Want to travel to Asia on a budget? Here is the list of the cheapest Asian countries to visit plus the daily budget of each country.
Despite being the largest continent in the world and hosting some of the most expensive countries like Japan and Singapore, Asia is still one of the most favorite destinations for backpackers who want to get the most bang for their buck.
Easy to travel to, it offers exceptional landscapes, amazing UNESCO sites, and a guaranteed cultural shock.
And good news everybody, it is one of the cheap travel destinations in the world!
So if you’re planning for your next budget-friendly trip, here is a quick guide on the cheapest Asian countries to visit.
Quick note: Please note that the daily budgets described in this article correspond to a budget for backpacking on a shoestring, including food, accommodation, and activities.
The cost of your trip largely depends on how you travel; are you using public transport or private driver, are you eating street food or dining at fancy restaurants, are you sleeping in dormitories or paying private rooms, paid for guided tours or self-guided tours?
All this has a huge impact on your budget… but don’t forget, the less you spend per day the longer you can travel.
But before you explore the cheap places in Asia, below are some Asia Travel essentials you’ll need.
Asia Travel essentials.
– Asia is a great continent but it can be overwhelming due to a number of scams.
To make sure you protect your valuables, purchase travel insurance before you go and Worldomads is the one I highly recommend.
– Since the idea is to travel to Asia on a budget, the best way to get the most out of it is by sleeping in hostels.
Hostelworld is the best website to find the best and cheapest hostels around Asia.
– It is certainly possible to enjoy Asia individually but if you want to opt for a tour, Klook has the best tours priced to fit in your budget even as a backpacker.
– Stay connected on the internet while in Asia. Book your 4G wifi device before you go.
– For your transportation needs around Asia whether train, bus, flight or even ship, I recommend booking with 12.goAsia for the best prices and so that you can have your tickets in advance.
Cheapest Countries in Asia
Welcome to the land of the mighty Taj Mahal! From its superb beaches in the south to the Himalayas in the north and the historical sites in the center, India is a world in its own right, a fascinating country-continent to discover at a low budget making it the cheapest Asian country to visit.
Luckily it is also one of the cheap destinations in Asia, especially the northern half of the country.
Though the south is more touristic and slightly more expensive, it also remains very affordable.
The cost of living is so low that you can fully enjoy your trip without the guilt of spending too much.
Transportation (rickshaw, taxis, buses, or trains) are incredibly cheap. For example, a 20-hour train ride will cost you less than $9.
To book all your transportation in India, I recommend booking with 12go.Asia, from bus tickets, train tickets, to ferries.
Don’t be afraid to try street food, there is no better way to eat cheaply like this. Veg-thali is less than $2, a glass of fresh fruit juice costs only a few cents and classic restaurants are about $4/7.
Accommodation in India is also cheap with a night in a dormitory varying between $2 and $5.
So if you were wondering whether it’s possible to live on less $15 a day, India is one of the cheap Asian countries to visit in order to experience just that.
But before you go, make sure you read these tips on how to survive India as a tourist.
India’s daily budget: Between $5 and $15
Related post: Best places to visit in North India
Due to its central position, Cambodia is the perfect place to start your trip in Asia.
It is not only one of the best places to visit in Asia but also one of the cheapest places to backpack- no wonder Siem Reap is called the “backpacker’s world capital”.
The country, one of the cheap travel destinations in Asia, is most known for its famous Angkor Temples but it actually has much more to offer!
From taking a bike ride through the rice fields to relaxing on the white sand beaches of the Koh Rong Islands.
Indubitably cheaper than its neighbor Thailand, everything here is at a very low price.
You will find superb hostels and guest houses for just $3 a night.
If you are not a fan of street food, even more traditional restaurants are affordable for less than $5.
Make sure to try the delicious local food like the Amok, a fish cooked in banana leaves with coconut cream! Buses and tuk-yuk are also very cheap and convenient.
The visit to the world-famous Angkor Temples will cost you extra but you can choose between a 1, 3, or 7 days pass.
I highly recommend getting the 3 days pass to fully explore the area which costs around $60.
It might seem a bit expensive but I guarantee that you will not regret it! But all in all, Cambodia is one of the cheap Asian countries to visit that won’t rob you of your arm or leg.
