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Cheap Summer Vacations (and the Not-so Cheap): Europe and Asia

Asian cities are about 500 dollars cheaper than our European list on the average. A Himalayan place and a Buddhist city occupy the opposite ends of our favorite Asian cities by travel cost. Kathmandu, tucked in the heart of Nepal, is our most expensive in the list; while Bangkok is the most affordable city overall. The Asian cities included here are voted in the Trip Advisor as the most favorite city destinations, and here is their order by how much they’ll set you back.

As with the European cities, our travel costs include roundtrip airfare, 3-star hotels, meals in midrange restaurants and taxi ride around a 10-mile radius every day for one person, and the point of origin is Kansas City.

Summer Vacation no.1
BANGKOK, THAILAND

Expect to shell out around $1,994

bangkokAirfare and taxi ride are the most affordable in Bangkok’s travel costs, averaging $1,527 for airfare and $30 to go around the city for ten days. However, you’ll need about $250 for restaurant meals; and hotels are around $17 per night, which is about in the middle among our Asian cities. Bangkok is known for its pagodas and plenty of oversized phalluses, such as the Wat Arun, Grand Palace and Wat Pho. Not to be missed out, too, is the floating market, where you can savor the culture with a bowl of hot Tom Kha or Tom Som Pla Sai.

Summer Vacation no.2
HO CHI MINH, VIETNAM

Expect to shell out around $2,247

ho chi minhNamed after the country’s revolutionary leader, the city is a contrast of French colonial architecture, war remnants and Buddhist temples. Ho Chi Minh is our second cheapest on the strength of being at the mid-range for costs on airfare, restaurant meals and taxi ride. The city is most affordable for its restaurant meals, and that’s a good thing considering the popular and flavorful Vietnamese cuisine, notably its soups. The War Remnants Museum is poignant and historical; a monument to the only war defeat by an American expeditionary force. You can also go cultural at the Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theater and philosophical at the Cao Dai Temple. Ho Chi Minh is also noted for colonial architecture such as the Ho Chi Minh Square and the Saigon Opera House.

Summer Vacation no.3
BEIJING, CHINA

Expect to shell out around $2,459

beijingThe capital of the world’s most populous country and an emerging superpower is surprisingly affordable. Taxi ride in Beijing is around $5 per day, but meals are a bit pricey at $36 per day. Hotel rates are about $29 per night and flights to the city is $1,808, just about in the middle of our list. Beijing is a jump-off point to see the Great Wall, probably the main reason you’ll visit the city. The Forbidden City is also a marvel as Lama Temple is enveloped in the city’s cold mystic. But the city is also ultra-modern with the Olympic buildings worth your walk and the National Center for the Performing Arts an impressive looking spaceship-like architecture.

Summer Vacation no.4
SHANGHAI, CHINA

Expect to shell out around $2,466

shanghaiComing at the fourth spot is Beijing’s southern cousin, the booming Shanghai. It is called the New York of the East and not without a reason. It is a global city with influence in commerce, technology and transport, challenging the old structure of Western-dominated global trade. Apparently, it is more expensive to ride a taxi here than in Beijing, at $6 per day. For airfare, restaurant meals and hotel bookings, Shanghai is comparable to China’s capital. But unlike Beijing, the skyline here is replete with skyscrapers accented by the iconic Oriental Pearl TV Tower. You can also enjoy endless shows of acrobats at the Shanghai Acrobatic Dome or visit the Old French Concession. But perhaps the best bargain in visiting Shanghai are, well, its bargains of clothes, watches, jewels and other luxury items.

Summer Vacation no.5
JAIPUR, INDIA

Expect to shell out around $2,499

jaipurThis pre-modern Indian destination dates back to the 16th century. It is a favorite cultural place for its mystic and heritage. Airfare to Jaipur is average, at about $2,089; so are its hotels at about $23 per night. Good to know, eating out in this city is the cheapest among the Asian cities; around $18 per day will allow you a sumptuous meal for lunch and dinner. The city has also the lowest taxi fare at $3 per ride. What’s in Jaipur? The Amber Fort and Palace may top the list. You can also marvel at the prints in the Anokhi Museum. For the brave hearts, try Jaipur dishes such as Dal, Baati and Lashun Ki Chutney. We leave it up to you to identify the different flavors that go in these dishes.

