Impossible! Just SGD 800 for 19 Days in Europe?!

Impossible! Just SGD 800 for 19 Days in Europe?!

6 European countries in 19 days – for ONLY SGD 800. Find out how this couple did it.

Well, obviously not Central Europe, but the part of Europe known as “The Balkans.”

In our previous post 18 Days Africa & Europe Under SGD 2.2k Nett, we included the cost of the air ticket. This time round, we shall post like how most other bloggers do it and exclude the cost of the SIN-Europe MultiCity Ticket.

Sounds a lot cooler this way!

The lesser the cooler right? Singaporean style!

But jokes aside, we didn’t get a reasonable price for flight tickets this time round as we booked the tickets just two weeks before our trip. You could do it for far less if you plan ahead.

“We”, this time refers to “The Girl”, who decided to join me at the last minute. My trip was more or less free as I was on an incentive trip with my company to Poland. The budget for this trip was based on “The Girl ” rather than “The Bald Guy” as it would not be fair to gauge my expenses based on a semi paid trip.

Countries travelled

1. Romania

europe budget travel

2. Bulgaria

3. Macedonia

4. Serbia

5. Czech Republic

6. Poland

Also read:10 Underrated Countries in Europe You Might Not Know About

Cost breakdown

Total airfare = SGD 2,100 (Doesn’t have to be this expensive for you if you book early enough.)
Lufthansa, Multi-City, SIN-Bucharest / Krakow-SIN = SGD 1,850
Air Serbia, Belgrade-Prague One Way = SGD 250

I’m pretty sure that we could have gotten a more reasonable pricing had we booked the main return tickets around 10-12 weeks in advance. A Multi City Lufthansa Air ticket costs around SGD 1,100 usually. Also, as we had already been to Hungary in our previous trip, we paid more for the Air Serbia ticket in order to bypass it.

19 days accommodation = SGD 95

Yes. You’re reading it correctly. It’s SGD 95 for our ENTIRE trips accommodation.

No couchsurfing or sleeping at train stations too. Well, it’s not exactly fair considering that we had 5 free nights living it up in a 5 Star hotel in Poland (Company trip for “The Bald Guy” remember?).

If you’re doing this route without free accommodation from your company, just add in an extra EUR 9 a night to be safe – that is the average cost of a hostel in Poland.

Loft hostel dorm, Sofia

We also spent another 4 nights on either a night bus or a night train, saving us quite a bit on accommodation.

Sleeping in a Couchette on the night train from Skojpe to Belgrade.

Waiting by our train at the Romanian/Bulgarian border crossing.

The cost of hostel accommodation in this part of Europe is anywhere from EUR 4–10 (SGD 6–15) for reasonable comfort. If a little more privacy is important to you, a private room would probably set you back EUR 25 (SGD 39) for two people.

Making a couple of Russian friends while staying in Hostel Jasmin, Serbia

I actually find the hostels in the Balkans / Eastern Europe of a higher standard than those in even Australia – and Australia has great hostels. There are a few kinds of Singaporeans who would have a problem staying in one of these. The “picky/privacy crazy/anti-social” Singaporeans, and the “spoilt” ones of course.

If you don’t fall into any of these categories, congratulations! You can look forward to a lot more European holidays than your spendthrift friends.

Food / drink and “happy spending” = SGD 300

EUR 10 (SGD 15) each day.

That’s the amount we usually set aside for lunch and dinner in the more “affordable” European countries. We allocate an extra EUR 5 (SGD 8) a day for “Happy Spending”. This budget turned out to be comfortable enough in Romania.

I remember having a traditional Romanian dinner in a popular local restaurant. A full meat dish costs EUR 11 (SGD 17) for the BOTH of us inclusive of drinks!

An example of “Happy Spending”. The Girl having Romanian style donuts with chocolate at a food fair in Brasov, like our Pasar Malam.

Our next stop was Bulgaria; and boy, were we in for a surprise. The EUR 10 (SGD 15) a day we set aside was way too much for one person. We dined in local restaurants for dinner and ordered sides, drinks, a main and a dessert. Just to give you an idea – a 700g Stewed Pork Knuckle cost us EUR 3.5 (SGD5)! When we felt we could eat no more, the waiter presented us with the bill.

EUR 9.6 (SGD 14.8) for the both of us. Perfect.

A lot of travellers remarked that the cost of living in Macedonia was even cheaper than that of Bulgaria’s. We didn’t find that to be entirely true; or maybe we just didn’t discover the right places. You know, we’re Singaporeans; and we Singaporeans get complacent when everything seems so cheap. We didn’t even bother looking for local restaurants anymore and just willingly walked into tourist traps because it was too cheap for us to bother.

