Travel Expenses: Southeast Asia

A year ago, Robert Alejandro and Jetro Rafael shared their experience of traveling through Southeast Asia on a shoestring budget: 9 countries (including China, Macau and Hong Kong), 3 months, for only Php 50,000. I was amazed at this figure they presented, because I was able to easy spend roughly the same amount in just one country for 14 days back in 2006. Right at that moment, I decided to give Southeast Asia another go, and really try to stick within my budget this time.

Though my trip was only through five countries for one month, I aimed for the same amount, knowing that I do have a habit of overspending. Well, as I finished adding up the travel expenses from my June backpacking trip through Southeast Asia, I realize that traveling on a shoestring is not for me. Well, I still travel on a budget, but I do believe in indulging once in a while.

So how much did I spend for one month in Southeast Asia?

Southeast Asia 2009
May 30 – July 6
in Philippine Peso
Per city/country
Cambodia PHP 10,664.16
Bangkok, Thailand PHP 7,449.00
Luang Prabang, Laos PHP 12,526.00
Vientiane, Laos PHP 4,184.47
Bangkok, Thailand PHP 8,573.18
Malaysia PHP 13,300.31
Singapore PHP 14,313.23
Other expenses
Airport transfers (Manila) PHP 570.00
Travel tax (Manila) PHP 1,620.00
Airport tax (Manila) PHP 750.00
Travel insurance PHP 3,790.00
Roaming charges PHP 1,500.00
Total PHP 79,240.35

SEA 2009.xls (89k)Spreadsheet includes the detailed travel budget for each city/country

I am consoling myself with the fact that compared to how much I spent in 2006 (including the shopping, which wasn’t included in the budget that I posted online), this was actually pretty decent. It’s not cheap; I’m sure many are able to do this same trip for half the cost, but hey, that’s them and this is me. And this time, my budget includes my shopping ;) (well, not the doll shopping part 2 in Bangkok and the things I bought in Singapore). This is actually below my estimated sum, actually. So I guess I still did pretty well?

RELATED:   Travel Budget: Calaguas Island

At the end of the day, it’s the trip that matters, not the costs (many would argue with this statement, I know). Do I regret spending this much? Hell no.

Article by Nina Fuentes

Nina doesn't aim to travel to every country in the world -- she just wants to travel to the places that means the most to her. She started traveling in 2006, and hopes to travel for as long as she can. Her travel blog, Just Wandering won the Best Travel Blog in the 2010 Philippine Blog Awards and in the 2011 Nuffnang Asia Pacific Blog Awards.

This Article Has 20 Comments
  1. benj says:

    is the 50K thing even possible?! Kumain ba sya? o may dala syang isang box ng century tuna at lucky me? hehehe

  2. nina says:

    Benj: Super duper tipid mode. Overland travel lang from Singapore all the way to China and Macau. They take the slow boats, the cheapest train class, and cheapest rooms. Also, they traveled as a group eh, so the costs are divided between four or five people.

  3. davidd aka puuikibeach says:

    $1657.00 in U.S. dollars, at today’s exchange rate. Does this figure include all of your airfares from your starting point?

    From my location, it’s difficult to even GET anywhere without spending several hundred dollars (to U.S. destinations) to thousands of dollars (international destinations); but once there… I need to re-read your posts and make careful note of your cost-saving approach.

    I am impressed by your thrift-without-suffering approach to travel.

  4. davidd aka puuikibeach says:

    I wonder why it’s possible to fly around Asia, from within Asia, the Pacific Rim, or Australia comparatively inexpensively, while flying from or within the U.S. is quite expensive? And even with the high cost of U.S. air fares, the airlines all claim to be bankrupt. It does not make sense to me.

  5. carlo says:

    wow nina. galing. bilib talaga ako sa discipline mo to put everything on excel and track your expenses.

    of course, it’s worth it haha. travel’s priceless (and priceful too hehe…save save save na lang) well you always know that what you spent is still cheaper than what some people spent for dinner in new york recently…noonie-noonie-noo….

