Tag Archives: Nepal

Yeti Budgets: 9 months, 9 places, 9 budgets

We left Korea just over a year ago with a fair chunk of casholah in the bank and the intention to make it last as long as we could, without depriving ourselves of life essentials, like coke, beer, and the occasional air-conditioned room.

We spent the first few months (and our first few thousand dollars) in New Zealand, where we all but ignored boring things like budgets. Since then, we’ve spent nine months in Asia, and have kept a pretty close eye on our spending.

Our aim was a daily budget of $25 each (not including international flights or visas) and so far we’ve been pretty on point. Well, mostly (stupid Myanmar, ruining it for everybody). From most to least expensive, here’s what we ended up spending in the nine countries we’ve visited so far:

Myanmar: $52.95 altogether/$26.50 each

Hanging with our gracious host on the Kalaw - Inle Lake

Hanging with our gracious host on the Kalaw – Inle Lake

Our most expensive place, but to be honest we expected it to be much worse. Everything except accommodation was actually wicked cheap, but the $20 – $40 rooms kicked up the budget pretty solidly. Read more here.

Borneo (including Brunei): $49.43 altogether/$24.72 each

Our orangutan buddy at Semenggoh Nature Reserve, Kuching.

Our orangutan buddy at Semenggoh Nature Reserve, Kuching.

Borneo earned the dubious honour of second place on this list mostly thanks to a mad grocery shopping spree in Brunei (oatmeal! soy milk! peanut butter!) and a few flights. Apart from that, it was very much like Mainland Malaysia — cheap food, slightly expensive (in the context of South and South-East Asia, that is) accommodation. Read more here.

Mainland Malaysia: $45.40 altogether/$22.70 each

Kek Lok Si Temple, Penang.

Kek Lok Si Temple, Penang.

Cheap food, stupidly expensive beer, in-between accommodation and transport. Read more here.

Thailand: $44.45 together/$22.23 each

Haad Tien, Koh Phang An.

Haad Tien, Koh Phang An.


This portion of our trip only included Southern Thailand (Koh Samui, Koh Phang An, Ao Ton Sai, and Ao Nang) which we’ve heard (and hope) is a little pricier than the North. We splurged on buckets of booze and a resort with a pool, but saved on entrance fees and activities, by basically playing board games and lying on the beach all day long. It’s a hard life… Read more here.

Nepal: $40.91 altogether/$20.45 each

Phewa Tal, Pokhara

Phewa Tal, Pokhara

I think Nepal actually had the potential to be one of the cheapest countries we visited. You don’t have to look hard at all to find a $1.50 plate of dal baht or a $5 room. In this case, our pre-hike preparations and post-hike celebrations probably upped the spending a little (and I wouldn’t have it any other way). Read more here.

Cambodia: $20.12/day

Royal Palace, Phnom Penh.

Royal Palace, Phnom Penh.

I traveled solo in Cambodia, and spent a wee bit more on accommodation than  I would have if I had shared. That said, I also stayed in some $2- $3 dorms and ate a fair few street food meals. Read more here.

India:  $35.22 altogether/$17.61 each

I actually have no idea where we took this one! Some rad dudes, somewhere in India.

I actually have no idea where we took this one! Some rad dudes, somewhere in India.

Travel and food in India were so cheap. 12 hour train rides for $6, three samosas for 40c, 5c chapati… Accommodation was a little more than Nepal and Laos, though, and we paid a museum/palace/temple entrance fee almost daily. Read more here.

Laos: $35.06 altogether/$17.53 each

The view from our bungalow in Nong Khiaw.

The view from our bungalow in Nong Khiaw.

Good job, Laos! Second best! The accommodation in Laos was great value, the beer was cheap, and the baguettes were enormous. An easy place to be a budget traveller, for sure.  Read more here.

Goa: $15.30/day

Monsoon in Goa: green as green can be.

Monsoon in Goa: green as green can be.

I feel like including Goa in the list is a wee bit of a cheat. Living alone in an apartment, cooking every meal at home, and only catching the occasional local bus is bound to be a bit cheaper than backpacking your way around an entire country. That said, it’s always nice to know that you can live in a rad apartment, and eat all the oatmeal and chickpeas you want for around $500 a month.    Read more here.

Overall Daily Average: $41.58 altogether/$20.79 each
Monthly Average: $1270 altogether/$635 each

Bear in mind that our daily spending does not include international flights or visas. Adding these in probably adds $100 – 200 each/month. Still, $850/month for all of the above? Not too shabby.

Annapurna Circuit: Roads, Jeeps, and Cheaters.

Very few people walk the Annapurna Circuit as a real, complete circuit. To do so would require a pretty harsh (and arguably not too exciting) couple of days of road walking on either end of the trek to and from Pokhara. However, as the jeep road gets longer, the section of the trek that people choose to actually, well, trek is getting shorter.

Traditionally, most hikers started from Besisahar, spent about 5-10 days ascending to Thorung La, then descend through Muktinath to Nayapul, often with a stop at Poon Hill on the way.

Now, an increasingly large chunk of trekkers bypass the first few villages entirely, taking jeeps to Chame, currently the last stop on the jeep road. Obviously, this has a huge impact on the trekking villages before Chame, who have long relied on a steady stream of trekkers to provide their income.

We started in Besisahar, and spent our first night in Bahundanda, a gorgeous town, perched at the top of one of the first significant climbs of the trek. Bahundanda has amazing panoramic views of the valley and a handful of great guesthouses, yet, as the owner of our guesthouse told us, the number of visitors to the village has dropped dramatically in the past few years, leaving lodge owners saddled with unprofitable businesses, and no real options to improve their circumstances.

Admittedly, there are a few (not insignificant) benefits to the road. Villagers have easier, much quicker access to hospitals now, and – in theory, at least – the road has opened up trade between villagers and nearby larger cities. That said, the overwhelming sentiment (from villagers, porters, and seasoned AC trekkers) seems to be that the road was constructed by the government with its own interests at heart, and with little thought to the significant consequences it would have on tourism in the area.

Even ignoring the impact on the local economy entirely, there are some pretty compelling selfish reasons to do the whole thing. For me, one of the most fascinating things about the circuit was the transition —  for the first few days, you’re tucked away in a deep valley, following a river through villages, passing crowds of school kids. On day three or so, the views really kick in. The track climbs out of the valley, and quickly you’re surrounded by dramatic mountain vistas on all sides.

Now, it would be a little hard to argue that the first few days are as stunning as those proceeding, but, as Ahimsa said, skipping the initial sections is kind of like ‘skipping foreplay, and just sticking it in.’

Plus, trekkers really have no excuse for skipping this section. We found the jeep roads pretty pleasant to walk on for the most part, and, if you want to avoid them, NATT has created an amazing set of alternative trails. Using these, the time you have to spend on the roads is extremely short.

Lastly (but not leastly), I firmly believe that if you skip the first part, you are a big, fat cheater*. Yep, if I see you wearing a ‘Annapurna Circuit’ t-shirt and find out that you only started in Chame, I will do my best to spill something on it.

Not convinced? Here’s what we would have missed, if we’d jeeped into Chame and out of Jomsom:

Bahundanda

The view from our guesthouse in Bahundanda

Day 2 views

Day 2 views

Riverbed just past Jomsom

Riverbed just past Jomsom

The garden at our guesthouse in Tatopani

The garden at our guesthouse in Tatopani

On the way to Tatopani

On the way to Tatopani

*(I’m half kidding, but mostly not.)