Cambodia’s daily budget: between $10 and $20
Pro tip* For all your transportation in Asia whether it is by train, bus, or ferry, use the 12go.Asia website to book all your tickets in advance.
Due to the lack of a coastline, Laos is often neglected… that’s a huge mistake!
This small and authentic country has a lot to provide. Both untamed and welcoming, life in Laos is slightly more expensive than in Cambodia especially in touristy cities like Luang Prabang and Vientiane.
But if you’re not too “greedy” and get off the beaten track you’ll get away with it for a cheap price.
Bus rides cost around $1 per hour and the classic fried rice that you can find everywhere costs roughly $2. There’s no reason not to enjoy it!
A three-course meal in a restaurant is approximately $10. Private rooms can be found at $20.
Laos also offers an opportunity to do outdoor activities like kayaking, hiking, ziplining, and hot air ballooning at undeniably budget-friendly prices making it one of the cheap places to travel in Asia.
Laos’ daily budget: between $10 and $25
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Halong Bay, a World Heritage site, and its dozens of islands covered with a tropical forest is probably one of the most beautiful places in the world.
Still protected from mass tourism, Vietnam is perfectly adapted to world travelers.
15 bucks a day will be more than enough to travel, eat, sleep, and discover this country which has managed to preserve its cultural heritage perfectly.
A pint of Bia Hoi, the cheapest beer in the world only cost a few dozens of cents, a meal will cost you less than $4 and you can easily find private rooms for under $10.
Renting a motorbike, which is highly recommended to truly explore the country, costs around $13 per day.
Whether it’s biking through the country or camping in the third world’s biggest cave of Hang En, Vietnam will definitely offer you some of the best cheap holidays in Asia.
Vietnam’s daily budget: between $10 and $25
With over 17,000 islands, Indonesia is a land of contrast and variation.
From forests, volcanoes, beaches to wildlife, Indonesia has so much to offer if you are willing to go off the beaten tracks.
Each island is different when it comes to food, language, religion, and culture.
So versatile, it is difficult to establish a budget for the food, accommodation, or transportation as the cost of living differs from one region to another!
Bucket list destination Bali or Jakarta can be extremely expensive but once you get away from the most touristic areas, prices become lower.
As a rule of thumb, street food is the way to go to eat cheaply (between $3 and $5). You will also be able to find dorms for $5 and private rooms starting at $15.
Even though the daily budget immensely differs from island to Island, Indonesia is still one of the cheap countries to visit in Asia.
Indonesia’s daily budget: between $15 and $25
Read more: Best countries to visit in Africa
6. Myanmar (Burma)
You better hurry up and go! At first inaccessible, the country has been gradually opening up to tourists since the end of the dictatorship in 2011.
Still affordable, prices are rising from year to year- rumor has it that the government wants to make the country a luxury destination!
Nothing very surprising as the country has so many wonders to offer. The ancient city of Bagan, a UNESCO world heritage site, is alone a reason to visit Myanmar.
Even though the prices are skyrocketing, it is still possible to find cheap food.
The train is very affordable but the buses are a bit more expensive compared to other Asian countries but the comfort they provide makes up for it.
The main costs in Mynamar will be on accommodation as it is sometimes difficult to find dorms yet private rooms go for about $20 to $25.
Pro tip* Cut down the expenses by meeting other travelers and sharing private rooms – a tip that will make your stay in Burma one of the cheapest holiday destinations in Asia.
Myanmar’s daily budget: between $20 and $35
Related post: Best cities to visit in Europe
7. The Philippines
Palms trees, beautiful beaches, wonderful diving spots, and unforgettable sunsets make the Philippines the perfect country to indulge yourself and have a pleasant time while still traveling on a budget.
Even though visiting the country will cost you slightly more than the others mentioned above (especially since you will most likely be using domestic flights), it is quite possible to keep a reasonable budget if you avoid large cities.
A night in a dorm room will cost between $10 and $15. The boat offers a good alternative to the plane since it goes for a little under $10 but also very slow.
As always, street food is cheap (between $3 and $7). Since beer is around $1, a parameter that is used by many travelers to determine whether a country is cheap to travel to or not, then The Philippines qualify to be on this list of the cheapest countries in South East Asia.
