Travel has a reputation for being expensive, but whilst that’s often the case it’s equally true that there are some exceptional bargains around if you’re willing to spread your wings a bit further. In many parts of the world it’s possible to live on only a few pounds a day – or in luxury for the same amount of money as you would spend at home. Here are seven of the cheapest destinations in the world, based on our own experiences and research. If you’re on a budget, these places will help you stretch your savings the farthest.
This huge, sprawling country has an incredible amount to offer. Although there are plenty of tourist traps in the big cities, you’ll find super-low prices as well as a more authentic cultural experience once you veer off the beaten path. A rich and fragrant culinary culture awaits travelers to the country, as well as incredible architecture and unique textiles. Most parts of India are highly affordable, from Mumbai to Rajasthan and everywhere in between. All in all, you should be able to exist very comfortably for £10 a day.
Currency: Indian rupee
Accommodation: 873 rupees/night ($13.42 USD/night)
Meals: 456 rupees/day ($7.00 USD/day)
Transportation: 10-50 rupees for one tuk tuk or rickshaw ride ($0.15-0.77 USD)
Cost of travel per day (on average): 1,700 rupees ($26 USD)
Tunisia’s capital is consistently ranked among the world’s cheapest cities by Mercer who conducts an annual survey on worldwide cost. The coastal city is where the Mediterranean meets North Africa, with the best of both cultures at a fraction of the price you might expect from nearby countries such as Italy. A cultural blend between regions, Tunisia is an immersive dream for adventurous travelers and is less frequented by mass tourism. Tunis, the capital of Tunisia, continues to be the cheapest city in its geographic region.
Currency: Tunisian dinar
Accommodation: 40-64 Tunisian dinars/night ($20.41-32.00 USD/night)
Meals: 30 Tunisian dinars/day ($15.31 USD/day)
Transportation: 3-10 dinars/ride ($1.53-5.12 USD/ride)
Cost of travel per day (on average): 85 Tunisian dinars ($43.37 USD)
Flickr image by liketearsintherain
3. Eastern Europe
You can expect to pay comparable prices to those at home in Western Europe, but hop a little further east and you’ll find a very different picture. Food and accommodation in Eastern Europe are excellent value and you can often find cheap flights from European hubs like London and Paris. There is plenty to see and do for free here, and the region boasts numerous historically-rich sites to visit. Head for some of the quieter spots in Slovakia, Albania or Macedonia; you’ll find the capital cities carry reasonable value but further afield, in the smaller, more provincial towns, prices are truly outstanding.
Currency: Euro (varies depending on the country)
Accommodation: 15-25 Euros/night (dorm rooms)
Meals: 15-20 Euros/day
Transportation: 10 Euros/day
Cost of travel per day (on average): 35-55 Euros
4. Vietnam and Cambodia
These are well-known tourist destinations thanks to their stunning scenery and cultural heritage, but their popularity among backpackers means that there are plenty of places where prices are ideal for the budget traveler. It’s possible to get an excellent meal – including beer – for $3, and a decent hotel won’t cost much more. There’s so much to see: from beautiful Sapa in Northern Vietnam to Angkor Wat in Cambodia, you can easily spend months exploring this region.
Currency: Vietnamese Dong, Cambodian Riel/US Dollar
Transportation: $5-10/taxi ride (less for a moto-taxi)
Cost of travel per day (on average): $20-40 USD/day
In fact, Southeast Asia is good value all over, and Thailand is another destination where it’s possible to stretch your money almost twice as far as at home. Recent flooding and political problems have driven prices lower still, and you’ll be helping to boost the local economy. Travelers to Thailand can expect delicious food, stunning gold-embellished temples, and reasonably-priced activities. Plus, Bangkok is one of Southeast Asia’s central airport hubs, making travel to and from Thailand fairly easy. Whether you head to the beach, up into the mountains, or inland into the jungles, Thailand has all sorts of adventure for the budget traveler.
Currency: Thai Baht
Accommodation: 200-700 Baht/night ($5.67-$19.84 USD/night)
Meals: 300 Baht/day ($8.50 USD/day)
Transportation: 100 Baht/day ($2.83/day)
Cost of travel per day (on average): 550-1060 Baht ($15-30 USD/day)
On a similar theme, Mexico has had plenty of bad publicity recently thanks to a series of high-profile drug killings. Unfortunately the whole country has been tainted by association, despite the fact that its beautiful stretches of beaches and quaint towns are nowhere near the violence and remain completely unaffected. Mexico boasts lively festivals, colorful decor, and world-class coastlines for every kind of tourist, not to mention a wide array of adventure activities and entertainment options.
Currency: Mexican peso
Accommodation: 250-900 pesos/night ($15.28-55.01/night)
Meals: 250-500 pesos/day ($15.28-30.56/day)
Transportation: 16-40 pesos/ride ($0.98-2.44/ride)
Cost of travel per day (on average): 700-1500 pesos ($42.78-91.68 USD/day)
This country is one to watch. Already cheap due to its struggling economy, if Greece crashes out of the Euro and reverts to the Drachma then your dollars could suddenly go literally twice as far against the vastly devalued currency. Public transport and other services may be shaky for a while longer, so make contingency plans – or build some flexibility into your timetable and stay longer. When traveling to Greece, it’s important to bring plenty of cash to exchange, as the ATMs are sometimes unreliable given the current economic state. Once you’re there, ancient history, lovely architecture, and breathtaking island-hopping excursions are available at your leisure.
Accommodation: 10-30 Euros
Meals: 10-25 Euros/day
Transportation: 5-10 Euros/ride
Cost of travel per day (on average): 25-65 Euros
Flickr photo by Arian Zwegers
More budget travel tips to help in planning your trip:
- To save money on flights, using a flight aggregator search such as Skyscanner can help you find and compare flights to any area in the world.
- Choose overland travel within a country as buses in these regions are fairly inexpensive and offer regular schedules between most major cities. Be careful to always watch your things when you’re riding a bus, especially overnight.
- Booking accommodation in advance can usually save you money and the extra hassle of finding a place to stay during your travels. Booking.com is a great resource for checking out reviews and booking rooms of any budget.
- Street food can be a great way to taste authentic, local food on a very low budget.