Top Tips and Advice for Planning An Affordable Asia Tour

How to Tour around Asia on a Budget

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This article was originally posted June 29, 2018, and has been updated March 21, 2019.

Asia is a land of wonder and enchantment.  But travelling there can be confusing and expensive.  Plan an affordable and fun Asian tour with our guide.  

The time has finally arrived.  All the hard work and dedicated saving have paid off.  Your affordable Asia tour can now get underway.

Going abroad anywhere is daunting enough, especially if you are new to travel.  An Asian tour is by many means an exciting and ambitious idea, regardless of your traveling experience.  It is also popular.  Many friends of mine, even now, are taking six–month or longer tours to some of the best Asian countries to visit.  They love every minute of it.

All the cities in Asia, all the beautiful Asian countries – each is unique.  The best places to visit in Asia have their own cultural identities, and so when undertaking an affordable tour of Asia, it is important to experience every single one you can squeeze into your itinerary.

This article aims to serve as your Asia travel guide, based on experiences of mine and those I have heard in my time as a travel journalist.  From the generic travel advice that, when everything else you have to think about is considered, is very easy to forget; to an in-depth look into every point your affordable Asia tour should include.  Every Asian city worth seeing will be in here along with the reasons why.

Travel Tips

This section does not aim to insult your intelligence by stating the obvious.  However, as mentioned above, there are 101 things you have on your mind when you’re going traveling.  So, some of the more obvious things that you think it’s impossible to forget, often do get forgotten.  I have always found that a checklist makes for a good memory cure, so below, I’ve noted down a few points worth mentioning before you get to your first Asian destination.

Paperwork is Important

It’s the bane of many of our lives, and yet our lives still do revolve around paperwork in many ways.  Going on an affordable Asia tour is no exception.  Passports aren’t even the half of it when going to an Asian country.  Think visas.  As an Asian tour should, you will be crossing over many countries’ borders, which may all require separate visas.  Some travel in countries like China, however, may be accomplished visa-free in certain circumstances.  Learn more in our article The Best Ways to Travel in China without a China Tourist Visa.

Organization is key here.  Have the paperwork for every country in a separate file or place, so you can’t get it mixed up.  This also includes tickets, itineraries, and receipts.

Have the Right Equipment

In a world dominated by the need for electronic devices, making sure you can charge them up again and again over the course of your affordable Asia tour is of paramount importance.

That means you should make sure to have plug adapters (or purchase them, preferably before you get to the airport).  Unlimited use of your phone, laptop, cameras and other devices will be assured then.

Be Prepared & Be Protected

Not to put you off the splendor and beauty you will experience in undertaking an affordable Asia tour, but I can’t lie to you.  There are some areas you may pass through where diseases like to find their home.  Since you are highly unlikely to avoid such Asian places, you are highly advised to get your vaccinations done.  Just that extra safeguarding can give you total peace of mind when on your affordable Asia tour.

Watch the Exchange Rates

It is always a gamble when going to transfer your currency.  But since this is supposed to be an affordable Asia tour, you are going to want to know how much you have available to spend in each country.

The trick is research.  It’s not like Europe, where half the popular countries use the same currency (Euros).  You have to know how well your own currency exchanges between that of the first destination on your tour, and how well they convert with each other.

My advice – unless money is not such a concern because you mean to work while you’re on your tour – shop around.  Do price comparisons online and obviously go for the best deal you find.  Don’t click on the first one that comes up and definitely don’t leave it to the last minute at the airport!  This will help to ensure that your affordable Asia tour really is affordable.

You can always check the latest exchange rates using apps and popular sites, like Xe.  Bear in mind that local rates in your destination country may be different, as there are usually premiums on top of the so-called market rate that is traded.  Avoid airport and hotel currency exchanges, though – they often charge more than local banks and tourist centers.

Weaken that Pesky Language(s) Barrier

Asian languages are tricky.  Not just because you have all the grammar, syntax and vocabulary to learn, but also because each one has a whole different alphabet.  I have always found when traveling that knowing the basics such as greetings and good manners is always a place to start off from, and for an affordable Asia tour, this is no exception.

If you are a native English speaker, as I am, you will probably have an advantage in some of the popular destinations for an Asian tour like India and Japan, where signposts and other directional things are translated for tourists.

Of course, Asian languages are generally not taught as part of the curriculum in Western schools, so whatever knowledge you do have with you will have to be self–taught.  An ambitious undertaking in itself, given the complexity of such languages.  They’re not like the European ones, wherein a lot of words are similar to one another between languages.  If this is a deal-breaker for you, a European tour may be more your speed, which you can learn more about in our guide, Top Tips, Advice, and Destinations for the Best European Tour.

Depending on how long you mean to stay in each country, signing up to Duolingo is an option worth considering.  They already offer courses in Mandarin Chinese, Russian, Japanese and Vietnamese, while Hindi and Indonesian are currently in development.  The service is free and is widely regarded as one of the best language–learning apps available.

However, if you’re not planning on staying long enough to gain a substantial vocabulary, just enough to get by in day–to–day activities, look on YouTube for any tutorial videos on there.  They are most likely to teach you key phrases, rather than the grammar and syntax.  But it will be a start when ordering in restaurants or going shopping for specific things.

