The 31 Cheapest Places to Travel in 2024

05/01/2024 by Ashley Yap 89 Comments

Which countries offer the most value? Where can you travel to in 2024 that will allow you to go for longer, enjoy a higher standard, and save more money?

The following are 31 destinations around the world that offer the essentials — accommodation, transportation, and food — for less:

Table of Contents

Our Favorite Cheap Destinations Quick List:

  • Best in Southeast Asia for Food:  Vietnam
  • Best in Southeast Asia for Beaches:  Philippines
  • Best in Asia for Hiking:  Kyrgyzstan
  • Best in Europe for Food:  Greece
  • Best in Europe for Beaches:  Croatia
  • Best in Europe for Quaint Towns:  Estonia
  • Best in Europe for Smaller Crowds:  Georgia
  • Best in the Americas:  Guatemala
  • Best for Safari:  South Africa

1. Laos, $30/day

laos cheapest places to travel to

Back in my  budget backpacking days around Southeast Asia , Laos was one of the two destinations where I was able to keep my budget at $30/day, even though accommodations were slightly more expensive than most places in Southeast Asia at that time. Many of the amazing activities you can do in Laos are very affordable. For example, I paid $2.50 to see one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the world, $7 for a full-day tubing experience along the Vang Vieng river, and $6 for an awesome tiger-balm massage. You can also rent an inexpensive motorbike and venture off to smaller towns, where everything is even cheaper!

With more and more new hostels built to cater to the increasing number of backpackers, you can go for less money and for longer. However, if you have a bit more to spend, you can get a gorgeous room for closer to $35/night, which would easily cost $100 in the US.

  • Meals:  $3–9 per day. Some hostels provide a basic breakfast
  • Accommodation:   $5-10 per night in a hostel
  • Transportation:  $6–15 for a motorbike for the day (prices may vary depending on the bike condition and your haggling skills), or up to $25 for an intercity bus ticket
  • SIM card with data:  $6 for 1.5GB with 30-day validity

– Read More –

A Complete Guide to Laos

2. Vietnam, $30/day

The Cheapest Travel Destinations In the World in 2024

I probably had the healthiest and cheapest  street food in Vietnam . Think soup with rice noodles, cilantro, amazing broth, and a whole shank of pork for $1.50, or a cup of strong, aromatic coffee for $1. Regarding transportation, if you rent a motorbike, you are all set for the day. However, I understand that not everyone is comfortable riding one, especially in countries like Vietnam, where the traffic can be overwhelmingly chaotic. The good news is that GrabBike (similar to Uber but on bikes!) is widely available in all major cities, and the cost is as low as $0.50 for a 2km ride! Long-distance buses and trains are also affordable and reliable. Accommodation is similarly pleasant and easier to afford than almost anywhere else in the world.

  • Meals:  $5–12 per day. Some hostels provide a basic breakfast.
  • Transportation:  $8–15 for motorbike rental or GrabBike trips

The Ultimate Backpacking Vietnam Route Planner

A Complete Guide to Vietnam

3. Cambodia, $30/day

The Cheapest Travel Destinations In the World in 2024

I know for sure that if you choose to rough it, you can easily spend a month in Cambodia with just $1000. Dorms are very basic but can be dirt cheap; the same goes for food and alcohol. I also had my haggling skills to thank, as I was almost always able to talk my way out of being charged unfairly by tuk-tuk drivers. There are some one-off expenses, such as the three-day pass to Angkor Wat, which is currently set at $62, and diving trips that add up, but there will also be days of riding a bicycle in a small village and eating cheap and delicious meat skewers when just a dollar or two could stretch very far.

Another thing is to consider the gorgeous, mostly new  boutique hotels on . They are obviously not as cheap as staying in hostels, but for the price, they are so worth it! I’d definitely splurge on a couple of nights and have some R&R time by the pool.

READ NEXT:  23 Cheapest 5-Star Hotels around the World

  • Meals:  $5–10 per day. Some hostels provide breakfast.
  • Accommodation:   $5-15 per night in a hostel
  • Transportation:  $6-15 for a motorbike for the day (prices may vary depending on the bike condition and your haggling skills) or for an intercity bus ticket
  • SIM card with data : $2 for 1.5GB with 30-day validity (yes, it is that cheap!)

A Perfect Cambodia Itinerary

A Complete Guide to Cambodi a

4. Northern Thailand, $32/day

The Cheapest Travel Destinations In the World in 2024

The north of Thailand is easy on a tight budget. As one moves south, costs for accommodation start to double, triple, and even quadruple. Stay up north if you are short on time and money for your Thailand trip. Even in popular places like  Chiang Mai  and  Pai , you can easily find basic dorms for less than $7/night. If you stick with eating street food (to each her own, but why eat pasta when you can have pad thai, am I right?), not only will you save yourself some money, the experience will be much more authentic and tasty, too.

As far as activities go, you really do not need a lot of money to enjoy your day, as most activities such as visiting the White Temple, hiking, or gathering three other people from your hostel to rent a car and  go on some day trips , are all affordable.

  • Meals: $5–15 per day. Some hostels provide breakfast
  • Transportation: $6-10 for a motorbike for the day (prices may vary depending on the bike condition and your haggling skills) or  a rental car split between four people
  • SIM card with data: $7 for 1.5GB with 30-day validity. See the best SIM cards in Thailand .

Thailand Bucket List: 50 Best Things to Do

A Complete Guide to Thailand

5. Indonesia, $35/day

The Blue Lagoon on Nusa Ceningan

The thing about Indonesia is that  it can be really cheap , or it can be quite expensive, depending on one big thing: transportation. Intercity traveling can be very time-consuming and costly, as is traveling from one island to another in a private boat. To save costs, stick with one region or two.  There’s a lot to do and see , and spending more time in one place will allow you to travel deeper and have  a more meaningful experience  anyway. If you want to travel far and wide on a budget, my biggest tip is to take local transportation!

On the flip side, food and drinks are cheap throughout the country, not to mention absolutely yummy too! Riding a scooter through the mountains costs very little, and so does hiking,  chasing waterfalls,  and slouching in a hammock  by the  beach  all day long. Hostels are plentiful, social, and affordable, especially in places like  the Gili Islands .

  • Meals:  $5–15 per day. Some hostels provide breakfast.
  • Accommodation:   $7-15 per night in a hostel
  • Transportation:  $8–15 for a motorbike for the day (prices may vary depending on the bike condition and your haggling skills)
  • SIM card with data:  $5 for 2GB with 30-day validity

The Perfect Indonesia Itinerary for 2 Weeks to 2 Months

A Complete Guide to Indonesia

6. The Philippines, $37/day

coron black island

The Philippine archipelago can cost quite a lot of money and time to get around, and the hostel options aren’t nearly as abundant as in other Southeast Asia countries. While these two factors seem like a big turn-off for travelers trying to stretch their budget as far as possible, there are ways to keep your costs there low. If you choose to travel during shoulder seasons, book your flights and plan your journey way in advance (it is not the country to always wing it!), and try to stick within 1-2 regions, the Philippines can still be affordable.

On top of that, the country has some of the  most gorgeous islands , beautiful dive sites,  affordable group island-hopping tours , and  hidden gems  that you’d have had to pay so much more to experience in other parts of the world. In that sense, the Philippines is worth every peso you spend.

  • Accommodation:   $7-20 per night in a hostel
  • Transportation:  $10–15 for a motorbike for the day (prices may vary depending on the bike condition and your haggling skills) or $15–20 for a boat ride from one island to another
  • SIM card with data:  $6 for 2GB with 30-day validity

The Perfect Philippines Itinerary

A Complete Guide to the Philippines

7. Malaysia, $40/day

tioman island beach

Being one of the most economically developed Southeast Asian countries, Malaysia is often  perceived as expensive . On top of that, when I visited for the first time, a few people told me it wasn’t worth staying long. However, I ended up meeting lots of locals, was more able to communicate , and found more common ground with them than I had in Cambodia or Laos. I also had so much fun exploring Cameron Highlands,  the jungles of Borneo , and the gorgeous islands.

The cherry on top?  They were all affordable . An overnight bus from Kuala Lumpur to the Perhentian Islands costs as little as $15. There are also so many interesting local neighborhoods and markets that are free to explore. Finally, Malaysian cuisine is like no other — you can find food from just about any culture, and it’s so cheap and tasty (but not necessarily healthy). Malaysia is also one of the cheapest places in the world to get a PADI scuba diving certificate .

The one thing that could make Malaysia expensive to travel in is alcohol, which is highly taxed. However, if you don’t plan on drinking every night, or maybe consider staying sober during your trip, that will not be an issue.

  • Meals:  $5–10 per day. Some hostels provide breakfast
  • Accommodation:   $7–15 per night in a hostel
  • Transportation:  $5–7 for a full day of train and bus rides, or $15–20 for an overnight intercity bus ride
  • SIM card with data:  $8 for 2GB with 30-day validity

The Best Places to Visit in Malaysia

A Complete Guide to Malaysia

8. Sri Lanka, $35/day

train from ella to kandy, Sri Lanka

Like many countries, Sri Lanka can be seen on  a backpacker budget , or one can spend a small fortune there. The biggest kicker was the price of activities, such as safaris, and admission into the UNESCO World Heritage sites.  With each running about $40-$50 per ticket, this made Sri Lanka more expensive to fully explore.

That said, Sri Lanka can be done on closer to $30 per day on the days that you don’t pay for expensive activities. Food, transport, accommodation, and the internet are relatively cheap. One thing to note about transportation is that in some cases, taking a taxi or Uber (in major cities) can be cheaper than renting a bike. Hiring a driver for the day can be as low as $5 per person if you can find people in your hostel to split the cost. The cheapest transportation is the train, which is delightful and (IMO) the best way to travel through Sri Lanka.

  • Accommodation:   $8–15 per night in a hostel
  • Transportation : $15–20 per person for a private car and driver split between four people, or $3–5 for a second-class cabin train ride between cities
  • SIM card with data:  $2 for 1.5GB with 30-day validity (yes, it is that cheap!)

Sri Lanka’s Best  Plac es to Visit

A Complete Guide to Sri Lanka

9. Nepal, $25/day ($15/day if trekking)

thurong la pass nepal

Nepal is a very cheap country to travel through, with most food, accommodation, and transport running just a few dollars if you eat, sleep, and travel using local options. The street food in Nepal does not have the best reputation, though I never seem to get any stomach problems eating it. You can get cheap and delicious home-cooked meals in local-run small cafés though.

Be very mindful when you book your accommodation online, as big corporations have taken over homestays and turned them into boutique hotels and resorts, so the “local guesthouses” you’ve booked may very well be part of a big hotel chain. I suggest booking the first couple of nights online, and looking for accommodation from real local guesthouses when you arrive.

If you end up trekking , as long as you do so independently and avoid Mt. Everest itself, which costs tens of thousands of dollars, you can travel for as cheap as $10 per day on food and accommodation at the lower elevations, and closer to $20 USD at higher elevations on popular routes like the  Annapurna Circuit .

  • Accommodation : $7–12 per night in a local guesthouse
  • Transportation:  $10–15 per person for a private car and driver split between four people, or a local bus ride between cities
  • SIM card with data:  $3 for 1.25GB with 30-day validity (yes, it is that cheap!)

A Complete Guide to N epa l

10. Taiwan, $45/day

cheapest destinations to travel to

Two words: street food, which is delectable and ridiculously cheap. For less than $2, you can get a plate of fragrant rice with pork or chicken on top, a large deep-fried chicken chop, or a bowl of yummy vermicelli with oysters. If you are a foodie on a budget, you know where to go!

In cities like Taipei and Tainan, you can register for city bikes, which cost less than $0.50 per hour per ride and are free for the first 30 minutes. This means you can possibly get around the city all day without spending any money on transportation at all.

That said, high-end food and clothing prices in Taiwan can sometimes be at US levels. Intercity traveling is either expensive on the high-speed rail (HSR) or time-consuming (if slightly cheaper). The internet is also not as cheap as in the countries above.

  • Accommodation:   $10–35 per night in a hostel  (I highly recommend  this one in Taipei !)
  • Transportation : $0–3 for a full day of bike, bus, and train rides, or $20–40 for an HSR ride between cities
  • SIM card with data:  $33 for unlimited data with 28-day validity

That One Time I Became an Illegal Alien in Taiwan

11. India, $30/day

best travel places on a budget

India  is one of the cheapest countries to travel to, but if and only if you’re willing to haggle and hunt for deals. Keep in mind that cheap rooms that run in the $3 range will be very basic, and it’s normal to shower with buckets of heated water. You will be hard-pressed to find cheap gems in the north, but the south, with its gorgeous beaches, may prove more fruitful when it comes to budget accommodation.

The best way to travel through India on a budget is to book things yourself. This means no agents and no online booking sites (except for some intercity travel — for that, check out  12Go Asia ). Similar to Nepal, if you walk into local guesthouses, restaurants, and tour companies, you could easily get the same things in person for half the quoted price online.

  • Meals:  $3–6 per day
  • Accommodation : $5–10 per night in a local guesthouse
  • Transportation : $1–3 for a full day of bus and train rides, or $8–30 for an intercity train ride (sometimes a domestic flight costs as little as $30, if you want to splurge without actually splurging!)
  • SIM card with data:  $3 for 1.5GB with 30-day validity (yes, it is that cheap!)

Solo Female Travel Stories: Archana from India

12. Kyrgyzstan, $25/day

best travel places on a budget

Kyrgyzstan is the country of choice for most travelers interested in trying out Central Asia, and thus most well-suited to  travelers of all budgets . The cuisine is cheap and interesting, and so is getting around using the minibuses. Public transportation prices are fixed and are probably the cheapest aspect of traveling in Kyrgyzstan. If you are doing a multiday hike like the  Tian Shan Mountains , the tour price should include most things.

As for accommodation, you can find hostels in major destinations and local homestays in more rural places for less than $10/night.

  • Meals:  $4–8 per day
  • Accommodation:   $8–12 per night in a hostel  or a local guesthouse
  • Transportation:  $0.20 for a local minibus ride, or $4 for an intercity bus ride — yep, that’s right!
  • SIM card with data:  $3 for 3GB with 30-day validity, though I wouldn’t expect it to work in the mountains

A Quick Guide to Kyrgyzstan

13. Uzbekistan, $35/day

Chor Minor in Uzbekistan

I bet Uzbekistan wasn’t originally on your radar when it comes to cheapest places to travel, but I’m here to tell you that it should be. This Central Asian country has so much to offer, including stunning architecture, the legendary Silk Road, and an awesome blend of old and new. And the best part? It’s incredibly budget-friendly. We’re talking $20 for food and drinks in even the fanciest of restaurants. On top of that, Uzbekistan is one of the safest countries to travel in , and the locals are known for their welcoming hospitality. Win-win!

  • Meals:  $8–10 per day
  • Accommodation: $8–10 per night in a hostel dorm
  • Transportation:  $1 for a subway day ticket in Tashkent, or $9 for a high-speed train ticket
  • SIM card with data: $3 for 8GB of data with 30-day validity

Things I Wish I Knew before Visiting Uzbekistan

14. Romania, $40/day

best travel places on a budget

If you are planning a  European trip that’s affordable  and a little bit off the beaten path, Romania is perfect for you. While the country is known for Dracula, many charming towns and free activities remain unknown to most foreigners. Whether you’re taking a long stroll through the medieval villages or people-watching in one of the beautiful parks, Romania is great for anyone after a European experience on a budget. You can also make use of the free walking tours to check out the numerous historical sites.

Hostels run $10–15 per night, and the food is hearty and scrumptious (a money-saving tip: have your breakfast at the hostel, have a big hearty lunch, and cook your own dinner — it’s easy and affordable to get fresh produce from the local market, so make sure your hostel has a kitchen!). Public transportation is reliable and affordable.

  • Meals:  $10–15 per day
  • Accommodation:   $12–20 per night in a hostel  or a local guesthouse
  • Transportation : $5–10 for a full day of bus and train rides
  • SIM card with data : $6 for 3GB with 28-day validity

The Top 14 Cheapest European Countries to Visit

15. Georgia, $30/day

best travel places on a budget

Georgia is another underrated European destination that’s absolutely beautiful and affordable. Also, get this: most of you will be able to enter Georgia  without a visa , and stay for  one year .  Say what?!

Quality hostels at a reasonable price range, a meal at a local restaurant for as low as $3, and a local minibus ride for less than $1 are just some of the great things Georgia can offer to its visitors. What’s more? Entrance fees to museums and historical sites are mostly less than $2.  The locals are extremely warm and welcoming, and hitchhiking is totally possible for short and long-distance travel. There are many day trips, hikes, and monasteries in Georgia, so one can easily spend months here and not get bored. It’s perfect if you have more time than money.

  • Accommodation:   $10–15 per night in a hostel
  • Transportation:  $3–5 for a full day of bus and train rides, $5–10 for an intercity ride, or $0 if you hitchhike!
  • SIM card with data:  $3 for 1GB with one-month validity

16. Greece, $45/day

sailing greek islands poros

Timing is crucial if you want to travel in Greece on a budget. While prices of flights, accommodation, and tours have been largely cut down since the country’s debt crisis in 2010, summer months still cost more than others. This means avoiding July and August, which are the hottest and busiest months in Greece. Instead, go a few weeks before or after summer, and you will be able to enjoy the country with smaller crowds and a lower budget. You can also cut down on food costs by buying fresh produce from the market and making your own meals, since eating out in restaurants can be expensive in certain areas. A little picnic by the gorgeous beach can be as enjoyable as a lavish meal at a seafood restaurant!

As far as activities go, opt for free walking tours, and if you are planning to do some  island-hopping in Greece , plan well and stick with a group of islands to minimize transfers. Remember that sometimes a domestic flight can be cheaper than a bus ride for any long-distance travel.

  • Transportation : $10–15 per person for  a rental car split between four people  (note: scooter rental costs about $25–30/day), or $10–20 for ferry tickets around the islands
  • SIM card with data : $12 for 2GB with 30-day validity

Elafonisi Beach, Greece: The Ultimate Travel Guide

31 of the Absolute Best Things to Do in Greece

17. Czechia, $40/day

best travel places on a budget

As more and more tourists flock to Czechia, or more specifically Prague, for its rich history and cheaper-than-water beer, prices have inflated over the last few years. However, it is still easily one of the cheapest Central European countries to travel in, especially if you go beyond Prague, such as Český Krumlov and Telc, to experience true Czech culture at a much lower cost. Local transportation is reliable and affordable, and if you plan to do a lot of traveling, consider getting a three-day pass for $16.

Czech cuisine is very hearty and comes in large portions. While it’s not the healthiest (most meals consist of potato and meat), it will surely fill you up, so to stretch your budget: eat out at a restaurant for lunch, and have a light snack for dinner. Entrance fees to historical sites and museums can be quite expensive ($18 to enter the Prague Castle), but you don’t always have to actually enter — the hike up is awesome, and you can always admire the architecture from outside, and pick only the most intriguing destinations to go in.

  • Meals : $10–15 per day
  • Accommodation :  $12–20 per night in a hostel
  • Transportation:  $5 for a full day of tram rides, $15–20 for an intercity bus ride
  • SIM card with data : $13 for 2GB with one-month validity

15 of the Best European Cities to Visit in December

18. Poland, $44/day

best travel places on a budget

It’s a shame that Poland is often overlooked by tourists. It’s one of those countries where you can easily spend an entire day just wandering and people-watching. There will be days when you spend nothing else but on essentials.

If you are a fan of heritage sites, Poland, rich with culture and history, has 14 to offer. It costs an average of $5 to enter museums and historical sites, which is fairly affordable by European standards. The cuisine is delicious and has a bit more variety than its neighboring countries, though it’s still heavy on the calories. (Make sure to eat at a “milk bar,” an affordable yet tasty option that’s popular with locals.)

The trains are a bit dated but cost very little. Go beyond Krakow and Warsaw, and explore other smaller towns like Gdansk, Wroclaw, and Zakopane, which are all stunning and possibly even cheaper to travel in.

  • Accommodation :  $9–20 per night in a hostel
  • Transportation:  $1–3 for a full day of train rides, $10–15 for an intercity train ride
  • SIM card with data:  $3 for 2GB with one-month validity

19. Croatia, $50/day

best travel places on a budget

If you like turquoise waters, sunshine, and parties,  look no further than Croatia  for your next budget trip. There are thousands of islands off the mainland, excellent weather from May to October, and beach and yacht parties year-round. There is also beautiful architecture to marvel at, interesting sights such as the  Museum of Broken Relationships , and cute small towns to explore.

The essential expenses, including accommodation, transportation, and food, all come with a reasonable price tag. To travel in Croatia on a budget, you need a similar approach to Greece — go in the shoulder season. July and August are the country’s busiest months, so avoid them if possible. Also, keep your island-hopping to a group, to minimize transfers. Since Croatia is gaining more popularity each year, expect prices to keep rising, and aim to visit sooner than later if you want to snag a deal.

  • Meals:  $10–15 per day. Some hostels offer complimentary breakfast.
  • Accommodation :  $12–30 per night in a hostel
  • Transportation : $12–15 per person for  a rental car split between four people , or $10-$15 for a ferry ride
  • SIM card with data : $8 for 2GB with 30-day validity

20. Turkey, $45/day

best travel places on a budget

Turkey can be cheap or expensive, depending on what you want to do and how deeply you want to travel through the country.  A hot-air balloon ride  costs around $400–500, and intercity traveling can be really long and costly. However, there are a bunch of other bucket list–worthy items that cost way less, and if you plan your route well, it is definitely possible, if not easy, to travel through Turkey on a budget.

The stunning Blue Mosque in Istanbul, the breathtaking white travertines in Pamukkale, and the hustling bazaars all over the country are relatively affordable to enter. While long-distance buses are expensive, if you plan well and take overnight buses, you get to save on accommodation. If you are short on time and money, stick with a city or two. Turkish food is delicious and cheap, so that’s one less thing to worry about!

  • Transportation : $1–3 for a taxi ride or $30–60 for an intercity overnight bus ride

21. Lithuania, $44/day

best travel places on a budget

Lithuania is a small country that most travelers skip or spend at most a night or two in, just the capital city, Vilnius. However, this charming place is not only underrated but also very affordable! If you enjoy partying, the nightlife scene in Vilnius is vibrant and fun, and alcohol is fairly affordable. If you’d like a quieter experience, check out the Old Town in Kaunas, Klaipeda, and Curonian Spit. Bear in mind that outside of the capital, hostels can be hard to come by, so book in advance or even consider Couchsurfing!

