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Are you looking to make your travel dollars go further? What countries around the world, provide the best bang for your buck so that you can travel more, for less?
In this post, we will highlight the best cheap destinations around the world to give you plenty of inspiration to dream and plan your next trip. Call it what you want, I am “cheap”, “thrifty” or “value focused”, which is why we are budget travelers. We have lots of great tips for budget travel, but one of the most important ways to travel on a budget, is to choose cheap countries.
There are certain continents and regions of the world that are cheaper for travel than others. It is hard to beat the prices of Asia, where in almost any country, you will be able to travel inexpensively. However, another factor in the cost of travel is the distance you travel to get there. For this reason, we want to give you ideas of cheap countries to visit worldwide. Search a website like FlightHub to look for flight discounts around the world.
- 1 Cheap Countries in Asia
- 2 Cheap Countries in Europe
- 3 Cheap Countries in North America
- 4 Cheap Countries in South America
- 5 Cheap Countries in Africa
Cheap Countries in Asia
We have spent a lot of time travelling in Asia because it is cheap, exotic and culturally rich. We have visited 11 countries, but there are 4 stand out cheap destinations where your money will go a very long way.
Travelling in India isn’t for every one. Even the most seasoned travellers generally have mixed feelings about India. On one hand it can be chaotic, dirty and frustrating. But, it also offers incredible sights, delicious foods and a rich cultural heritage that is hard to beat. You can sleep in a palace, go on a multi-day camel safari or buy exquisite handicrafts, each for less than $100. Travelling independently is the cheapest option, but tours are inexpensive and a great way to experience India with some support. Visiting the Taj Mahal and Golden Triangle is the perfect introduction to India, but you can also venture further afield to Rajasthan or the southern state of Kerala. Another nearby option is Sri Lanka, an amazing country to visit, but not quite as cheap as India.
When most people think of Indonesia, they think of the island of Bali. Bali is in fact one of the more expensive islands that make up Indonesia, but its well developed tourism infrastructure and incredible beauty make it a popular choice. While Bali is more expensive than other parts of Indonesia, it is still a value-destination where you can stay in luxury hotels or your own private villa for a fraction of the price you would pay elsewhere.
If you want to experience Indonesia beyond Bali, Komodo National Park offers amazing diving, wildlife and scenery. Raja Ampat has progressed from sleepy island into international traveller name brand recognition, notable for its diving and unique geography. The largest island of Java has many cultural sights and is the heart of Indonesia. Alternatively if you stay close to Bali, you can explore the slightly quieter islands of Lombok, the Gili Islands and Nusa Islands.
If you are wanting to visit Southeast Asia on a budget, Vietnam is a great choice. Over a decade ago, we were thrilled to have a modern hotel room with A/C and a TV for less than $20 in Vietnam. Happily, prices haven’t multiplied as tourist numbers have in the past decade. Vietnam is a favourite destination for foodies where you can eat inexpensively sampling street food and local specialties.
The two largest cities in Vietnam, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh couldn’t be any different and each offer a unique experience. Hanoi is much more traditional, while Ho Chi Minh is more modern and urban. Visitors love the seaside town of Hoi An, the limestone islands of Halong Bay and exploring the Mekong Delta. Vietnam truly has something for every one with its fascinating history, gorgeous landscapes and did I mention the food!?!
Nepal is one of the cheapest countries we have visited in the world. If you come to appreciate and understand the cultural attractions, you will encounter rock bottom prices. Even if you want to participate in multi-day treks or adventure activities, prices are incredibly reasonable. You can hire the services of a guide for under $25/day, stay in mid-range hotels for $50/night and get around on local transport for a few dollars.
My advice if planning a trip to Nepal is to travel slowly as the roads are horrendous throughout Nepal. For those with less independent travel experience, a tour is a great way to experience the country. And in our view you can’t visit Nepal without doing at least some trekking. The tea house style of trekking is unique to Nepal and Nepal’s Himalayas offer endless opportunities.
Cheap Countries in Europe
Europe isn’t known as a budget destination, but good value can be found in southern and eastern Europe. The Baltic countries are particularly good value and offer incredible landscapes and culture.
Portugal is the cheapest country in western Europe and with its mild climate, historic cities and gorgeous coastline it is a great destination year round. Those seeking sunshine will likely want to head to the Algarve region, while those interested in culture will like Porto and city-lovers will appreciate Lisbon. Public transportation is inexpensive, accommodation is moderately priced and good value food can be had. Summer is the most popular and expensive time to visit Portugal; Spring and Fall provide stable weather and are more budget friendly.
Greece has the much desired trifecta when it comes to a travel destination: a mild climate, one of the best cuisines in the world and incredible historic and cultural sights. Visiting the most popular Greek islands in summer won’t come cheap, but if you travel in the shoulder season and visit areas more popular with locals, Greece can be a great bargain. Food in particular is very well priced where you can get a full restaurant meal for half of what it would cost in northern Europe. We particularly appreciated that a carafe of wine cost a mere 4 euros!
The Peloponnese region of Greece is a stunning place to visit with many important Greek sights, deserted beaches and quaint towns. If you want to visit some of the Greek islands, pick a group of islands and don’t spend lots of time and money travelling between island groups. Instead of visiting the most popular islands of Santorini or Mykonos, choose Paros, Andros or Amorgos. You will escape the tourist crowds, have a more authentic experience and save lots of money.
