Travel inevitably brings money worries with it as you enjoy yourself for days on end, free from obligation, carelessly spending as your bank balance decreases.
The good news is there are plenty of budget-friendly destinations out there – and they tend to bring the bonus of more relaxed travellers, laidback locals and interesting culture with them.
Cambodia is one of the most visited countries in the world thanks to the mighty Angkor temples, the UNESCO World Heritage Listed site home to Angkor Wat and its 400km2 Archaeological Park. Angkor brings droves of tourists to Siem Reap, the nearest city, while others head to Phnom Penh and various beach destinations.
There is plenty to see and the prices are just as friendly as the locals. Meals in restaurants in Cambodia will set you back a maximum of around USD $5, while beers start at 25 cents.
Poland boasts charming cities, hearty food oozing with home-cooked charm, serene natural beauty and a palpable history all in a thriving modern nation where you can get by on less than USD $40 a day. Delicious baked goods like zapiekenka can be purchased on the street at excellent value, accommodation is inexpensive and transport is easy and cost efficient.
Thailand is now one of the most popular destinations in southeast Asia, which means it is not as cheap as it once was – but it is still far from pricey. Pad Thai from a vendor on the streets of Bangkok costs around 35 Thai baht (USD $1), and even most beachfront hotels on the islands will charge the equivalent of only a few dollars for a full meal.
Guatemala offers spectacular natural scenery, with dense jungle blanketing mountains, cascading waterfalls and winding rivers, as well as a thriving local arts and crafts scene. Weekend markets are great here, particularly for the purchase of handmade, authentic goods. Meals in Guatemala will set you back around USD $3.
Hungary is certainly on the radar of many tourists but remains one of Europe’s cheaper options, not only because of the cost of goods here but also due to the fact that all you want to do in Budapest is stand by the river, slowly rotating as you gape in awe at what is one of the most spectacular examples of a city in the world.
Once you finish deciding which is your favourite riverside building (good luck), you will learn that you can live off around USD $35 per day, including a dorm bed and meals. A one-off ticket to at least one Hungarian bath is a must, so save room in your budget for that.
The natural beauty to be found in Vietnam makes it a must on the bucket list of any traveller. Home to spectacular scenery like the dramatic limestone rocks and peaceful rice paddies of Tam Coc, the misty mountains of Sa Pa, and the rocky maze of outcrops in turquoise Ha Long Bay, as well as the blissful beaches of Nha Trang and the irresistible nightlife of Ho Chi Minh City and Ha Noi, Vietnam is made to enchant.
The fact that it is another extraordinarily cheap destination makes it even more appealing, with meals available for as little as 25 Vietnamese dong (around USD $1).
7.) Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia & Herzegovina
Tourism in Former-Yugoslavian countries is on the rise as the region continues to recover from the tumultuous 1990s. Places like Croatia have already made their mark on Europe’s tourism industry through the Sail Croatia events ever summer, which draw masses of tourists to destinations that were once far cheaper than they are now.
Neighbouring countries are following Croatia’s lead, with places like Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia working to grow their tourism industries – which means now is the time to go. All three offer history stretching back hundreds of years through to the tragic, more recent events; beautiful mountainous scenery; delicious, cheap food in enormous portions; and lively cities with their own original ambience.
Stunning Indonesia is home to some of the most breath-taking beaches in the world, where surreal scenes featuring palm trees, sparkling blue water and cloudless skies bring daydreams of tropical paradise to life. Party it up in Bali or try a quieter island like Panglao, with full dinners available for that charming southeast Asia price or roughly $1 US.
Nicaragua is hailed as the new Costa Rica – or rather, newly more prominent on travel blog lists and in magazines in places that are not South America – with volcanic landscapes and jungle-like forests, charming colonial architecture and superb beaches that make it the ideal surf destination it is. It’s not quite as cheap as what you’ll find in southeast Asia, but a daily budget of around USD $25 will get you by.
Not only is Botswana one of the best places in Africa to witness the iconic wildlife in its natural habitat, it is also one of the best value destinations. You’ll have to do your research here – Botswana’s reputation precedes you and the luxury lodges that await many safari goers are a little above what a budget traveller might be hoping for. The lowest reasonable price to travel on per day in Botswana comes up around USD $60, making it one of the most expensive on this list – but if you want to get up close and personal with a lion this is probably not the ideal place to skimp on costs anyway.
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Author’s Bio: Courtney Gahan is a serial expat, traveller and freelance writer who has bartered with Moroccan marketeers, seen the sun rise at Angkor Wat and elbowed her way through crowds on NYE in NYC.