Here is a list of my top travel smartphone app recommendations that will help you to find bargain accommodation, transport, flights, restaurants and activities and budget your spending around South East Asia.
For booking accommodation, download the Agoda app. Create an account and it will find you the best deals on hotels, hostels and other accommodation in countries around South East Asia. For most bookings, you will be able to modify your booking or cancel at last minute if your plans change. Agoda often has sales on bookings and offers on extended stays. For example, I wanted to stay in Hanoi, Vietnam for an extra week to explore and Agoda found me a hotel which offered me a 40% discount on an extended stay, which meant I had more money to spend on other things like eating out. The more you use your Agoda account the more points you will accumulate which can go towards free or discounted accommodation. Out of all the accommodation sites and apps out there, I used this one the most.. simply reviewing places after your stay will earn you points!
Like Agoda, this is a worldwide accommodation booking app and website. Rated by many as the number one site for getting the cheapest, best deal on accommodation. You can also filter your searches to offer you cancellation options, incase you change your plans at last minute. Perhaps you fall in love with a particular part of a city and choose to stay there instead? Booking.com is also great for offering reliable reviews, it will generally show the best reviews first so make sure you click to view all reviews so you don’t get any nasty surprises when you arrive.
This is another great accommodation app that specializes in finding you the best hostel. Like many of the other travel apps it will allow you to filter your search by budget per night, star rating, facilities, distance from the city center.
Trip Advisor is useful to have in order to suss out the quality of places by reading reviews about accommodation, restaurants, tours and places to visit. Many users use TripAdvisor as an online forum to ask travel questions so it will help you find out more about the place you are heading out to. Offering tips and advice on best transport and costs of certain activities in your area. As Trip Advisor becomes more and more popular it is likely that someone has already asked a question you need the answer to which makes this app helpful for finding the right information.
Much like the well known Uber, Grab is the South East Asia equivalent. This app will allow you to book a car or motorbike to your doorstep. Grab tends to be relatively cheaper than a regular cab. Note: in busy times Grab cars may be less available. I found this in Thailand and Vietnam.
Out of all the flight search apps there are, I find this one the most useful in finding the best and lowest prices. It will allow you to search single, return or multi trip flights
Along with Momondao, Skyscanner is one of the top apps for finding best and most competitive prices on flights.
I have yet to use Airwander but I like the concept. It allows you to book long haul flights and adjust the length and destination of your stopovers inbetween your departing city and destination. While some stopovers will add an additional cost, some will actually save you money on your total flight cost, how amazing for the budget traveler who wants to see as many countries as possible.
Budgeting and Spending
Travel spend is a budgeting app to keep track of your spending as you travel. I find this one very useful as sometimes it can be hard to keep track of how much you are spending from day to day and it allows you to stay within your overall budget. To set up, you simply enter your total budget and the amount of time you wish to travel for. It will then calculate the daily amount of money you have to spend each day. Each day enter your spending, the app will allow you enter the amount, date, country and category. For example, I spent $2 on the bus which goes into the transportation category. You enter all your transactions per day and it will calculate your average spending per day as you go along. For backpacking South East Asia, the app calculated that I can spend $26 per day given the amount of time I am travelling and the total amount of budget I want to spend. Right now, my daily average is $23, $3 lower than my allowed amount.
I also use this app as a currency converter. The app lets you to enter the currency you are using at the time and it will convert it into your home currency so you are even more clear on how much you are spending.
Transferwise App and Debit Card
This app allows you to transfer money from the bank in your country into an international account. Before you set off travelling, order the transferwise debit card which will save you a lot of money on transaction and currency conversion costs that you would incur using your regular banking card from you own country. Once you receive the debit card, you can transfer money to the account, the app then allows you to convert euros to many international currency immediately, incurring a very small fee. I used the debit card in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam without a problem. Unfortunately the card cannot be used in Laos yet.
This one has saved me many times from getting lost in a place I am not familiar with. If you don’t want to spend money on a sim card with data in each country you visit and you simply rely on wifi everywhere you go, this app will work offline to navigate to your destination. When you reach a new country, the app will allow you to download the map for that country while using wifi, then when you are out and about the app will work offline to route you to where you want to go.
Another navigation app that will give you the best route and best transportation to take to reach your destination. Most searches will give you a couple options to choose from including the time, distance and price for each.
This one is great for organising your accomodation bookings and flight reservations in one place. It is smart in that it will automatically add a reservation to your trip. It will also download things to do in the area you are travelling helping to create an itinerary for yourself.
While many people speak English, there will be the odd occasion where there will be a barrier or misunderstanding. Google translate is useful to have in these situations.
In Thailand, food panda will allow you to order food to your accommodation with a wide nearby restaurants to choose from. You can pay by entering your credit card when ordering or give cash to the driver.
As well as transport, you can also have food delivered by a grab driver. A similar concept to Uber Eats.