One of the first questions we’re often asked by wanderlust-filled customers is ‘how much does it cost to travel to Asia?’
And that makes sense. Planning a big trip isn’t always easy – and when you’re juggling multiple countries, travel between destinations, lots of accommodation options and working out exactly what you want to see and do, price is often one of the biggest deciding factors.
Because we create fully bespoke trips to Asia that are tailormade to each and every customer’s unique interests and budget, we know a thing or two about how much it costs to travel to Asia.
Here’s our overview of the different factors that can affect the price of your trip to help get you started. For details on how we put the cost of our trips together, you can view our pricing page.
Where and when you go to Asia
Asia is a huge continent! Whether you want to visit just one country or hit up multiple stops on your bucket list, both where and when you go to Asia will have a significant impact on the cost of your trip.
Seasonality makes a big difference when it comes to price. Peak seasons tend to coincide with the best weather, but there are very good reasons to travel out of season, too (like reduced prices and fewer other tourists). Peak season varies across destination countries, and it’s best to do some research to find out when you can expect to pay most, when’s least expensive, and when you’ll find somewhere in the middle. It’s not an exact science but should give you an early indication of upfront costs.
Number of countries you visit
There’s no two ways about it, travelling around costs money. The number of destinations you visit will have an impact on cost – and visiting 10 destinations will make for a more expensive trip than visiting just five. Staying in fewer locations and exploring them in more depth can help to keep costs down, as well as having lower carbon impact, too.
Variations between countries
While Asia is generally viewed as an affordable destination, be prepared for the fact that the various places you visit are likely to vary when it comes to cost – which means what you can expect to pay for similar services can vary, too.
South Korea, for example, is fairly new to the tourism market and so has fewer experienced guides available, which means they can come at a premium compared to established markets like Cambodia.
On the other hand, South Korea’s public transport network is excellent, and we’d recommend using trains throughout the country, while in Vietnam the trains aren’t always a great standard, so we’d suggest internal flights or private transfers instead, depending on where you’re heading to (which still represent great value for money).
How long you spend in Asia
The longer you travel, the more it’s going to cost overall – but it can also be a much better value trip, for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, the more nights you spend somewhere reduces the percentage of the cost that goes on getting there and can bring down your spend per night. If you plan to visit more than one country or lots of destinations in a certain area, local or domestic travel is often much cheaper than finding your way over to Asia in the first place! Then, from a sustainability standpoint, there’s a lot of merit in taking fewer trips but travelling for longer. If you tend to travel long-haul twice a year, for example, you could save money and reduce your carbon impact by travelling once but taking a longer trip and exploring somewhere more fully. We love planning longer trips of up to 90 days (although more common would be three to four weeks).
How you travel to Asia
One of the first decisions to make when working out your budget is what class of flight you’d like to take.
Different cabins have different price points – but understanding exactly how that translates to your experience can be tricky, as airlines don’t tend to open their fares up for scrutiny. Here’s our breakdown.
What’s the difference between Economy and Economy Premium flights to Asia?
As a broad rule of thumb, a seat in premium economy is likely to add up to 100% to your flight fare.
However, there are sometimes great deals to be had on premium economy flights. When the lower fares for economy are not available, the difference between those and the premium cabin is much smaller. The extra leg room and additional recline can make a substantial difference on a 10-hour flight.
What does it cost to fly Business Class to Asia?
Business class is another level entirely. Pre-pandemic, business fares that were around 2.5x economy weren’t unusual. Recently, though, business is generally a lot more – with fares 4x that of economy.
If you can afford it, travelling business class is a real treat and can help get your trip off to a great start. Use of the airlines lounge, dedicated check-in desks, and priority boarding all add to the experience. And, most airlines now offer flat-bed seats in business that recline 180 degrees. The food is excellent, and customers are made to feel very special.
It’s worth noting, though, that the carbon impact of flying business is much higher than economy. If you’re looking to reduce the climate impact of your trip, perhaps a seat in the premium economy cabin is a good compromise.
What about First Class travel to Asia?
First class is a big step up from business, often costing 10 or 15 times an economy ticket. The cabin usually has just four or six seats, and perks might include a private chauffeur to the airport, private car to the steps of the plane, and being met on arrival and ushered past all the queues. Put it this way: if you’re looking to travel first, price probably isn’t your biggest concern!
How you travel around Asia
Once you’re in Asia, there are many ways to travel around – all depending on the countries you’re in – and all with varying costs. Some countries have brilliant transport links, with trains or night buses making for a very affordable way to travel long distances, while others are less well-structured for tourists to make their way around. Equally, you might prefer to have your trip entirely guided by a professional who can take you around and show you the best spots – or be more inclined to go solo and find your own adventures.
