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What Does One Year In Southeast Asia Cost?

What Does It Cost To Travel In Southeast Asia? Robyn Around the World

One question that always gets asked is how much does it cost to travel the world? In this post, I’m going to break down my second year of travel expenses.

I separated out flights, and scuba costs then broke the rest down into three categories: Meals, Accommodation, and Miscellaneous.

Miscellaneous includes shopping, entertainment, postcards, gifts, SIM cards, etc. I didn’t want to get too detailed for here and besides the most important is food and accommodation anyway, right? 😉 I also rented motorbikes in almost all countries which averaged ~$3/day.

Year 2 Total Travel Cost

I visited nine countries during my second year: Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, Philippines, with the last 6 being new countries for me. I spent a total of $22,165 of which $5,671 was dedicated to getting Scuba Gear and my Divemaster and Instructor Certifications. Not bad for adding over 100 dives to my belt and now I can teach others my passion.


I spent most of my year here and was by far the cheapest place to live and play. I also had three months of free accommodation while working at the dive shop, so that accounts for a good chunk of it, but the food is very cheap too, with my morning Bahn Mi costing only $0.50!  I also took a 3-day cruise and did a 7-day motorcycle tour through the mountains, which was another expense, which I added on separately.


The second place I spent my most time in. A lot of my ‘other’ expenses went towards swimming suits and electronics. My iPhone died on me for a second time. It was cheaper to buy a new Samsung rather than fix it again, so I’m now part of the Android family (and I miss my iPhone desperately!) I also bought a new external drive as the 1TB I brought with me is full!


Thailand is generally pretty cheap.  My main ‘other’ expenses went to renewing my passport, gifts for family and private swim lessons to prepare for the Divemaster swim tests. I know how to do a front crawl properly! ☺  I also went a little crazy on eating western here. I found a salad place and ate there almost every day. I really craved green salads, which are not easy to come by in Southeast Asia.


I love Indonesia; it’s cheap to eat and get around. Having the villa in Ubud, I made good use of the kitchen and cooked every day. More expensive than eating out, but I love cooking and made use of all my cooking classes I’ve taken.


Surprisingly, Phillippines was not as cheap as I was expecting. The accommodation was cheap, I averaged $7/night for a place, but I did splurge on a beautiful Airbnb condo over the water for my birthday, which accounted for more than ½ of my total accommodation cost. Transportation was really expensive. I took the bus for half the time and the other I used taxis where I was able to negotiate 3-5 hour rides for $30-40.


My daily rate was high here at ~$62/day, but I spent three nights in a 4-star hotel after my incident at the guesthouse I was staying. I also couldn’t get enough of their famous pepper crab in Colombo and ate there twice!


My cheapest country only because my mom met me there and footed the bill (Thanks, Mom!) But my flight from Kuala Lumpur direct to Male was only $75! Super cheap to get there, expensive while you’re there. We averaged ~$200/day each for room and food.


The most expensive country I visited! I traveled with a friend and ate at mainly restaurants for this trip, which brought my meal average up. If you stick to street food, you can eat for less than $10 a day. The temples are also not cheap to enter, but worth every penny.


I spent the shortest amount of time here and really wish I could have spent a month here. I absolutely fell in love with this country. Accommodation and food are cheap. The biggest expenses I had were the entrance fees to see the temples and the visa.


A quarter of my expenses from the year was on Scuba Diving this year getting gear and my PRO certifications. This is an investment I was happy to make. I also got in over 100 dives in 6 countries! A small price to pay, I think!


I got my first free flight! I accumulated enough airline points through AirAsia to get a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok. I love AirAsia and their cheap flights! All my flights were under $100, with most being under $50. I should buy stock in AirAisa 😉


Cooking Cambodian: Beyond Unique Escapes

Cambodian Cooking Class - Siem Reap

As you can probably tell by now, I try to take a cooking class in each country I go to. So far I’ve taken classes in Bali, Laos, and Thailand. When I found out Beyond Unique Escapes did a half day course and taught 2 of the three famous dishes here for only $24, I signed up! I looked on Trip Advisor, and there were many companies that came up, but this one was in the top ten, the right dishes and at the right price! I signed up online, and a tuk-tuk came and picked me up at my hotel the morning of and dropped me off after at no additional charge.


They offer two classes, one in the morning and one in the evening, or you can combine the two and make a full day out of it. After the tuk-tuk had picked me up, he took me to the office to pay (they take your card online but don’t charge it) then we went off about a 15-minute drive from the center of town to a small village where the cooking venue is out in the rural part of town. It was nice to show up and have our guide walk us through the village and meet a family to interact with them and see how they live and cook. As a token of gratitude, we (the school) offered the man of the house 2Kg of rice. I thought that was a small amount to give while allowing strangers into your home, but the school visits them almost every day, so I guess the rice will never be wasted while also being plentiful. The villagers were happy to see us and smiling and willing to answer any questions and take pictures. There was a girl in the kitchen peeling garlic and a cute little girl playing outside.

Cambodian Cooking Class - Siem Reap


After our tour of the village, we went back to the cooking school where we each had our own station to make three dishes: Fish Amok, Green Mango Salad with Chicken, and Sticky Rice Balls. With only a class of 9 (they take up to 10) it was very intimate and fun!

Cambodian Cooking Class - Siem Reap

Cambodian Cooking Class - Siem Reap

We first learned the Fish Amok and chopped all the ingredients ourselves and made the dish up until the last piece where you add a raw egg in at the end; they did that for us. There were no recipes given out, but I took good notes so I can replicate the dishes later. This was my favorite dish!

