How to Plan Your Backpacking Budget
Getting Started Backpacking 4

"A Travel Budget Planner with useful Budget Advice"

"Getting Started Backpacking 4" was last updated on April 13, 2012
All information below is subject to change

Budget Travel Guide:
How much money will a backpacking trip cost me?

getting started backpacking tips
Getting started backpacking 4

This highly depends on how long you're going to travel, and what kind of vacation you want to have.

Do you want to live on rock-buttom budget, mid-range or a mix of it?

It's cheap in Asia, especially in India and Laos.

The prices have gone a little higher though since the financial crisis in 2008, but it's still cheap to stay there.

In my opinion if you're not one of those who is losing their job and actually lives the same life as before the crisis, it's still important to travel and use money.

As you've probably heard, this makes the money flow in society. Countries like Thailand have tourism as their livelihood, and is dependent on backpackers and tourists.

Here are a few things you should consider
when deciding a travel budget
Getting started backpacking 4

  1. Either you're studying and considering a sabbath year, or you're in a career -- find out how long you can be away from work or studies.

  2. It's better to have more than enough cash on a shorter trip, than being on a survival level on a longer trip.

  3. Even though it's cheap in Asia, there are strong variations in prices -- it can be more "expensive" on Ko Phi Phi island than in Chang Mai Thailand. And if you're going to Angkor Cambodia, you'll have to expect to pay around $35 for a day-trip (included one-day pass).

    Cheap Flights to Asia:

  4. Save up more than enough money. There wil be unexpected expenses, and you have to be able to handle this.

    My main rule is to save an amount that equals 1/3 of your travel budget, and put this in a separate account.

  5. If you get tired of staying at hostels and guest houses during your trip, that's normal. You can spend a few nights at a hotel or a resort, but the luxury will of course cost you extra money.

  6. Even though you've planned to stay on low-priced guest houses the entire trip, the chances of changing your mind during your vacation are big.

    Example: You think you can survive without air-conditioner pre-departure. But when you've been hit by the hot climate in Cambodia, the chances of altering your plans are huge. A room with air-conditioner cost more than without...!

  7. You should have money left when returning home. You'll need the time to relax, and not go straight to work right away.

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So, you want to know exactly
how much a backpacking trip
will cost you?
Getting started backpacking 4

Let's face it. You can never know exactly how much you're going to spend. I can't think of any backpacker who has used the budget they planned from the start.

But I will still give you examples of how much it will cost you.

Don't forget that your budget highly depends on how much beers, shopping and activities you're planning on!

The AVERAGE prices listed below are for the high season. It's even cheaper during the low season. If you're traveling during the low season, cut the prices for accommodation with 30-50%. Also have in mind that the quoted prices below are for per room/bed/taxi/tuk-tuk.

So if you're three people sharing a room/taxi, divide the quoted prices below in three. The price for food is for one person, and covers three meals.

Budget example in the high season:
(Last updated on Oct 05, 2011)

Daily costs (dorms, food stalls -- three meals and local transport/moped rental):

India: $10

(Rs 150 per dorm bed, Rs 200 food and water, Rs 100 transport)

Malaysia: $10

($3 dorms, $5 food, $2 transport)

Laos: $8

($1-5 dorm/room, $2 food, $1 transport)

Northern Thailand (included Bangkok) + mainland Southern Thailand: $15

(200 B dorm, 150 B food, 100 B transport)

Southern Thailand (the islands): $27

(500 B room/bungalow, 150 B food, 150 B transport)

Cambodia: $9-12

($2-5 dorms, $5 food, $2 transport)

The Philippines: $17

(300-400 PHP dorm/room, 200 PHP food, 200 PHP transport)

Daily costs (mid-range accommodation, better-quality food -- three meals, and use of minibuses/VIP buses/Tuk-Tuks/taxis)

India: $30

(Rs 800 room, Rs 350 food, Rs 100 transport)

Northern Thailand (included Bangkok) + mainland Southern Thailand: $38

(600 B room, 400 B food, 150 B transport)

Southern Thailand (the islands): $52

(1000 B room, 450 B food, 150 B transport)

Cambodia: $45

($15 room, $25 food, $5 transport)

Laos: $35

($15 room, $15 food, $5 transport)

Malaysia: $45

($20 room, $20 food, $5 transport)

The Philippines: $48

(PHP800-1000 room, 900 PHP food, 300 PHP transport)

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Additional Costs in Asia
Getting started backpacking 4

Here are the costs for the typical backpacker activities in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia and India:

Budget Example (average prices):

Listed prices are subject to change
(last updated July 17, 2010)


PADI Open Water Diving course: 10 000- 13 000 B (depending on where you want to dive)

Snorkelling equipment rental: 50 B per day

Long-tail boat rental: 2000 B (250-300 B per person if sharing full boat)

Bike rental: 50-80 per day

Bicycle rental: 30 B

Tuk-Tuk/taxi in Bangkok and Chiang Mai: 50 B in Chiang Mai, 30-150 B in Bangkok (depends on distance)

Internet surfing: 20-40 B per hour


Tubing: 5000 Kip

Caving (Vang Vieng): 30 000-40 000 Kip (Songthaew + fee bridge crossing + guide + tube rental)

Bike rental for day trips: $8 a day

Bicycle rental: 10 000 Kip per day

Sharing a full Songthaew: 2000 Kip per person

Internet surfing: 100-200 Kip per minute (Luang Prabang), 1000 Kip per minute (Don Det).


Angkor trip: $30-40 (1 day pass + Tuk-Tuk)

Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum: $3

Killing Fields: $3

Bike rental: $3-4

Bicycle rental: $2

Transport around town (Tuk-Tuk): 2000 riel = half a dollar (if you bargain hard, or else $2)

Internet surfing: 3000 riel


Bike rental: Rs 80-250 per day (depends on bike model and where you`re renting it)

Internet surfing: Average Rs 40 per hour


Here are some average prices for Malaysia!

Want a more detailed budget example for Asia? Check out my free tutorial: How to create and manage a backpacking budget

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