Summer Vacation no.6
GOA, INDIA

Expect to shell out around $2,650

goaAnother Indian place makes its way in our list, and it is as nearly affordable (or pricey, depends on your view) as Jaipur. Goa is best known for its beaches, heritage sites and places of worship. Airfare to the city is nearly the same as Jaipur, but hotel rates in Goa are the lowest in our list at $14 per night. Like its sister Indian destination, Goa has very affordable restaurant meals at $18 per day; while taxi fares are around $4 per day. The first thing to do in Goa is head off to Agonda Beach or Mandrem Beach or Cavelossim Beach for a nice tan. Interestingly, you can visit a Catholic church in this Hindu place, the Basilica of Born Jesus or the Old Goa, remnants of Portuguese influence.

Summer Vacation no.7
TOKYO, JAPAN

Expect to shell out around $2,681

tokyoOn the far end of Asia is our next city: Tokyo. Surprise! the city has the cheapest round-trip plane tickets from the U.S. in our list at $1,500 on the average. Not surprising is that restaurant meals in Tokyo are at $70 and taxi rides are at $31 per day, both the most expensive among our cities. Tokyo is vibrant and exciting highlighted by the Shinjuku district; but the city also offers serene and zen-like sites such as the Asakusa Shrine, the Shinjuku Gyoen Garden and the Nezu Museum.

Summer Vacation no.8
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA

Expect to shell out around $2,683

seoulNearly as costly as our previous city is Seoul, which is smacked right in the middle of our list. Airfare to Seoul is around $1700 and hotels are at $52 per night, both higher than in Tokyo. But restaurant meals and taxi rides are less costly than the Japanese capital, at $46 and $12 per day, respectively. Seoul is a mix of culture, modernity and history. Visit the War Memorial of Korea or watch a talented troupe of acrobats at the MyeongDong Theater. Appreciate the country’s art at the National Museum of Korea or marvel at the World Heritage site Changdeokgung Palace.

Summer Vacation no.9
HANOI, VIETNAM

Expect to shell out around $2,817

hanoiThe capital of Vietnam, Hanoi is more expensive than its cousin in the north, Ho Chi Minh. Airfare leans more on the expensive end at $2,432, but Hanoi hotels at $14 per night are the second cheapest in our list. Restaurant meals are also affordable at $24 per day, the third cheapest among our cities. However, taxi ride in this city is in the midrange, about $6 per day’s ride. Hanoi’s attractions include the Old Quarter, a district that features the country’s colonial past; the Lake of the Restored Sword, a lake filled with mystic as relaxing breeze; and the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, where the country’s modern founder is buried. Also savor Vietnamese dishes as Pho, Cha ca, Banh xeo, Cao lu and Rau muong.

Summer Vacation no.10
SINGAPORE, SINGAPORE

Expect to shell out around $2,972

singaporeThe ultra-modern, cosmopolitan city of Singapore is expectedly costly. Although its airfare is a little affordable at $1,686, just behind Seoul, the hotels are the second most expensive in our list at $65 per night. Restaurant meals are a bit high, too, at $63 per day, which is a pity considering Singapore offers a slew of culinary delights. Going around is average at around $7 per day. Singapore is small and ten days are probably more than enough to enjoy its attractions. These include the National Orchid Garden, the Singapore Botanic Gardens and the renowned Singapore Zoo. You can also “fly a plane” at the Flight Experience Singapore, the first flight simulator for the public in Asia.

Summer Vacation no.11
KYOTO, JAPAN

Expect to shell out around $2,982

kyotoMore expensive than Tokyo, Kyoto comes around at 11th place with its taxi fare and restaurant meals costing as much as in the Japanese capital. But its hotels are more expensive than Tokyo at around $61, our third highest in the list. Kyoto is a heritage city. Enjoy its zen parks like the Golden Pavilion, the Eikan-do and the Sanjusangendo Hall. The city’s temples are also a must-see, namely, the Sanzen-in Temple, Ninna-ji Temple and Kiyomizu Temple. The best time to visit Kyoto is in spring when the cherry blossoms are out in the open.