  • Accommodation :  $10–20 per night in a hostel
  • Transportation : $3–6 for a full day of bus rides within the city, or $15–20 for an intercity bus ride. Buses seem to be more reliable than trains in Lithuania!
  • SIM card with data:  Get a Baltic SIM card for $7 for 3GB with 30-day validity

22. Estonia, $44/day


Nature lovers will love Estonia — 53% of the country is forested. This also means that activities like hiking and exploring the national parks are plentiful and affordable (if not completely free). The small towns are also great for walking and cycling, so transportation costs can be minimized. On that note, affordable hostels can be hard to come by in these towns, so consider basing yourself in the capital city, Tallinn, and make day trips to visit them.

  • Accommodation:   $10–20 per night in a hostel
  • Transportation:  $3–6 for a full day of train rides within the city, or $10–15 for an intercity train ride

23. Latvia, $47/day


Similar to Estonia, half of the country is covered in forests. There are also thousands of lakes and rivers, perfect for canoeing lovers. One can also easily spend an entire day wandering through the enchanting forests with castles hidden in them (okay, maybe not “hidden,” but this sounds dreamier, as castles should be). The best time to go to Latvia is during fall or winter, when you can canoe down the rivers with the color-changing leaves accompanying you, or when the  Christmas vibe  is on full display at the markets. All of these activities are affordable/free, which is why traveling in Latvia can be done on a budget.

  • Meals : $12–15 per day. Some hostels offer complimentary breakfast.
  • Accommodation:   $14–25 per night in a hostel
  • Transportation:  $2–5 for a full day of train rides within the city, or $10–15 for an intercity train ride.
  • SIM card with data : Get a Baltic SIM card for $7 for 3GB with 30-day validity

The Americas

24. mexico, $42/day.


From  Tulum  to  Baja California , Mexico is full of  endless adventures . This vast country is rich in culture, nature, and some of the best food in the world. Though it does not have the best reputation  as far as safety goes , most violence takes place in certain areas, and Mexico has  plenty of safe places to explore .

The best news? It’s easy to travel in Mexico on a budget. For less than $20, you will be able to explore  at least five stunning cenotes , like the one in the picture above; for less than $3, you can devour delicious street food like tacos (I love tacos), quesadillas, and tortillas;  the white-sand beaches  are essentially free; and the hospitality? — priceless.

While getting around within a city is cheap, intercity traveling in Mexico can be costly, mainly because of how big the country is. The best-case scenario is to  rent a car , which costs about $50–70 per day and can be split between four people. If you are  backpacking Mexico solo , try to stay in the same place for a longer time to stretch the transportation costs out. That way, you are able to  travel deeper  and experience authentic Mexico too.

  • Meals:  $8–15 per day. Some hostels offer complimentary breakfast
  • Accommodation:   $10–17 per night in a hostel  ( click here for the best hotels in Tulum )
  • Transportation:  $3–5 for a full day of bus and train rides, or $30–50 for an intercity bus ride (yikes!)
  • SIM card with data:  $10 for 2GB with a 30-day validity

Solo Female Travel Guide to Mexic o

A Complete Guide to Mexico

25. Nicaragua, $35/day


Nicaragua is one of the cheapest  Central American destinations  to travel in, although it’s not likely to stay that way for much longer. The country is nicknamed “the next  Costa Rica ,” and we all know what that means. For now, it remains affordable, fun, and interesting, so go before the prices go up and mass tourism hits.

For outdoor lovers, Nicaragua is great for surfing, volcano hiking, and diving. For a more relaxing journey, the colonial cities are beautiful to take a stroll in, and there are plenty of gorgeous beaches to lie on all day on. the cuisine is cheap and tasty, albeit repetitive. There are hostels all over, so you don’t have to worry about finding cheap accommodation.

One thing to note is that there are unfortunately safety concerns, so check  the official advisory site  and be your own judge before going.

  • Meals:  $6–10 per day. Some hostels offer complimentary breakfast
  • Accommodation :  $5–15 per night in a hostel
  • Transportation : $3–5 for a full day of chicken bus rides, or $8–15 for an intercity bus ride
  • SIM card with data : $12 for 1GB with a 30-day validity

26. Guatemala, $38/day

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For an amazing Central American adventure on a budget, check out Guatemala. A visit there is no complete without seeing the beautiful  Lake Atitlán , but that’s not all — the country is covered in lush jungles, volcanos, and ruins, ideal for outdoor lovers. When you need a break from outdoor sports, colonial cities like  Antigua  or unique spots like  Hobbitenango  will capture your heart with their stunning architecture and cobblestone streets.

Local food is delightful and affordable, at about $3 for a full meal (except in Antigua, where prices are actually close to US levels).

Local transportation can be very cheap but at times confusing and risky. The locals typically take the “chicken buses,” converted school buses from North America, which are the cheapest way to get around. The buses do not have specific stops, nor is there a board with prices on it. Instead, people simply wave them down and pay the collector. Watch how much the locals are paying and do the same.

  • Accommodation :  $10–15 per night in a hostel
  • Transportation:  $1–3 for a full day of chicken bus rides, or $5–10 for an intercity bus ride
  • SIM card with data:  $13 for 2GB with a 30-day validity

27. Colombia, $35/day

best travel places on a budget

A colorful destination with a dark past, Colombia is fast becoming a popular affordable destination. If you are a history geek, you will love the museums and historical sites in Bogotá, the Lost City, and beyond. If you are into nature, the Amazon awaits. As for diving enthusiasts, Colombia also boasts some of the world’s best sites and gorgeous beaches. With accommodation, transportation and food being so affordable, you will have room for some occasional splurges, so consider booking a luxurious villa for a night or two — you won’t get a deal this great anywhere else in this part of the world!

  • Meals:  $10–15 per day. Some hostels offer complimentary breakfast
  • Accommodation :  $8–12 per night in a hostel
  • Transportation : $1–3 for a full day of bus rides, or $10–50 for an intercity bus ride (be sure to check the domestic flights, which can sometimes be cheaper than buses)
  • SIM card with data : $13 for 2GB with a 30-day validity

28. Arizona & Utah (for a road trip!), $45/day

Grand Canyon in Utah

While the US is generally not a super budget destination, if you are doing a road trip, you can definitely save in some areas and splurge in others to even out your overall budget. For my  American Southwest road trip , I spent  an average of $110/day , which included a camper van rental, food, gas, and camping, plus little splurges here and there. Now, it was definitely more expensive because I was solo; if you had just one other person, you’d be able to split the costs almost perfectly in half (more if you had two other people along, and so on). The more, the merrier (until you run out of room and start elbowing each other).

Some quick tips on saving money:

  • Get a national park pass and for $80, you will be able to get a carload of people into any national park in the US for an entire year.
  • Rent a camper van  if you are renting a car. Then your accommodation, apart from the van fee, can be absolutely free by  camping only on BLM land .
  • Cook your own meals! Again, renting a camper van with kitchen facilities will enable this and save you a lot of money
  • Meals : $12–15/day
  • Accommodation : free
  • Transportation : $9/day for a camper van split between four people
  • SIM card with data : $35 for 1GB with a 30-day validity

A Complete Guide to Utah

A Complete Guide to Arizona

29. South Africa, $42/day

south africa road trip

If you are traveling on US dollars or euros, the exchange rate alone will do you a big favor. At this time of writing, one South African Rand is equal to six cents US.

Any hostel, guesthouse, or tourist accommodation in South Africa is called a “backpackers,” and they are typically in beautiful settings and have a unique personality, not to mention they are  affordable too . Food is where the big budget eater or saver can be, as it can get expensive in South Africa. To save money, cook your own food. Grocery stores are plentiful and have reasonable prices. By at least preparing your own breakfast and the occasional dinner, you can save a lot.

Unfortunately, public transportation outside of  Johannesburg  and  Cape Town  can be pretty limited. While there are a few private companies and trains that provide transportation around the country, the best (and possibly) cheapest way to get around is to rent a car and share with three other people, and go on  an epic road trip  together.

  • Meals : $12–15 per day
  • Accommodation :  $14–18 per night in a “backpackers”
  • Transportation : $9 per day for a camper van split between four people

What Does It Cost to Travel in South Africa?

A Complete Guide to South Africa

30. Namibia, $45/day

sossusvlei namibia

Namibia is home to some of the world’s most spectacular views, including  the gorgeous Sossusvlei , the hauntingly beautiful Deadvlei, and the massive Fish River Canyon, just to name a few. At first glance, Namibia may not seem like a budget destination, as most accommodations cater to the luxury category, and transportation from one place to another can be limited in such a vast country. However, you just need to  do things a little bit differently  to save a lot of money.

The most important thing is to choose to camp instead of staying in a lodge. The luxury lodges cost about $50–200 per night, but you can camp at their sites for about $8–10 per night; government campsites will set you back about $15–18 per night. As for transportation, ideally you would want to rent a 4×4 and share it with a few people to split the cost. If your accommodation comes with a communal kitchen, make full use of it as cooking your own meals will definitely save you money. Entrance fees are generally cheap!

  • Accommodation : $8–18 per night
  • Transportation : $15–18 per day for a 4×4 split between four people
  • SIM card with data:  $16 for 1.5GB with a 60-day validity

The Perfect Namibia Road Trip Itinerary

A Complete Guide to Namibia

31. Egypt, $30/day

egypt wellness retreat

Pyramids, ancient temples, and royal palaces once inhabited by pharaohs make Egypt seem like it would come at a high price. However, the reality is that this Middle Eastern country can be surprisingly affordable for travelers. One of the biggest expenses in Egypt is getting there, but with some planning and flexibility, you can find decently priced flights to Cairo or Luxor. Once you’ve arrived, you’ll find that hostels and guest houses, food, and transportation costs are surprisingly affordable, especially if you avoid resort cities like Hurghada.

  • Meals : $3–5 per meal
  • Accommodation : $10–15 per night for a dorm room
  • Transportation : $0.50 for a ride on a local bus
  • SIM card with data : $2.81 for 12GB with a 30-day validity

Is Egypt Safe?

How Low Can You Go?

cheapest countries to visit in 2024

The suggested budget above includes basic accommodation, transportation, and three meals, with a mix of simple breakfasts, hearty lunches, and light dinners, as well as Internet and one paid activity for the day. You will need to add on the other costs, like shopping, alcohol, and little splurges here and there to understand how much exactly is needed.

Some may want to dive or ski, which are typically higher-cost activities, and some just want to walk around and explore neighborhoods. If you are on a shoestring budget, the suggested budgets can be cut down further should you choose to couchsurf, hitchhike, and skip certain activities.

Are there any destinations that you would add to this list? Let us know in the comments below!

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Nicoline says

01/03/2019 at 11:00 pm

There are so many of these places I would love to visit or revisit. Especially a Namibian road trip is on top of my bucket list and I hope that I can do it this year. 42$ per day is alright and the flight tickets from Denmark aren’t that bad right now – it must be a sign! ?

Kristin says

01/05/2019 at 9:12 am

It must be!

01/04/2019 at 9:09 pm

Bosnia is one of the cheapest places in Europe with so much to see! It’s a good deal cheaper than its neighbor Croatia.

Good to know! Thank you!

Anonymous says

04/25/2021 at 5:55 pm

Absolutely! Go hungry!! Food is excellent too!!

Jessa L says

06/10/2019 at 2:35 am

Excellent info but main thought regarding SE Asia, especially regarding Vietnamese street food: #1 many foreigners do not have the gut bacteria to fight off many forms of food poisoning that occurs from street food. #2 All the food in SE Asia has loads of MSG which immediately makes it NOT healthy. Sorry but there’s no cheap Vietnamese that can be considered healthy with the amount of MSG they put in the food. Tasty, yes. Addictive, yes. Healthy, ummm nope.

06/10/2019 at 6:54 am

Fact checking this. #1: The food is mostly bought fresh from the market each day and cooked right in front of you. If you go to a stand with lots of people eating there, you can trust it’s good for you, too. I have never had food poisoning after 7 years of traveling and eating street food. #2: I’ve seen the food made fresh from each raw ingredient and I also know what MSG looks like. I’ve seen it on the stands in China but not in Veitnam. I think it really depends on which stand you eat from, and if you’re worried about MSG the restaurants you eat at can just as easily, if not more easily, add it to the food. I wouldn’t avoid street food because of these reasons. Tourist restaurants serve the same thing, but often less fresh, for more money and you DON’T see it cooked in front of you.

09/09/2019 at 11:01 pm

I agree with your comments Kristen, its also easy to ask and or learn the local word to say dont put it in as a lot of stands will add a little MSG for “extra flavour”

01/17/2023 at 3:56 am

‘Hoom, Hoom, Ajinomoto’, is what to say if you don’t want MSG

Marissa says

01/20/2020 at 12:45 pm

Agreed. Kristen

Daniel says

01/11/2024 at 9:22 am

I am a US Citizen and often travel to Vietnam at least once a year and I believe you have no idea what you’re talking about. Do not eat food sold on the street or others food stands around the corner. You have no idea what they did to the pre-made ingredients that are served to you in front of you. Most of them do not even have gloves while handling YOUR foods. Most of the times, ingredients are prepared somewhere else and none are monitored as far as food safety is concerned. Anyone can prepare foods without any inspections or licenses requirements and sell to the public whenever, where ever they want!!! Rotten meats are often used to make egg rolls by adding artificial flavorings and fried until the bad smell is gone. Food stands are notorious for being dirty and contaminated badly because they do not have enough clean water to wash or sanitize utensils used to handle their foods. There was a big issue in Vietnam recently when a street vendor was caught “recycling” leftover from the previous customer and sell it to the next customer… Just google about food safety standards in Vietnam and you’ll know.

Kristin Addis says

01/11/2024 at 4:08 pm

If there’s a long line of locals eating there, and they’re bringing their kids there, I’m also going to eat there.

04/19/2020 at 11:09 pm

You clearly dont have a clue abour vietnamese food..they are not into Msg…dont get confuse them with China Mf

06/07/2020 at 10:28 pm

Jessa, I think you should educate yourself before taking such a strong opinion on MSG because you clearly don’t have your facts straight. Vietnamese food is pretty healthy whether or not there is MSG in it. MSG alone is simply not bad for you.

If you don’t believe me read this article:

07/29/2021 at 8:16 pm

So safe it will puff many up like a puffer fish. So safe.

Hugo Lindum says

02/07/2022 at 6:15 am

Street food is about as safe as it gets. Rarely had problems, nor do most people. As for MSG being bad, it must be the most researched food product in human history and no peer reviewed researched shows there is anything wrong with it. Even the EU says its safe. MSG being unsafe is up there with antivax and Elvis being alive on the moon.

12/21/2023 at 1:14 pm

i think it sounds really delicious and MSG is very healthy for you

Jonene Oxford says

02/25/2023 at 3:45 pm

Wish I could add the scientific info on here about MSG not being bad for your health. You should read up on it. You’d be surprised

Mohsen Ghiasi says

06/14/2019 at 7:48 am

Whay you dont write iran at the top man, its cheapest in the world with much more facility.

06/15/2019 at 9:17 am

As an American I can’t go there without taking a tour so to me it’s not that cheap, unfortunately 🙁

mark doty says

07/01/2020 at 6:18 pm

who in their right mind would go to Iran?

09/23/2020 at 1:33 pm

I lived there in the 70s and would love to go back to hike the mountains and ski again. Maybe someday.

02/07/2022 at 6:16 am

I would go there in the 1970s in a heart-beat. But today is 2022.

06/18/2019 at 7:45 am

Great list! Makes my bank account seem all that bigger 😉

06/18/2019 at 9:12 am

06/19/2019 at 9:36 am

Great list! You have been very helpful in getting some unique options together for a Christmas getaway for my husband and I! Although we will probably do AirBnB places instead of hostels, I feel like I have a much better idea of how far our money will go and tips on how to avoid being overcharged.

The biggest expense for me is always the flights since we live in Colorado, but I did find a really good website that has given me fares below what places like Expedia can offer called Skiplagged. If you haven’t checked it out, it can definitely save you some $$! I’m not affiliated with them or anything. Just thought I’d put it out there for other savvy travelers like me who are looking for the best deals!

06/19/2019 at 10:09 am

Thanks Lissa! I’d also suggest travel hacking! I have tips here:

Leena Malhotra says

06/23/2019 at 1:28 am

What about Russia ?

Russia is on my list for next year – it has so much to explore but can’t make it in a single trip. How about Russia from India ?

06/23/2019 at 9:45 am

I have heard the cities in Russia can be quite expensive but a few years ago the Ruble fell in value quite a bit which has made it much more affordable.

07/11/2019 at 5:59 am

Nice list. I am planning for Ukraine. Any specific suggestions

08/02/2019 at 12:27 pm

I have been to Ukraine many times so here is a rundown.

Kiev the capital historical city and very beautiful. Liviv cultural capital with some of the best food. Odessa seaside vacation hub and center of comedy.

Each city offers so much to see and do.

These are the cities that you are more likely find someone who speaks english, however I would recommend learning a couple of phrases. The people are hospitable but there still a language barrier.

08/03/2019 at 5:14 am

Thanks for the info!

07/17/2019 at 1:56 pm

Tanzania is pretty cheap too and the people here are very welcoming! You should try it out.

07/18/2019 at 12:05 pm

Agreed I love it there.

Brad Carss says

07/30/2019 at 6:57 pm

I love Namibia and persisted in my efforts to visit the Himba People in Opuwo by catching a taxi from my hostel in Windhoek to the pickup point for the van taking locals to the north of the country. There I arranged with the local tour hut (John Jakurama) to go on day and an overnight visit to the villages of these rarely visited people. It was a very cost-effective and engaging interaction to experience the harsh reality of their lives. At the end of my stay the elder of the family kissed my hand in blessing for seeking his village out and bringing them much needed food stuffs and supplies. My kind of travel, cheap, interactive, moving and low priority on most people’s destinations.

Augustin says

08/03/2019 at 2:16 am

You had already mentioned about a lot of places with less expensive, but the matter is that the flight charges are not economical to many of the destinations. I am from India and feel affordable rates with some southeastern Asian countries like Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, loas, Burma, Vietnam and Sri Lanka. The flight charges to these places are about 100 US Dollars with Air Asia flights, but it is really too high to Europe, Africa or America. This makes trips costlier. Anyway it is good exploring one.

08/03/2019 at 5:13 am

That’s true, I’m not taking into consideration where you might be flying in from, since we are all coming from different places, but once you get there it’s cheaper than other countries like Norway or Iceland.

08/03/2019 at 3:12 am

Hi! I have travelled before, I worked for a long haul airline and spent a few days in most countries. However, I really want to travel properly. What place would you recommend for newbie backpackers? Do you have any tips for me? Thanks 🙂

08/03/2019 at 5:12 am

Southeast Asia!

MikesRoadTrip says

08/05/2019 at 7:14 am

Really great piece!

08/17/2019 at 12:14 pm

It seems you generated this list based on where you went. I’m surprised Belorus, Russia, Abkhazia, Azerbaijan are not there

08/17/2019 at 12:19 pm

I haven’t been to most of these places, actually, but thanks for sharing more places that are affordable!

08/30/2019 at 7:47 pm

Pakistan is another beautiful country to visit and also very cheap. The Northern parts of Pakistan are full of natural beauty. People of Pakistan are very friendly and when you go there you will be amazed to find out that country is so different than what it is portrayed in NEWS. The hospitality of people there is simply amazing and food is simply awesome. Highly recommended place to visit.

09/02/2019 at 9:50 am

I’d love to visit!

Marianne says

10/09/2019 at 3:24 am

Hi! My boyfriend and I took a year off to travel Asia, and about 4 months in we have spent wayyy too much money (oops). We would like to settle down somewhere cheap for a month to try and make up for it. We are hoping to find somewhere close to the beach where the food is good. If there were some (free or cheap) things to do and see so we wouldn’t be too bored that would be even better. Does such a place even exist? ? I was thinking Cambodia, maybe, or Vietnam (cause I love Vietnamese food) but really anywhere in SE Asia would be perfect. Do you have any suggestions for a specific place like that you really loved?

Also, I love this blog, I have probably visited daily in the couple of years leading up to our trip ?

10/09/2019 at 10:22 am

Hey Marianne. It happens! I’d look at Southeast Asia for sure. I’d thought about Hoi An personally. The food is good, wifi is fast, it’s cheap. You can also think about Cambodia or even southern Thailand. You could think about Kuta in Lombok, Indonesia as well. Such a place definitely exists 🙂

Keep in mind it’s usually much cheaper to go check things out in person and ask around for places to rent longer term than it is to try to find them online.

Ian Culbertson says

10/13/2019 at 5:15 pm

Hi Kristin, I’d really like to do Incan trail in Peru to MP in December, any advice on tours for doing routes less traveled? Thanks Ian

10/19/2019 at 12:02 pm

If you want to do the Inca Trail unfortunately there’s just one trail and it’s not less-traveled, but there’s also the Lares trek and the Salkantay which will end up in Machu Picchu. I liked Alpaca Expeditions for the Inca Trail.

marla braden says

11/09/2019 at 11:18 am

I second Alpaca Expeditions. I did the Inca trail in December, not really high season. I got tickets when I got to Cusco (not 6 months advance) and our group of maybe 10 people plus the guides and porters were the only people I saw for 4 days until we arrived at Machu Picchu itself. Off season is the way to go anywhere, imo.

11/10/2019 at 11:36 am

Wow that’s amazing! Definitely wasn’t my experience. Nicely planned.

Renuka Walter says

12/06/2019 at 5:13 am

That’s a great list! I’m glad India is on the list. I have been exploring it for a decade now, and I agree it’s affordable and so rewarding! Would love to experience Romania.

12/06/2019 at 11:06 am

I’d love to experience India!

Md. Shakhawat Hossain says

01/08/2020 at 11:31 am

Hello there, Thank you very much for sharing a nice as well as the well-informative article here. The information you have described herewith was really amazing! However, if you allow me to add one more place to must-visit I would be glad, and the place name Bangladesh. The place of natural beauty and many more. And, also very cheap.

Thank you very much.

01/08/2020 at 7:01 pm

I’d love to go! Yes it should be on the list.

neymasport says

01/14/2020 at 8:18 pm

Thank you for sharing the colorful collection here, thank you for this article. This country is very beautiful. Hope to come here and try it once  

Nikola Webster says

01/22/2020 at 6:10 pm

Hi there, Wow – super-comprehensive list! I’ve been to more than half on this list. A couple I have on my list to visit that I’m told a super cheap (even cheaper than India) are Pakistan and Bangladesh. I’ve also heard Laos is wicked cheap! Nikki

01/22/2020 at 8:12 pm

I’d love to see Pakistan too! Laos is indeed pretty cheap.

