When your bank account makes the decisions, you’ve got to be a bit more careful (and smarter) about your travel decisions. That’s why I did some research on the cheapest countries to travel to – here are my top 10 countries to visit when traveling on a budget.
Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America, but it’s been under the radar for years due to natural disasters and political unrest. Good news, though – it’s now quickly becoming a go-to destination for budget travelers thanks to the awesome surfing, colorful towns and lively culture. Did I mention it was cheap?
Spend around $25 USD and you’ll get a double room with private bathroom in a hostel. Go even cheaper with $6-12 USD for a dorm. You can even rent a hammock in many locations for around $5 USD.
A meal at a street vendor can cost you as low as $2 USD. An typical dish at a Nicaraguan restaurant – gallo pinto (rice and beans), meat (usually chicken) and plantains – costs around $3-5 USD.
And no need to worry when budgeting out your day trips since most activities – hiking, surfing, volcano boarding – will cost you around $10-30 USD.
On my bucket list for years now, Turkey is one of a kind – a unique mix of eastern and western culture, and home to some of the world’s most spectacular landscapes.
Delicious food, fantastic sights and plenty of things to see and do.
Kababs and Donair-Kababs – otherwise known as shawarma – can cost as little as $2 USD. Most hostels around the country will cost you $20-30 USD a night.
If you’re planning on (and absolutely should be) staying for a few weeks to explore the entire country, the buses are cheap and run often. A 12-hour bus ride from Istanbul to Cappadocia will cost you around $30 USD.
3. Sri Lanka
Sleep on the beach in a cheap cabana and eat your meals in budget cafés for around $20 USD per day.
A bus ticket from one end of the island to the other is around $20 USD, or hire a car and driver for the entire day for around $55-70 USD. A typical meal at a cafe will cost you around $2-4 USD per meal. And to continue on with all that cheap-living, you can find a double room in a guesthouse (most with an awesome view) for again, around $20 USD per night or less.
The only thing to consider is that there is an official difference in pricing for locals and tourists. Entrance fees to popular archelogical sites and national parks can cost a tourist $30 USD, while it’s free for locals.
Cambodia is a country with a rich history, amazing food and a decent nightlife scene – similar to its neighbors Vietnam and Thailand, but it’s one that is a lot less developed and thus visited. So if you’re up for exploring an off the beaten path country in Southeast Asia, Cambodia is definitely one to visit.
Spend around $1–3 USD for a local meal at a restaurant or on the street.
Accommodations won’t cost you much more – get a double room with a fan for $4 USD, and an air conditioned room for $6 to 8. You can choose what you spend, of course – and a decent hotel room will still only be around $15 to $20 USD.
Tuk tuks – carts pulled by motorcycles – are a common form of transportation – and a short ride will cost you around $1 USD. Hire a tuk tuk all day to visit the temples around Angkor for around $13 all day.
Trekking in the Himalayas is the most popular activity in Nepal, but there is much more to explore. Wander through the streets of Kathmandu, and enjoy late night Nepalese food in restaurants open late into the night. Journey to monkey-filled temples, prevalent thanks to the huge Buddhist and Hindu influence throughout the land.
If you decide to stay around the city of Kathmandu, a budget hotel room can range anywhere from $5 USD to $25 USD. A sit-down meal will only cost you around $2 to $4 USD.
Or you can go the adventurous route – jungle safaris, biking trips, whitewater rafting, hang gliding – or trekking the tallest mountain in the world, Mt. Everest.
A dinner and breakfast in a trekking lodge costs around $10–12 USD. And for $15-25 USD per day, you can hire a guide for the entire journey.
Is Thailand cheap? You’re damn right it is. The north side of the country, however, is definitely cheaper than Bangkok and the islands. (READ: 4 Reasons Why You Could Seriously Consider Moving To Thailand)
Find a cheap room in the city for $7 USD and $4 USD in the countryside. If you’re on the islands, or want an air-conditioned room, you’ll pay at least $17 USD per night. Hotels start at around $40 USD per night, and the bigger resorts on the islands start at $50 USD per night for a bungalow on the beach. Hungry? Street food can cost you as little as $0.65 USD per meal, and around $3-5 USD if you decide to eat at a local restaurant. I know lots of people are wary of eating street food, but it’s actually pretty safe – sometimes even more than restaurants. You’ll often find the best of Thailand’s food on the streets, and it’ll cost you a lot less than if you eat at a restaurant.
Getting around is cheap too. Local buses cost $0.25 USD per trip, the Metro and Skytrain in Bangkok cost around $0.50-1.50 USD per trip, and colorful cab rides range from $1.75-3 USD. A tuk-tuk ride will cost around $3-7 USD.
