It is no secret that Southeast Asia and South America are two of the more affordable regions to travel to if you’re on a budget. Incidentally, both regions have quite a few visa-free countries for Jamaican passport holders that make them both good options for budget travel.
For this post, I will be focusing on Southeast Asia since I haven’t made it to South America yet (It’s on the to-do list for 2019). All the countries on this list are countries I have visited so the information is based on my own personal experience.
Southeast Asia is well known for beautiful beaches, great food, warm and friendly people and some of the most amazing fruits ever! While we kinda have the market cornered on beaches, Asia does give us a run for our money.
Hong Kong – a Special Administrative Region of China – is a separate island south of mainland China. Unlike the mainland, a visa is not required for Jamaicans visiting Hong Kong. At first glance, Hong Kong may appear to be a concrete jungle with cramped quarters and busy streets. But my trip on the ferry from Kowloon over to Hong Kong island presented another perspective.
Interesting Fact: Hong Kong is actually a collection of about 200 islands, the main ones being Lantau, Kowloon and Hong Kong Island.
Victoria Peak is a must-do, especially if your trip is short, and be sure to indulge in the food.
The Philippines is perhaps one of the most interesting of all the countries on this list. My bias probably comes from the fact that I’ve spent over 2 months there and have visited 3 times and counting.
Interesting fact: The Philippines is actually made up of over 7,000 islands, some of which are only visible during low tide.
If you’re interested in beaches and water activities like diving and snorkeling, Palawan is a dream. Waters were so clear they rivaled some of our best beaches in Jamaica (don’t revoke my citizenship for treason until you’ve seen it for yourself).
For those who aren’t big fans of the water like myself (actually, I like the idea of the water; it’s the swimming part that I’m not too keen on) you will have a grand time exploring northern parts of the country like Baguio or even mid-cities like Cebu that is said to have some of the best food in the country.
I spent four weeks in Malaysia recently and it was definitely one of the highlights of my time in Asia so far. I started at the southern end of the country in Johor (I spent some time volunteering on a fruit and stingless bee farm) then made my way up to Melaka (also spelled Malacca), Kuala Lumpur then my absolute favorite – Georgetown Penang. Whether you’re looking for a big city with great nightlife, a smaller town rich in history or a beachy town dubbed an art lover’s paradise with amazing food, Malaysia will no doubt have something to offer up.
South Korea was a pleasant surprise. Being the southern neighbor of high-strung North Korea I was a tad bit nervous and unsure what to expect. The country exceeded my expectations. Seoul offers up many options for entertainment. The highlight for me was visiting the grand palaces and wandering around the city center.
If you get a chance to visit Jeju Island you absolutely should! An airline ticket from Seoul to Jeju Island is only about $30 one way. I took that option then just flew from Jeju to Hong Kong. The island is known for its UNESCO World Heritage site status as it boasts quite a few attractions that have the UNESCO title.
I first visited Indonesia while on vacation last year in April and as with so many other Asian countries, I was swept away by the hospitality of the locals.
Again, if you’re into water activities, Indonesia is a good option for snorkeling and diving. But among my favorite activities was filling up on Nasi Campur, Nasi Goreng, temple visits and hiking Mount Batur – an inactive volcano – to catch the sunrise.
Even before visiting the one thing I kept hearing about Singapore – aside from how clean it is – was that it would be expensive. Then a friend from the Philippines who used to live there gave me a few suggestions.
Of all the countries on this list, a trip to Singapore will require less time than the other countries, mainly because there really isn’t that much to see.
The highlight of my trip was a visit to Gardens By the Bay to see the manmade trees that Singapore is famous for.
As you can see from this list, if Asia is on your mind there is absolutely no reason not to go. Whether you’re into water activities, hiking, amazing cuisine, temple visits or wildlife, there’s an Asian country on this list to suit you. And with $20 hotel rooms, $5 hostels and dinner for $1 it’s really a no-brainer. So it shouldn’t be a question of if, but when.
What say you? Which ones will you be visiting?
Most Affordable – $
Least Affordable – $$$
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