Learn how to Get Round Southeast Asia on the Low-cost

view from the back of a tuk tuk in Southeast AsiaPosted: 2/28/2019 | February 28th, 2019

Southeast Asia could also be an enormous area — but it surely’s tremendous simple to get round.

It’s well-traveled (backpackers have been following “the banana pancake path” because the late ’60s), and there’s an in depth community designed to make sure you could simply get from A to B.

In Hanoi and must get to Bangkok? In Vientiane and wish to go Malaysia? Or Ko Samui? No drawback. Somebody can prepare that.

However what’s one of the best ways to get round Southeast Asia on a price range?

How will you go from level A to level B in essentially the most environment friendly and best method?

Right here’s how one can journey round Southeast Asia on a budget, with instance costs and estimated journey occasions.

Get Round Southeast Asia By Flying

an upward view of an airplane between skyscrapers in Singapore
That is the quickest however costliest approach to get round Southeast Asia. There are loads of price range airways (like Ryanair or EasyJet in Europe) within the area: Scoot (merged with Tigerair), Jetstar, and AirAsia are the largest. Nok Air has loads of flights inside Thailand, and VietJet Air is fashionable in Vietnam. Lion Air serves Indonesia, however its security document is de facto spotty and I might not fly them.

Listed below are some pattern costs for a number of the greatest routes:

  • Bangkok to Singapore – $55 (a technique), $120 (round-trip)
  • Phuket Metropolis to Vientiane – $95 (a technique), $180 (round-trip)
  • Ho Chi Minh Metropolis to Bangkok – $48 (a technique), $108 (round-trip)
  • Bali (Denpasar) to Kuala Lumpur – $75 (a technique), $110 (round-trip)
  • Siem Reap to Hanoi – $125 (a technique), $169 (round-trip)
  • Jakarta to Kuala Lumpur – $28 (a technique), $56 (round-trip)
  • Manila to Ho Chi Minh Metropolis – $80 (a technique), $125 (round-trip)
  • Yangon to Manila – $107 (a technique), $226 (round-trip)
  • Yangon to Bangkok – $45 (a technique), $82 (round-trip)

When you e book early, it can save you on fares, as many of the airways provide deeply discounted fare gross sales on a regular basis, particularly Air Asia. The perfect locations to search out low-cost flights are Momondo and Skyscanner.

Take note two matters, although:

  1. First, price range airways all fly from smaller, extra out-of-the-way airports, so be ready to take buses or taxis there (and plan for site visitors).
  2. Second, all these airways make their cash by charging charges for all the pieces, so anticipate baggage charges, bank card “comfort” charges, check-in charges, charges on charges, and so on., and so on.! If the charges add up, it may well usually be cheaper to fly one of many bigger, extra conventional air carriers, particularly when you think about the principle airport may be extra centrally positioned.

All in all, I solely suggest flying if you’re pressed for time or discover a tremendous low-cost deal.

Get Round Southeast Asia By Native or Vacationer Bus

a yellow tourist coach bus in Southeast Asia
The best and least expensive approach to journey round Southeast Asia is by bus. Buses will take you anyplace you wish to go, regardless of how far.

Buses are usually run by a plethora of small operators (there isn’t any model of Greyhound right here). You merely go along with the operator that companies the route you wish to journey or with the corporate the vacationer company or guesthouse set you up with.

In Southeast Asia, you don’t must plan forward that a lot both. You merely present up on the bus station and purchase your ticket! They use a first-come, first-serve foundation however are hardly ever full. You don’t must e book them prematurely or on-line — though, if I do know the place I’m going, I usually e book my bus the day earlier than merely as a precaution. In all my years touring this area, I’ve by no means proven up and been turned away.

Listed below are some pattern fares and journey occasions for bus routes in Southeast Asia (in USD):

  • Bangkok to Chiang Mai – $17 (10 hours)
  • Bangkok to Pattaya – $4.75 (Three hours)
  • Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai – $7.17 (3:40 hrs)
  • Phnom Penh to Siem Reap – $12 (5:30 hrs)
  • Kuala Lumpur to Singapore – $12.23 (5 hrs)
  • Vientiane to Luang Prabang – $27 (10 hrs)
  • Da Nang to Hanoi – $13.80 (14 hrs)
  • Sihanoukville to Phnom Penh – $11 (Four hrs)
  • Kuta Seaside to Ubud – $6 (1 hr)
  • Puerto Princesa to El Nido – $12 (5 hrs)
  • Yangon to Bagan – $18.50 (9 hrs)
  • Hanoi to Halong Bay – $7.35 (Four hrs)

Furthermore, the backpacker path in Southeast Asia is so nicely established that there’s a very well-oiled “vacationer bus” system right here. (Often, if you e book buses from vacationer companies or guesthouses, they put you on these vacationer buses.) These buses will choose you up at your lodging or have a set meetup level within the vacationer space and take you on to your subsequent vacation spot.

