Cheapest Countries to Visit Right Now

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We are always looking for ways to stretch our travel budget to the fullest. We put together this list of the cheapest countries to visit in every region of the world, including money-saving tips from our personal experience.

Pamukkale Turkey

If you’re anything like us, your ever-growing travel bucket list may be putting a bit of pressure on your wallet. Luckily, the world is full of cheap places to travel that don’t require too much effort to get to.

There are budget-friendly destinations on every continent, and you can travel pretty much anywhere on a budget if you know the tips and tricks.

We’ve put together a list of the cheapest countries to visit on each continent (except for the expensive ones – sorry Australia and Antarctica!) where your dollar will go further. We even included money-saving tips for each country based on our personal experience.

Regions of the World

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Finding cheap airfare

Airplane cheap flights

Choosing a budget-friendly travel destination is smart if you’re looking to save money on travel. However, the costs below do not include airfare. So if budget is a big concern, you’ll want to use some of these handy tips for finding cheap flights:

  • Sign up for newsletters to get notified about mistake fares and take advantage of a cheaper “accidental” price.
  • Always compare prices on travel search engines such as Skyscanner, Kayak and Expedia. But! If you can find the cheapest price there, it’s always best to book directly with the airline itself.
  • Be flexible: Know when the best time to fly is, book self-transfer layovers to save, and compare prices to different airports in the area or region.

For more information, check out our in-depth guide on how to find cheap flights using travel hacks.


Budget Destinations in Asia

Asia is the largest continent and home to some notoriously expensive places (like Japan!), but it’s also where you’ll find some of the cheapest countries to visit in the entire world! We’ve spent a lot of time living in and traveling through Asia and we’re here to tell you it can absolutely be done on a shoe-string budget!

Cambodia

Low cost of food and accommodation

Beach in Cambodia

Cambodia has it all. From turquoise waters on white sand beaches to a lush rainforest, ancient temples, a rich culture and warm, welcoming people. Despite a dark history, the spirit of Cambodian people has never been higher.

It’s location in Southeast Asia and reputation for affordability makes Cambodia a hot spot for backpackers and vacationers alike. Most people come here to visit the ancient temples of Angkor, which is an impressive sight (especially at sunrise!), but there is so much more to add to your Cambodia itinerary.

Cost per day

  • Backpacker budget: $15 USD per day
  • Mid-range budget: $35 USD per day

Money-saving tip for Cambodia: The currency in Cambodia is a mix of US dollars and local Riel. Vendors will try to overcharge foreigners by asking for USD, when the price in Riel would be a much lower equivalent. Try to avoid paying in USD by always asking for the price in Riel to save money.

Average costs (on a mid-range budget) 

  • Local meal: $2 – $4 USD
  • Beer: $2 – $5 USD
  • Accommodation: $12 – $25 USD/night
  • Local Transportation: $5.50 USD/day
  • Regional Transportation: $15 USD
  • Entertainment: $10 USD/day

Cheap things to do in Cambodia

  • Spend the day at the beach with a good book: Free!
  • Discover the best street food: $2 USD
  • Browse a night market: Free!
  • Hike to a waterfall: Free!
  • Stroll the grounds of the Royal Palace Parks: Free!
  • Take a tuk tuk around town for the day: $8 USD
  • Visit the ancient temples of Angkor Wat: $37 USD

India

A relatively low currency and plenty of off-the-beaten-path options

Taj Mahal India

From the bucket list wonder, the Taj Mahal, to the tropical backpacker’s party hub of Goa, India has a vast range of destinations for budget travelers. And with a relatively weak currency, the exchange rate makes traveling on a budget fairly easy for most foreigners.

But before you start planning your trip, keep in mind that India is not for everyone. It can be a challenging place to visit for particular or inexperienced travelers.

Cost per day

  • Backpacker budget: $10 USD per day
  • Mid-range budget: $30 USD per day

Money-saving tip for India: Opt out of AC. This may seem like a stretch for anyone who’s looked at the average temperatures in India and knows it can reach well over 100° F. However, if you are really trying to pinch your pennies, accommodation without AC can be as little as one-third to half the cost of rooms with an air conditioning unit.

Average costs (on a mid-range budget) 

  • Local meal: $2 – $3 USD
  • Beer: $1.50 USD
  • Accommodation: $16 – $31 USD/night
  • Local Transportation: $3.50 USD/day
  • Regional Transportation: $10 USD
  • Entertainment: $6 USD/day

Cheap things to do in India

  • Stroll a local food market: Free!
  • Visit the Taj Mahal: $15 USD
  • Take a cooking class: $20 USD
  • Party on the beach in Goa: Free!
  • Get lost in the chaotic streets of Varanasi: Free!
  • Gaze at the unique architecture in Mumbai: Free!

Indonesia

Plenty of free things to do and cheap accommodation

Komodo Island Indonesia

When people think of Indonesia, they usually immediately jump to Bali. Yes, the tropical island of Bali is a special kind of paradise with its Balinese Hindu culture and plethora of infinity-edged pools alongside ancient temples. And its cafe culture attracting digital nomads from around the world.

However, there is so much more to Indonesia from world-class diving to exploring unique natural wonders such as active volcanos to the hustle and bustle of the capital city of Jakarta. Where you decide to travel in Indonesia will have a significant impact on your budget. So if you are trying to save, stick to islands that are lesser known to tourists such as Java or Flores.

Cost per day

  • Backpacker budget: $20 USD per day
  • Mid-range budget: $35 USD per day

Money-saving tip for Indonesia: Stick to the off-season. Like most tourism destinations, accommodation prices shoot up during peak season. In Indonesia, this is over New Years and during the school holiday from June – August. If you want to save money on your accommodation costs, try booking during the off season instead.