The result?

A seafood dinner of freshwater fish right on Lake Ohrid itself for just EUR 8 (SGD 12) each! With drinks and tips added? EUR 10 (SGD 15) each! Perhaps if we had gone to a local restaurant it might have been cheaper.

Cevapcici for lunch in Macedonia. Not as authentic as those in Bosnia or Serbia though!

We were happy to be in Belgrade for the food at least. I love Cevapcici (some kind of sausage), a national dish of Bosnia and Serbia. I remember having it for almost every meal last year when we were in Bosnia.

Typical meat shop in Belgrade where you choose the meat and the chef prepares it for you.

The meat of our choice sizzling on the grill. Yummy!

We were pleasantly surprised to find that traditional Czech food was different from what we had been having so far. At this point, we were both a little sick of meat. Fortunately we made a couple of Czech friends who treated us to authentic Czech food with the locals’ seal of approval on both the taste and the price.

Traditional Czech Dumplings with Beef Goulash and Jam

Oh, did I forget to mention? The Czech Republic has the cheapest beers ever. Yes, even cheaper than those in Macedonia and Bulgaria, and brewed in a way unique to the Czech Republic. The beer is the main thing that’s cheap though. As for the food, even where the locals eat, prices creep up to between EUR 3–5 (SGD 5–8) for a dish. Still cheap, but no longer on a “Macedonian level” thanks to the tourists.

Our Czech home brew beers for EUR 0.40 (SGD 0.60) each!

In Poland, The Girl had to settle her own meals. She spent around EUR 6–8 (SGD 8–12) for a main dish, exceeding our usual EUR 10 (SGD 15) a day budget.

Poland’s version of our “Pasar Malam” The Girl’s source of meals

Still, decent pricing considering that she ate on the main square of Krakow for most days. The Bald Guy was having his dinner in Michelin Starred restaurants, boats and at most tourist traps. Thus , only “The Girl’s” food pricing is relevant.

Yummy Polish style Mushrooms as “Happy Spending”

Transport, local tours and attractions = SGD 370

In Romania, Transylvania is supposed to be THE region to visit. In Bucharest, it probably has one of Europe’s most boring capitals, BUT it does have a beautiful old town in Brasov that truly looks like the vampire villages you see at the movies.

Also read: Road Trippin’ From Buddapest to Romania: A Travel Story

The Girl in the town of Brasov

We did find the whole vampire thing overhyped though. If we didn’t go there expecting so much, we probably would have enjoyed it a little more.

Having fun in the village of Bran with a friend we made in the hostel.

I think we paid EUR 10 (SGD 15) for the entrance to the “World’s Most Boring Castle” aka Bran Castle, or Dracula’s Castle, which has nothing to do with Dracula anyway. Peles Castle just 1.5 hours away from Bran is much more impressive and costs less too.

The overhyped Bran Castle

We managed to save quite a bit on attractions in Bulgaria as entrances to cathedrals, monasteries, etc were free. These cathedrals are in no way inferior to those in “Singaporean’s Europe” (yeah I would know, I’ve been to both) and cost nothing for admission.

Also read: 15 Stunning Castles in Europe You Wish You Could Live In

Admiring the church frescos at Rila Monastery

Unfortunately, the “places of interest” in Bulgaria are relatively far from each other so more money has to be spent on transport rather than the attractions. The nearest beach to Sofia in Varna is at least 6 hours away.

We visited Bulgaria’s 2nd largest city Plovdiv (above) for its old town and ancient Roman ruins, its capital Sofia, and took a day tour to the Rila Mountain to visit Bulgaria’s answer to Paris’s Eiffel Tower or Rome’s Colosseum – The Rila Monastery (below).

For me (The Bald Guy), Macedonia was probably the country I enjoyed most on this trip. It’s as interesting as it is beautiful. Skopje, the Capital of Macedonia, looks like Europe during the era of Alexander the Great. The weird thing is, everything is new (built like in 2013?) and built just for tourists to take nice photos.

The Macedonian government seems to be trying to turn Macedonia into the next tourist hotspot. I’m glad we paid Macedonia a visit before it becomes a Singaporean hotspot like what Egypt and Turkey have become.

We had a 20 minute sail in the famous Lake Ohrid for a total of EUR 5 (SGD 8)! How much did you pay for your Gondola ride in Venice?