Summer Vacation no.12
HONG KONG, CHINA

Expect to shell out around $3,113

hong kongWho doesn’t want to go to Hong Kong with its glitzy nights, bargain shops and cultural, culinary and artistic points-of-interest? The city has the most expensive hotel rates in our list at $82 per night. But airfare to Hong Kong is somewhat average, at $1,747 for a round trip. Restaurant meals are just a notch below Singapore at $54 per day, while taxi rates are nearly as costly as in Seoul at $13 per day’s ride. Enjoy a dinner by the balcony amidst the Hong Kong skyline. For a panoramic city view, walk the trails to the Dragon’s Back or the Victoria Peak. Not the least, drop by the famous Ocean Park.

Summer Vacation no.13
PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA

Expect to shell out around $3,288

phnom penhIt used to be called the Pearl of Asia and the most charming French-built cities, and it probably is today. Phnom Penh is a little expensive, perhaps, because the infrastructure is limited amidst high tourism traffic. Airfare is the single most expensive cost when traveling to the city, which is around $2,889, the fourth highest in our list. However, hotel rates and restaurant meals are more affordable at $16 per night and $24 per day, respectively. Meantime, taxi rates are somewhat in the midrange at $6 per day’s ride. The Killing Fields site and the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum are haunting and a must if only to get a glimpse of a dark chapter in our collective history. But Phnom Penh has stunning centuries-old temples, too, including Wat Ounalom, the Silver Pagoda and Phnom Chisor Temple.

Summer Vacation no.14
SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA

Expect to shell out around $3,374

siem reapJust a notch higher than Phnom Penh is another Cambodian city, Siem Reap. It features Chinese and colonial architecture, a reflection of the country’s past influences. Like Phnom Penh, Siem Reap is quite expensive largely due to the lack of infrastructure to accommodate droves of tourists. Airfare is the second most expensive in our list at $2,979, which drives the city up in our list. Restaurant meals are affordable at $24 per day, just as hotel rates at around $16 per night, a notch higher than Hanoi. Siem Reap is best known for Angkor Wat, the breathtaking ancient ruins and a World Heritage site. Other equally stunning heritage sites are Ta Prohm, Bayon Temple, Angkor Thom and Banteay Srei.

Summer Vacation no.15
TAIPEI, TAIWAN

Expect to shell out around $3,766

taipeiA surprising second most expensive city in our list is Taipei. It has the third highest airfare at $2,924 for a roundtrip and the fifth highest hotel rate, $52 per night. Eating out in the city is somewhat manageable at $32 per day and taxi ride per day costs about $9, the fifth in our list. Little is known about Taipei compared to China’s major cities. But it is not without sites worth visiting such as the Yangmingshan National Park, the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall and Tamshui district with its promenade, shops and local eateries.

Summer Vacation no.16
KATHMANDU, NEPAL

Expect to shell out around $4,311

kathmanduHigh in the Himalayas is the mystical Kathmandu, Nepal’s gateway to tourism and literally the highest place in our list. It is said to be 2,000 years old inspired by Hindu and Buddhist influences.  It is the only Asian place in our list to breach the $4,000 mark on the average, notably because the average airfare is at $3,867, the most expensive in our list. Other than the plane ticket, Kathmandu’s other travel costs are affordable: hotels at $18 per night; taxi rates at $5 per day’s ride; and restaurant meals at around $26 for lunch and dinner a day. Bodnath Stupa, a Buddhist site, should top your must-see list, so does the Swayambhunath Temple, a Hindi site. The Garden of Dreams lives up to its name, while the Kopan Monastery may be the closest stereotyped monk’s lifestyle you can experience.

Then again, if Asia is outside of your budget this summer, why not “visit” our very own United States. Take a road trip or camp out—it is as good as summer goes and you can bring the whole family.

BARRING THE COSTS, WHICH EUROPEAN OR ASIAN CITY
IS YOUR FAVORITE DESTINATION AND WHY?

 

Nestor Gilbert

By Nestor Gilbert

Nestor Gilbert is a senior B2B and SaaS analyst and a core contributor at FinancesOnline for over 5 years. With his experience in software development and extensive knowledge of SaaS management, he writes mostly about emerging B2B technologies and their impact on the current business landscape. However, he also provides in-depth reviews on a wide range of software solutions to help businesses find suitable options for them. Through his work, he aims to help companies develop a more tech-forward approach to their operations and overcome their SaaS-related challenges.

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