Average costs (on a mid-range budget) 

  • Local meal: $4 USD
  • Beer: $2 USD
  • Accommodation: $25 – $50 USD/night
  • Local Transportation: $5 USD/day
  • Regional Transportation: $12
  • Entertainment: $10 USD/day

Cheap things to do in Indonesia

  • Hike to a waterfall: Free!
  • Visit the monkey forest in Ubud: $6 USD
  • Spend an afternoon on the beach: Free!
  • Visit the best temples in Yogyakarta: $25 USD
  • Entrance to Komodo National Park: $11 USD
  • Browse the street markets: Free!
  • Take a yoga class: $10 USD

Nepal

A bargainer’s market in the off season for accommodation prices

Nepal

Nestled in the Himalayas, Nepal is best known as a destination for trekking. Especially those who want to summit the highest mountain in the world, or at least tackle the multi-day trek to Everest Base Camp like we did.

What this small nation lacks in size, it makes up for in adventure, culture, beauty, and warmth. This country has so much more to offer than just trekking. And it makes a fantastic budget destination for its affordable accommodation, meals, and relatively low currency exchange rates.

Cost per day

  • Backpacker budget: $10 USD per day
  • Mid-range budget: $25 USD per day

Money-saving tip for Nepal: Bargaining is part of the culture in Nepal and if you don’t take advantage of that, you will be paying a premium rate for everything from accommodation to souvenirs.

Average costs (on a mid-range budget) 

  • Local meal: $1 USD
  • Beer: $2.25 – $3.15 USD
  • Accommodation: $12 – $23 USD/night
  • Local Transportation: $2 USD/day
  • Regional Transportation: $5 USD
  • Entertainment: $8 USD/day

Cheap things to do in Nepal

  • See the famous Buddhist Stupas: $2 USD
  • Browse a local food market: Free!
  • Go shopping for souvenirs: Free! (unless you buy something)
  • Try a momo cooking class: $20 USD
  • Go on a multi-day trek: $15 – $30 USD/day
  • Check out one of Nepal’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites: $9 – $13 USD

South Korea

High-tech mecca with prices to rival those of Southeast Asia

South Korea

You may be surprised to see a country known for their tech-boom on a list of budget destinations. But, here we are. Contrary to what you may think, it is possible to travel on a budget in Korea. Take it from us… we managed to save $22,000 in just one year while living in South Korea teaching English.

The exchange rate in South Korea makes everything more affordable than you would find in other Asian destinations like China and Japan. As long as you come with a solid plan and limit your unnecessary spending, you will be able to enjoy traveling in South Korea on a budget.

Cost per day

  • Backpacker budget: $45 USD per day
  • Mid-range budget: $120 USD per day

Money-saving tip for South Korea: If you are excited about exploring South Korea on a budget, consider moving there to work as an English teacher for a period of time. You’ll get free accommodation (!!!) and the pay is better than most countries that hires ex-pats for the same job.

Average costs (on a mid-range budget) 

  • Local meal: $5 USD
  • Beer: $3.20 USD
  • Accommodation: $50 – $100 USD/night
  • Local Transportation: $4 USD per day
  • Regional Transportation: $14 USD
  • Entertainment: $10-$15 USD/day

Cheap things to do in South Korea

  • Experience a noraebang (Karaoke room) with friends: ~$5 USD per person
  • Eat fresh fish at a fish market: $15 USD
  • Wander the beautiful Boseong Green Tea Fields: Free!
  • See the cherry blossoms in bloom in April: Free!
  • Treat yourself at a jjimjilbang (Korean spa): $12 USD
  • Get a glimpse of North Korea at the DMZ: Free!

Thailand

Plenty of free things to do and cheap street food

Koh Lipe Thailand

Thailand is probably the number one destination on every backpacker’s list and for good reason. Not only is the country warm and welcoming to foreigners — it’s known as the land of smiles after all — but it’s unparalleled beauty and cheap cost of travel make it a hot spot for travelers of all kinds.

Cost per day

  • Backpacker budget: $25 USD per day
  • Mid-range budget: $65 USD per day

Money-saving tip for Thailand: Take out large sums from ATMs. Thailand runs on a mostly cash economy, so you’ll need to take out money from ATMs along the way. The ATM fees in Thailand can actually be quite steep (usually around 200 baht ~$6 USD) so it’s best to plan your expenses and take out large sums at once. Just be sure to leave the extra cash in a safe or hidden back at your accommodation.

Average costs (on a mid-range budget) 

  • Local meal: $1.50 USD
  • Beer: $2 USD
  • Accommodation: $32 – $63 USD/night
  • Local Transportation: $12 USD/day
  • Regional Transportation: $30 USD
  • Entertainment: $15 USD/day

Cheap things to do in Thailand

  • Spend the day at the beach with a good book: Free!
  • Visit the famous Doi Suthep temple in Chiang Mai: $3 USD
  • Browse the night markets: Free!
  • Hike to one of the many island’s famous viewpoints: Free!
  • Ferry between islands to explore: $9 USD
  • Climb the Sticky Waterfall near Chiang Mai: $30 USD

The Philippines

Lots of cheap eats and natural wonders to explore for free

El Nido Philippines

An island nation in southeast Asia straddling the Philippine and South China Seas, the Philippines has a lot to offer travelers. Even those on a tight budget! When we traveled there back in 2015, we were easily able to keep our budget under $50 per day for our 2-week vacation.

Cost per day

  • Backpacker budget: $20 USD per day
  • Mid-range budget: $50 USD per day

Money-saving tip for the Philippines: Since the Philippines is an island nation, getting from place to place can be tricky and may require many modes of transportation. This can make your transportation costs add up fast. In order to save money, we recommend booking flights early and having flexible dates. Our go-to for finding reasonable transportation in the region is 12goAsia.

