Costs

I do sometimes post too much about the costs. It aims just at having an idea about the values of the journey. When you travel through different countries, you often want to compare many things. And a classic question is: is the country xy cheap? IHMO, it is not very accurate to answer by yes or no, it depend pretty much from the sectors. The following part list some sample prices I experienced during my journeys in 2012. Actually, after one week or more in a country, you soon think directly in the local currency and you know the value of the stuff, so that I had to calculate back to € or $ for this article. At the time of traveling and writing, 1€ = US $1.25 = 7.74 EGP = 0.88 JOD = 22000 IRR = 1656 MNT. The weak euro makes some countries where the US $ is still the reference particularly expensive, e.g. Mongolia where many prices of car rental, guest houses, etc are defined in $. I summarize my observations in the table below. See the text for the details.

in € 1 L gasoline (92 or 95) 1 day car w. driver and gasoline 1h bus 1h train 1h fly 1 night hostel in dorm 1 meal fast food 1 visit touristic temple/ museum Average expense per day
Indonesia 2010-4 0.7 15 1.5 4 38
Egypt 2012-05 0.3 1.2 1 1 4 40
Jordan 2012-05 0.8 50 1.6 12 1.5 3 42
Iran 2012-06 0.2 0.5 10 5 3 0.5 20
Mongolia 2012-7 1 50 1.6 4 2.5 3 36
China 2012-07 4 2
Germany 2011 8 10 100 18 5 8 45

Writing these costs, I also calculated my average cost per day. What was my surprise when I realized that I spent almost the same amount every day in each countries, ca. 40€ / $50 a day! However, I did not count the flight to come into the country, just the expenses inside it. This is valid for Egypt, Jordan and Mongolia, and also my previous daily life in Germany, flat rental inclusive! Indeed, when you are working, your expenses are mainly when going out. During your vacation, you do much more activities, particularly visiting the touristic places. The exception in this calculation is Iran, where I just spend half of that, about 20€ a day, the cheap touristic places are helping.

Transport

For the transport, Iran is the cheapest: you can get a 5h bus ride for 50000 IRR, i.e. less than $3 / 2.5€ in a comfortable bus with air conditioned (Euro3 Volvo)! I wonder if there is any other country in the World where it is that cheap! Maybe in India, but definitely not with the same comfort! In Iran, you might also pay the same amount with the taxi from the city center to the bus terminal! Indeed, in most countries visited, the bus terminals are often about 10km away from the very center. In Jordan, I did not take any bus but heard about other tourists paying 7JD = 8€ for Amman-Aqaba, a 5h drive. In Egypt, I paid 90 EGP = 12€ for 10h night bus between Cairo and Dahab. In Indonesia 2 years ago, it was ~7€ for a 10h night bus, and Peru last year about XX€ for 6h drive. The 6h bus drive from UB to Karakorum in Mongolia was also about 10€, in a Kia or Hyundai bus with air con. And in France or Germany, it would be again 4 times more (>40€) although it is not that easy in many European countries, the market is just starting after over 50 years railways monopole for domestic trip! The situation might change in Iran pretty soon, because the gasoline is getting more expensive. You can get 1 L petrol in Egypt for 2 EGP, i.e. 0.3€; in Jordan for 0.62 JD / 0.8€; and in Iran for 4000 IRR / 0.2€, while it is more than 1.5 or 1.6€ in European countries. In Mongolia, the liter cost about 1€ (1700T). The daily cost of a private car with driver and petrol is directly related: about $60 (50€) in Mongolia and Jordan, and only $25-$30 (20-25€) in Iran or Egypt That was about transport on the roads. With the railways often having subsidies from the government, it is slightly different. Actually, most government cannot afford that and railways make sense mainly very dense inhabited areas and for big countries. I have less input to compare: no train in Jordan, none taken in Iran or Mongolia (I missed the Trans-Mongolian train as many tourist take between UB and Beijing), but took old trains a few times in Egypt: 8€ night bus 12h Cairo-Aswan in 2nd class, 90EGP= 12€ Luxor-Cairo in 1st class, 35EGP = 4€ the 2½h Cairo-Alex in 1st class and fast train. This makes an average of 1€/h, while a regional train in Germany quickly cost over 10€ / hour or 20€/hour in ICE (fastest and most comfortable train). Concerning the domestic flights in economic class, I took a few in Indonesia in 2010 (e.g. 1h30/700km flight Makasar-Manado for ca. 40€; 3h/1800km flight Manado-Jakarta for ca. 60€, prices still available in 2012); and one in Iran: ca. 33€ for the 2h/700 km flight Tehran-Shiraz.

Food

In Egypt, you can find a small falafel sandwich in every corner for just a few cents, the food is very cheap there, if you are not too strict with hygiene: you often see the guy in the shop pressing your falafel with his dirty fingers! In a good restaurant, you pay ~ 10€ for a delicious traditional meal. A traditional fast food like Koshira is about 1€. I would say Jordan is a little more expensive for the fast food in the street, we got good stuff for less than 2€. The traditional fast food in Iran might be as cheap (~1€), but it is much more difficult to get, you mostly see fast food with burger and pizza which cost about 3€. In Mongolia, local fast food cost you about 4000T, i.e. ca. 2.5€.

Accommodation

As I try to use Couchsurfing as much as possible, I haven’t much to compare the accommodation in hostel or budget hotel: in Aswan and Luxor, the cheapest were not available, so I had to get a more normal room in a hotel for about 10€ a night. In Dahab, I think it was about 6-7€. In Amman, the dorm cost 12€, much more expensive. And in Yazd, I paid 5€ for the dorm, making Iran again the cheapest. The Guesthouses in Mongolia are in the same category, $5 / 6500T / 4€ in UIaan Baator or 8000T (5€) in Karakorum to sleep in a ger, the Mongolian yurt.

Touristic place

The entry ticket for the touristic places makes Iran really cheap, especially if the site is public: the government stopped the more expensive tickets for Foreigners some years ago. For instance, you pay only 5000 IRR (~0.4€) to enter a (public) museum, but 5-6 times more for a (private) garden, about 30k IRR ~ 1,5€. In this area, Jordan is a mixed bag: 1 JD (1.2€) for some castles or Romans ruins, but up to 50JD (60€) for the daily ticket in Petra. And the cheapest official access to the Dead Sea is the Amman Beach resort which cost 16JD, which make it even more expensive than comparative site in Europe. Egypt is in the middle field: mostly about 20 to 30 EGP for a temple (<4€), and up to 100 EGP (12€) for Abu Simbel or the Great Pyramid, the most famous ones. In Mongolia: you pay about 5000T (~3€) to enter a museum or 3500T for a Buddhist temple. Naadam in UB is very touristic, so you pay $25 as a foreigner for the opening ceremony instead of 8000 or 12000T for the locals (3 times less). Still in Mongolia, the entrance fee for some National Park is about 300T for the local but 10 times more for Foreigners.

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