Southeast Asia Travel Budget and 6 Month Budget Review JetSetting Fools

Southeast Asia travel budget (and six month budget review)

Sticking to our budget is key for traveling long term, so we’ve limited ourselves to an average of $100 per day for accommodation, food, drinks, public transportation and any miscellaneous costs that pop up (and they always do). The only thing that takes precedence over the budget is whether or not we’re enjoying the journey. After compiling  our Southeast Asia travel budget report, we can report that we are excelling in both categories.

After our lengthy stay in New Zealand and Australia, we pushed our daily average above our target, but two months in Southeast Asia put it right back on track. In 62 days, we visited Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand and came out on the budget just slightly higher than we anticipated (clearly a trend), but not even close to our $100 per day allowance.

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Long Beach, Koh Lanta, Thailand JetSetting Fools

A look at Long Beach, Koh Lanta

After being in Koh Lanta for more than a week and only leaving Klong Khong Beach once (to go on the Four Island Tour), we decided it was high time to check out another stretch of sand. Not too far to the north of us is Phra Ae (Long) Beach, which, as the name implies, is a lengthy beach, capped with rocky hills. The majority of restaurants and shops are clustered at the ends with sprawling resorts occupying much of the middle section. We made the short trip from Klong Khong Beach to Long Beach, Koh Lanta for a walk, a swim and lunch. 

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Daily Life on Koh Lanta, Thailand JetSetting Fools

Daily life on Koh Lanta, Thailand

We’ve eased into our little slice of beach heaven on Klong Khong Beach just fine. Our rhythm of quiet mornings, afternoon swims and beach sunsets is as soothing as the ocean itself. Boredom isn’t looming, as we are still intrigued by daily life on Koh Lanta.

Daily life on Koh Lanta: Family run

The resorts and restaurants here are family run. In fact, the only chain in town is the 7-11, which still hasn’t cornered the market as several family run convenience stores offer more variety and better prices. Resorts take up the space between the road and the beach, but aren’t beachfront. Instead, the associated resort restaurant and semi-attached bar face the ocean.

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Four Island Tour from Koh Lanta, Thailand JetSettingFools.com

Four Island Tour from Koh Lanta, Thailand

Several large monoliths are scattered in the Andaman Sea just off the coast of Koh Lanta. Some are sheer rock, others have small beaches along the edge and a few have swimmable caves. The reef that lies just below the surface is a feasting ground for fish and offers fantastic snorkeling spots for sea-loving humans. This small cluster of islands are the main attraction for the Four Island Tour from Koh Lanta.

Four Island Tour from Koh Lanta: A Full-day itinerary

Traditional Thai Longtail boats leave from the Old Town Pier and tote people out for a day of exploration at Koh Maa, Koh Chuek, Koh Waen, Koh Mook and Koh Ngai. (Yes, I know I just named five islands, not only four, but I didn’t name the tour!)

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Life on Koh Lanta Thailand JetSetting Fools

Life on Koh Lanta: A typical day

Long-term travel definitely has its benefits, one being the ability to slow down and take our time to get to know a destination. That is exactly what we are doing as we live the life on Koh Lanta. It didn’t take long after we arrived to settle into the slow pace of island life. A typical day requires little effort and lots of sand. 

Life on Koh Lanta: Klong Khong Beach

The island’s west side has several beaches, and our hillside abode is just across the street from Klong Khong Beach. All along the three kilometer stretch of sand are bars, restaurants, beach spas and hotels. Workers aren’t shy about calling out to passersby to invite them in for a meal, massage or fresh made cocktail. Happy hours are as abundant as the bamboo loungers and are ideal for blazing sunsets.

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Visit Koh Lanta in the Low Season Thailand JetSetting Fools

Visit Koh Lanta in low season: Where to stay, How to get there

After spending two weeks in northern Thailand in the city of Chiang Mai, we headed south to the islands. There are heaps to choose from; Phuket and Koh Samui are more popular and commercialized, but we were looking for something a little more quiet and local…and we found just that in Koh Lanta. There are pros and cons to visit Koh Lanta in low season, being Where to Stay and How to get There (respectively) – among other things.

Visit Koh Lanta in low season: Where to stay

To visit Koh Lanta in low season means a choice of accommodations for less. Coming in just at the end of low season, we scored a newly constructed apartment at Phutara Lanta Resort just across the street from the beach for less than $40 USD a night. It sits on the northern edge of Klong Khong Beach on a hill and we can just catch a glimpse of the ocean. The semi-secluded location (currently only three other units) gives us space and privacy that is non-existent on the beachfront properties.

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Chiang Mai Trekking Trip Thailand JetSetting Fools

Chiang Mai trekking trip

Daytrips from Chiang Mai can take tourists trekking in the forest, zip lining over the trees; to see elephants, tigers, or butterflies; to hill tribes, nearby towns or faraway temples and can be booked for a half day, full day, two or even three days. It can be exhausting trying to determine which one – or ones – to take. After much debate, we finally settled on a Chiang Mai trekking trip that was within our budget and would give us just a taste of what lies beyond the city limits.

Our one-day Chiang Mai trekking trip included playing with elephants, bamboo rafting, eating a local lunch, visiting a hill tribe, trekking through scenic landscapes and swimming at a waterfall (with an English-speaking guide and an air conditioned bus) all for $30 each.

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Buddhism in Chiang Mai Thailand JetSetting Fools

Signs of Buddhism in Chiang Mai, Thailand

It would be nearly impossible to visit Chiang Mai without noticing the strong connection the residents have with Buddhism in Chiang Mai. Besides all the temples, almost every house, shop, café, hotel and even street corner has a ‘spirit house’ where daily offerings of food, drink, flowers and incense are placed for loved ones who have passed away. It is part of daily life in Chiang Mai to see orange-robed monks walking or riding on the back of scooters throughout town. But, there are so many more signs of Buddhism in Chiang Mai that indicated we are in a country where Buddhism ranks as the number one religion.

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Chiang Mai on a budget Monks, Markets and Menus JetSettingFools.com

Chiang Mai on a budget: monks, markets and menus

We are seriously kicking back, relaxing and giving our budget a rest in Chiang Mai, which is a pretty easy place to do it. Our preferred location for our walkabouts is within the Old City walls through the web of narrow sois (alleys), past an endless number of temples, shops and cafes. Getting out on foot without a destination has allowed us to absorb the atmosphere and find some of the more local spots in town. We’ve kept ourselves thoroughly entertained without hardly spending a baht. Chiang Mai on a budget can easily be done with entertaining monk chats, daily markets and delicious, local food on the menus.

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