2018 has come to an end but that doesn’t mean your holiday adventures should.

Hard-pressed for cash after the festive season? Not to worry, we’ve compiled a list of budget destinations for you to travel to this new year.

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These travel destinations are not only easy on the wallet but are also tons of fun for the family. So without further ado, here are the most budget-friendly destinations for you and your family.

1. Kuching, Malaysia

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The sights, the culture, and most important of all, the food. What more could you ask for?

Kuching is well-known for its hospitality, its blend of various cultures, and its laidback attitude. After all, the city is surrounded by lush greenery which brings about a sense of tranquillity to all that visit.

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Natural wonders aside, the city is in our opinion, an underdog when it comes to food culture. Penang and/or Melaka always comes up during discussions about Malaysia’s best food paradise. And that’s true to a certain extent, but Kuching has a lot more to offer than just great food.

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What’s better than great food you say? Cheap and delicious food!

The city is home to a ton of local food that you can only find in Sarawak. Some of which are even known worldwide. Sarawak Laksa, Kolo Mee, Kueh Chap, Sarawak layer cake, etc. are just some of the myriad of awesome food in Kuching. We’d definitely suggest hunting down and devouring these dishes the next time you’re in town.

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Other than that, you could argue that the local shopping scene is also great. But, we’d say that the main attractions of the city are the rainforest and wildlife, as well as the local food culture.

2. Langkawi, Malaysia

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Speaking of shopping sprees, this duty-free island is the definite shopping paradise of Malaysia.

Langkawi as a whole attracts massive amounts of visitors every year. Most of which visit solely to shop till they drop.

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Why? Well, duty-free means certain items are tax-exempted i.e. cheaper than outside of the island. For instance, alcohol and chocolates being the more popular choices among these shopaholics.

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And if shopping is not your thing, then you could always explore the island and its natural splendour.

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Island hopping and snorkelling are always fun. Hiking and taking a dip in the cool waterfalls is a rewarding journey. And immersing yourself in the magnificent panoramic scenery 2,300 feet above sea level is an experience.

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But if you’re looking for a fun adventure for the little ones, then the Underwater World is where we’d recommend you go. It’s an awesome experience to observe first-hand the various marine life in the aquarium. And best of all, it’s an air-conditioned indoor aquarium! You won’t have to brave the intense sunlight of the Malaysian climate while in the building.   

3. Koh Samui, Thailand

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At a glance, the idea of a holiday on a tropical island may seem luxurious and expensive, but you’d be mistaken. In actuality, Koh Samui is a popular destination among budget-conscious travellers. This is unsurprising considering Samui is located in Thailand, the budget-central of Asia.

If sun-soaking and chilling on a beach is your kind of holiday, you will never go wrong with this exotic island. And the best part is that you won’t have to break the bank if you were to spend your holiday here.

Apart from the beaches, you’ll get to spend your hard-earned holiday time on sight-seeing. From the various Buddhist temples to the natural wonders of the island, Koh Samui has almost everything you’d need.

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We’d recommend visiting the Samui Big Buddha, Secret Buddha Garden, and Wat Khunaram for a bit of cultural experience while on the island. Wat Khunaram, in particular, is famed for its display of a mummified monk.

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But if you’d rather be a nature enthusiast, there are a number of sights suitable for your tastes. Samui overlap stone, Namuang waterfalls, and Hin Ta/Hin Yai come to mind.

Furthermore, these attractions are for the most part FOC, with some costing as little as 20 baht. Cheap, fulfilling and satisfying. We’d say that Koh Samui is indeed a great destination for you and your family.   

4. Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

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The city formerly known Saigon is next up on our list. Ho Chi Minh City is the most populous city in Vietnam and is steeped in rich history. We won’t bore you with the history of the city but if you observe closely, you’ll find a lot of Western-influenced architecture. Picture perfect French-styled buildings are aplenty, as you’ll find out soon enough.

