While our weak dollar could mean many Aussies will stick to home shores for holidays this year, there are a few destinations that are a short hop across the ocean and provide great bang for your buck.
Southeast Asian countries, such as Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore have long been popular spots for tourists looking for cheap holidays. More recently, these countries have been putting loads of money into tourism, trying to improve their image in the eyes of western and Chinese travellers by providing more luxury accommodation and dining options.
It’s working. But there’s more to Southeast Asia than these four nations.
Mainland Southeast Asia is also known as Indochina, and includes parts of eastern India, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar and west Malaysia.
Maritime Southeast Asia includes the Andaman and Nicobar Islands of India, Indonesia, east Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, East Timor, Brunei, Christmas Island, and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, and – some say – Taiwan.
Whether you’re looking for an authentic Asian experience or a higher-end holiday, where you can spoil yourself at a fraction of the cost of doing so back home, almost all travel in Southeast Asia is a bargain once you land.
Even so, finding affordable return flights to Southeast Asia is not difficult. Return flights to Indonesia go for as little as $269; return flights to Singapore can run as low as $395 and you can score return flights to Bangkok from as little as $450 – sometimes less.
And, according to SkyScanner, there are 24 airlines flying direct from Australia, so you’ll be able to choose from low-cost carriers all the way through to the 2018 airline of the year, Singapore Airlines.
Accommodation is cheap, too – and it’s not just crappy rooms with sheets like plastic shower curtains and dodgy ceiling fans – seven of the top 20 cheapest cities for five-star hotels in the world are in Southeast Asia. You can get a five-star room from as low as $24. Don’t believe me? Check out this list for Price of Travel, which includes lowest price to highest price for a five-star room (amount in brackets denotes number of hotels):
- $24 – $1090 – Kuta, Bali, Indonesia (120)
- $42 – $367 – Phuket, Thailand (30)
- $50 – $391 – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (50)
- $54 – $355 – Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (27)
- $65 – $161 – Vientiane, Laos (7)
- $68 – $560 – Bangkok, Thailand (84)
- $68 – $749 – Siem Reap, Cambodia (38)
- $72 – $491 – Chiang Mai, Thailand (24)
- $79 – $268 – Hanoi, Vietnam (19)
- $93 – $411 – Taipei, Taiwan (29)
Southeast Asian cities that travellers rave about are:
- Hanoi, Hoi An and Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam
- Luang Prabang and Vientiane, Laos
- Chiang Mai, Thailand
- Boracay Island and Cebu, Philippines
- Phnom Penh, Cambodia
- Yangon, Myanmar
Accommodation and cheap flights aren’t the only reasons to head to Southeast Asia this year. Sure, affordability and accessibility should rank high on your checklists, but the culture, ancient places, people, beaches, food and ease of travel are also super appealing reasons to visit.
So, if you’re looking for an enriching overseas holiday that won’t blow out your bottom line, Southeast Asia should definitely be on your radar.
Have you visited any Southeast Asian countries recently? How was your holiday? Can you recommend any destinations to our members?