Southeast Asian travel is a spectacular excursion that offers a fascinating fusion of various cultures, magnificent scenery, and distinctive encounters. Southeast Asia is a well-liked travel destination for tourists from all over the world thanks to its inexpensive rates, friendly hospitality, and well-developed tourism infrastructure.
Southeast Asia is a treasure trove of delights waiting to be discovered, from the busy streets of Bangkok to the age-old temples of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, the picture-perfect beaches of Bali in Indonesia, and the verdant rice terraces of Vietnam’s Sapa region.
The area is renowned for its delectable street fare, lively night markets, and thriving cities. With options for trekking, scuba diving, and exploring pristine national parks, it’s also a haven for outdoor aficionados.
Southeast Asia has reasonably priced airlines, dependable transport networks, and effective train systems, making travel around the region simple. However, it’s crucial to plan ahead and do your homework on things like transportation alternatives, health and safety precautions, and visa requirements.
A journey to Southeast Asia will immerse you in the region’s fascinating history, mouthwatering cuisine, and breathtaking natural beauty. You’ll come away from it with priceless memories and a profound respect for the region’s rich and varied tapestry.
This is one of our favorite areas of the world to travel to and below is our list of some of the most affordable and cheapest cities in Southeast Asia to travel to.
Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
Ho Chi Minh City was previously known as Saigon, is the largest city in Vietnam and lies in the southern part of the country. It has a population of over 10 million people and this bustling city is one you do not want to miss.
Many cities in Southeast Asia have loads of motorbikes and scooters. However, over 95% of the registered forms of transport in the city are either motorbikes or scooters and not many cars. Apparently, during the busy hours, there are over then three million of them zipping through the streets of Ho Chi Minh.
In Vietnamese terms, Ho Chi Minh is more expensive then Da Nang or Hanoi when it comes to accommodation. However, being such a big city there are loads of cheap food options and if you are looking for some bargain shopping go to either Ben Thanh or Binh Tay Markets.
If you are only staying for a few days or week, then I would recommend living and basing yourself around District 1. This is a central area with loads of accommodation, restaurants and great nightlife. Many people will hang out in the backpacker areas of Bui Vien and Pham Ngu Lao. However, go to another area in District 1 around the Bitexco Financial Tower. Yes, it may be a bit more expensive, but you will see a few less tourists in this area as well.
Phnom Phen, Cambodia
Phnom Penh is the capital and biggest city in Cambodia. Yes, it is the arguably the most expensive of the cities in the country, but for many of the other cities in this list it is still the same price or cheaper. The reason I have put this city for the one in Cambodia is what the city has to offer. It is the commercial, cultural and political centre of the country. It lies on the Mekong and Tonlé Sap rivers and was the main centre for both the Khmer Empire and French when they colonized the country.
You can walk along the riverfront that is lined with restaurants and bars check out the Royal Palace, Silver Pagoda, or watch the monks in robes constantly passing you in this Buddhist country. There are many remnants of its French colonial history that make this city unique and a must of anyone traveling to this country.
The prices throughout Cambodia were arguably the cheapest in Southeast Asia. However, with the massive influx of Chinese investors in the country in recent years, it has led brought the prices up a bit. Do not worry though, it is not as cheap to travel here as it was 10 years ago, but it is still one of the cheapest places to visit anywhere in the region and especially if you are comparing it to western prices.
Yangon, formerly known as Rangoon and it is the largest city and capital of Myanmar (formerly Burma). The city has a mix of British colonial architecture, modern high-rises and hundreds of shimmering pagoda and Buddhist temples.
The country never really fully opened up to tourists until 2012 and then an informal travel boycott was lifted in 2014. When it first opened up there was not many hostels or geared to the influx of new visitors to the country, so things were a bit more expensive. However, there has been a lot more hostels opening up and more tourists and tourist facilities, so the prices have dropped dramatically making it one of the most affordable cities in Southeast Asia.
Vientiane is the capital and largest city in the country. Very similar to that of Phnom Penh, Vientiane has a mix of Buddhist temples and French-colonial architecture from its French past. One of the most famous and must-see attractions in Vientiane is the golden 16th century Pha That Luang Buddhist temple, which is a national symbol.
Laos is a landlocked country and you do not get as many tourists to Vientiane as you do to other major cities in Southeast Asia. However, due to it being untainted by mass tourists and having a laid-back atmosphere you will not be disappointed when you visit. Vientiane has a fascinating culture, good restaurants and descent nightlife and being one of the cheapest cities in Southeast Asia you definitely should not miss it.
Located in northern Vietnam, Hanoi is the country’s capital has architecture that has Chinese and French influences. When you visit Hanoi, you most likely be in the Old Quarter where you will find the narrow streets lined with street food stalls, restaurants, bars and other colonial architecture worth visiting. Hanoi is also an excellent to base yourself if you want to visit Halong Bay or Sapa.
Hanoi and Da Nang in Vietnam are arguably my picks for the cheapest cities to visit in the country. The accommodation is affordable, the street food is delicious and cheap and Hanoi is home to Bia Hoi, which is one of the cheapest beers in the world. With all the above being said, yes, I definitely recommend Hanoi and you will not be disappointed.
Da Nang, Vietnam
Da Nang is a coastal city located in central Vietnam and is the commercial and educational city of the country. However, many in the west may think of this city for it being a major hub for the Americans during the Vietnam War. For me, this city is beautiful and with its sandy beaches, the Marble Mountains and pagodas outside city, the famous Dragon Bridge (Cầu Rồng) and is only about 15 minutes from Hội An, which is another city worth visiting.
In recent years, with the city being so cheap to live and the internet great, it has become a digital nomad area for many out there. If you only have the time to visit one area of Vietnam when you come, then I would use Da Nang for your base for its location and affordability.
Bali is a province of Indonesia and the westernmost area of the Lesser Sunda Islands. Yes, many of you out there who have travelled around Indonesia may argue why I have Bali rather than Jakarta or some other city in the country. I am not taking away from the other cities in Indonesia. However, Bali has a great mix of culture, nature, activities and a great array of accommodation and fantastic nightlife, so it should be on this list.
Like our previous city, Da Nang, Bali is a popular digital nomad hub as well in Southeast Asia. As mentioned, Bali has it all for any traveller and if you want nightlife, beach, surfing, great food or yoga and relaxation then Bali is the place. The best part is that for being such a popular destination it is still one of the cheapest places to visit in Southeast Asia.