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Is SE Asia overrated as a cheap destination?


Aug 7th, 2016, 07:46 AM
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Is SE Asia overrated as a cheap destination?

First, you have to get vaccinations. That's $200-$400 on average.
Second, the airfare to Asia is expensive.
Third, there are no budget airlines between Asian cities. Siem Reap to Bangkok, for instance, costs $300.

So yeah maybe food and accommodation are cheap, but this is not a place where you skimp on lodging or stick to street food, considering the low hygiene standards and dirty hostels.

Why do people say Asia is cheap, when you can find a ticket to Europe for only $500.
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Aug 7th, 2016, 09:35 AM
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I don't know where you live that vaccines cost $200-400. For Thailand and Cambodia, you only need routine vaccines you would need to stay at home like Tetanus/diptheria, Hep A, vaccines against childhood diseases like measles/mumps/rubella plus typhoid (which cost me $40 without insurance coverage for the oral vaccine).

Getting to SE Asia, whether from North America or Europe is expensive, no question.

There are lots of budget airlines in SE Asia - look at Air Asia, for instance. They don't go everywhere, and Siem Reap is a special case. But if Siem Reap is a must-visit for you, there are ways to get there overland from Bangkok or from VN. And there is the Bangkok Air Discovery Pass for something like $110 per leg if you buy three or more legs.

Food and accommodation are cheap - even if you opt for hotels rather than hostels. Plenty of people do eat street food, but even in restaurants and food courts, food is inexpensive.

But I can't imagine why anyone would visit only because it is "cheap." If this amazing part of the world doesn't interest you, then don't go. But I find it the most fascinating part of the world - even after a couple of dozen visits.

(And I don't know where you live that you can find flights to Europe for $500. Certainly that isn't true for where I live!)
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Aug 7th, 2016, 04:32 PM
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I know you didn't ask before writing off this incredible part of the world, but I think you've been given some bad information.

Go to Travelfish.com or Hostelworld.com to find out just how many lovely places there are for the budget and super-budget travelers. Or while you're here, why don't you ask how we travel so nicely in Asia.

You can stay in some really lovely little hostels and inns in Bangkok for $10- $25 dollars. Nothing dirty or unsafe about them. Last february, I needed an overnight hotel at BKK airport, so I stayed in a nice little hotel that looked like a fancy tropical resort for $30 a night including airport shuttle. I spend about $7 for my favorite meal in a food court, including an iced Thai Tea or a Beer.

You can fly BKK to Siem Reap for a lot less than $300 on Air Asia or Cambodia Angkor air, or fly into Phnom Penh and use a taxi or bus to get to Siem ream for about $100 total. Or go by train and taxi and spend about $50.

Most guest houses in Siem Reap are about $15 to $20 for a room with private bath and AC. Hotels start at about $35. The one I like has daily maid service, and is immaculate. Siem Reap food is very safe. You can safely have ice in your drinks and eat a good local meal for about $3, or splurge and have a gourmet meal and a great bottle of wine for less that $50.
An all-day temple pass is $20, a guide is $25 and a tuktuk with driver is $15. Or rent a bike for $2 a day.

There are lots of other places that offer even more bang for your buck. Indonesia, Laos, Vietnam and Malaysia, to name a few. Transportation is safe and very cheap, and the food is awesome. Even Japan, with the current exchange rates is a lot less expensive that most European destinations, and it's pretty hard to find a dirty room or restaurant..

Sure it may cost more to get to Asia, but generally it is a LOT cheaper to travel on a budget or even if you like to pay for luxury. You just need to do some homework.
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Aug 7th, 2016, 04:52 PM
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>>Why do people say Asia is cheap, when you can find a ticket to Europe for only $500.<<

Entirely depends where you are flying from. From the west coast US for instance -- airfares (of the same class) are about the same or a little cheaper to Asia.

And Kathie is right about vaccinations - if someone is charging you $400 you are being taken.
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Aug 7th, 2016, 06:00 PM
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go to a travel clinic or shop around for your shots---even your town health department...

from boston/ny I can fly to bkk for $800-1300 and given the distance that is not that much. my wife and I are flying with Qatar in December for $100. for the two of us... CA is $350-450....
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Aug 7th, 2016, 09:04 PM
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Previous posters have done a lovely job explaining the actual costs to you, so I will address the real question, I think, which is what is it that draws us to Southeast Asia?

For me, I like the sunsets over the rivers, and the warm, friend and easy going people. My favorite moments include:

1. Walking across the U Bein Bridge near Mandalay, Burma: This is the longest wooden bridge in the world, and as we walked across, so many people stopped to talk to us, and we had some great conversations. Our taxi driver arranged for a boatman to take us out on the river for sunset, and it was gorgeous.