Doona Neace says

02/04/2020 at 1:44 am

You recommended most of the places are on my list. Next year I want to visit Croatia and Turkey.

02/15/2020 at 6:31 pm

This is such a great list which really breaks down the costs and saves a lot of research time! Thanks for sharing.

02/16/2020 at 10:55 am

Thanks for such a great post! And thanks for sharing your valuable experiences. I already traveled to Most of EA countries but i have no any idea for african and S. American countries, i will use this post for my future plan.

05/03/2020 at 11:11 am

Wow, that’s article is amazing. I did not know that you can travel to places this cheap. This article chsnge the way I look at traveling. I have always thought it costly as I spend a lot when traveling, but after reading this things have changed.

takeoffwithme says

05/08/2020 at 7:21 am

Very nice article. Will be really helpful for backpackers

Vaishnavi Omprakash Jadhav says

07/08/2020 at 4:38 am

There is lot more in INDIA. Do come. We have a lot more than expected.

Samson says

08/21/2020 at 5:38 am

How is the Covid-19 situation there?

08/21/2020 at 5:39 am

How is the Covid-19 situation in India?

08/29/2020 at 4:32 am

Great article. Thanks

Greg Christensen says

09/03/2020 at 9:11 am

Recently did southern Utah (from OH) for 6 weeks and spent 9000 dolllars … that’s about 200 dollars per day. Gasoline 1500 (8000 miles), hotels and campsites 1200, NP pass and BLM trail fees 100, topo maps/books/gifts 400, my own jeep routine and unexpected service 500, jeep rubicon 4WD 10 day rental for The Maze 1950, 4WD and backpacking supplies 400, laundry 50, food/beverages/snacks/water 2900. Biggest expenses are always food from restaurants and the remote expensive trips that are hard to access.

09/03/2020 at 9:40 am

Yes restaurants can be a lot. If you have to rent the 4×4 yes that really adds up!

Amogue says

09/15/2020 at 3:54 am

all this country are awesome I am going ti visit vietnam after the covid situation

10/09/2020 at 2:22 pm

Maybe Nicaragua is not safe, but I think it’s way safer than Guatemala. Please, be careful if planning to travel to any of this countries. Specially women travelling alone.

Michelle says

11/30/2020 at 12:03 pm

Yes, very surprised you didn’t include Morocco! Marrakech (or Casablanca) can get expensive if you want the most luxurious accommodations/prefer gambling, but overall a very cheap country to travel. You can get around easily if you wish to visit multiple cities, for as little as $8 or so intercity. (overnight sleeper trains will cost a bit more) You can even fly from Madrid or Lisbon to Marrakech for around $100 if you know where to look 🙂 I’d say to definitely visit Marrakech, Fes, and Chefchaouen if you are not sure where to travel. Stay in riads or hostels. Walk around the souks, and take in all the sights the cities have to offer. Getting to the desert is a little more difficult and costly, but worth the experience if it is something you have always dreamed of doing!

12/03/2020 at 8:57 am

Good to know!

Catherine says

05/16/2021 at 5:54 am

India very risky for woman, last time I went there was groped, not once but multiple times. In india get used to man staring at your cleavage, boobs and ass all the time.

01/12/2023 at 8:24 pm

Did that happen in North India?

08/17/2023 at 3:52 am

Only in Punjab . Rest of India is very safe

Linniey???? says

05/22/2021 at 7:51 pm

Thank you for sharing… Very interesting and nice places for backpakers… South Korea is also very cheap and beautiful nature for nature lovers… ????

Tina Hallmark says

07/15/2021 at 2:27 pm

I know you are already bogged down with reply’s and on to your next adventure but I wanted to pick your brain. Myself, husband and our daughter, age 10 want to spend a month next year in another country (if all goes well, we may make it into an annual thing). We are great outdoors, we love food, we love history and love animals and we are all well traveled. We would like to pick our first month long trip for June 2022 (climate has to be below average of 85 degrees F). Basically we can’t decide on where we should go to stay around 10k for all 3 of us and how best planning for a month in a country. Any insight would be wonderful! We have thought about Bali/Philippians, Greece or Italy but I saw you mention Namibia and that sounds wonderful too! PS We do not want to stay in hostiles. Thank you for any information you may want to send our way! Tina

07/17/2021 at 12:40 pm

I’m not sure all of those places fall under your temperature requirements but it really depends on what kind of experience you want. I think they could all be wonderful.

02/20/2022 at 4:29 pm

03/01/2022 at 11:02 pm

Excuse me, but Georgia is not in Europe!! It is part of the Caucasus, which is in Asia. And as for Vietnam & most of southeast asia, can we say KRAITS!!! You fail to mention this very big danger…many people have gotten bitten by these snakes and died! Last but not least, that chicken or pork you get in Taiwan and China: might be DOG or CAT!!! Think about that B4 you scarf down just any streetfood!!

03/02/2022 at 11:19 am

lol I don’t think they’re eating cat or dog in Taiwan and I don’t know a soul who has been bitten by that snake you mention.

12/21/2023 at 1:21 pm

John im glad you got all your anger out on this message but no one really cares and all u did was waste everyones time thanks a lot JOHN!!

07/14/2022 at 9:22 pm

Ukraine really?

07/23/2022 at 11:50 am

Prior to the current situation it was a great place to travel, and it will be again one day.

Grace Christopher says

01/22/2023 at 9:01 am

I would love if someone can put me through how to go about the process of applying to any of the country mentioned above. That is work visa

01/26/2023 at 6:38 am

Hi I am planning to travel to Greece combined with some islands. Could you please tell me more about which places and accommodations you recommend and suggest. I will be traveling with my 21 year old son .

07/01/2023 at 9:54 am

Hi Nora: Recommend looking at this great BMYM post: 31 of the Absolute Best Things to Do in Greece It includes a huge variety of things to do which I am sure your 21 year old son would enjoy too! Also, in BMTM website, click on “Destinations” at the top of this page and pick “Greece” and it has other great resources! Good luck!

Austin A. McCary says

06/02/2023 at 8:27 pm

This article on the cheapest destinations to travel to is a goldmine of budget travel inspiration! I appreciate the thorough breakdown of affordable destinations across different continents. The inclusion of budget-friendly activities and accommodation options is incredibly helpful for planning a cost-effective trip. I’m excited to explore some of these destinations that offer incredible experiences without breaking the bank. Thanks for sharing this valuable resource!

Mani Venkat says

05/09/2024 at 2:59 am

Nice blog!!! Thanks for information

21 Cheap Places to Travel in 2024

By Caitlin Morton

Uzbekistan cheap places to travel

All products featured on Condé Nast Traveler are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

All listings featured on Condé Nast Traveler are independently selected by our editors. If you purchase something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

There are many factors to consider when planning a vacation, from finding cheap places to travel and the safety of your intended destination to hotel options . But like it or not, there’s one thing that influences our travel decisions more than anything else: money. All those resort fees, plane tickets , and life-changing meals add up pretty quickly—so at the end of the day, we really want to prioritize places where our greenbacks have the most spending power.

We did a little digging to find the countries where the U.S. dollar goes the furthest, based on current exchange rates. And while our fickle global economy means those rates can change at any time, certain places have consistently offered more bang for our buck over the years—and, fingers crossed, they should stay that way well into 2024 .

Without further ado, here are 21 of the best cheap places to travel around the world.

Budapest Hungary

Budapest, Hungary

1 USD = 351.21 HUF

Hungary’s favorable economy is great news for anyone planning a trip to Budapest , where a growing scene of Michelin-starred restaurants and high-tech spas are calling to us from across the globe. The city just celebrated its 150th anniversary in November 2023, which means there are even more reasons to visit during the next calendar year, including the newly reopened Chain Bridge and the brand-new House of Music Hungary . Be sure to book a room at the art deco W Budapest —formerly a palace and on a UNESCO World Heritage-listed street—which opened in July 2023 opposite the Hungarian State Opera.

South Korea

1 USD = 1,301.45 KRW

While other travelers head to the popular tourist destinations of Seoul , Busan, and Jeju Island, we have our eyes set on another South Korean city:  Mokpo , located in the Jeolla region at the southern tip of the peninsula. The port city offers some of the most interesting dining in the country, and specialty dishes like  hongeo (a naturally fermented, extremely pungent skate-fish dish) attract food lovers from around the world.

1 USD = 17.22 MXN

Mexico is consistently one of our favorite places to travel on a budget. In Mexico City , with a street food culture rivaled only by its forward-looking restaurant scene, you’ll be spending most of your money on eats. But make sure to leave some bucks to visit all the cultural wonders the city has to offer, starting with the iconic Museo Jumex . If you’re looking to go a little farther afield, head to Jalisco to see tequila being made at the source, or Isla Holbox for a sleepy beach scene.

An eagle hunter riding near the Altai Mountains in Mongolia.

An eagle hunter riding near the Altai Mountains in Mongolia.

1 USD = 3,449.69 MNT

We’ve long been fans of Mongolia for its seemingly limitless expanses and adventure camps—and the fact that travel here costs as little as $75 per day (including accommodations). The country is on a mission to lure even more travelers into its borders in 2024, with upcoming initiatives like its first-ever direct US flight and visa-free travel for dozens of nationalities. You can also expect even more offbeat cultural experiences next year: Local operator Breanna Wilson is expanding her 2024 tours to include a digital nomad week, a women-only retreat in Orkhon Valley, and a three-day archery training session.

1 USD = 24,275.00 VND

Plenty of countries in Southeast Asia are great deals for dollar carriers right now, but we recommend a trip to Vietnam—in part because of the steadily increasing exchange rate, but mostly for the country’s mind-blowing beauty. Hanoi is arguably the most romantic city in the region, but don’t be afraid to venture off the beaten track during your next visit: Places like  Ninh Van Bay and Phú Quốc island have pristine beaches and intimate resorts you won’t find in the more touristed areas.

1 USD = 4.94 BRL

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Like much of South America, Brazil is a good place to visit if you don’t want to break the bank. But the fact that a dollar gets you nearly five Brazilian reals means you can get even better value than usual. Rio de Janeiro is the most obvious place to spend time and money, with incredible restaurants—like  Lasai , a 2023 Hot List winner—just steps away from some of the world’s  best beaches . But don't forget to visit  São Paulo , too, where a younger generation has introduced hip galleries, museums, and bars to several long-neglected neighborhoods.

South Africa

1 USD = 18.30 ZAR

The value of the South African rand has fluctuated a lot over the past few years, but we’re pretty happy with where it is today. (To compare, one U.S. dollar only got you 8.57 ZAR 10 years ago.) Stretch those bucks on the  Test Kitchen ’s 21-course tasting menu in Cape Town , then head into the wilderness at  Singita Castleton Lodge in the Sabi Sand game reserve.

Sri Lanka

Traditional stilt fishermen in Sri Lanka

1 USD = 327.31 SLR

The Sri Lankan rupee has slowly gotten more and more favorable over the past couple of decades, but it completely skyrocketed starting a couple of years ago (a dollar converted to 200 SLR in February 2022, and now look where we are). We’re more excited than ever to explore this incredible island nation, where you can see leafy tea plantations, Buddhist temples, golden beaches, and 200-mile hiking trails in one memorable trip.

1 USD = 525.96 CRC

The Costa Rican colón has depreciated a bit in recent months, but it remains favorable for US travelers. Then there’s the fact that the country’s best asset (i.e. its natural beauty) is mostly free to enjoy. From trekking through the tropical cloud forests in the mountains of Alajuela to surfing off the coast of Peninsula Papagayo, Costa Rica is one of the world’s best countries for outdoor adventure. (And the  hotels are pretty great , too.)


1 USD = 55.89 PHP

We’re never not dreaming about island hopping in the Phillippines. It’s hard to believe that places like Palawan and Siargao are so economically accessible, given that they are some of the most beautiful places on the planet. Even five-star resorts like  Shangri-La Boracay can be reserved for under $350 per night, which is all the incentive we need to book a trip right now.

1 USD = 4,580 MGA

For your next tropical island vacation, skip pricey, popular locations like the Maldives and Bora Bora for inexpensive Madagascar—an Indian Ocean treasure filled with breathtaking rainforests and lemur-filled national parks. Plan your visit around the opening of Namoroka Tsingy Exploration Camp ( scheduled for mid-2024 ), which will feature seven luxury safari tents inside the essentially unvisited Namoroka National Park. Alternately, swing by the island nation as part of a cruise itinerary: Luxe cruise lines like Silversea , Lindblad , Swan Hellenic , and Seabourne have all added the country as a port of call on new voyages.

Cairo Egypt

Cairo, Egypt.

1 USD = 30.93 EGP

Following in the footsteps of pharaohs in Egypt feels like it should be expensive, but the Egyptian pound has skyrocketed this year—that means touring the Pyramids, cruising the Nile, and exploring Cairo has never been more affordable. We’re excited to check out relatively new openings, like St. Regis Cairo and the beach villas at Four Seasons Hotel Alexandria . And we’ve been anxiously awaiting the official opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum for years now, but it looks like it might actually happen in 2024.

1 USD = 4.67 MYR

Your cash will stretch far in Malaysia, especially if you fill up on street food and explore cities like Kuala Lumpur on foot. It’s also inexpensive (or in some cases, free) to visit the country’s pristine beaches, limestone caves, and some of the most beautiful tea plantations. If you’re ready and willing to shell out the big bucks, however, we highly recommend shacking up at  The Datai Langkawi —it’s definitely expensive but wholly worth it.

1 USD = 83.04 INR

India has always been a cheap travel destination; now that you can get 83 rupees to the dollar, however, the country is more affordable than ever. Hotels run the gamut from $60-per-night bungalows to pricy Oberoi and Six Senses outposts, plus hundreds of options in between. But as long as you don’t hole up in your resort the entire time, you can visit plenty of attractions and dine at local restaurants on an extremely tight budget.

1 USD = 107.45 RSD

Belgrade continues to emerge as one of Europe’s most exciting cultural epicenters, but it’s massively less expensive than, say, Paris or Berlin (at least for now). It’s relatively easy to find hotels under $100, though accommodations aren’t all that important when you spend all night dancing in clubs around the city. But you will want to get some rest to explore Belgrade’s wealth of museums and contemporary art installations, many of which just opened in the  past few years .

Ohrid North Macedonia

Ohrid, North Macedonia

North Macedonia

1 USD = 56.44 MKD

Perhaps it’s because the coastal countries get all the attention, but North Macedonia remains one of the most  criminally underrated (and therefore affordable) countries in Europe. The landlocked nation is a sleeper hit for those in the know, especially if you head to the charming city of Ohrid. It has all the cobbled streets and quaint churches one would expect from a European town, with the added advantage of being right on the shores of the incredibly gorgeous and biodiverse Lake Ohrid.

1 USD = 132.92 NPR

Nepal is one of the cheapest countries to visit for all travelers, but the U.S. dollar is particularly strong there right now. Most people immediately associate Nepal with Mt. Everest, but the tiny nation has much more to offer than bucket-list climbs. Kathmandu is overwhelming at first, but it hides some great hotels and museums once you start digging. Bhaktapur and Patan—both close by in the Kathmandu Valley—are a bit more low-key but still packed with culture.

1 USD = 66.99 GMD

It may be continental Africa’s smallest country but don’t you dare overlook the Gambia . The ultra-affordable nation has long been a coveted spot for wildlife enthusiasts, but it’s starting to rise in the ranks as both a  food destination and luxury cruise  port of call .

1 USD = 15,556.65 IDR

Despite the post- Eat, Pray, Love influx of tourists, Indonesia remains an affordable vacation spot overall. While millions of people flock to Bali (where resort prices are steep in response), you can enjoy a much cheaper and more peaceful trip on  the islands of Sumba and Lombok. And don’t forget about Jakarta, where a solid day includes filling up on greasy noodles and  nasi goreng gila  from makeshift street stalls—all for just a couple of US bucks.

Beach near Ksamil Albania.

Beach near Ksamil, Albania.

1 USD = 93.95 ALL

Albania is much less expensive than other European countries—and it’s a bit under the radar as a tourist destination, which means there’s still a chance to visit before the word gets out and the crowds descend. One of the most enticing reasons to plan a trip is the food: Picture tables filled with rosemary-scented lamb, tart mountain cheeses, blackened sea bass, and bottles of fruit juices. In Tirana, book a stay at Agroturizëm Gjepali , a restaurant turned hotel with river views and doubles starting at just $70.

1 USD = 12,375.00 UZS

Uzbekistan is still on the up-and-up when it comes to foreign travel, which makes it one of the most exciting and affordable destinations in Central Asia. The major cities are filled with both intricate mosques and brutalist monuments—all free to explore—and you’ll be hard-pressed to spend more than $5 per meal at restaurants. There aren’t too many name-brand hotels set up yet, but even places like the Hyatt Regency Tashkent have nightly rates below $170.

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It’s true that those bucket-list destinations might have to move to a back burner for many travelers due to financial considerations. That doesn’t mean they need to sit at home, though. More people are turning to smaller cities, national parks, and other destinations they’ve never considered as they plan their next adventure.

Utilizing chain hotels with reward programs is one way travelers can save money, as is choosing cabins or condos with kitchens. Every fourth grader in America (and their family) is eligible for a free National Parks pass , as are people with disabilities and military members. Travel does not need to be expensive to be valuable. The benefit of looking at travel through this lens is that these locations are still packed with amenities and attractions at a lower price point. Check out some of the best cheap places to travel in 2023 that might not be on your radar — yet. I was lucky enough to be invited as press by many of the locations, and got to explore all the fun they have to offer firsthand.

Looking for more unique travel ideas? Good Housekeeping's Family Travel Awards features top-tested locations, based on data from travel experts and real families.

Lassen Volcanic National Park, California

steam rising in bumpass hell lassen volcanic national park, california

California draws thousands of tourists each year to its most widely-known national parks, like Yosemite and Joshua Tree . They are fabulous, but the state is also home to Lassen Volcanic National Park . Located in the Cascade Mountains, Lassen has everything that visitors could need within the park, including lodging, junior ranger programs and dining options. Most visitors camp or stay at cabins or the guest ranch located within the park, but neighboring towns have a slew of motels and chain hotels that are incredibly affordable. According to Priceline , the average hotel room near Lassen costs around $116. There are also some kitschy properties like the River Inn , which evokes Schitt’s Creek vibes, for around $80 bucks a night.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

an aerial shot of pittsburgh, a good housekeeping pick for best cheap places to travel

An example of Rust Belt Revival, the steel city has worked hard to shed its smoggy skies and expose its award-winning skyline . With more than 400 bridges and steeper streets than San Francisco, the city often surprises first-time tourists with how vast it is and how much there is to do. Pittsburgh is home to Mr. Roger’s legacy and is still the filming location for Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood . Stop by The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh to pose by Roger’s iconic shoes and explore four floors of hands-on activities. There are also Carnegie Museums , a Smithsonian location and the National Aviary to explore. An influx of tech and medical sector workers has kicked the local food scene up a notch, too. While in town, every tourist must ride the Duquesne Incline to the top of Mount Washington to absorb that stellar skyline. An average domestic plane ticket to Pittsburgh costs around $280.


Badlands, South Dakota

a family poses for a photo by a rock formation in badlands national park, a good housekeeping pick for best cheap places to travel

Most Americans have seen a photo of Mount Rushmore, but more than half have never been there. While stopping by the mountain carving is a cool photo opp, the Badlands of South Dakota have so many other attractions to visit in addition. It’s also ultra-affordable, with an average hotel price of under $100. The Crazy Horse Memorial is an impressive rock carving — still uncompleted — honoring the Lakota leader who fought back against colonization. Badlands National Park is one of the richest fossil beds in the world, making it particularly enticing for dinosaur lovers. Every visitor to the Badlands is also required (unofficially, of course) to stop by Wall Drug , the rambling curiosities shop that attracts millions of visitors each year.

New River Gorge National Park and Preserve, West Virginia

a water park in west virginia, a good housekeeping pick for best cheap places to travel

Of America’s 63 national parks, New River Gorge is the most recent. The park is centered around the dramatic path of New River — which is, ironically, one of the oldest rivers on the planet. Geared towards adventure, there are more than 1,600 climbing routes , world-class whitewater rafting and amazing fishing. There’s plenty of camping within the park and hotels averaging $100 per night in nearby Beckley. ACE Adventure Resorts has everything from luxe cabins to rustic campsites as well as whitewater tours where kids raft free with an adult ticket. Locals love Tudor’s Biscuit World — a regional chain based in West Virginia — for a hearty breakfast before outdoor adventures.

Door County, Wisconsin

scenic cana island lighthouse, door county, wisconsin, aerial flyby

A popular getaway for locals, the waterfront fun of Door County is actually a great budget option for travelers from any region. Lodging in Door County ranges from chain hotels and Airbnbs to condo communities with amenities such as The Landmark Resort , with rooms starting at around $150. From sand sculpture contests to kayak and stand-up paddleboarding rentals, there are a ton of low-key affordable and free activities in Door County. While water sports are one of the biggest draws, it’s also a great winter-time getaway for ice fishing and cross-country skiing. It’s also a great spot to curl up with a good book in front of a fire.

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Panama City, Panama

high angle view of panama city skyline in the early morning panama city, panama central america

Who says you can't go international on a budget? Travelers who frequent Mexico’s resort towns should try Panama City, a wallet-friendly option with so much to do. While flights from the U.S. can be a bit expensive — Priceline cites an average cost of $650 — the affordability of lodging and dining makes up for it. At Riane Aeropuerto Hotel and Casino , which has a pool with swim-up bar, outdoor games and a round-the-clock airport shuttle, a standard hotel room is around $100. Hyatt’s Hotel La Compañía , located in a former Jesuit convent in the historical cultural district, offers a luxury stay for around $350 per night — half what a comparable room would be in Cancun. Along the Amador Causeway, which has a bit of a Key West Vibe, guests can explore museums, check out a sloth preserve, bike or grab dinner at a local favorite — Fishlovers Ceviche y Bar.

Québec City, Canada

quebec city at sunset

Tourists regularly flock to Canada’s two largest cities, Toronto and Montreal, when it's time to head up north. But travelers shouldn't miss their third-largest metropolis, Vieux Québec, or Old Québec City. The destination is a UNESCO World Heritage site lined with cobblestone streets and 400-year-old buildings. Don’t worry about not speaking the language: Québécois kids begin learning English in first grade and residents are happy to assist tourists. With an average hotel price of $200 per night, Quebec City is often described by visitors as having a European feel due to the architecture and French language, but at a fraction of the cost of an overseas trip.

