Yeti Budgets: Asia’s Most Affordable Cities

We have been on the road for just over a year now, long enough that when I think about our trip I start to channel Roy Batty.

Roy Batty - How I see the world  Challenge

I’ve… seen things you people wouldn’t believe… [laughs] Nepalese busses on fire off the shoulder off the Prithvi Highway. I watched neon signs glitter in the dark near the India Gate. All those… moments… will be lost in time, like [coughs] tears… in… rain.

We’ve managed to travel for year on not a lot of money because we’re rather stingy.  Not that we don’t spend money–we do, too much of it, every day.  But we don’t buy expensive things all that often.  It’s hard to fit things into our backpacks, for one thing, and as a backpacker the dichotomy between experiences and stuff is probably as clear as it can be.

So here are the cheapest cities we have visited in each country.  We’ve broken it down by accommodation, food, and water.  Obviously doing anything like taking the bus or paying entrance fees to a historic sight can increase this, and most people don’t want to eat the same thing a couple of times a day, but this is a good look at the baseline.

Our costs are for two people and then halved.  Single travelers might end up paying a little more.

Southeast Asia’s Cheapest Cities





Room: Double room at Lavender guest house: 35 Ringgit/11.67USD

Food: Free breakfast (toast) at guest house, Vegetarian banana leaf curry (4 Ringgit/1.33USD) for lunch and dinner = 2.66USD

Water: Free at guesthouse.  Many refill stations that are 20 cents/ .07USD per liter.

Malakka Baseline: 14.33USD/Day





Room: Mayfair Inn:  50 ringgit (16.70USD) for double room (with free bigscreen tv, dvds)

Food: Nasi Goreng and Chapati 5 Ringgit (1.70USD) x 3 = 5.10USD per day

Water: Free at guesthouse

Sandakan Baseline: 13.45 USD/Day



Sapa don't preach...
Sapa don’t preach…

Room: Sapa Backpackers Double Room: 8USD

Food: Breakfast: 2.50USD buffet, lunch baguette & fruit 1USD, dinner curry and rice 2.50 = 6USD

Water: Bottles for 50 cents.

Sapa Baseline: 11.50USD/Day





Room: Pondicherry 7USD single / 15USD double

Food: Tomato Salad and Rice (1.30USD) x 3 = 3.90USD/day

Water: Free at guesthouse

Bagan Baseline: $11.40USD/Day



Downtown Muang Ngoi
Downtown Muang Ngoi

Room: Double room at Rainbow 30,000 kip (3.80 USD)

Food:  Breakfast: Buffet 25,000 Kip (3.20 USD), Lunch Baguette 10,000 Kip (1.20USD), Dinner: Buffet 25,000 Kip(3.20USD) = 7.60USD

Water: 2000 kip (.25USD)

Muong Ngoi Baseline: 10.25 USD/Day





(Yes, Bangkok is cheaper than the beach towns down south.  But its status as our cheapest in Thailand will no doubt be claimed by one of the towns of Northern Thailand when we return.)

Room: Double room at CH Guesthouse 240 baht/8USD

Food: Breakfast: 1USD street pad thai Lunch: 1USD street pad thai Dinner curry and rice 2.50USD = 4.50USD

Water: 10 baht (.30USD) for refill

Bangkok Baseline: 9.40USD/Day




Room: Lemon Dew Double room: 350 rupee (7USD)

Food: Breakfast (chapatti, egg curry, coffee): 50rupee (1USD), Lunch/Dinner (chapatti, aloo chat, lime soda): 80 rupee (1.60USD) = 4.20USD/day

Water: 10 Rupees x 3 = .60USD

Bonus Tourist trip!: Ferry from Alleppey to Kottayam: 10rupee (.20USD)

Alleppey Baseline8.5USD



Lakeside, Pokhara

Lakeside, Pokhara

Room: Hotel Greenland. 400 rupees for double room ($4.60)

Food: Breakfast set 120 rupees (1.20USD), chowmin lunch 80 rupees (.80USD), dinner veggie burger and fries 80 rupees (80USD) = 2.80USD

Water: 10 rupees (.10USD) for bottle refill

Pokhara Baseline: 5.4USD/Day

It’s no surprise to India and Nepal as the cheapest countries, but they are SO CHEAP!  I should point out that rarely, if ever, did we actually spend this little–little costs always. cropped up.  Finally, I’m sure there are cheaper cities in each of these countries that we didn’t visit.  If you know of a cheaper city, please let us know in the comments.
Thanks for reading!

2 responses to “Yeti Budgets: Asia’s Most Affordable Cities

  1. I definitely second Nepal. Trekking around there was one of the cheapest things I’ve ever done, but even living in Kathmandu for a few weeks was an amazing value!

    • You’re absolutely right. Trekking was definitely the cheapest (though perhaps not as much if you count the ACAP permit, etc) but it didn’t seem fair to compare a trekking day to regular days everywhere else.
      The only reason why Pokhara is on the list and not Kathmandu is that I never a room in Kathmadu for less 400 rupees.

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