Business Travel: The Most Expensive and the Cheapest Locations in Asia

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For the second successive year, Hong Kong has been ranked the most expensive location in Asia for business travel, said ECA International recently.

The average business trip to Hong Kong would cost an overall total of US$515 per day, including hotel costs of US$ 286, according to the findings of the latest Daily Rates research published by the firm.

“Hong Kong has always been one of the most expensive Asian locations to visit on business, due to the combination of a high cost of goods and services, and expensive hotel prices” said Lee Quane, Regional Director – Asia at ECA International. “However, in recent years we have seen Hong Kong pull away slightly from other expensive locations such as Tokyo, Seoul and Singapore, and this year has been no different with Hong Kong now costing 4% more than Tokyo and 8% more than Seoul in second and third places respectively.”

Tokyo the second in rankings 

Tokyo remains second in the Asia rankings, with the typical business trip now costing US$ 494 a day.

Seoul is in third place based on the overall price of a business trip. However, if hotel costs are excluded, then the Korean capital moves above Tokyo into second place.

Quane said executives should expect to see the costs of business travel to Tokyo to increase over the next 12 months due the city hosting major events such as the Rugby World Cup, Olympic and Paralympic games between now and the end of 2020.

Together with the city’s emergence as a major tourist destination in recent years and a shortage of suitable accommodation, hotel costs are high and recent regulatory changes which reduce the availability of other short-term accommodation options such as Airbnb are likely to drive a further increase in accommodation costs in the coming year, he added.

The fact that Seoul moves to second in the rankings when excluding hotel costs shows that the price of food, drinks, and other incidentals that make up the overall cost of a trip is actually higher in Seoul than Tokyo, Quanne observed.

This is a trend we see in many locations, where the hotel cost can inflate the overall figure, and it demonstrates the importance of looking at all aspects of a business trip, and not necessarily just the combined cost, he pointed out.

The typical business trip to Singapore is now US$468, making it the fourth most expensive location in Asia for business travel.

Cost of trip to Singapore static

The cost of a business trip to Singapore has stayed relatively static due to the steady level of international business travel to the country, he said.

However, the price of a hotel room has dropped slightly, down to US$249 per night from US$256 last year, he observed.

Despite this small decrease in the average price, the demand has stayed at about the same level and Singapore continues to be popular for international business, illustrated by the fact that Singapore remains in the top five most expensive Asian locations, he noted.

Shanghai the most pricey location in China

In China, the most expensive business trip destination is Shanghai, at US$378 per day.

“Although a business trip to Shanghai would be relatively expensive compared to other Chinese cities, Shanghai is outside of the top ten most expensive locations in Asia for business travel, and outside of the top 100 globally,” he explained.

However, when looking at the total price excluding hotels, Chinese cities are all much higher placed in the rankings, due to the fact that hotel costs in China are comparatively cheaper than many other locations across the world, Quane said.

“When excluding the cost of hotels from the price of an overall business trip, the data shows a different story,” he noted. “Every Chinese city in our rankings would be much higher placed, with Shanghai in particular jumping from 117th in the world to 89th, and Beijing entering the global top 100 too”.

Cheapest location is in Malaysia

The cheapest location in ECA’s rankings was Johor Bahru in Malaysia where a business trip would cost just US$184 per day, and hotel costs would account for just US$83 of this.

NYC the most expensive worldwide

New York is the most expensive location in the world for business travel, with the average per diem cost of a business trip standing at US$799, according to ECA.


Top ten most expensive locations for business travel in Asia

(Source: ECA International)


Top ten most expensive locations in the world for business travel

(Source: ECA International)