Planning a 2-Week Trip to Asia for under $2500

While $2500 isn’t cheap, it’s not bad for a 2-week trip to Asia. My long-time friend and I decided we are going to make the most of the last days of our 20s by teaming up on a trip to somewhere in the far east. Well, that’s what we started with. We didn’t want to spend more than $2000 (but realizing flights from her city are $1500 we bumped this up to $2500) and we wanted to go for 10-15 days. She can do 10, I can do 15, so I quickly decided to stay on a bit longer since the flight was the biggest cost and I wanted to spend more time there once I arrived.

I’m pretty much an OCD trip planner. I’m not sure why I enjoy planning trips so much because I still get stressed during the trip that all the plans won’t work out. But I love knowing what’s coming next. At some point I’d like to take one of those “just go abroad and roam” type trips, but I want to make sure it’s in an area that I feel comfortable. Being as this is my first trip to Asia, I want the details – or at least the “where am I sleeping at night and how am I getting there” situations figured out.

Given that we want to keep costs low, and it’s both of our first international trips to Asia, we opted for Thailand. It seems this is a good “get your feet wet” city for Asia, and tourist friendly. Plenty of culture in the north, and if the rainy season doesn’t ruin it, some time at the beach. As of now, the plan is for me to travel on for 5 days on my own to end up in Singapore, where my flight back to the states will be. I was able to book a multi-city flight into BKK and back from SIN for $1050. Well, I have that flight on price lock as I try to sort out details with my friend to convince her to take the flight that connects onto my flight before heading over the Pacific. Unfortunately, she’s coming from a non major east coast city so her flight is $1500, unless she wants to travel on some creepy airline that has 3 stops and leaves from JFK – that is actually $1100, so it might be better for her, but she still has to get to JFK and for us time is very limited.

Once in BKK, I plan to have us stay a few days in the city to explore, and then to head north to Chiang Mai and/or Chiang Rei, possibly for a hillside trek, since it seems to be the thing to do there, other than wandering around and taking cooking classes. I think we’ll head back down to Bangkok, spend a few days exploring the cities on the way back down, and potentially spend the last days together on a beach — though that would be October 6-8 and that sounds to be the end of the rainy season on one coast and the start of it on another. I don’t mind a little tropical shower but if it’s just pouring cats and dogs the whole time a beach isn’t that fun. Trying to get some more information on this time of year and which beach would be best there.

Once we finish on the beach, she’ll head back to BKK to head home, while I have another 5 days to get myself to Singapore. This is where the trip can get pricey for me. I’ve been daydreaming about spending time in Borneo with the Orangutans, either in Malaysia or Indonesia, but I’m not sure this makes sense for the trip. It is probably most sensical for me to fly from BKK to Kuala Lumpur for a quick exploration of the main Malaysian city (since the border of Thailand and Malaysia is supposed to be not very safe right now), then take a train down to Singapore, where I can spend my last 2-3 days exploring in a city known for its safety and, of course, English language, so I feel comfortable in my final days of exploration after a somewhat long trip.

I have a feeling if I love this experience as much as I think I will, I’ll be back, so I don’t need to cram everything in. I’d like to get a taste of Asia so when I do find the opportunity to take a longer sabbatical and hop around for 3 months or so, I’ll have an idea of where I want to go and where I don’t want to go.

It has been a while since I’ve really looked forward to anything so I’m extremely excited about this, and it feels amazing to have something this big to look forward to again. I’m scared too, but not that scared, I’m more nervous about being out of the office for two weeks straight and for the team to realize they can function without me, or worse, that they can’t. :/ Well, I’m not sure which is worse, but either isn’t a good thing. I potentially could work the last few days in Singapore, at least a few hours, just to make sure nothing is falling apart. Or I could come back earlier like my friend and just go for a week and a half, but that seems silly after spending over $1000 on a flight.

