Europe vs. Asia: Popular itineraries compared by price

London Eye Bangkok PalaceOne of our missions here at Price of Travel is to help make people aware that the costs of trips can often be deceiving depending on a variety of factors. Many of us can’t help but scan for cheap airfare and then plan a trip based on saving maybe US$100, when the expenses once there might end up costing much more than another destination.

Finding a cheap flight is really only a small part of the larger equation, so in this article we want to show that an expensive flight to a cheap and exotic place can often end up saving you far more money in the long run.

Since we’ve already calculated a list of the cheapest destinations in the world, breaking them down into the cheapest cities in Europe and the cheapest cities in Asia, we can make some fairly accurate comparisons of what any given trip will cost once you get there, at least relative to other cities. Those who stay in 4-star hotels will obviously spend much, much more than backpackers who stay in hostels, but the relative differences between the cities remain about the same.

Here’s the real message

People who are fond of numbers will find plenty of those below to back up these points, but for others we’ll just skip to the conclusion and lay it out here and now.

  1. If you are going somewhere for only a long weekend, find a cheap (and short) flight and do your best with expenses once on the ground.
  2. If you are going somewhere for 10 days or more, you will find far better value by spending more to reach a part of the world where everything is cheaper.
  3. If you have a month or more to travel, your funds will go dramatically farther in Asia (and much of Latin America) than anywhere else in the world. Expenses on the ground can be astonishingly cheap so a long and slow trip is far more affordable than you might imagine.

Comparing popular European itineraries to Asian itineraries

It’s no secret that European cities are among the most expensive in the world, but it’s not as well known that people traveling to India, China, Vietnam, and Thailand can live it up for a whole day for less than the cost of a hostel bed alone in Paris. Hanoi comes out cheapest on our Asia Backpacker Index, where a hostel bed, 3 meals, 3 beers, 2 public transport rides, and 1 paid attraction will cost under US$11 per person per day.

So let’s run some prices on these itineraries, including the best airfare we can find for October, 2011, to compare what the total cost of these trips would be.

Europe

London – Paris – Amsterdam

This is a classic first-timer’s itinerary to 3 excellent cities in Europe. Getting between them will add several hundred additional dollars to the total as well.

Cheapest round-trip flight in October, 2011

  • New York to London: US$629
  • Los Angeles to London: US$808
  • Toronto to London: US$694

Typical daily backpacker expenses

  • 5 days in London: US$62.62 = 313.10
  • 5 days in Paris: US$81.43 = 407.15
  • 5 days in Amsterdam: US$84.14 = 420.70
  • 15-day total = US$1,140.95

Grand total including airfare and 15 days in 3 cities

  • From New York: US$1,769.95
  • From Los Angeles: US$1,948.95
  • From Toronto: US$1,834.95

Madrid – Rome – Athens

This is a good itinerary for those wanting to explore southern Europe. If you stayed in Italy the whole time it would actually cost more than getting cheap flights to Athens and Madrid, where things are cheaper.

Cheapest round-trip flight in October, 2011

  • New York to Madrid: US$704
  • Los Angeles to Madrid: US$932
  • Toronto to Madrid: US$943

Typical daily backpacker expenses

  • 5 days in Madrid: US$69.86 = 349.30
  • 5 days in Rome: US$80.86 = 404.30
  • 5 days in Athens: US$64.71 = 323.55
  • 15-day total = US$1,077.15

Grand total including airfare and 15 days in 3 cities

  • From New York: US$1,781.15
  • From Los Angeles: US$2,009.15
  • From Toronto: US$2,020.15

Berlin – Prague – Budapest

This is a great itinerary for people who want to see great cities that are among the cheaper ones in Europe.

Cheapest round-trip flight in October, 2011

  • New York to Berlin: US$704
  • Los Angeles to Berlin US$1,049
  • Toronto to Berlin: US$952

Typical daily backpacker expenses

  • 5 days in Berlin: US$62.57 = 312.85
  • 5 days in Prague: US$44.35 = 221.75
  • 5 days in Budapest: US$37.07 = 185.35
  • 15-day total = US$719.95

Grand total including airfare and 15 days in 3 cities

  • From New York: US$1,423.95
  • From Los Angeles: US$1,768.95
  • From Toronto: US$1,671.95

Asia

Bangkok – Siem Reap – Saigon

A flight to Bangkok will take quite a while, but at least transportation costs on this one are extremely low once you arrive.

