From India to Vietnam, South East Asia is ideal for the budget backpacker. For a dollar or less you can stuff yourself with a big plate of sweet and spicy Pad Thai. And for between 5 to 10 dollars a night you can sleep it off in a comfortable, often air-conditioned, private room.
Not only is the cost of living exceptionally low, but so are the transportation costs. While busses and trains have traditionally been the cheapest way to get around, domestic and even international flights are becoming more and more cost effective for the budget backpacker.
Like Europe, SE Asia has recently developed a comprehensive network of low cost budget airlines. Some of the deals they offer are so good, that you might think there has been a mistake. Fortunately, this is not the case. Below you will find some of South East Asia’s best budget airlines, their most popular routes and cheapest deals.
1) India’s Indigo Air
Indigo Air is one of India’s cheapest low cost carriers. It generally offers flights all over India for 50$ or less. For example, Mumbai to Kolkata for 40$. It also offers one way flights for around 100$ from Mumbai, Dehli, or Kolkata to Bangkok and Singapore. Although India has multiple budget airlines, such as Air India Express, Indigo Air consistently provides the lowest web prices.
2) Philippine’s Cebu Pacific Air
Cebu Pacific Air is based out of Manila and specializes in cheap domestic flights within the Philippines. However, it also offers cheap flights to Manila from Bangkok and other South East Asia cities. Some of the Promotional deals on their website include: Kuala lumpur to Manilla: 30$ and Manilla to Jakarta: 40$. So if you want to go to the Philippines and explore a few of the countless islands that make up the archipelago, Cebu Pacific is your best bet.
3) Malaysia’s Air Asia
Air Asia is one of the largest and most comprehensive budget carriers in SE Asia. Based out of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, it offers tremendous ticket prices within Malaysia and greater South East Asia. For example, for 75$ or less, you can fly from Kuala Lumpur to Hong Kong/Bangkok/Phnom Penh/Hanoi as well as many other destinations. Air Asia also offers excellent one-way tickets from SE Asia to Japan and Australia and vice versa.
Although there are many more SE Asian low cost carriers out there, in my experience and research, these three are some of the cheapest and most comprehensive. In terms of miles for the dollar, theses airlines are not only some of the most cost effective in SE Asia but also the world.
However, while these prices are low, it is always good to utilize some universal techniques in order to ensure you find the cheapest flight available. For strategies on finding cheap flights, be sure to check out my guide, “How to Fly for Cheap.”
If you know of any super cheap SE Asian airlines that you feel should be listed here, feel free to comment below.
Let Me Know What You Think!
Ren Robles says
There’s also Jetstar and Tiger Airways that serve Southeast Asia, as well as Australia. Scoot is launching soon with flights from Singapore to Sydney and Gold Coast, though they’ve also announced routes to China and Bangkok.
I usually end up mixing and matching. Unlike legacy airlines, you don’t get a “discount” if you book a roundtrip flight, so sometimes it’s cheaper to book on two separate airlines.
The Runaway Guide says
Sweet, thanks Ren. This is some good info.
I’m from the Philippines and I paid about 30 USD for a roundtrip ticket from Manila to Vietnam. The technique is to book early and most especially when they release their promo fares.
The Runaway Guide says
Hey Ed! Thanks for the comment, that is really good to know.