Enticing travelers with unspoiled beaches, mouth watering food scenes, and lush jungle landscapes, Southeast Asia stands as one of the world’s most dynamic and popular regions for tourism. Similar to the diverse cultures, cities, and landscapes that define this region, luxury and budget accommodation alike vary considerably in price between countries and time of year. Furthermore, each destination’s high season, which typically involves more temperate, and reliably dry weather conditions, differ as well. Confused? Don't worry. We’ve calculated vacation cost based on high season prices per locale for a week-long duration. Without further ado, here's what a week-long trip for two will cost to these top Southeast Asia destinations.
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The southerly island of Phuket possesses some of Thailand’s most gorgeous coastline, where limestone peaks clad in lush vegetation loom over powdery, white-sand beaches and crystal-clear water. Between offshore coral reefs, outlying islands, jungle treks, and numerous cultural sites, there’s much more to Phuket than just basking on the beach. Scuba diving day trips to the Phi Phi Islands, Racha Yai, and Racha Noi can be easily organized to spot rays, octopus, and the occasional whale shark. A three-dive day trip to any of these islands costs roughly $140 per person on average, while snorkeling excursions to the same reefs can be had for just $50 to $60.
Though Phuket’s traffic is notorious in its more developed western and southern coasts, renting a motorbike can help you zip between cars and explore its more remote corners. One-day rentals are as cheap as $7 per day, plus gas. It’s worth upgrading to a more substantial model (~$20/day) to reach inland sites like Bang Pae and Kathu Waterfalls. Take note that there’s a small entrance fee to enter Bang Pae and swim below the falls. Other popular day trips, such as hiking to the omnipresent Big Buddha statue, lounging on idyllic beaches, and visiting the Gibbon Rehabilitation Center, can be done for free or a modest donation in the case of the latter.
Dining and drinking in Phuket ranges from cheap street eats to Western-style bistros, and a pitcher of Singha beer to crafted cocktails with tropical fruit. Fortunately, most hotels offer free breakfast and fresh fruit for guests, so there are only two meals left to budget for. Given Thai cuisine’s elevated reputation, it’s reasonable to assume visitors will want to sample one local delicacy per day, such as kuey teow noodles or pad Thai ($2 to $4 per person). A multi-course western or international meal costs closer to $15 per person. Throw in a few beers or drinks, and this totals a daily food budget of $25 per person, or $350 for two people for the whole week.
Accounting for excursions, local transportation, and food, a feasible weekly cost for two totals $700. Even during high season, budget airlines, like China Air, offer $600 roundtrip airfare. This brings the total weekly cost without accommodation to $1,900 for two.
The luxury Bandara Villas is set along serene Ao Yon Beach in southeastern Phuket. The property’s 33 villas have spacious open-plan bathrooms and private plunge pools with sea-facing views. Drinks from the minibar and breakfast are also included for free. A week-long stay in the more economical Duplex Pool Villa costs approximately $2,377.
The Baan Krating Phuket Resort is an excellent choice for nature lovers seeking a secluded beach getaway. Deluxe Pavilion rooms come with furnished balconies, a stocked minibar, and modern bathrooms. The adjoining Ao Sane Beach lines a calm, sheltered cove, which is perfect for swimming and snorkeling. A seven-night stay can be had for roughly $630.
In the heart of lively Patong, just a few minutes from the beach, the Yorkshire Inn Hotel is a great value for travelers seeking Phuket’s famous nightlife. All rooms have stocked minibars, air-conditioning, and Wi-Fi. An outdoor pool, onsite restaurant, and an unexpectedly robust fitness center with sauna and steam room round out the property’s amenities. Standard rooms, which are windowless, cost about $250 for a week’s stay.
Long renowned for its yoga retreats, lush rice fields, and beautiful beaches, Bali is a traveler’s paradise. Though the island isn’t huge, many visitors choose to stay in more than one location on their trip. For the purpose of our cost assessment, we focused on prices in the beachfront town of Kuta and the serene hilltop town of Ubud.