Cambodian Cooking Class - Siem Reap

Cambodian Cooking Class - Siem Reap

Although I came to learn the Fish Amok, it was great to find out how to make the Green Mango Salad too! All over Southeast Asia you’ll find Papaya and Mango Salads that are to die for! This salad didn’t disappoint, and now that I know the techniques and what’s in the dressing I can change it up to make it spicier, sweeter, or sourer.

Cambodian Cooking Class - Siem Reap

Cambodian Cooking Class - Siem Reap

The last dish we learned was a sticky rice ball dessert. None of us had high hopes for it as all it consisted of was the dough which was glutinous rice flour and water, then the filling was a chunk of palm sugar. I thought maybe the palm sugar would be enough to bring the flavor out, but it was just a hint of sugar in the ball. Basically, you roll a small piece of dough in the palm of your hand then make a little divot in it and add the piece of sugar then pull up the dough around it and form back into a ball. Then you boil them and drop into the cold water to stop the cooking and eat cold. I wanted the sugar to be more prominent, but all I tasted was bland rice flour with a hint of sugar. I think if you made the balls thinner/smaller and added more sugar or even coated the outside of the ball with toasted coconut or sugar they’d taste better. I’ll have to experiment with it.

Cambodian Cooking Class - Siem Reap

I really enjoyed this class, the only other dish I wish I could have learned how to make was Lok Lak, it’s a beef dish marinated in a pepper sauce and served with a fried egg and rice. So good I had it three times while I was there!

My 5 Favorite Temples At Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat Temples

Angkor Wat complex, which means ‘City of Temples’ is a UNESCO Heritage site that is considered the largest religious structures in the world covering over 400 acres of land. With over 50 temples to see, the site can get overwhelming really quick especially in the mid-day heat. Angkor Wat provides 1, 3 and 7 day tickets at $20, $40 & $60 respectively, so that you don’t feel the need to see it all in one day. I only bought the 1-day ticket, but winded up going for a second day. I had done my research and already knew which temples I wanted to see. My top three were Angkor Wat at sunrise, Bayon and Tomb Raider’s Ta Prohm. As I usually do, I picked up a pack of postcards to see what other temples would look cool to photograph and added Preah Khan and Ta Som to my list. There are 2 ways to see the temples. You can ride a bicycle or hire a tuk-tuk. I hired a private tuk-tuk for $20 for the day and they usually provide cold water for you during the day and will take you through the temples as a private guide. We went to a few more that weren’t on my list, but the 5 I choose to see winded up being my 5 favorite temples at Angkor Wat.


I was picked up bright and early by my driver at 4:40am to head to get my entrance ticket with swarms of other people. I couldn’t believe how many people were at the ticket office at 5:00am! Literally hundreds! I waited in line for 15 minutes to get my one-day pass then I was off with my driver to get a spot to watch the sunrise. We picked a place outside the temple as there were droves of people going inside to get a view my the inside lake. Unfortunately the day I went, there was no sunrise, just clouds in the sky (that’s what I get for going during monsoon season). I was still pretty pleased with what I got but after seeing other peoples pictures from better days, I wish I had forced myself up early for one more try. The temple itself is impressive and huge! There are monks that can be seen doing daily chores at Angkor Wat first thing in the morning. Well worth making the effort to get up early to see it.

Angkor Wat Temples

Angkor Wat Temples

Angkor Wat Temple Monks


Home of the smiling Buddha’s! Ok, so the first day I went it was one of the last temples I visited and I was tired from the heat. My guide gave me a tour of the bottom of the temple which has a story carved out in stone all the way around the temple. After an hour of seeing the carvings and hearing the story, I wasn’t keen on hiking to the top of the temple. We winded up going a second day where I was able to enjoy all the huge smiling Buddha’s up top! This is definitely a hot spot with the tourists so I would suggest doing this early as in, be there soon as gates open at 7:30am to see it before the crowds.

Angkor Wat - Bayon Temple - Home of the smiling Buddhas
Angkor Wat - Bayon Temple - Home of the smiling Buddhas


Home of Tomb Raider! Made famous by the movie, I was obsessed with the trees! They’re called Spung trees and they’re known for their roots which have grown over and around the temple. It felt like being in a fantasy film walking around there. I winded up going two separate days. The first day I got there a few hours after sunrise and it was jam-packed with people. I went a second day right at opening to beat the crowds. I also brought my GoPro for the second visit. The roots were so massive my 14-50mm lens couldn’t fit it all in, you definitely need to bring a wide-angle lens (12-24mm) for this temple to get it all in! Luckily my GoPro had a wide setting and am really pleased how all the pictures from the second day turned out!

Ta Prohm - Tomb Raider Temple

Ta Prohm - Tomb Raider Temple

Ta Prohm - Tomb Raider Temple


This is a temple I saw on a postcard and decided to visit. Like Ta Prohm, it has Spung Trees that overtake the temple. To get to the trees you walk through a series of doors that get smaller and smaller as you walk through each and once out the other end is a huge tree overtaking the temple with it’s massive roots and other trees with branches hanging down like the trees you’d see Tarzan swinging on.

Angkor Wat - Preah Khan

Angkor Wat - Preah Khan


Ta Som, although not as impressive as Preah Khan and Ta Prohm also has a Spung Tree that covers a door opening where there is a Buddha face on the other side.

Angkor Wat - Ta Som

Angkor Wat - Ta Som


The temples aren’t the only main attraction. I loved each of the gates we went through that welcomed you into the temple complexes. Some were lined by demons and gods, others were just a huge gate with hidden smiling buddha’s. One’s of note were Victory Gate, North Gate, and South Gate.

Angkor Wat - Victory Gate

Angkor Wat - North Gate

Angkor Wat - North Gate

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