So you’ve got the travel bug and are itching to see everything our beautiful planet has to offer. One of the major constraints on where we can go to experience something new, exotic, and exciting is cost and our budget. Fortunately, there are plenty of places to explore that don’t cost the earth and offer budget-conscious travelers an array of beauty, culture, and novelty. One such region is Southeast Asia which is home to a vast wealth of travel experiences whether you are backpacking, a solo female traveler, or a student. Anyone at all can enjoy the sights, smells, and experiences of this affordable and exotic location and return home with a new library of enviable travel stories. Here are some of the best places to travel in Southeast Asia on a budget.
1. Cebu – Philippines
Cebu has been referred to as the Queen City of the South and is a mecca for travelers of all budget types. It is one of the Philippines oldest cities and has a rich historical and cultural heritage. There is plenty to do and explore here from its white sand and crystal clear water beaches that offer diving, swimming and sunbathing, to a wealth of old Filipino-Spanish buildings that date back to Magellan’s time. There is a fascinating mix of religions on the island from its Christian influences and its Cathedral through to its Taoist temple and religious festivals – there is always something new and interesting to discover here.
2. Siem Riep – Cambodia
This is a very popular tourist hub in Cambodia that is a must see when traveling around Southeast Asia. Budget options abound in this vibrant Cambodian city with its Chinese style and colonial architecture. The city is full of sights to explore such as the markets, the War Museum that delves into the Khmer Rouge era, and the National Museum. One of the key attractions is the unmissable Angkor Wat. This temple complex is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and contains Khmer remains, along with towers, intricate Hindu carvings, and the overall ambience and scenery of the site is a must see. Siem Reap is easily accessible from Thailand and transportation can be as cheap as the accommodation there is.
3. Koh Samui – Thailand
Angthong Marine Park near Koh Samui © Flickr
Koh Samui is the second largest Thai island and one of the jewels in the Thai Gulf. It is one of the most popular destinations in Southeast Asia and it is not hard to see why. The island has everything to offer tourists from expensive villas to affordable and budget accommodation. The island boasts beautiful beaches for sunning, diving, swimming and romance, a multitude of different temples, and amazing nightlife. There are also several high profile festivals held throughout the year to keep you entertained such as the Buffalo Fighting Festival (ceremonial and harmless), the Samui Sailing Regatta, The Midnight Run, and the Art festival – plenty of activities in Koh Samui will keep you enjoyable no matter the time of year or weather. Then there is the fantastic food in Koh Samui with its wonderful Southern Thai cuisine and street food which is an unmissable way to dine like a local.
4. Da Nang – Vietnam
Da Nang is one of the largest cities in Vietnam and an important hub for central Vietnam. Tourism plays a vital role in the city’s economy and as such there are a wide variety of accommodation, food, and entertainment options for budget-conscious travelers. What draws the crowds are Da Nangs accessibility to a number of impressive sites, including the UNESCO sites of the My Son ruins, Hoi An Old Town, and the Imperial City of Hue.
There are also a host of natural attractions that are worth visiting such as the Marble Mountains which are cliffs covered in a forest that overlooks the South China Sea. Da Nang’s beach used to be popular with American GIs and is now perfect for swimming, relaxing, and surfing. Make sure to take the cable car ride to the top of Ba Na Hills (1500m above sea level), and check out the Son Tra Mountains for some more natural R&R.
5. Luang Phra Bang – Laos
The name translates to ‘Royal Buddha Image’ and is made up of 58 villages. 33 of these form the Luang Prabang World Heritage Site recognized by UNESCO. The area offers an amazing mix of urban and rural settings and the religious, architecture, and culture here is definitely world class. Eating out, accommodation and entertainment are cheap and there are plenty of things to see and do. For nature lovers out to explore Southeast Asia, there are the Pak Ou Caves, Tat Sae and Kuang Si Waterfalls, and excellent views of the famous Mekong River where boat rides are available. Shoppers will love the bargains to be had at the night market where a wide variety of products and souvenirs can be cheaply bought.
There are also plenty of historical sites to visit here such as the Haw Kham Royal Palace museum which was built during the French Colonial era, and the Wat Xieng Thong temple which is one of the most important Lao monasteries. Foodies will love the local dishes and the cooks of the city used to prepare food for the king.
6. Gili Islands – Indonesia
If you are thinking about where to go in Southeast Asia where you can really get away from it all and experience true peace and serenity then this might be the destination for you. These three tiny islands are surrounded by beautiful beaches and, cars and motorbikes are banned, meaning they are extremely quiet. To get there requires a boat trip from Bali or Lombok and once there a range of accommodation options are available including backpackers and hostels. Visitors on the islands can enjoy the laid-back beaches, or do a bit of snorkeling or scuba diving. Apart from water sports its all relaxation on white sands, clear sea water, and taking life easy.
About the Author:
Riya is an inspired writer writing in several areas of expertise. With spending her years working marketing communication, Riya is delighted to work with aspiring small business owners. Apart from her marketing expertise, Riya always enjoys reading pocketbook, cooking, and traveling. Connect with Riya on twitter, @sanderriya.