Titusville, Florida

the apollo 16 space vehicle is launched from kennedy space center

Florida has developed a reputation for affordable oceanfront vacations, but the post-pandemic travel boom has left many top spots like Daytona and Tampa short on hotel rooms. Titusville, located near Cape Canaveral on “ The Space Coast ,” offers everything more populous beach towns do at a more affordable price. The flight to Titusville costs around $250 and hotels average just $150. The Kennedy Space Center provides a full day of space flight simulations, tours and interactive experiences for kids and adults. While rocket launches are visible from many spots in and around Titusville, Marriott has a new hotel with rooftop launch viewing. There’s also a robust ecotourism industry in the region. The Marine Discovery Center offers boat tours, exploration, and even an occasional manatee sighting.

Washington, DC

dc sunrise

While it’s not a small city or a lesser-known vacation spot, the nation’s capital is a truly affordable vacation with endless entertainment options. The Smithsonian museums and galleries, as well as the National Zoo, are all admission-free. D.C. has a vibrant and ever-evolving food scene that is perfect for a splurge dinner during a trip, but the cafés within museums as well as the food trucks and food halls across the city are packed with options at a much lower price point. The metro system is simple to navigate, so most visitors who fly to the capital will not need to rent a car.

Gatlinburg, Tennessee

the streets of downtown gatlinburg, a good housekeeping pick for best cheap places to travel

A survey by Campspot for their 2023 Outdoor Almanac ranked Great Smoky Mountains National Park as one of the top five national parks Americans hope to visit in 2023. Gatlinburg, considered the gateway to Smokies, is the perfect home base for travelers who want to explore the area. There are family-friendly campgrounds packed with amenities like Jellystone Pigeon Forge ; motels and cottages like Carr’s Cottages with family suites starting under $150 and plentiful chain hotels. From Ripley’s museum to mountain coasters and even their own space needle , it's impossible to get bored in Gatlinburg.

Indianapolis, Indiana

view of indianapolis skyline and canal walk

The largest children’s museum in the world is located in Indianapolis. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis covers nearly 30 acres and draws over one million visitors each year. For families with kids, this attraction alone makes Indy a great destination for a vacation. There’s so much more to do there, though. Time your visit to coincide with the Indy 500 , or visit the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum to learn about the history of auto racing any time of year. For an experience with a slower pace, take a pedal boat tour on a portion of the Indiana Central Canal . Like most smaller cities, Indy is home to a plethora of hotels and Airbnbs — the average cost of a nightly stay is only $130.

Big Bear Lake, California

cabins on the water at big bear lake

Located in San Bernardino National Forest , Big Bear Lake is an easy drive from Phoenix, SoCal and Las Vegas. Some visitors compare it to Lake Tahoe at a lower price point. The skiing includes more beginner trails and affordable lift tickets — and is generally less crowded than Tahoe. During the other months of the year, Big Bear has all the popular mountain town activities like kayaking, horseback riding, mountain coasters and ziplining. There’s also a vibrant mountain biking community in and around Big Bear Lake.

Leesburg, Virginia

historic town of leesburg, virginia

For East Coast travelers looking for a quaint town to spend a quiet vacation in, Leesburg fits the bill. Located within Loudoun County just about an hour outside of Washington, D.C., it also makes a great home base from which to explore the city without staying in an expensive hotel. Downtown Leesburg looks like stepping into a postcard, with art galleries, restaurants and retail space tucked into historic buildings. Shoe’s Cup and Cork is a popular local spot located in a former shoe store that serves local sustainable food, wine and beer. In surrounding Loudoun County , there are tours of wineries, breweries and a woman-owned distillery, Catoctin Creek , inside a former Pontiac dealership. Flights to nearby Dulles Airport average just over $300 for domestic flights.

Flagstaff, Arizona

friends sit outside an airstream by a fire in flagstaff, arizona, a good housekeeping pick for best cheap places to travel

When tourists think of visiting the Grand Canyon , the most popular base camps are Phoenix and Las Vegas — which can be pricey. Flagstaff , which is just over an hour away, allows vacationers to explore the canyon on a smaller budget. Flying to Flagstaff can be expensive, but it makes a great road trip destination for folks who want to explore the southwest. There are many hotel and bed-and-breakfast options that average just over $100 per night. For a quirkier accommodation, the vintage Airstreams at Village Camp Flagstaff are adorably Instagrammable.

Columbus, Ohio

baboon lagoon zoombezi bay in columbus, ohio, a good housekeeping pick for best cheap places to travel

Half of the U.S. population lives within a one-day drive of Columbus — making it both accessible and affordable. Columbus is home to Jack Hannah’s zoo , which includes a water park called Zoombezi Bay . Visitors should give themselves two days to enjoy everything the zoo has to offer. The local science center, COSI , has been rated the best science center in America for three years in a row by USA Today . Many museums and zoos have reciprocal programs with the Columbus attractions, so check your local memberships for discounts. While in town, guests can spend a free evening walking, biking or enjoying the spray park along the river on the Scioto Mile .

Galveston, Texas

galveston island historic pleasure pier

Galveston has developed a reputation for Texans as an affordable beach getaway — but with the average flight costing under $300, the Gulf Coast hotspot is a great option for any traveler on a budget. It’s easy to use hotel rewards in Galveston, but there are also RV parks like Camp Margaritaville and plenty of privately owned rentals averaging $160 per night. There is also no shortage of delicious beach-town eateries in Galveston that are uber-affordable. Playground Patio Bar & Grill has entertainment for all ages, and the Shark Shack makes a great quick lunch stop without having to brush off too much sand.

mother and toddler daughter exploring the famous wave of coyote buttes north in the paria canyon vermilion cliffs wilderness of the colorado plateau in southern utah and northern arizona usa

Arches National Park is one of the most stunning geographical formations in America. It’s also very, very rural. For adventure-seeking travelers who want to explore the 2,000 documented rock arches, the tiny town of Moab is a great spot to stay. Devil’s Garden Campground , located within the park itself, is traditional rustic camping with stunning desert views. Expedition Lodge , a vintage motel, is a better choice for visitors who want their own toilet and shower. Despite its rural roots, Moab has a great little food scene . The food truck park is a hit with visitors because everyone can get exactly with they want — no compromising necessary.

San Juan, Puerto Rico

cemetery in old san juan, puerto rico

Since Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, visitors do not need a passport — which can be an expensive document to obtain. The average flight, according to Priceline, is also just around $300. San Juan is more than 500 years old and filled with historic buildings — with stunning beaches and rainforests surrounding it. Spotin Tours offers ecologically-conscious rainforest excursions for adults as well as kids. The Hotel El Convento is a registered historic hotel in Old San Juan with rooms starting under $150, and the Sheraton by Marriott in the same historic district is a great option for utilizing reward points.

Jekyll Island, Georgia

the jekyll wharf on jekyll island, ga, a good housekeeping pick for best cheap places to travel

The sleepy sister to the more popular Saint Simon, Jekyll Island is a budget-friendly way to enjoy Georgia’s Golden Isles . The oceanfront Holiday Inn resort includes free meals for kids 11 and under at any time of day as well as sweeping views of the Atlantic with a full-service poolside tiki bar restaurant. It’s a quick trip over to Saint Simon for more plentiful dining options, but part of the draw of Jekyll Island is its slower pace. Driftwood Beach has plentiful climbing opportunities for little kids, and the Summer Waves Water Park provides a great break from the waves. It’s not easy to fly to Jekyll, but it makes a great road trip.

Estes Park, Colorado

downtown estes park colorado in the springs

This mountain town situated just outside of Rocky Mountain National Park is made for individuals and families who love adventure. The average flight to Estes Park is under $250, and the town is less than 90 minutes from Denver. With classic eateries like Penelope’s World Famous Burgers and Fries and more foodie-friendly spots such as Himalayan Curry & Kebab , there are great meals for any budget. ATV and horseback tours allow visitors to see the mountainous terrain, and the fly-fishing is world-class.

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The 20 best places to visit in Europe on a budget

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Lottie Gross

written by Lottie Gross

updated 11.07.2023


Europe presents an irresistible challenge to the budget traveller. A potent mix of culture, landscape and history on the one hand and a cash-gobbling monster on the other, sticking to your daily allowance can prove tricky.

1. The Albanian coast

2. sarajevo, bosnia-herzegovina, 3. bansko, bulgaria, 4. czechia (czech republic), 5. estonia’s baltic coast, 6. leipzig, germany, 7. london, england, 8. the peloponnese, greece, 9. budapest, hungary, 10. palermo, sicily, italy, 11. lake ohrid, macedonia, 12. kotor, montenegro, 13. gdánsk, poland, 14. porto, portugal, 15. transylvania, romania, 16. novi sad, serbia, 17. the high tatras, slovakia, 18. northwest slovenia, 19. andalucía, spain, 20. lviv, ukraine.

But learn to zone out the “Spend! Spend! Spend!” siren song of its myriad restaurants, bars and shops and you’ll find that this compact little continent is simply the world’s greatest labyrinth.

There's an abundance of beautiful places in Europe which don't require much of a budget to see; and some experiences, like the infamous Budapest nightlife, combines both entertainment with local booze.

When exactly is the best time to visit Europe? Well, it depends on what you're after. Thankfully there's a year-round roster of things to do and see. We've picked out the cheapest places to travel on the continent this year (note that the "Rough Costs" below reflect per person or per night). From low budget tourist places in the world to the cheapest country to travel to, where do you think will make the list?

Want to find out more about budget travel in Europe? Check out our Rough Guide to Europe on a Budget .

albania saranda beach best places to visit in europe

Travel ideas for Spain, created by local experts

Andalucía Explored

9 days  / from 2491 USD

Andalucía Explored

Discover the best of Andalucía's breathtaking palaces, churches, museums, vineyards, and more, as you travel through spectacular scenery dotted with pueblos blancos and bordered by rugged mountains and coast en route to Granada, Seville, Ronda and Jerez de la Frontera.

A culinary experience in Seville

4 days  / from 649 USD

A culinary experience in Seville

Explore the cuisine and surroundings of Seville in Andalucia. From Iberian ham over sherry wines to the production and secrets of olive oil, this tour is an ideal weekend getaway. Decide yourself if you prefer a rental car or a chauffeur-driven car to explore the beauty of Andalucia.

Spanish Honeymoon

10 days  / from 3826 USD

Spanish Honeymoon

Discover Andalusia, starting with the cultural city of Seville, then on to Córdoba and Granada, home of the stunning Alhambra Palace. Next you'll visit Granada and the Albayzin Arab quarter, then enjoy a stunning hot-air balloon ride, before ending your trip with a luxury boat trip from Marbella!

Looking for Mediterranean sun and sand, but your budget doesn’t quite stretch to Capri or the Côte d’Azur? Simply head further east and you’ll find sun-drenched beaches untouched by modern development. Albania is one of the cheapest countries in Europe, and as yet under-explored by the tourist hordes. On its southern Ionian coast, steep grey mountains frame azure seas and golden sands.

Also take note - the Albanian capital Tirana will certainly surprise you with the number of interesting things you can do there .

Sarande is almost in touching distance of Corfu and is a handy entry point from Greece. From here you can aim for the beaches of Ksamil and nearby islands. Cheap seafood, warm seas and a smattering of isolated Greek ruins and Ottoman towns: the perfect recipe for a classic European sojourn.

Where to stay

Best for being on the beach: Vila E Bardhe

Best for great views of the harbour: Hotel Real

From Saranda: Visit the archaeological park of Butrint on a private tour

From Durrës: Wine tasting and history tour in Berat

Find more ideas for visiting Albania with our guide to the best things to do in Albania .

Rough costs:

Daily budget: Basic €30, occasional treat €45

Drink: Bottle of red wine €6

Food: Qoftë (minced meat rissoles) €2, seafood €6

Hostel/budget hotel: €15/€35

Travel: Bus: Tirana–Saranda €10.50; train: Tirana–Shkodra €3.30

Buy the guide >

Sarajevo market best places to visit in europe

Though the scars of Sarajevo ’s past as a city under siege are still evident. There are remnants of mortar shell explosions, filled with red resin to form “Sarajevo Roses”, and the museums document the horrors of Sniper Alley. Today, the city buzzes with life and is one of the cheapest countries in Europe. If you don't want to miss any of the key historic sites, book ahead and join a guided tour.

One of the most welcoming capitals in Europe, its central district of Baščaršija is a delight to wander through. Browse in the Ottoman-era bazaar or linger over a Bosnian coffee. The after-hours scene is quirky and cool, with tucked-away drinking holes and an ever-evolving club scene.

Best hostel for city location: Hostel Franz Ferdinand

Best for location to tourist attractions: Hotel Europe

Best for first time visitors: A guided walking tour in Sarajevo

Best for getting out of the city: A day tour to Jajce and Travnik

Rough costs

Daily budget: Basic €28, occasional treat €45

Drink: Bosnian coffee €0.70–1

Food: Cevapcici (meat rissoles) €3–4

Hostel/budget: €10/€28

Travel: Bus: Sarajevo–Bihać €17–25; train: Sarajevo–Mostar €5–7

Read our destination guide to Bosnia-Herzegovina >


Hitting the slopes without breaking the bank can be a challenge. Especially when the main Alpine resorts are located in some of the most expensive countries in Europe! However, eastern Europe has a few intriguing ski destinations, including Bulgaria ’s Bansko on the Pirin mountain range.

The country’s main ski resort has good beginner and intermediate runs. There's a decent range of shared or private accommodation to choose from, easily making Bansko one of the best places to visit in Europe with friends. The town itself has considerable charm, with numerous traditional old pubs hidden down its cobbled alleyways.

Best for guest house experience: Zigen House

Best for great location: Kap House Hotel

Best for the adventurers: River rafting on the Kresna Gorge

Best to get to know the culture: Experience local traditions, dishes, crafts and stories

Also while planning your visit, read our guide to the best things to do in Bulgaria .

Drink: Beer (0.5l) €1.25

Food: Shopska salad €4

Hostel/budget hotel: €12/€60

Travel: Train: Sofia–Plovdiv €4–6; bus: €5

Find out more about Bansko >

prague, czech republic, best places to visit in europe

Though ever-popular Prague is not quite the dirt-cheap city break destination it once was, you’ll still find Czechia (Czech Republic ) to be a good-value country for independent travel. The country that invented Pilsner is justifiably famous for producing some of the best beers – at pretty good prices.

But there's plenty of other reasons as to why it's one of the best places to visit in Europe. In Prague , the choice of watering holes ranges from traditional beer halls and monastery taverns to a new generation of microbreweries. Continue the Czech beer trail with a visit to the Pilsner Urquell brewery in Plzeň, before striking out to the country’s lesser-known spots, such as charming Olomouc , a pint-sized Prague without the tourists.

If you're heading to Prague, where you're based can make all the difference to your experience, so make the right start with our guide to the best places to stay in the city.

Best location for hostel: Safestay Prague

Best for shopping and city centre: K+K Hotel Central

Best for history buffs: Small group tour to the Prague Castle

Best for a magical evening: Dinner cruise on an Open-Top Glass Boat

Daily budget: Basic €45, occasional treat €55

Drink: Pilsner Urquell (0.5l) €1.60

Food: Pork and dumplings €8

Hostel/budget hotel: €20/€45

Travel: Train: Prague–Karlovy Vary €12; bus: €14

Explore the best of Czech Republic >

Estonia, Baltic coast, rocky shores at the sea, best places to visit in europe

Related articles from the blog

Santorini, Greece. Picturesq view of traditional cycladic Santorini houses on small street with flowers in foreground. Location: Oia village, Santorini, Greece © Shutterstock

Known for the popular city break destination of Tallinn , small and beautiful Estonia also provides swathes of wilderness, with beautiful stretches of coastline, a scattering of islands and forested national parks along its long Baltic coastline. With so much centered on the outdoors, it's arguably the cheapest country in Europe.

An hour from Tallinn, 725-square-kilometre Lahemaa National Park is best explored by bike. You can cycle its coastal paths, discover rugged coves, windswept beaches and fishing villages and even sleep on hay bales at a farm. Venture further west, and the summertime resort of Pärnu has fantastic beaches, The island of Saaremaa offers soft-carpeted pine forest countryside and very affordable spas.

Best for boutique hotel in Tallinn: Hotel Meltzer Apartments

Best for boutique spa in Saaremaa: Grand Rose SPA Hotel

Best for historical, Soviet heritage: Day tour from Tallinn to Naissaar, also known as Women's Island

Best for urban exploration: The Industrial Stalker Bike Tour in Kalamaja District

Daily budget: Basic €40, occasional treat €60

Drink: Le Coq beer €2.60

Food: Blood sausage and sauerkraut €7

Travel: Bus: Tallinn–Saaremaa €9; Tartu–Tallinn €13

monument to the battle of the nations volkerschlachtdenkmal built in 1913 for the 100th anniversary of the battle, leipzig, germany, best places to visit in europe

As far as Europe travel goes, Berlin is an anomaly. It’s one of the few capitals where the cost of living is lower than the national average. It's a legacy of the country’s former divide, which still means former East Germany is notably cheaper than western centres like Frankfurt and Munich . But as prices gradually rise in gentrifying Berlin, there are other eastern cities to venture to, including buzzing Leipzig .

The city that kick-started the 1989 protests that led to the country’s reunification has long had a fierce, independent spirit. Over the past few years, it’s also developed quite a reputation for its thriving artist enclaves and offbeat nightlife. Its culture scene is in constant flux, with old industrial buildings, such as former cotton mill the Spinnerei, converted into cutting-edge spaces.

Best for city location: IntercityHotel Leipzig

Best for little luxury: Pentahotel Leipzig

Best for family exploration: 3hr canoe tour through the city

Best for first-time visitors: Hop-on Hop-off bus tour including walking tour

  • Daily: Budget Basic €57, occasional treat €73
  • Drink: Beer (0.5ml) €3.35
  • Food: Schnitzel €8
  • Hostel/budget hotel: €20/€35
  • Travel: Munich–Berlin: train €55–142; bus €22

Fall in love with the rest of Germany >

Tate modern London © cristapper/Shutterstock

London and budget aren’t words that usually go together. However, London has more free world-class attractions than any other European city. There's the British Museum , home to enough treasures to satisfy the most curious of history hunters; the vast Tate Modern , with stupendous views from its terrace and ever-changing art collections; the Natural History Museum with its magnificent dinosaurs; and beautiful Victoria & Albert Museum – all free, all of the time.

And don’t forget the open spaces: spend a day tramping across Hampstead Heath, another meandering along the South Bank or perusing East End markets and you’ll get more of a sense of city life than if you’re stuck in a queue at an overpriced attraction. For food, opt for the popular street-food markets and your budget will stretch further – you might even have enough left for an overpriced pint.

Best for being in the centre of London: The Z Hotel Piccadilly

Best for location to Southbank: Park Plaza London Waterloo

Best for stunning views: The London Eye (make sure to book your ticket ahead of time to skip the lines)

Best for the adventurers: Climb the O2 Arena

  • Daily budget: Basic €70, occasional treat €90
  • Drink: Lager €6
  • Food: Fish and chips €10
  • Hostel/budget hotel: €13/20 (dorm/private)/€70
  • Travel: Train: London–Brighton €20; bus: London–Manchester €40

Get the London low-down >

Greece, best places to visit in europe

Think of budget travel in Greece , and the image is still one of island-hopping, sleeping on the deck of a ferry or camping on the beach. However, the slow pace of island travel and the popularity of the main resorts all adds to the cost.

Instead, consider the many-fingered peninsula of Greece . It has some fine beaches – less developed than those on the main islands – and it is home to the ancient sights of Epidaurus and Olympia . Medieval villages, spectacular rack-railway journeys and appealing Byzantine towns all await those who explore beyond the package holiday destinations.

Best for beaches in Finikounta: Hotel Golden Sun

Best for location in Nafplion: Pension Eleni

Best for day tours from Athens: Nafplio and Ancient Epidaurus

Best for explorers: Self-guided virtual reality tour of Olympia

  • Daily budget: Basic €31, occasional treat €42
  • Drink: Ouzo €3
  • Food: Souvláki (shish kebab) €3
  • Hostel/budget hotel: €21/€31
  • Travel: Bus: Athens–Delphi €19; ferry: Athens–Crete €38

sunrise at budapest city and chain bridge, budapest, hungary, best places to visit in europe

Straddling the Danube, the twin enclaves of Buda and Pest together make one of the most beguiling capitals in Europe . Their main pleasures won’t break the bank, making it one of the top cheap places to travel to.

Spend the day lounging by the pools in the spa, taking the occasional dip, cooling off under the fountains, and watching the old men play chess at the waterside tables. Come evening, the “r uin-bars” of District VII beckon – idiosyncratic bars tucked away in the neighbourhood’s courtyards. The tipple of choice is the cheap local white or rosé drunk long as a spritzer, perfect in the baking heat of summer.

Budapest is one of the best places to visit in Europe in the Spring (March to May) or Autumn (Sept to Nov) as the climate is at its most pleasant – ideal for those outdoor spa days and pounding the pavements.

Best for location to city centre: Arcadia Hotel Budapest

Best for a little luxury: Hotel Palazzo Zichy Budapest

Best to relax: Soak up the atmosphere at the Thermal Margaret Island Spa

Best for wine connoisseurs: Taste 7 Hungarian wines from boutique wineries

  • Daily budget: Basic €42, occasional treat €62
  • Drink: Beer (large) €2–2.60
  • Food: Goulash €3–4
  • Hostel/pension: €16–31
  • Travel: Train: Budapest–Eger €8.30

Find out more about Budapest >

panorama of the city of palermo, view of the old town, best places to visit in europe

Any grand tour of Europe includes a string of beautiful Italian cities: refined Florence , alluring Rome and glamorous Venice . While there’s no doubting their charms, they are well and truly on the tourist trail, which pushes up prices, particularly in high season.

Escape from the mainland to Sicily and you’ll find in its capital Palermo a city both redolent of the Italy of yesteryear and – if you ask a Sicilian – a country apart. Undoubtedly run down in places, the city unfolds many surprises . There are churches covered in exquisite mosaics and cluttered neighbourhood markets, where you can snack on local street foods, like arancini (rice balls) and panelle (chick pea fritters), as you wander.

