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Headed to Southeast Asia? Four tips to make your currency go even further

15 Sep 2017

Guest post from Two Lost Americans

The beaches, cities and resorts of southeast Asia have long been a backpacker's dream destination thanks to the low cost of accommodation, food, transportation and shopping in this part of the world. But the kids shouldn't be the only ones having all the fun!

We started our travels to Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Laos and Cambodia as mature adults who appreciate great hotel rooms, spa treatments, restaurants with table cloths and a cocktail with a spectacular view. We also love a bargain. Happily, travelers can have it all - memorable, often luxurious experiences at prices that are a lot less expensive than at home.

Here are four of our favorite strategies for making the most of our travel dollars:

Shop for a hotel deal

Normally, we like to arrive in a new city with our hotel reserved and paid in advance, but travelers can really benefit by being more flexible. After spending two nights in Laos’ colonial city Luang Prabang in a pre-booked hotel – we surveyed our other options. We hit pay dirt at a small, family-run guesthouse which we would have never found on Expedia. We ended up renting a charming room with a balcony near the city’s restaurant row for $10 less a night than our previous accommodation.

Pay cash

While the West is moving steadily to a cashless society, doing things the old fashioned way in Southeast Asia can really help travelers get more for their money. We were often able to get a better rate on hotel rooms when we paid cash in the local currency. Always ask!

Know when to splurge

At other times, paying a little more can really get travelers a lot of value for their dollars. For a two-night cruise aboard a Chinese junk boat on Vietnam’s Halong Bay, we opted for one of the two available luxury cabins (which still didn’t break the bank at less than $100 a night.) Our gorgeous suite included a steam shower, Jacuzzi tube and a private sundeck. Wow!

Use your miles

With a proliferation of international hotels lining the Chao Praya River, Bangkok, Thailand is a spectacular place to use your saved up miles. There’s a strong emphasis on service here and you’re likely to get really excellent treatment at one of these hotels. We had reserved a standard room at a name brand hotel but we were thrilled when we were upgraded to a suite overlooking the city. To sweeten our visit even further, our hotel gave us a free dinner at their excellent international buffet.

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