If you (and you absolutely should) decide to explore different parts of the country, you’ll find it fairly cheap to do so as well. Day trains cost as little as $7 USD. A second-class ticket on a night trains are $17 USD – non-air-conditioned. Book a ticket to take a boat to many of the islands for $7-14 USD.
Ahh, one of South America’s liveliest countries, and thanks to its popularity, cheap accommodation is plentiful. Visit Peru in April and May or September and October – these times are off-season, and prices are even cheaper. Stay in a hostel dorm room for around $8-15 USD per night, or a double private room with a bathroom for $25-35 USD. Budget hotels (Hospedajes) start at around $30-50 USD per night.
Find the cheapest food at street stalls and outdoor markets – from $1-2 USD per meal. Lunch or dinner at a sit-down spot starts at around $4-6 USD.
The average price for a 10-hour bus ride is around $30-70 USD. A taxi around Lima should cost no more than $8 USD. Or you can take the new, clean intra-city buses for $0.50-1 USD per trip.
Visiting archaeological sites and other popular tourist attractions are probably going to be your biggest expense – a day trip to Machu Picchu costs around $50 USD. You can book a Nasca Lines helicopter tour for 35 minutes for $97 USD. Multi-day trips up the Inca Trail usually cost hundreds of dollars.
Indonesia – a beautiful chain of islands where you can see Orangutans in the wild, climb volcanoes, visit ancient historical sites, and lay around on the beach all day and night.
If you can’t give up the air conditioning and party at night, the cost of traveling in Indonesia might hover from $25 – $30 per day. If you choose to be super-tight on the budget, you can get by for only $15 per day.
You can spend $2 to $4 for a double room in a hostel or guesthouse. Accommodation prices in Bali or the popular tourist islands of Indonesia are generally more expensive. Rooms with air conditioning cost around $11 – $17 USD per night for two people.
Street food featuring single plate meals or noodles cost anywhere from $0.50-2 USD, and a giant plate of food with assorted side dishes (nasi campur) costs around $1-2 USD. If you want to sit down at a local restaurant, it will cost around $2-6 USD per meal.
Getting around the country can be a bit challenging, since the country is a chain of islands. You can choose to take the ferry, plane or bus. A flight from Medan, Sumatra to Jakarta, Java costs around $51 USD. A 12-hour bus ride from Cemoro Lawang (Mount Bromo) to Probolinggo, Java and across a ferry to Denpasar, Bali costs around $18 USD.
On the island of Java, the train is a great transportation option. An economy overnight train ticket from Jakarta to Yogyakarta costs $12 USD.
Within cities, take the local buses, tuk-tuks, rickshaws, or rent your own motorcycle or car. You can rent a motorcycle for around $7 per day including gas. In Bali, rent a small SUV with some friends for around $22 per day.
The dynamic country rich in history, arts and scenic beauty is definitely one to visit for the budget traveler. Holiday season is, unusually, low season, which makes it an opportune time to travel and be good to your bank account. Explore the many magical, medieval villages, spectacular castles and hop on a ferry down the Danube Delta.
You can book a dorm room bed for $8-12 USD per night in a hostel, or book a private double room for $25-40 USD. A single or double room in a cheap hotel starts at around $40 USD.
Most small meals in Romania cost around $5 USD. Restaurants in major tourist cities like Brasov or Sighisoara can be a bit pricier and cost from $15-25 USD. Buy a beer for around $1.50-2.50 at a bar, and for even cheaper at a store or during happy hour.
City buses and trains cost about $1 USD for a single journey ticket. Intercity trains and buses begin at $10 USD but are rarely more than $20 USD for a second class ticket. Entrance to most museums and attractions cost between $5-10 USD, so don’t be afraid to explore the city.
10. South Africa
Thanks to recent currency fluctuations, South Africa is more affordable than it’s been for many years. Come in South Africa’s shoulder seasons (March to May, September and October) for the best combination of low crowds and comfortable weather.
How does wildlife watching, bargain public and travel-friendly transportation options, and free entry to many of the country’s awesome museums sound to you?
A dorm room bed in a hostel costs around $10 USD. A simple meal at a fast food or casual restaurant costs anywhere from $4-7 USD. A sit-down dinner can cost you anywhere from $6-12 USD. A public bus ride costs around $0.57-0.66 USD.
Thank you so much for reading this post. Are there any other countries and destinations you know of that are budget and travel-friendly? If so, please leave a comment below and share it with our community.