Southeast Asia is a treasure trove of beautiful destinations. Apart from the common haunts most of us know and love, did you know there’s some lesser-known gems to see without breaking the bank? From stunning beaches to bustling cities and serene islands, there’s something for each traveler. In this guide, we’ll cover ten of the best and most affordable places to visit in Southeast Asia.

image of hua hin vineyard

1. Hua Hin, Thailand

The land of smiles sure has plenty of hidden spots lying around, and Hua Hin is one of them. A charming coastal town in Thailand, Hua Hin offers a perfect medley of beaches, markets, golf courses, and historical sites. It’s known for its beautiful vineyard too. Located hours away from bustling cities, this laidback town provides an atmospheric landscape at every turn. Remember to check out the popular night markets, indulge in plenty of fresh seafood, and head over to nearby parks to make it an enjoyable destination.

image of the coast line at Nha Trang

2. Nha Trang, Vietnam

Another coastal city that will hit the spot is Nha Trang. Located approximately an hour and a half away from Ho Chi Minh City, this quaint Vietnamese city which bears close resemblance to Miami’s South Beach, is renowned for its pristine beaches, clear waters, and vibrant nightlife. Naturally, it’s an excellent spot for snorkeling and diving due to its divine coral reefs. Adding to the city’s charm, it’s also home to the Vinpearl Amusement Park and the Po Nagar Cham Towers (think a smaller version of the Ang Kor Wat). Nha Trang is also filled with plenty of budget-friendly accommodations and eateries.  

image of the sea view at rawa island

3. Rawa Island, Malaysia

Did you know Malaysia is filled with a plethora of beautiful islands? Rawa Island, a small coral island off the east coast of Malaysia, is one of them. Loosely dubbed the hidden paradise, Rawa Island is known for its white sandy beaches and clear blue waters. Like many Malaysian islands, it is perfect for snorkeling, kayaking, and other water activities on top of resting your mind, body and soul. The island offers a serene escape with limited but cozy accommodations, making it the ideal getaway spot for those looking to disconnect from the hustle and bustle.

image of sunset at Tawau

4. Tawau, Malaysia

Can’t get enough of Malaysia? Why not head over to Tawau – located in Sabah, a state that’s on the northern portion of Borneo in the region of East Malaysia. Escape to Tawau for its stunning natural attractions like the famous Tawau Hills Park which is great for hiking and exploring waterfalls. The city is also known for its seafood and cocoa, making it a culturally-rich destination.

image of waterfall at Luang Prabang

5. Luang Prabang, Laos

A UNESCO World Heritage site, Luang Prabang is known for its well-prrsevered architecture, beautiful temples, and calm atmosphere. Despite being a lesser-known destination hot spot in Southeast Asia, expect to do a wide range of things here. First, be sure to head over to the local markets to get some shopping done, then make your way to UXO Laos Visitor’s Center to check out real-life bombies on display. After that, climb up a scenic, steep 329 step staircase to make your way up the sacred hill of Luang Prabang – Mount Phousi. Be sure to add other sights like the Pak Ou Caves, Kuangsi Waterfalls, and Tad Sae Waterfall to your list.

sunset at Otres beach at Sihanoukville, Cambodia

6. Sihanoukville, Cambodia

Embrace the island life at Cambodia’s premier beach destination, Sihanoukville. Offering a relaxed vibe and stunning beaches, you can also get on an island-hopping tour and head over to Koh Rong or partake in other water activities like snorkeling or diving. If you’re a budget traveler, this is the perfect destination for you!

image of hot air balloons flying over temples in bagan, myanmar

7. Bagan, Myanmar

Welcome to Bagan, an ancient city in Myanmar and home to thousands of temples and pagodas. If you’d like to strengthen your spirituality whilst traveling, this is the place for you. Expect to find stunning landscape and historical significance where you can bring back a wealth of knowledge from this fascinating destination. You can opt to explore the temples by bike, horse cart, or even hot air balloon. The must-visit destination is generally considered safe for tourists to visit amidst ongoing political issues.

image of borobudur temple at Yogyakarta, indonesia

8. Yogyakarta, Indonesia

We can’t forget about Yogyakarta, can we? Home to the breathtaking Borobudur and Prambanan temples, Jogja (as its often referred to as) is in the cultural heart of Indonesia. Apart from its historical sites, you’d also enjoy a vibrant traditional arts and street food scene. The affordable city is slapped with plenty of fun and cultural activities.

images of buddha in a Laotian Buddhist temple

9. Vientiane, Laos

Don’t sleep on Vientiane, the capital of Laos found along the Mekong River. Vientiane is popular for its French colonial architecture, Buddhist temples, and vibrant night markets – an excellent spot for exploring Laotian culture. This city has a thriving night scene, is filled with plenty of outdoor activities for the adventurous souls, and comes with a variety of local delicacies to sink your teeth in.

image of Da Nang's longest non-stop single track cable car

10. Da Nang, Vietnam

Haven’t gotten enough of Vietnam, yet? Enter Da Nang, a sleepy coastal city with a luxury vibe. Unlike Nha Trang, which has a consistent weather throughout, Da Nang is actually warm and cold. How does that work? Well, the higher you go to the Marble Mountains and Golden Bridge the colder it gets, and if you decide to remain by the beach, you get to bask in the Sun and its warmth by the sea. Do remember to pack a windbreaker as you head on up to the Golden Bridge (situated 1,400 meters above sea level) via the Ba Na Cable Car – which holds the world record for “longest non-stop single track cable car”.

Final Thoughts

There’s more to Southeast Asia than meets the eye, especially when it comes to affordable travel destinations that offer diverse experiences. Despite there being only 10 on this list, you best believe there’s actually more in each country waiting for you to source them out. It’s time for you to get out of your cave and start exploring these picturesque spots for your next trip!