Asia 2011: What my trip cost in total = $7807.38

For my half, I spent a total of $7807.38.

Without the shopping, it would have been around $7000.

BF only spent $100 on shopping for some gifts for his family. I’m the one that went overboard and spent $1000! 🙂

Here’s the budget breakdown:

Click on it to make it larger, if you’d like.


Because BF didn’t freaking tell me that he wasn’t going to keep track of each category of spending!!! He normally does keep track, which is why I didn’t think I had to bother or ask.

It was just a big pool of money that we had budgeted for each city, with rough ideas of what to spend on food/transportation and so on.


If I had known early on, I would have been keeping track of what we spent each day like a hawk. –sigh–

The good news is that we budgeted about $7750 for the trip, and ended up spending around $7000, or $750 less.


Clearly, it is quite expensive to fly across the pond, but if you want to travel in between the countries in Asia, it’s uber cheap. The only expensive trip was Hong Kong to Singapore, but that’s because we flew Singapore Airlines (SIA).

SIA was a real let down for me. The plane didn’t work properly, so we circled Hong Kong before landing back into the Hong Kong airport, only to wait 3 hours before being told that we’d have to take a later flight 9 hours later.

We arrived in Singapore at 3 a.m. which meant we were forced to cab to the hotel and pay the overnight surcharge as well (we normally take the subway).

It was a bad start.

Other than that, Air China was fairly decent (not quite as awful as I thought it’d be), and British Airways had awful food, but a very decent, pleasant flight overall.


(Ibis hotel in Singapore. HUGE rooms for the Ibis brand.)

As you can see, it got a lot more expensive in Singapore.

Not only did we stay longer (2 weeks), but the cost of the hotel skyrocketed to about $152.72 a night, when we were used to paying $50 – $75 in the other cities. It’s a good thing we split the hotel cost.

That said, the Ibis hotel in Singapore was really luxurious for the Ibis hotel brand.

It was a fairly large room with a big bathroom. As you can see in the image above, the bed was HUGE and there was a ton of space around it, plus a large bathroom.

It felt more like a Novotel hotel room, than an Ibis branded one.

I guess it was worth the price? 🙂

For comparison, here’s the Ibis hotel room in Hong Kong:

This was literally the room.

The bed is the size of the room, then there’s just a short little hallway (2 steps) to the bathroom, which was also extremely tiny.

We joked that we had to take turns sleeping because the bed and space was so small 🙂


We always budget for taking the bus or subway.

Yeaaaaahhhh. Everything in Mandarin Chinese, but we were thankful it translated to English sometimes.

We NEVER take taxicabs unless we are forced to, even if they are dirt cheap (which they were, in China). This is not because we can’t afford it, but we don’t want to experience a muted experience by taking cabs everywhere and not really seeing how people commute and live.

It was a real challenge sometimes, especially with the countries being so darn humid and hot, but we’re always interested in going through the experience, be it for bad or for good.

The subway was insanely CHEAP in China. We’re talking 2 – 7 RMB (yuan) for each trip. That’s $0.30 – $1.00 CAD!!

We normally pay $2.50 CAD for each Toronto TTC token, so we found the transportation there very cheap.

The most expensive trip we took in China was in Shanghai, riding the Maglev train from the airport to Shanghai proper (AMAZING!).

It was around 100 RMB, or around $15 CAD or $20 CAD. Not expensive at all, for the 7 minute experience.

The awesome Maglev

It wasn’t until we got to Hong Kong and Singapore that the trips started to cost more money, around $0.77 – $3.00 CAD per trip, depending on how far you took the subway or bus.

We burned through our budget in Singapore because it was just too damn hot and humid to walk even a couple of subway stops.

I was grumpy the whole time.


Okay, so food is where we DIDN’T spend the money.

The only city we spent our entire budget of money was Hong Kong.

In Beijing and Shanghai, we pretty much went vegan and starved the whole time.

Why? Because the food is SO oily, SO greasy and not very hygienic.

