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7 Cheapest Countries to Visit in Southeast Asia

Sep 10, 2022 | Asia | 0 comments

Southeast Asia is well known as an amazing place to visit. From its pristine beaches to friendly locals, there are no shortage of reasons for you to visit. Moreover, Southeast Asian countries carry a reputation for being relatively cheap to visit.

But which Southeast Asian country is actually the cheapest to visit? In this article, we are going to dive into the data and discover the cheapest countries to visit in Southeast Asia.

What is the Cheapest Country to Visit in Southeast Asia?

What may come to a shock to many of our readers was that Thailand, often touted as a cheap place to visit in Southeast Asia, is actually the most expensive country on this list. The cheapest country to visit in Southeast Asia by far is Laos, with an average daily cost of $16, followed by Cambodia and Indonesia each with an average daily cost of $49, and then Vietnam with an average daily cost of $51.

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All data was collected from Feel free to check out their website to get more specific data on any location you are interested in. Additionally, please use their site when you travel to help us all get more accurate data!

Before you hurry up and book your ticket to Laos, however, be sure to check out how the spending varied between the countries on this list. For instance, while Laos is only $16 a day, it leaves only a few dollars per day to go do things. So, this may not be suitable for many travelers. This is in contrast to the next country on the list, Cambodia, which leaves nearly 40% of the daily budget for entertainment or Thailand which leaves over 50% for entertainment.

Moreover, it is possible that the travelers who have input data for Laos went for a much more minimal approach than travelers in other countries. Due to the nature of this discrepancy, I recommend you read’s post on a detailed budget breakdown on Laos travel if it is something you are considering.

So, if you are the type of traveler who just wants to take a load off for cheap, be sure to look more closely at the accommodation and food costs, as these costs may be more reflective of the trip you are after.

Also, be sure to keep in mind that these numbers are averages, and do not reflect every traveler. This list serves as a launching pad for finding places to go, but be sure to look ahead in terms of what the experience you want will cost in each country.

1. Laos – $16 per person, per day

Luang Prabang, Laos

From the cost breakdown of Laos, which leaves only a few dollars per person per day of spending money, it is quite clear that Laos is not so much about entertainment and nightlife as the other destinations on this list. By contrast, Laos is a great place to rest, reset, and recover when traveling through Southeast Asia.

There are many places to visit within Laos as well. Some popular destinations in Laos include Luang Prabang, Vientiane, and Tham Kong Lo. Luang Prabang is a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to the temples that reside there, and the city also sits within a set of very lush hills, making for incredible views of the town below. Vientiane is the capital of Laos, from which you can visit many temples temples and learn about Laotian history. Tham Kong Lo is a karst limestone cave that you are able to traverse through, and is considered to be one of Lao’s hidden gems.

Vang Vieng, Laos – $16 Per Person, Per Day

However, if you are looking for a bit more of a nightlife scene within Laos, then you should certainly visit Vang Vieng. The town is meant for tourists, and thus is quite scenic and has a much more lively vibe than other parts of Laos. Moreover, Vang Vieng is in an incredibly beautiful part of Laos, so there is lots for you to explore during the day as well.

When is it best to Visit Laos?

Laos, like many countries in Southeast Asia, does not have four seasons. Instead, they tend to have a wet, hot season and a cooler, dry season. Of course, it is best to visit during the cooler, dry season as you won’t have to worry so much about the rain. This cooler, dry season generally runs from November to April, while the hotter, wet season generally runs from May to October. Thus, you should visit from November to April.

Countries to Visit in Southeast Asia from Laos

Laos is is neighbors with Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand, which all hold other spots on this list and are great countries to visit before or after visiting Laos. So, if you are taking a longer trip through the region, Laos is a great launchpad into other countries as well.

This works especially well as Laos is both more inexpensive and laid back. So, when taking a trip through southeast Asia, Laos can make for a great place to recharge.

2. Cambodia – $49 per person, per day

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Cambodia, famous for the Angkor Wat, comes in on second on this list. While it is tied with Indonesia for overall daily average spend, we gave second place to Cambodia due to its lower accommodation costs, which is typically harder to find than cheap food.

Most travelers leave Cambodia after visiting the Angkor Wat, but for the budget conscious traveler there is much to explore in this nation, with a vast array of temples and natural sights to behold. A great example is Prasat Preah Vihear. This temple rests atop a mountain, allowing you to simultaneously experience the culture and history of the temple as well as the beauty of the surrounding landscape.

Battambang, Cambodia – $26 Per Person, Per Day

Another great town to travel to in Cambodia is Battambang, which is more in the countryside of Cambodia. There are a number of temples that you can visit from this location, but more than that, it is incredibly rural. This gives it a much more relaxed vibe.

But there are plenty of more conventional travel destinations in Cambodia as well. For instance, Koh Rong Samloem island is a place to visit for those who want a more quiet beach.

Want to know more about great places to visit in Vietnam and Cambodia? Check out our article on the top 10 places to visit in Vietnam and Cambodia.