Private transfers in Asia
In most of Asia, transfers by private car, where you travel with a driver and a guide, are affordable and can make for a very comfortable way to get around. However, these all add up.
You can reduce costs by using taxis and, in some destinations, local buses, tuk-tuks, trams, trains or the subway. We wouldn’t recommend this in every destination, but for the more adventurous, travelling as the locals do is cheaper, can be a lot of fun and is one way to have a more authentic experience.
It’s worth adding, though, that where possible, walking is nearly always the best way to explore and travelling on two feet is free!
Days with a private guide
Travelling with a guide can be a real highlight of a trip to Asia. The local guides we work with are highly experienced, knowledgeable, fun to spend time with, and offer a genuine window into life in their home country.
It’s for this reason that most of the trips we sell include private guides on at least some of the days. It can be a great way to see things you wouldn’t otherwise, and to understand more about the people and culture of the place you’re visiting. Although guiding in most of Asia isn’t expensive, like anything, it can add up, so bear this in mind.
What type of accommodation you choose
It might seem obvious, but probably the biggest single factor influencing the price of your trip is the grade of accommodation you choose to stay in.
When we plan our trips, our team scope out a very wide range of accommodation – from moderate 3-star options, which are more affordable, to world-beating luxury, for special occasions or anyone who really wants to experience Asia through an opulent lense.
Before you start looking at specifics, we’d suggest you spend some time thinking about how much your accommodation grade is likely to impact your trip. If you’re there for adventure and won’t be spending too long in your hotel room, a more moderate choice might suit you. If, on the other hand, you’re really keen to experience super-deluxe accommodation that’s just as exciting as the destination you’re visiting, it’s going to cost you much more.
How exchange rates affect your trip’s cost
The other big influencing factor on the cost of your trip is exchange rates. Even if the cost of the services in local currency is the same, an identical trip might have a vastly different price from one year to the next because of exchange rate movements.
Exchange rates can move in any direction at any time and can be quite volatile, so this can be hard to factor in or predict accurately. If you’re worried about the impact of the exchange rate on what you’re able to get for your money, going through a tour operator can help.
We buy most services from Asia in USD and accept payment in five currencies – GBP, USD, AUD, CAD and EUR. As a UK company, we buy currencies against the pound, which is what affects the price we quote.
By the time you’ve booked a trip with us, we’ve already secured the necessary currency. That means that the price of your trip won’t change – whatever the exchange rate does.
Whether you use a tour operator
The final thing to consider when trying to budget for your trip to Asia is whether you’d like a tour operator to help you put things together.
As a tour operator, you’d expect us to say this, but using one can be an excellent way to add value to your trip – from advising on when’s best to go and why, to finding truly special accommodation options, handling all the planning, and helping you out when you’re on the ground.
Tour operators aren’t for everyone, though. If you love doing your own research, are happy to spend hours plotting your itinerary, or are working to a very strict, low-cost budget, you might be better off going solo.
That said, a tour operator’s expertise can make a real difference. Because we know our destinations inside out, we can offer high-quality trips at a very wide range of price points.
Speaking to people who’ve lived and worked in the destinations you’re dreaming of visiting can really help bring your ideas to life – as well as taking away the headache of looking after the admin, too.
What am I paying for with a tour operator?
We can only speak for ourselves, but the best way to put it is that you’re ultimately paying us to hold ourselves fully accountable for your enjoyment!
That starts from the minute you ask us about planning a trip – continuing with 24/7 support the entire time you’re away – right until the moment you get home.
The money you pay a tour operator generally covers:
- Direct costs (like hotels, transfers, guides, flights, and experiences) – this makes up the majority of the price of your trip
- The people involved in making sure your trip runs without a hitch (like the people who book stays for you and support you while you’re travelling).
At InsideAsia, we’re proud to be a B-Corp, which means we take our social responsibility seriously, are a living wage employer, and always pay our partners on the ground a sustainable living wage, too. Doing business sustainably isn’t the cheapest way, but we believe it’s the right way.
Ready to get started?
As you can see, there’s a lot that determines the cost of your trip – and we hope this guide has helped answer the question: how much does it cost to travel to Asia?
We’d love to help you put the perfect itinerary together. If you know your budget, tell us, and we’ll plan the very best trip to match it. If you don’t, let us know what kind of trip you’re dreaming of, and we’ll work with you to produce a quote.
We never charge for a consultation or quote, and you’re under no obligation to travel with us (though we think you’ll want to!) Speak to our team today.