Average costs (on a mid-range budget) 

  • Local meal: $5 USD
  • Beer: $1 USD
  • Accommodation: $19 – $38 USD per night
  • Local Transportation: $16 USD/day
  • Regional Transportation: $53 USD
  • Entertainment: $13 USD/day

Cheap things to do in the Philippines

  • Spend a relaxing day at the beach: Free!
  • Enjoy a fresh mango smoothie: $2 USD
  • Eat fresh seafood on the beach: $1.50 USD
  • Hike to a viewpoint above Twin Beaches: Free!
  • Go on an all day island hopping tour: $27 USD
  • Rent a motorbike and explore the island for the day: $7 USD
  • Catch an epic viewing of the sunset from the beach: Free!

Vietnam

Cheap street food, lots of backpacker accommodation and affordable transportation options

Vietnam

Vietnam offers a plethora of flavors, sounds, landscapes, and people. From urban cities to island-dotted bays, terraced rice fields to cavernous rock structures, there is no much to see and do is this country. Travelers on a budget love it because of the low cost. For as low as $20 per day, you can survive on a backpacker budget and travel around the country.

Cost per day

  • Backpacker budget: $20 USD per day
  • Mid-range budget: $40 USD per day

Money-saving tip for Vietnam: Traveling overland throughout the country can be pretty affordable in Vietnam. Just be sure to book your transportation ahead of time on a trusted website and sleep on overnight buses for long trips to save money on accommodation.

Average costs (on a mid-range budget) 

  • Local meal: $1.50 USD
  • Beer: $1 USD
  • Accommodation: $20 – $40 USD per day
  • Local Transportation: $6 USD/day
  • Regional Transportation: $19 USD
  • Entertainment: $10 USD per day

Cheap things to do in Vietnam

  • Take a walking tour of Hanoi: Free!
  • See a traditional puppet show: $3-5 USD
  • Browse the night markets: Free!
  • Visit the Saigon War Remnants Museum: $0.65 USD
  • Do a junk boat cruise in Halong Bay: $40 USD (and up)
  • Enjoy Vietnamese street food with a fresh brewed local beer: $2 USD

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Budget Destinations in Europe

You may see dollar signs when you think of travel to Europe, especially for those countries operating on the Euro or the Pound, but not all European destinations will break the bank. There are a few hidden gems on this continent that are not only budget-friendly, but absolutely worth a visit for so many other reasons.

Bulgaria

One of Europe’s cheapest and most under-rated destinations

Bulgaria

Bulgaria took us by complete surprise when we first traveled there. We had no expectations whatsoever and the country really blew us away with it’s charm, beauty and adventure.

Easily one of the cheapest places to travel in Europe, you can travel in Bulgaria on a reasonable budget —especially compared with destinations in central and western Europe.

Cost per day

  • Backpacker budget: $25 USD per day
  • Mid-range budget: $55 USD per day

Money-saving tip for Bulgaria: Take public transportation. Nearly all of the highlights and attractions in this country can be visited via public transportation, which will save you loads instead of booking tourist transfers. The national railway system even offers discounts on return tickets, which makes day trips very affordable.

Average costs (on a mid-range budget) 

  • Local meal: $6 USD
  • Beer: $1.25 USD
  • Accommodation: $30 – $60 USD per night
  • Local Transportation: $11 USD per day
  • Regional Transportation: $30 USD
  • Entertainment: $9 USD per day

Cheap things to do in Bulgaria

  • Take a walking tour of the city: Free!
  • Do a food tour in Sofia: Free!
  • Visit the historical site in Nebet Tepe Park in Plovdiv: $5 USD
  • Marvel at the Tsarevets Fortress in Veliko: $4 USD
  • Try Bulgaria’s version of a Shopska Salad: $4 USD

Croatia

Affordable luxury on the Dalmatian Coast

Plitvitce Lakes National Park Croatia

If piercing turquoise seas and fairytale-like architecture is what you seek, then Croatia is the budget destination for you. While we found the country to be a bit… how can we put it delicately?… over-hyped. Let’s just say it didn’t impress t didn’t impress us as much as

Spanning most of the Adriatic Sea, you’re never too far away from the coast when traveling in Croatia. And even if it’s not pretty beaches you seek, stone castles and magnificent waterfalls await travelers of all kinds.

Cost per day

  • Backpacker budget: $30 USD per day
  • Mid-range budget: $75 USD per day

Money-saving tip for Croatia: Travel to Croatia during the off-season (winter months in the Northern Hemisphere) to get the best rates on accommodation and avoid crowds.

Average costs (on a mid-range budget) 

  • Local meal: $8 USD
  • Beer: $3 USD
  • Accommodation: $40 – $80 USD per night
  • Local Transportation: $7.75 USD per day
  • Regional Transportation: $20 USD
  • Entertainment: $9 USD per day

Cheap things to do in Croatia

  • Rent a bike and explore Korčula: $16 USD
  • Enjoy a picnic while watching the sunset over Dubrovnik: Free!
  • Walk the Dubrovnik City Walls: $25 USD
  • Explore the Old Town in Split: Free!
  • Climb Marjan Hill for sunset: Free!
  • Explore one of the famous national parks full of waterfalls: $30 USD

Hungary

Cost of travel drops significantly outside of the capital city

Hungary

Most people only go to Hungary to visit the capital city of Budapest. While Budapest is a super fun city (we liked it so much we came back a second time!), you will find lots of hidden gems outside of the capital. And prices decrease significantly as well!

The landscape, history, culture and cuisine here is definitely worth exploring. And can easily be done on a budget if you stick to local markets, public transportation and cheap accommodation.

Cost per day

  • Backpacker budget: $25 USD per day
  • Mid-range budget: $65 USD per day

Money-saving tip for Hungary: Get the Budapest Card. It’s a travel pass that allows for major discounts and deals on attractions around the city. Plus you get lots of stuff for free such as entrance to certain museums and the Lukács thermal baths. The pass can be purchased in 24-hour increments. The more days you get the pass for, the cheaper the daily rate.

