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How to Save Money when Travelling in Asia

International travel doesn’t have to cost a fortune – and nowhere else is this maxim as true as in Asia, where destinations like Taipei, Taiwan, Chiang Mai, Thailand, and Tarkarli, India satisfy your craving for adventure without breaking your budget. There’s more to saving money on Asian travel than choosing inexpensive destinations, though. Wherever you go, these tips are likely to help.

Eat like a local.

Locals don’t spend a fortune on meals, and you don’t have to, either. Instead of splurging at each and every opportunity, find out where local people like to eat. Markets offer fresh fruits and plenty of local delicacies. You can opt to eat adventurously at every meal, or you can save on one or two meals per day. Your wallet will thank you!

Communicate using VoIP.

If you’ve ever tried calling India from a landline or cellphone, then you are probably well-acquainted with the prohibitive costs of communicating. With a service like Viber Out, which uses VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) you use your own device, which you’ve preloaded with an app. Calls are prepaid so there are no surprise bills later, and costs are far lower than they would be if you used a traditional telephone service. You can call from any location with WiFi, and you don’t have to pay roaming or other surcharges. Whether you’re calling home, making reservations, or keeping in touch with your colleagues while traveling for work, this is a great way to go.

Consider purchasing a trip package.

Consolidating costs associated with airfare, ground transportation, and lodging can save you a bundle. With just a little searching you can find trip packages that satisfy your budget while allowing you to enjoy the experience of a lifetime. Whether your dream vacation includes diving in Indonesia, basking in the beauty of Japan’s traditional architecture, or backpacking through the magical landscapes of India, it is possible to save money on travel.

Save even more with Couchsurfing.

Want home-cooked meals and the opportunity to meet new people? Couchsurfing.com will help you do it. Whether you couch surf just part of your trip or plan your entire itinerary around private lodgings, you’ll save plenty of money. The site lets you choose your hosts’ genders, locations, and more, plus it offers a user-driven rating system and allows potential travelers to email others for an honest take on their experiences with specific hosts. The site does charge a small fee for verification and the use of its app. There are more than 200 Couchsurfing destinations worldwide, and there are hundreds of thousands of registered hosts. Couchsurfing has a robust social media presence, adding to its focus on trust and security.

Hire local guides.

If you’re really into penny-pinching, consider choosing local guides instead of official tourist guides. You also have the option of exploring on your own, without a guide; of course, it’s a good idea to learn a bit of the local language if you plan to do this, or at least to travel with a good map or a mapping app.

Try public transportation.

In some areas, public transportation is safe, abundant, and very inexpensive. Give it a try instead of shelling out extra money for a cab.

Skip the air conditioning.

Air-conditioned train cars, buses, and hotel rooms often cost more than those without A/C. You’ll save money by skipping extra air conditioning, and you’ll find it a bit easier to acclimatize when you’re not going from cool rooms to scorching hot outdoor attractions. Be sure to stay hydrated!

Don’t waste money on kitschy souvenirs.

One of the smartest ways to save money when traveling in Asia is to avoid purchasing lots of items you don’t need – and that will weigh down your luggage on the way home. Collecting experiences rather than things is a great way to keep your load as light as possible and have lots of photos to share later. If you want a souvenir, consider doing some research to find out which items are best and then shop specifically for meaningful items to remember your trip by. If items are heavy, consider shipping them to yourself at home from your destination.

Follow advice from fellow travelers.

Read up on your destination to find out what worked and what didn’t. For example, it might not always be best to travel without the help of a paid guide or local travel agent; in some cases, you need someone trustworthy to act as an intermediary and ensure that you are able to see the attractions you want to visit.