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Today, the city is a popular tourist destination due to its unique blend of culture, classic French architecture, and modern skyscrapers. We suggest heading to the Ho Chi Minh City Hall, Ho Chi Minh Post Office, and Notre Dame Cathedral for fantastic photo ops.

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Moreover, you’ll find plenty of temples and pagodas sprinkled throughout the city. This makes exploring a whole lot more satisfying. Ho Chi Minh City is also filled with tons of rooftop bars that overlook Saigon, while restaurants offer a glimpse into the food culture of the country.

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Of course, if you want to truly experience the local food scene, then we’d recommend having your meals with the locals. Street food vendors and local coffee shops/restaurants are great places to start.

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Venture a little out of the city, and you’ll arrive at the Cu Chi Tunnels. If you’re a history buff, you’ll find this experience enjoyable. And if you’re not, we’d still recommend that you pay a visit as you’ll learn a lot about the history of Vietnam. Plus, the entrance tickets aren’t that expensive so an excursion to the tunnels is surely worthwhile.

5. Cambodia

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There are two places worth visiting in Cambodia, Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. Though Siem Reap is arguably the more popular of the two, Phnom Penh does have its own charm.

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Our suggestion? Why not both?

Spending a few days in the capital city of Cambodia, then taking a trip to Siem Reap is a great way to explore the country. From Phnom Penh’s city charm to the ancient wonder of the Angkor temples in Siem Reap, you’ll find that Cambodia has it all.  

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Of note, do pay a visit to the Royal Palace, National Museum, and the Silver Pagoda while you’re in Phnom Penh. Other notable attractions include the killing fields of Choeung Ek and Toul Sleng Genocide Museum. But be warned, these places come with a hefty admission fee.

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On the other hand, Siem Reap is world-famous for one thing, the Angkor temples. You’d be hard-pressed to miss out on this magnificent wonder of ancient engineering. Now, we know that it’s quite pricey to visit the temples, but we’d argue that this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you should try out. Besides, proceeds from the admission fees are used for the preservation of the temples for future visitors. You’ll be doing a good deed!

In the end, both places are well worth a visit due to their budget-friendly nature, apart from the exorbitant admission fees of course.

6. Goa, India

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This tiny state tucked in the south-west coast of India offers a wealth of experiences you’ll find nowhere else. Considered one of the smallest state in the country, Goa is also one of its richest largely thanks to its popularity as a tourist destination.

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What do you get when you visit Goa? White sandy beaches, Indian culture with a twist, and food!

The former Portuguese colony is especially popular among budget-driven honeymooners and families. Key tourist attractions include beaches, forts, churches, waterfalls, seminaries, and caves.

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For example, Calangute beach, Baga beach, and Panaji are some of the more popular beaches. And if you’re into backpacking, head on over to Anjuna (also known as the rave centre of Goa).

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Otherwise, the Dudhsagar and Arvalem waterfalls are also great attractions to visit. Khandepar and Arvalem are home to some of the most spectacular caves in the country.

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Alternatively, you may also pay a visit to the various fascinating man-made structures in Goa. Of the top of our heads, one must-visit is the church dedicated to our Lady of Immaculate Conception in Panaji. Or otherwise, the Chapel of St. Sebastian is a good place to visit as well.

7. Bangkok, Thailand

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Well, here we are again. The festive season cometh, meaning new things is a must. Which in turn means more shopping sprees!

With that in mind, Bangkok is definitely the perfect destination for your festive shopping needs. True to its moniker as the shopping capital of Asia, Bangkok is a shopaholic’s paradise.

From branded items to wholesale items and even electronics, you’ll be able to find anything your heart desires. What’s more impressive is that everything you’ll buy (sans luxury brands) in Bangkok is cheap!

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If you’re the budget type, head over to Platinum mall and Chatuchak market. If you’re a little more affluent, you can visit Central World or Siam Paragon to fulfil your luxury shopping needs.

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Once you’re done with your shopping spree, or should we say before you start, do pay a visit to the many attractions Bangkok has to offer. Palaces, temples, and museums are the norm. But if you’re feeling adventurous, you can hire a private driver to explore the outskirts of the city. Hua Hin is an excellent choice for this out-of-city excursion.

