Traveling and exploration are fun, but the problem that many people face is money. So how do you manage to see all the beautiful corners of the world without “selling your kidney?”
Well, I’ve put together the list of the cheapest places to travel in the world, plus top tips to make the most of your travel budget.
There are many factors to consider when choosing your cheap travel destination. One of them is the favorable exchange rate. Another factor is the prices of flight tickets, accommodation and dining. And lastly, it’s traveling outside peak season.
Traveling was part of my everyday job duties as a former flight attendant. I learned a few travel hacks during that time that I’ll share.
Whether you’re looking for the best budget friendly beach destination, an affordable romantic European getaway, or a backpacking adventure, I have something for you on the list.
So pack your bags and get ready to explore some of the best cheap places to travel internationally without breaking the bank! I mean, who doesn’t love bargains anyway?
Tips for Traveling on a Budget
- Use credit card points to book cheap or free flights
- Find cheap airline tickets via Kiwi, Skyscanner or Hopper
- Google “cost per day in” to choose the right destination for your travel budget
- Stay in hostels, Airbnbs, or couch surf (For those who don’t know, Couchsurfing is basically staying with a local for free.)
- Cook or eat local food
- Book your flight and accommodation a long time in advance
- Bike or use public transportation
- Walk as much as possible
- Find budget-friendly or free things to do
- Travel outside peak season
- Check last-minute travel package deals
- Don’t forget travel insurance
Pro Tip #1: House Sitting
Let’s say that you’d like to travel to Canada, UK, or Australia, but it’s not exactly a budget-friendly destination. Well, I have a solution for you. Have you heard about house-sitting?
In short, house sitting is when you live in someone’s home for a period of time and take care of their house, pets, and/or plants while they’re away. In return, you get free accommodation.
This arrangement is a win-win situation because you’ll save money on your travels and have a chance to explore the area as a local.
Multiple websites list house sitting jobs globally. You can start your research with TrustedHouseSitter.
Pro Tip #2: Volunteering
Volunteering is another excellent option for saving on travel and gaining unique experiences.
Workaway is a great resource for finding volunteering opportunities.
When you volunteer for someone, you get free accommodation and sometimes food in exchange for a few hours of work.
Imagine helping on an organic farm in Scandinavia, a tea plantation in Japan, or protecting sea turtles in Costa Rica. The options are endless.
Not only will you learn new skills, but you’ll also make new friends and learn about different cultures authentically. Plus, it feels super rewarding to see the fruits of your labor once you help build that ecolodge or harvest those tea leaves.
Pro Tip #3: Work and Travel
Would you love to travel long-term but are unsure how to finance your trip? You could work and travel at the same time.
New Zealand, Canada, and Australia offer 1-year work and holiday programs.
Imagine working a ski season at world-class ski resorts in Banff National Park, Canada. This way, you earn money and spend your free time exploring or taking advantage of staff discounts on ski passes.
Alternatively, you can teach English or do seasonal fruit picking.
Nowadays, everyone and their cat wants to improve their English, and you could capitalize on that. Taiwan and South Korea pay really well to English teachers.
The requirements for an English teaching job are lower than you might think.
In many cases, TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) might be sufficient, especially if you’re a native English speaker. The certificate is inexpensive, and you can do the course online at your own pace.
My friend used to teach English in Myanmar, and she loved it. It’s a great way to explore the country, experience different cultures firsthand, plus make a difference.
If you’re the adventurous type, you could teach English in some truly remote areas of Africa, the Middle East or anywhere else.
Lastly, you could land some online jobs to support yourself on your travels.
You might also like:
- How to Secure Cheap Rental Cars When you Travel
- 20 Cheap Travel Destinations Across America For Fun-Filled Vacation
- The Ultimate Guide to Taking Cheap Caribbean Vacations
- 16 Cheap Vacation Spots You Can Afford and Enjoy
- 10 Tips for Visiting Greece on a Budget
List of Cheapest Countries to Visit in the World
Cheapest Places to Visit in South America
Cheap Vacation Destinations in Central America
- El Salvador
Cheapest European Countries to Visit
- Czech Republic
Cheap Places To Go On Vacation in Asia
- Sri Lanka
Affordable Places To Travel in Africa
- South Africa
Cheapest Places To Travel in Latin America
Latin America is an excellent option, especially for US travelers, because of its proximity to North America. This means it’s easier to find cheap flights.
