What I love most about the continent of Asia is the rich and vastly different traditions, the amazing spices, and the friendly + welcoming people.
But I also love that traveling throughout Asia allows you to explore different countries at an affordable price.
So, whether you’re a budget traveler, wanting more bang for your buck, or just interested in traveling throughout Asia—this guide is for you.
Mind you, you could spend $50 or less a day at all these destinations.
A vibrant city, with gorgeous garments and charming sites that should be on everyone’s India bucket list. But it’s especially easy to visit if you’re going to do the golden triangle—New Delhi, Jaipur, and Agra.
My friends and I hired a driver named Ali, who gave us a reasonable rate and made us all feel safe. He showed us some local spots and drove us around every day when we were there. If you’re going to hail a taxi, make sure it’s government approved or just download Uber and use that.
Be aware of taxi scams, they are common, and sometimes people have had to pay more. Just play it safe and hire someone, or use Uber.
In Jaipur, we stayed at Wander Nest for about 585 INR ($2.50/night).
Airbnb are also pretty affordable, starting at $11/night for an entire apartment.
Indian food is some of the best food I’ve had in my life, and of course it’s even better once you visit India. Filled with bursting flavors of spice and fresh herbs, you’ll definitely want to pair whatever dish you eat with some Naan (bread) or a Lassi (yogurt drink).
In Jaipur I only ate at hole in the wall restaurants and I loved every single one. The food was so good! I even witnessed a monkey steal some from the kitchen (so serious).
Things To Do
SHOP UNTIL YOU DROP! Seriously, if you’re going to Jaipur, you’ll want to spend money on clothes, jewelry, accessories. Everything is so colorful, stylish, and comfy. I always suggest negotiating a price—start with half of what they say and don’t be afraid to walk away. You can ask a local to purchase items for you, that will get you the best deal.
New Delhi, India
With it being the capital of India, it’s the most populous city. Approximately 22.5 million people live there and you feel that as soon as you step foot there. I think the overwhelming amount of people can turn people off from visiting India, but it’s still worth visiting. Despite everything, I still enjoyed my experience.
As soon as you get out the airport, the taxis drivers will bombard you and offer to take you to your next destination. Ignore every one of them! Seriously, people will hassle you, but there are common taxis scams from the airport.
Always go to the government-approved taxi stand, state your destination, and they’ll give you a price beforehand. Then you take it to a driver. Or if you have Wi-Fi/data, just use Uber.
To avoid being ripped off, tell them “start the meter” or negotiate a price before stepping foot into their vehicle.
My friends and I mostly used Uber, but there were times we hailed a Tuk Tuk and we ALWAYS asked the price beforehand. If we didn’t like it, we walked away, and most of the times—the driver budged.
OMG I ABSOLUTELY LOVED STAYING IN THE MADPACKERS HOSTEL. Probably THEE best hostel experience I’ve ever had for $5/night.
My friends and I stayed there for Holi Fest, and the community there made us feel at home. Soon as you walk the door, you felt immense love + positive energy. The front desk greeted us and gave us a rundown of New Delhi + things to do.
Also, we met so many people from all over and made new connections.
I would go there again in a heartbeat.
If you’re not keen on staying in a hostel, Airbnbs + Hotels start at $10/night—you can’t go wrong with either choice.
The food in New Delhi is remarkably delicious. This city is the reason I love Chana Masala so much! I would suggest booking a food tour with your hostel, Airbnb, or hotel to experience the different street New Delhi offers. If you’re going to venture out on your own, stop at food stands with the “government-approved” sign. The last thing you want to experience is Delhi Belly.
Things To Do
When I went, it was for Holi Fest, so most of the activities I did were with my hostel. We checked out Holi Moo festival and hit up a few markets for food and clothing. I did little touristy stuff, but this guide has 75+ cool things you can do in Delhi.
You can also take a day trip to Agra to see the Taj Mahal—it takes about 4 hours. In Agra you can visit most touristy places during a day trip.
The city filled with hustle and bustle, temples, lively nightlife, heavenly food, and MORE. If you’re coming to Thailand, more than likely you’ll be flying in BKK, so why not explore this city for a few days?