While it’s easy to spend a solid portion of your trip lounging on the golden sand or traversing picturesque mountain paths, there are plenty of unique activities and excursion worth dolling out some Indonesian Rupiah (IDR) for. For starters, an hour-long group yoga class typically starts at 150,000 IDR ($11). Purchasing packages of two or more sessions will likely reduce the cost per class. Ascending Bali’s Mount Batur – an active volcano affording dramatic views – can be arranged for sunrise or sunset with a guide and transportation from Kuta or Ubud for about $55 per person. Furthermore, exploring coral reefs and wreck sites on two-dive scuba trips will only set you back $95 per person.
Getting around Kuta and Ubud on foot is certainly doable, but taxis are a convenient way to get around at night or visit nearby Legion and Seminyak beaches for just a few dollars. Traveling between Kuta and Ubud can be done by public bus for just $5, while spending $25 for a shared taxi will get you there in half the time. If you’re up to it, renting your own motorbike is an extremely cost-effective way to reach Bali’s more remote corners. A one-day rental shouldn’t cost more than $5, while weekly rates are around $30.
Like Phuket, many hotels in Bali treat guests to free breakfast. If you stick to delicious Indonesian fare for lunch and dinner, such as sate (grilled meat skewers) and nasi ayam (rice with chicken and veggies), you won’t spend more than $3 per dish at local restaurants. A meal at one of Ubud’s trendy cafes or Kuta’s western joints can still be had for just $8 to $10. Meanwhile, a bottle of Bintang beer will run just over $1, and mixed drinks at bars vary between $2 and $5.
Bali lies below the equator, and experiences its dry season from April through October. The peak holiday season spans July through September, when flights from the US range between $800 to $900 depending on origin and time of booking. Between flights, the aforementioned activities, ground transportation, and food and drinks, two people can expect to pay around $2,350 for the week.
Relaxation awaits at Blue Karma Nestling – a secluded resort set among rice paddies and dense forest. Guests stay in private huts spread out around the grounds, which include a stunning infinity pool, yoga facilities, and spa. During high season, expect to pay approximately $1,323 for a week-long stay.
Set right on Kuta’s beachfront, the Hotel Kumala Pantai is beautifully adorned with Balinese statues and ornate gardens. The main perks include two pools, furnished guest room balconies, and free breakfast. Guest rooms start at around $490 for the week.
For just $210, guests can have a weeklong stay at Padma Ubud Retreat. The property has a sizable pool and lush gardens, while guest rooms have furnished balconies. With breakfast included and a central Ubud location, this value is hard to beat.
The westerly Philippines island of Palawan is emerging on travelers’ radars for its extraordinary landscapes. Think: pristine, empty beaches, craggy limestone cliffs, and thick jungle. High season in Palawan falls between December and January, though favorable weather extends from November through May.
Like many islands in Southeast Asia, there are a variety of nature-based activities to lure visitors away from the idyllic beaches, including scuba diving, hiking, and island hopping. A unique Palawan attraction, the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, consists of a five-mile underground river traveling through a limestone cave system before reaching the South China Sea. A guided canoe tour (with hotel pickup, lunch, and national park fee included) costs around $45 per person. Palawan is surrounded by hundreds of stunning islands and islets, which can be visited by small pontoon boats. Day trips into Honda Bay from Puerto Princesa or to the Bacuit Archipelago from El Nido range in price from $30 to $40 depending on length, food included, and snorkeling equipment. For further underwater adventure, prices for a full-day, two-dive scuba trip start at around $95 per person.
Palawan’s elongated shape and rugged interior terrain present some challenges getting around on your own. Fortunately, transportation is covered by most excursions and hotel pick-ups from the airport aren’t too much of an added expense. If you do choose to embark on your own, jeepneys and tricycles are the cheapest option. Jeepneys are basically stretch jeeps with two long benches for seating, while tricycles are motorbikes with side carriages. Trips are usually just a few dollars, so be sure to pack smaller peso bills.
