Cost of the trip

Many people think that making a long trip is very expensive and they don’t even consider it because they are sure that they will not be able to afford it.

Well, the flights are expensive, it is true, but the cost of living in most of the Asian countries is very low compared to the cost of living in Europe. Accommodation, local transport and food are all quite affordable for travelers. Of course, the final cost will depend on the level of comfort and luxury that you want, but in general I would say that there are bargains for each price level.

We never made a budget for the trip. We read in Internet forums that the minimum cost for most of the countries were we were going (with the exception of Bhutan, Singapore and Japan) was between 20 and 30 Euros per person per day. So we tried to adjust to that We always used public transport if possible, ate at street eateries most of the time and stayed in small family business if that was an option. On the other hand, we never stopped doing an activity or visiting an attraction because it was expensive.

With the exception of Bhutan, where the only option was booking a tour, we always traveled independent and we really think it is the best way of getting to experience how is life in the countries that you visit. It is also a good way to meet the local people and the cheapest way of traveling too! In some of the most developed (and expensive) countries, such as Singapore and Japan, we used couchsurfing in order to meet local people and save money at the same time. In both countries we had fantastic experiences thanks to couchsurfing!

The following table shows a summary of our expenses during the trip, with average daily costs per country and per person:

Costs 5 months trip

The cheapest countries were Myanmar and Nepal, where we spent around 20 Euros per person per day. Japan is the most expensive among the countries were you can travel independent, with a daily cost of 85 Euros per person (note that in Japan we only paid for the accommodation around 50% of the time-the rest of the time we used couchsurfing, so if you don’t use couchsurfing, the costs would increase considerably!). Bhutan was definitely the most expensive country, doubling the daily cost per person of Japan, because of their policy of the “daily tariff”.

Note that the costs would also increase for solo travelers, since in the guesthouses of many countries you pay for the room and not per person.

The flights, 13 in 5 months, made almost 30% of the total costs. We tried to avoid flying when we could, but in countries such as Mynmar (because of closed borders with Thailand) and Indonesia (huge archipelago) it was necessary to take a few flights.

Taking everything into account -daily expenses, activities and attractions, souvenirs and flights-, the monthly costs per person were 1870 Euros/month (about 14000 DKK/month). As a curiosity, the visit to Bhutan (only 8 days out of 152 days) increases the monthly cost by 250 Euros/month (about +2000 DKK/month)!

Examples of prices

Nepal
(1 USD/EUR = 80/100 NPR (Nepalese rupee))

  • Budget for the trekking for two persons: about 3000 NPR/day (40/25 USD/EUR); accommodation 0-400 NPR, cup of tea: 30-70 NPR, dal bath (Nepalese meal consisting on lentils): 200-400 NPR). Everything gets more expensive as you gain altitude!
  • Hotel room (2 persons with bathroom inside, price category:budget): 500 – 1000 NPR (6-12 USD)
  • Commission when withdrawing money: 400 NPR (IMP! Max. limit in most ATMs is 10000 NPR, but Nabil bank gives 35000 NPR)

Bhutan

  • All-inclusive tour (own private tour with guide and driver, all transport, sightseeing fees, meals and accommodation included), price per person per day: 200 USD (increased to 250 USD in 2012)

Thailand
(1 USD/EUR = 39/31 THB (Thai bath))

  • Snack in foot stall: 10-30 THB
  • 1 liter of mineral water: 15 THB
  • Large beer (650 ml): 60-90 THB
  • 1 hour of feet massage: 200 THB
  • Ticket for the metro or local boat in Bangkok: 15 THB
  • Train ticket in Bangkok: 30 THB
  • Taxi ride within Bangkok: 100 THB
  • Hotel room (2 persons with bathroom inside, price category:budget): < 500 THB

Laos
(1 USD/EUR = 8000/10000 LAK (Lao kip))

  • Large “BeerLao” (650 ml): 10000 LAK
  • Big bowl of noodle soup: 800-1000 LAK
  • Fruit shake: 10000 LAK
  • Baguette (French style sandwich): 1-20000 LAK
  • Lao coffee: 5000 LAK
  • Meal in restaurant: 15-30000 LAK
  • 1 liter of gasoline: 10000 LAK
  • Bicycle rental: 10000 LAK/day
  • Motorbike rental (automatic moto): 50000 LAK/day (190000 LAK/day in Luang Prabang!
  • Gibbon Experience (2 days, 1 night): 130 EUR
  • Hotel room (2 persons with bathroom inside, price category:budget): 40-80000 LAK (more upscale hotels, 150-250000 LAK

Note: Luang Prabang is considerably more expensive than the rest of Laos

Cambodia
(1 USD/EUR = 4000/5000 KHR (riel); they usually tell you the price in USD and you can always pay in USD)