Cheapest round-trip flight in October, 2011

  • New York to Bangkok: US$1,058
  • Los Angeles to Bangkok: US$924
  • Toronto to Bangkok: US$1,399

Typical daily backpacker expenses

  • 5 days in Bangkok: US$21.69 = 109.45
  • 5 days in Siem Reap: US$23.70 = 118.50
  • 5 days in Saigon: US$15.71 = 78.55
  • 15-day total = US$306.50

Grand total including airfare and 15 days in 3 cities

  • From New York: US$1,364.50
  • From Los Angeles: US$1,230.50
  • From Toronto: US$1,705.50

Mumbai – Goa – Kathmandu

Mumbai is fascinating but also aggravating, so spending 5 days there might be too much. But for comparison’s sake we’ve included it even though it’s also quite expensive for India as well.

Cheapest round-trip flight in October, 2011

  • New York to Mumbai: US$1,132
  • Los Angeles to Mumbai: US$1,235
  • Toronto to Mumbai: US$1,240

Typical daily backpacker expenses

  • 5 days in Mumbai: US$30.23 = 151.15
  • 5 days in Goa: US$14.57 = 72.85
  • 5 days in Kathmandu: US$23.79 = 118.95
  • 15-day total = US$342.95

Grand total including airfare and 15 days in 3 cities

  • From New York: US$1,474.95
  • From Los Angeles: US$1,477.95
  • From Toronto: US$1,482.95

Hanoi – Luang Prabang – Chiang Mai

Those who’ve already visited Bangkok and Bali will enjoy a visit to these Southeast Asian cities, that are some of the world’s great travel bargains.

Cheapest round-trip flight in October, 2011

  • New York to Hanoi: US$1,070
  • Los Angeles to Hanoi: US$948
  • Toronto to Hanoi: US$1,406

Typical daily backpacker expenses

  • 5 days in Hanoi: US$10.76 = 53.80
  • 5 days in Luang Prabang: US$19.46 = 97.30
  • 5 days in Chiang Mai: US$18.34 = 91.70
  • 15-day total = US$242.80

Grand total including airfare and 15 days in 3 cities

  • From New York: US$1,312.80
  • From Los Angeles: US$1,190.80
  • From Toronto: US$1,648.80

Conclusions

Looking at all the figures above, it’s very clear that a trip lasting 15 days will be much cheaper in many of Asia’s great cities as compared to many of Europe’s great cities. Does this mean you should go to Asia? Of course not. Comparing destinations anywhere is a pure apples/oranges exercise, but this should at least make you realize that paying more for a flight can lead to a much cheaper holiday in the long run.

It’s really all down to how long your trip would last. Since the round-trip airfare stays at a fixed level then the shorter the stay the less the local prices matter. And of course, the longer the trip, the more they matter, so if you are lucky enough to have a month or more to travel then choosing your destination wisely is key.

Paris, London, Madrid, and Berlin are all fantastic cities that should not be missed, but so are Bangkok, Siem Reap, and Goa. Check our editor’s choice London hotels and hostels for the best value and lowest rates.



3 Responses to “Europe vs. Asia: Popular itineraries compared by price”

Fantastic synopsis of Asia vs Europe for traveling on the cheap. I found your blog from a CNN article. Keep up the good work!

This information is actually useful and breaks down the numbers ,which I like. Bangkok is definitely on my short list.

 
DAn says:

Lol, those pics say it all. I’d rather go to europe for 5 days than to asia for 1 month.

 
Never Home says:

DAn – those may be bad pics, but many places in Asia blow much of Europe away. Vietnam is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to and, yes, that includes Europe (which isn’t what it used to be). Asia is the new frontier. Maybe you should evolve a little?

 

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