Asia is a fast-growing and vibrant place. Over the last 50 years, nearly two-thirds of global population growth came from the continent, leading to the development of dozens of hyper-scale cities, all with interesting people and cultures.
There’s just one problem: enjoying all these new development on a budget can be a little tricky. Like city breaks in Europe and North America, staying in a built-up area can be expensive. So what can you do to reduce the cost of Asian city breaks and where should you stay?
If you’ve ever been to Hong Kong, you know how exhausting it can be to travel to an Asian city. Hong Kong lights up like a Christmas tree, with all its stunning skyscrapers, meaning that you’re bathed in light 24-hours a day. But if you think Hong Kong is bad, then you should pay a visit to Bangkok. The streets here are alive with people, no matter what time you venture out, with tourists particularly singled out for sales.
The good thing about Bangkok, though, is the prices. Wages are still relatively low for many people in the hospitality industry in Thailand, meaning that things like hotels, transfers, food, and entertainment are all still very cheap. Family holidays to Bangkok, excluding flights, can cost a fraction of the European equivalent.
What can you do with the family during your stay? Plenty, actually. There’s the Grand Palace temple that can be visited by boat, as well as many other restaurants near the river. Bangkok is much cheaper than Hong Kong, with prices for a four-star hotel room about 45 percent of the price you’d pay in the Chinese city.
A trip to Bangkok, with the noise, smog, and street-life, can be exhausting. If you and your family want something a little more relaxing, then a trip to Singapore might be what you’re looking for. Traditionally seen as a business or merchant location, Singapore is increasingly embracing its own culture, helping to establish it as a global tourist destination in its own right.
The authorities in Singapore are notoriously authoritarian, but the country isn’t a politically dangerous place. In fact, the laws and regulations can make life quite nice for people who are just passing through. The streets are clean, the transportation system works well, and most of the people who live in the city make a lot of money.
Staying in a rental house in Singapore doesn’t have to be a costly experience. What’s more, many of the people in the city speak English, making it easier for Western travelers. Why not visit the Botanic Gardens, the colonial areas of the Asian Civilizations Museum with the rest of the family? You’ll be glad you found out more about the history of this fascinating place.
Shanghai isn’t the capital of China, but it might as well be. The city is actually much larger than Beijing – so large in fact, that the weight of buildings is causing the entire place to sink over time slowly. Don’t worry though: you’re still safe, and the Chinese authorities are already taking actions to make sure that the city survives over the long term.
Is Shanghai cheap? Hotel stays in a four-star establishment are about half of what you’d pay in Hong Kong. What’s more, if you choose a central location, you’ve got access to practically all the sight-seeing that you’d want.
Shanghai is an exciting place architecturally. In the center, near the river, there are three imposing skyscrapers, with the next taller than the previous. The most recent was only completed a few years ago and is one of the tallest buildings in Asia and the tallest in China – for now at least.
Beijing is the home of Chinese civilization and is a city that’s been on the map for more than 4,000 years. As a result, it’s full of fascinating cultural marvels, making it an excellent place for the whole family to enjoy. You’ll be able to visit Tiananmen square along with the Forbidden Palace.
But Beijing is much more than it’s political history: the city is also home to some great nightlife and traditional Chinese restaurants. Although the Chinese are famous for their rice paddies, the primary staple crop in the north is actually wheat, meaning that many restaurants in this part of the country use dim sum as their primary source of carbohydrates.
Do you like dim sum? If so, then you’ve got a lot of choices. Steamed buns, dumplings, and many different sauces, broths, and meats make a meal out in Beijing a real treat. The kids will love it.
Although Japan is a rich country, and Tokyo a prosperous city, that doesn’t mean that you can’t do a family break on the cheap here. There are numerous opportunities to save money if you know what you’re doing.
First thing’s first: look for budget sushi restaurants. Avoid going to restaurants in the tourist districts or the airports as these will attempt to charge well above the going market rate. Instead, look for special budget sushi restaurants which prioritize the quality of the food over the service. Markets are a great place to find bargains, especially the Tsukiji Fish Market. You can usually find full sushi meals here for under $8.
Second, look for cheap places to drink and relax. There’s a bar in Tokyo called 300Bar. The name of the bar comes from the price of its drinks, 300 yen. While that might sound like a lot, it works out at about $2.5 – an unheard of price in the middle of a city with more than 30 million inhabitants.
Finally, keep your eyes peeled for where to take the family on the cheap. There are many traditional religious sites and museums near Tokyo’s Ueno Park. Kids will love the National Science Museum and adults will enjoy the Metropolitan Art Museum.
So will you be heading out for a cheap Asian city break in any of these cities soon? Make sure you save money if you do.