Average costs (on a mid-range budget) 

  • Local meal: $7 USD
  • Beer: $2 USD
  • Accommodation: $35 – $70 USD per night
  • Local Transportation: $10 USD per day
  • Regional Transportation: $18 USD
  • Entertainment: $10 USD per day

Cheap things to do in Hungary

  • Take a waking tour of the city: Free!
  • Enjoy the lookout from Fisherman’s Bastions: Free!
  • Have a drink at one of the famous ruin bars: $3 USD
  • Take a dip in the Szechenyi Thermal Baths: $20 USD

Montenegro

Less touristy and more affordable than it’s northern neighbors

Montenegro

Montenegro may be a small country, but it isn’t lacking in things to do. From the medieval-style Bay of Kotor to the Dinaric mountains surrounding Zabljak, this country has a lot to offer budget travelers.

As an emerging tourist destination in the past few years, Montenegro’s popularity is growing. However, it’s still much less traversed than it’s northern neighbor, Croatia and prices of travel reflect the undersaturated market.

Cost per day

  • Backpacker budget: $30 USD per day
  • Mid-range budget: $65 USD per day

Money-saving tip for Montenegro: Rent a car. Montenegro is a small and easily navigable destination. The cost of renting a car here is cheap and it’ll save you a lot of money on tourist transfers.

Average costs (on a mid-range budget) 

  • Local meal: $7 USD
  • Beer: $2.25 USD
  • Accommodation: $25 – $55 USD per night
  • Local Transportation: $8 USD per day
  • Regional Transportation: $35 USD
  • Entertainment: $7 USD per day

Cheap things to do in Montenegro

  • Climb up to the Kotor Fortress: Free!
  • Spend a day at the beach in Perast: Free!
  • Wander through the Old Town of Kotor: Free!
  • Go for a hike in Žabljak: Free!
  • Visit Black Lake and the Ice Caves: Free!

Poland

Rich culture and history, often overlooked by tourists

Poland

When we started traveling in Poland we had no expectations, but it ended up being one of our favorite countries in Europe. Poland’s deep history shows through in everyday life and it’s a place you can easily spend the day people watching while sipping a coffee at a street-side cafe.

Full of museums and historical sites that cost on average only about $5 USD to enter, Poland is easily one of the best budget destinations in Europe. It turns out there is so much nature to explore in Poland, delicious food to eat, and history to absorb.

Cost per day

  • Backpacker budget: $25 USD per day
  • Mid-range budget: $60 USD per day

Money-saving tip for Poland: Use bike sharing to get around in the cities. Public transportation is generally pretty affordable in Poland, but the cheapest (and most eco-friendly) mode of transportation is the bike sharing programs. In fact, most bike-sharing offers free rides for the first 20 minutes. So as long as you park every 20 minutes to explore, you could get away with a free ride for the day!

Check out our other tips to travel more responsibly on your next vacation!

Average costs (on a mid-range budget) 

  • Local meal: $6 USD
  • Beer: $2 USD
  • Accommodation: $37 – $75 USD per night
  • Local Transportation: $5 USD per day
  • Regional Transportation: $20 USD
  • Entertainment: $10 USD per day

Cheap things to do in Poland

  • Take a walking tour of Krakow: Free!
  • Reflect in the Ghetto Heroes Square: Free!
  • Tour Schindler’s Factory Museum: $6.60 USD
  • Hike to Emerald Lake (aka Czarny Staw Gąsienicowy Lake): Free!
  • Soak in the hot springs at Terma Bukowina: $8 USD

Romania

Eastern Europe’s best-kept secret for affordable travel

Romania

A popular misconception of this former Soviet-occupied nation is that it’s dangerous or full of ugly Soviet-era buildings. Trust us when we say this couldn’t be farther from the truth! (I mean… just look at the colors in that photo!)

With its charming medieval towns, ancient fortified churches, and the magnificent Carpathian mountain range, Romania has a lot to offer. And as one of the cheapest countries to visit in Europe, we think its a must-see for travelers on a budget!

Cost per day

  • Backpacker budget: $30 USD per day
  • Mid-range budget: $70 USD per day

Money-saving tip for Romania: You can find cheap accommodation with Hostels and Airbnb in the cities, but in the country there is an even better option. You can rent a private room in a local’s house. Staying in the countryside in a traditional home with picturesque scenery and warm hosts will cost you even less than a hostel dorm in the city.

Average costs (on a mid-range budget) 

  • Local meal: $6 USD
  • Beer: $1.50 USD
  • Accommodation: $25 – $50 USD per night
  • Local Transportation: $18 USD per day
  • Regional Transportation: $30 USD
  • Entertainment: $8 USD per day

Cheap things to do in Romania

  • Take a walking tour of Brasov: Free!
  • Hike up to the Tampa Mountain viewpoint to see the Brasov sign: Free!
  • Tour the Peleș Castle: $9 USD
  • Rent bicycles to explore the countryside: $3.50 USD
  • Visit the museums in Bucharest: $3 – $5 USD

Turkey

A weaker currency means you get more bang for your buck

Pamukkale Turkey

Turkey is a fascinating travel destination that is easy to fall in love with. On our first visit, we planned to stay just a week and wound up there for nearly one month. And we still cannot wait to return for more exploring one day!

The Turkish Lyra has not been at it strongest in recent times and this means travelers coming from nations with stronger currencies (USD, Euro, etc.) have an advantage. Plus there are tons and free and cheap things to do in Istanbul, Turkey’s capital and largest city.

Cost per day

  • Backpacker budget: $15 USD per day
  • Mid-range budget: $35 USD per day

Money-saving tip for Turkey: Travel during shoulder seasons (April – May & October) to save money on accommodation. Hotel prices spike during peak travel from June – September and can add a lot to your travel costs in Turkey.