For instance, if you’ll want to go from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, you’d purchase a ticket, meet the bus (most likely on Khao San Highway), and benefit from the evening trip as much as Chiang Mai with different vacationers. No stops at different bus stations — only a straight shot to Chiang Mai.

And whereas vacationer buses are very handy, they’re additionally normally about 25% dearer than the buses locals use. They often value $5-Eight USD for a 5-6-hour journey; in a single day buses are $22 USD or extra relying on distance.

Get Round Southeast Asia By Backpacker Bus

Stray Asia tour bus; photo from Stray Asia
There are two organized backpacker particular bus corporations that serve Asia: Bamba Expertise and Stray Asia. These are hop-on-hop-off buses that journey set routes throughout the continent.

Bamba Expertise’s versatile passes begin at round $600 USD for 15 days. Stray Asia’s cross is about $1,836 for no less than 40 days.

Personally, I’m not an enormous fan of those companies. You’re paying for flexibility, but it surely’s simple to get across the area in addition to meet folks, so I might skip this technique of journey. Even if you happen to’re a first-time traveler, the vacationer buses can do all the pieces these excursions can do for you.

Get Round Southeast Asia By Practice

a train hugging the cliff side in Kanchanaburi, Thailand
Practice service in Southeast Asia is mainly nonexistent aside from in Thailand, the one nation that has an in depth prepare system across the nation (and onward to Singapore), and Vietnam, which has a prepare alongside the coast, although it’s gradual and costly in comparison with the bus (1,445,445 VND/$62 USD from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh Metropolis as a substitute of 695,865 VND/$30 USD).

Practice costs are decided by distance and sophistication, so the farther you go, the extra you pay. Night time trains with sleeper automobiles are dearer than day trains: the evening prepare to Chiang Mai from Bangkok takes 12 hours and prices 965 THB ($29 USD) for a sleeper seat, however that very same prepare in the course of the day is 230 THB ($7 USD).

You may journey by prepare between Singapore, Johor Bahru, Kuala Lumpur, Penang, and Bangkok as nicely. It’s a protracted journey that can take you over a day to get there, however you could find fares for as little as $80 USD. When you’re a prepare fanatic, it’s some of the basic rides on the market. When you have the time, I extremely suggest the expertise.

Myanmar has prepare service but it surely’s very restricted. There is no such thing as a web site for Myanmar Railways, however the ministry of rail transportation has a schedule (don’t depend upon this although — you’re higher off discovering out actual occasions at a station). It’s also possible to use 12go.asia to search for routes and purchase tickets. There are trains daily between Yangon and Mandalay, with stops in Bago, Taungoo, Naypyitaw, and Thazi. This whole 15-hour route prices about 4,600 Okay ($Three USD) for an abnormal seat and 12,750 Okay ($Eight USD) for sleeper class. There are a handful of different routes as nicely, like Yangon to Inglee Lake by way of Thazi.

In Indonesia, the principle cities of Java (Jakarta, Bandung, Surabaya, Probolinggo (for Mount Bromo), and Banyuwangi (the ferry terminal for Bali)) are nicely linked by prepare, together with. Economic system class to Jakarta to Surabaya takes 15 hours and prices about 104,000 IDR ($7 USD), whereas a 9-hour executive-class journey can value as much as 1,250,000 IDR ($90 USD). Surabaya to Probolinggo (for Mount Bromo) takes 2-Three hours and prices 29,000 IDR ($2 USD) for economic system or 150,000 IDR ($11 USD) for government class. Surabaya to Banyuwangi (for Bali) takes 6-7 hours and prices as little as 56,000 IDR ($Four USD) for economic system or 190,000 IDR ($13.50 USD) for government class. You may reserve your tickets at tiket.com.

Get Round Southeast Asia By Automobile/Motorcycle

a group of locals riding motorbikes in Vietnam
I don’t suggest renting a automotive. Rental automobiles are costly and the roads listed here are nuts. I might by no means drive across the area.

Nevertheless, lots of people motorcycle across the space. I don’t know a lot about this, however Travelfish does. He’s the guru on this. Test it out right here.

Get Round Southeast Asia By Boat/Ferry

a ferry full of travelers in southeast asia
Whereas this received’t be your most important method of getting round, it can positively come into play in sure international locations. When you’re exploring the islands of Thailand, for instance, you’ll must depend on boats and ferries. And if you happen to’re backpacking round Indonesia or the Philippines, ferries would be the least expensive approach to island-hop (however positively not the quickest!).

It’s value noting that ferries in Southeast Asia don’t usually adhere to Western security requirements and lack of life jackets is a matter. Some folks suggest staying on the highest deck so it’s simpler to rapidly go away the boat if needed.

