What Were the Most/Least Expensive Places to Travel Per Day?

As you might have gathered from reading some of our recent posts, we enjoy gathering and analyzing data- especially when this data regards the costs of our recent RTW adventure.

We kept detailed budget information on all of the places that we visited, in part to see how much we actually spent in total for our 10 months of travel, but also to look at the information broken down by country. We recently wrote about how much we spent in total and were excited that we had managed to keep under our goal of spending less than $100/day on the trip.

But for those of us who are really curious about data, or those who might be considering trips to some of the countries we visited, we have a bit more information!

We visited a total of 29 countries on our RTW trip, but for various reasons, we kept a budget breakdown by country of only 17 of them (as well as a budget for our whole self-drive safari in southern Africa). Some of the reasons we didn’t include a country might be: we visited for only a day so the data isn’t that valid or interesting (Egypt, Zimbabwe, Germany, Macau), we visited with our parents and they either changed our mode of travel significantly or paid for a significant portion of the trip so we felt like the data would not accurately represent what we did there (Czech Republic, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia Herzegovina), we visited friends/family/relatives at home (USA), or our activities ended up being so strange and out of the ordinary that they don’t represent a normal trip to the country (Nepal). We also kept our budget for our self-drive safari as a whole rather than separate the countries we visited (Botswana, Namibia).

We took the data that we were keeping which was in categories for spending (Accommodation, Activities, Alcohol, Food, Miscellaneous, Transport, and Visas) and divided each of those out by day to get some idea of which countries were expensive in which categories.

Here are the countries we have full data on in alphabetical order.

expenses per day

As you can see: 17 countries plus our self-drive safari were looked at. They cover three continents: Africa, Europe, and Asia.

We kept a record of how many days we were in each country.

expenses per day days

The shortest amounts of time were in countries that we managed to plan last minute layovers in on our way somewhere else (Ireland and Singapore). We actually are a little regretful that we didn’t spent more time in Poland. As it was, we only crossed the southwestern corner and visited only one city there. Krakow was great and it whet our appetite to see much more of Poland. Hong Kong is small so we spent a short time there, but we ended up wishing we had more! The longest visits were in the places that were farthest away, places where we felt a return trip was slightly less likely. Our self-drive safari took us to 4 countries and was the longest period of time where we did one activity on the entire trip.

Average Accommodation Costs Per Day

expenses per day accommodation

Our cheapest accommodations were, unsurprisingly, in southeast Asia. The surprise there is that Turkey was so affordable. The great thing about all of those is that we also got nicer accommodation in all those places than in some of the others. We almost never stayed in a dorm in SE Asia for example, whereas, our most expensive nights were in Ireland where we rented just one room in someone’s home. Singapore and Hong Kong both were high and both of those rooms were small and relatively uncomfortable. The self-drive safari were all campsites (!) yet this ranks on the more expensive half of our accommodations. Strange.

Average Activities Costs Per Day

expenses per day activities

This is, no doubt, a difficult one to compare. Activities costs depend largely on time of year, length of stay, and interests. Montenegro was low, for example, because we didn’t do a lot while we were there. We took a week to calm down and relax, mostly walking and people watching. Vietnam and Thailand rank more expensive on this list, but that is in part because the cost of activities were so low there, that we chose to do more! For example, we took many day tours in both those places: days with elephants, cooking classes, cave tours, guided excursions, etc. We did none of those things in Albania, choosing more “do it ourselves” activities. However, this does give you a decent representation of activity costs. Ireland and Singapore were very high and that shows!

Average Food Costs Per Day

expenses per day food

Our lowest costs here were in SE Asia again – with the weird standout being Cambodia. We’re not sure what to say about that except that it was the beginning of our experience with hot, humid SE Asia. We weren’t tough yet and looked for places with indoor seating and AC which undoubtedly increased our costs. Bali ranks high because we traveled with some friends who really enjoy food! Our self-drive safari comes in low (for the first time) because we did all of our cooking for ourselves. The same can be said of Montenegro, which also comes in pretty cheap. For our entire week there, we only ate out once. Interestingly though, Vietnam and Thailand come in very cheap and we ate out for almost every meal there! They both are excellent places to be if you enjoy eating! Ireland was just plain pricey!

Average Transportation Costs Per Day

expenses per day transportation

Not surprisingly, our self-drive safari comes in the most expensive here with the cost of renting our safari truck and paying for gas. It is frustrating to see Greece come in so high, especially because the transportation there ended up being so unreliable. Albania was a true winner in this area – easy transport (though not super comfortable) and very cheap prices.

So… What were the most and least expensive places?! Let’s find out!