Average costs (on a mid-range budget) 

  • Local meal: $4 USD
  • Beer: $2 USD
  • Accommodation: $15 – $30 USD per day
  • Local Transportation: $1.50 USD per day
  • Regional Transportation: $8 USD
  • Entertainment: $8 USD per day

Cheap things to do in Turkey

  • Go on a walking tour of Istanbul: Free!
  • Cruise the Bosphorus by ferry: $4 USD
  • Catch the sunset on Galata Bridge: Free!
  • Try some amazing local street food: $4 USD
  • Witness a Whirling Dervish Ceremony: $12 USD

Budget Destinations in North & Central America

If you haven’t given Central America much thought until now, it’s time to think again. Your money goes far in this region of the world and we’d highly recommend traveling here to anyone looking for a bit of an adventure.

Don’t overlook North America either. While the US can be expensive to travel around, there are ways to cut down on costs (road trip anyone!?) and Mexico is always a great bet to find more bang for your buck.

Costa Rica

The Central American hub for backpackers and surfers

Costa Rica

Probably the most popular and well-traveled destination among backpackers in Central America, Costa Rica is easily the most expensive country in the region. But… that doesn’t mean you should cross it off your cheapest places to travel list.

The exchange rate for foreign currency makes it possible to travel on a budget here without skimping on the necessities. And with the jaw-dropping landscapes, friendly locals and epic adventures to be had, you are not going to want to miss this Central American hot spot!

Cost per day

  • Backpacker budget: $30 USD per day
  • Mid-range budget: $75 USD per day

Money-saving tip for Costa Rica: Skip the tours and rent a car instead. You’ll find that driving in Costa Rica is actually quite easy and comfortable. With so many places to explore from waterfalls to volcanos, jungles and beaches, you’ll save a lot of money not paying for over priced tours and driving yourself instead.

We’ve put together a comprehensive guide to renting a car in Costa Rica that’ll walk you through everything you need to know so you don’t have to spend hours trying to find answers with Google.

Average costs (on a mid-range budget) 

  • Local meal: $7 USD
  • Beer: $2.50 USD
  • Accommodation: $40 – $80 USD per night
  • Local Transportation: $10 USD per day
  • Regional Transportation: $20 USD
  • Entertainment: $10 USD per day

Cheap things to do in Costa Rica

  • Soak in natural hot springs: Free!
  • Spend the day surfing and catch some waves: $10- $15 USD per day
  • Go chasing (hiking) waterfalls: Free!
  • Hike the Arenal Volcano: Free!
  • Take a walk on Whale Tale Beach: $6 USD

Guatemala

A Central American gem at half the cost of Costa Rica

Lake Atitlan Guatemala

Known as Central America’s Mayan heart, you will find yourself enchanted by the beauty that Guatemala has to offer. While Costa Rica may be the region’s better known hot spot, Guatemala is made that much better because it feels a lot less touristy… and at half the cost of it’s southern neighbor (a few “doors” down), who can complain!

There are dozens of historical sites found in this country. With its rich Mayan heritage, indigenous culture, and colonial charm, we dare you not to fall in love with this welcoming and adventure-filled country.

Cost per day

  • Backpacker budget: $15 USD per day
  • Mid-range budget: $35 USD per day

Money-saving tip for Guatemala: Take the chicken buses… We know what you’re thinking: Wait, back up, did they just say “chicken buses”? Yes we did! Keep reading…

Chicken buses are what the locals use to get around Guatemala. They are brightly painted American school buses that can been converted for local transportation. The buses earned the nickname “chicken bus” because locals bring everything on board—from machinery parts to giant bags of produce to, you guessed it—chickens!

There are no set stops, nor is there a price list. Simply tell the driver your destination when entering the bus. Then find a seat or a place to stand. Someone will come around to collect the fare, and the amount will be based on your final destination. But don’t worry, it is much cheaper than a shuttle bus or private coach!

Average costs (on a mid-range budget) 

  • Local meal: $6 USD
  • Beer: $1.60 USD
  • Accommodation: $12 – $25 USD per night
  • Local Transportation: $5 USD per day
  • Regional Transportation: $15 USD
  • Entertainment: $20 USD per day

Cheap things to do in Guatemala

  • Go handicraft shopping at a local market: Free!
  • Watch Volcan Fuego erupt: Free!
  • Hike to Indian Nose viewpoint above Lake Atitlan: Free!
  • Visit the turquoise pools of Semuc Champey: $7 USD
  • Go on a self-guided ruins tour of Antigua: Free!
  • Explore the Mayan ruins of Tikal: $20 USD

Honduras

Hidden gem of Central America with more affordable options than it’s neighbors

Honduras Beach

The hidden gem of Central America, Honduras is often skipped by most tourists. However, you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t at least consider traveling to this beautiful and diverse country. Compared to it’s more popular neighbors, Honduras is considerably cheap. And affordable travel here is relatively easy to do.

Cost per day

  • Backpacker budget: $12 USD per day
  • Mid-range budget: $30 USD per day

Money-saving tip for Honduras: Check your bill. A lot of restaurants in Honduras will add a service charge to your bill, so make sure you are not double-tipping. Also, paying in cash will save you as credit card charges often cost an extra 3-5% processing fee.

Average costs (on a mid-range budget) 

  • Local meal: $5 USD
  • Beer: $1.50 USD
  • Accommodation: $8 – $15 USD per night
  • Local Transportation: $10 USD per day
  • Regional Transportation: $35 USD
  • Entertainment: $20 USD per day

Cheap things to do in Honduras

  • Jump off the pier and go swimming in the ocean: Free!
  • Participate in a beach clean up: Free!
  • Hike to waterfalls in the jungle: Free!
  • Go kayaking on Lake Yojoa: $10 USD
  • Explore the Los Naranjos Eco Park: $6 USD

Mexico

An exchange rate that makes cultural & adventurous experiences affordable

Isla Holbox Mexico

Newsflash: There is more to Mexico than beaches! While the beaches here are top notch, avoiding the tourist-heavy resort towns is the best way to save money while traveling in Mexico. And you might just find the “real” Mexico is much more enjoyable!

