Life Travel The best value destinations for Australian travellers
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The best value destinations for Australian travellers

Kuala Lumpur is a budget-friendly winner when it comes to cost-per-day numbers. Photo: Getty
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Budget travel isn’t just about cheap flights. Airfares can be a major part of an overseas holiday but on-the-ground costs can tip the scales in favour of a more savings-friendly city or country.

New data released by Skyscanner puts that into perspective by adding hotel, food and local transport costs to average flight fares to come up with the best value destinations for 2017 (hello Kuala Lumpur, sayonara Singapore!).

Cheapest – and most expensive – airfares

Overall, flight prices to some favourite Aussie holiday destinations have dropped significantly since 2016. Return flights to Shanghai and Phuket are down by an average 18 per cent. Flights to Kuala Lumpur dropped 16 per cent and to Ho Chi Minh City and New Delhi 15 per cent.

It’s not such good news if you are thinking of flying to Bali where fares have rocketed up around 17 per cent or Los Angeles (up 6 per cent). 

Taking it day by day

As Emily Callahan, spokesperson for Skyscanner Australia and New Zealand says, “We recommend factoring in the costs of common holiday expenses when deciding on a destination … with this research, travellers can identify destinations to visit to upsize their dollar.”

The research takes into account average flight costs, three meals a day, two train trips, a bottle of water and a night’s stay in a three-star hotel. The total cost is based on a five-day trip.

For example, while fares to Shanghai and Kuala Lumpur are both well down, a hotel room in room in KL is not much more than half the price of a room in Shanghai.

Meals are also cheaper in the Malaysian capital, so you might average $95 a day to visit Shanghai but you can experience KL for around $59 a day.

Fares to Vietnam have dropped since 2016, but hotel prices are up. A three-star hotel in Ho Chi Minh City averages $107 a night, compared to $82 a night in Christchurch.

Food is a bargain in Vietnam though, so total daily costs would average at $115 in Ho Chi Minh City and $149 a day in Christchurch.

Two barometers of local costs are coffee and beer.

Two barometers of local costs are coffee and beer. Your morning caffeine fix in Shanghai will set you back $5.60, while you can sip a cappuccino for $2.40 in Ho Chi Minh City.

Beer o’clock is also excellent value in Ho Chi Minh City with a draught beer at $1.20 while in Singapore you’ll be handing over $8.70.

Hello Kuala Lumpur, sayonara Singapore

The winner? If you have your sights set on Tokyo or Singapore – load up your travel card. The total cost of a five-day trip to Tokyo would be $2091 and to Singapore, a heady $2209.

Phuket and Bangkok are good value or you could be chilling out in KL for five days for just $867.

Watch the exchange rates

If you’re thinking further afield, Haydn Long, spokesperson for Escape Travel says, “one of the best value destinations for travellers at the moment is the UK. The exchange rates mean the Aussie dollar now stretches further”.

With return flights at just under $1200 and money buying more on the ground, you may be able to stay an extra day, eat out more often or do an extra day-trip or excursion.

*Costs for flights, hotels, meals, transport supplied by skyscanner.com.au. London fares provided by from Escape Travel.

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