One of the things that you probably promised to do this year is to start saving. However, one of the goals you probably set for 2017 is to travel more and see the world. Both are good, but aren’t they conflicting? Not really, if you know a thing about frugal traveling. This doesn’t mean you’ll sleep and shower at airports or eat crap throughout your trip. This basically means you get the best value for your money and not spend much for nonessentials.
There is renewed appreciation for Asia among budget travelers and backpackers. The continent is rich in tradition, natural wonders, and is significantly cheaper than the rest of the world. You’d be surprised of how much an Asian tour would cost compared to a trip to Europe or the Americas.
If you’re planning to visit Asia this year, be smart and be wise. Know how you can save money when traveling to Asia, while spending nothing but time and gaining new experiences.
Plan early and plan ahead
The key to frugal travel in Asia, or any part of the world, is planning ahead. You can’t expect to score airfare and great accommodation deals if you only plan weeks before the trip. Have a travel plan on paper so you can manage expenses. You have to decide on what you want to do before you can map out an itinerary. Are you going to an amusement park that charges entrance fees or temples and landmarks that you can visit for free?
You should know that Asia is fast developing. Big cities in Korea and Japan may cost you a fortune, but countries such as Thailand, Cambodia, India or Nepal are perfect for budget travel. There are a lot to do for very little money—visit volcanoes and famous landmarks, swim in beaches, and trek mountains. So before you book a flight, decide where you want to go and which experiences you want to try.
It’s okay to travel off-peak
Most Asian countries, especially Southeast Asia, are tropical. It’s mostly hot and humid there. You don’t have to worry about the dangers of traveling during snow or hurricane season. If you plan to visit stunning beaches, which Asia has a lot of, you can travel in October and still get the tan you want.
Boracay Island in the Philippines is among the top destinations in Asia. The clear waters, gorgeous sunset, powdery white sand, and the epic party scene have made it a consistent favorite. But you shouldn’t worry about going there in September. The sun will still shine. The plus points: there are fewer people (because it could get really crazy there during the summer) and there are discounted rates for hotels, even luxury ones.
Boracay Island is very friendly to tourists and first-time visitors. It is easy to get around, very convenient, and there’s nothing that locals can’t help you with.
When it comes to hotels, choose location over beauty
What do you need in a hotel? A decent bed and a clean bathroom, perhaps? If that’s all that matters to you, then don’t go looking for hotels with a balcony, a view, a bathtub or a lounge. Asian towns and cities that are frequented by tourists are bustling with backpacker hotels. Choose ones that are nearest the train or bus station. Never mind if the space isn’t much, you’re not going to stay in them most of the day anyway.
Drop the tours
One of the practical and frugal tips in traveling anywhere in the world is try to avoid booking tours, unless required. After all, you are exploring. And remember that Asia is a fast-rising continent with developments in transportation, making it very easy to get around. In fact, you can find the most advanced and convenient railway systems in Japan, Korea, and Singapore. Plus, tours are really expensive.
Also, what’s so bad about getting lost?
Eat on the street
If you are adventurous about food, Asia is really the place to be. Asian countries are very unique in terms of history, tradition, way of life, and culture. If you want to dig into a nation’s history, eat the way they do. Food on the streets are not just a feast for the palate, it also provides an authentic glimpse into a country. And then of course, it is cheaper. It even saves you time since you are always on the go. Just don’t forget to be careful if you are allergic to anything, and always bring basic meds with you just in case of stomach upset.
Walk the extra mile
When traveling to Asia, you want to enjoy the sights. You want to take in the rich history as much as you can. The best thing to do is walk. Sure, it could get hot, that’s why you need to wear very comfortable clothes and footwear. Walk as much as you can to get a better feel of the city and the people, and to take better pictures, of course. And did we mention it also helps you save money?
Barter all you want
Now, here’s one of the really helpful frugal tips in traveling in Asia: barter is a way of life. If you want a souvenir from Bali, Indonesia, you can slash half the price and chances are that they will give it to you. Prices are marked up in popular tourist destinations and barter is expected. Just don’t be arrogant, and use your charm.
Bring water everywhere
You have no idea how much bottled water costs around the world. In Singapore for example, a small bottle can cost over US$2. It pays to bring a medium-sized bottle and refill it with free water every time you can. Not only do you save money, you are also doing Mother Earth a favor.
You can never go to Asia and come back as the same person. It will change the way you think about that part of the world that is often depicted to be languishing in poverty, corruption, and social injustice. It will charm you with its rich history and tradition, unique culture, friendly people, and yes, affordable cost of living.