The food, the culture, the energy of the Mexican people— it’s intoxicating and you won’t want to miss this experience by spending your time at an all-inclusive resort. Plus, due to the value of the Mexican Peso, you can get more value for your money than you could 5 years ago.

Cost per day

  • Backpacker budget: $15 USD per day
  • Mid-range budget: $40 USD per day

Money-saving tip for Mexico: Use public transportation! If there is one thing that will cost you necessary money in Mexico it is paying for over-priced taxis. Instead opt for colectivos (Mexico’s version of a shared taxi van) or buses for longer distances.

The ADO bus company is a first-class bus system that connects cities throughout the country. Their buses are comfortable and air conditioned, affordable, and best of all safe for travelers.

Average costs (on a mid-range budget) 

  • Local meal: $4 USD
  • Beer: $1 USD
  • Accommodation: $20 – $40 USD per night
  • Local Transportation: $5 USD per day
  • Regional Transportation: $15 USD
  • Entertainment: $12 USD per day

Cheap things to do in Mexico

  • Explore ancient Mayan ruins like Chitchen Itza: $13 USD
  • Go hiking in the Sierra Norte Mountains: Free!
  • Jump off a cliff into a cenote: Free!
  • Catch a Lucha Libre wrestling match: $9 USD
  • Sample traditional Mexican cuisine in a food market: $4 USD

Southwestern U.S.A. (road trip)

Road tripping the wild West is a great way to cut down on costs

Horseshoe Bend USA

The US isn’t exactly known as one of the cheapest countries to visit, especially when compared to many of the other places on this list. However, doing a road trip can seriously cut down on your daily costs. Coupled with the fact that the American southwest is absolutely filled with spectacular scenery and incredible natural wonders, it makes the perfect place for a budget vacation.

Related: How to Plan an Epic USA Road Trip

Cost per day

  • Backpacker budget: $85 USD per day
  • Mid-range budget: $150 USD per day

Money-saving tip for road tripping the southwestern US: Look into getting the America the Beautiful National Park Pass if you plan to stop at more than one of nationals parks along the way. (And believe me – you’ll want to stop at them all!) The southwestern United States is full of breathtaking national parks and having the pass will allow you to enter all of them with a full car of people at no extra cost.

Related: Money Saving Tips for a Cheap Road Trip Across the US

Average costs (on a mid-range budget) 

  • Local meal: $9 USD
  • Beer: $3 USD
  • Accommodation:
    • Hotels: $80 – $120 USD per night
    • Campervan rental: $40 – $140 USD per night
    • Camping: Free – $50 USD per night
  • Regional Transportation:
    • Car rental:$20 – $50 per day
    • Gas costs: $20 – $30 USD per day
  • Entertainment: $0 – $20 USD per day

Cheap things to do in the western United States

  • Visit Horseshoe Bend lookout: Free!
  • Drive through Monument Valley: Free!
  • Entrance to Arches National Park: $30 USD per vehicle
  • Tour Antelope Canyon: $25 USD
  • Snap a photo in front of the classic Las Vegas sign: Free!

Related: Get inspiration for your next road trip with our list of Best USA Road Trips.


Budget Destinations in South America

We think South America is one of the best places in the world for ultra-budget travelers. It was the location of our first ever long-term backpacking adventure and the birth place of this very blog you are reading.

This enchanting region is filled with incredible nature, scenic landscapes, and welcoming people. And best of all, most of it can be experienced on the cheap!

Bolivia

South America’s most affordable destination

Salt Flats Bolivia

As one of the least developed nations in South America, Bolivia is not only one of the cheapest countries to visit in South America, but it is bursting with untouched natural beauty to be discovered.

If you’re an adventurous traveler, you will find plenty to do here from Lake Titicaca, the world’s highest lake, to the other-worldly salt flats of Salar de Uyuni to pedaling down the most dangerous road in the world.

Cost per day

  • Backpacker budget: $10 USD per day
  • Mid-range budget: $30 USD per day

Money-saving tip for Bolivia: Don’t pay the sales tax. When checking out at a cash register, the clerk will usually ask you, “Con factura o sin factura?”, meaning “with tax or without” (this is sometimes displayed on the credit card machine as an option as well). Always opt for “sin factura” which allows the vendor to eliminate the sales tax and lower the price to you. With sales tax at a whopping 13% this common work-around will save you money here and there.

Average costs (on a mid-range budget) 

  • Local meal: $3 USD
  • Beer: $2 USD
  • Accommodation: $8 – $16 USD per night
  • Local Transportation: $2.25 USD per day
  • Regional Transportation: $20 USD
  • Entertainment: $15 USD per day

Cheap things to do in Bolivia

  • Take the teleférico for a tour of La Paz from above: $0.50 USD
  • Visit the Witch Market in La Paz: Free!
  • See the sunset from Valley of the Moon: Free!
  • Visit the Train Cemetery outside Uyuni: Free!

Colombia

No more narcos, just beautiful colonial cities, white sand beaches and cheap, delicious eats

Cartagena Colombia

Gone are the days when Colombia was considered a dangerous place for travelers. Ask any traveler who’s been there in the past decade and they’ll tell you that Colombia is a warm and welcoming budget-friendly destination.

From the coast to the mountains, Colombia has something for every kind of traveler. Home to a whopping 10% of the world’s biodiversity, Colombia is a country that should not be missed by travelers who enjoy outdoor adventures and cultural experiences.

Cost per day

  • Backpacker budget: $10 USD per day
  • Mid-range budget: $25 USD per day

Money-saving tip for Colombia: Uber it! If you’re in any of Colombia’s major cities, you’ll find that Uber is readily available. Because the ride-sharing app is generally cheaper and safer than taking a local cab, its a good way to save a few bucks here and there.

