Asia, is large, and of course diverse. But when you move beyond the glitz and glamour of Hong Kong and Singapore you can find some of the least expensive and most inspiring travel destinations. We’ve compiled a list of what we think are the most interesting, and cheapest, destinations in eastern Asia.
1) Luang Prabang, Laos
Set amongst the mountains at the confluence of the Khan River and the Mekong River, Luang Prabang has become a popular tourist destination. Temples and old French architecture combine to create an intriguing and fascinating atmosphere.
2) Sa Pa, Vietnam
Set in the mountains of northern Vietnam, the town of Sa Pa provides access to some of the best trekking in the country. Wander through rice covered mountains or explore nearby villages. Sa Pa is a place you can linger indefinitely while you watch the clouds roll through.
3) Tiger Leaping Gorge, China
Escape from China’s crowded cities with a few day’s trekking along the scenic Tiger Leaping Gorge. There’s no need to pack a tent because you can stay in rustic accommodations provided by the locals. Eat basic but delicious meals along the trail and take in some amazing views.
4) Koh Tarutao, Thailand
Skip the crowded beaches of Phuket and Koh Phi Phi and head south to the border with Malaysia. Throw a tent in your bag and enjoy an almost isolated beach in this national park. No tent? There are basic cabins and a simple restaurant available. Yes, it is still possible to enjoy a solitary beach in Thailand.
5) Georgetown, Malaysia
Looking for the most diverse, delicious, and affordable food? Head to Georgetown, on the island of Penang. Indian, Chinese, and Malay food is abundant, and incredible. Feast your way through several days of this affordable fare.
6) Hoi An, Vietnam
Wander through old town streets. Eat local specialties. Buy hand-tailored clothes. Hoi An has options for everyone and it’s one of the most affordable stops in the already inexpensive country of Vietnam.
7) Dali, China
Visit Dali’s Old Town for examples of traditional architecture and minority cultures. Set in the Yunnan Province, it is both affordable and diverse.
8) Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Skip the more expensive cities of Hong Kong and Singapore and head to Malaysia’s glitzy capital for a fraction of the price. Enjoy amazing food, glamourous shopping, and views from very tall buildings. This must be Asia!
9) Bagan, Myanmar
Check out Bagan, home to the largest area of Buddhist temples, pagodas, stupas and ruins in the world. See this unique area for a fraction of the cost of comparable places around the world.
10) Sihanoukville, Cambodia
Check out Cambodia’s coast with white-sand beaches and undeveloped tropical islands. This port city is laid back and much less visited than the neighboring countries. Enjoy it while it lasts, because like most places in Southeast Asia, it’ll soon be discovered.