Best for popular attractions: Hotel Palazzo Brunaccini

Best hostel for location to the city: Balarm Hostel

Best for foodies: 3hr street food and history walking tour

Best for day trips: Explore Western Sicily with Segesta, Erice and Salt Pans

  • Daily budget: Basic €36, occasional treat €52
  • Drink: Wine €2.60/glass
  • Food: Local pasta dish €5–8; pizza slice €2
  • Hostel/budget hotel: €16–31/€47–62
  • Travel: Train: Rome–Naples €21; bus: €12

Get inspired for Sicily >


Vast, deep, Lake Ohrid is the jewel of North Macedonia . The quiet streets of its namesake town reveal frescoed medieval churches, a Roman amphitheatre and a fortress worth climbing for the views. But as you explore the old town, the clear lake waters draw you back time and time again, inviting you to swim, dive or take to the waters by boat.

If you are tempted landwards it might be to hike in the nearby Galičica National Park. With cheap private rooms to rent and several waterside camping spots, the area is perfect for travellers on a budget to kick back and relax.

Best for a cosy guest house: Villa & Winery Mal Sveti Kliment

Best for views of Lake Ohrid: Villa Kale

Best for those with limited time: Day tour from Skopje to Ohrid

Best for history buffs: Private half-day city tour

  • Daily budget: Basic €26, occasional treat €36
  • Drink: Wine from €2.60 per bottle
  • Food: Tavče gravče (bean casserole) €1.50
  • Hostel/budget hotel: €10/€26
  • Travel: Bus: Skopje–Ohrid €7; train: Skopje–Bitola €4

Kotor, montenegro, best places to visit in europe

Travelling cheap? Montenegro won't disappoint. The beautiful walled town of Kotor sits at the end of a fjord-like bay, ringed by dramatic peaks. Just follow your nose in the Old Town. Getting lost in the labyrinth of streets is half the fun, discovering summertime cafés that spill out on the squares before clambering along the old fortress walls.

For a view over the whole gorgeous scene, hike up to St Ivan’s castle, overlooking the town. Kotor’s annual highlight is August’s exuberant Boka Nights festival , when the whole town celebrates as a lavish display of decorated boats parade in the bay and fireworks fill the sky.

Where to stay:

Best for boutique hotel: Boutique Hotel Astoria

Best for location to the city centre and the beach: Muo Apartments

Best to get away from the crowds: 2.5h Kayak Tour in the Bay of Kotor

Best for a day trip: Boat Tour to the Blue Cave & Our Lady of the Rocks

  • Daily budget: Basic €31, occasional treat €52
  • Drink: Nikšičko Tamno beer €1 (bottle from shop)
  • Food: Sarma €2.60–4
  • Hostel/budget hotel: €21/€52
  • Travel: Bus: Budva–Kotor €3; train: Podgorica–Virpazar €1

For more ideas for visiting Montenegro read our guide to the best things to do in Montenegro .

old town of gdansk with ancient crane at dusk, poland, best places to visit in europe

Part beautiful Hanseatic city, part gritty port town and part Baltic riviera, the northern Polish city of Gdánsk offers a winning combination of coastal appeal. Though the core of this picturesque, colourful city, with its narrow merchant houses, looks ancient, it’s actually a postwar reconstruction – but the history is genuine. It's one of many cheap travel destinations to visit in Poland!

The shipyard crane dates back to the 15th century, and the city was the birthplace of the Solidarity anti-communist movement. Come summer, the action moves to the hip, coastal resort of Sopot , with its golden sand beach, lively party scene and attractive pier (the longest in Europe).

Best for location to the city centre: PURO Gdansk Stare Miasto

Best for great views and location to the city: Mercure Gdansk Stare Miasto

Best for nightlife: Pub Crawl with free drinks

Best for first-time visitors: Electric Scooter guided tour of the Old Town

  • Daily budget: Basic €52, occasional treat €73
  • Drink: Vodka (50ml shot) €1
  • Food: Żurek soup €2–3
  • Hostel/budget hotel: €12/€36
  • Travel: Train: Warsaw–Kraków €34; bus: €16

Explore the WW2 Liberation Route with the help of a local expert >

porto, portugal old town on the douro river, best places to visit in europe

Portugal travel doesn't get more exciting than in Porto. Portugal’s second city is appealingly set on the banks of the river Duoro. The riverside district of Portugal is crammed with no-frills good, local restaurants – pick somewhere a street or so back from the waterfront and you’ll be spoilt with local dishes and wines at excellent prices. With the city set on either side of the river, check our guide to the best places to stay in Porto to find accommodation that suits you best.

Other highlights include the vast Portugal park, with a superb art museum set within. However, it is port that the city is famous for. Vinologia is a great bar for an introduction to the varieties of fortified wine, and you can visit the port lodges across the river in Vila Nova de Gaia, where for a few euros you can sample their wares.

Make the most of your time in Porto and book ahead to explore some of the unknown wine cellars in the city .

Best for walks along the waterfront: 1872 River House

Best for value with style: MyStay Porto Batalha

Best for day tours: Small group tour to the Douro Valley, Wine Tasting and a River Cruise

Best for iconic views: Torre dos Clérigos (skip-the-line tickets)

  • Daily budget: Basic €47, occasional treat €68
  • Drink: Bottle of vinho verde in shop €3.60
  • Food: Grilled sardines €8
  • Hostel/budget hotel: €21/€47
  • Travel: Train: Lisbon–Faro €23; bus: Porto–Lisbon €21

Delve into Porto >

Transylvania, Romania, best places to visit in europe

Think Transylvania , and you’ll probably imagine Dracula and his castle – and you can certainly go in search of Dracula (aka Vlad the Impaler) connections here. If you're interested in finding Dracula, book your tour here . As Vlad’s birthplace, the attractive town of Sighisoara has the best claim to fame, and it also has a suitably imposing citadel.

But the region is not all fortifications and fangs – make time to venture out into the wilds of the Carpathian mountains , where you can track the Transylvanian wolf, along with bears, red deer and lynx in the Piatra Craiului National Park.

Best for visiting Vlad the Impaler: Casa Richter

Best for visiting Piatra Craiului National Park: Vila Hora cu Brazi

Best for explorers: Medieval City Exploration Game and Tour in Sighisoara

Best for those travelling in high season: Fast track tickets to Bran Castle (Dracula's castle - Romania's number one attraction)

  • Daily budget: Basic €26, occasional treat €42
  • Drink: Beer €1.90; bottle of Romanian wine €5
  • Food: Tochitura moldoveneasca (Moldavian stew) €2.10
  • Hostel/budget hotel: €10/€31
  • Travel: Bus/train: Bucharest–Braşov €10

Discover more affordable places in Romania >

Also check our best things to do in Romania to make your trip here even more exciting.


Serbia abounds with sights to suit all tastes. Fancy a low-cost summer music festival? Serbia ’s famous EXIT Festival held in July might be just the ticket, and it’s less than half the price of Glastonbury. The line-up is always eclectic, with past acts including David Guetta and Ziggy Marley.

A trip here is about more than the music, however, with a setting that leaves other festivals in the shade. The Petrovaradin fortress stands majestically above the lively city of Novi Sad , a couple of hours from Belgrade. Stages and festival spaces fill every corner of the fortress, and you can spend your days lounging on the river beaches on the banks of the Danube.

If you don't have the time to stay longer, consider taking a day tour from Belgrade to explore Novi Sad and taste the local wines in Sremski Karlovci.

Best for rooftop views of the city: Hotel Leopold I Novi Sad

Best hostel for city location: Hostel Sova

  • Drink: Beer (0.5l) €1
  • Food: Pljeskavica (hamburger) €1–2
  • Hostel/budget hotel: €13/€37
  • Travel: Bus: Belgrade–Novi Sad €6; train: Belgrade–Niš €7

Get the low-down on Serbia >

High Tatras, Slovakia © Michal Petlach/Shutterstock

Slovakia's pride and joy , the Tatras mountain range is a magnificent series of peaks – culminating in the pyramid-shaped Gerlach at 2,655m. Start at one of the village resorts like Nový Smokovec or Ždiar, then make for the mountains, where you can rest your weary heads at cheap hikers’ chalets.

This is serious mountain terrain, so be prepared and heed local advice. The mountains are also an inviting playground for climbers and cavers, and you’ll find mountain bike paths, tubing and rafting, plus a full winter season of skiing and snowboarding.

Best for the location to popular attractions: Penzion Reitmayer

Best for families: Apartmanovy Dom TatraTravel Smokovec

  • Daily budget: Basic €37, occasional treat €47
  • Drink: Beer €1.80
  • Food: Gnocchi with bacon €4
  • Hostel/budget hotel: €16/€31
  • Travel: Bratislava–Košice (train) €20

Lake Bled, Slovenia © Shutterstock

Sandwiched between Italy, Austria and Croatia, compact Slovenia is an appealing destination on any journey through Europe. There's its charming capital, Ljubljana , as well as easy travel, a burgeoning wine industry and tempting pocket of coastline. For the adventure-minded, or for those who just want to camp in a beautiful lakeside setting, the northwest region is perfect.

Nestled below the stunning Julian Alps are the very different twin lakes of Bled and Bohinj . From here you can carry on to the Soča Valley, right by the Italian border, for hiking, kayaking and rafting adventures.

Best guest house for views of Lake Bled: Penzion Vila Prešeren

Best for lake views: Grand Hotel Toplice

Best for adventurers: 3hr Rafting Experience

Best for wine experiences: Taste 7 top Slovenian wines in a 100-year old wine cellar in Bled

  • Drink: Pivo (beer' 0.5ml) €2.60
  • Food: Pizza €5–7
  • Hostel/budget hotel: €19/€62
  • Travel: Train: Ljubljana–Maribor €9; bus: Ljubljana–Bled €7

Find out more about Slovenia >

aerial view of olvera town with church of our lady of incarnation, cadiz povince, andalusia, spain, best places to visit in europe

The southernmost province of Spain, Andalucía travel is a tempting budget destination. This perennially popular region boasts showpiece cities such as Seville , Granada and Córdoba , with their exquisite monuments highlighting the area's Moorish past. Even here prices are competitive compared with Madrid and Barcelona.

You only need to head a little further afield, to the underrated city of Málaga with its Picasso connection and authentic tapas scene, or the atmospheric ancient port city of Cádiz, and you’ll enjoy that alluring southern Spanish vibe for budget-friendly prices. Cheap tapas (the tradition of free tapas originates in Granada) means you can sample Iberian flavours for a couple of euros a plate, and to continue your budget adventure, simply hop on the ferry to Morocco, tantalisingly close by.

Best guest house location to city centre: El Riad Andaluz

Best for style on a budget: Hotel Boutique Villa Lorena Malaga

Best for exploring arts: Guided tour through the Picasso Museum

Best for short hikes: Caminito del Rey - 3hr guided hike

  • Daily budget: Basic €68; occasional treat €88
  • Drink: €1.80–2.60 per caña (small beer)
  • Food: Menú del día €10–12
  • Hostel/budget hotel: €17/€36–83
  • Travel: Madrid–Barcelona: bus €33–45; train €62–130

Book onto the best things to do in Andalucía

lviv, ukraine, best places to visit in europe

Situated in the west of this vast country, within easy travelling distance of Central European cities such as Kraków and Budapest, Lviv is the city to head for if you want a taste of Ukraine.

It revels in a mixture of Central European influences: Habsburg and Polish, Catholic, Orthodox and Armenian, with its architecture and magnificent churches reflecting this eclecticism. Ukraine regularly features on the list of cheapest destinations in Europe, and with a growing supply of backpacker hostels, appealing coffee houses and quirky bars, this is an extremely budget-friendly city with a refined edge.

Best for location to the city centre: Lviv Central Jam Hotel

Best for style on a budget: Taurus Hotel

Best for first time visitors: Lviv Old Town Walking Tour

Best for foodies with an interest in history: Communist-style Food and Bar Tour

  • Drink: Horilka (vodka; 50ml shot) €1
  • Food: Ukrainian borshch €0.80
  • Hostel/budget hotel: €8/€31
  • Travel: Train: Kyiv–Odesa €10; bus: €19

Top image © Patteran/Shutterstock

This feature contains affiliate links; all recommendations are editorially independent.

Top image: Malaga, Spain, Old Town Skyline © S Pavone / Shutterstock

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Southeast Asia Travel Guide

Last Updated: November 27, 2023

A lone person standing on lush, green rice terraces in Southeast Asia on a bright sunny day

Backpackers have been traveling through Southeast Asia since the late 1960s and early 1970s, leaving a well-worn trail around the region.

Starting in beautiful Thailand, the trail makes its way to up-and-coming Laos, through Vietnam, and to the temples of Angkor Wat. It then winds back into Thailand, where people head south to party in the Thai islands before moving down to Malaysia and Singapore.

There are a few variations to the trail, but this is what it mostly covers.

I’ve been visiting this region since 2004 and spent years living in Thailand . I love backpacking Southeast Asia and have written extensively about it as I know it like the back of my hand.

It’s an especially great region for new travelers because it’s easy to travel around, it’s safe, and there are lots of other travelers you can meet. But it’s also perfect for veteran travelers too as there are tons of off-the-beaten-path destinations that the standard backpacker trail doesn’t cover.

In short, Southeast Asia has something for every traveler — and every budget.

This Southeast Asia travel guide will help you travel the region like a pro, ensuring you save money and make the most of your time in this fun, gorgeous, and lively corner of the world.

Table of Contents

  • Things to See and Do
  • Typical Costs
  • Suggested Budget
  • Money-Saving Tips
  • Where to Stay
  • How to Get Around
  • How to Stay Safe
  • Best Places to Book Your Trip
  • Related Blogs on Southeast Asia

Click Here for Country Guides

Top 5 things to see and do in southeast asia.

A lone person standing on lush, green rice terraces in Southeast Asia on a bright sunny day

1. Admire Angkor Wat

One of the greatest human creations in history, the Angkor Wat temple complex is best explored over the course of a few days. The area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site created by the Khmer Empire and absolutely enormous. Temples to visit include Angkor Wat, Bayon Temple which has 216 gigantic stone face carvings, and Ta Prohm. I spent three days here and that simply wasn’t enough. A one-day pass is $37 USD, while a 1-week pass is $72 USD. If you’re here for multiple days, be sure to hire a driver and see some of the more out of the way ruins away from the main temple complex (and the crowds).

2. Explore Bangkok

Bangkok is the hub of travel activity in Southeast Asia. You can get anywhere you want from here. Though I hated it at first, the more I’ve spent time here the more I love it. Bangkok is like an onion whose many layers need to be peeled back. Some things not to miss include the spectacular Bangkok Grand Palace, Wat Pho, Chatuchak Market and Asiatique, and a canal trip on the Chao Phraya River. This is a city for foodies and wild nightlife.

3. Relax on some tropical islands

No visit to Southeast Asia would be complete without a visit to at least one of the thousands of tropical islands in the region. My top five include the Perhentian Islands (Malaysia), Rabbit Island (Cambodia), Ko Lanta (Thailand), and Boracay (Philippines). Lombok Island (Indonesia) has a chill vibe with unspoiled, perfect “desert island” beaches. There’s so many islands to visit. Be sure to add at least one to your trip. The country guides will have more information for you.

4. See Ha Long Bay

Sailing trips to this island-filled bay with stunning emerald waters, limestone formations, and marine life give you an appreciation for the natural beauty in Vietnam. Tours from Hanoi start at around $110 USD for two-day trips and increase from there. I love the colorful grottoes, hanging stalactites, and stalagmites of Surprise Cave (Sung Sot), Fairy Cave (Tien Ong), and Heaven Palace (Thien Cung). Make sure you go with a reputable company though as some of the cheaper boats are less than ideal. If you’d rather just visit for one day, day trips from Hanoi cost $55 USD.

5. Wander Kuala Lumpur

Other things to see and do in southeast asia, 1. go jungle trekking.

This region of the world is covered in amazing jungles with diverse wildlife, plentiful camping opportunities, and cool waterfalls. The best jungle treks are found in northern Thailand, Western Laos, and Malaysian Borneo (the latter are also the hardest and most intense). Some of my favorites include Danum Valley (Borneo) for its incredible wildlife; Ratanakiri (Cambodia) for its pristine wilderness and thousand-year-old trees; and Pu Luong Nature Reserve (Vietnam). Costs vary but jungle trekking generally costs $30-50 USD per day.

2. Attend the Full Moon Party

The biggest one-night party in the world welcomes up to 30,000 people with a party that stretches until dawn. Cover yourself in glow paint, grab a bucket of booze, and dance the night away with new friends on the island of Ko Phangan in Thailand. As the name would suggest, the party is on the night of the full moon. If you miss it, there’s always the half-moon party, quarter-moon party, and black-moon party. Really, every night is a party on Ko Phangan . Just avoid the flaming jump rope that occurs — I’ve seen people get burned badly!

3. Learn to dive

There are many great dive sites around the region for those interested in underwater exploration. You can learn to dive here at a fraction of what it would cost back home too. Some of the best places are Ko Tao (Thailand), Sipadan (Malaysia), as well as Gili Islands (Indonesia) and Coron, Palawan (The Philippines). A typical diving course is completed in three days. A PADI course typically runs $275 USD in Thailand, including three nights’ accommodation, though at smaller schools you can often negotiate down to $250 USD. Day trips for certified divers start at $165 USD. For information on Ko Tao, check out this blog post .

4. Eat street food in Singapore

Singapore is a foodie’s heaven. Try the hawker stalls of Singapore as well as Little India and Chinatown for some of the best and cheapest food in Asia. If you’re looking for a nice place to sit down and eat, eat at Singapore’s famed restaurants during lunch when restaurants offer discounts, making them a great deal. You’ll also find the most affordable Michelin-starred restaurants here (Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice and Hawker Chan), offering world-class meals for just a couple of bucks!

5. Overload on temples

You can’t turn a corner without seeing a Buddhist temple in this part of the world. You’ll get temple overload at some point but visit as many as you can as each is unique to the country and region of the temple. There are so many places with high concentrations of ornate and beautiful temples. Check out Chiang Mai’s Wat Doi Suthep Temple and hike up the 300 steps to the golden Chedi that’s 600 years old!; Bagan’s Shwesandaw Pagoda from the 11th century with its stunning golden dome; Angkor Wat’s Ta Prohm is covered in iconic vines and enveloped in ancient jungle roots; Hue’s colorful Thien Mu Pagoda is perched atop a lush green embankment; Hoi An’s Quan Cong Temple with incredible Chinese architecture with hand-carved beauty and skill, and Luang Prabang’s Vat Xieng Thong with its golden, canopied roof. Most are free to enter, however, dress codes are enforced (you need to have your shoulders and legs covered).

6. Dive Sipadan

Located off Malaysian Borneo, Sipadan is one of the best dive sites in the world. If you have your dive certificate, make sure you venture out here. I absolutely love this area because it’s teeming with live turtles, diverse cave systems, sharks, dolphins, colorful coral, bright fish, and everything in between. Not a lot of people make it to this part of Malaysia, but it’s worth it to go the extra mile and make your way off the tourist trail a bit. Don’t miss Barracuda Point and The Drop-Off. Keep in mind that only 176 permits to dive at the island are issued each day, costing 140 MYR per person. The resorts on the neighboring islands each get a specific number of permits per day and require divers to stay with them for a few days. So you’ll need to stay at those resorts and dive into the surrounding areas before they can get you a Sipadan permit.

7. Fall in love with Bali

Bali is the most popular destination in Indonesia, and its famous Kuta beach is known for its wild parties and surfing ( though I think it’s overrated ). However, there is much more to Bali than just wild nights and sun-soaked days. If you’re a thrill seeker, hike up to the top of Mount Batur, an active volcano, for a breathtaking sunrise. Paragliding and white water rafting are also super popular here, as is surfing (it’s an affordable place to learn if you’ve never done it). There are also lots of hot springs to enjoy, the Ubud Monkey Forest (a popular temple and nature reserve home to hundreds of monkeys), and numerous places to scuba dive, including the Liberty wreck and Manta Point.

8. Take in Ho Chi Minh City

Frantic, chaotic, and crazy, Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam is the embodiment of the controlled chaos that rules Southeast Asia. You can’t quite figure out how this teeming mass of people and cars work together, but it does. Highlights here include touring the tunnels used by the Viet Cong in the 1960s, taking in the view from the Saigon Skydeck, eating your way through the street food scene, and seeing the city’s numerous temples.

9. Admire the sunrise over an Indonesian Volcano

One of the most popular tourist attractions on Java is Mount Bromo and its National Park. Don’t miss out on getting a photo of the smoldering Bromo volcano as it lies surrounded by the almost lunar landscape of the Sea of Sand. Get up early to catch one of the most memorable sunrises of your life. If you’re there in mid-August, you’ll be just in time to see Upacara Kasada, the traditional Hindu ritual of the Tenggerese, a Javanese tribe of the region.

10. Hike in Khao Sok National Park

Located in southern Thailand, Khao Sok National Park is constantly rated as one of the best parks in Thailand, with incredible trekking, camping, limestone karsts, cooling rivers, and a glistening lake. Visit for semi-challenging hikes, tons of wildlife, walking paths, and breathtaking sunsets. Park entrance costs around $6 USD while full-day guided tours are $95 USD. I highly recommend spending at least one night here to get the full experience.

11. Visit Kampot

Most people come to Kampot to enjoy the scenic riverside views, as well as the rolling hills that surround the city. Since you can explore easily enough on foot or by bicycle, Kampot is a great place to slow down and relax. There’s not much to do here but have lazy days by the river, chill, and eat (don’t miss the famous Rusty Keyhole for BBQ!). Don’t miss the pepper farms, as this region of Cambodia is filled with pepper farms where you can learn about the history of the spice, see how it is grown, and pick up what is considered some of the finest pepper in the world. Tours are usually free.

12. Take a cooking class

Food from this region is as varied as the countries themselves and learning how to cook a few dishes is a great souvenir of your time here. Even if you don’t plan to cook back home, you can still spend a day making and eating scrumptious food. Most big cities have cooking schools offering classes of 2-6 hours, often including a trip to the local market beforehand to select ingredients. I absolutely love cooking classes and urge you to take one at least once. They are a fun experience!

13. Take a food tour

If you’d rather eat instead of cook, taking a food tour is a fun way to gain insight into the region’s amazing noodle dishes, fresh seafood, sweets, and street food while learning about the history and culture behind the cuisine. Most major cities in Southeast Asia offer food tours. These include tours around local markets, street stalls, and tours to locally-owned restaurants and cafes where you can sample the local cuisine and connect with a local chef. If you’re nervous about street food, this is a great way to try some in a controlled setting. Tours usually last 2-4 hours and include multiple stops and several different dishes, with prices costing $40-75 USD per person.

