North America, South and Central America, Africa, Europe, Asia, and Australia. These are six continents with lots of countries in them. Most countries are popular for their tourism, they take care of millions of tourists every year. More often than not, this is the reason that the cost of visiting these countries and staying for a vacation is a tad more expensive than other countries, sometimes much more expensive. If one knows where the cheap destinations are, what countries are just as good as any other tourist-famous countries but differ immensely with the cost? Usually, especially for the average earner, the cost of going somewhere for a vacation is the deciding factor.
But what’s important for us is the value that we get for our money. It does not matter how expensive a vacation can be, and sometimes, how far the country might be from us (16-hour flight, no sweat!), as long as we experience what we are expecting and then some more. There are countries, not very touristy, that are very beautiful, hidden gems, that are astonishingly very affordable. Here we listed 20 of the most beautiful countries, and the most affordable countries to go to that are perfect for the traveler on a budget.
20 20. Albania
European travels are universally known as trips that are on the expensive side, but the truth is Albania is just one of the countries in Europe that are on the other side, very affordable and as beautiful as the other popular tourist destinations all over the European continent. With hotels that range from a cheap $20 to $30 per night, travelers can visit the Albanian Riviera, much like the French Riviera, but without the crowd. Enjoy delicious meals for less than $10, then go to the middle of the country and visit the city of Berat and marvel at the Kalaja castle.
19 19. Bolivia
Destinations in South and Central America tend to be beach destinations, but this country is landlocked and is still one of the best countries to visit in South America. Not only is it one of the best, but also one of the most affordable. Imagine having a hearty meal for only $1 and probably spending an average of $25 every day of stay. La Paz is the capital city, but every tourist should also visit the Salar de Uyuni and Lake Titicaca. Salar de Uyuni is the world’s largest salt flat, spanning a little less than 10,600 square kilometers, it’s a landscape that almost looks like it’s special effects.
18 18. Cambodia
International tourist destinations that are very popular in Asia are India, Japan, Singapore and the relatively cheaper countries like Thailand and Cambodia. If you’ve been to Thailand and found it cheap, Cambodia is even cheaper. But the cheap cost does not diminish the quality of experience one will savor in this amazing country. The 2001 film Lara Croft: Tomb Raider was shot in this country. Famous tourist sites like the Angkor Wat and Ta Prohm are all shown so majestically in this film. Angelina Jolie mentioned in an interview how Cambodia changed her life, I think that’s reason enough to want to check this country out.
17 17. Ecuador
Living the high life is what Ecuador offers its visitors, literally. The country’s capital is Quito, with an altitude of over 9,300 feet. Quito is a city with a rich culture and history, this should be the first stop when having a vacation in the country. The next is definitely the Galapagos Islands. The best activities in the islands are snorkeling, hiking, kayaking, surfing, and of course, swimming. Have a snorkel or a hike and get up close to the island creatures like the sea lions and sea turtles, right there on the beach, unafraid of humans. The Galapagos is also the only tropical island that’s home to penguins.
16 16. Egypt
A famous tourist destination such as Egypt is misconstrued as an expensive destination, but in reality, it is actually very affordable. Cairo hostels go for $4 a night and could be cheaper if it’s a hostel outside the city. Sights and tourist activities can be done for as cheap as $5 up to $10, including a tour of the world-famous Pyramids of Giza. Just avoid the camel rides, if you are staying in Cairo, the Pyramids are only a decent hike from there. No need to accept offers of taxi rides, or scenic camel tours, unless you’d like to ride the beast. There are also a number of temples one can visit, some museums, and remember one bit of information about Cairo, everything here can be bargained. So practice those haggling skills, if you’re a budget traveler, you know what to do.
15 15. Ethiopia
Bring your adventurous side if you are planning to have a trip to the diverse country of Ethiopia. For culture immersion, visit the very famous medieval settlement that closely resembles Jerusalem. It’s the town called Lalibela and is located in northern Ethiopia in the Amhara region. There are at least 11 churches made entirely of rocks, connected via tunnels, and are believed to be standing there since the 12th century. Nature lovers should go to the Babile Elephant Sanctuary and see gazelles, cheetahs, lions, and leopards, aside from the elephants. Check out the Rift Valley, Omo Valley, and the Blue Nile Falls, too. Meals here would only cost around $4, now that’s a good deal.
