Southeast Asia: Your budget-friendly guide to a heavenly honeymoon

2016-07-30 12:30 - Louzel Lombard
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I am getting married in two months’ time and I’m already dreading coming back from my honeymoon… 

After dating my gorgeous man for more than eight years, our move to get hitched was definitely more of a strategic one. And because we discussed our idea of a great wedding long beforehand, we literally planned it in one month. No stress. 

But as the Big Day creeps closer, I see where my wedding stress manifests – I fear that it will be over! It’s a big problem, because unlike other wedding nightmares brides fear might happen, I am absolutely certain that this will actually happen. 

Our wedding day will have to end, as will our honeymoon. And that makes me want to elope and go on a never-ending honeymoon for the rest of my life. I’m still working on that issue… 

For now, our honeymoon is pretty much what we talk and dream about on a daily basis. And let’s face it, planning a honeymoon – or any adventure – is as much fun as actually doing it. You get to build a dream!

Planning a honeymoon is also a very intimidating experience. You only get one shot at this (traditionally speaking), and there is so much pressure to get it right. Obviously you’ll travel with your partner again in future, but it will not be your honeymoon ever again.

Like with our strategic decision to get married, we decided our honeymoon destination equally rationally – and together. No stress. 

Louis and I wrote down our top travel priorities under our assigned budget, and went from there. His was a beach destination, mine was a food destination. With less than R15 000 to work with, excluding flights, we had to do our research well. 

We didn’t want to do one specific island, as we thought this might get restrictive (plus we didn’t have the cash to make a luxury island escape happen). We didn’t want an over-commercial honeymoon destination like France or Thailand, and we didn’t want to go somewhere utterly and completely foreign like China for our honeymoon. 

We wanted exotic, warm, cultural and beautiful. Ultimately, we decided on Vietnam. It suited our two most important holiday priorities perfectly, and, more importantly, it’s cheap for us South Africans. 

The whole of Southeast Asia is a very hot honeymoon destination for Saffas, actually. 

Like Vietnam, Cambodia is known for its cheap food and accommodation, plus enchanting sites such as the majestic Angkor Wat and white sandy beaches. 

The Indonesian islands, again, are real tropical paradises – you can spend lazy days soaking up the sun on the beach or exploring the rice terraces, and spend lively nights enjoying drinks in al fresco beach bars. 

While Malaysia is a melting pot of cultures, traditions, races and religions where Malays, Indians, Chinese and other ethnic groups live together. As a result of this infusion of cultures, this region has become a gastronomical paradise – a major drawcard for foodies.

Another key attraction is how effortlessly its modern developments and its natural beauty found in its rugged mountains, blend together to create a geographical tapestry. 

A photo posted by ?? (@juliaponti) on

It's no use leaving out Thailand as one of the best destinations for South African honeymooners – cheap, beautiful and tropical. And it’s fast becoming one of the most popular overseas travel destinations for South Africans. 

READ: Thailand: Budget-friendly escapes for South Africans

Many are lured by famous Bangkok nightlife, vibrant night markets, glistening temples, exotic islands, national parks and world-famous Thai food. In fact, there’s so much to see in Thailand many holidaymakers return year after year to relive their honeymoon. 

The Philippines again is often overlooked by travellers, but its natural attractions are something to see. White sandy beaches, mountains, rainforests, islands and world famous diving spots all make this a stunning and secluded honeymoon destination.  

With good planning, you can book cheap flights to the Philippines and save quite a bit on travel expenses as it is really a super-affordable destination. 

If you’re thinking of heading to Asia, check out our budget-friendly honeymoon tips:

Book accommodation before you go 

Accommodation in Southeast Asia is really affordable, even in the high end hotels. If you’re not going high-end, you can also find great luxury bargains for well under R500 a night on Airbnb. 

I’m all for rocking up in a country with no accommodation lined up, but for your honeymoon – rather book in advance so you can have a clear outline of your travel plans. Also, let the Airbnb hosts or hotel know it’s your honeymoon, so they can spoil you a bit.

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Bike about

Motorbikes are abundant in Asia, and we want to tap into this local practise. We plan to travel through the entire length of Vietnam along the coast over the two weeks on the bikes, rentable from the many bike hire shops around Vietnam. 

We’re spending a little more money on good accommodation, rather than booking flights to fly into the big cities. This way, we figured, we can get a real, on-the-ground experience of Vietnam, but still sleep in a little luxury at our destinations. 

Do ONE incredible thing 

As this is such a poignant holiday, I’d like to take something awesome from it - something that will stay with me my whole life. A baby won’t do just yet… so we thought to settle for something a little less adventurous – getting our international diving licenses. 

There are many scuba diving schools around the Vietnamese coasts, as well as in the Gulf of Thailand. You can apply to do the course online, and do all their theoretical work beforehand. Then you complete the practical part whilst there, and come home a certified diver! 

Plus, courses are much cheaper to do in Thailand and Vietnam than what they are in SA.  

A photo posted by Paul ?? (@paulyphan) on

Don’t do too much

It’s always one of my travel downfalls, trying to cram EVERYTHING a destination has to offer into a single trip. It leaves me with an immense travel hangover upon returning – something I’m not interested in having coming back from honeymoon. 

Luckily, Louis is Mr Laidback himself. He’ll be happy to stay with one local family in one city for a whole week (and then always has the most incredible travel experiences). So we are the perfect Yin and Yang, and will be relaxing and exploring in equal measure. 

I suggest you do the same with your bae. 

Organise a surprise

This is your honeymoon, man. Do something special. Especially if you, like us, are organising your honeymoon together. If you know your bae loves a spa day, organise something he or she’d love along those lines. If they love adventure, organise a mountain biking outing through the rice paddies. 

Be creative and romantic. But keep it secret until on the day for maximum effect. 

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