Today I board a plane for Bangkok. I’ve been on a plane to Bangkok many times, but not since I had a child many years ago. Now it’ time for me to research the region for the 4th edition of my book and I’ve got a magazine assignment in Hanoi. So I’m taking my daughter and wife to Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam.

I try to write for both backpackers and “mid-range” travelers on this Cheapest Destinations Blog because good values are independent of budget levels. Some destinations are just a better deal all around. Including these three.

The first time I went though, I and my now-wife were true shoestring backpackers. Our budget was $15 a day for a year after flights and we stuck to it. We circled the globe two more times and raised the budget a bit, but we were still mostly staying in cheap guesthouses, cold mandi bucket showers and all. Sweating buckets under a mosquito net, the smell of burning coils in our nostrils.

This time it’s a family trip, so not only will I be looking at higher prices due to the passage of time and these countries’ growing prosperity, but also we’re willing to pay for more comfort. So instead of reporting on the grotty windowless room I got for ten bucks, I’ll be posting pictures of my $50 room with a fridge, A/C, and a pool outside. (If you ever want to see a kid in a cranky mood, vacation for weeks without staying in a place with a swimming pool.)

We’ll be embracing many things I would have avoided before: Bangkok’s crazy shopping malls, VIP seats at the movie theater, cheesy dance shows, a first class sleeping berth, nice taxis now and then. But I know they’ll be a great value, so stay tuned!

[Photo by Perceptive Travel blogger and former Bangkok resident Brian Spencer. Click on the pic for a fun Bangkok story.]