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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 😉


Maldives: Two Weeks In Paradise

Two Weeks In The Maldives - Robyn Around The World

I met my mom for two weeks in the Maldives. We wanted to visit 2 of the islands, and decided one in the north and one in the central part. The Maldives has 1200 islands stretching over 850 Km. With 200 inhabited it would take you almost three years to see them all if you just spent one day at each.



This was our first stop! We reached this newly opened Island (to tourists) after a 45-minute flight from Male. Up until November, this was only populated by locals. It now has one resort on the island that allows up to 100 visitors to visit per day. From a backpacker viewpoint, I loved this island. I liked how there was a resort on the island, but then the other half was inhabited by locals. If you wanted to get a feel for the locals and see the village you could take bikes and ride around in town. There’re a few shops and a couple of local restaurants serving up delicious Maldivian dishes for cheap ($1.50 a plate!). The resort was beautiful and even though it was buffet style for the meals, we had flavors of Maldivian dishes. Local women would come twice a week to teach the guests how to cook traditional dishes. Everything they cooked was so flavorful and not like anything I’ve tasted so far in my travels. One of the ladies invited me back to her home for a cooking class, which was actually just lunch, but she and her mom made me a huge spread and even gave me a bunch to take back to the resort. The Maldives is a strict Muslim country, and since this island has locals living in the village, there’s no alcohol allowed even at the resort. It wasn’t a big deal, but we found out our resort owned a decommissioned “floating bar” sailboat in the middle of the ocean where we could take a free speed boat out to watch the sunset and get a mojito. So we went to check it out, and it was incredible! The boat is beautiful and the sunset gorgeous. After a week here, we didn’t want to leave, the beach and water were so inviting!

Hanimaadho Island - Maldives

Hanimaadho Island - Maldives

Hanimaadho Island - Maldives

Hanimaadho Island - Maldives


After our week up north and a flight back to Male, we jumped on another 45-minute ride down south but this time in the form of a private speedboat for just the two of us. The Holiday Inn Resort owns Kandooma Island, which is where we stayed for our second week. We got our room free for the week on points and were upgraded to a beachside villa. Score! A very different feel from the first resort, this was very westernized with only a couple Maldivian dishes and a rooftop bar. Our room had a private beach and balcony with a view of the ocean where we could snorkel, and we had a BBQ dinner out on the beach in front of our place one night where the chef came and cooked up our five-course meal right there for us. So many activities to do from water sports to scuba diving. I did one day of diving, and we both did a snorkel trip. The underwater world is just in such a sad state here as you’ll see in the next section.

Kandooma Island - Maldives

Kandooma Island - Maldives

Kandooma Island - Maldives

State of the Ocean

Being a diver, I was so excited to do a few days of diving, in the Maldives! When you look online, you see all these colorful pictures of the reef and fish, but this isn’t the full story. Once I saw how depressed the waters were, I only winded up doing two dives on Kandooma. The water temperatures are up to almost 90F. All the coral is bleached, and sea life is struggling to survive. Up north in Hanimaadhoo there were hundreds of blue triggerfish washed up on shore and floating lifeless in the water. We are seeing water warming all over the world, but witnessing this up-close hits home and is just heartbreaking. I feel for the sea-life and feel helpless on what I can do to help them as this is a world problem that needs to be addressed and another post for later…

Hanimaadho Island - Maldives

Kandooma Island - Maldives

Litter in Maldives

Trash is another issue. You don’t see it on the resort grounds, but outside the resort, in the villages and even at the airport, the streets and beaches are littered with trash. The villages don’t have the means to ship their garbage off the island so they just throw it on the ground and burn what they can. The resorts send their waste to one island that is dedicated to burning trash 24 hours a day. Plastic bottles, paper, tin, you name it they’ll burn it. So the pictures you see online are only half the story, and this part doesn’t get publicized as much.

Hanimaadho Island - Maldives

I have mixed emotions about the Maldives. Here you are in the middle of paradise and from afar it all looks gorgeous and pristine. But then you go to islands inhabited by villagers, and you see the way the locals live with all the trash. And don’t get me started on the state of the underwater world again. Out of the 26 atolls, there are two that aren’t nearly as affected as the rest with water warming, so I’m thinking after my divemaster, I’ll go back and do a week long liveaboard that goes to those atolls to document the difference.

Kandooma Island - Maldives

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