14 14. Guatemala
Kingdoms and ruins of old civilizations rest in the country of Guatemala. Situated in the northern center of Central America, Guatemala is the right destination for budget travelers. Amazingly preserved Mayan civilizations lie here in Tikal. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and well worth the visit. Then be enthralled with Laguna Lachua, a lake in the middle of a national park in the highland city of Coban, northwest of Tikal. On average, a tourist could only just spend about $40 a day. That already includes decent lodgings, meals, and transportation. Do not forget to visit Antigua and Lake Atitlan as well.
13 13. Laos
Out there in the far east, in the humble country of Laos, are cities that are rich in natural sites and beautiful man-made structures that make it worth the long trip. Once there, tourists cannot believe how affordable things are. As far as basic budget travelers go, the least one can spend a day in Laos is less than $20, one would just have to be in the right city to achieve this amazing feat. A traveler might be able to do this in Vientiane, rather than in the capital city of Luang Prabang. But even so, staying in both cities is very cheap compared to international standards. Visit the sacred monument, the national symbol of Laos, Pha That Luang. A Buddhist temple (or stupa) in Vientiane. Then go north to the small and heavenly town of Vang Vieng.
12 12. Lithuania
Many countries in Europe are unspoiled, undiscovered, and unappreciated when it comes to natural scenic beauty and the very affordable cost of living. First off, it is amazing that staying in Lithuania for a vacation can cost as little as $15 a day. Hostels cost around $6 a day, and transportation can be less than a dollar. Meals can be had for just $4 to $5. Friendly people, affordable food, transportation, and lodgings, and here are the things one can see in this country. The capital city is Vilnius, visit the Old Town, St. Anne’s Church, and the Gediminas Keep there. Take a trip to Kernave, one of Lithuania’s oldest towns, and see relics amongst its archaeological reserves.
11 11. Macedonia
East of Albania, the first country in this list, is another budget-friendly European destination. Macedonia, or the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, is a destination that’s great for hiking and backpacking tourists. One must never miss Lake Ohrid, it is in the Ohrid region, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Both for the beauty of the lake and for the cultural and historical monuments found in the area. Medieval churches, amphitheaters, and old fortresses can be seen while hiking the old town. With a $25 a day budget, one can just stay here as long as they want. Hostels go for as low as $8, and meals are the same price, if not lower.
10 10. Morocco
Casablanca is one of the largest cities in Morocco, but it’s not the only place worth visiting here. For a cheap stay here, avoid the traditional riads and go for the clean and nice hostels scattered around the country. Explore and soak in the culture in Morocco’s tourist-friendly cities. It’s capital city of Rabat, the Spanish-Moorish city of Meknes, the city of Fes, where the world’s oldest university (University of Al-Karaouine) is, the city of Marrakech, and the blue city, Chefchaouen. If you’re into beaches, check out Asilah and Essaouira, these two are the best. Mountains? The High Atlas is a sight to behold, and a must-do for hiking enthusiasts.
9 9. Nepal
Situated right north of India and east of India’s capital city, New Delhi, is Nepal. Largely popular because of the Himalayas, Nepal has other things in store for its tourists, as a matter of fact. One of the best-named capital cities in the world is Kathmandu, such a memorable and catchy name for a city, isn’t it? Here in Kathmandu alone, one can have a superb adventure. First, take a nice scenic tour of the Himalayas, helicopter tours or mountain flight tours, your choice. Next, visit the Pashupatinath Temple and the Monkey Temple. You can give the creatures some food but hold onto your stuff tightly while you’re at it. Visit also the Garden of Dreams and Bhaktapur.
8 8. Nicaragua
You probably have heard of Nicaragua, but not as a famous tourist destination. It is actually a very good tourist destination, as it has everything any kind of tourist looks for. From street food to active volcano hiking, Nicaragua caters to any personality a tourist may have, every craving satisfied. One can go diving in the Corn Islands, surfing at Maderas Beach, island hopping can be arranged too. Rainforest adventures for the nature enthusiast, some extreme sports are also available for the adrenaline junkie. The smart budget traveler can go about in this country spending only $35 a day, that’s well worth all the activities in store for them.