Average Total Cost Per Day

expenses per day total

Our cheapest country was Albania! Who would have thought that the least expensive place to travel would have been somewhere in Europe? The most expensive by far was our self-drive safari. This also seems a bit of a surprise because we were driving ourselves and staying in campsites along the way. Other things we noticed which muddle the data: We tended to spend more in places were we spent the least amount of time (see Ireland, Hong Kong, and Singapore). We think we felt the pressure to cram the same amount of things in but had to do it in a hurry. This definitely caused higher average per day costs.

There you have it! Check out our activities in each country to get a better idea of how this data might relate to you and your travel style.

What Were the Cheapest Places We Stayed?

Over the course of our round-the-world trip, we stayed in quite a variety of accommodations, from campsites to dorm rooms to AirBnb apartments. The price range varied widely as well. We ran some numbers and came up with a list of the 10 cheapest places we stayed. The price shown is the total cost for the two of us.

This does not include the nights where we had free accommodations by staying with friends and family, or when our parents treated us, or when we were on an overnight form of transportation.

10. Tie – AirBnb in Sarajevo and Emerald BB in Battambang, Cambodia – $15.33/night

When with Della’s parents in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, we got a nice two-bedroom unit with a large living room and kitchen for very cheap. Spoiler alert: this is the only place on the list that is not in Asia!

The living room of our Sarajevo Airbnb

The living room of our Sarajevo Airbnb

In Battambang, Cambodia, we got a nice room with an ensuite bathroom at the Emerald BB. Despite the name, breakfast was not included, and the building felt more like a hotel.

Our room at the Emerald BB in Battambang, Cambodia

Our room at the Emerald BB in Battambang, Cambodia

9. TopSky Hostel in Siem Reap, Cambodia – $15/night

We switched to this place for our last three nights in Siem Reap. Despite what the name implies, this felt more like a guesthouse. We got a private room with an ensuitre bathroom and A/C, which was nice to come back to after long days exploring the temples of Angkor.

Topsky

Topsky

8. Easy Tiger Hostel, Phong Nha, Vietnam – $14.85/night

We each got a bunk in the 4-bunk dorms at this popular hostel in Phong Nha. The dorm did have its own bathroom. Surprisingly, this is the only dorm that makes the list (since as you can see, private rooms are still pretty cheap in Asia).

 

The Easy Tiger

The Easy Tiger

7. Nonni Guesthouse, Chiang Mai, Thailand – $14.68/night

We stayed here on our first two nights in Chiang Mai but moved to a different place for a little more space, as the room was a little small and we had a shared bathroom across the hall. It had friendly and helpful staff.

Our first accommodations in Chiang Mai

Our first accommodations in Chiang Mai

6. Gieng Ngoc Hotel, Cat Ba, Vietnam – $14.60/night

Impressive because we even “splurged” for a room with a balcony overlooking the scenic Cat Ba harbor!

The view of Cat Ba harbor from our balcony

The view of Cat Ba harbor from our balcony

5. Hotel Bright Star, Kathmandu, Nepal – $12/night

This family-run hotel had a nice location in the tourist area of Kathmandu, and the owner was very kind and helpful. We really hope that he is able to rebuild his place that was damaged after the neighboring building collapsed in the earthquake.

Hotel Bright Star on its quiet street

Hotel Bright Star on its quiet street

4. Sunny Hotel, Hue, Vietnam – $11.97/night

We had a nice but small room on the top floor of this friendly hotel in Hue. We got a lot of exercise walking up and down the stairs to get there!

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3. Vadsana, Pak Beng, Laos – $9.92/night

This was where we stayed on our first night of our trip on the slow boat from Luang Prabang to Thailand. It was a basic room but decent-sized room, and we didn’t spend much time here anyway.

Della and Eric's hotel room

Della and Eric’s hotel room

2. Thanomsub, Huay Xai, Laos – $8.68/night

This was our room the second night of the slow boat trip in this border town. We were able to lower the rate slightly by negotiating as a group with other people on our boat. Again this was quite a bit of room for a small fee.

IMG_5951

1. Surya Peak Guest House, Syabru Besi, Nepal – $2/night

By far our cheapest room of the entire trip was at this guesthouse at the start of our Langtang Trek. It was pretty basic, with thin walls and a very rustic bathroom down the hall, but there weren’t many other people staying there so it was quite comfortable.

IMG_1148

 

 

It’s interesting to us to look back over this list and realize how many of these “cheap” places were actually very comfortable to stay at. Many people think that to afford a long trip you have to only stay in the rattiest dorms, but as you can see, in many parts of the world you can get your own room with its own bathroom and not have to break the bank.

 

RTW Budget: Under $100/day??

This is one of our Budget series of posts to give you an idea of how much we spent traveling around the world. This is our wrap up post which will answer the questions you’ve all been dying to know: How much did we spend on our 10 month RTW trip? Did we meet our goal of spending an average of $100/day?

