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15 Free and Cheap Things to Do in Southeast Asia   [2023]

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Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia is a vast and varied region that offers something for everyone. It is a region of the world that is full of culture, natural beauty, and interesting places to explore. From the beaches of Thailand to the temples of Bagan, there are endless possibilities for things to do and see.

However, many people are put off by Southeast Asia’s reputation for being expensive. Thankfully, there are plenty of free and cheap activities available in this amazing corner of the world! In this blog post, we will explore 15 different options for budget-minded travelers. So what are you waiting for? Southeast Asia is waiting for you!

1. Explore Little India (Singapore)

Singapore has some excellent restaurants, but many of them are rather pricey. But one of the greatest locations to dine is in Little India, where delicious Indian food can be had for as little as 5 SGD.

Locate the locations where you can eat with your hands. They are the most genuine and regional locations. But since you’ll probably be the only Westerner there, be ready for curious looks. I still had the most fun in Singapore while eating at these locations.

The Tekka Center, a hawker center offering Indian apparel, supplies, and food, should definitely be visited. The food is affordable, excellent, and provides a true taste of Little India. Visit Ananda Bhavan for a dining experience that includes a table. It’s the oldest vegetarian restaurant in the nation and is highly recommended for some delectable Southern Indian food. You’ll adore it even if you’re not a vegetarian!

Read: The Best Guide to Exploring Little India

2. Tour the historic sites of Cebu (Philippines)

Visit Cebu, the Queen City of the South, which is situated in the island of Visayas’ center region. All travelers must have a walking tour itinerary because Cebu has a lot of historical locations that will fill it up.

If you are planning on staying in the city for a few days, be sure to check out the presentations and events that promote the history of the area. When in Cebu, we advise going to the well-known Magellan’s Cross because it is free to view and is also a historic landmark.

3. Be mesmerized by the beauty of Coron, Palawan (Philippines)

The nation’s undiscovered gem is the island of Palawan, which is known for its secret beaches and underwater caverns. Rock formations and a lush green forest surround its white-sand beaches and turquoise clear waters. Comparatively speaking to other beaches on the island of Palawan, Coron offers a more daring experience.

Because it is similar to the Maldives but less expensive and more private, it is in fact a refuge, especially for newlyweds. Tourists can bring food or let the workers prepare it without having to pay extra fees for a private boat journey that only costs $43 and is still flexible.

4. Go island hopping in Camiguin (Philippines)

The second-smallest island in the Philippines, Camiguin Island is situated in Mindanao’s northernmost region and has a lot to offer every traveler. Camiguin is a small island, yet it is surprisingly full of reasonably priced attractions and activities to do.

Camiguin is home to hot springs, a nature park, and waterfalls in addition to possessing some of the Philippines’ most stunning waters and beaches.

5. Be amazed at the cold Baguio City (Philippines)

Baguio is unique in that most of the city’s tourist attractions are free; all that is required of visitors is lodging, transportation, and food. One can already have a fantastic yet brief vacation for about a few dollars.

One of the most scenic cities in the Philippines, Baguio offers countless picturesque vistas of a variety of attractions. Burnham Park, Mines View Park, the Baguio Botanical Garden, Bell Church, Kenon Road, museums, etc. are some of the attractions in this area.

6. Sightseeing at Malacca River (Malaysia)

The picturesque Malacca River, which meanders through the center of the old area, adds to Malacca’s appeal. For several kilometers, walkways run both sides of the river, making it a peaceful area to wander, particularly early in the morning and late at night.

Potted plants and gardens, benches, many public restrooms, a few dining options, and a portion of brightly painted cafes and bars that are open in the evenings can all be found along the riverside. Small riverboats transporting tourists up and down the river may be seen from the sidewalk, and the fare is less than $10! However, if you don’t want to spend any money, simply walking the streets is acceptable. One of the best free activities in Southeast Asia is this.

7. Cycle at Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia)

Go riding at KL’s eco-friendly city loop, a project to encourage more pedestrians, skateboarders, and cyclists to use the roads. Set your wheels in motion and share the joy of cycling with locals and other travelers in Kuala Lumpur. You can finish your shopping while en route because the cycling course is located in the Golden Triangle neighborhood!