Know Where You’re Staying

It should go without saying, really, but never go on an affordable Asia tour – or tour of anywhere – without first having organized your accommodation.  It should be among the first things you look into when planning a trip.

Since it’s an affordable Asia tour, you are probably going to want to look into either hostels or shared apartments to start with.  Unless you are fortunate to know or have friends or family in any of the countries, you plan on visiting on your tour, in which case even more affordable options will present themselves.

I have known a lot of people who have taken travel tours across central and southeast Asia.  If you’re an English speaker, finding work over there seems to be pretty easy.  This will make affording the accommodation over a prolonged period in a country much less stressful.  The work can also be quite rewarding.  Teaching English in schools for younger children is a common example.

Look into Age-Related Discounts

Don’t be tempted to settle for adult prices everywhere you go.  Some travelers go on their Asian tours while they are still students or within an age bracket that entitles them to a discount of some sort.  If this is the case with you, take advantage of it!  You’re not young forever, so enjoying this perk while you still can is a great way to keep your affordable Asia tour on-budget.

It doesn’t just apply to the famous sights and landmarks.  Think about flights and accommodation too.  Special deals and discounts will be going for students and younger visitors at certain travel agents.  So, when organizing and booking your affordable Asia tour, shop around, do your research and find the best possible prices.

Create an Itinerary and Stick to It

Some people love having the freedom of not having to stick to a plan.  I admit, I’m not one of them, but I appreciate being spontaneous and last–minute approaches have their value in creating enjoyable and memorable experiences.

That works very well when you’re in your home country.  When you’re going traveling, I cannot stress forcefully enough the importance of being organized.  You must make sure you know the times for all your transportation – flights, boats, trains or whatever it may be.  Know where you’re going, when you’re going.

You won’t go far wrong in making a list.  Separate it into sections for each Asian place you’re visiting and include everything you want to see and/or do there.  I know it sounds dull and tedious, but you will feel the benefit when it comes to it.  It’s also key to keeping your affordable Asia tour within your budget.

Dress Appropriately

Asia is, for the most part, a hot continent, so Westerners may be unaccustomed to the heat and will dress accordingly.  That’s fair enough, of course, but this section does not necessarily refer to dressing for the climate.

I’m talking about knowing what you’re wearing when visiting famous landmarks and sights.  These will be deeply religious Asian cities you will be visiting, so be mindful of how much or little you are covered up in accordance with what is considered acceptable and respectful.

See Every Sight & Try Every Dish

Immersing yourself entirely in the culture of your destination is the secret of true travel experience.  Viewing every single landmark and sight, seeing every possible bit of exotic wildlife, attending all festivals – religious or otherwise – and never saying “no” to the local cuisine.

Rich in their own legends, mythology, and history, there is so much to take in from a trip across Asia.  It is home to some of the most famous buildings and temples, the most notorious and infamous figures and historical events, plus a fair few beautiful, if sometimes dangerous creatures.  You cannot fully experience Asia without having done and seen as much as possible.

As such, the remainder of this article serves as a miniature travel guide for the more popular Asian countries.  It will cover where the must-visit destinations in each country are; what specifically you must see, learn or try while you’re there and, of course, why.

Affordable Asia Tour Destinations – India

New Delhi

WHAT:  The Red Fort, India Gate, Qutb Minar, Humayun’s Tomb, try some Delhi dishes from biryani to butter chicken

WHY:  India is absolutely teeming with fantastic architectural feats, and its capital city is no exception.  While you won’t find the Taj Mahal here (we will get to that later), there are a number of structures and monuments begging for selfies and so on when you are on your affordable Asian tour.

These include the Red Fort, a fortress from the 18th century that is now home to a series of museums.  An ideal choice for the history and culture lovers among the readers.

Also, there is not one signature dish to Delhi.  More like ten or twenty!  But the one thing you must try if visiting a restaurant is butter chicken.

RATING:  3.5/5

annie spratt 638549 unsplash

Jaipur

WHAT:  Jaipur Zoo, Man Sagar Lake, and the Jal Mahal Palace, Ram Niwas Garden, Jantar Mantar, elephant rides from the Amer Fort, Hawa Mahal

WHY:  There is no shortage of things to see in Jaipur.  It may not strike newcomers as the most luxurious part of India, but that will change when you consider how many palaces and royal gardens there are on the show.  One of these palaces, the Jal Mahal, sits partly submerged in the Man Sagar Lake, which, if anything else, makes for an unmissable photo op.

Otherwise, a trip to the Jaipur Zoo will also not come amiss.  With over 500 animals on show, including beautiful tigers, there’s something for everyone there.  That is unless getting up–close–and–personal with the animals is more your line.  That’s when you should go to the Amer Fort (or Amber Fort as it’s also known) and take a ride on an elephant.

RATING:  4.5/5


Uttar Pradesh

WHAT:  Taj Mahal

WHY:  When people talk about the Taj Mahal, we know it as one of the Wonders of the World.  And rightfully so.  The immense white domed structure that is undoubtedly an icon of the country it stands in.  But its purpose is more macabre than elegant.  It’s a huge mausoleum – a tomb built by an Indian emperor for his favorite wife.