7 7. Peru
A country located on the left cheek of South America, right beside Bolivia and Brazil. Bordered by Ecuador and Colombia in the north and Chile in the south, it is the home of the popular ancient Incan city of Machu Picchu. This South American country is called Peru. Machu Picchu is an ancient Incan citadel, set atop the Andes Mountains, and is a tourist magnet. But do not limit yourself there, check out Laguna 69 too, it’s a majestic lagoon, perfect for swimming. For some history and strangeness, visit the Kuelap Fortress in the north and the Nazca Lines in the Peruvian desert.
6 6. Poland
Yes, this is the country where Roman Polanski is from. Despite his current situation, he was still responsible for classic films such as Chinatown and Rosemary’s Baby. If you are backpacking in Poland, you can actually include Lithuania in your itinerary as well. That’s because Lithuania is just to the north of Poland. Enjoy Lithuania, then head to Vilnius in the south, then further down to Poland. Hike to the Slowinski National Park, in the north of the country, and enjoy the Slowinski Sand Dunes. Check out two amazing castles in Poland, too. The Malbork Castle in the city of Malbork, and the Wawel Castle in Krakow.
5 5. South Africa
Not new to tourism, South Africa is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world today. As amazing as Cape Town is (it has been awarded best city in the world by numerous publications), South Africa, as a whole, is still a developing country. Vacationing here is still cheap, especially considering how popular a tourist destination South Africa is. Public transportation is cheap, even renting a car for a day is below $20, and that already includes insurance. There is no dull moment in South Africa because of the array of activities tourists can do. From safaris to wine tasting, the experience is world-class all the way.
4 4. Tanzania
Zanzibar is a destination worth traveling to Tanzania for. Aside from having the most beautiful beaches in the world, it’s also an affordable and valuable trip as soon as one sees how pristine the waters are and how fine the sand is. Of course, there are the Tanzanian staples, the Serengeti, Mount Kilimanjaro, and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Stay in Stone Town and enjoy the cheapest accommodations and more than hearty street food meals for just $2. The cheapest hotels in Zanzibar cost only $20 a day, beach resorts for just $50 a day. There are also other cheap towns one can explore, like Livingstone, where the magical Victoria Falls is.
3 3. Thailand
One more country in this list, like Egypt and South Africa, that is a well-known tourist destination. Thailand has long been the beach destination of choice for many travelers. But try to avoid the common destinations, check out the following towns instead. Chiang Mai has fewer people and tourists and is much cheaper than Bangkok, but still filled with things any traveler longs to experience. Check out the Wat Phra Singh temple first, then go crazy with the elephant camps and conservation centers. They have six great ones just here in Chiang Mai: The Maetaman Elephant Camp, Thai Elephant Conservation Centre, Elephant Life Experience, Jumbo Elephant Camp, Mae Ping Elephant Village, and the Patara Elephant Farm. Enjoy the night bazaars and grab yourself a nice souvenir, and if you long for the beach, check out Turtle Island, popular for its powdery white sand. Phuket is a little more popular but is still an affordable destination.
2 2. Ukraine
Europe rounds up their budget-friendly countries in this article with Ukraine. Clustered together with Lithuania and Poland, Ukraine is the southernmost destination in this European budget-friendly trilogy tour. The value of the dollar against the hryvnia here blew up recently and that’s why everything is cheaper, hotels go for $20 a night and dining at restaurants as low as $5. Explore and enjoy the history and culture of the most amazing cities in Europe, only here in Ukraine. Lviv, Kiev, Kharkiv, Odessa, and Chernihiv all have a little something unique to offer. Check out the Annunciation Cathedral in Kharkov, the Potemkin Stairs in Odessa, and the Pidhirtsi Castle in Lviv.
1 1. Vietnam
Vietnam’s beauty is kind of overshadowed by its history. Vietnam is very popular among seasoned backpackers as one of the cheapest destinations in the world. This is not just because of the money, but also about what travelers see in their travels. Hoi An is a popular destination, with a daily cost of only about $21 a day, it is every budget traveler’s dream destination. Visit the Museum of Sa Huỳnh Culture, the Tra Que Vegetable Village, Hoi An Ancient Town and the Fukian Assembly Hall on a hike. Then soak in the waters of Cua Dai Beach or An Bang Beach. For other city destinations, there’s Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh (Saigon).