There’s so much still to do to prepare. Other than finalizing our flights, we both need to renew our passports asap, figure out immunizations (and the cost to get them – I probably need a ton, I haven’t had shots in years), and of course, plan the details of the entire trip. I don’t really have time for this, but planning trips is a hobby of mine so it’s fun to do before I fall asleep at night. The Internet has such a wealth of information, I can’t imagine planning such trips in the days of only Fodors travel guides. Especially when trying to travel for relatively cheap — without any crowdsourced reviews, it would be much more scary.

Have you been to Thailand or Singapore? What do you recommend we see?

 

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5 comments

  1. JaxonSmith says:

    Useful information shared..Iam very happy to read this article..thanks for giving us nice info.Fantastic walk-through. I appreciate this post.

  2. I’d spend more time in Thailand than in Singapore. Singapore was like an asian version of a watered down American city to me and it was not culturally are interesting as I had hoped.

    Unless you plan on going to Palau Ubin to see the last remnants of Singaporean kampong villages, it is pretty much modernized to the hilt.

    Take a day trip to Malaysia if you can, to Penang or Kuala Lumpur instead of staying so long in Singapore. I spent a week there and it was too long for me.

    $2500 is just about what I’d spend for BF and I as well for 2 weeks. That’s before any shopping of course 😉

  3. Joey Lin says:

    I just came back from a month and a half trip to Thailand, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, and traveled to Singapore, Macau and Bali a year ago. I spent a week in Bangkok, which I really loved for the amazing food, very low cost of living, world class entertainment ( watch a movie there), great shopping, convenient public transportation, ability to use English to get around, daily massages ($8 an hour!), and friendliness of the people. I also flew to Krabi in the south, which I highly recommend as you can do amazing island tours (where they film all those movies) for pennies without all the tourist crowds and traps. I also suggest visiting wild zoos (feed hippos and giraffes) and skipping Sin City, Pattaya.

    I agree with the other posters to forgo Singapore. It’s super hot there and there’s really not much to see other than Marina Bay with all the financial buildings and giant mall/hotel. If you must though, you should to plan to stay for no more than two days there, especially considering how expensive hotel rooms are. I also recommend Taiwan if you’ve never been. You can tour a world class city, have awesome food, bath in hot springs, and there are plenty of hiking and beaches if you are more into nature. Bali is also a great choice, but just make sure you pay a little more and get your own private tour guide and driver. I did that last year with a friend and it was one of the best traveling experiences ever to have somebody serve you and wait on you for a week!

    By the way, I totally agree with everything you said in the post about stock options. It seems like a lot of people have no clue how they work or realize just how little they are actually getting. Did you ever work for Zynga by any chance?

  4. edwinalynn says:

    I’ll be doing a similar trip late Sept through early Oct hitting up Malaysia, Singapore, and Phuket. This won’t be my first trip to SE Asia.
    Singapore is a safe option, but you’ll tire of it quickly (1 – 2 days MAX) since it’s a small modern island with malls no different from the US. If you can get to Bali, I’d highly recommend it. Flights within South East Asia are very affordable especially if you book in advance. Air Asia is a good option when travelling in SE Asia.

  5. JBC says:

    In 2008, my boyfriend and I traveled to SE Asia for six months. We spent a month in Thailand and planned to spend a week in Singapore. Two words for you: skip Singapore. This is a country that you walk the entirety of in 10 hours. There isn’t enough there to warrant more than a day. It’s very Western although the food is a mix of all the countries and cultures around it. Spend a day eating and then get up to Kuala Lumpur as fast as you can or hop over to Indonesia (I’ve been to Ubud and Kuta. Ubud took a month to explore and I feel like i still only saw a fraction of what it has to offer, it’s much cooler than Eat, Pray, Love could ever convey. Kuta is nice for the beaches but felt a bit like a frat party). As for Thailand, we did a week in Bangkok (my boyfriend got custom suits made which were done in about four days, we ate, explored night markets, met up with other travelers, saw a muay thai fight and narrowly escaped the country before the govt was overthrown…good times!), two weeks in Koh Lanta and the surrounding beach areas and a week in Chang Mai. The language barrier was a non-issue.

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