The best part about visiting Turkey is that you get a taste of Europe and Asia, all in one. You will encounter Roman history, mosques alongside churches, gorgeous beaches, extraordinarily friendly people, and bustling markets. No trip to Turkey is complete without visiting the capital, Istanbul where east literally meets west. Cruise down the Bosphorus, visit the stunning Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, get lost of the Grand Bazaar and taste every bit of Turkish food you can get your hands on.
The Turkish coastline offers a plethora of beaches where you can immerse yourself in Turkish culture and visit historical sights. Alternatively, Cappadocia’s fairy tale landscape draws visitors for a reason and even if a hot air balloon isn’t in your budget, it is a beautiful region to explore.
Cheap Countries in North America
It won’t come as a surprise that the countries profiled here are Mexico and in Central America.
For those living in North America, Mexico is the easiest and cheapest destination to visit nearby. While prices in most places in Mexico are incredibly cheap, Americans and Canadians drive prices up in tourist hot spots like Cancun, Tulum and Puerto Vallarta. As with any destination, the secret of budget travel is to seek out local cities and avoid Western restaurants and hotels.
Many Canadians and Americans have safety concerns about travelling independently in Mexico. Unfortunately the media over reports incidents of violence, which is almost always linked to the drug cartels. With proper precautions, most people feel completely safe travelling in Mexico.
Mexico is massive and you will want to pick one area to visit. I often suggest the Yucatan as a great first destination for independent travel in Mexico. Tourism infrastructure is good and you can explore Mayan sights, gorgeous beaches, swim in stunning cenotes and colonial towns.
We visited Nicaragua in 2015 and can definitely attest to it being an amazing and budget-friendly destination. However, since the political situation deteriorated in 2018, tourism has collapsed. Many backpackers are still visiting and reporting that Nicaragua is safe, but you should exercise some caution. Additionally flights into Managua are much more expensive now. Before 2018, Nicaragua was the safest country in Central America despite its political history.
Nicaragua offers a lot of the same things as Costa Rica, but at a fraction of the costs. Home to 19 volcanoes, the largest lake in Central America and stunning colonial cities, Nicaragua is a wonderful country to explore. It makes a great base to learn or brush up on your Spanish, with numerous Spanish schools.
Guatemala is slightly more expensive than Nicaragua, but still a very budget-friendly destination. It is more stable right now, although you do have to watch out for petty crime. Most visitors will include a visit to the gorgeous colonial town of Antigua and spend longer than they anticipated relaxing along the shores of Lake Atitlan. Transportation is very inexpensive especially if you travel in the local chicken buses. Street food is readily available and visitors love the papusas, which are in fact an El Salvadorian creation.
Cheap Countries in South America
Colombia is a country that is just starting to move onto the main-stream traveller’s radar. Every one who has visited reports encountering the friendliest people in the world. Colombia has something for everyone from beautiful cities to lush jungles. The cities of Cartagena, Bogota and Medellin are vibrant with hipster food scenes and gorgeous streets to explore. Colombia is home to 10% of the world’s biodiversity and you can trek to lost cities, explore National Parks and visit small mountain towns.
To control costs in Colombia, eat some street food, use local transport, join free walking tours and negotiate prices.
The draws of Machu Picchu make Peru a popular destination for visitors to South America. It is not the cheapest country in South America, but with some care, it can be a budget-friendly destination. Accommodation tends to be very reasonable, while food prices in the cities like Cusco and Lima can be more expensive.
Many people make the mistake of rushing to Peru to check off Machu Picchu from their bucket lists, but there is so much more to Peru. You can easily spend a month exploring the Pacific coast, mountains, and rain forests of Peru.
Ecuador can be a good budget destination if you skip the bucket list and pricey, Galapagos Islands. It is the cheapest place to access the Amazon River and the city of Quito and snow-capped mountain of Cotopaxi are awesome destinations. You can visit Ecuador on any budget, but in order to control costs, eat street food, stay in family-run guesthouses, book last-minute tours and carry small change (Ecuador uses the US$).
Cheap Countries in Africa
Africa is surprisingly not a cheap continent for travel. While standards of living are low this does not translate to budget prices as tourism infrastructure is not well developed. Additionally since most people want to do safaris and adventure activities, it can be hard to control costs. Just getting to many African countries can be expensive, which we have taken into account.
Morocco may not be the country we think of when we think of Africa, but it is Africa’s most popular tourist destination for a reason. Its close proximity to Europe and rich cultural heritage make it an exotic destination with its colour, intensity and history. To control your costs in Morocco, eat in local restaurants and stay away from large Western hotels. While Morocco is perfectly safe to travel, watch out for petty thieves, negotiate fares in advance and avoid tourist touts.
There are lots of options for planning your Morocco itinerary and most visitors will want to get a taste for the cities, desert villages and coastline. Marrakesh is often the starting point, but Essaouira along the coast gets rave reviews. Other good options are a camel safari through the desert, visiting the medieval city of Fez or the picturesque blue city of Chefchaouen.
I wanted to make sure to include a safari destination on the list of the cheapest countries in Africa and admittedly Naimbia isn’t the cheapest. Countries like Malawi and Rwanda are cheaper, but are harder to get to and more commonly visited on an organized tour. Namibia on the other hand is a great country to visit independently, offers reasonable prices for Africa and is a safari and desert destination.
One of the best ways to travel Namibia is by renting a vehicle and camping. There is good camping infrastructure and it will allow you to see the breadth of sights that Namibia offers from the wildlife of Etosha National Park to the sand dunes of Soussousvlei.
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