For any travelers seeking an end-of-summer thrill, here are ten tips for travelling in Asia on the cheap. Some of these may seem obvious, but it is good to remember them before travelling into the unknown.
1) If you are going to drink on your holiday, choose a hostel that gives out drinks for cheap. Mad Monkey Hostel in Cambodia gives out free shots every hour and gives out free beer coupons for their bar when you check in (beer is normally 50 cents in Cambodia during happy hour). They also have a free keg of beer every night so if you get to the bar early enough, you may be in for a free night. Prince of Wales in Singapore gives you free alcohol if you stay for more than two nights. This saves you more in Singapore where alcohol is costly.
2) Try to only drink during happy hour – in places like Cambodia, their happy hour lasts the whole day for some places. Drinking during any other time can be a rip off.
3) Do a bit of research on the prices you should be paying for things before you go. Bargaining is a must but if you do not know how much you should be paying for something, then you almost always pay double of what you should be paying. This also saves you the embarrassment of quoting a price that is too low, making you look a little stingy.
4) Do not get sucked in by gimmicks– avoid huge productions of local dancing that you could see by a local company instead of a hotel chain, for example. The big productions are always the ones that are advertised more by the travel desk in your hostel.
5) Never buy something before checking its price somewhere else. Unless it is original art, the repetition of things sold at the markets in Asia is very apparent.
6) Print out research on places you are going to see so that you won’t need a guide when you get there.
7) Walk when you can. Especially in places like India, walking can give you the best moments of your whole trip. How else would you be able to be up close to a cow walking on the road or an independent shop tucked in a corner of the street? Avoid walking after it has rained in places like Cambodia and India, the streets can get so muddy that they are impossible to walk on.
8) If you want to stay in a hotel instead of a hostel, book it as last minute as you can so that you get a 50% discount. This works well if you want to stay in a nice hotel for one night, giving you a better guarantee that you get a room.
9) On the Asian budget flights, food is expensive so pre-plan and bring your own before you get to the airport. You cannot bring liquids on the flight but food is allowed.
10) Book your stays with new hotels or hostels. Especially in Vietnam, they charge an extremely cheap price if the hotel is new. Look at agoda.com and look for ones that give a discounted opening price.