|Not exactly free . . . but about close|
as you are going to get!
No, we aren't talking about writing a guide book or reviewing fine restaurants or some scheme to get a free plane ticket but taking a couple days (or hours) out to do what you would have to do back home like shopping or visiting the dentist. By taking advantage of some items and services that are so much cheaper in Southeast Asia than they are in the West, particularly the USA, you can off-set the entire cost of your trip.
How to Get a Trip to Southeast Asia Paid For (Practically)
Get Your Glasses in Southeast Asia
Now I don't advocate completing skipping your next eye exam back home, but usually your glasses cost a lot more than an optometrist visit. However, Cambodia is one place where you can get a free eye exam (basically just to determine your prescription) and a basic pair of attractive glasses for $40 or less. Contacts, while less readily available, can also be cheaply purchased in Thailand and Malaysia including getting an eye test for your prescription.
Have Your Next Dental Checkup or Dental Work In Southeast Asia
Many cosmetic dentists also study in neighboring countries, or perhaps even Australia, Europe, Japan or the United States. They can provide tooth implants for as little as $150 up to $300 for very high end implants. Ceramic caps can also be done for less than $100 each. Compared to the $4000-$6500 for a single tooth implant in the United States, you could have every tooth in your head pulled and replaced for less than what you would pay for one in the USA (not that we advocate that, either--it just does not sound very fun at all).
Teeth whitening procedures at cosmetic clinics run about $80, or at cheaper local clinics as little as $40. For major operations, like root canals, we recommend you find high-quality clinics with some Western-trained staff. Most will have brochures listing staff members and their credentials. If not, just ask. But even if you are just getting your sixth month cleaning or getting an implant, the savings from a visit to the dentist between a visit to the islands and temple exploring help off-balance the cost or could pay for your whole ticket!
Get Your Next Medical Check-Up, Minor or Major Surgery DoneWhile it may sound a bit scary to come to Southeast Asia for medical treatment (I can hear the uninitiated gasp--”Isn't that somewhere you go and get sick?”) Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore offer world-class medical care from heart transplants, cancer treatments, rhinoplasty (that's a nose job) to sex changes. You can read our earlier article about medical tourism in Thailand to learn more about some of the many options. While a trip to Southeast Asia for cancer treatment or a heart transplant is probably not what you would call a vacation, if you've been thinking about a nose job, having some moles removed, or other out-patient procedures it can be an ideal way to combine R&R with a little adventure either before or after your procedures--recovering from your lipsuction while showing off your new beach-ready body on an Andaman Sea island doesn't sound too shabby.
Buy Your Traveling Supplies, Including Malaria Medication, Once You Get There
Buy Your New Wardrobe in Southeast Asia
|Petaling Street Night Market--at day!|