Average costs (on a mid-range budget) 

  • Local meal: $3 USD
  • Beer: $1.50 USD
  • Accommodation: $10 – $20 USD per night
  • Local Transportation: $3.50 USD per day
  • Regional Transportation: $10 USD
  • Entertainment: $10 USD per day

Cheap things to do in Colombia

  • Hike Pico de Loro in Cali: Free!
  • Get a mud bath in Volcan del Totumo: $13 USD
  • Explore the streets of the Old City in Cartagena: Free!
  • Hike to Monserrate Church in Bogata: Free!
  • Rent bikes to explore the city: $20 USD

Ecuador

Lots of free things to do and cheap adventures to be had

Ecuador

This small but diverse country has so much to offer from the enchanting Galapagos islands, to the mountains, colonial cities, and surfing beaches. While a trip to the Galapagos may not exactly be cheap, we proved you can even do the Galapagos Islands on a budget if you plan right. Traveling elsewhere in Ecuador is actually quite affordable

Cost per day

  • Backpacker budget: $15 USD per day
  • Mid-range budget: $40 USD per day

Average costs (on a mid-range budget) 

  • Local meal: $3.50 USD
  • Beer: $1.50 USD
  • Accommodation: $15 – $30 USD per night
  • Local Transportation: $5 USD per day
  • Regional Transportation: $35 USD
  • Entertainment: $15 USD per day

Cheap things to do in Ecuador

  • Browse a local market: Free!
  • Spend the day soaking up the sun at the beach: Free!
  • Swing at the edge of the world: Free!
  • Go hiking in the Andes Mountain Range: Free!
  • Take a dip in a thermal bath in Baños: $1.50 USD

Peru

Affordable adventure for every type of traveler

Machu Picchu Peru

Peru is one of the most popular countries in South America. With all the delicious cuisine, local culture, and beautiful natural landscapes, there is so much more to this country than Machu Picchu – although it is pretty spectacular! Traveling on a budget here is not hard to accomplish as you can see by the crowds of backpackers that make their way through the country every year.

Cost per day

  • Backpacker budget: $15 USD per day
  • Mid-range budget: $45 USD per day

Money-saving tip for Peru: Eat like a local. Eating our at restaurants in Peru, especially in hot spots like Lima and Cusco can get pretty expensive. Instead, do as the locals do and eat at local markets or cook for yourself.

Average costs (on a mid-range budget) 

  • Local meal: $3 USD
  • Beer: $2 USD
  • Accommodation: $20 – $40 USD per night
  • Local Transportation: $4 USD per day
  • Regional Transportation: $30 USD
  • Entertainment: $15 USD per day

Cheap things to do in Peru

  • Take a walking tour of the city: Free!
  • Marvel at the Huaca Pucllana ruins: $5 USD
  • Rent a bike and cycle around Barranco: $15 USD
  • Browse a local market: Free!
  • Hike to a viewpoint above Cusco: Free!
  • Try a pisco sour: $4 USD

Budget Destinations in Africa

With expensive tour packages and luxury safari resorts, Africa is not exactly known as a budget-friendly travel destination. However, if you plan your trip right and forego the tours and resort stays, you can travel many countries on this continent at a fraction of the tour prices. Below are some of our favorite budget destinations on the continent of Africa.

Ethiopia

A country welcoming tourism with lots of affordable things to do

A prime example of ancient meets modern, Ethiopia is full of unique experiences you won’t find anywhere else in Africa. The capital city of Addis Ababa is the fourth-largest city in Africa and home to some of the country’s best museums and traditional food.

You will not find safaris here — the reason to come to Ethiopia is to experience the mix of modern and ancient culture and see the geographic wonders and historic landmarks that cover the land.

Cost per day

  • Backpacker budget: $15 USD per day
  • Mid-range budget: $35 USD per day

Average costs (on a mid-range budget) 

  • Local meal: $3 USD
  • Beer: $1 USD
  • Accommodation: $20 – $40 USD per night
  • Local Transportation: $3 USD per day
  • Regional Transportation: $15 USD
  • Entertainment: $15 USD per day

Cheap things to do in Ethiopia

  • Go camping in Simien Mountains National Park: $10 USD
  • Visit one of the many UNESCO World Heritage sites: Free!
  • Tour the Lake Tana monasteries: $30 USD
  • Hike through Bale Mountains National Park: $3 USD

Morocco

A Northern African wonderland, just a stone’s throw from Europe

Ait Ben Haddou Morocco

With its proximity to Europe and its reputation as the most stable country in northern Africa, Morocco has become a popular tourist destination for travelers of all kinds in recent years.

There is a small but growing network of backpacker hostels in the country and regional transportation is incredibly cheap. As long as you manage to steer clear of the shop owners trying to to push rugs and handicrafts on you, you can reasonably expect to spend a lot less than in Morocco’s northern European neighboring countries.

Cost per day

  • Backpacker budget: $15 USD per day
  • Mid-range budget: $40 USD per day

Money-saving tip for Morocco: Haggle or bargain with shop owners and taxi drivers. It is expected as part of the culture and reasonable to pay 50% less than what they initially ask for.

Average costs (on a mid-range budget) 

  • Local meal: $3 USD
  • Beer: $3 USD
  • Accommodation: $20 – $45 USD per night
  • Local Transportation: $4 USD per day
  • Regional Transportation: $11 USD
  • Entertainment: $6 USD per day

Cheap things to do in Morocco

  • Browse the local souks: Free!
  • Get lost in the maze of the medina of a city: Free!
  • Stroll through Jardin Majorelle: $8 USD
  • Marvel at the beautifully designed mosques at sunset: Free!
  • Try a local tagine: $50
  • Get a scrub down at a hammam: $25 USD

Namibia

Forgo luxury tours for a road trip and camping under the stars to make this a budget-friendly destination

Dead Vlei Namibia (Joy and Lyal from Sustainable Jungle)
Image by Joy and Lyal from Sustainable Jungle

Home to some of the world’s most surreal landscapes — the Skeleton Coast, Deadvlei and Sossusvlei to name a few — Namibia is a country that should be on everyone’s Africa bucket list. While it’s not known for being particularly cheap, there are ways to make traveling in Namibia super affordable.