8.  Shop free at Pasar Percuma (Malaysia)

Pasar Percuma transports you to 6000 BC, before human civilization began using money to exchange things for goods. This is a whole different kind of shopping that uses a barter system. You may bring anything, including used clothing, shoes, or bags, and trade it for another item without having to pay any money.

That entails substituting another usable object for the one you no longer need. There will be secondhand music CDs and cassettes, used books, and even people who will converse with you for no charge. In this market, everything is free; hence, the name free market.

9. Visit the Railway Museum (Malaysia)

This museum, which is kind of a hidden gem, has a large collection of artifacts from Malaysia’s railways that date back to its colonial era. The bone of an elephant, which was killed in 1894 while attacking a railroad, is one of the most intriguing exhibits. One of the top attractions in town, the museum is situated inside the main hall of the train terminal in the capital of Malaysia.

10. Take a look at Komodo Dragons (Indonesia)

Visit Komodo National Park to experience Jurassic Park. It is located between the islands of Sumbawa and Flores in the center of the Indonesian archipelago. Three major islands—Rinca, Komodo, and Padar—as well as a number of smaller ones make up the park. There are over 5,700 enormous reptiles living on these volcanic islands!

11. Enjoy Bali (Indonesia)

Within the boundaries of the Bali Tourism Development Corporation (BTDC), Nusa Dua Waterblow is a short 30-minute drive from Ngurah Rai Airport. A big draw to this area are the enormous coral reefs and waves. The sunrise is the finest time to visit to see the waves rise into the air with the Indian Ocean in the background and to experience the magnificent sunrise.

12. Get lost at Chatuchak Weekend Market (Thailand)

When you see the variety of goods on offer, the heat and crowds at Bangkok’s largest crafts market won’t bother you. There are items from all over Thailand, including carved wooden trays, fabrics and pillow covers manufactured by hill tribes in the north, shadow puppets and coconut shell-made silverware in the south, as well as amulets and pop art from Isaan.

The market is only held on weekends and opens at 6am, so get there early for peace and some degree of coolness. Mo Chit has the closest Skytrain station.

13. Get the creative juices flowing at Thailand Art And Culture Centre (Thailand)

The premier cultural hub in Bangkok incorporates theaters, workshops, performance spaces, and gallery spaces. It is the best location in the country to view the works of the top Thai artists working today, including Pinaree Sanpitak, whose work uses abstract shapes to reflect on the feminine form.

Additionally, there are pieces by politically charged photographers like Manit Sriwanichpoom and Buddhist-inspired painters like Kanokpon Somchua. There is a small movie theater and a store offering artistic cards and accessories.

14. Practice your photography skills at Erawan Shrine (Thailand)

Thailand is a Buddhist nation, but there are Hindu and Animist symbols everywhere, from the little san phra phum shrines outside of homes to the Ramayana murals that adorn every other temple.

This shrine, Bangkok’s most extravagant san phra phum, lies next to a busy road and is bustling with worshippers (spirit house). In 1956, it was dedicated to Brahma, the Hindu creator god, with the help of the nearby Erawan hotel, which is now the Grand Hyatt.

15. Support girl power at the Vietnamese Women’s Museum (Vietnam)

The Vietnamese Women’s Museum, which emphasizes the role and contributions of women in the culture, society, politics, and nation-building, is another museum that is well worth a visit. The five-story structure, which was built in 1987, houses more than 25,000 items and documents.

Women and Family, Women and Society, and Women’s Fashion are the three permanent collections that the museum offers visitors while they are attending special exhibitions. Images of the women who played important roles during the conflict will astound you. Be ready!

Southeast Asia

So there you have it, 15 free and cheap things to do in Southeast Asia! As you can see, there is no need to spend a lot of money to have a great time in this part of the world. Whether you want to relax on the beach, explore ancient temples, or learn about local cultures, there are plenty of options to choose from. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your Southeast Asian adventure today!

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Rachel Tan - FunEmpire

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Rachel Tan is the editor at FunEmpire Media Global. She has over 8 years of experience in the media industry discovering the best local businesses, places and things to do in the world. From lifestyle, entertainment, food, travel, education and more, Rachel is a trusted source to curate the very best the world has to offer.