Top 10 budgeting tips for Asia

You’re off to Asia and rumour has it, the country is one (if not THE) cheapest place to travel. We can confirm this rumour is true, but that still doesn’t mean you should go over there without a budgeting plan. To give you a helping hand, we’ve put together our top 10 budgeting tips for your Asian adventure.

Don’t go crazy because everything is cheap

It’s not Bangkok without a weekend trip to the market #thailand #bangkok #market #chatuchak #instatravel #instashopping

A post shared by Rachael Porter (@rporter90) on

You’ll go to markets, restaurants, basically everywhere and be so bowled over by how cheap everything is that it’s extremely easy to just throw your money at anyone and everyone. “A bandanna for 10p? I don’t even need one but sure”. Classic anti-budgeting.

Haggle for everything

BODYLaura Trif-0030_India
It’s like a sport in Asia – haggling for the best price. You will see this done most often in markets, and the stall holders will actively encourage it – if you start to walk away they’ll start offering it at cheaper prices until you eventually give in because you either really want the item or you just feel bad.

Don’t use regular cabs

BODYDSC_0582_Stray Asia FAM
They just completely rip you off most of the time. Nine times out of ten they won’t use a meter and just quote you an outrageously high price, when you know you can get it cheaper. If you want to, you could just haggle with them to a price that suits you better, but we suggest using an app like Uber or GrabTaxi (Asia’s go-to Uber rival). And you’ve got to try a Tuk Tuk at least once.

It’s all about the street food

Motorcycle diaries, Philippines edition

A post shared by Jessie | Nomadic New Yorker (@jessieeechen) on

One of the best things about travelling to Asia is the amazing amount of street food on offer around every corner. You want a Michelin Star noodle dish from Singapore for $6? Head to Tai Hwa Pork Noodle in Singapore, you want Char Koay Teow (stir-fried rice noodles) in Penang – just walk down the street and you’re sure to find lots of food stalls, or how about the classic Phad Thai in Thailand? It’s literally everywhere, for around 40baht (90p, $1.80AUD, $1.15USD).

Plan out your weekly budget

Chinatown #singapore #chinatown #asianadventures #markets #lanterns

A post shared by Rachael Porter (@rporter90) on

Even though you can easily spend little in Asia, you can just as easily spend a lot, so it still makes sense to plan out your weekly budget. You can live like a King for a week in Asia for at least a third of the price of anywhere else … but you still don’t want to run out. And believe us when we say, it can happen.


BODYtourists in Cambodia
There’s no doubt that Google Maps could become your new best friend when you’re out there, but instead of using up all your data on that, try downloading the free app It does exactly the same as Google Maps but you can use it online. It’s a pretty nifty app when you find yourself walking around in circles.

Get a travel cash card

Just love the streets of Georgetown #cute #malaysia #georgetown #penang #asianadventures #instatravel #instadaily #travels

A post shared by Rachael Porter (@rporter90) on

At STA Travel we have a sweet travel cash card, which you can pre-load with money in whatever currency you need, you won’t have to pay any transaction fees and we only charge a flat rate fee when withdrawing from ATMs across the globe. It helps you keep track of your money and we give you a spare one for free! For more information about our cash cards see here.

Use public transport/hire a scooter

Road trippin’ down the coast from #Hue to #HoiAn…I cannot cope with how beautiful this country is. #vietnam #ontheroad #danang #instatravel #instatravelhub #roadtriiiip #HaiVanPass

A post shared by Kim Durbridge (@kimswanderlist) on

It might look scary but once you’ve got the hang of it, using public transport is wayyyy more cost effective than any other type of transport – plus you’re immersing yourself in the local way of life, and that’s always a great experience. Alternatively, if you’re in a town that requires extensive travel to get to the cool places, e.g. Pai in Thailand, then it makes sense to hire a scooter. Or maybe you just want to do a cool road trip between places, like Hue to Hoi An in Vietnam. Scooters work out super cheap and you can rent them for as long as you want. Plus, scootering along the country roads with all that beautiful scenery around you is an experience like no other. Try not to join the bandage crew (you will see TONS of backpackers walking around with bandages on).

Get an ISIC card

ISIC card
If you’re a lover of a discounts – and you’re a student – then listen up. An ISIC card is a globally recognised student card that gets you tons of discounts in over 130 countries! Think of the money you’ll save (and then can spend on other cool experiences instead). You can also save some serious dollars by getting a free ISIC when you open a Westpac bank account^^. To get your FREE ISIC card you need to open a Westpac Choice account here, it takes less than three minutes!

Consider staying in the cheapest hostels

Resfeber (n.); Origin: Swedish The restless race of the traveller’s heart before the journey begins, when anxiety and anticipation are tangled together; a ‘travel fever’ that can manifest as an illness

A post shared by Jessie | Nomadic New Yorker (@jessieeechen) on

You can get dorm rooms in hostels for as low as three bucks a night – we’re not joking! So if you’re looking to spend your money on experiences rather than where you rest your head at night, think about staying in hostels instead. We’ve got some awesome hostels all over Asia. You can also use the ISIC card on these too!

Ready to go to Asia and spend your money (wisely)? Let’s have a look at those discounted flights to Asia, because they’re friendly on your bank balance too!

Things you should know

^^ Before making a decision about the Westpac Choice account, please read the terms and conditions located at and consider whether the product is appropriate for you.
Once you’ve opened a new Westpac Choice account online and Westpac has verified your ID you will receive instructions about how to receive your card. Your free ISIC card will be valid for one year only. If you already have an ISIC Student or Youth