2. Hiking in the Kelabit Highlands in East Malaysia: I found the most wonderful guide who spent three days with me hiking in the jungle, although I went back to my homestay each night. One day, we passed a pasture with cows and horses behind some fences. He did some sort of animal call, and every single one of the animals come towards us.

3. Chatting with monks in Battambang, Cambodia: Monks everywhere in SEA want to practice their English, but I met a school principle and his assistant, who were both monks. We spent quite a long time comparing the educational systems in the US and Cambodia.

4. Hiking in Sapa, Vietnam with a young Hmong woman: I spent two days hiking with my Sapa guide. At first she was shy, but when she saw that I took a genuine interest in her life, she chatted away.

I could go on and on....
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Aug 7th, 2016, 11:18 PM
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Not everyone lives wherever it is that you reside, OP. Had you included that on your profile, we may have had some insight into where you're coming from, geographically, if not philosophically.

For some of us, it's very cheap to fly to various areas in SEAsia, were that the only attraction. For many, it may have been the reason for an initial trip that turned into a lifelong love affair with a fascinating part of the world.

For me, it's the exotic differences in food, landscapes, the sights, sounds & smells, languid tropical air in the warmer places, bracing cold elsewhere.

And above all that, the warmth & generosity of the people; many of whom have significantly less in the material sense and so much more in many other aspects of life, than their western visitors.

I love a bargain as much as the next person & certainly appreciate the many modest prices. I suppose it's a matter of perspective & the type of travel you enjoy. Not everything is super cheap by my standards in all of the places I've visited so far. ( China, Indonesia, Thailand, Nepal & Bhutan)

I like to mix it up & have also enjoyed some quite expensive experiences.

The ones that spring to mind this minute - being invited home to my Guide's grandparents' home in Bhaktapur for a family New Year gathering; to another guide's home in KTM for Saturday lunch; trying to learn mahjong from a friend's mother in Hong Kong, amongst shrieks of laughter - and watching the sunrise glinting on snow capped mountains in Bhutan ... cost not a cent, and were priceless.

Wherever one lives in the world, we're likely to have cheaper fares & more expensive fares to the places we go. I'd love to be able to nip off to one of the of the European countries for $500. I can't though & that's neither a reason to denigrate those places - or to want to move.
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Aug 8th, 2016, 08:28 AM
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correction----t/s/b/ $1100. for 2 above
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Aug 10th, 2016, 02:03 AM
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True that it might be cheaper for you to go to Europe or some part of Europe. Depends on where you live.

As far as immunizations, those aren't necessarily part of the trip. Once you have them, you generally don't have to re-do them often. So then the next trip, they're "free".

You've picked a unique example in Siem Reap. If you're going to pick a very specific site that is limited in space and not the best connected, you should do the same with the Europe trip. Siem Reap = maybe... Venice.

Compare city to city. How much does it cost to visit Bangkok vs London or Paris? Then factor in air based on what you'd really pay for it (will you take anything or wait for a sale? eg, IS "I can get a flight to Europe for ____" coming from having seen the fare advertised? Then so too should the Asia fare you use to compare (which WILL be higher from some of the US... and of course much lower from here in Australia)

Overall, when we used to live in the middle US, I think it turned out to be about even compared with less expensive European countries like Spain and Romania. Cheaper compared to Ireland and England at the time.

For instance, in Hanoi we were staying in good style for about $150 per day. And that's a nice good size room in a great hotel, eating, drinking, entry fees and taxis for 3 people. We flew each way to Laos for $70pp. Overnight rail was cheap too. Yes, it would cost more to get there, and you could find a guesthouse for a similar price in France or something, but it's not exactly apples to apples because you can also find a guesthouse in Cambodia for $7 (including breakfast)
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Aug 16th, 2016, 06:15 PM
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My best friend just booked a week in Bangkok, airfare, hotel and taxes included for less than $700. and flying out of here ( L.A.) So, she will fly over to rest, eat, and shop. It will be for a Dec 01 departure date. I'll be leaving a few weeks after her, but have a much longer travel schedule and thus made different types of arrangements. But, getting low airfares, out of L.A., isn't that difficult depending on when one plans to travel.

Happy Travels!
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Aug 18th, 2016, 02:19 PM
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A lot of vaccines are really expensive if you don't have insurance, in the US, so it could cost $300 for several easily. I work in health policy consulting and just did a project on vaccine costs, and know that Hep A costs $65 on average for the doctor to buy it, for example, and they usually mark it up to the patient, of course. MMR also costs about $65 to the doctor to buy. Varicella costs a bit over $100. Typhoid vaccine costs around $80. And then the doctor will likely charge an office visit, also, easily at least $100. So that part of this post is not ridiculous.

But the vaccines recommended for Thailand are routine ones you should get anyway (DTap, MMR, Varicella, Hep A). SOme may want typhoid depending where you are going, and that isn't routine.

I have no comment on the rest, not having been there.
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