Thrifty TEFL: teaching abroad on a budget

We all know that travel can be expensive, and when we’re short on cash it’s difficult to envisage starting that amazing adventure that could cost a fair whack. But don’t be disheartened – there are plenty of exciting travel opportunities out there that could allow you to save those pennies.

Teaching English abroad is a great way to see the world, experience a new way of life and minimise your spending. All our TEFL travel opportunities include most accommodation and in-country travel in the price, so you don’t need to worry about chipping into your budget for hostel rooms and coach journeys. Additionally, many of your meals will be covered by your school or provided by our in-country team, so you don’t need to worry about splashing out a few quid on a delicious street food meal or a few beers.

We think that TEFL travel is the best way to see the world. You get to immerse yourself totally in a brand new culture, meet fantastic people, discover breath-taking locations and get some amazing once-in-a-lifetime experiences – all without breaking the bank. But where can you go?

Asia is well-known worldwide for having a relatively low cost of living. Needless to say, budgeting is highly personal and people with more extravagant tastes may find they need to splash more cash than those who are happy to tighten the purse strings, but below we’ve collated five of our cheapest TEFL destinations to help you get planning. You may be surprised by just how cheap it can be to get by in Asia… read on and get inspired!

Doorway in Cambodia

Costs correct as of October 16


Bordering Thailand, Laos and Vietnam, Cambodia nestles in the heart of Southeast Asia. It’s one of the region’s cheapest countries, and that’s really saying something. Packed with amazing ancient history, jaw-dropping scenery and friendly locals with a real sense of resilience and national pride, many of our travellers to Cambodia have ended up staying and taking on full-time teaching jobs; it’s that great.

What will it cost?

Currency: Cambodian riel (KHR)

Street food meal 12,200KHR (£1.50)
One night in a mid-range hostel, Phnom Penh From 63,000KHR (£10.00)
Local transport, one way 4,095KHR (£0.65)
Local beer 4,095KHR (£0.65)
1.5 litre bottle of water 2,900KHR (£0.45)

Money-saving tips: Take night buses or coaches for a cheaper travel alternative, and skip the sleeper berth if you’re able; soft seats are just as good for catching some shut-eye on the go. Pick up meals at street stalls and markets rather than paying above the odds for western fare like pizza, and agree taxi fares before you get in – scams aren’t unheard of!


Every traveller’s dream, Thailand brims with rich and colourful history. It’s packed with colourful Buddhist temples, idyllic white sand beaches, lively cities and tranquil farming villages – all waiting to be explored at really miniscule prices! Our Thailand travellers rave about the welcoming, smiley locals, eager students and laid-back way of life that this fabulous country offers.

What will it cost?

Currency: Thai baht (THB)

Street food meal 50THB (£0.90)
One night in a mid-range hostel, Bangkok From 300THB (£5.00)
Local transport, one way 20THB (£0.35)
Local beer 55THB (£1.00)
1.5 litre bottle of water 15THB (£0.30)

Money-saving tips: Thailand is famed for its fantastic markets, where you can pick up everything from kitchen appliances to the famous elephant pants. Whilst the prices are always relatively low, haggle to receive an even better deal – don’t be shy! You’re also able to re-fill water bottles in machines outside Tesco for just 1 Thai baht a litre, so take advantage and stay hydrated.


China is the world’s most populous country, and is an amazing mix of cutting-edge modern life and a deeply-held traditional heritage. China has more TEFL opportunities than many other Asian countries, and a huge range of variety in placements; you can teach learners of all ages in locations ranging from tranquil farming villages to fast-paced world-leading cities, all whilst saving some cash.

What will it cost?

Currency: Chinese Renminbin (CNY)

Street food meal 20CNY (£2.00)
One night in a mid-range hostel, Beijing From 40CNY (£4.00)
Local transport, one way 2CNY (£0.20)
Local beer 6CNY (£0.60)
1.5 litre bottle of water 3CNY (£0.30)

Money-saving tips: Trains in China are great and an affordable way to see the country; tickets can be bought at stations but the process can be a bit confusing, so don’t be afraid to ask for help! Imported goods like coffee are pretty expensive in China, so why not can the caffeine and opt for a more traditional Chinese drink like jasmine or green tea? They’re better for you anyways.

Boat moored off the coast of the island full of palm trees, Caribbean Islands


India is a vast and hugely varied country in South Asia, with the world’s second-largest population. From up-and-coming tech cities in the north to peaceful hippie retreats and idyllic beaches in the south, India has everything an adventurous traveller could want. There are teaching opportunities at all levels; from young children to professional learners, and living here won’t break the bank.

What will it cost?

Currency: Indian rupees (INR)

Street food meal 120INR (£1.20)
One night in a mid-range hostel, New Delhi From 300INR (£3.00)
Local transport, one way 15INR (£0.15)
Local beer 100INR (£1.00)
1.5 litre bottle of water 27INR (£0.30)

Money-saving tips: Travel within India can be a hectic affair, with such a huge population trying to make their way around, so it’s easier and cheaper to pre-book your train or coach tickets if you can, and opt for a non-air-conditioned taxi if the opportunity is there. Guided tours around tourist traps like temples or the Taj Mahal can really rack up the prices, so why not grab your guide book and set out with some friends?


Vietnam is an astonishingly picturesque country on the eastern coast of Southeast Asia. It’s packed with beautiful French colonial cities, eye-opening historical sites, tranquil waterways and an electric atmosphere that attracts travellers from all over the globe.  Soak up the rich (if sometimes unpleasant) history and explore picture-perfect landscapes at amazingly low prices.

What will it cost?

Currency: Vietnamese dong (VND)

Street food meal 40,000VND (£1.20)
One night in a mid-range hostel, Hanoi From 130,000VND (£4.00)
Local transport, one way 7,000VND (£0.20)
Local beer 17,000VND (£0.50)
1.5 litre bottle of water 11,000VND (£0.30)

Money-saving tips: Each evening in Vietnam, city streets come alive with drinkers taking advantage of 10p pints and cheap meals; a tradition known as bia hoi. This is a great way to try some home cooking and meet the locals! As with anywhere in Southeast Asia, haggle hard when you’re shopping to secure a better price on your groceries, souvenirs etc.





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