All in all, Bangkok is a great travel destination for budget-conscious families not only for the shopping but also for the valuable travel experience.

8. Indonesia

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Indonesia is a huge country, and by huge we mean a population of more than 260 million people huge. It’s one of the most diverse countries in the world. And to us, it’s the epitome of a destination that has something for everyone.

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From the lush emerald rice fields of Bali to the intimidating volcanoes of Java, and even the exotic wildlife of Sumatra, Indonesia is a country that has it all. Though, Bali remains one of the most popular for its pristine beaches and magnificent gushing waterfalls.

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Other than that, there are tons of things to do in this country. Most of which are quite budget-friendly. Family-friendly budget activities could include sightseeing and exploring the mountainous terrain of Java. Mount Bromo in particular, is famed for being the perfect spot to catch the sunrise. Apart from that, Kawah Ijen is also another must-see.

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If trekking up a mountain is too taxing on your family, then might we suggest exploring the various temples around Bali? We’re talking about Ubud, the cultural centre of Bali. It’s the perfect destination for some laidback exploration with the fam.

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Additionally, if you’re an adventurous person, you could opt for a spot of surfing. The Indonesian shoreline is one of the best attractions for surfing enthusiasts. From beginner waves to large barrels, there is a wide range of waves for surfers regardless of their experience. Of course, this activity may not be for everyone, especially families with young children.

There’s simply too much to talk about here when it comes to things to do in Indonesia. Nonetheless, you should consider Indonesia for your next family vacay if you’re looking for a wholesome and cheap experience.

9. Sri Lanka

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If there’s one word we’d use to describe Sri Lanka, it’s laidback. Having a relaxing time should be on your mind when you plan your itinerary to this country.

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The island of Sri Lanka has diverse landscapes and cultures spread across its regions. The scenery, food, and culture will be your main goals on your holiday to the island. Don’t be fooled though, there’s actually a lot more to do on this slow-paced island than what most people believe.  

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From hikes to train rides, there’s something for everyone. For the fit and adventurous, hiking and surfing would be your go-to activity. For example, hiking spots such as Little Adams Peak, Diyaluma Falls, and Sigiriya Rock are popular among nature aficionados. While surfers can head towards Hikkaduwa surf beach located on the south coast of Sri Lanka.

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But if you’re looking for a free and easy holiday, you’re in luck. We’d recommend taking the train from Kandy to Ella. This train ride is one of the most picturesque and scenic routes on the planet. And the best part is tickets only cost 1.50 USD for a 5-hour journey. So prepare your cameras and bring some snacks because it’s going to be a long ride.


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Other family-friendly activities include travelling and staying in Nuwara Eliya, going on a safari in Kaudulla National Park, and watching the sunset at the famous rope swing in Dalawella. Oh, and definitely make sure not to miss out on visiting Colombo.

10. Nepal

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To be completely honest, Nepal is a little bit on the expensive side to be considered a “budget” destination. Getting to the country can cost a bomb. But the attractions (namely the towering Himalaya peaks) are more than worthwhile in our opinion. A one-of-a-kind country, Nepal is the gateway to Mount Everest. It also promises tons of adventure, exotic wildlife, and friendly locals.

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There’s only one must-do thing Nepal, and it’s to conquer the mountains! But if you’re bringing along your family, then maybe watching from afar is good enough.

Nepal also happens to be one of the cheapest destination for mountain trekking in the world. You may choose to either have a guide or not. Though there’ll be well-supported trekking routes throughout the Himalayas. Fair warning, mountain trekking is not for everyone so do plan your itinerary with that in mind.

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We’d also suggest spending some time in Kathmandu or Pokhara. Taking your time to immerse in the local and slow pace of the city before you start your trekking journey.

Conclusion

As you can see, there’s a lot of budget-friendly destinations suitable for your next family holiday. Our article simply does not have enough space to list all of them. So if you have any other suggestions, do comment and we’ll be sure to check them out!