Backpacking Indochina: Practical Tips to Reduce Cost

Backpacking Indochina: Practical Tips to Reduce Cost

Backpacking across Indochina soon? Learn from this Filipino couple to save on travel cost.

Contributed by The WANDER (FULL) LIFE

Sharing our trip on Tripzilla was good because I was able to learn a lot from the people’s comments. While I find our trip just within our budget, I realised that it may have been too much for others. Our budget was ₱100k excluding the flight fare and accommodation (pre-paid). We spent only ₱80k for 4 countries which makes it ₱20k per country (₱10k/person/country).

We find our trip just enough but to those who find it steep on the budget, here’s a list of tips and tricks for you to significantly reduce your total backpacking cost.

Also read: Backpacking Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos & Thailand: 11-Day Itinerary & Cost Breakdown


One of our biggest expenses is the accommodation since we have them all pre-booked in AirBNB around 2-3 months before the date. While I am adventurous and a daredevil, the husband wanted a sure place to stay. He couldn’t imagine us jumping from place to place without proper accommodation at hand. Also, we have a listing on AirBNB. Using it as our main platform for accommodation is paying it forward.

Tip: In all of the four countries, there were lots of accommodations everywhere. If you are feeling brave, just booked only for your starting country since you might need it at the immigration or use other platforms other than AirBNB and see if you can find a much better deal.


Jumping from one country to the other is expensive. We’ve spent around ₱14k. These were all land trips since I wanted to experience the border crossings. Call it crazy but Indochina wouldn’t be the same had we flown all over. Expensive and battering but worth it. We were able to experience travelling in different modes of transport, plus we had a chance to immerse with the locals too. You can check this table for our fares and cross check it with flights. You might find a better deal than we did. The table had time duration too.

Also, Laos was super stretched. It was crazy going there from Vietnam. Most of the itineraries I saw on the net exclude Laos.

There was a miscalculation on the flight too. It would have been nice if we started from HCMC, Vietnam to Cambodia to Bangkok and then end in Laos. But we weren’t really thinking of the itinerary when we booked.

Tip: Don’t include Laos in your itinerary. Vang Vieng is not to be missed but you can do a trip to Laos separately. On this trip, we missed Luang Prabang so maybe you can include it in yours. In Laos alone, we’ve spent around 11K+ so if you exclude it, it’ll be cheaper.


When I made the plan, I only allocated around ₱8k. What happened was it ballooned to almost twice. Instead of just eating in the streets, we splurged a little. Ate at cafes and some to our heart’s desires. I’m a fan of thrift eating too but we’ve saved enough to eat nicely so why shouldn’t we?

Tip: Don’t eat at cafes. Be adventurous always and eat always in the streets.

Tours and private transportation while checking spots

I’m an avid DIYer but when you only have a day to spend in a city, you can’t help but splurged on the easy way or else you will be spending your day unwisely. Besides, we only have 11 days of travel in between these countries. We need to make use of our time wisely.

Tip: Haggle to the max. We didn’t really haggle much for ours.


The ₱40k is not all spent in Indochina trip only. We spent around ₱15K+ in our Manila lay-over. Look at our gdocs detail to see everything that we spent per country. Also, we splurged a little on buying stuff like couple shirts and souvenirs which were not actually part of our plan.

Tip: Be firm in your budget. Don’t be tempted with couple shirts and unique skirt (wore them on our 1st day in Vang Vieng). Don’t even think of buying souvenirs even if they are too cute. Don’t give tips and the likes. We spent ₱9k on these extras.


We planned this trip for almost 8 months since we booked the ticket on December 31, 2015. I’m an OC planner and I always try to make travel cheap. But maybe this is not cheap enough.

Tip: Next time on your next travel, make the itinerary first before the ticket. The greatest lesson I learned from this trip is to plot your itinerary first before getting a ticket especially if you plan on a multi-country route.

So is our trip expensive? Depends on whose perspective. But we’ve always been cautious travellers and we planned for things wisely. We are not some millennial traveller. For us, this is enough and money well spent. If you ever find a much cheaper version, do let us know.

Open our planning doc for more details. I just added a new sheet “Expense_Details” that has the day-to-day spending because we’ve been getting inquiries about entrances, etc.

I actually have all the data in my ever note so we can track our daily expenditure.

Cheering on you,

Miga & Migo

About Author

Kresia Julio
Kresia Julio

Kring is a woman of style whose fashion would make you doubt the validity of her stories in conquering mountains. She is a software engineer by profession, financial literacy advocate, fitness buff, DIY fan, AirBNB host and a big promoter of self-love but with a big heart to those in need. Her hobby includes blogging, scrap/photo booking, travelling, trekking and volunteering. She is easily bored thus the need to have more activities. This is where board gaming and jewellery making comes in. She is married to an introvert who understands and supports her OVERLY extrovert personality.


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