14. Visit an elephant sanctuary

While riding an elephant is on many a Southeast Asia bucket list, once you know how much the animals suffer from abuse in order to provide these rides, you might think twice about taking one. An even better way to interact with elephants is to volunteer at or visit the Elephant Nature Park near Chiang Mai in Thailand. It’s a phenomenal place, allowing you to give back to the community and these magnificent animals all at once. After coming here, you will understand why you should NEVER ride an elephant. A one-day visit costs $70 USD.

15. See The Killing Fields

A visit to Choeung Ek, also known as the Killing Fields, may not be the most cheerful way to spend an afternoon, but it makes for an educational and memorable experience. Over 3 million people were killed by Pol Pot’s regime, including countless women and children. I recommend getting a guide so you can really understand what you’re seeing as you explore the area. Also, this horrific tragedy took place less than 50 years ago and is still very present so please be respectful as a visitor.  The site is located 10 miles from Phnom Penh. Half-day guided tours start at $66 USD.

16. Swim with Whale Sharks in Donsol

If you’re in the Philippines, check out the Donsol Whale Shark Interactive Ecosystem Project because there are not many experiences quite as adrenaline-inducing as swimming with a whale shark for the first time in crystal waters. These incredible creatures are around 45 feet (14 meters) long and yet incredibly gentle and curious. I loved floating at the surface being able to look below and see them slowly swim below me. Get some people together and rent a boat for a half day, explore the area, and go ‘shark-seeing’ for a good cause.  

  For a ton more information, visit my country specific travel guides for more detailed information on each place:

  • Cambodia Travel Guide
  • Indonesia Travel Guide
  • Laos Travel Guide
  • Malaysia Travel Guide
  • Singapore Travel Guide
  • Thailand Travel Guide
  • Vietnam Travel Guide

Southeast Asia Travel Costs

A lone person standing on lush, green rice terraces in Southeast Asia on a bright sunny day

Accommodation – Accommodation in Southeast Asia is really cheap, making it the perfect place to travel if you are on a budget. Hostels are plentiful, as are budget guesthouses and hotels. It’s also very cheap to splash out here if you’re in need of some luxury.

Generally, you can find hostel dorm rooms for as little as $6-8 USD in Cambodia and $3-6 USD in Laos. In Thailand, 4-6-bed dorm rooms are $8-12 USD, while in Vietnam you can expect to pay $5-7 USD. In Indonesia, prices range between $5-10 USD for a 4-6-bed dorm room. Expect to pay at least $15-20 per night for a private room with air conditioning. Free Wi-Fi is standard in most hostels, free breakfast is common, and many hostels even have pools. In more remote areas, hot water isn’t common so make sure to check in advance if that’s an issue for you.

Simple guesthouses or bungalows throughout Southeast Asia generally cost $12-20 USD per night for a basic room with a fan (sometimes air conditioning) and hot water. If you want something nicer that includes a more comfortable bed and a TV, expect to pay $25-35 USD per night.

For backpackers, budgeting around $10 USD per night for accommodation is pretty safe no matter where you go in Southeast Asia. If you’re looking for a higher-end hotel room with more amenities, expect to pay $20-50 USD per night for a room. Anything over that is luxury territory.

Camping is available in certain areas, usually for just a few dollars per night for a basic tent plot without electricity. However, this is about the same price as hostels so it’s not really any cheaper.

Food – While each country’s cuisine varies, overall, Southeast Asian food is aromatic, spicy, and flavorful. Typical spices and herbs include garlic, basil, galangal, cilantro, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, chilies, and fish sauce. No matter what region you’re in, you can expect to find a variety of curries, salads, soups, noodle dishes, and stir-fries.

Rice and noodles are central to Southeast Asian food, while the meat is usually pork, chicken, fish, or seafood, which is everywhere on the islands and coastal areas.

While traveling Southeast Asia, street food is the most popular food and cheapest option. On average, these meals cost $1-5 USD. You find these stalls throughout this region lining most streets and every market. They are ubiquitous in the region. In Singapore, street food (from “hawker stands” as they’re known there) costs around $4-5 USD for a meal. Even if you go into small local restaurants, the price doesn’t increase that much.

Food that costs $2 USD at a street stall generally only costs $4-6 USD at a local restaurant. If you went into a restaurant in Thailand, you’d pay around $3-4 USD for a pad Thai that would have cost $1-2 USD on the street.

In Cambodia, street food is around $1-2 USD, while restaurants charge around $3-5 USD for a dish like amok (a coconut milk dish) or luc lac (pepper gravy beef).

Western meals, including burgers, pizza, and sandwiches usually cost around $7-10 USD. But these generally aren’t that great. If you want something that actually tastes as it does back home, expect to spend at least $10-12 USD for your meal.

While cheap, alcohol can take a bite out of your budget if you’re not careful. Those $1-2 USD beers add up! Wine and cocktails are more expensive, generally around $3-5 USD. A cappuccino is typically around $2 USD. Bottled water is plentiful and costs less than $1 USD.

There’s a growing cutting-edge foodie scene in the region and, if you want to splurge, you can do so on some really good meals. Big cities like Bangkok, KL, and Singapore, all have world-class Michelin star restaurants as well some incredible fusion restaurants.

Since dining out is so cheap in the region, there’s no point in grocery shopping unless you’re looking to get some pre-made salads or fruits. Additionally, a general lack of kitchens in most hostels and hotels makes it difficult to cook even if you wanted to. If you do purchase your own groceries, expect to spend around $25 USD per week for basic groceries like local produce, rice, and some meat (while avoiding expensive imported items like cheese and wine).

Backpacking Southeast Asia Suggested Budgets

On a backpacker budget of $45 USD per day, you can stay in hostel dorms, eat out at local markets and street stalls, limit your drinking, do mostly free activities, minimize paid activities, and use public transportation to get around. You’re not going to be able to splash out but you’ll be able to live the typical backpacker experience without really stressing over expenses.

On a mid-range budget of $85 USD per day, you can stay in budget hotels or private hostel rooms, eat more restaurant meals, do more paid activities like cooking classes, take some taxis, and enjoy a few more drinks. You won’t live large, but you won’t be missing out either.

On an upscale budget of $150 USD or more per day, you can stay in nicer hotels with more amenities, eat out as much as you want, do more paid tours including private tours, hire a driver, fly between destinations, and basically do whatever you want. The sky is the limit with this kind of budget!

You can use the chart below to get some idea of how much you need to budget daily, depending on your travel style. Keep in mind these are daily averages — some days you’ll spend more, some days you’ll spend less (you might spend less every day). We just want to give you a general idea of how to make your budget. Prices are in USD.

Southeast Asia Travel Guide: Money-Saving Tips

Backpacking Southeast Asia is cheap. There’s little opportunity to spend a lot of money since everything is already so inexpensive unless you intentionally are trying to splash out on fancy meals and high end hotels. The two reasons why most travelers end up overspending is that they eat a lot of Western food and drink way too much. If you want to save money while traveling in this part of the world, cut down on your drinking and skip the Western food. While country guides have more specific ways to save money, here are some general ways to save money in Southeast Asia:

  • Stay with a local – Accommodation is cheap in Southeast Asia but nothing’s cheaper than free! Use Couchsurfing to stay with locals who have extra beds and couches for free. You’ll also meet great people who can show you around and share their insider tips and advice.
  • Book tours and day trips as a group – You have more negotiation power when you’re with a group of people buying multiple spots or tickets. Traveling alone? Meet a friend at a hostel and see if they want to join the same tour as you. I’ve met some great friends over the years doing this and highly recommend it.
  • Don’t book in advance – Don’t book any tours or activities before you get to your destination. They’ll be much cheaper when you arrive as you’ll be able to negotiate a lower price as you’ll find companies are often offering the same tour and competing. Anything you see online is more expensive than you need to pay!
  • Eat on the street – The street food is the best food. The food is the best and cheapest you’ll find. It’s a great way to try new foods and get to chat with locals as well. This is where locals eat so if you want insight into local culture, good food, and savings, eat the street food. Look for where locals are eating to ensure that it’s safe to eat.
  • Bargain hard – Nothing is ever at face value here. Bargain with sellers as most of the time, the price they’ve quoted is way higher. There’s a haggling culture in the region so play the game and save some money. It’s important not to convert it in your head to your own currency because it will usually sound cheap even though you might still be getting ripped off. You’ll never get the local price, but you might come close!
  • Minimize your drinking – Drinks really add up. Even with cheap drinks, if you’re not aware, you’ll end up spending more money on beer than on food and accommodation. If you want to drink, head to the supermarkets, drink at the hostel, or check out the local happy hours.
  • Pack a water bottle – A water bottle with a purifier comes particularly in handy in Southeast Asia since you can’t usually drink the tap water. Save money and thousands of plastic bottles and get a bottle that can purify the tap water for you. My preferred bottle is LifeStraw as it has a built-in filter that ensures your water is always safe and clean.

Where to Stay in Southeast Asia

I’ve been traveling Southeast Asia since 2005 and have stayed in hundreds of places. Here are some of my favorite places to stay in Southeast Asia:

  • The Siem Reap Pub Hostel (Siem Reap)
  • Onederz Siem Reap (Siem Reap)
  • Mad Monkey Siem Reap (Siem Reap)
  • Onederz Sihanoukville (Sihanoukville)
  • Monkey Republic (Sihanoukville)
  • Onederz Phnom Penh (Phnom Penh)
  • Sla Boutique Hostel (Phnom Penh)
  • The Magic Sponge (Kampot)
  • Indigo House Hotel (Luang Prabang)
  • Sa Sa Lao (Luang Prabang)
  • Sanga Hostel (Pakse)
  • Nana Backpackers Hostel (Vang Vieng)
  • Dream Home Hostel (Vientiane)
  • Traveller Bunker Hostel (Cameron Highlands)
  • De’Native Guest House (Cameron Highlands)
  • Kitez Hotel & Bunks (Kuala Lumpur)
  • Sunshine Bedz Kuala Lumpur (Kuala Lumpur)
  • Ryokan Muntri Boutique Hostel (Penang)
  • Mad Monkey Hostel (Bangkok)
  • D&D Inn (Bangkok)
  • Kodchasri B&B (Chiang Mai)
  • The Royal Guest House (Chiang Mai)
  • Green Leaf (Khao Yai)
  • Lonely Beach Resort (Ko Chang)
  • The Sanctuary (Koh Phangan)
  • Na-Tub Hostel (Koh Phangan)
  • Pineapple Guesthouse (Phuket)
  • Dream Lodge
  • The Pod Capsule Hostel
  • The Scarlet
  • Under the Coconut Tree Guesthouse (Hoi An)
  • Fuse Beachside (Hoi An)
  • Pretty Backpackers House (Da Lat)
  • Hanoi Old Quarter Hostel (Hanoi)
  • Luxury Backpackers Hostel (Hanoi)
  • The Hideout (HCMC)
  • City Backpackers Hostel (HCMC)

How to Get Around Southeast Asia

A lone person standing on lush, green rice terraces in Southeast Asia on a bright sunny day

Public transportation – Public transportation costs from a few pennies to a few dollars, with Singapore and Malaysia offering the most comprehensive public transportation systems. In Thailand, local buses cost around $0.25 USD per trip, while the Metro and Skytrain in Bangkok cost $0.50-1.50 USD per trip. In Cambodia, a bus ticket in Phnom Penh costs just $0.40 USD per ride.

Major cities generally have subway systems but mostly you’ll be using the bus or shared taxis to get around.

Tuk-tuks (small, shared taxis with no meter) are available around much of the region and require a bit of haggling. They usually have 3-6 seats and generally cost more than public transportation but are faster. To find a reputable driver, ask your accommodation as they usually know someone. Tuk-tuk drivers can often be hired for the day for a discounted rate (this is what a lot of people do to visit the Killing Fields and Angkor Wat in Cambodia, for example).

Taxi – Taxis in the region are generally safe, though it’s not uncommon to have to haggle. Scams to rip you off aren’t uncommon either, so always ask your accommodation to call you a taxi whenever possible so you know you’ll get a reputable company.

In Singapore and Indonesia, taxi drivers do put on the meter. In Bangkok, you can get taxi drivers to use the meter, but if you’re hailing one in a tourist area, he might try to avoid using it. In Vietnam, the meter is sometimes rigged, but if you can get a reputable company like Mai Linh, you won’t have any problems.

Ridesharing – Grab, DiDi, and Gojek are Asia’s answer to Uber. They work the same way: you hire a driver to take you somewhere via the app, and you can pay via the app or in cash. It’s often more affordable than a regular taxi, though drivers are a bit unreliable as the practice is not as widespread here as in other parts of the world.

Just keep in mind that some drivers are driving motorcycles so be sure to double check what kind of vehicle is picking you up if you don’t want to ride on the back of one.

Bus – The easiest and cheapest way to travel around Southeast Asia is by bus. The backpacker trail is so worn that there is a very well-established tourist bus system to take you anywhere. Buses costs vary between $5-25 USD for a 5-6 hour journey. Overnight buses cost $20-35 USD depending on distance (they often have reclining seats so you can get a decent sleep).

You can check ticket prices and book tickets for all the different bus companies across Southeast Asia at

Train – Train service is limited in the region and not something to really consider when you travel Southeast Asia. You can take a train up and down the coast of Vietnam and there’s some limited scenic rails in Malaysia. Thailand is the only country that has an extensive train system that lets you travel all its regions (and onward to Singapore) from Bangkok.

The train prices in Southeast Asia are determined by distance and class. Night trains with sleeper cars are more expensive than day trains. The night train to Chiang Mai from Bangkok takes twelve hours and costs $27 USD for a sleeper seat. However, that same train during the day is $8-9 USD. In Vietnam, trains run up and down the coast and cost $60 USD from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City.

Flying – The cost of flying around Southeast Asia has come down in recent years due to the rise of low-cost airlines. Scoot, Jetstar, and AirAsia are the biggest. Nok Air has a lot of flights within Thailand , and VietJet Air is popular in Vietnam . Lion Air serves Indonesia , but its safety record is really spotty and I personally would not fly them. If you book early, you can save on fares, as most of the airlines offer deeply discounted fare sales all the time, especially Air Asia.

Just make sure that the airport these budget airlines fly into isn’t too far out of your way (transportation from the secondary airport sometimes negates the savings from using the budget airline itself).

Also, keep in mind that you usually must pay to check your baggage on these cheap flights. If you wait to pay for your luggage at the gate, you end up paying almost double. Travel carry-on only to avoid this added cost.

All in all, I only recommend flying if you are pressed for time or find a super cheap deal. Otherwise, stick to the bus.

Hitchhiking – Hitchhiking in Southeast Asia is safe, though popularity of the practice varies by country (it’s more common in Malaysia, but not so much in Cambodia). Dress respectably, smile while making eye contact with drivers, and use a cardboard sign to tell people where you’re headed. Be prepared for long bouts of no pick-ups, especially if you’re traveling through more rural areas. Pack plenty of water and food. Also, make sure the people picking you up understand you’re hitchhiking and not flagging down a taxi.

Hitchwiki is a great resource for hitchhiking tips.

Car rental I don’t recommend renting a car in Southeast Asia. Rental cars are expensive ($40 USD per day or more) and the roads here are in poor shape. I would never drive around the region.

When to Go to Southeast Asia

The best time of year to visit Southeast Asia is from November to April when temperatures are milder (though temperatures vary drastically by region). It may be mild in Thailand in January and hot in Malaysia but in Northern Vietnam, it’s cold! Also, one of the biggest mistakes people make is not taking into account the rainy season. In some cases it won’t make a big difference but definitely does if it’s a beach trip.

In Indonesia, the best time to visit is April to October. Temperatures average 24-30ºC (75-86ºF), and the weather is mostly dry. July to September is the peak holiday season and when you can expect to pay the highest rates. December to February is the rainy season.

In Malaysia, January-March and June-September are the best time to visit, as these months have the lowest average rainfall. It is still hot and humid during this time though. The rainy season is from October to December. Singapore’s climate/weather is much like Malaysia’s.

In Vietnam, the weather varies by region. In Central Vietnam (including Hoi An and Nha Trang), January-May is the best time to visit because it is dry and the temperatures average 21-30°C (70-86°F). June to August is also a decent time to visit. If you want to stick around Hanoi, March to April is great, or October to December (for mildest temperatures). The rainy season is May-September.

Thailand has three seasons: hot, hotter, and hottest. It’s always warm, though the weather is nicest between November and February (which is also peak tourist season). Bangkok is “coolest” and driest during this time (but still averaging a hot 29°C/85°F each day). April and May are the hottest months, and the rainy season is June-October. The gulf islands get pretty rainy from August to December.

The dry season in Cambodia is from November-May and the cool season is from November-February (and when most people visit). Temperatures during this time are still high, but humidity is lower. Laos has the same cool season as Cambodia, with the dry season running from November-April.

In the Philippines, it’s mostly warm all year long with an average daily high of 26°C (80°F). There are rainy and dry seasons and temperatures are hot and dry from March-May and cooler December-February. The best time to visit is between January-April when it’s less humid. Monsoon Season is July-October.

For more information on when to go to places, visit the specific country guides.

How to Stay Safe in Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia is an incredibly safe place to backpack and travel — even if you’re traveling solo and even as a solo female traveler. Violent crime is super, duper rare. Petty theft (including bag snatching) is the most common type of crime in Southeast Asia, especially around popular tourist landmarks. Always keep your valuables out of reach on public transportation and in crowds just to be safe. Never leave your valuables unattended while at the beach and always keep a hold of your purse/bag when out and about as bag snatching is common.

That said, outside touristy areas, theft is really rare. Heck, it’s pretty rare in touristy areas too! But a little vigilance goes a long way and it’s better to be safe than sorry.

There are some common scams around that you’ll want to be aware of, such as the motorbike scam. This involves a bike rental company trying to charge you for damage to the bike that you didn’t cause. To avoid this, always take photos of your rental before you leave so you can protect yourself from baseless claims.

Another common scam involves a tuk-tuk driver taking you somewhere you didn’t want to go in hopes you’ll buy something from the shop/restaurant he dropped you off at (he gets a commission if you do). Simply refuse to buy anything and demand to go back to where you were — or find another driver.

For other common travel scams, read this post about major travel scams to avoid in the region .

Solo female travelers should feel safe here, though it’s generally a good idea to avoid walking around alone at night just to be safe. It’s always a good idea to carry some extra cash to get home in a taxi if you need to. Additionally, always keep an eye on your drink at the bar and never accept drinks from strangers. Be sensible when it comes to dating while traveling and meeting people in public places. As I’m not a woman, please check out some solo female travel blogs to get the best insight.

Overall, the people who get in trouble here tend to be involved with drugs or sex tourism. Avoid those two things and you should be fine. Keep in mind that it’s not always obvious how old someone is or if they’re a sex worker so be mindful when getting involved in romantic interactions. Also, penalties for drug use in this region are stiff so even if you’re here to party, skip the drugs.

Always trust your gut instinct. Make copies of your personal documents, including your passport and ID. Forward your itinerary along to loved ones so they’ll know where you are.

For more in-depth coverage of how to stay safe in Southeast Asia, check out this post that answers some frequently asked questions and concerns.

The most important piece of advice I can offer is to purchase good travel insurance. Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. You can use the widget below to find the policy right for you:

Southeast Asia Travel Guide: The Best Booking Resources

These are my favorite companies to use when I travel. They consistently have the best deals, offer world-class customer service and great value, and overall, are better than their competitors. They are the companies I use the most and are always the starting point in my search for travel deals.

  • Skyscanner – Skyscanner is my favorite flight search engine. They search small websites and budget airlines that larger search sites tend to miss. They are hands down the number one place to start.
  • Hostelworld – This is the best hostel accommodation site out there with the largest inventory, best search interface, and widest availability.
  • Agoda – Other than Hostelworld, Agoda is the best hotel accommodation site for Asia.
  • – The best all around booking site that constantly provides the cheapest and lowest rates. They have the widest selection of budget accommodation. In all my tests, they’ve always had the cheapest rates out of all the booking websites.
  • Get Your Guide – Get Your Guide is a huge online marketplace for tours and excursions. They have tons of tour options available in cities all around the world, including everything from cooking classes, walking tours, street art lessons, and more!
  • SafetyWing – Safety Wing offers convenient and affordable plans tailored to digital nomads and long-term travelers. They have cheap monthly plans, great customer service, and an easy-to-use claims process that makes it perfect for those on the road.
  • LifeStraw – My go-to company for reusable water bottles with built-in filters so you can ensure your drinking water is always clean and safe.
  • Unbound Merino – They make lightweight, durable, easy-to-clean travel clothing.

Get the In-Depth Budget Guide to Thailand!

Get the In-Depth Budget Guide to Thailand!

My detailed 350+ page guidebook is made for budget travelers like you! It cuts out the fluff found in other guidebooks and gets straight to the practical information you need to travel around Thailand. You’ll find suggested itineraries, budgets, ways to save money, on and off-the-beaten-path things to see and do, non-touristy restaurants, markets, bars, safety tips, and much more! Click here to learn more and get your copy today.

Southeast Asia Travel Guide: Related Articles

Want more info? Check out all the articles I’ve written on Southeast Asia travel and continue planning your trip:

The 4 Best Hostels in Singapore

The 4 Best Hostels in Singapore

The 6 Best Hostels in Bali

The 6 Best Hostels in Bali

The 22 Best Things to Do in Bangkok

The 22 Best Things to Do in Bangkok

5 LGBTQ Travel Tips for Asia

5 LGBTQ Travel Tips for Asia

Is Southeast Asia Safe for Travelers?

Is Southeast Asia Safe for Travelers?

Backpacking Cambodia: 3 Suggested Itineraries for Your Trip

Backpacking Cambodia: 3 Suggested Itineraries for Your Trip

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  • Booking Resources
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best travel places on a budget

The Best US Vacation Destinations To Travel To On A Budget

I n the U.S., the interest in domestic tourism has risen from 2022 to 2023 by as much as 39%, with 80% of adults planning domestic travel in 2024. Although domestic travel generates an average of $918 billion per year, you don't necessarily want to contribute a huge chunk of that yourself. When it comes to your vacation budget, you don't  want to spend more than 10% of your net income on a vacation.