Let’s find out!

Total Spent (309 days): $29,827.38

We visited 29 countries on our RTW trip and were on the trip for 309 days. Egypt (just 1 day), South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe (just 1 day), Namibia, Germany (just 1 day), Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Greece, Turkey, Ireland, USA, Myanmar, Singapore, Indonesia (just Bali), Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Macau, and Nepal.

We did return to the USA for a few weeks in December, so we were actually out of the country for 282 days.

A few other things to remember while reading these stats:

1. Our parents visited us several times along the way. This screws with the numbers a little bit because they did choose to “play the parent card” a number of times which lowers our cost. However, there were certain situations where we stayed in slightly higher quality places, or traveled at a faster speed when they were with us which might have slightly increased our cost.

2. When we were at home in the States our accommodation cost/food cost were very low.

3. When were in the states, we bought Christmas presents for friends and family which we did include in our final numbers.

Accommodation: $7,869.29

This was 26% of our total cost of the trip.

Activities: $3,456.50

This was 11% of our total trip cost.

Alcohol: $593.38

We only count alcohol costs when it is not purchased with other food. This was 2% of the our total trip cost.

Food: $5,401.19

This was 18% of our total trip cost.

Miscellaneous: $1,768.08

This category includes any costs that don’t fit into the other categories. It could be things like postcards, souvenirs, laundry, bathroom, our wordpress costs, etc. This was 6% of our total cost.

Transportation: $10,129.86

This was 34% of the total cost. This is surprising to us because we used airline miles for the majority of our large flight costs, which means that this is significantly lower than it could have been!

Visas: $609.07

This is 2% of the total cost.

This divides out to $96.53/day including our time at home! We were so thrilled that we met our $100/day average for the two of us!

 

RTW Expenses

Budget: Hong Kong

This is one of our Budget series of posts to give you an idea of how much we spent traveling around the world. Here we will look at Hong Kong and Macau. Check our posts to see what kind of activities we did and where we stayed!

In Hong Kong we used the Hong Kong Dollars. We converted to US dollars using the current conversion rates at the time of our visit. It was approximately 8 Hong Kong Dollars to $1.00.

Total Spent (6 days): $649.26

Accommodation: $258.43

This felt very expensive compared to the prior countries we had been visiting in southeast Asia. It was a tiny room for a lot of money!

Activities: $59.41

This included taking the peak tram, cable car to the Big Buddha, and a few museums.

Alcohol: $5.16

We only count alcohol costs when it is not purchased with other food. This was only 1 beer! Very different from Vietnam!

Food: $151.24

Again, we had a big of sticker shock comparing the food prices to those of our prior countries of Thailand and Vietnam. We ate out only once a day at the most. We bought snacks from the grocery store for breakfast and dinner. Dinner was a bit hard as we didn’t have a kitchen in our small hotel room. We only bought things we could heat in a microwave!

Miscellaneous: $21.89

This included some postcards, a few souvenirs and a load of laundry. We also had a little cost of currency exchange.

Transportation: $153.12

It was quite convenient to use the public transportation system in Hong Kong. We purchased an Octopus Card at the airport which covered all forms of transit! The only extra we paid was for our boat to and from Macau and the buses there.

This divides out to $108.21/day which is over our $100/day budget. Hong Kong was much  more expensive than the countries we had visited previously in SE Asia. We had a short time in Hong Kong so we tried to do a lot quickly. We also spent quite a bit so that we could do a day trip to Macau. We tried to keep our costs down by eating out rarely and doing a lot of self-guided walking tours. But, we did choose to pay a bit more to stay in a nicer place. We had heard reports of cheaper places but those all seemed quite sketchy. Overall, it was a bit challenging to stay to our budget, but we are still happy with our time in Hong Kong.

Budget: Vietnam

This is one of our Budget series of posts to give you an idea of how much we spent traveling around the world. Here we will look at Vietnam. Check our posts to see what kind of activities we did and where we stayed!

In Vietnam we used the Vietnamese Dong. We converted to US dollars using the current conversion rates at the time of our visit. It was approximately 20,000 Dong to $1.00.

IMG_9513_edt

Total Spent (20 days): $1324.30

Accommodation: $327.40

We stayed in mostly small hotels and guesthouses. We stayed in one dorm room in Phong Nha.

Activities: $306.80

This included all museum entrance fees. Amazingly, it also included four day tours: Cu Chi Tunnels, My Son, kayaking in Cat Ba, and the most expensive: a cave tour in Phong Nha.

Alcohol: $6.80

We only count alcohol costs when it is not purchased with other food. However, beer is amazingly cheap in Vietnam. This price includes 6 separate instances of buying alcohol (for two).

Food: $259.61

Food is delicious and affordable in Vietnam! Many of our accommodations also included free breakfast!