Tours in this country can cost a pretty penny, but renting a car and doing a road trip is a great way to keep your travel budget down. Plus, it is the best way to see all the highlights around this vast country. And believe us when we say, there are tons of things in do in Namibia you won’t want to miss!

Cost per day

  • Backpacker budget: $30 USD per day
  • Mid-range budget: $60 USD per day

Money-saving tip for Namibia: Opt for camping instead of lodges. Accommodation is going to be one of your biggest expenses in this country, but you can seriously cut those costs if you rent camping equipment and sleep outdoors.

Average costs (on a mid-range budget) 

  • Local meal: $7 USD
  • Beer: $1 USD
  • Accommodation: $20 – $35 USD per night
  • Local Transportation: $10 USD per day
  • Entertainment: $100 per day

Cheap things to do in Namibia

  • Do a self-drive safari in Etosha National Park: $6 USD per adult
  • Shop for souvenirs at the street market in Swakopmund: Free!
  • Climb to the top of Dune 7: Free!
  • Drive the Skeleton Coast highway: Free!

South Africa

A low exchange rate with plenty of free outdoor adventures

Lion's Head hike Cape Town

South Africa has so much more to offer travelers than high end luxury safaris. From Cape Town to Jo’burg, the Garden Route and Kruger National Park, there is endless adventures to be had in this diverse landscape. And with a relatively low exchange rate for foreign currency, you can make your way around this country with a pretty cheap daily budget.

Cost per day

  • Backpacker budget: $30 USD per day
  • Mid-range budget: $75 USD per day

Money-saving tip for South Africa: Cook for yourself. Eating out at restaurants can add up fast. Especially in the big cities like Johannesburg and Cape Town. Save money by booking accommodation with a kitchen (Airbnb is our go to!) and buying your food at grocery stores.

Average costs (on a mid-range budget) 

  • Local meal: $6 USD
  • Beer: $2 USD
  • Accommodation: $40 – $80 per night
  • Local Transportation: $8 USD per day
  • Regional Transportation: $30 USD
  • Entertainment: $15 USD per day

Cheap things to do in South Africa

  • Hike Lion’s Head for sunrise: Free!
  • Ride the Table Mountain Cable Car: $20 USD
  • Swim with the penguins at Boulders Beach: Free!
  • Browse a Sunday market in Johannesburg: Free!
  • Road trip the Garden Route: $60 USD per day

Zanzibar

The most affordable destination in Africa!

According to the 2019 Backpacker Index, the tropical island of Zanzibar, Tanzania is the cheapest destination to travel to in all of Africa. Nicknamed the “Spice Islands” the archipelago in the Indian Ocean offers a mixture of both African and Indian cultures, white sand beaches, and world-class diving and snorkeling opportunities.

Cost per day

  • Backpacker budget: $20 USD per day
  • Mid-range budget: $45 USD per day

Money-saving tip for Zanzibar: Being an island destination, one of your biggest costs will be getting here. Save money on flights by traveling during the off-season and following our steps to finding cheap airfare.

Average costs (on a mid-range budget) 

  • Local meal: $4 USD
  • Beer: $2 USD
  • Accommodation: $20 – $45 USD per night
  • Local Transportation: $10 USD per day
  • Entertainment: $10 USD per day

Cheap things to do in Zanzibar

  • Soak in the culture while wandering through Stone Town: Free!
  • Visit the National Museum of Culture & History: $6 USD
  • Pay your respects at the Slave Museum: $5 USD
  • Spend a day at the beach: Free!
  • Try a local dish at Forodhani Market: $4 USD
  • Explore the Jozani Forest: Free!

Got champagne taste on a beer budget?

Iceland Blue Lagoon Cheers

If you’re like us, you’ll want to see all of the world’s most exciting destinations and not just the cheapest places to travel. We’ve traveled to some of the most expensive places in the world and have seen them on a budget.

Lucky for you we’ve created articles full of advice and tips for traveling on a budget in some of the world’s most popular destinations that aren’t exactly known for being cheap.

  • Galapagos: If soaking up sunshine and frolicking with sea lions seems like a dream to you, you’re in luck! We’re going to share our best tips for traveling the Galápagos Islands on a budget because we believe it’s a place that not only the rich should experience.
  • Iceland: We’ve put together some of the best money-saving hacks that helped us keep our costs down in Iceland. We’re sharing them with you so that you can follow in our footsteps and visit this beautiful country on a budget!
  • Japan: Yes, Japan is an expensive country to travel in, especially when compared to it’s neighboring countries in Asia. However, it is totally possible to travel in Japan on a budget and we’re here to show you exactly how to do that.
  • Las Vegas: A city known for its opulence and excess, you might be surprised to find out that you don’t need to have a high-roller budget to have one hell of a time in Sin City. Find out how to travel in Vegas without spending all of your cash.
  • New York City: NYC is notoriously expensive, but that doesn’t mean you can’t stick to a budget. There are plenty of free things to do and other ways you can save money during your NYC trip so you don’t come home from vacation completely broke!
  • New Zealand: Traveling in New Zealand is not cheap. But don’t let that ruin your dreams of visiting this absolutely epic country. Just because it’s not as cheap as backpacking through Southeast Asia doesn’t mean you can’t travel to New Zealand on a budget.

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Cheapest Countries to Visit | Two Wandering Soles
Cheapest Countries to Visit | Two Wandering Soles

We want to hear from you!

Have you been to any of the destinations on our Cheapest Places to Travel list? Do you think there are any places we’ve left off the list that you’d recommend? Comment below and let us know!

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