With the average cost of a week-long vacation in the U.S. hitting $1,984 for a single person and $3,969 for a couple in mid-2023, and the average domestic flight up almost 10% to $381.55 due to inflation in 2023, that may be easier said than done if you don't do a little research first. Unfortunately, 55% of us don't consider travel when we take our yearly budgets into account at all, and since most of that goes onto a credit card with creeping interest, some Americans find themselves overwhelmed and going into debt. For a cheaper but equally fun vacation that will protect your credit and your wallet, these are the best destinations within the U.S. to travel on a budget.

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Destin, Florida

Destin, Florida doesn't get as much praise as more popular Floridian locales like Miami, Orlando, or Palm Beach. However, Destin is still part of the Sunshine State, and there are cheap options for an incredible vacation to be found. The Florida coastline offers several free amazing beaches including Destin, Miramar, and Walton Beach, as well as sunrise and sunset views that make lounging or a picnic at any time of the day a pleasure. Other free excursions include a walk along the harbor at Harborwalk Village, where you can find reasonably priced food and fun in the form of restaurants, watersports rentals, boat tours, fireworks, and free Tuesday movie nights on the beach.

Destin averages 61 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit on 343 sun-soaked days each year, with rounded quartz courtesy of the Appalachian Mountains and the previous Ice Age to thank for its golden beach sands. In terms of culture, museums like the Destin History & Fishing Museum reveal the history of the fishing industry in Destin from the 1830s to today. If you like fishing but don't want to spend money chartering a fishing boat excursion, drop a line into the water at The Island Pier at Fort Walton Beach, where an adult fishing pass will set you back a budget-friendly $8. 

Williamsburg, Virginia

Williamsburg, Virginia boasts over 4 million visitors each year, with a pedigree that includes three U.S. presidents, the second-oldest university in the nation, and colonial Williamsburg — an old settlement lying at the center of the Historic Triangle — that includes neighbors Jamestown and Yorktown to the east and west. This is a vacation locale for the American history buff or anyone interested in exploring the nation's history and early culture. For $119, purchase a Historic Triangle Ticket to gain seven days of access to all the historic museum and trade store sites Williamsburg, and neighboring Jamestown and Yorktown, have to offer.

Skip the hotel if you're driving an RV by parking at the Williamsburg Campground, 80 acres of greenspace close to everything including free Wi-Fi, cabins, and yurts if an RV isn't your speed, and activities like splash pads and pools. If you're a first responder, take 10% off your stay.  Orbitz shows prices between $80 to $191 per night. 

St. Paul, Minnesota

Airbnb offers over 1,000 locations in and around St. Paul — some as low as $101 to $144 U.S. per night. With 3- and 4-star-hotel prices generally in the same vicinity, there's no reason to find yourself trapped in an overpriced situation here. St. Paul and Minneapolis are the Twin Cities of Minnesota, with over 160 parks and access to eight lakes. Named after the apostle Paul by Roman Catholic missionary Lucien Galtier in 1841, the region has been host to a wide array of people including Indigenous tribes, European settlers, and more recently, African-American, Asian, and Hispanic communities who have grown to about one-third of the population.

There are free guided tours of the State Capitol, housed within the second biggest marbled dome on earth, not to be outdone by the Landmark Center, where you can enjoy free lunchtime ballet performances every Tuesday, Gangster Ghost Tours for $10 per person, and live music on Wednesdays. If you're an art lover, be sure to visit the Minnesota Museum of American Art, which has free admission to the public every day of the week. The Como Park Zoo & Conservatory is open every day of the year and admission is free with a suggested donation of $4 for adults. You'll find amusement park rides, zoo animals, and a beautiful floral garden to walk through. 

Jacksonville, Florida

Jacksonville, Florida is another Floridian destination that beats Miami and Orlando on cost. The weather is beautiful, sunny, and conducive to a budget-friendly vacation. Jacksonville has you all set if you're up for an outdoor adventure. Surfing, boating, paddleboarding, and fishing are easy to access from Jacksonville Beach Fishing Pier, Neptune Beach, and Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park. The latter boasts 450 acres of green space and dunes for on- and off-road biking and hiking. Timucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve has 46,000 free square feet of parks and woodland for picnics and outdoor fun.

As per Visit Jacksonville , your furry friends will be able to soak up the sun with you since Jacksonville has some of the most dog-friendly options of any spot in the state. Atlantic Beach, Jacksonville Beach, Mayport Naval Air Station, and Neptune Beach are the best beaches to bring your pup, with a few restrictions. Atlantic Beach and Neptune Beach require your dog to stay on a leash, although Neptune does have dog-friendly patios for grub. Atlantic Beach has a $3 to $5 entry fee, which is much less than an entry ticket to Disneyland. 

Columbus, Ohio

Columbus, Ohio is among the cheapest Mid-Western big cities to visit for a weekend, with lodging typically hovering between $100 and $200 per night for a decent hotel in the city center. With 20 parks like Scioto Audubon Metro Park, you'll have plenty of free time to explore, picnic, or just lay around among floral surroundings. Cornhenge may sound corny, but if the idea of a public art exhibit featuring over 109 stalks of corn floats your boat, the Field of Corn is a must-see. North Market Downtown is a massive market full of cheap eats and shopping in support of local vendors. Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum is for fans of comics and cartoons and is free to experience. Meanwhile, Seventh Son Brewery offers local brew and food trucks serving budget-conscious eats all in one place.

In terms of free activities, there are several to choose from. The Columbus Museum of Art is Free every Sunday and Ohio State University's museums are also free to enter. Parks like Inniswood Metro Gardens and Blendon Woods Metro Park are free and perfect for picnics, hiking, and nature-watching.

Kings Canyon National Park, California

Aside from its abundance of natural beauty, Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks also host the General Grant Grove, and the General Sherman Tree, the second largest and largest trees in the world, respectively. As per the National Park Service , permits are required to enjoy the park and can be obtained easily six months in advance through for $15. There's an additional $5 upcharge per person added to the permit, which is still a steal.

Summer is the best time to camp, hike, or fish in the park. Spring is best to experience the blooming season, and Autumn is a great time to take a long hike, so long as you're dressed and packed for colder weather. A $20 shuttle bus from the Visalia Transit Center will take you to the park's most scenic areas. In terms of accessibility, the trails are even wheelchair friendly so everyone can go on a hike. If you bring your vehicle, long scenic drives are also a possibility, and aside from the cost of gas and your permit, will cost you very little. 

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Yellowstone National Park is a gem of domestic travel in the U.S. and gives you a week of access for as little as $20 to $35, depending on if you're on foot or in need of parking for anything from a bicycle to an SUV, while an annual pass is $70. This is inarguably the cheapest way to stay and places you right inside the park for easy access. 2.2 million acres of wilderness offer geysers, hiking trails, lakes, canyons, and wildlife including wolves and grizzlies. While you shouldn't get close to either, carrying bear spray is advised, and if you see them, make enough noise to not surprise any animals. Should you encounter any bears or wolves, ensure you stay at least 100 yards away from them. The Mammoth and Grand Prismatic Hot Springs are natural wonders, with the latter being named for its prism-like rainbow coloration caused by thermophilic bacteria attracted to warmth. 

Fargo, North Dakota

Fargo, North Dakota is more than the name of an award-winning film. It's also an excellent choice for a frugal vacation.It's an ideal road trip destination traveling from Bismarck. A ride of under four hours takes you to The World's Largest Buffalo, the Buffalo Museum, and the woodchipper used for nefarious means in the movie of the same name at the Fargo-Moorhead Convention and Visitors Bureau. Another four hours along I-29 will take you to the majestic Sioux Falls to the South.

The region's largest farmer's market, the Red River Market, happens seasonally on Saturdays with free parking for motorists and free shuttle buses with a bus voucher you can download from the website. If you're a Snap user, you can use your EBT card and get $30 in spending money for $15 from your account. Visit the Drekker Brewing Company and Brewhalla, a food and drink hall inside the brewery with regular events. The Fargo Air Museum highlights aircraft going as far back as The Wright Brothers up to present-day unmanned aircraft. A $15 ticket gets you up an up close and personal aeronautic excellence. 

Grand Canyon, Arizona

The Grand Canyon is one of the seven natural wonders of the world, and absolutely deserves its spot on this list. If flying, your best bet is to rent a vehicle at Flagstaff Pulliam Airport in Flagstaff, Arizona, which is a 90-minute drive form the park entrance. While a helicopter ride is another option, that one comes at $250 per person. Your cheapest choice in terms of lodgings is camping in the North Rim, just hope the desert weather holds up. A trip to the Canyon Village Market to stock up on provisions will keep you out of pricey tourist trap restaurants. Again, the North Rim offers buffet dining with a spectacular view at the Grand Dining Room for a night you feel like more than beans and franks. Infinitely Instagrammable, exhaustingly hike-able, and thanks to a one-day float trip that will take you down the Colorado River for under $100 per person, it's floatable too. $30 gets your vehicle passage to the grounds for up to four people, and along with a tent, bring spare gas and water so you don't have to worry about spending extra on any of that, either. 

San Antonio, Texas

To get the most out of a budget-friendly trip to San Antonio, start by buying and downloading a San Antonio pass , which can save you up to 50% on attractions including Sea World, Six Flags, and the San Antonio Missions UNESCO site. The pass covers you for up to 60 days and can save you a lot of money on places you would likely end up visiting anyway. While significantly less expensive, free may be more your speed. If that's the case, take a walk through a Japanese Tea Garden with a 60-foot waterfall, enjoy a swim at the San Pedro Park Pool with skate parks, picnic areas, and tennis courts, or take a hike through the Friedrich Wilderness Park.

If cultural attractions are your thing, The McNay Art Museum offers free admission every Thursday with daily free access for military servicemen and servicewomen, veterans, and their family members. The Tobin Center for the Performing Arts is a state-of-the-art theatre with many great performances from music to dance and stageplays, with tickets starting around $30. If you want to get your morning stretch in, you can join in on a free yoga class every Sunday morning and take a self-guided one-hour tour of the park when you're done.

Washington, D.C.

Free walking tours are part of the appeal of the nation's capital, with landmarks like the Lincoln Memorial and the White House along the route, the latter of which you would be wise to book a few months in advance. The Smithsonian Museums, a group of 17 different institutions, are all free to visit and are quite thought-provoking. A stroll along the Tidal Basin, adorned with beautiful cherry blossoms along calm waters, will also take you by the Martin Luther King, Jr., Thomas Jefferson, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorials. Three-star hotels can be found for $150 to $175 per night in the city center.

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts offers free tours, the National Gallery of Art is free to enter, and Palmer Alley, although spectacular to walk through, is also free to do. There are free guided walking tours of D.C. with tipping suggested but not required. The Library of Congress is home to 164 million different books, archival photos, recordings, and maps, and that just barely scratches the surface. Amazing art is housed by immaculate architecture in a building worthy of spending a day in the largest library in the world.

Asheville, North Carolina

The great outdoors continues to reign supreme where a cheaper vacation is concerned, and Asheville doesn't disappoint with the North Carolina Arboretum's over 400 acres of trees, hiking, and bike trails. While parking is $16, access to the park is free. Rent a c anoe or Kayak and take a two to three-hour floating tour through the River Side Arts District for $50, where you can enjoy a pair of breweries and art shops along the way. In the summer months, check out the Houston-Astros-affiliated Asheville Tourists Baseball Club, where adult admission is just $11. The S&W market is a colossal 10,000 square-foot food hall Fodor's called one of the top 10 best food halls in the U.S. Weekly events include Brews, Blues & Brunch with a live blues band every Sunday, Drag Music Bingo hosted by Divine the Bearded Lady every second Friday. If wine is more your jam, visit Bottle Riot in the River Arts District with special events and live DJs spinning vinyl every week. Soul Sundays offers Mimosas and Bloody Marys for $7. 

Cannon Beach, Oregon

Cannon Beach is a small coastal city in Oregon about 80 miles northwest of Portland. According to the Cannon Beach Chamber of Commerce, there are free weekly concerts and a playground area for families with young children at City Park. If tennis or pickleball tickles your fancy, you can borrow rackets and balls from the nearby Visitor Information Center to use a pair of tennis courts or four mobile pickleball nets for Wimbledon-level solo or team matches. The summer season allows you to bring out your inner child at a beachfront sandcastle contest. 

If the region's history is of interest, check out the Cannon Beach History Center and Museum and a historical walking tour of the city. If you're an art lover, check out the local arts and culture scene at Cannon Beach with a Public Art Tour. The area has a bohemian style dating back to the 1960s and 1970s with opportunities to engage with the local arts community — like an annual Sculpture Without Walls competition — creating visual spectacles like outdoor sculptures and installations. You'll find over a dozen public art displays along the beach between parks, sidewalks, and boulevards. Best of all, everything mentioned here is free to experience. 

Read the original article on Money Digest .

More From Forbes

Affordable summer vacations 2024: how and where to travel for less.

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Monte Argentario in Tuscany, Italy—one of the cheapest destinations to head this summer?

As Google reveals that one of its most popular travel search trends is currently 'cheap summer vacations', there are lots of ways that travelers can find ideas to travel for less.

This is particularly important as Bloomberg reports that the post-pandemic travel boom, merged with curbs on hotel construction, overtourism and restrictions on Airbnb in many cities, is sending hotel rates sky high, especially in Europe.

It's also clear that travelers might be feeling the pinch. Vacasa, the home rental platform found that while 4th July and Memorial Day will be the big summer travel weekends, its poll suggests that some people have shifted their travel plans or planning behavior to be more budget conscious (81% of respondents), driven significantly by higher cost of living and inflation (74%).

Ways To Find Cheap Summer Vacations

Bloomberg recommends ignoring Instagram feeds for overhyped, over-expensive destinations and instead hitting places under the social radar for cheap summer vacations —in Italy, this might be the picturesque Costiera Cilentana, an hour from the Amalfi coast or the stylish but under-developed peninsula of Monte Argentario, just 90 minutes from Rome's Fiumicino airport.

If Italy still seems like too much on the beaten European track, Romania's travel star has been rising for a while, hot on the heels of the much-beloved (and still relatively cheap) Albania .

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There are also alternatives to the hotel for cheap summer vacations. Bloomberg reports that European hotel rates have increased 50% since 2019, according to market researcher CoStar Group, so maybe a boat would be better value.

Alternatively, HomeExchange, the home swap website, allows members unlimited exchanges for only $220 per year, meaning you can travel relatively cheaply but also visit places that might not be quite so crowded this summer.

The U.K's Telegraph also advocates finding some of the nicest youth hostels or staying in a mountain bothy in Britain —these are remote shelters in some of the most breathtaking hills and woods across the U.K. that are free to use for just an annual subscription of $32 from The Mountain Bothies Association. There are similar refuge schemes across Europe in the most spectacular places—many also run a basic menu for breakfast and dinner.

Change your mode of travel for cheap summer vacations. Though there are cheaper ways to fly (the London to New York route remains one of the most competitive, if you are available to fly at any time) but one of the most inexpensive ways to travel on holiday this summer might be by train.

The Telegraph lists several examples, notably Eurostar tickets if you book a long time in advance (around $50 one-way)—it's sometimes easier to find deals if you book to Brussels and not London to Paris. The 51-hour rail journey from Chicago, Illinois to Emeryville, California can be had for just under $100 if booked in advance.

Inter-railing across Europe can be cost-effective or you can take the train on a 28-hour, 1,300-mile journey from New Delhi to Goa for just $13 (first class is only $67)—and it can cost less than a dollar to travel across parts of the Himalayas.

Change your mode of finance for cheap summer vacations. One final way of limiting the damage is to use multi-trip travel insurance (if you travel often) and definitely go for a bank card that doesn't add on charges for overseas use and find one that charges lower fees when transfering between different exchange rates.

Alex Ledsom

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The Cheapest Places to Retire Abroad on $1K Per Month

Here’s where you can retire well overseas on a very small budget.

The Cheapest Places to Retire Abroad

Costa Nova do Prado, also known as the Portuguese Venice, is undoubtedly the most famous beach in Aveiro and its famous palheiros stand out, old fishermen's houses converted into colorful homes that attract attention due to their unique decoration based on horizontal stripes , vertical, green, red, yellow…

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Portugal is a popular retirement destination with its warm climate and friendly locals.

Key Takeaways

  • Retiring abroad on $1,000 per month doesn't mean sacrificing quality of life. Many countries offer excellent health care, infrastructure and amenities at a fraction of the cost compared to the U.S.
  • The cheapest places to retire abroad include Panama, the Philippines, Portugal, Malaysia, Mexico, Thailand and Vietnam.
  • Before making the move, consider expenses such as travel costs, taxes and visas, which can vary significantly from one country to another.
  • During your retirement abroad, stretch your budget by embracing local culture, cuisine and lifestyle.

Moving to a lower-cost country does not mean you need to compromise on quality of life. The level of medical care, infrastructure and other important lifestyle factors can be as high as, or even superior to, U.S. equivalents. Many international locations cater to expat retirees looking for an enjoyable lifestyle and the chance to discover new places and cultures.

Before you go, you’ll need to determine how much you can afford to spend. Factor travel costs, such as flights back to the U.S. to visit family, into your overall budget. There are also taxes and visas to consider, which can vary from one country to another.

We spoke with travel and budget experts who have lived in and visited more than 50 countries, tracking living costs worldwide.

Consider these places if you have a budget of as little as $1,000 per month. Locations are listed in alphabetical order.

  • Philippines.

You’ll find lower costs of living for accommodation, food and transportation in this country. “ Malaysia has a rich culture, wonderful food and beautiful scenery,” said George Lagonakis, a travel blogger at WorldTripVibe, in an email. The biggest expat communities in the country can be found on Penang Island and Kuala Lumpur. Boating and fishing are popular pastimes on Penang Island, where retirees can also enjoy swimming and strolling the beaches. In the mountains, you can also hike trails or go bird-watching. Kuala Lumpur is the capital and economic center of the country, as well as one of the largest cities in Southeast Asia.

With its warm climate, beautiful beaches and colorful displays, Mexico may be a retiree's paradise. “Places like Puerto Vallarta and Merida offer a lower cost of living while still providing access to modern amenities and a welcoming expat community,” said Peter Hamdy, founder of Auckland & Beyond Tours, in an email. San Miguel de Allende and Ajijic are also popular places for expats. “Embracing the local culture and lifestyle can help stretch your budget,” Hamdy said. “Instead of dining at fancy restaurants, try sampling delicious street food or exploring local markets for fresh produce. It's not only more affordable but also a great way to immerse yourself in the local culture.”

Just a short flight from the U.S., Panama offers the chance to explore a new country and still visit home regularly. “Panama has much lower living expenditures than the U.S., especially for housing,” Lagonakis said. Panama offers a favorable tax environment, as it only taxes locally sourced income. The country has a warm, inviting culture and regularly holds festivals and folkloric events. Retirees could also take advantage of Panama's unique location and travel to nearby Caribbean or South American destinations.

You might look at living in Panama City, which draws in residents from around the world. There's also Chitré, a town located on the Pacific Coast’s Azuero Peninsula, about four hours west of Panama City by car. It’s a regional commerce and transportation hub with hospitals, shopping options, restaurants and entertainment.


If you’re looking for a warm place where you can easily get by speaking English, the Philippines may be a good choice. This country has gained popularity among the retiree community in recent years, according to Sharon Maxwell, chief editor of SmartSEA Travel, who is originally from the Philippines. You might settle in the capital of Manila, which has everything from hospitals to shopping and entertainment. Or you could choose Cebu, an island province popular with expats.

Living in the Philippines, “your $1,000 could go far,” Maxwell said in an email. “It can cover the housing cost, health care and leisure activities. English is spoken widely (and) it's sunny 90% of the year.” While some areas of the country cater to tourists, the U.S. State Department has issued warnings for certain regions. Check the travel advisory before planning a trip.

The warm climate, friendly locals and entertainment options draw many retirees to Portugal . Living here could be a gateway to explore other parts of the region as well. “Portugal has a slower pace of life and lower cost of living than many other European countries,” Lagonakis said. “Retirement is popular in the Algarve because of its magnificent beaches, sunny weather and reasonable homes.” You might try local cuisine, visit the wine country, and explore castles and other historical sites during your time there.

Approximately 3 to 4 million foreigners live in Thailand , many of whom are retirees. They are drawn to the country’s natural beauty and affordable prices. “The cost of living is relatively low, which means retirement savings can go a long way,” Hamdy said. “From delicious street food to affordable health care, Thailand offers a great quality of life at a fraction of the cost compared to many Western countries.”

One possible option for retirees is Chiang Rai in northern Thailand, located in the temperate foothills of one of the country’s highest mountain ranges. Or you could head to Phuket, Thailand’s biggest island and one of the most popular destinations for tourists and retirees. It is known for its white sand beaches, crystal clear waters and gorgeous sunsets.

If you’re considering Vietnam for retirement, “beautiful scenery, nice people and a rich culture define the country,” Lagonakis said. You’ll pay less for housing, groceries, transportation and health care. You might enjoy the chance to learn about the country's culture, people and history. With its warm sands and collection of cafes and restaurants, the beach city of Da Nang is a popular choice for retirees. Another top choice for retirees is Nha Trang, a coastal resort city in the south known for its beautiful ocean views, diving sites and offshore islands.

Top Travel Destinations for Retirees

Rachel Hartman June 13, 2023

Mather Point scenic viewpoint at the Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, United States

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Choose your own adventure: Where to go and how to save on summer vacations

best travel places on a budget

Revenge travel is so last year.

“It's not necessarily about just getting out of the house anymore,” said Sydney Stanback, Global Insights and Trends lead at Pinterest, which has seen more than 1 billion travel searches and more than 10 billion travel saves over the past year. 

Sure, many of the usual suspects are once again among the most popular destinations across multiple search engines this year, but she said this summer, “It's more so about traveling with intention.” 

According to NerdWallet’s Summer 2024 Travel Report , 45% of Americans plan to take a trip requiring a hotel stay or flight this summer with expenses averaging just under $3,600. A fifth of those travelers expect to go into debt to pay for vacations.

Here’s what to consider when booking a summer trip, including where to go, when to travel and how to save:

Learn more: Best travel insurance

What is the best place to travel in summer? 

The answer is subjective, especially this summer.

“Everyone's kind of choosing their own adventure based off of what their needs are for travel,” Stanback said. 

Pinterest’s Summer 2024 Travel Report found summer travelers are most interested in adventure, exploring mysterious or uncharted destinations, and rest. Searches for “quiet life” jumped 530%, but that doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone.