The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about South America is Machu Picchu and Rio de Janeiro. But South America is much more than that. If you want to stretch your US dollar further, consider visiting Ecuador, Colombia or Peru. In fact, Quito is the cheapest capital in South America.
Central America also has a lot to offer to budget travelers and beach lovers. Mexico, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Honduras are great inexpensive places to travel.
You can keep your budget under $50 a day in these countries. First, however, you’ll need to dust off your Spanish or at least learn a few basic phrases, as most locals don’t speak English.
Side note #1: If you head to Latin America around February, you’ll get a chance to experience the vibrant carnival atmosphere. Yes, it’s wild, and yes, it’s fun. Picture people splashing each other with water, parades, colorful costumes, live music and dance.
Side note #2: Average day travel costs have been taken from the BudgetYourTrip website. They’re rough estimates.
Best for: hiking, spectacular sceneries
Home to: Cusco, Cajamarca, Andes, Iquitos
Highlights: Machu Picchu, Amazon rainforest, Huaraz
When to go: The coast tends to be dry year-round but sits under a blanket of fog from April to November. In the Andes, June to September is the dry season, and although it can be cold at night, it is undoubtedly the best time for trekking and most outdoor activities.
Average day cost: $46
Backpackers flock to Peru, globally renowned for the incredible Inca ruins at Cusco.
If Macchu Picchu is on your bucket list, you’ll be happy to hear that it’s quite affordable. A standard double room costs around $25 – $128 in a decent hotel. You can indulge in a three-course meal for as little as $8.
To reach the ‘lost city’, I recommend a hike via the Inca trail on foot. Once you get to the top of the mountain, you’ll be rewarded with jaw-dropping scenery.
As a bonus, you can snap epic photos with lamas along the way. It all makes up for a truly magical experience.
Best for: outdoors, colonial architecture
Home to: Cuenca, Quito
Highlights: Avenue of the volcanoes, Paramo del Angel, Amazon lodges, Galapagos
When to go: Ecuador’s climate varies a lot, so it depends on the area you’d like to go to. The best time to visit Ecuador is often considered June through September.
Average day cost: $51
Ecuador is another cheap country in Latin America. Because of its low cost of living, it has become a hot spot for North American retirees.
Other South American countries can sometimes overshadow Ecuador, but it has some cool colonial architecture and impressive outdoors.
If you love nature, you should head straight to the Galapagos, which is home to some of the most unique wildlife in the world and the birthplace of Darwin’s theory of evolution.
If you’re still hesitant, Ecuador has many more beautiful spots – from the Cotopaxi volcano to the Quilotoa Loop and the Amazon Rainforest.
I spent six months living in the mountain village of Vilcabamba in 2022, and my rent was only $300 a month, utilities and internet included. And it wasn’t just a one-bedroom apartment, but an entire tiny house with a balcony and stunning views of the valley.
It was a bargain compared to what monthly rent costs in Canada for a simple basement suite.
The lunch at the restaurant would cost me roughly $5. The fruits and veggies were also amazingly cheap. I couldn’t get enough of sweet mangos, papayas, dragonfruits and other local fresh produce.
This village has a big portion of expats, so you can find a large variety of cuisines here, from freshly baked french croissants to Italian pizza and German pretzels.
Best for: coffee, beaches, outdoors
Home to: Medellin, Bogota, San Augustin
Highlights: Parque Nacional Tayrona, Cartagena’s old city, Salento, whitewater rafting in San Gil, Providencia, La zona cafetera
When to go: The best time to go to Colombia is from December to March, when the Andes are drier. September to October are the rainest months, but the rainforest can be wet all year round.
Average day cost: $32
Colombia has popped onto the radar, especially in recent years. It’s a great cheap alternative to Caribean beaches.