Miscellaneous: $47.98

This was mostly laundry and sending postcards. We also purchased new sunscreen which was a little expensive. We bought a few souvenirs which we were able to send home with Della’s parents.

Transportation: $257.72

We did quite a bit of moving around in Vietnam. This included buses, an overnight train, air flights, cabs, airport pick ups, and some bike rentals!

Visas: $118

Visas are a bit complicated for Vietnam. First you have to gain an approval letter which you must do before you arrive in the country. There are a couple of options for how to get the approval. We used a website called Hotels in Vietnam. It was a pretty, easy but somewhat expensive and time consuming process. We applied for the letter on the 14th of the month and didn’t get it electronically  until the 17th. Once you have the letter, you print it out and take it with you. When you arrive in Vietnam, you must have the letter and passport photos and you must pay another fee. Even though we did everything right, it still took close to half an hour to get the visas processed in the Saigon airport.

This divides out to $66.22/day which is under $100/day budget! Now that’s what we were hoping for in Asia! We even felt like we splurged on activities and accommodations, and we were able to remain this low, so it just goes to show that Vietnam can be an inexpensive place to travel.

 

 

Budget: Thailand

This is one of our Budget series of posts to give you an idea of how much we spent traveling around the world. Here we will look at Thailand. Check our posts to see what kind of activities we did and where we stayed!

In Thailand we used the Thai Baht. We converted to US dollars using the current conversion rates at the time of our visit. It was approximately 3 baht to $0.01.

IMG_8902_edt

 

Total Spent (23 days): $1415.20

Accommodation: $390.07

We stayed in several places in Thailand. Our first time was in Bangkok for a few days in January before we headed to Myanmar. We returned to Thailand on the the 5th of March and we stayed mostly in small hotels or guesthouses. Much of our time in Thailand, we were traveling with Della’s parents. There was one hotel that we stayed at for 2 nights that Della’s parents paid for as a gift.

Activities: $369.65

This included a lot of things! Entrance fees to museums and wats, a movie in Bangkok, a day with elephants, a cooking class, and even a snorkeling trip!

Alcohol: $31.53

We only count alcohol costs when it is not purchased with other food.

Food: $327.73

We loved the food in Thailand and often ate out for lunch and dinner. Only a very few of our accommodations included breakfast, so we often purchased that as well.

Miscellaneous: $46.38

This included a lot of added toiletries as well as several souveniers. It is amazing how many things we start to buy when we know that we can send it home with Della’s parents! 😉 We also had to purchase a new battery for Eric’s fitbit.

Transportation: $249.67

We traveled around a lot in Thailand! This cost is actually quite low when you think about where we went. We traveled by bus from Chiang Rai, to Chiang, Mai, to Mae Sot, to Sukhothai, to Ayuthaya. Then we traveled by train to Bangkok. After that, we flew to Koh Lanta.

This divides out to $61.53/day which is under $100/day budget! Now that’s what we were hoping for in Asia! We even felt like we splurged on activities and accommodations, and we were able to remain this low, so it just goes to show that Thailand can be an inexpensive place to travel.

Budget: Laos

This is one of our Budget series of posts to give you an idea of how much we spent traveling around the world. Here we will look at Laos. Check our posts to see what kind of activities we did and where we stayed!

In Laos we used the Laotian Kip. We converted to US dollars using the current conversion rates at the time of our visit. It was approximately 8,000 Kip to $1.00.

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Total Spent (12 days): $890.56

Accommodation: $311.48

We stayed in several places in Laos – 3 hotels, 2 guesthouses, and 1 hostel. The guesthouse we stayed at in Luang Prabang was beautiful and probably a little bit pricier than we would have stayed if we had not been with family.

Activities: $116.33

This included entrance fees for museums and wats, as well as a fee to cross a bamboo bridge in Luang Prabang. The majority comes from a day tour we did in Vang Vieng.

Alcohol: $11.78

We only count alcohol costs when it is not purchased with other food. This included several afternoon beers.

Food: $199.14

We ate out one to two times per day. A few of our guesthouses included breakfast, but not all.

Miscellaneous: $42.38

This included several souvenirs… More than we’ve bought almost anywhere in Asia. (A secret: It included some gifts for some special people in our lives!) Eric also got his hair cut!

Transportation: $137.44

We took buses between major cities, including one of the worst bus rides we’ve had in a long time, as well as two days on a slow boat to get to Thailand.

Visas: $72

It should have only been $70, but we stupidly forgot our passport pictures in our checked luggage and had to purchase them for $2.

This divides out to $74.21/day which is under $100/day budget! Still a little bit higher than we were hoping for countries in Asia. However, we stayed in mostly the biggest tourist cities and bought more souvenirs than is our norm.