“My mother actually just took a yoga retreat to Panama,” Stanback said. “That's what she needed to do in order to get the rest that she needed and the well-being that she needed. But for me, when I think of rest and restoration, I simply think about going to a beach spa and just sitting and being by myself.”

Solo travel remains popular. Solo travel searches reached an all-time high in Google in January, but again, not for everyone.

“For Gen Z specifically, that need is to gather and reconnect with their community because they were in isolation for so long and during very meaningful moments in their lives,” Stanback said. She noted group travel and road trips are of keen interest to Gen Z.

“It's not necessarily about traveling and going out and going to restaurants and going to bars and clubs,” she added. “We actually see that a lot with younger generations. They’re kind of stepping away from that and really considering their well-being when they're taking time off.”

Where do most tourists go in summer?

Expedia’s Summer Outlook and Google Flights identified the same cities among their most searched summer 2024 destinations based on flights, though rankings varied by platform.

Top 5 domestic destinations 

◾ Orlando, Florida

◾ Los Angeles

◾ Las Vegas

Top 5 international destinations

◾ Cancun, Mexico

◾ Paris, host of the Summer Olympics

Allianz Partners found slightly different results in their analysis of “more than six million flight itineraries for trips between five and eight days in length for travel booked between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day.”

Instead of LA and Vegas, Allianz named Boston and Honolulu among this summer’s top five domestic destinations. Internationally, San Jose del Cabo, Mexico; Oranjestad, Aruba; and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, made Allianz’s top five, instead of Rome, Paris and Tokyo.

“I am expecting crowds to rival last summer's in popular overseas cities,” Expedia’s travel expert Melanie Fish said, noting how places like Barcelona and Venice are trying to curb overtourism. “They're trying fees and if that's not enough, they're going to have to go even further.”

How can I save on a trip?

Summer trips are already costly for many travelers. “Americans with household income under $100,000 accounted for nearly half (46%) of intended leisure travel spend in summer 2023,” according to Deloitte’s Facing travel’s future report from April.

Expedia’s Fish shared five tips for booking summer 2024 vacations:

◾ Bundle your trip. Booking airfare and a hotel at the same time can earn you deep discounts.

◾ Travel midweek or later in the summer if it's an option. You'll save money and save yourself from fighting crowds. 

◾ Fly early in the day … The early bird who takes the first flight of the day will typically get a better price and a lower chance of delays and cancellations.

◾ Book once, earn twice. You can stack rewards from your travel credit card (and) your airline.

◾ Just go. Don't pressure yourself to create the trip of a lifetime … Do it in a bite-sized chunk if possible. 

'Expensive in every way': What travelers should expect this summer

How far ahead should I book travel?

“The sweet spot is now,” Fish said. “We're within that 21- to 60-day pre-travel window to save around 15% on airfare, so now is the time to plan. That means ready, set, but maybe wait until August to actually go.”

She said travelers can save an average of $250 on international flights if they wait until the peak summer travel season passes. 

“It's 15% cheaper on average to fly domestically in August versus June, 30% cheaper to fly to Europe in late summer, and 55% cheaper to fly to Mexico and the Caribbean in August,” she said. “Of course, August is peak hurricane season , so that has something to do with that price dip.”

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20 Cheapest Places to Travel Around the World in 2024

Find your budget-friendly vacation in the U.S. or beyond.

best travel places on a budget

Taylor McIntyre/Travel + Leisure

The travel bug continues to bite in 2024, and data indicates growth in both domestic and international trips, along with a cost increase for hotels and transportation. But don't worry as it’s still possible to take an economical vacation whether you want to travel near or far.

Kayak , one of the world’s leading travel search engines, shared with Travel + Leisure a list of domestic and international destinations for low-cost trips. To determine the most wallet-friendly locations, the company analyzed flight searches from July 2023 through December 2023 for travel during 2024. The top 250 most-clicked destinations with the lowest average combined flight and hotel price were considered, excluding outliers based on certain criteria such as travel restrictions and security concerns. Prices and percentages are on average and subject to change.

With that in mind, here are some of the most affordable places to travel in the U.S. and around the world in 2024.

Denver, Colorado

Brad McGinley Photography/Travel + Leisure

With an average price of $486 for flight and hotel, the Mile High City features a walkable downtown with restaurants, museums, entertainment, and shopping. Low-cost rail service from Denver International Airport to Union Station is not only convenient, but it also takes travelers to the historic Beaux-Arts terminal, where there’s an array of restaurants, stores, and a hotel. Visitors can catch a major league baseball game in town or a concert at Red Rocks Amphitheatre .

Chicago, Illinois

Cory Giguere/Travel + Leisure

In addition to its excellent restaurants, stunning architecture cruise on the Chicago River, and Navy Pier amusement area, Chicago offers museums like the Art Institute and the Museum of Science and Industry . For an average price of $493 for hotel and flight, visitors can enjoy low-cost fun on Lake Michigan’s beaches, the Riverwalk , and Grant Park . Another favorite is Millennium Park, where the gleaming Cloud Gate sculpture — nicknamed “The Bean” — provides a popular photo op. 

Atlanta, Georgia

Jackson Vance/Travel + Leisure

For an average of $495 for hotel and flight, vacationers can land in Atlanta, home of world-class restaurants and a lively cultural scene that includes concert venues, theaters, museums, and galleries. For a low-cost way to get to know the city, stroll among its murals and street art. You can also explore Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Park , Centennial Olympic Park (which commemorates the 1996 Summer Olympics), the Georgia Aquarium , or Zoo Atlanta .

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Kayak’s average of $503 for flight and hotel can be the start of an enjoyable affordable vacation in Minneapolis. A stroll through the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden at the Walker Art Center takes you through 11 acres of outdoor exhibits. Browse the 500-plus stores in America’s largest shopping mall, the Mall of America , or on a smaller scale, there’s the Midtown Global Market with food, crafts, and cultural events. Bike, boat, or jog at the Chain of Lakes Regional Park , or walk the enclosed elevated pathways of the 9.5-mile Skyway .

Portland, Oregon

paulacobleigh/Travel + Leisure

Plan around Kayak's average of $509 for hotel and flight, and you can enjoy Portland’s culinary offerings without breaking the bank when you head for the food carts . When in the Rose City, explore the free International Rose Test Garden , home to more than 10,000 roses as well as great views of downtown and Mount Hood. If you visit between March and December, browse the Portland Saturday Market for art, crafts, and food. Book fans will want to check out Powell’s City of Books , the largest used and new bookstore in the world.

Charlotte, North Carolina

espiegle/Travel + Leisure

You don’t have to be a car fan to enjoy the Nascar Hall of Fame , where interactive exhibits and racing simulators entertain and educate. Your $512 average cost for flight and hotel will go far with meals at The Market at 7th Street , an indoor food court. At Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden , spend a relaxing day among flowers, fountains, and walking paths. There’s more action at Whitewater Center , which has more than 30 land and water activities, including whitewater rafting, kayaking, rock climbing, mountain biking, and more.

Orlando, Florida

Taylor McIntyre/Travel + Leisure

For an average of $516 for flight and hotel, you can get to Orlando, where you’ll find there’s more to enjoy than the famous theme parks. Get to know the historic Winter Park area on a cruise among lakes, canals, opulent homes, and wildlife. Rent a pedal-powered swan boat at Lake Eola in downtown Orlando or stroll through Lake Nona Sculpture Garden , an outdoor art gallery set among lush landscaping. When you get hungry, browse and nosh on fresh fruit and local specialties at one of Orlando’s farmers markets .

Tampa, Florida

Michela Sieman/Travel + Leisure

Walk along Tampa’s 2.6-mile Riverwalk , visit the Tampa Museum of Art , hop on the Pirate Water Taxi , or tour the American Victory Ship . Save on these attractions and more with a Riverwalk Pass , making the most of the average flight and hotel cost of $534. At Armature Works on the river, you can grab a snack, shop, or enjoy the view. Take a walking tour of historic Ybor City, once the Cigar Capital of the World. Today, it's home to vintage buildings and Cuban restaurants.

Dallas, Texas

4kodiak/Travel + Leisure

For an average flight and hotel cost of $553, you'll touch down in Dallas, where you can get a bird’s-eye view of the city from Reunion Tower . Then, head to the Arts District , which is home to museums and Klyde Warren Park . Hungry? Food trucks are there every day, and you might catch some live music or a fitness class. Visit one of the many Dallas parks or experience Trinity Groves for dining, entertainment, and views of the Trinity River.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Christopher Larson/Travel + Leisure

The historic City of Brotherly Love offers museums, Independence National Historical Park , and public art such as the Rocky statue and Love sculpture for free and entertaining ways to get to know the city. For an average of $564 for flight and hotel, a trip to Philadelphia is also a delight for foodies. At Reading Terminal Market , there’s food from around the world along with vendors selling handicrafts. The open-air South 9th Street Italian Market ’s gourmet selection includes cheeses, meats, and chocolates — fun for both browsing and dining.

Mexico City, Mexico

Itzel Garrido/Travel + Leisure

For an average cost of $673 for flight and hotel, Mexico City offers an exciting getaway with museums, parks, restaurants, and history. You can spend a day in Bosque de Chapultepec , Mexico City’s largest park featuring a zoo, monuments, a lake with pedal boats, restaurants, and museums, including the Museo Nacional de Antropología . One of the city’s most popular museums is La Casa Azul , once the home of Frida Kahlo and now the place to see work from the artist and her husband, artist Diego Rivera.

Toronto, Canada

BrakeThrough Media/Travel + Leisure

Both locals and visitors enjoy St. Lawrence Market in the historic Old Town, where there’s fresh produce, handcrafts, and gourmet specialties. But for an average flight and hotel cost of $692, Toronto offers even more to see and do, from lively nightlife and sports events. Browse the street art in the Kensington Market neighborhood, explore the Queen Street West area, and check out the shops, galleries, and dining spots in the popular Distillery District . You'll also want to visit Casa Loma , a 1914 castle in the heart of Toronto.

Montreal, Canada

For an average flight and hotel cost of $705, your trip to Montreal might start with one of the city’s famous bagels. Still hungry? Head to the open-air Jean-Talon Market in Little Italy, which sells fresh produce, spices, chocolates, cheeses, and more. At the (free) Barbie Expo , more than 1,000 dolls in designer outfits are on display. Parc du Mont-Royal is a year-round attraction with row boats on the lake during the summer and stunning city views from the top of the hill.

Panama City, Panama

Anna Haines/Travel + Leisure

You can arrive in Panama City for an average flight and hotel cost of $745. First-time visitors will want to see the Panama Canal, and the Miraflores Visitor Center houses a museum and viewing platform. Browse or tour Panama City’s historic Casco Antiguo neighborhood, dating to 1673, with colorful buildings, restaurants, and nightlife. The Amador Causeway features views of the sea and city skyline, restaurants, an artisan market, and places to walk or bike.

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Ana Alarcon/Travel + Leisure

For $836 for a flight and hotel, you can enjoy a sunny escape to Puerto Vallarta. This vacation destination has plenty of free and low-cost entertainment, plus you can manage your budget with an all-inclusive hotel . Stroll along the Malecón bordering Banderas Bay to see sculptures, music performances, and street vendors. Visit the Zona Romántica for restaurants, shops, and the popular Los Muertos Beach. Los Arcos National Marine Park offers swimming, paddleboarding, snorkeling, gorgeous scenery, and marine life.

Cozumel, Mexico

YinYang/Travel + Leisure

You can get to Cozumel, off Mexico's east coast, for an average of $846 for flight and hotel, and once there, the beaches are perfect for kayaking, sailing, and water sports. Arrecifes de Cozumel National Park’s marine life and coral reef make it a favorite among divers and snorkelers. The Celarain Lighthouse at Punta Sur Eco Beach Park is popular with hikers who come for the view and visitors who enjoy the museum.

Vancouver, Canada

Rory Fuller/Travel + Leisure

Arrive in Vancouver for an average flight and hotel price of $863. One of your first stops in the city should be Stanley Park , an urban oasis with a nearly 20-mile seawall, views of the waterfront, walking paths, forest trails, and more — all for free. Granville Island , popular with locals and visitors, features boutiques, entertainment, restaurants, and an indoor public market . For skiing, ice skating, and year-round dining and entertainment, head to Grouse Mountain , which also has a zip line, a cinema, a wildlife refuge, and spectacular views.

San José, Costa Rica

MarkHatfield/Travel + Leisure

At an average of $904 for a flight and hotel, San José, Costa Rica’s capital, is an exciting destination with incredible architecture, history, parks, and museums. The National Theater of Costa Rica offers tours of its opulent building with marble statues and plush decor, and La Paz Waterfall Gardens , about 1.5 hours outside the city, includes a butterfly garden, bird sanctuary, rain forest hiking trails, waterfalls, and the largest animal sanctuary in Costa Rica.

Cancun, Mexico

Located on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, Cancun is popular for its beaches, downtown, restaurants, hotels, and all-inclusive resorts . For an average of $935 for hotel and flight, you can arrive at Cancun International Airport for a sunny getaway. Explore Mayan ruins at Chichén Itzá , take the ferry to Isla Mujeres, or find a secluded beach at Playa Delfines. Look for street food and live music at El Parque de las Palapas, a small downtown plaza.

Reykjavik, Iceland

Irjaliina Paavonpera/Travel + Leisure

For an average of $943 for flight and hotel, you can be in the land of the northern lights and Blue Lagoon . Iceland is home to the nearly 200-mile Golden Circle , where visitors can see waterfalls, geysers, volcanic craters, hot springs, and Thingvellir National Park . In downtown Reykjavik, there’s shopping and dining along Laugavegur, and the must-see Sun Voyager steel sculpture has gorgeous waterfront views.

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10 most affordable countries to visit in 2024 for Indians

10 most affordable countries to visit in 2024 for Indians

  • Lightweight and breathable clothing suitable for trekking and exploring.
  • Trekking gear such as sturdy hiking boots, waterproof jackets, and backpacks.
  • Sunscreen, sunglasses, and a wide-brimmed hat for protection against the sun.
  • Lightweight clothing suitable for tropical weather.
  • Swimsuit and beachwear for coastal areas.
  • Light and breathable clothing suitable for humid weather.
  • Comfortable walking shoes for exploring cities and attractions.
  • Rain jacket or umbrella for unpredictable weather.
  • Vietnamese phrasebook or language app for basic communication.
  • Lightweight and modest clothing for visiting temples and cultural sites.
  • Insect repellent and sunscreen for protection against mosquitoes and sunburn.
  • Comfortable walking shoes for exploring markets and tourist attractions.
  • Lightweight and modest clothing suitable for hot and humid weather.
  • Sandals or flip-flops for beach outings and casual wear.
  • Waterproof bag or pouch for protecting electronic devices and valuables.
  • Lightweight and breathable clothing for exploring temples and outdoor sites.
  • Comfortable footwear for walking and exploring uneven terrain.
  • Reusable water bottle and snacks for staying hydrated and energised.


  • Lightweight clothing suitable for tropical weather and beach activities.
  • Swimsuit, snorkelling gear, and reef-safe sunscreen for water adventures.
  • Portable water purification system or water purification tablets for remote areas.
  • Light and breathable clothing suitable for warm and humid weather.
  • Comfortable walking shoes for exploring cities and nature reserves.
  • Travel adapter for charging electronic devices with Malaysian power outlets.
  • Modest clothing covering shoulders and knees for visiting temples and religious sites.
  • Comfortable walking shoes for exploring uneven terrain and historical sites.
  • Flashlight or headlamp for areas with limited lighting or power outages.
  • Warm clothing layers for cool evenings and high-altitude treks.
  • Sturdy hiking boots or shoes with good traction for mountain trails.

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10 most affordable countries to visit in 2024 for Indians

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7 Best Caribbean Islands To Visit In Summer 2024

From islands safe for solo female travelers to those suitable for budget tourists, these are the best Caribbean destinations to visit this summer.

  • Top Caribbean summer destinations offer diverse experiences, with lower rates, fewer crowds, and an authentic atmosphere.
  • Notable islands include Curaçao, Bonaire, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Aruba, and St. Lucia.
  • Summer is also hurricane season for much of the region, so consider looking into travel insurance when visiting the Caribbean during the summer months.

The Caribbean continues to reign as a top summer destination. Its islands take tourism by storm, and as summer 2024 approaches, their irresistible charm entices tourists to explore the gorgeous beaches, lush landscapes, and distinct traditions.

The top trending Caribbean islands offer the ultimate summer getaway, ideal for anyone seeking to relax under swaying palm trees, try exhilarating water-based adventures, or sample local cuisines. Better yet, each island has its unique appeal, so travelers have plenty of choices when deciding where to visit during summer.

The best part is that there are cheap Caribbean islands to fly to this summer , contrary to the popular belief that the region is a luxury destination. Budget-conscious travelers can take advantage of low-cost or free activities, street food stalls with delicious and inexpensive meals, and affordable accommodations. Whether traveling on a budget or seeking the ultimate luxury, these seven Caribbean islands should be on this summer's bucket list.

Paradise Calls: 7 Best Places To Travel To The Caribbean In May

7 saint lucia, a mountainous island that comes alive with summer festivals.

The most stunning destinations in Saint Lucia , from beaches to botanical gardens, are better explored in summer. During this period, the Caribbean island also delights tourists with its festivals, with events like the St. Lucia Carnival bringing the island to life with dance, music, and color. This event dates back to the 1940s and happens every July, allowing locals and visitors to celebrate the island’s rich Caribbean heritage and culture. The carnival features lively parades, one-of-a-kind costumes, various tournaments, and parties playing calypso, steelpan, and soca music.

While party lovers attend the festival, nature lovers explore Saint Lucia’s natural beauty at the Morne Coubaril Historical Adventure Park . The park offers thrilling zip-lining canopy adventures and guided hiking tours to the gorgeous Sapphire Falls.

6 Curaçao

Must-visit summer spot for unforgettable land and deep-sea adventures, epic events, and culinary experiences.

Curaçao’s location outside the hurricane zone makes it a prime Caribbean summer destination. The weather tends to be sunny, allowing beach lovers to soak in the sunshine or wade in the shallow, calm waters at the bustling Mambo Beach .

On the other hand, nature lovers explore the island’s dramatic coastline at the Shete Boka National Park . Visitors will discover a rock-carved staircase leading to the mouth of an underground cavern, providing a serene spot to sit and listen to the crashing waves. This park also protects several pocket bays, which three sea turtle species utilize as nesting areas from May through December. Summer is Curaçao’s off-season, meaning vacationers will find fewer crowds and spend less due to the discounted hotel rates.

Visit this Caribbean gem this summer for access to multiple diving sites and pristine beaches

Visiting Bonaire in the summer means lower hotel rates and fewer crowds compared to winter. This island also sits outside the hurricane belt and boasts a temperate climate with pleasant 80-degree temperatures. These features make it a must-visit island for avid beach lovers seeking the sun, sand, and refreshing breeze.

As a beach lover’s paradise, Bonaire is home to dazzling beaches like the Bachelor’s Beach . Although small, this is one of the island’s popular spots for admiring the sunset, swimming, and windsurfing due to the strong trade winds. Beachgoers also access local food trucks like King Kong Burger , serving tasty fast food.

Another spot to soak in the sun is the laid-back and picturesque Klein Bonaire, accessible via a 15-minute boat ride, which offers excellent snorkeling opportunities due to the clear waters.

One of the leading summer destinations in the Caribbean, famous for its beaches, vibrant culture, and exotic dishes

There are beautiful Caribbean islands for retirement , including Barbados, which also falls among the top places to visit during summer. From July to October, accommodation prices drop, allowing vacationers to stretch their budgets and save extra money for more exploration.

Summer also offers key events like the Crop Over Carnival , starting in late May at the Queen’s Park Gallery through early August at various venues. This festival features several events, including the Ceremonial Delivery of the Last Cranes held in July at the Barbados National Botanical Gardens , known for colorful tropical flowers and trees.

During the carnival, attendees dance to live music at the Crop Over Folk Concert while shoppers indulge in retail therapy at the Bridgetown Craft Market. The market consists of stalls selling everything from handmade crafts to local dishes with calypso and soca music playing in the background.

Often called the "Nature Island," this summer paradise is dominated by lush rainforests, offering plenty of adventures

Dubbed the Nature Island, Dominica boasts a landscape dominated by towering mountains and lush forests with picturesque waterfalls and rivers. Despite Dominica’s natural beauty, it's one of the most underrated island destinations in the Caribbean. With this in mind, it's an excellent place to visit in early summer when the crowds are much fewer and the accommodation rates are relatively cheaper.

Additionally, the island holds the annual Dive Fest , drawing scuba enthusiasts from late June through early July. This event raises awareness about Dominica’s thriving marine environment while entertaining attendees with underwater treasure hunts, canoe races, and educational tours.

With tour operators attending the festival, marine life enthusiasts snag snorkeling picnic deals at the Champagne Reef , known for its bubbling waters and colorful sponges. Being among the safest Caribbean islands for solo female travelers also adds to its appeal.

Visit the "Island of Spice", home to the world's first underwater sculpture park this summer for engaging festivals and thrilling activities

With crowds starting to wane during summer, Grenada is an affordable Caribbean vacation spot for those traveling under a budget. Summer also offers festivities with events like the Carriacou Regatta , luring boat enthusiasts with Grenada’s rich traditional boat-building heritage. During this event, attendees cheer on their favorite teams during boat races while food lovers sample delicious cuisine onshore. The festival also features unique exciting activities like donkey racing and street parties.

Another event travelers can attend in summer is the Spicemas festival, which is the last Caribbean Carnival held in August. This carnival showcases Grenada’s splendor with music and parades filled with hundreds of masqueraders adorned in vibrant costumes, jewels, and feathers. The event ends with a pageant and music competitions, allowing artists to show their prowess in soca and calypso.

One of the Caribbean's crown jewels entices tourists in summer with its magnificent beaches

As the best Caribbean destination for first-time travelers , Aruba is worth visiting year-round for its balmy and sunny weather, ideal for island exploration and relaxing along a stunning white sand beach. However, vacationers who visit Aruba during summer avoid the winter crowds and score hotel deals since it's the island’s off-season.

While here, vacationers revel in the beauty of the island’s stunning coastline along the famed Eagle Beach , known for its unique fofoti trees. Although close to hotels like the Eagle Aruba Resort , this beach is mostly quiet and offers an idyllic backdrop for wedding photo shoots. Additionally, Eagle Beach features designated calm swimming zones ideal for younger children to wade in and enjoy the waters.

For the best snorkeling adventure, beginner snorkelers can visit Boca Catalina Beach , boasting clear waters brimming with marine life.


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