  • Large “Angkor beer” (650 ml): 2 USD
  • Fruit shake: 1 USD
  • Coffee with sweet milk and ice: 1 USD
  • Plate with noodles or fried rice in local restaurant: 1-3 USD (in more upscale restaurants, a meal costs 5 USD and up)
  • Bike rental: 1-2 USD/day
  • Tuk tuk + driver (whole day): 15-20 USD/day
  • 3-day pass for visiting Angkor: 40 USD
  • Hotel room (2 persons with bathroom inside, price category:budget): 6-20 USD

Myanmar
(1 USD = 818 Kyat, but it varies a lot; they usually tell you the price in USD and you can always pay in USD)

  • Bus ride Yangon-Mandalay (1 night): 30000 kyats
  • Public slowboat Mandalay-Bagan: 12 USD (tourist boat, faster, is more expensive)
  • “Tourist fee” Mandalay and archaeological area: 15 USD
  • “Tourist fee” Bagan and archaeological area: 10 USD
  • Bus and truck Bagan-Kalaw: 10000 kyats
  • Trekking Kalaw-Inle Lake (3 days, 2 nights, all included with guide and cook, price per person for a 4 persons group):30000 kyats
  • “Tourist fee” Inle Lake: 5 USD
  • Boat for the day + guide around Inle Lake: 25000 kyats
  • Bus Inle-Yangon (1 night): 16000 kyats
  • Train Yangon-Mawlamyine (8 hours): 5 USD
  • Private boat Mawlamyine-Hpa-an (whole boat): 70000 kyats
  • No air-com bus Hpa-an-Yangon: 4000 kyats
  • Taxi Yangon downtown to airport: 5000 kyats
  • Hotel room (2 persons with bathroom inside, price category:budget): 12-22 USD

Singapore
(1 USD/EUR = 1.3/1.5 SGD)

  • Street ice cream sandwich: 1.5 SGD
  • 2 kaya toasts: 2 SGD
  • Tea: 2 SGD
  • Train/bus ride: 1 SGD
  • Meal in food center: 5 SGD
  • Ticket for the zoo: 20 SGD
  • “Sling” (cocktail) in Raffles Hotel: 35 SGD
  • Accommodation: we stayed in a private home, but accommodation in Singapore didn’t seem cheap, with tons of hotels for > 300 SGD

Indonesia
(1 USD/EUR = 9000/11500 IDR (Indonesian rupee))

  • Large bottle of water 4-7000 IDR (most often 5000 IDR)
  • Large beer: 25-35000 IDR
  • Plate of Indonesian food in Warung (local restaurant): 10-20000 IDR
  • Bus ride (1 night distance): 100000 IDR
  • Train Surabaya-Yogyakarta: 150000 IDR
  • Attractions: 100-150000 IDR
  • Taxi ride within a city: around 50000 IDR
  • Public ferry Padagbai (Bali) to Lombok: 110000 IDR (1 motorbike and 2 passengers)
  • Balinese performance: 70-100000 IDR
  • Motorbike rental per day: 25000 IDR
  • 1 liter of gasoline 4500-5000 IDR
  • Room for  2 persons in family compound (bathroom inside the room, breakfast included): 60-90000 IDR
  • Room in hotel (2 persons with bathroom inside, including breakfast, price category:budget): 100-200000 IDR
  • Borneo tour: 4 days, 3 nights incl. guide, living in the klotok (boat), all meals and transport included, also incl. flights from Java: 3100000 IDR (340 USD/270 EUR) per person
  • PADI diving course (incl. 6 dives): 300 USD per person (200 USD per person if you are good at bargaining!)

Japan
(1 USD/EUR = 80/100 JPY (Japanese yen))

  • 1 bottle of water or other drink in machine: 100-150 JPY
  • Beer: 350-650 JPY
  • Stamp to Europe: 70 JPY
  • Ticket for metro or train in Tokyo: 160-240 JPY
  • Admission to one temple: 100-600 JPY
  • Locker for 3-6 hours (at train stations): 300-500 JPY
  • “Bento” box (prepared meal): 300-600 JPY
  • Full meal in “Japanese fast-food” bar (usually miso soup, rice and meat or noodles and tea): 400-700 JPY
  • Train or bus tickets: very expensive if you don’t have the Japan Rail Pass
  • 7-day Japan Rail Pass: 28000 JPY
  • Hotel room (price per person, no bathroom inside, price category:budget – backpacker hostel, budget ryokan or capsule hotel): 3000 JPY (homestays (minshukus) or traditional upscale Japanese hotel (Ryokan) are more expensive, between 5000 and 10000 JPY per person sometimes with dinner and breakfast)
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