Nevertheless, it would be backward to go on a tour of Asia, pass through India and not go see the Taj Mahal.  Cameras at the ready…

RATING:  4/5


Goa

WHAT:  Beaches, Deltin Royale Casino, Harvalem Waterfall, Dudhsagar Falls

WHY:  Once you have had enough of very urban and architectural India, perhaps you need to see some water.  Fortunately, the coastal state of Goa is full of it, with over twenty different public beaches all stretching along the western edge of India, meeting the Arabian Sea.  These have been compared favorably to Hawaii and other major tourist destinations around the world.

Use this point along your Asian tour to relax and enjoy a little luxury.  Maybe even have a little fun in a casino, like the Deltin Royale for example.  There, you can also enjoy a wealth of entertainment and fine dining.  Just be careful how much you spend, or your affordable Asia tour might end up less-than-affordable.

If you get bored of beaches but want to stay in Goa, it has its share of temples and churches, plus a couple of mesmerizing and photogenic waterfalls.  The Dudhsagar Falls even have pools for swimming.

RATING:  4.5/5


Affordable Asia Tour Destinations – Russia

Saint Petersburg

WHAT:  Several Romanov dynasty palaces, Mariinsky Theatre

WHY:  While Russia does not have the greatest reputation for being welcoming to outsiders, you should not let that put you off.

One of the most famous cities you can visit is Saint Petersburg.  It is absolutely teeming with gorgeous palaces and cathedrals, some of which meet the water of the Baltic Sea.  If art and culture are your things, you may want to see a concert at the Mariinsky Theatre or take a walk around the Hermitage Museum, founded by Catherine the Great.

RATING:  3/5


MoscowSt. Basil's Cathedral, Moscow, Russia

WHAT:  Saint Basil’s Cathedral, the Kremlin, Red Square, Gorky Park

WHY:  The landmarks of Russia’s capital are unmistakable.  Take the domes of Saint Basil’s Cathedral, for example.  That’s a sure-fire selfie waiting to happen.  Photo opportunities will also present themselves in the iconic Red Square and the Kremlin.

If you’d rather have a little fun, maybe a trip to Gorky Park should have a place on your list.  Here you can just relax in the park itself, perhaps go ice skating if the mood takes you.

RATING:  3/5


Affordable Asia Tour Destinations – Thailand

Bangkok

WHAT:  The Golden Buddha, Safari World, Patpong, several amusement parks

WHY:  Your tour across Asia cannot be all about sightseeing and whatnot.  You do have to allow yourself a bit of pure fun along the way, and the Thai capital of Bangkok might be the right place to find it.

There are a variety of amusement parks and entertainment centrals to hand in this city.  Some of these, like Patpong, orientate entertainment and nightlife towards tourists, foreign visitors, and expatriates.

But if you’re going to see anything iconic while there, make sure you go to see The Golden Buddha statue.

RATING:  3/5


Other Countries to See on Your Affordable Asia Tour

An affordable Asia tour offers way too many destinations to consider reviewing them all in one article.  Exploring the beauty and colorfulness of Japan’s numerous cities to finding work teaching English in China.  See the peaks of Malaysia and the beaches of Indonesia.  Or immerse yourselves in the culture and history of places like Vietnam and Cambodia.  Literally, the possibilities are endless.


Don’t Leave Without Buying…

Travelrest Ultimate Travel Pillow

You are likely to be on some very long flights over the course of your Asian tour.  Failing that, some very long journeys, given there will be bus and train travel involved too.  Therefore, it is important you arrange for yourself the best possible comfort.  Enter the Travelrest Ultimate Travel Pillow.

This pillow is uniquely multi-purpose and can be worn in different places and positions to suit how you sleep when traveling.  Whether you want to tie it around the headrest of your airplane seat or across your body so you can rest your head about your shoulder.

Don’t suffer all those hours just for a stiff neck afterward. Afford yourself a little extra comfort.

Insten Universal Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter Plug

Take care of all possible electronic device worries with a single purchase.  The universal worldwide travel charger adapter plug from INSTEN caters for over 150 countries so you can charge your electronic devices without any fear across the entire of your journey.

This way, you can put aside any fears that some sightseeing will have to go without photos and videos for your social media accounts.

Lonely Planet: Southeast Asia on a Shoestring

When shopping around for a travel guide for Asia, it is actually quite challenging to find one that can help you out around the whole continent.  It is the largest in the world, after all, and home to some of the largest countries.  So, it’s easier to find travel guides for the specific countries you’re visiting.

However, we did find one book that’s a bit more inclusive.  Experience has taught that most travelers enjoy taking their tours across the southeast region of Asia, so the Lonely Planet travel guide entitled Southeast Asia on a Shoestring is highly suitable.  Especially given this is supposed to be an affordable Asia tour.  Well – this book has all the info you could possibly want.

We hope you enjoyed this article!  Please feel free to comment with suggestions for new content and follow us so you’ll never miss another post.

ALSO READ: The Best Ways to Travel in China without a China Tourist Visa

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