It made me sick, seeing how much oil they put in there…

Check out their oil aisles in China, this is NO JOKE. This is just one section. There’s a whole aisle with buckets of oil.

They basically drink oil in their meals to get the calories they need to survive, because meat is quite expensive for the average person to afford to eat daily, and eggs are a luxury.

Their main meals seem to be rice and veggies, covered in OIL, with a little egg or meat on the side if they’re lucky.

In this shot, 2 people are buying buckets of oil (they were on sale). Yes, they might own a restaurant or mini street food stall that requires oil, but THAT MUCH?


We’d use half a bucket of that oil in a year, cooking for 2 people.

We rarely use oil in our food because we can get the calories by eating more and eating meat.

So you can see why we couldn’t really eat the food there. It was just too oily.

Also, their standards of hygiene don’t seem to be quite as strict as they should be. I’m sure the meat is very fresh (cow butchered that morning and all), but storing meat outside in a hot and humid weather on a wooden table is not my cup of tea:

Check out the babysitting service underneath the table. Baby has the sound of chopping meat above her/his head, everyday.

I am sure their stomachs are used to it, and can handle it, but ours are not.

I wasn’t going to take a chance to take a bite of anything and chance a stomach virus or disease, seeing as my stomach is not really used to the food to begin with.

In Beijing, we did find this amazing handmade bread that had a lot of calories in it (it’s fried bread but didn’t taste like it, which was great), and I ate it with tomatoes:

The tomatoes tasted amazing here:


So what did we do? We made our own little mini kitchen in each hotel starting in Shanghai.

This is our mini hotel and pantry in Hong Kong:

The cost was about $80 – $100 CAD for the following items to outfit each hotel pantry.

  1. Induction burner
  2. Pan
  3. Condiments
  4. Spatula
  5. Cloth
  6. Chopping Knife
  7. Rice cooker (the one we bought in Shanghai cost $7.50 CAD)
  8. Bowls
  9. Chopping Board

The kettle always comes in the Ibis hotel as a bonus, so we never had to worry about buying a kettle.

When we were done with the items, we just gave them away by leaving them in huge bags by the trash bins/roadside.

There are plenty of people who always scout for used things to take and re-sell or fix:

We also made delicious meals by buying really fresh seafood and food from the wet market.

By using the rice cooker as a pot, we could make pasta.

Here’s a shrimp pasta we made with fresh tomatoes and onions in the sauce. We also had raw veggies on the side to go with the meal and lots of fruit.

They had the MOST AMAZING CHERRIES I’ve ever had in my life for SO CHEAP!!!!

$80 HKD for 2 bunches. That’s a little over $10 for the best fruit you’ll ever eat in your life.

More fruit:

So yeah. That’s basically how we managed to keep the food budget down so low in Asia. We cooked in the hotel rooms.

It was only in Singapore that we spent more money because even cooking fresh, raw food cost just as much, if not MORE money than if we went to restaurants or hawker stalls.

Singapore was insanely expensive with not-so-awesome-quality in most of their food, except for the fruit.


We went to all the sights we could see without going too far. Each sight was pretty much worth every penny.

My favourite were the temples.

I LOVED the temples. So calm, peaceful and wonderfully zen.

Here was my favourite one — I could have stayed at this Jing’an Temple in Shanghai all day.

It is a little oasis of heaven in the middle of a busy city.

Some people were so poor, they couldn’t afford to pay the 30 RMB ($4.50 CAD per person) admission to enter the temple.

They just stood outside, looking in the door:

In the temple itself, was this huge silver Buddha.


My favourite section of the whole temple was this back section. I sat on the marble floors and felt totally at peace.


See this post: Asia 2011 Shopping — What I bought in China, Hong Kong and Singapore.


A must have!

Here’s my quick post about how much travel insurance costs and the process of finding a company (The Everyday Minimalist).

About the Author

Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver. I cleared $60,000 in 18 months earning $65,000 gross/year. Now I am self-employed, and you can read more about my story here, or visit my other blog: The Everyday Minimalist.