Value travel

A new survey has found the cheapest places to travel to. A certain element rings true, but it all need to be taken with a grain of salt

Written by Michael Turtle

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle. A journalist for more than 20 years, he's been travelling the world since 2011.

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle and has been travelling full time for a decade.


Australians always knew there were a few good reasons to travel overseas. Turns out there’s one more!

For a moment, let’s put aside the surging Aussie dollars (thank you protectors of the Greek economy), cheap airfares and cultural adventures. Now we have a study of the cost of Australian hotels and they are, in my humble (for the sake for the sake of the argument) opinion, ridiculously expensive!

The details are all outlined here on

And the international comparisons are here on the original press release at

Now, for some expert analysis, though.

I tend to use beer as an indicator of an economy. It’s fraught with problems because of the various taxes that different countries have. But it is a bit of a constant in my life. Even now, I’m drinking several litres of Chang as I write this post at a restaurant in Thailand.

Each of those 640mL bottle of Chang is costing me about $3.20. Plenty of change from my Chang. (I know that doesn’t even make sense, but I was kind of forced to make that joke by my spellcheck.)

In my most-recent destination, Bali, a large 700mL beer was costing slightly less than $3. While in Sydney you’d be lucky to get a schmiddie (stupid idea!) for less than $5 at the equivalent tourist haunts.

Expedia is using hotel prices, which are always going to be a bit more expensive, but $9.45 for a beer in Paris? Excusez-moi?

A taxi to the airport is another really important consideration, but a hard one to compare because airports have such varied distances from the city centre.

I have always been impressed with Sydney, which will get you to the CBD for about $30. Melbourne, on the other hand… well, I always thought a budget airline could do flight from Tullamarine to the CBD for less than the price of a taxi.

Let’s look at Bangkok, though, were I currently am. The drive from the airport to the CBD is about 35 kilometres. A pretty long drive by international standards, yet the cost is less than $20, including tolls and airport surcharge. Suddenly that cheap flight to Melbourne is looking a bit more comparable to that flight to Bangkok, isn’t it?

The list could go on. Three kilos of laundry here in Bangkok is costing about $4. The hotel room itself (comfortable, safe and clean.., albeit with an ambience of young, cheap, unwashed backpacker) is costing about $25 a night. The smile on the waitress everytime I ask for another large Chang – priceless.

Of course these countries are going to be cheaper. You don’t need a master in economics to know that.

So, now I’m going to contradict everything I’ve just said and everything that is in the Expedia study (because gosh knows they’re just trying to make Australians buy more overseas holidays because they tend to do their domestic travel straight from the provider), and say that economies are relative, based on the locals.

Free markets and inflation and other fancy terms are based on the financial situation of the people who live in the country, not on the tourists who make up such a small percentage of the GDP.

So, let’s not analyse things too closely. We know that Bali is cheap. That’s why we can afford to buy a Bintang singlet there one day and throw it out four later.

We know Bangkok is cheap, that’s why we order three litres of beer with lunch (guilty face).

Let’s not overthink the ramifications of global finance and international geopolitics and just enjoy another satay chicken. Oh, and Paris, you know where to stick your $9.45 beer!

5 thoughts on “Value travel”

  1. I always find it weird that alcohol in five-star hotels costs about the same no matter where you are in the world. How can you justify paying $10 for a beer in Bangkok???? (And no, I don’t stay in such establishments, but they have much nicer toilets than McDonalds if you’re caught short – handy traveller tip!)


Leave a comment