Luxury hotels, Puerto Princesa, and El Nido town have a wider range of dining options, and tasty Filipino cuisine will be your best bet in sleepier beach towns. Fresh seafood is always available, as are other specialties like chicken inasal and lato seaweed. Prices per dish range from $2 to $4, while more upscale options can cost around $10 to $12. Local bars and shops charge just over $1 for a bottle of San Miguel or cup of coffee.
Flights from Los Angeles and New York during high season (December through January) average about $950 and $1100, respectively. Altogether, this puts the total weekly expense for two without accommodation at about $2,600.
Set on a private island, El Nido Resorts Pangulasian is an extremely elegant property with immaculate beaches, an infinity pool, and spa. Aside from basking in the natural beauty and seclusion, there are hiking trails and water sports equipment on hand. If you book well in advance, a week in paradise for two can be had for around $4,550.
The Dalyuon Beach and Mountain Resort has two pools, ocean views, and separate thatched-roof bungalows that afford plenty of privacy. It’s also in close proximity to popular attractions like the Sabang Mangrove Forest and Puerto Princessa Subterranean River. Staying for a week will cost around $644.
The MaryGold Beachfront Inn enjoys an incredibly picturesque setting overlooking Cadlao Island’s jagged peaks. A week-long stay costs approximately $321 during high season.
Mixing aromatic markets, golden temples, backpacker bars, and cosmopolitan trimmings, Bangkok is a city unlike any other. The most popular time to plan a vacation to the Thai capital is between November and January for cooler, drier weather.
Bangkok doesn’t have many trip-defining sights, but rather, beckons visitors to immerse themselves in its dynamic urban fabric. That being said, Bangkok’s temples are work a stop for some insight into Buddhism, the predominant religion in Thailand. The largest temple, Wat Pho, charges a modest 100-baht fee (or $3.25) to enter and admire its 150-foot-long golden Buddha statute, ancient inscriptions, and ornate artifacts. Rounding out the temple tour, a short ferry across the Chao Phraya River to Wat Arun costs just 30 baht (or roughly $1). Thai cuisine is world-renowned, and taking a cooking class will help you bring some of those spicy and tangy flavors home. Half-to-full-day classes range between $30 to $75 depending on duration, number of dishes, and other add-ons like market tours and transportation.
There are a multitude of ways to navigate Bangkok. Riding in a tuk tuk is a quintessential Thai experience, and it can truly come in handy for shorter trips around Bangkok. Try to negotiate your price beforehand, starting at around 30 baht for trips under one-kilometer. Taxis on the other hand start with a base fare of 35 baht that increases by 5.5 baht for each of the first 10 kilometers, before increasing to 6.5 baht per kilometer for the next ten. Other noteworthy options that will help bypass traffic include the Chao Phraya Express Boat and the futuristic Skytrain. Boat tickets run between 15 and 20 baht based on line, while Skytrain fares range from 15 to 55 baht depending on how many zones you travel through.
Bangkok’s markets and narrow streets pack more than 500,000 street-food vendors, with a diverse array of dishes costing just around $2. If you don’t mind moderate spice, tom yum is a flavorful burst of lemongrass and coconut milk. Milder options include khao niew ma muang (mango sticky rice) and hoy tod (oyster omelets). And of course, you can’t go wrong with classic pad Thai. Sit-down eateries still have reasonable prices, typically between $3 and $6 per plate. Beers at laidback roadside bars in Sukhumvit and around Khao San Road can be had for merely $1. Bottled water, which is the safest way to stay hydrated in the tropical heat, can be purchased for less than $1.
Thanks to budget airlines like Air China, roundtrip airfare deals as low as $500 can be found during high season. Excluding accommodation, a week-full of yummy Thai food, a cooking class, some evenings out, tolling around the city, entry fees, and airfare, totals approximately $1,650 for two people.
The Shangri-La Hotel Bangkok packs plush amenities, including two pools, soaking tubs, furnished balconies, on-site spa, and three fine dining restaurants. Additionally, the property enjoys views over the Chao Phraya River and close proximity to many tourist sights. This can all be yours at a week-long price of $1,008.
