What better time than summer break to take a few weeks or a month off and explore a totally new culture in Asia? It’s a long flight, so you might want to stay for awhile and make it worth it. Thankfully, some of the cheapest destinations in Asia are perfect for budget travelers, making it easy to stay for a few weeks without spending a lot. Just thank the amazing exchange rates, abundance of street food and lots of cheap hostels and free or cheap activities.
1. Hanoi, Vietnam
Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam and easily tops the list of cheapest destinations in Asia. Although it is totally budget-friendly, it’s also known for its rich culture—you’ll find a unique blend of Southeast Asian, Chinese and also French culture! Besides the amazing culture and the abundance of museums and ancient temples to see, Hanoi is also a great foodie destination. Pho, the popular (and delicious!) Vietnamese soup, is the obvious choice for must-try foods in Hanoi. Bun cha (pork soup), xoi xeo (sticky rice with mung bean) and of course, the amazing Vietnamese coffee are also must-try foods!
Exchange Rate: 1 USD to 23,300 vietnamese dong
Average Costs: Inexpensive meal: 50k VND ($2), One night hostel: 186k VND ($8)
Summer flights: from $686* RT
2. Chiang Mai, Thailand
If Thailand’s not near the top of your bucket list yet, it’s about time you moved it to the top. Between the amazing and iconic temples and history, the standout street food and the great exchange rate, Chiang Mai is any budget traveler’s paradise. The Old City of Chiang Mai holds a lot of Thai culture and is filled with stunning temples that you should definitely check out. But don’t forget to make time for pad thai from a street vendor, a trip to meet elephants or monkeys or a hike out to a waterfall.
Exchange Rate: 1 USD to 31 Thai Baht
Average Costs: Inexpensive meal: 50-100 baht ($2-3), One night hostel: 222-320 baht ($7-$10)
Summer flights: from $869* RT
3. New Delhi, India
India is a no-brainer for cheapest destinations in Asia: no matter which cities you’re visiting, it’s pretty easy to see on a budget. Why not start with Delhi, India’s capital and home to some of India’s iconic sights? In Old Delhi, you can see the Red Fort, a symbol of India, and ancient mosques. Or check out New Delhi, a more urban district. Either way, you’ll find plenty of history, tons of street food and markets and shopping galore. Of course, while you’re there, you might also want to make time for a day trip to the Taj Mahal.
Exchange Rate: 1 USD to 69 rupees
Average Costs: Inexpensive meal: 275 Rs ($4), One night hostel: 485 Rs ($7)
Summer flights: from $573* RT
4. Manila, Philippines
There’s so much to explore in the Philippines, but Manila is a great place to start. You might be surprised by how the city mixes modern skyscrapers and city vibes with Spanish architecture from the 16th-century. Explore both, then head out of town and start island hopping. Boracay, El Nido and Panglao Island are three of the most popular islands: picture white-sand beaches, palm trees, crystal-clear water and stunning forests. All on a budget? Yes, please.
Exchange Rate: 1 USD to 51 Philippine pesos
Average Costs: Inexpensive meal: 200 PHP ($4), One night hostel: 460 PHP ($9)
Summer flights: from $614* RT
Who doesn’t want to go to Bali? (No one, that’s who.) Thankfully, Bali is probably a lot more affordable than you think! Because the exchange rate is so good, Bali is still one of the cheapest destinations in Asia, even if you want to splurge on a fancier hotel or upscale meals. Not that you need to—Bali is famous, of course, for it’s stunning beaches, rainforests and coral reefs, all of which are free to explore. The south side of the island, near Kuta, also has some pretty amazing nightlife.
Exchange Rate: 1 USD to 14,250 Indonesian rupiah
Average Costs: Inexpensive meal: 28k Rp ($2), One night hostel: 128k ($9)
Summer flights: from $799* RT
6. Phuket, Thailand
Speaking of islands, island-hopping in Thailand is a great way to live big on a small budget. Phuket is one of Thailand’s most popular islands, home to rainforests and beaches galore. Besides getting an epic tan, you can also kayak around the island, go snorkeling or try ziplining through the rainforest. Looking for something more low-key? Shop in energetic markets, fill up on street food, enjoy a (super cheap!) day at the spa and party the night away with Phuket’s vibrant nightlife.
Exchange Rate: 1 USD to 31 Thai baht
Average Costs: Inexpensive meal: 100 baht ($3), One night hostel: 225 baht ($7)
Summer flights: from $725* RT
7. Taipei, Taiwan
If you’re looking for somewhere that really has it all, Taipei might be the answer. Although it’s a bit more expensive than some of the other places on this list, it’s still a bargain compared to most modern cities! Whether you’re looking for adventure, days in the city, energetic nightlife or just some delicious food, Taipei has it all. Fill up with a large Taiwanese breakfast or sample all the street food at the famous night markets. Relax in some natural springs or hike to a waterfall or even bike around the entire island!
Exchange Rate: 1 USD to 30 NT$
Average Costs: Inexpensive meal: 120 NT$ ($3.50-$4), One night hostel: 525 NT$ ($17)
Summer flights: from $544* RT
*A Note About Flight Prices: All prices were current at the time this was published. Prices are subject to availability and subject to change without notice. Prices are based on searches done in the last 14 days for roundtrip flights from the United States to select destinations between May 2019 and August 2019. Flight prices vary by date, departure city, arrival city and availability. All taxes/fees are included in the price, except certain government taxes, change fees and fees imposed in destination and airline baggage fees if applicable.