When is it Best to Visit Cambodia?

Cambodia’s climate is incredibly similar to Laos’s. There is a hot, wet season, and a cool, dry season. It is recommended to visit in the cool, dry season which runs from November to May. Otherwise, you may find yourself caught up in the rain too much to enjoy the great sights Cambodia has to offer.

Countries to Visit in Southeast Asia from Cambodia

Cambodia is quite central on the continental part of Southeast Asia. It shares borders with Thailand, Vietnam, and Laos. Any of these countries are great to pair with a trip to Cambodia. In fact, there are options to take a boat (with a transfer) from Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) to Phnom Penh, the capital and most famous city in Cambodia (from where you can visit the Angkor Wat). The opposite is also possible, taking you from Cambodia to Vietnam. Alternatively, you could go west to Thailand as well.

3. Indonesia – $49 per person, per day

A Sunset in Bali, Indonesia

Indonesia, a nation made up of many islands, is up next with a cost of $49 per person, per day. The fact that Indonesia is an archipelago means good news and bad news depending on your goals while traveling. If your goal is to visit the beach, great news, Indonesia has plenty of fantastic beaches and ocean activities.

Bali, Indonesia – $62 Per Person, Per Day

The most famous travel destination in Indonesia is without a doubt Bali, a stunning island in Indonesia, which is often referred to as ‘The Land of the Gods’. There is an astounding amount of natural beauty from the beaches, volcanic, and lush landscapes. Moreover, there is plenty to experience in terms of culture as well, as Bali has a very large number of Hindu temples as well for travelers to visit.

There is, however, one downside to Bali: the number of travelers.

Lombok, Indonesia – $45 Per Person, Per Day

Thus, it is becoming increasingly popular to visit other islands in Indonesia, such as Lombok. Lombok has a lot of the same natural appeal that Bali does, but the tourism sector is not quite as developed. This means less tourists if you’re looking for a quiet, peaceful vacation, but may also mean less amenities.

However, if your goal is to visit a number of nations while visiting Southeast Asia, then unfortunately Indonesia may not be the best choice due to its separation from other nations on this list. The exception to this would be Malaysia, as Indonesia does border Malaysia on one island.

When is it Best to Visit Indonesia?

Unfortunately, it isn’t so clear when it comes to what time is best to visit Indonesia as it varies from region to region as it is made up of so many different islands which are spread apart. However, as a general rule of thumb Indonesia’s dry season runs from April to October, while the wet season runs from November to March. Thus, it is best to visit from April to October as it will be less rainy. This is the opposite of Laos and Cambodia which were previously explored on this list.

4. Vietnam – $51 per person, per day

Lan Ha Bay, Vietnam

Vietnam, known for its extensive history, beautiful sights, and world-class food is next on this list. Vietnam has a range of attractions for the curious and adventurous traveler.

Hanoi, Vietnam – $41 Per Person, Per Day

Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, serves as a great place to stay for making day trips in North Vietnam. For instance, many trips to Ha Long Bay or Lan Ha Bay are organized as day trips leaving from Hanoi. This provides a great deal of flexibility when staying in Vietnam, as you don’t have to be quite so deterministic in your itinerary beforehand.

Sapa, Vietnam – $30 Per Person, Per Day

Another location you could take a trip to from Hanoi is Sapa. Sapa is a rural town in Vietnam which is much quieter than other towns, and has lush, green fields. But, it is also home to the tallest mountain in Vietnam: Fansipan. After taking a cable ride up to the top you will be able to see the beauty of Sapa down below as you stand in the Bich Van Thien Tu temple. If you want a truly unforgettable experience, a homestay in Sapa is recommended as well.

Want to know more about great places to visit in Vietnam and Cambodia? Check out our article on the top 10 places to visit in Vietnam and Cambodia.

When is it Best to Visit Vietnam?

Vietnam’s North and South have quite distinct climates from one another. In Southern Vietnam, there is a wet season and a dry season much like Cambodia and Laos. The dry season, which is the best time to visit, runs from December to May. However, the best time to visit Northern Vietnam, is generally October to December while it is sunnier and less cold. But, it is generally best to research the individual areas you would like to go in Vietnam as the climate varies greatly from region to region.

However, you do need to aware of Tet. In this time many Vietnamese people will celebrate by going home to their families, which can leave tourists, well, stranded. Always be sure to check when Tet is to make sure that if you are visiting everything is arranged well in advance. This may be a good time to find a place to relax, but it wouldn’t be the best time to try and go city-hopping. This is especially true as there will be large migration of locals going to see their families as well.

Countries to Visit in Southeast Asia from Vietnam

If you are traveling through Vietnam and looking to move on to somewhere else in the region, your best bets are without a doubt Laos and Cambodia. Located on the western border of Vietnam, it is convenient to travel to either of these countries. However, if you are in the North, such as around Hanoi, it is closer to go to Laos. However, if you are in the South, it is closer to go to Vietnam. In fact, you can ride a boat from Saigon to Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia (although it is not nonstop).

