When was the last time you took a vacation? I mean, not just a weekend getaway, but a real adventure in a foreign country? Everyone needs to get away some time, but travelling can be expensive if you don’t know where to find good deals. The truth is, international travel is within your reach but you have to choose the right destination if you want to make sure you have a good experience and don’t end up going broke.
In the US we’re fortunate to have one of the highest valued currencies in the world, and this makes foreign travel much more affordable than it is for people living in developing countries. Indeed, you’d be remiss to not take advantage of that and explore the world beyond your borders. If you feel like you’re due for a trip, its time you took advantage of those vacation days you’ve been saving up and hop on a plane.
So what countries are the cheapest and most interesting ones to travel to in 2016? Many countries might be inexpensive compared to the US, but not all of them might be good travel destinations. Everyone has their own idea of what makes a great vacationing spot, and everyone has their own ideas for what they would like to see and do on vacation, so in this list we tried to give you a good variety of budget destinations. Here they are in no particular order.
Hundreds of years ago tiny Spain ruled the world, but now… it’s seen better days. Employment is rampant and the economy is in serious trouble, but this means that prices are low for travelers. You’re probably already well aware of what Spain has on tap: some of the most beautiful cities in Europe, bullfights, the Spanish Riviera, la tomatina, colonial architecture, la compostella, and much more. Just like with the Greece situation, travelling in Spain and spending your money there is one of the best things you can do to help them out. And why not visit neighbouring Portugal as well and cover the entire Iberian Peninsula? It also isn’t too hard on the wallet.
Thailand has long been a favorite of budget travelers and backpackers, and these days its neighbouring nation Laos is getting more attention. Being relatively unspoiled by loads of travelers the landscapes are immaculate and awe-inspiring. As far as budgeting goes, Laos is even cheaper than Thailand. You can find guesthouses for under $10US a night, and local meals will only cost you $1 or $2. With prices this low it’s easy to stay and take in the contemplative peace of the country and its many Buddhist temples. Watching the robed monks carry out their daily rituals is a spiritual experience that most travellers would say you can’t put a dollar value on.
Mexico is always a great choice for budget travelers, but right next door to it is a country that can give you even more bang for your buck. If you like visiting Latin America, Guatemala should definitely be on your list because you can find pristine beaches, active volcanoes, Mayan ruins, crystalline lakes, Spanish colonial architecture, amazing coffee, and tasty cuisine. Public transportation and accommodations are crazy cheap, and the small size of the country means you can get almost anywhere by bus for just a few bucks US. And of course, you’ll encounter some of that legendary Latin hospitality too. Guatemala can also be your launching point to move out to the other Central American nations of Belize, Nicaragua. Honduras, and El Salvador: all of which are a bargain as well. In fact, almost every Latin American country is cheap to travel in, the exception being Costa Rica where prices are closer to what you would pay in the US.
Europe is typically an expensive place for travelers, but Hungary is a different story. Even in the picturesque capital Budapest you can get by on less than $100US a week if you manage your budget right. The thriving hipster scene in the capital means there are a lot of cool bars to check out, many of them built in old ruins, and you’re going to want to hit as many of them as possible while you’re there. Or, if you want to venture into the countryside, check out the stunning scenery of Lake Balaton. Hungary is also known for its thermal spas which are surprisingly affordable compared to what spas charge in the US. World War 2 is big part of Hungary’s history, so you can learn more about the country’s role in the war. Like many of the countries on this list, Hungary isn’t a hugely popular destination so you can take some pride in knowing you’ve been somewhere that your friends haven’t been.
While you’re in Laos, why not stretch your budget a little further and check out Vietnam as well? It has some truly stunning scenery. If you like beaches and jungles, Vietnam is should be on your itinerary for sure. Cheap hotel rooms can be found for $10, and if you don’t mind staying in a dorm room you can spend even less than that on your accommodations. Food, drinks, and transportation are all very cheap as well, so you can travel through Vietnam for about the same cost as traveling in Laos and Cambodia. If you’re feeling ambitious, the Thailand/Laos/Vietnam/Cambodia itinerary can make for an amazing, and affordable, adventure abroad. You’ll need at least two months to be able to spend enough time in each country, though!
Estonia might not even be on your radar, but this little northern European country has a lot to offer. It bridges the gap between Scandinavia and Eastern Europe giving you an interesting mix of both worlds. Culturally, Estonia is most similar to Finland but stands on its own. The capital Tallinn is one of the best preserved medieval cities in Northern Europe, and this might be to the country’s small population. Estonia is about the size of Denmark but is home to just 1.5 million people. Estonian is the country’s official language and some people say it sounds like Elvish, but a lot of people speak English here so you shouldn’t have any trouble getting around. If you like to get out into the wilderness, about half of the country is forested, so Estonia’s a great place to explore the great outdoors too.
4. The Philippines
While it isn’t as cheap as Thailand or Laos, The Philippines is still far cheaper than popular destinations in the West. From the bustling capital of Manila to its archipelago of more than 7000 tropical islands, you can find some truly amazing scenery here. If you’re into tropical jungles, green mountains, and pristine beaches, look no further because The Philippines is full of them. It is a less touristed country than most, so you can enjoy the exclusivity of going somewhere that none of your friends have been. The Spanish colonized this country starting in 1565 and ruled for 350 years, so the language and cultural here is heavily mixed with Spanish making for a truly unique cultural blend. It’s easy to fall in love with The Philippines.
We have to include at least one country from Africa on this list, and Morocco is a solid choice. Here you’ll have access to the Atlas Mountains, Sahara Desert, Atlantic coast, and ancient Berber cities. Did you ever see Raiders of the Lost Ark? If so, you’ll no doubt remember the part where Indiana Jones goes to Marrakesh and loses Marion in that epic chase scene through the city’s labyrinth-like streets. You can get lost just like that too, and it’s a highly recommended Moroccan experience. Just don’t forget your trusty whip and fedora! Local transportation, food, and accommodations are all very cheap here. According to Lonely Planet, you can travel through Morocco for the equivalent of about $35US per day on a budget. Plus, Morocco’s close proximity to the Iberian peninsula makes it just a short hop from Spain and Portugal which, as we previously discussed, are great for budget travelers as well.
Everyone knows that things haven’t been going so well for Greece’s economy lately. The country that was the cradle of western civilization has been mired in enormous debt and civil unrest, but that doesn’t mean you can’t visit. In fact, visiting Greece is cheaper than ever right now because tourism is one of the few reliable industries the country has left. Going there on vacation and spending your money is one of the best things you can do to help them out. Greece has a lot to attract tourists: great beaches, ancient ruins, inspiring landscapes, and island tours. There is a lot of history in this little country, so why not take advantage of the low prices and check it out for yourself?
The second most populated country in the world is also one of the most culturally rich. You’ll probably want to see the Taj Mahal since it’s one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World, and if you’re interested in religion and spirituality India is one of the best countries to travel to. Visit the River Ganges to observe the daily ritual cleansing and you’ll see how important the river is to the Hindu faith. And of course there’s the famous Diwali Festival! It’s something that everyone should experience at least once in their lives. Mumbai is one of the great cities of the world, but the dense crowds and noise can be a little overwhelming. That’s when you can move out into the smaller cities and rural areas where things get incredibly cheap, and the people are incredibly kind. You can live like a Raj for surprisingly little money when travelling through India. You can find rooms for less than $10US a night, and bus and train tickets usually run you less than $10US as well. With so much culture and history, and such welcoming people, India provides a lot of bang for your buck.