You can immerse yourself in the salsa night of Bogotá, the coffee-growing landscapes of the Zona Cafetera and the romantic colonial towns of Cartagena and Popayán.
The beautiful scenery around Villa de Leyva is perfect for hiking, while San Gil is the base for adventure activities, such as whitewater rafting.
Best for: ancient Mayan ruins, tropical beaches, Mexican cuisine
Home to: Mexico city, Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Izamal, Puerto Vallarta
Highlights: swimming in cenotes, Tulum, scuba diving in Isla Cozumel, Chichen Itza, Oaxaca, Punta Cana
When to go: Late winter is the busy tourist season (December – April), especially in the big resorts like Acapulco and Cancún. Mountain areas, though, can get very cold then.
Average day cost: $86
Mexico doesn’t need much introduction. With such rich and varied cultural traditions, delicious food, and natural beauty, it’s no wonder that Mexico has become one of the most desirable cheap holiday destinations.
I mean, who doesn’t love Mexican fiestas, spicy salsa or fiery tequila?
The best things to do are an exploration of ancient Maya ruins in the jungle, tranquil deserts, pristine beaches, vast canyons, and even snow-capped volcanoes.
And, of course, eat lots of tacos and burritos!
Best for: wildlife, lush jungle, waterfalls, volcanoes
Home to: San Jose, Parque Nacional Santa Rosa, Nauyaca waterfalls,
Highlights: turtle watching, Monteverde, Volcan Arenal, kayaking around Curu, trekking in Parque Nacional Corcovado, Parque Nacional Juan Castro Blanco
When to go: The months of November, April (after Easter) and May are the best times to visit when the rains have either just started or just died off, and the country is refreshed, green and has fewer tourists.
Average day cost: $75
The main draw to Costa Rica is its stunning biodiversity and nature – lush rainforests, untouched beaches, steaming volcanoes, pristine waterfalls and dense mangrove forests.
Not to mention the incredible variety of wildlife, from those adorable sloths and tiny, fluorescent green frogs to brightly colored macaws and toucans.
Best for: culture, colonial architecture, Mayan ruins
Home to: Iximche, Antigua Guatemala
Highlights: ancient Maya ruins of Tikal, highland villages, Lake Atitlán, Lanquin and Semuc Champey
When to go: The rainy season is roughly between May and October, but it’s only in remote areas that rain can affect travel plans.
Average day cost: $39
Exotic Guatemala remains a backpackers’ favorite spot for a good reason.
Guatemala is a budget-friendly destination that allows travelers to experience the rich Maya culture and history. The country is home to some of the most impressive Maya ruins, including Tikal, and the colonial city of Antigua Guatemala, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
You can find here vibrant indigenous markets, arts and crafts, locals wearing traditional costumes and exceptional coffee.
There are stunning landscapes too. Lake Atitlán is a jaw-dropping lake, and Semuc Champey is a series of natural pools in a lush jungle landscape.
Guatemala is definitely worth considering if you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-path destination that won’t break the bank.
Best for: beaches, volcanoes, colonial architecture
Home to: Granada, Leon, San Juan del Sur
Highlights: Ometepe Island, Las Isletas, Mombacho Volcano Nature Reserve, Cerro Negro, Rio San Juan, Little Corn
When to go: Summer (Dec–April) can be extremely hot and often uncomfortably dry. The wet season lasts from May to Nov, but downpours are usually short and sharp.
Average day cost: $44
Despite being home to some of the best beaches in the region, Nicaragua remains relatively undiscovered by international tourists.
The Spanish colonial cities of León and Granada are loaded with fine art, gorgeous architecture and dynamic local and foreign student scene.
If you love nature, Ometepe Island is a must-visit, with its two gorgeous volcanoes separated by a lush tropical forest.
For surfing, you can head to San Juan del Sur, a major backpacker destination. San Juan del Sur is perfect for relaxing and soaking up some sun.
You can spot sloths, monkeys, caimans and parrots in the far south.