The Philippines’ daily budget: between $25 and $35
With a country brimming with beauty, you’ll be surprised to know that its one of the cheapest countries to visit in Asia.
With everything well organized compared to other cheap places in Asia, Thailand is an easy country to travel in by all kinds of travelers – no wonder it has become a popular destination for backpackers.
From the chaotic city of Bangkok, the underlying beauty of Chiang Mai, to incredibly beautiful beaches in Phuket, Thailand is a must-visit place if you’re looking for the cheapest country to travel in Asia without compromising on beauty.
Though some resorts are a bit more pricey than others, the best way to stay on a budget is to stick to the wide variety of street food, sleep in hostels, and use public transportation.
Sleeping in a private room at a hostel will cost you around $8 but can go as low as $5 if you opt for a shared dorm room.
You can expect to spend $3 on street food and around $5 on transportation with in the city per day.
Since Thailand has a number of activities to do, you can expect to spend a little higher, and $10 would be a good average for a day.
With an average budget of $30 per day, Thailand truly qualifies to be one of the cheapest places to visit in Asia.
Thailand’s daily budget: between $25 and $30
Related post: Tips for staying in a hostel
Home to the highest mountains in the world, Nepal has become a perfect hiking destination for many hikers.
And since its one of the cheap countries in Asia, the number of backpackers keeps increasing every now and then.
From the impressive views from a flight over Mount Everest, incredible hikes to the Himalayas, to the beautiful views of rice terraces, there are so many things to do in Nepal.
Even though the flight over Mt. Everest is expensive, (which you can skip if your budget doesn’t allow or make it that splurge moment), the general cost of living is low making it the cheapest country in Asia.
One tip to save money in Nepal is to stay away from organized guided hiking trips since the country is mostly about hiking.
If you can do it on your own or with other travelers, that would be great.
To give you a break down of some costs in Nepal, budget for $5 for a dorm room and slightly more for a guest house private room.
Food is pretty cheap and that should set you behind by just $2 and expect to spend around $4 on a bus of 5 hours but transportation within one area can be around $1.5.
Since the country is majorly about trekking, trekking is the most expensive activity with most trekking permits going for around $20.
However not every day will be a hiking day, so you’ll save money on those days you won’t go hiking hence bringing down your overall budget.
Nepal’s daily budget: between $20 and $30
Related post: Hiking tips for beginners
10. Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is ridiculously one of the cheap countries to travel in Asia despite the immense beauty that lies in the little gem.
Not so little though, Sri Lanka has become a popular destination among travelers especially backpackers due to its unbelievably low cost of living.
This Asian Island boasts over 8 Unesco World Heritage sites, incredible wildlife, amazing white sand beaches, and incredible landscapes that are picture-perfect.
From incredible landmarks like Sigiriya, Adam’s Peak, and Ella, you’d think that you need a lot of money to enjoy Sri Lanka.
But with an average budget of $20 a day, you can expect to enjoy Sri Lanka to the fullest.
Food in Sri Lanka is really cheap, so you can expect to spend like $2 on a meal, $7 on accommodation, $8 on activities, and $2 on transportation.
With that low cost of living, it’s undeniably true that Sri Lanka is one of the cheapest countries to visit in Asia.
Sri Lanka’s daily budget: between $20 and $30
AND WHAT ABOUT THE NOT SO CHEAP PLACES TO VISIT IN ASIA?
Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong-Kong, and South-Korea… All these countries can be really expensive to travel to and are not budget-friendly at all.
Even if you travel as cheaply as possible doing hitchhiking, Couchsurfing, cooking for yourself, or even eat once a day, you will not be able to hide from the high cost of living.
And what about China? Well, China might not be the cheapest county in Asia but it is a particular case.
Just like the Philippines or Indonesia, some parts of the country can be very expensive and others relatively cheap.
The main expense will probably be transportation. China is such a vast country that you won’t be able to avoid taking the fast train, which is absolutely awesome but rather expensive.
But if you want to learn more about how to travel cheap, check out my post on how to travel on a budget.
Now that you know most of the cheap Asian countries to travel to, you can start planning your trip around this incredibly amazing and diverse continent of Asia.
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