5. The Philippines – $52 per person, per day

The beautiful blue waters of the Philippines

The Philippines is an archipelago nation much like Indonesia, but the Philippines has one key differentiating factor from Indonesia and every other nation on this list so far: the people of the Philippines speak English relatively well (the second best in Asia). So, for any first time travelers looking to ease into international travel or travelers who want to avoid communications issues, the Philippines is a great choice.

Boracay, Philippines – $44 Per Person, Per Day

Moreover, the Philippines has a wide range of beautiful beaches and a well developed tourism industry. If you are looking for a classic getaway experience, Boracay is the answer. It hosts an absolutely stunning white beach which as far as classic beaches go, it is absolutely picturesque.

When is it Best to Visit the Philippines?

The Philippines has a wet and dry season much like many countries in Southeast Asia. So, it is best to visit the Philippines during the dry season in order to avoid the rain, which would really put a hamper in any beach plans. The dry season of the Philippines runs from November to April. However, the coolest months of the dry season are from December to February. However, this also means more tourists, so you must balance your weather tolerance and tourist tolerance accordingly.

6. Malaysia – $67 per person, per day

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Similarly to the people of the Philippines, Malaysian people speak English quite well also (Malaysia is the third best in Asia, right behind the Philippines). However, Malaysia is most well known for its unique culture and diversity. The three major ethnicities in Malaysia are Malay (Bumiputra), Chinese, and Indian. So, if you are looking for a wide range of cultural experiences all in one country, Malaysia is certainly a great choice!

Malaysia is also home to a number of stunning natural locations such the Batu Caves outside of Kuala Lumpur, or the Cameron Highlands, a set of winding, wavy hills which nearly appear almost as an optical illusion. Indonesia also has many islands and coasts which are home to beautiful beaches as well.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – $49 Per Person, Per Day

However, if nightlife is your thing, Kuala Lumpur is the destination for you. During the day you can take a trip up the Petronas Towers (the tallest set of towers pictured above), and take a view from the observation deck. Then, as nightfall comes you can make your way over to the Golden Triangle. This area is the commercial and shopping hub of Kuala Lumpur, as well as the nightlife hub. You won’t find yourself with a shortage of things to do.

So, if you were looking for a way to ease into your trip to Southeast Asia, one great plan would be to start in Malaysia where you may feel more comfortable due to the prevalence of English, and then move your way through Thailand, and then Cambodia and Laos, and then finally to Vietnam.

When is it Best to Visit Malaysia?

Malaysia, has a number of varied climates depending on where you are in the country at any given time. To understand what time is best, the country needs to be sliced into a few different parts, although you should definitely dig deeper into the specific location you want to go to. For Peninsular Malaysia, you can visit the east coast from June to September or December through February for the west coast.

7. Thailand – $89 per person, per day

The Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand

Thailand, certainly the most famous of the countries to visit on this list, does also top out as the most expensive at $89 per day. However, should be noted is that over half of that budget was not going to accommodation or food, meaning that the travelers who went to Thailand are spending a lot more on entertainment. But, this also means that any travelers who do want to visit Thailand and keep it cheap just need to keep their entertainment budget in check and they will be good to go.

To those of you newer to travel in Southeast Asia wondering why Thailand is so famous, the answer is quite clear: great scenery, great people (Thailand is also known as ‘the land of smiles’), great food, great beaches, and great partying. If that sounds like what you’re after, look no further with confidence.

Bangkok, Thailand – $58 Per Person, Per Day

The most popular destination in Thailand by a wide margin is Bangkok, the capital. There are a number of cultural and historical sites to visit in addition to fantastic nightlife and incredible food. Another great upside to Bangkok is how central it is to the whole region of Southeast Asia. It makes for convenient travel to Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, or Malaysia.

Chiang Mai, Thailand – $36 Per Person, Per Day

But, if you’re after a more lowkey destination, then Chiang Mai takes the cake. It is further north than Bangkok and known for having stunning natural beauty as well as just being a great place to relax. The only downside to this is that it is much less central than Bangkok, so it may be difficult to reach other destinations from here. But, there is great infrastructure to go between Chiang Mai and Bangkok, which does negate some of the downside.

When is it Best to Visit Thailand?

Thailand, much like Cambodia, Laos, and the South of Vietnam, has a wet and a dry season. The goal is to visit during the dry season when there is a much lower likelihood of your plans being rained out. Generally speaking, the best time to visit is from November to March, although it once again largely depends on where you will go and what you would like to do.

Countries to Visit in Southeast Asia after Thailand

While Thailand is the most expensive country on this list, it also is the most central, which affords it a unique advantage. From Thailand it is incredibly easy to go east to Cambodia and Laos, or continue on to Vietnam. But, it is also just as easy to go South into Malaysia. Moreover, due to the popularity of Thailand, these routes are fairly well developed and you will not have much trouble getting to other major cities in the region, especially from Bangkok.