Mid-range: Down a quiet alley in the heart of Bangkok, the Tints of Blue Hotel has comfy studio-style rooms with kitchenettes, air-conditioning, and small balconies. The rooftop pool, free breakfast buffet, and complementary tuk-tuk service are noteworthy perks. Prices start around $336 for a week’s stay.
The Adamaz House is just a five-minute walk from the action at Khaosan Road, but is removed enough to escape the late-night noise. A weeklong stay in one of these clean, simple rooms will only set you back $154.
This modern city-state blends a myriad of cultural influences, notably Chinese and Indian, into its dense, yet easily navigable urban core. Singapore experiences fairly consistent temperatures and weather year-round, except in November and December when 10 inches of rain fall on average. As many travelers prefer to escape to the tropics during the winter, the cost estimates for airfare and hotels are based on February prices.
Despite being one of the most expensive cities in the region, there are a handful of free and low-cost attractions. Cultural sites, such as the Sultan Mosque and elaborately adorned Sri Mariamman Temple grant free entry. The Singapore Botanic Gardens are certainly a must-see for primeval rainforest, over 1,000 orchid varieties, a living library of trees, swans, and seasonal opera performances. Singapore’s ecological wonders continue at the Gardens by the Bay, which is best known for its iconic Supertrees. Though free to visit at the ground-level, you’ll have to purchase separate tickets to access the OCBC Skyway and Supertree Observatory for around 8 and 14 Singapore dollars ($5.89 and $10.31), respectively. There are also biodomes, quirky sculptures, a cloud forest, and the newly opened Floral Fantasy. Heading inland, the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve has numerous forest paths, offering the chance to escape the crowds and spot macaque monkeys and tropical bird species.
Getting around Singapore is surprisingly easy thanks to its extensive public transit system. If you’re looking to pack a lot of sightseeing, it’s worth purchasing a Singapore Tourist Pass, which come in 1 to 3 day increments. A one-day pass costs 10 Singapore dollars ($7.36) and affords unlimited rides on public transport, as well as discounts at restaurants and popular attractions (Gardens by the Bay, for example). Two and three-day passes can be purchased for $16 and $20 ($11.78 and $14.73), respectively.
Given its cultural diversity, it should come as no surprise that Singapore is foodie heaven. Food courts (often referred to as hawker centers), are the best option for local specialties below $10. Head to the Chinatown Complex Food Centre or Maxwell Road to seek out char kway teow (fried flat rice noodles) and laksa (spicy, coconut soup with vermicelli noodles and cockles). On the other end of the spectrum, expect to doll out $75 and up per person at Singapore’s finer dining establishments. Compared to other Southeast Asia destinations on this list, drinking out in Singapore is exorbitantly expensive. Bottles of Tiger Beer are hard to come by under $6 outside hawker centers, while cocktails will be upwards of $10 at most bars and clubs. Drop by the liquor store, and you’ll be startled to find prices more than double US rates.
Discount airlines flaunt airfare as low as $550 roundtrip, while Singapore Airlines operates more lavish, direct flights from New York and Los Angeles for a heftier price. If you can manage to utilize public transport, dine on the cheap at least a few nights, take advantage of free activities, and limit nightlife to just a few evenings, a week for two in Singapore is doable for $1950 without accommodation.
The sky-high Westin Singapore delivers extraordinary views of the surrounding city and Singapore Straight from chicly designed, spacious rooms and a stunning infinity pool. Chinatown and the closest metro stop are within 10 minutes walking distance. This convenience and plush comfort carries a weekly price tag of $2,331.
The Hotel Chancellor at Orchard offers a rooftop pool and beneficial location near the metro and ample shopping and dining. Weekly rates start around $518.
The Fragrance Hotel – Rose is just one of many properties operated by this budget brand. This specific property is one of its newest, having been just remodeled in 2015. Guest rooms are sparsely furnished, but clean, which is very reasonable for a weekly cost of $245.
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