The cheapest countries I’ve traveled through are India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. I’ve spent less than the normal price of a pack of cigarettes per day, and that was including cigarettes.
How cheap is it really? Here are a few examples:
Basic accommodation ranges from € 3 to € 5 for a double in all three countries. India has slightly better quality, and in Sri Lanka you will have to bargain a bit. The cheapest I slept was € 0,45 for a dorm bed in Rajasthan, India.
You’ll get great deals in India, where you pay the same as the locals. The lowest I’ve paid was €0,04 for a 23 KM trainride and the longest trip I took cost me € 12 to cross the country from one side of the other. That was a 50 hour trainride, including 2 nights ‘acommodation’ in the train. Sri Lanka and Nepal both charge tourists considerably more than locals, with bustickets ranging from anywhere to € 1 to € 2 per hour. However, they are both tiny countries compared to India so it will not burst your wallet.
Prices in all three countries range from about € 0,60 in local city restaurants to € 3,50 in remote places like the Himalaya’s. Expect to pay about one to two euro per meal on average.
Tours, activities and attractions
This will be your main expense. A visit to the Taj Mahal, for example, will set you back around € 10, guide not included. I paid almost € 30 just to enter a national park in Sri Lanka. You might find some good bargains on places with enough competition. In Rajastahn for example, I went on a 3-day-2-night camel safari in Rajastahn where I only paid around € 7 a night.
Nepal charges USD 90 for a 2 month visa. India is cheaper with € 36 for 6 months and Sri Lanka is definitely worth the USD 20 for a month.
Expensive in all three countries. If you are a beer drinker, expect to pay about € 1,20 to € 1,50 in the supermarket, around € 1,50 in a nice beach restaurant in Goa and up to € 5 in a fancy club in Mumbai.
Nepal is the cheapest with their € 0,30 Pilot cigarettes but it must be said their quality is terrible. India has decent Winn cigarettes for € 0,60 to € 0,75, depending in what quantities you buy them and how good your bargaining skills are. Sri Lanka is just expensive with their € 3 packs of Dunhill. That’s a full carton of smokes in Nepal.
Sim cards seem to be cheap everywhere in Asia. You’ll have your own Indian number for a euro. You might have to fill out some forms and provide passport pictures and copies of your ID. Sri Lanka is the cheapest with mobile internet, with a one-month prepaid broadband plan with 250 MB for a price as low as € 0,50. Indian simcards will be eating up your money with their roaming charges. In Nepal you won’t spend much on your mobile bill as in most parts of the country you won’t have any signal anyway.
On average, I’ve spent € 350 per month in India, but there I was really squeezing the budget and saved on alcohol. One month in Sri Lanka only set me back around € 400. The time I spent in Nepal cost me, including a self-guided 21 day hike through the Annapurna’s, around € 400 per month.
Do you know any places that are cheaper, or did you experience things differently in one of these countries? Please feel free to leave a comment!