Best for: tropical beaches, scuba diving, Maya ruins
Home to: Copan, Utila, Gracias
Highlights: Bay islands, swimming with dolphins, exploring the Maya ruins of Copan, La Mosquitia, Olancho, Lago de Yojoa
When to go: Honduras’s rainy season lasts from May to November. In most cases, it rains for only a few hours in the afternoon. Although on the northern coast and in Mosquitia, it can rain all year-round. The hurricane season is in October and November, so you’re most likely to be affected by storms during this time.
Average day cost: $45
Honduras is another budget-friendly destination that has something for everyone – from beaches and Maya ruins to scuba diving and swimming with dolphins.
Copán (often visited from Guatemala) is an enchanting Maya site – one of the region’s top tourist attractions.
Bay Islands are another hot spot in Honduras. Picture the Caribbean dream of swaying palms and powder-soft white sand. On top of that, the islands also provide plenty of opportunities for watersports on a budget.
Bay Islands are also popular for scuba diving and snorkeling. In addition, Utila is known for its affordable dive courses.
Best for: pacific surf beaches, volcanoes
Home to: San Salvador, Suchitoto, Ruta de las Flores
Highlights: surfing at La Libertad, hiking up Cerro Verde, Lago de Coatepeque
When to go: The dry season (Nov–March) is the best time to visit El Salvador.
Average day cost: $34
Travelers often overlook El Salvador, but this smallest country in Central America has a lot to offer. From its stunning beaches and volcanoes to its world-class surfing.
Although El Salvador doesn’t have the color and the indigenous markets of Guatemala, it does have the epic coast, from El Tunco, which has blossomed into a backpacker/surfer resort, to tranquil El Cuco, a turtle and pelican sanctuary.
La Libertad is one of the best surfing spots in the world, and Cerro Verde National Park is perfect for hiking.
If you’re after peace and quiet, head for the artsy flower-filled villages and coffee plantations of the Ruta de las Flores or the magnificent rainforest of Bosque El Imposible.
Foodies should visit the feria gastronómica in Juayúa, a weekly food market serving everything from iguana and snake to Mexican ice cream.
The relaxed city of Santa Ana is an elegant stop-off, with the stunning nearby blue crater lake, Lago de Coatepeque.
Suchitoto is a beautiful colonial town that’s worth exploring.
Best for: colonial towns, beaches, music
Home to: Havana, Viñales, Trinidad
Highlights: Baracao’s countryside, Jardines del Rey, Old Havana, cigar factories, classic American car ride
When to go: The best time to visit Cuba is between December and May. This is when the weather is driest and coolest.
Average day cost: $33
Havana, the capital of Cuba, is a must-see. The city is filled with colonial-style architecture, lively vintage Cuban culture and classic American cars.
Despite all this living history, the pace of modernization in Cuba is increasing, so you should go there now before it changes forever and loses its retro vibe.
Trinidad is another colonial town worth visiting. This town is home to the Che Guevara Mausoleum, which honors the life of Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara.
Cuba has plenty of options if you’re looking to relax on a beach. Varadero, Cayo Coco, and Cayo Santa Maria are all popular choices.
Cuba is also known for its cigars. If you’re a fan of cigars, visit one of the many cigar factories in Cuba.
You can even take a classic American car ride through Havana while smoking a Cuban cigar.
Cheapest Places To Travel in Europe
The rule of thumb for the cheapest European countries is heading to ‘Eastern Europe.’ The term refers to former Soviet Union countries rather than their geographical location.
You can still find great deals in these countries, especially outside capital cities. But in many former Soviet Union countries, the prices went up after becoming part of the European Union and adopting the euro as their main currency.
The beauty of traveling in Europe is especially low-cost flight tickets and short distances between countries. For example, in 3 days you could visit the capitals of 3 different countries – Slovakia (Bratislava), Hungary (Budapest) and Austria (Vienna) as they’re only a 1h – 2h drive apart from each other.
You can find some of the best flight deals via low cost airlines such as Ryanair, Wizzair, etc.
