The world is your oyster when you are able to travel inexpensively. Being a budget traveler allows you to expand your trips and see more and more of this beautiful world by stretching your dollars thinner. Backpackers have long explored the routes of Central and South America as well as Southeast Asia and the subcontinent of India. But there are plenty of other countries out there that are equally beautiful and adventurous which are not so established on the “well-beaten path.” There are also plenty of gorgeous countries (such as in Europe) that at first glance may seem expensive, but are actually quite affordable. Of course, the well traveled countries are well traveled for a reason: they are wonderful and many of those are on this list. But there are also a few that you may not have noticed before that are well worth an exploration. Whatever you look for in a trip, it can be found on this list (continued from my previous article) of great budget-friendly destinations.
The seat of the Old Ottoman Empire and home to the only city in the world (Istanbul) to cross two continents (Europe and Asia), Turkey is an incredible place to visit. With so much rich history, ancient sites, and natural beauty, it’s amazing this country is still as affordable as it is. While accommodation will run you a bit higher than other budget destinations, the standards are generally pretty high with rooms running around $40 USD per night (but this will typically include breakfast and sometimes lunch as well) according to Goats On The Road. Food is cheap running in at around $3 - $5 USD per delicious meal and beers are under a buck. This beautiful country mixing East and West cultures is a must-see in your lifetime.
Europe isn’t exactly the first place that comes to mind when you think about budget travel. But few people know that if you travel east past the glitz and glam of better-known areas such as Barcelona or Paris, you can actually travel at very affordable rates on the continent. With some of Europe’s most deserted beaches on a pristine coastline, delightful old towns, and dramatic mountain ranges with unbelievably affordable prices throughout the country, it is a wonder that Bulgaria is not more traveled. But it is lucky for the budget traveler, as prices stay surprisingly low in this “Hidden Jewel of Europe” with a hostel bed ranging from around $9 - $16 USD, street food costing about $0.50 to $2 USD, and transportation running at about $0.75 USD per ride, according to Cheapest Destinations Blog.
The USA’s great neighbor to the south, this huge and vibrant country is filled with delicious food, ancient ruins, Latin flare and, of course, surprisingly low prices. This vast nation has everything any traveler could ask for from beautiful beaches to rugged mountains to underground grottos to arid deserts and everything in between. As the largest tourist destination of Latin America, it is amazing that prices remain so affordable in Mexico. Bunch of Backpackers cites a dorm room in this beautiful country at about $10 USD per night, a large meal in a local restaurant from about $2.20 to $4.40 USD, and an intercity bus at about $9.50 USD. With so much to see and so little to spend, Mexico is a steal to visit.
Most of Africa is well within a backpacker’s budget and you can live for as low as about $15 USD per day in Kenya. Typically, though, cost also equals quality (and sometimes safety) so you may want to round up a bit and set a higher budget unless you’re really willing to rough it. A beautiful country bordering the Indian Ocean, Kenya offers coastline, savannah, diverse wildlife, the dramatic Great Rift Valley, and mountainous terrain. With safaris and lakes and a warm culture, Kenya has everything any budget traveler could want to explore with amazing prices and all. According to Go Backpacking, a dorm bed runs at about $6 - $12 USD, street food costs about $0.22 to $3.82 USD, and transportation (buses) will set you back about $1.09 per hour.
One of the cheapest countries to explore in South America, Bolivia is colorful and rugged. As the country is not highly developed, you may need to rough it a bit at times, but the experience will be well worth any slight or temporary discomforts. The majority of the country is high up in the Andes Mountains and your sense of adventure will be sparked by the miraculous views and natural beauty. According to Indie Traveller, basic dorm rooms run around $5 - $6 USD per night and a delicious local meal comes in at about $3 USD. With prices and sites like Bolivia offers, any budget traveler would be a fool not to explore this magical country.
Home to the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Sphinx, and a traditional Arabic culture, Egypt is a country with so much to offer and see. One of the most important sites of the ancient world, Egypt is teeming with history and antiquity. Considering the sheer magnitude of ancient historical sites that are present in Egypt, it’s a world wonder in and of itself that it is so affordable to travel through this great country. Go Backing cites a dorm bed in Egypt at around $3 -$5 USD, and street food will run you from $0.17 to a whopping $1.18 USD. The most expensive costs will be to see the sites; but, even then, a ticket to view the Great Pyramids comes in at an astoundingly low fee of about $10 USD or just half that price with a valid student ID.
A beautiful and colorful country in Central America, Guatemala holds an alluring blend of Mayan culture, colonial influences, and breathtaking scenery. A country of contrasts, Guatemala has cold mountaintop peaks and hot Caribbean beaches, untouched jungles, and trash-filled rivers. But wherever you go, there is always a friendly face to greet you. The Broke Backpacker quotes a dorm bed at as low as $5 USD per night and a local meal at around $3 USD. Transportation is also cheap with local “chicken buses” being the most affordable route to travel the country. With so much to see and such enticing prices, Guatemala will woo you again and again.
Trekking, trekking, and more trekking through Nepal’s incredible landscapes is this little neighboring country to India’s claim to fame. The traditional Asian culture of Nepal is rich to complement the stunning backdrop of the Himalayan Mountains. If you’ve ever dreamed about hiking up Mount Everest, Nepal is the place for you to visit. Wild jungles, massive mountains, and delicious foods just graze the surface of what Nepal has to offer. Not only does this country hold so much beauty, it is also a dream for budget travelers. According to Budget Your Trip, accommodation in Nepal runs around $4.50 USD per night, daily food expenses average to about $3.32 USD, and transportation between cities is a whole $2 USD. If trekking is your thing, you can sign up for tours that will stretch your money even thinner averaging at just a few bucks per day.
A lesser traveled country in Southeast Asia, poor Laos is a land-locked country with no coastline. But that in no way means that it is any less beautiful than its neighboring countries. Covered in wild jungle and populated with some of the most genuine and generous people in the world, Laos is a perfect destination for any traveler, particularly budget travelers. Home to endless adventurous activities, cascading waterfalls, and colonial towns, Laos is a beautiful country to travel. Laos’ tranquility perfectly complements its low prices with budget rooms running as low as $2.50 USD per night, and street food maxing typically at around $1.25 USD, according to Go Backpacking. With beers costing under $1 USD, Laos is the perfect place for a relaxing trip.
1 The Philippines
Picturesque white sand beaches and crystal clear waters are a dime a dozen in this beautiful island nation of Southeast Asia. The culture here is rich with a strong Catholic influence that distinguishes this country as very unique from any other in the region. Any budget traveler’s dream, The Philippines offers beautiful landscapes, lush jungle, exotic animals, super cheap food and drinks, and really inexpensive accommodation. According to Go Backpacking, a dorm bed costs as low as $2 - $5 USD, street food runs around $1 - $4 USD, beers are less than $1 USD, and transportation in a tricycle (a motorbike with a little seating area attached) cost a whopping $0.46 USD. If the country itself isn’t enticing enough, those prices certainly are.