Whereas it’s not essential to e book prematurely, it’s a good suggestion throughout peak season or on extra fashionable routes to e book your tickets the day earlier than you propose to journey to be sure you have a spot. You should buy tickets on the ferry firm’s web site or by way of a ticket agent like 12go.asia. Nevertheless, each agent or hostel or resort can get you a ferry ticket too. It’s actually easy!

Listed below are just a few pattern routes and costs that can assist you plan:

  • Bali (Padang Bai) to Lombok – $5 (a technique)
  • Bali to the Gili Islands – $30 (a technique)
  • Koh Tao to Koh Samui – $16 (a technique)
  • Sihanoukville to Koh Rong – $25 (round-trip)
  • Manilla to Puerto Princesa – $30 (a technique)

You may additionally contemplate doing a multiday cruise on fashionable waterways just like the Mekong River or Halong Bay. On the Mekong River in Laos, gradual boats from Huay-Xai will drop you off in Luang Prabang. Sluggish boats take 2-Three days, stopping at guesthouses for nightly lodging. Costs will range relying on the standard of your tour firm, however a good tour will run you round 1,000,000 LAK ($116 USD).

Halong Bay excursions from Hanoi begin round 850,000-1,403,377 VND ($35-60 USD) for two-day journeys and improve exponentially from there.

Getting Round Cities on the Low-cost

a public bus in motion in Bangkok
Native buses are actually your greatest and least expensive possibility if you’re touring on the town as nicely. Fares sometimes value lower than $1 (and even much less if you happen to purchase multi-trip passes). All the cities you’ll go to may have dependable, inexpensive public bus methods.

In a number of the larger cities (Singapore, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur), you’ll even discover subways and tram methods. Jakarta and Hanoi are engaged on constructing their subway methods, however buses are nonetheless the most suitable choice in these locations for now.

I usually advise price range vacationers to skip taxis as a result of they’re method too costly. However in Southeast Asia, you don’t must at all times keep on with this rule. Taxis and tuk-tuks (small shared taxis with no meters) are choices right here. They require a little bit of haggling and value greater than public transportation, however they’re clearly extra handy if you’re in a jam or not but accustomed to an space.

In Singapore and Indonesia, taxi drivers do placed on the meter. In Bangkok, you will get taxi drivers to make use of the meter, however if you happen to’re hailing one in a vacationer space, he may attempt to keep away from utilizing it. In Vietnam, the meter is normally rigged, however if you happen to use a good firm like Mai Linh, you received’t have any issues.

Seize (an Uber offspring) is a family identify in Southeast Asia. It, too, is handy, but it surely generally prices much more than a taxi. Gojek in Indonesia is an analogous possibility. Be forewarned: When you order a Seize or Gojek, you may wind up on the again of a motorcycle!

How Lengthy Does it Take to Get Round Southeast Asia?

a monk in orange robes boarding a plane in Asia
Here’s a distance and travel-time desk of how lengthy it takes to get round Southeast Asia.

Air (hrs)
Bus (hrs)
Rail (hrs)
Phnom Penh –
Phnom Penh –
Ho Chi Minh Metropolis
Hanoi –
Chiang Mai –
Bangkok –
Kuala Lumpur –
Phuket –
Kuala Lumpur
Bali –
(by way of ferry)
Yangon –
Jakarta –
Vang Vieng –
Luang Prabang
Manila –
El Nido
Manila –


Briefly, Southeast Asia is fairly simple to get round: take the prepare as usually as you possibly can in Thailand, take the prepare in Vietnam in case you have the time, and take buses all over the place else. When you’re pressed for time, take the evening trains or fly. And if you happen to discover a good flight deal, positively fly!

Easy and simple.

So long as you do that you simply’ll have the ability to get round Southeast Asia on a price range and take advantage of environment friendly use of your money and time!

Guide Your Journey to Southeast Asia: Logistical Suggestions and Tips

Guide Your Flight
Discover a low-cost flight by utilizing Skyscanner or Momondo. They’re my two favourite search engines like google as a result of they search web sites and airways across the globe, so that you at all times know no stone is being left unturned.

Guide Your Lodging
You may e book your hostel with Hostelworld as they’ve the biggest stock. If you wish to keep somewher eother than a resort, use Reserving.com, as they constantly return the most affordable charges for guesthouses and low-cost motels. I exploit them on a regular basis.

Don’t Neglect Journey Insurance coverage
Journey insurance coverage will defend you in opposition to sickness, damage, theft, and cancellations. It’s complete safety in case something goes incorrect. I by no means go on a visit with out it, as I’ve had to make use of it many occasions previously. I’ve been utilizing World Nomads for ten years. My favourite corporations that provide the perfect service and worth are:

On the lookout for the perfect corporations to save cash with?
Try my useful resource web page for the perfect corporations to make use of if you journey! I checklist all those I exploit — and I believe they’ll enable you too!

On the lookout for extra data on visiting Southeast Asia?
Try my in-depth vacation spot information to Southeast Asia with extra recommendations on what to see and do, prices, methods to save lots of, and far, far more!

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