As a passionate world traveler, the single most common question I am asked about travel is how I can afford to do it so often. The truth is, travel can often be an expensive endeavor. So many people long to see the world but are tied back by their dwindling bank accounts. But, travel doesn’t always have to be expensive. Backpackers across the globe know the secrets to some of the best places to travel on a budget and some of the best secrets to spreading your pennies thinner. You don’t have to stay in roach-infested accommodations to be able to see the world with your small savings; you just need to know the right places to go. Below is a list of ten of the cheapest countries across the globe that are not only inexpensive, but also well worth the visit to see. So pack your bags, empty your piggy bank, and prepare for the trip of a lifetime that won’t leave you broke and homeless afterwards.
Travel in Europe is not typically considered cheap. However, if you travel into the Balkans, you will find prices surprisingly low. Indie Traveler claims that Albania is by far the most inexpensive country in the region. This hidden gem of Eastern Europe is situated right on the Adriatic Sea north of Greece and south of Croatia with coastline equally as beautiful as these two more well-known countries. Filled with ancient castles, pristine beaches, stunning mountain hikes, a rich history of communism and beyond, and a shockingly low cost of living, Albania is the place for culturally rich but monetarily inexpensive travel. Although the cost of accommodation may be slightly higher in this country than some of the others on this list, those costs are equaled out by the unusually low cost of everything else in the country (i.e. food, transport, activities, etc.). So splurge on a nice place to spend the night and then spread your dollars across all the fun adventures you’ll have on your trip.
A picturesque country in the heart of South America, Peru is chock full of rainforests, ancient ruins and amazing beaches. High on many people’s bucket lists, Machu Picchu is a must-see site for any wanderlusting traveler. The entrance fee to this location may be the most expensive thing you purchase on your trip there, pricing at a whopping $50 USD. But do not fret, according to travel blogger, Nomadic Matt, accommodation in a dorm room in Peru ranges from about $7 - $14 USD, and local food costs between $1 and $6 USD. Inexpensive prices and extensive cultural experiences make Peru a destination hotspot for any budget traveler.
8 Sri Lanka
Striking beaches, rich culture, delicious food, exotic animals, waterfalls, and cloud-wrapped mountains make Sri Lanka a paradise destination. In more ways than one, Sri Lanka is also a paradise for those on a tight budget. Stretching your dollars thin is easy in this inexpensive country that Skyscanner claims you can live like royalty in for under $36 USD a day. Project Inspo says you can stay at a budget cabana by the beach for under $20 USD per day, and eat in local cafes for about $2 - $4 USD per meal. The culture of this beautiful island-nation is friendly and welcoming and the prices are the exactly the same.
Explore the great Sahara on camelback, haggle in the market streets of Marrakesh, or surf the waves of the Atlantic coast: whatever you enjoy, Morocco has it for you. Morocco is ample in culture and adventures, but it is also extremely inexpensive for your budget travel needs. As long as you stay away from the highly touristy areas in the country, you can find bargain deals wherever you go. Indie Traveler says that you can easily travel Morocco on under $30 USD per day, staying at budget hostels and guesthouses, and eating like the locals. This magnificent country in the north of Africa is the most stable and secure in the region to give you a wonderful taste of this culturally exotic area.
A gorgeous country in the heart of Central America, Nicaragua may be less traveled than its neighboring Costa Rica, but it is no less beautiful. In fact, it is equally stunning, less touristy, and of course, significantly cheaper. Rich with lush jungle, massive volcanoes, beautiful coastline, and colonial cities, Nicaragua is the perfect destination for travelers, particularly when on a budget. Travel blogger, The Broke Backpacker, quotes dorm beds at around $5 USD per night, food at a local restaurant at about $1 USD, and outdoor adventures for significantly cheaper prices than back home. With beauty, adventure, and low prices, Nicaragua is the perfect budget travel destination in Central America.
Southeast Asia is a budget traveler’s paradise. With cheap food, accommodation, and transportation (and not to mention some of the most beautiful landscapes and countries filled with rich history), it is no wonder that Southeast Asia is a well-trodden path for economical backpackers. Cambodia is no different from its neighbors. A country with a dark past and a deep history, Cambodia is both beautiful and mysterious, and the perfect destination for a wonderful adventure. As one of the lesser-developed countries in the region, Cambodia is definitely cheap. According to Project Inspo, accommodation will run you around $4 - $8 USD per night for a basic room, food will cost about $1 - $3 USD for a local meal, and tuk-tuk rides (wagon “taxis” pulled by a motorbike) cost around $1 USD for a short trip. With prices this low, there is no reason why you shouldn’t go out exploring the beautiful Cambodian countryside or meandering through the bustling capital city (Phnom Penh) or adventuring tomb-raider style through the glorious Temples of Angkor. Your dollars will be stretched far, which is perfect for this magnificent country with so much to see.
As the most well-known and well-traveled country in Southeast Asia, Thailand has so much to offer. From white sand beaches to elephant jungle trekking to fast-paced cities to magnificent religious monuments, Thailand is rich with travel adventures. But true to its Southeast Asian roots, Thailand is also extremely inexpensive. In a country all about the art of haggling, tourists can work their magic to lower prices to almost unreasonable depths. According to The Broke Backpacker, accommodation will typically set you back about $4 - $7 USD per night, and local street food is some of the cheapest (and best!) in Southeast Asia costing a whooping $0.65 to $2 USD per meal. As the central hub of Southeast Asia, Thailand is inexpensive and beautiful and a great starting point to go visit surrounding countries as well!
Another incredible Southeast Asian country that you do not want to miss is the stunningly beautiful Vietnam. Home to one of the natural wonders of the world (Halong Bay), an incredible coastline, extremely populated and busy cities, unique religious traditions, the world’s largest caves and endless minefields, memorials, and museums from a sad and controversial war, this country is well worth the visit. With so much to offer, Vietnam is quickly becoming more popular, but luckily it is still incredibly cheap for travelers. Indie Traveler states that this country can really be traveled on a shoestring finding dorm room beds at around $7 USD a night, delicious local food for roughly $2 USD per meal, and locally brewed beer is cheaper than water at about $0.50 USD per glass or even less. Culturally rich but inexpensive to travel, Vietnam is definitely an inviting country to explore.
A beautiful island-nation in the heart of Southeast Asia, Indonesia is a budget traveler’s dream. The country consists of thousands of islands each with a unique language, culture and landscape to make it feel like you’re traveling to a hundred different places all in one united area. The best part? Not only is it unreal beautiful, but it’s also dirt-cheap. Depending on your island of choice, hostels typically run at about $10 USD per night. Travel blogger, Nomadic Matt, says that local food costs between $0.50 - $1 USD for a full meal, and travel on a ferry runs about $0.50 USD for a ride. This gorgeous island country is a must-see for nature and city-lovers alike, and the cost of travel here is certainly not a deterring factor.
India has long been a budget traveler’s mecca. This culturally rich and diverse country is huge, colorful, densely populated, and never short for adventure. With beautiful beaches, energetic cities, delicious foods, famous monuments, and a culture unlike any other, India certainly has all the elements for exciting and exotic travel. Best of all, Skyscanner says that the cost of living in India is “ridiculously low.” Travel blogger, Wandering Earl, prices accommodation in a budget hotel in India at about $4 - $8 USD per night. He says that street food costs around $0.40 - $1 USD, and even a full meal at a more luxurious restaurant costs about $3 USD. Transport is equally inexpensive (depending on the type of transportation and the class level you select) which will run around $4 - $15 USD for long-haul trips. With prices so cheap and exploration so enticing, India should be high on any backpacker’s list.