within seconds who will.

9. Take Sleeper Buses Instead of Flights

You'll soon get used to the luxury of sleeper buses (there's not much luxury with them at all) instead of spending hundreds on flights. Sleeper buses run every day to pretty much anywhere and are a fraction of the price of flights. They have reclined seats and blankets and usually provide water too. You can also get sleeper trains which are slightly more expensive but also a very affordable way to travel through Southeast Asia.


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