Saturday, November 17, 2012

Three of the Cheapest Destinations in Southeast Asia

It is by no means an understatement that Southeast Asia is a very cheap destination for travelers and, thus, the perfect destination for cash-strapped backpackers. Sam Hudson is a writer from the UK and is guest posting today. More importantly, he wholeheartedly agrees with me. He has handpicked the top three cheapest destinations in Southeast Asia, two of them my favorite cities. Sam, take it from here.

Backpacking is done best when it's done on a very cheap budget. This is why masses of backpackers embark to countries including Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia where they can enjoy life-changing travels for a fraction of Western prices. If you want to know where your budget will go furthest on the Southeast Asian backpacking circuit, check out my selection of three ultimately cheap and equally exciting destinations:

Hanoi, Vietnam

Hanoi Night Lights, Vietnam
Hanoi is best experienced at night—chaotic, noisy, and bright.

As well as being one of the cheapest destinations in Vietnam, Hanoi is also widely regarded as one of the country's most beautiful cities. Perhaps backpackers rate this city so highly due to its combination of French colonial and Asian post-communism architecture, which give Hanoi a unique and distinctive cityscape. Food and drink are extremely cheap including what is well known to be the world's cheapest beer, Bia Hoi.

Hired cars and meter taxis are all reasonably priced and easy to find, making sightseeing in this city a great way to spend your time without spending too much cash. Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum is a particularly favored sightseeing spot, a building dedicated to the sacred body of Ho Chi Minh. The Temple of Literature (Van Mieu) is also one of Hanoi's most cherished and honorable landmarks which and is well worth a visit. Vietnam's currency is the Vietnamese Dong (VND) and a rough general backpacker's allowance is approximately 345,500 VND (17 USD) per day.

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Wat Chedi Luang, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Located right in the heart of the old town, Wat Chedi Luang is the largest of Chiang Mai's temples.

Chiang Mai is a Thai city that attracts more tourists than anywhere else in the north of the country. Much tamer than Bangkok, the city is a breath of fresh air for backpackers with its hundreds of temples and laid-back vibe. Not only is this city quieter than Bangkok but it can also be much cheaper. With surrounding mountains, jungles and rivers, this city is a backpacker's base for adventurous excursions including jungle treks, river rafting, and elephant riding. Chiang Mai is also admired for its illustrious street markets which are ideal for eating out and shopping in very low prices. The Thai currency is the Thai Baht (THB) and with various attractions, meals, accommodation, and transport, you are looking at around 600 THB (20 USD) per day.

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Phnom Penh 1478
By ND Strupler | CC BY

This location is probably less popular than the previously mentioned destinations but only because it hasn't quite blossomed as a tourism hot-spot yet. Most people land at Phnom Penh because it connects Siem Reap (Angkor) and the Mekong Delta for backpacker routes. This has caused this city to develop its own tourism industry and grow as an interesting backpacker destination. Main attractions are all very cheap and they include the National Museum of Cambodia and the Royal Palace. Central Market and Sorya Mall are also great options for cheap shopping and a fun day out. The US Dollar is actually widely accepted in Cambodia and it would be wise to aim for around 20 USD a day for everything you need.

South East Asia is littered with amazingly cheap cities and towns which have so much to offer in terms of sightseeing and things to do. Have you been to a South East Asian destination recently which has had a surprisingly low impact on your backpacking fund?

Sam Hudson is a writer and musician currently living in West Yorkshire and studying for his MA in Writing for Performance and Publication. His journalistic experience began at university when he wrote for WesternEye, of which he later became sub-editor. Sam travels the world at any opportunity, and is a regular contributor to where you can find loads of cheap holiday destination ideas.

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