If you had to guess the cheapest air travel destinations in the world, which factors would be key to your inference? Perhaps the price of fuel in that country would be relevant. You might consider how tourist-friendly the country is; how many hotels there are, or the level of government-funded tourism incentives. Perhaps the efficiency of the country’s travel infrastructure, and the number of people flying to and from a nation, will affect rates. We can hope – and reasonably assume – that it’s factors likes these, and not because of the condition of a country’s aircraft, that influence lower priced airfares.
If a country is cheap to fly to, from, or within, does that correlate with lower living costs in general? Not necessarily. The Berlin-based travel website GoEuro has conducted a helpful survey looking at 51 countries on five continents, to discover the average price to travel 100 kilometres in each country by various methods including plane, bus and train. This source allowed us to take a look at the ten cheapest countries in the world for air travel. You might be surprised that in some countries boasting bargain air fares, it’s cheaper to fly than to take the train!
10. Poland: $18.12 per 100 km
For North Americans at least, Poland isn’t a particularly popular tourist destination. These travelers don’t know what they’re missing! Poland is packed with historic sites such as medieval castles and ruins, finely crafted wooden churches in the Carpathian hills, and the Teutonic Knights’ long vacated red-brick fortresses; a step into a past impossible to witness anywhere in North America. For the outdoorsy, try hiking through thick forests, along broad rivers and through some of Poland’s gorgeous mountain passes. If you work up an appetite, this is the land of comfort food: Pierogies (dumplings stuffed with meat, cheese or potato and onions), stuffed cabbage leaves filled with beef or pork, and the desserts: Apple strudel, cream cakes, or more dumplings stuffed with fruit.
9. Russia: $16.67 per 100 km
With so much other publicity around Russia these days, we might just forget one of its essential features: That is, its size. Russia is the world’s largest country, so massive it can be seen from outer space. There’s much to see and do in this vast expanse of land. Lonely Planet suggests travellers leave the tourist traps of Moscow and St. Petersburg behind and explore instead places like Zelenogradsk, formerly a Prussian resort with expansive golden beaches, or a town inhabited by folk artists, Gorodetsk – a river village on the Volga. Explore the Ural Mountains by flying to Yekaterinburg. Like Matryoshka dolls, Russia is one surprise inside another, and it’s much more than meets the eye.
8. Italy: $16.57 per 100 km
If you’re flying to Italy for the bargain airfares, chances are you won’t be able to afford a large villa in Tuscany. But Italy has much less expensive options for the adventurous tourist. Youth hostels for young backpackers are popular all over Europe and there are other tricks: Taranto is cheaper than Turin. Florence and Rome are surprisingly inexpensive for food, if you explore. The slower, local trains (regionale) are cheaper compared to others, and public transit is a lot less expensive than renting a car, as this is very costly in Italy, as is gas. One thing that’s free? Flirting with all those impossibly beautiful Italians!
7. Turkey: $15.77 per 100 km
When we think of Turkey, many think of the long-standing Ottoman Empire and current political strife. A major world player from 1299 until 1922, this powerhouse once ruled the border area between Europe and Asia (the Caucasus), Western Asia, North Africa, The Horn of Africa, and all of Southeast Europe. Oft compared to its predecessor of the Roman Empire, many tourists are somehow surprised to see Turkey’s bustling metropolises. Alongside mosques, ruins and all sorts of architecture from bygone eras stand massive skyscrapers. A major clubbing scene rules Istanbul and Ankara now, and the young people boast an intense mixture of rich cultural and historical knowledge with cosmopolitan style and know-how.
6. United States: $13.74 per 100 km
The land of McDonalds, Disney World and Hollywood, one can eat and be entertained cheaply in the good old U.S.of A, but there’s much more to do and see than fast food and tinseltown. Go to a rodeo in New Mexico, a football game in Texas, or see the Yankees play their home stadium for as little as $9. Carson City in the Old West is a bargain destination if you don’t indulge in the tourist gimmicks – there are small town drive-ins, inexpensive nights out at a bowling alley, and old fashioned ice creams. If you like long-distance driving, this country offers beautiful coastlines straight out of the movies, barren rocky outcrops and richly coloured mineral expanses, and a quick Vegas stop for all the noise and action anyone could want. But why drive when you can fly in the 6th cheapest air travel country in the world?
5. Spain: $13.06 per 100 km
This country has tremendous diversity between its northern and southern regions. Close to France in the North one can see Basque country, and hear Catalan spoken in Barcelona. Further south, however, Madrid is somehow spicier, and Seville a smaller version, with Flamenco dancers, Andalusian warmth and amazing Moorish construction coexisting with Gothic Catholic cathedrals. Spaniards are big on enjoying the outdoors. Stroll through plazas and large, lush gardens maintained by the cities. Stop for some tortilla (potato omelette) and churros con chocolate (fried dough with dipping chocolate), and maybe take a cheap flight to the other side of the country when the fancy takes you.
4. Australia: $12.06 per 100 km
Where else can you fly to see kangaroos and cockatoos and go surfing all in one day? Giant poisonous toads squashed all over highways, the Sydney opera house, huge skyscrapers, the outback, and ranches run by hot cowboys with great accents. If you like scuba diving there’s the Great Barrier Reef, known to be some of the best underwater viewing anywhere. Pay to have a Northern Aboriginal experience, or go hot-air ballooning in Canberra. Some of the most beautiful beaches and coastline are here, where there’s nothing like shrimp on the barbie washed down with a cold beer. Caught the lingo yet? They say it doesn’t take long.
3. South Africa: $11.51 per 100 km
With a much better infrastructure and modern amenities than some of their poorer neighbors, SA is cheaper to visit than anywhere in the US or Europe – although if you’re travelling from either continent, it’s quite a lengthy trip. The national parks and reserves have a lot to offer: Accessibility and excellent viewing of wildlife without the higher prices of East Africa, where safaris are more sought out. When you think of indigenous hippopotami, you don’t immediately also think of penguins, but this country has both! With 5 ecosystems in one of the bigger Wetland parks, there are more terrains here than tourists imagine.
2. Malaysia: $11.31 per 100 km
Malaysia is across two different land masses; Peninsular Malaysia, which is below Thailand and has Chinese and Indian influences, and East Malaysia or Malaysian Borneo, which is more like a lush rainforest with Kuala Lumpur in the middle. With a strong GDP growth rate since the country’s independence in 1957, this nation’s economy is based largely on its natural resources, but tourism, and more recently medical tourism, play strong roles. Do something you’d never get to in many parts of the world: Go on a day trip to an elephant orphanage, and if the river is high enough you can bathe and play with the baby elephants! Scuba divers everywhere know the name Sipadan – it’s an underwater exploration must for those so inclined.
1. India: $10.25 per 100 km
When we think of India, there are certain places tourists generally aspire to visit, such as the Taj Mahal, the Ganges, the Golden Temple, and the markets of Mumbai. Still, there is much about India many of us do not know. The Buddhist Caves of Ajanta are one of the world’s oldest monasteries, if not the oldest, and a sight to behold; they were in use from the 2nd century B.C. to the 6th century A.D. and are now one of the top World Heritage sites. It has been said that Indian cities overwhelm the senses, but few travel to the smaller, remote villages. Why not take a break from inundation and leave the metropolis behind on a cheap flight to a lesser known area?
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