Similar to other SE Asian cities, you can use Grab (Uber) to get around. FYI Bangkok is HUGEEEEE meaning if you want to go from point A to B, you can spend a pretty penny getting there. Or if you’re more of a budget traveler—you can take the metro to get around. As someone who doesn’t speak much Thai, it’s relatively easy to navigate the train system.
You can walk around the city, but I’d recommend staying in Sukhumvit Area. You’ll be close to the nightlife, shopping, and touristy activities.
I’ve stayed in some cool Hostels in Bangkok, this is probably the nicest ones I’ve seen.
With plenty of Hotels to choose from, I’d say my favorite was Villa De Khaosan, where I spent two weeks in quarantine.
The food is Bangkok is exquisite, OMG, my mouth is watering just thinking about. You’ll want to try as much street food as you can while you’re here. Just be mindful of certain places. If you see it’s a popular spot, that’s an indicator that the food is GOOOOOOOOD and probably safe to eat.
If you stroll through China Town you’ll be in for a treat—well pretty much any and everywhere you go. You’ll eat your way through Bangkok.
Things To Do
Eating your way through Bangkok should be a top priority, but also visiting temples FOR SURE! I filled the city with them, but honestly there’s so much to do in Bangkok. You can experience Khaosan Road, which full of partying backpackers. (It’s also a red-light district).
You can roam the many markets they have—Sampeng Market (Chinatown), Chatuchak Weekend Market (largest in Thailand), and more!
Ao Nang Krabi, Thailand
My favorite place in southern Thailand. When people visit, they often go to Phuket—which has its own beauty, but is pricey, too touristy, and in certain places, overrated. Krabi is a province filled with about 200 islands, but part of it is also mainland.
I always suggest people stay in Ao Nang, Krabi then do day trips or island hopping tours to see places like Phi Phi islands. Krabi is more affordable and you have more options on the mainland.
If you’re on a Krabi Island, it’ll be walkable. Even if you’re on the mainland, everything is accessible. There’s also Grab (Uber) that you can take from the airport or around the city.
Since this is a beach town, you’ll spend a bit more for Hotels, Hostels, or Airbnbs. But it’ll still be at a reasonable price. The hostel I stayed in was right by the beach and it cost about $9/night.
Hotels near the beach are around $70/ night.
Every region in Thailand has fresh food, but there’s something special about Southern Thai cuisine. You have the yummy roti, curried noodles, the fresh coconut ice cream. It’s so darn delicious.
You’ll find a bunch of halal food and, of course, fresh seafood—get your palates ready.
Things To Do
Are you ready for a water adventure? Krabi is that place!
You can do island hopping tours, take a day trip to Railay Beach, go snorkeling, get a massage, visit temples, go to the night market, etc. Or just go to the beach and relax. It’s paradise there.
Koh Pha Ngan
This island is an utopia, weekly ecstatic dance events, plenty of vegan restaurants to choose from, gorgeous beaches, and a hippie vibe.
You’ll definitely see people walking around barefoot.
At first, I didn’t think I’d like it because of how westernized it is, but by the end of my stay it had grown on me.
Koh Pha Ngan is the island you go to do absolutely nothing (but there’s still plenty to do.) You can tap into different workshops to enhance your spiritual and emotional wellbeing, like sound healing and yoni hour. To stay in the know, join this Facebook group.
Also, this where people come for the monthly Full moon, new moon, black moon, and jungle parties.
You can hail a songthaew or motorbike from the pier, but everything is pretty walkable depending on what area you stay in. If you’re in Srithanu area, many restaurants and beaches are within a 15-minute walk.
If you’re experienced at driving a motorbike—I recommend renting one. You’ll pay about 200-250 baht a day, that way you can see other parts of the island.
While there I stayed at Nice Sea Resort, which is right on the beach and so worth it. A simple bungalow with a fan starts at about 600 baht/night, but they have other rooms with A/C and more amenities. This street is has plenty of bungalows just right on the beach.
If you are plant-based, this is the island to visit. Everywhere you turn, there are vegan options. Even if you’re not, I still suggest trying out some places. Koh Pha Ngan has some of the best Vegan food I’ve ever had.
There are also loads of seafood options as well. I recommend checking out Phantip Night Food Market and Srithanu night Market for reasonably priced Thai or western food.