  6. lmao nina — just console yourself with the fact that that i spent twice that in five days in TOKYO. okay, granted i went completely apreshit and bought everything in sight, but still…

    anyway, good job on your SEA backpacking trip BB! :D

  7. nina says:

    Davidd: Yup, that’s everything :D Well, you need to factor in the costs of the airlines for long haul travel, specially from the US or Europe. It’s easy enough to travel on the cheap in Asia, specially since the cost of living is so much lower here. Though this amount may seem cheap to you, for us, this is quite a substantial amount.

    Carlo: Hahaha, can’t resist that barb no? ;) I’d rather spend my money on my travels than for just one expensive dinner, even if I *do* like to splurge once in a while.

    Magnetic_rose: You’re scaring me about Tokyo lol

  8. bertN says:

    I am amazed at how they were able to visit 9 countries in SE Asia for 3 months at an average cost of Php50,000 per person. I don’t doubt it can be done but that is really pushing it to the limit.

  9. dyanie says:

    yay! bow ako sayo! almost P80k for 5 countries? chineck ko travel expenses ko, 2 countries ko lang yan haha! :P

  10. nina says:

    BertN: That 50K *might* be just for the SEA leg. But yeah, definitely no luxuries in that trip!

    Dyanie: Matinding pagtitipid at pagpipigil ang nangyari sa byaheng ito XD

  11. Eve White says:

    9 countries for that price, wow, impressive.

  12. I use to keep track of my travel budget but tinamad na ako… As long as within my allocated fund for that trip ayus!!

    Excellent trip Nina!! Wish me luck, Siem Reap to Saigon ako from Thursday to Sunday. Am just waiting for Babes to come back here in Singapore before kami alis. I will definitely blog about it!!

  13. nina says:

    Mr Whattaworld: Siem Reap and Saigon again! That’s another trip I’m planning for next time. Have fun (I know you guys will!), and I’m looking forward to reading about it :D

  14. AudreyRose says:

    wow! 50K for 9 countries? hay! I guess super tipid na talaga sila. yong sa akin nga 2 countries lang mga 3 fourth ng expenses mo wahh… to think na one week lang yon. hay! dapat I have to learn how to really really leave below my budget hehehe…

  15. betty says:

    Cheap travel is now possible. Just to give you an idea , I have bought tickets for the following destinations:

    Singapore-Bali (Air Asia ) for Dec 1-3,2009 travel -S$40 or P1200/person
    Singapore-Perth(Jetstar) for Sept 6-11 ,2009 -$117 or P3510/person
    Singapore -Ho CHi Min for Nov 3-5,2009 S$76 or P2,280/person
    SIngapore-Siem Reap for oct 20-22,2009 S$110 or P3,300

    In contrast our Manila-Busuanga flight this Dec 18-19 is S$59.5 or P1785
    Manila-Busuanga is a 1 hr flight while the other destinations are about 2-6 hrs flight

  16. rica says:

    Hi Nina,

    You’re blog is extremely helpful. I clicked the link for the excel sheet, a new window opened and it had garbled characters so I wasn’t able to read and download the file. Is there another way I can access your excel file? =)


  17. nina says:

    Hi Rica, you have to right click on the link and click on “Save Link as” or “Save Target as” to download a copy of the file into your hard drive :)

  18. Laurie says:

    Hi Nina! Great post!. My husband and I just finished a year long trip and we decided to set up a website to help other people figure out travel costs by country. I was wondering if we could use some of your data since you’ve done such a great, detailed job of keeping track of costs. The website is With your permission we’d love to use some of you data.


  19. Jade says:

    Hi! Im just wondering if you could send me the SEA 2009 in excel through email? thanks! loveyour blog..

  20. […] accept it for exchange. It also helped a lot when I ran out of cash on the last leg of my Southeast Asian backpacking trip in 2009. Convenience always comes with a price. In exchange for the service, you pay interests for […]

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