Selfie time with Lake Ohrid in the background

Admission to the castle at Ohrid was EUR 0.50 (SGD 0.70). If I were to compare the prices with the rest of the Balkans, this is way cheaper! We paid EUR 3 (SGD 4.6) in Montenegro to walk the fortifications, and EUR 15 (SGD 23) to walk the city walls of Dubrovnik. Macedonia is a perfect example of a country yet to be tainted by too many tourists…

The Church of Saint Sava, Belgrade. Among the largest orthodox churches in the world

I won’t say much because we only spent two days in Belgrade. I wish we had spent time in Novi Sad instead. Two days in Belgrade was two days too many. One day is more than enough in this boring city. At night though, the city comes alive. Strip bars, clubs, and parties all night. Cost wise, it’s slightly above Macedonia and Bulgaria. But on EUR 10 (SGD 15) a day? You still won’t have a problem.

Also read: 10 Underrated Countries in Europe You Might Not Know About

The Girl in the old town of Prague posing with the famous astronomical clock. See all the tourists behind?

Walking around Prague is like manoeuvring your way about the IT Fair at Suntec City. Prague is also arguably the most touristy city in Eastern Europe but absolutely beautiful. We spent an entire day here before catching the night train to Krakow. One day is NOT ENOUGH for Prague. Two days would be ideal in my opinion. Luckily, we had our Czech friends to show us around; this made sightseeing a lot more efficient.

The view from Prague Castle

Sightseeing in Prague castle costs easily EUR 15–20 (SGD 15–31) if you wish to view the inside. It would be helpful to pay for a full day transportation pass so you don’t tire yourself out with walking. Most attractions are walkable and within the old town. You have to cross the famous Charles Bridge to get to the other side. By mid day though, you would be glad you paid for a pass as there are a few attractions like the castle and cable car that might be best enjoyed going by bus rather than on foot.

The Charles Bridge with hordes of tourists

We spent most of our time in Krakow, the cultural capital of Poland. They have a beautiful old town, (not on Prague’s level but without the massive crowds except on weekends) and it was a fantastic experience getting picked up by the horse drawn carriages to ferry us to the main square for coffee.

If you’re a history buff, you will love Krakow. With Schindler’s Factory (ever watch the movie Schindler’s List?) and the Auschwitz Conventration Camp, this city is overflowing with history. We got out of Krakow to nearby Zakopane, which reminded me of a mini Switzerland with its green hills and snowy mountains, and the Wieliczka Salt mines.

In our opinion, Krakow deserves 3–4 days, nothing more. It’s beautiful and most attractions are within a couple of hours from the city centre. Still it might get boring if you spent 6 days there like we did.

The Girl with her new found travel buddy while The Bald Guy was away for his conference.

The Bald Guy attempting a jump shot with his colleagues at Zakopane

Souvenirs = SGD 30

This was enough for The Girl to buy her usual magnets. One for each of the six countries AND chocolates for her colleagues. When we were in Austria, the cheapest magnet we saw cost at least SGD 7!

Now, as I mentioned in my previous post, travelling is not a contest. If it was, we’d have lost a long way back because many others have gone to a lot more countries far more exotic than we have.

However, what this DOES show, is ANY Singaporean (by any I am assuming you don’t have a family/mental/physical issue and you’re a fellow who’s able to own an iPhone, LV wallet and have a meal at Sushi Tei) can afford to have a decent European holiday without having to survive a diet of bread and water and sleeping at train stations.

And for those of you who think we don’t spend enough time in each country; saying something along lines of “better to spend all your days in one country and really see it than rush through a few at one time”?

My question to you is this. “Have you been to America?” Because most people I know have been to L.A, S.F, L.V, and NY. (And so have I) America has fifty states though; most with iconic enough attractions. How many states have you been to? 5? 8? How about 30? “What? You didn’t visit the other 20 states!? You should spend more time there, travelling the way you do is not real travelling.

Comparing, competing; they never end. My take is this; just make a note of 3–5 things or activities you really wish to see or experience in each country, know how long you have, and work your way around the countries in that region.

Quit your job to travel? Great for you. Still employed? Don’t be disheartened, we’re employed too.

If you’re reading this on a computer, an iPhone /android or tablet – congratulations, an exotic European holiday awaits you! OR for SGD 800, you could go to Taiwan and eat street food till you drop. Your holiday, you decide.

Also read: 18 Invaluable Tips for Saving Money on Your Europe Trip

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Contributed by A Girl And A Bald Traveller.

About Author

A Girl & A Bald Traveller
A Girl & A Bald Traveller

A Girl & A Bald Traveller is about the adventures of a Singaporean couple who attempt to travel the world without breaking the bank or quitting their jobs. They believe in "Exotic Travel" & hope to goad Singaporeans out of their "Herd Mentality" to see more than just the New York's and Milan's of the world.


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