How your budget SE Asian holiday got expensive

How your budget SE Asian holiday got expensive
PHOTO: Shutterstock

Singaporeans are a lucky bunch when it comes to where they get to go on holiday.

Southeast Asian destinations like Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Indonesia offer some of the world's most sought after vacation experiences at shockingly affordable prices.

Still, it's not uncommon to realise with a shock that there are Singaporeans who manage to spend over a thousand bucks on a weekend trip to Bali.

Here are a couple of reasons the cost of your Southeast Asian vacation started skyrocketing.

You went to touristy restaurants and bars

A restaurant meal in Singapore is so expensive that many Singaporean tourists go nuts once they step into other Southeast Asian destinations.

They head for expensive bars like Ku De Ta or Rock Bar in Bali and fancy restaurants like L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Bangkok.

Sure, these might cost less than their equivalents in Singapore, but they are certainly not options most locals pick every day.

Eat and drink like that every day of your holiday and you'll find that you've spent a lot more than you do in Singapore. Ouch.

You took cabs everywhere

Transportation in Southeast Asia can be quite cheap in comparison to Singapore's, but unless you're travelling in a big group, do not take taxis everywhere indiscriminately if you're on a budget.

Many Singaporean tourists in Bangkok don't even bother checking the locations of their destinations, jumping into a cab even if they're going somewhere that's within walking distance or when they're right next to a BTS Skytrain station.

Unless you take cabs everywhere in Singapore, your transport costs are sure to add up if you're not careful.

You got ripped off when buying stuff

Bargaining in small shops and street markets is par for the course in many Southeast Asian countries like Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and Cambodia.

As a foreigner, you're likely to be quoted prices many times the cost of what it would cost locals. Try to find out from a local how much a particular item should cost, or simply walk around and try to find similar items so you can compare prices.

Above all, be bold when you start bargaining and quote a lower price than you think is reasonable. Chances are you'll be able to get the item for less than you thought possible. And never be afraid to walk away.

You booked accommodation at a five star chain

Just because you want to enjoy fairly luxurious accommodation in major Southeast Asian destinations doesn't mean you have to pay out of your nose for it. But avoid five star resort or hotel chains, because these tend to be the most expensive of the lot.

Surf around on Agoda, sort the hotels by price and you'll discover some very nice little hotels and resorts with a lot more personality than the average Four Seasons or Mandarin at a fraction of the price.

Airbnb is also a fantastic and cheaper alternative, with some swanky pads looking nicer than hotel rooms. You just need to do a little more research

You didn't buy travel insurance

Things go wrong when you're on vacation, and in sometimes chaotic Southeast Asia, mishaps can and do happen.

Whether it's a bout of food poisoning, an accident on your rental scooter, a lost camera or a missed flight, you're going to be kicking yourself if you didn't buy travel insurance.

Disasters like that can cost more than the total price of your holiday, so it's worthwhile spending a little bit to get a good travel insurance plan.

If you're too lazy to compare insurance plans, check out MoneySmart's Travel Insurance Wizard.

MoneySmart.sg is Singapore’s leading personal finance portal, and aims to help people maximise their money with powerful tools and engaging content.

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