Things To Do
Absolutely nothing, just go lay on the beach—you’re in wonderland.
But if you’re like me and love doing activities, you can check out that Facebook group I mentioned for community-based events. Since it’s an island, there are water sports such as diving, snorkeling, kite surfing, windsurfing, jet skiing, and more.
If you’re into partying, attend one of the monthly full moon parties.
Ella, Sri Lanka
This charming mountainous town is my favorite place in Sri Lanka. Many people ride the scenic train route from Kandy to Ella to take in views that you wouldn’t be able to see by car.
Ella is a place for nature lovers and those who enjoy sipping tea. If you like small town vibes—Ella should be on your bucket list.
You can get a visa on arrival or apply for your visa ahead of time. It’s $35 online or $40 in person. The process is pretty straightforward, one of the easiest visa process I’ve done.
You can hire a taxi to take you around, just make sure you negotiate a rate beforehand. Also, you can use the Sri Lankan version of Uber—PickMe.
If you’re comfortable riding a motorbike, you can rent one and explore the surrounding areas.
For travelers wanting a budget-friendly place—stay at Aspa Green. It’s located downhill, but the views of the mountains are breathtaking. And it’s nice to be close enough to town, but not surrounded by a bunch of tourist.
If you’re looking for resort style accommodation, then Ekho is an excellent choice. Scenic views and in the heart of Ella.
My mouth is watering just thinking about the delicious Sri Lankan food I had. You’ll want to try some of the staple dishes such as Kottu Roti (basically fried rice, but with chopped up roti), curry, dhal, hoppers, and the list could go on.
Wherever you go, whatever you try—you’ll enjoy.
Things To Do
But in Ella you can visit the tea plantation, hike Little Adam’s peak, go to Nine Arc Bridge, explore the town. Ella is such a charming city.
Mirissa, Sri Lanka
A chill beach town where you can unwind and relax. Or if you enjoy water sports, you’ll have your fair share of things to do. Mirissa isn’t a big town, so you can explore everything in a few days.
Since it’s a smaller town, you walk wherever you need to go—the beach, restaurants, your hotel. When I was there, I never used taxis or even rented a motorbike; there was no need. As far as getting into Mirissa, you have a few options like taking the bus, hiring a driver, or take a shuttle. For more details on transportation, read this.
Boho hostel is a delightful spot for those wanting to connect with other solo travelers, and it’s only about a 7 minute walk from the beach.
If you’re traveling with someone else or wanting seclusion—Handagedara Resort is the ideal spot.
You can get all the traditional dishes I mentioned before, like Kottu Roi, Curry, and Dhal. But in Mirissa you will see a lot more western food and other cuisines like Chinese. So you have lots of variety there.
Things To Do
Since it’s a beach town that means going to the beach is a must. Mirissa is also a great place to go snorkeling, whale watching, diving—quite a few things to do.
If you prefer taking it easy, then simply walking around the town is fulfilling enough.
If you’re wanting to visit The Philippines, you’re more than likely going to land in Manila—so explore the capital.
Manila is an industrial city that almost makes you forget you’re on an island—which is not necessarily a bad thing. If you’re a person who enjoys exploring the city life, nature, and beaches, then it’s good to get a dose of the city life here first, before going to other islands.
You can order a Grab (SE Asia version of Uber) and that’ll be cheaper than hailing a taxi on your own. They also have an even cheaper option—jeepney, which are bus like vehicles but smaller. You can stop one driving by, tell them your destination, and hop on.
Lub’d was the nicest Hostel I’ve ever stayed in. Stairs leading up to the bunk, spotless bathrooms with new appliances, coworking spaces, with so much more. They also offer individual rooms which are pretty nice.
So this doubles as a hostel and hotel. You will want to stay here.
Many of the dishes have pork in them like—Lechon or Adobe. I didn’t get the chance to experience much Filipino food because I don’t eat meat, but I found vegan options on Happy Cow.
Things To Do
You can enjoy the nightlife, eat your way through Manila, visit some Cathedrals, or do a free walking tour to get acclimated to the city.
These are all places I’ve traveled to an Asia where the US Dollar is strong and ideal you can spend under $50 even if you’re splurging. But everyone’s travel style + budgets will look different. If you have any of these places on your bucket list, comment below.