When to travel to Europe: Europe is a year-round destination for the most part. So in terms of budget, it makes sense to travel in the off-season from October to May (except for Christmas), which means cheaper menus and better hotel rates.
Best for: nightlife, culture, history
Home to: Belgrade
Highlights: Belgrade, Novi Sad, Subotica, Studenica Monastery, Skadarlija
Average day cost: $28
Serbia is one of Europe’s most affordable destinations.
The country has buzzing energy in its bars, cafés and clubs.
And yet, it’s not just about the nightlife. Serbia has a long and rich history with plenty of Orthodox monasteries and churches to explore and Roman ruins.
The capital, Belgrade, is full of character with a mix of Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman architecture.
Novi Sad in the north is worth a visit for its beautiful city center and Subotica for its Art Nouveau architecture.
Studenica Monastery is one of Serbia’s most important religious sites, while Skadarlija is a must-visit street with bohemian restaurants and cafes.
Best for: Caucasus mountain villages, seaside, architecture, sulfur baths
Home to: Tbilisi, Mestia
Highlights: Kazbegi, Hiking in Ushguli, kayaking down the Aragvi River, visiting Ananuri Fortress, Uplistsikhe Ancient Cave City
When to go: The best time to visit Georgia is May, June or September, as you’ll avoid the summer heat and humidity as well as the cold winter.
Average day cost: $25
When it comes to a budget-friendly tourist destination, Georgia is a no-brainer.
You can find here some of the most stunning mountain villages in Europe, as well as lovely beaches on the Black Sea.
Georgia is a perfect destination for outdoor enthusiasts, with plenty of hiking and kayaking opportunities. And if you’re looking to relax, you can visit one of the many sulfur baths scattered around the country.
Best for: The Black Sea Coast, monasteries
Home to: Sofia, Varna, Burgas
Highlights: Plovdiv’s Old Quarter, Rila Monastery, skiing at Bansko, Aleksandar Nevski Cathedral in Sofia
Average day cost: $49
Bulgaria has an abundance of attractions for a relatively small country.
If you love European historic, picturesque towns, head to Bulgarian romantic cities – Koprivshtitsa, Bansko and Plovdiv
The monasteries are stunning, too – the finest, Rila, should be on every itinerary.
While for city life, aim for Sofia, Plovdiv, and the cosmopolitan coastal resorts of Varna and Burgas.
Best for: beaches, coastal towns, historical sites
Home to: Lisbon, Porto, Algarve, Sintra
Highlights: a night out in Lisbon, port wine lodges in Porto, scenic Douro Rail Rout, Algarve beaches, Madeira and Azores island
Average day cost: $106
Portugal has become a new digital nomad hot spot in Europe, especially after Portugal introduced the digital nomad visa. So it’s not surprising that people love it here.
Although Portugal is well known for the ‘fun in the sun’ resorts of the Algarve, there’s much more to this country than beautiful beaches.
Portugal is diverse yet small enough to travel around easily, with lively cities, mountains, rural villages and a stunning coastline all within easy reach of each other.
I love the relaxed, laid-back pace of life here. Even in the big cities, stress and bustle are rare.
And most importantly for the budget traveler, Portugal is one of the cheapest countries in Western Europe.
Plus, they have great wine and mouthwatering pastel de nata!
Best for: off the beaten path experience, pretty little towns, beaches, a stunning coastline
Home to: Kotor, Budva, Ulcinj
Highlights: Kotor, Budva, Cetinje, Podgorica, Durmitor National Park
Average day cost: $82
The tiny state of Crna Gora is also known under its Italian name, Montenegro.
The English translation is “Black Mountain,” which may sound a little plain, but Montenegro is a land full of color – from flowers blooming all year round to dark green mountains, azure blue sea and picturesque, orange-roofed houses.
Best for: beer, castles, spa towns
Home to: Olomouc, Plzeň, Morava wine region
Highlights: Prague, Sedlec ossuary, Český Krumlov, Karlovy, Vary, Kutná Hora
Average day cost: $81
If you do only one thing in the Czech Republic, it should be to visit charming Prague. But there’s more to this country than just its capital.
The Czech Republic has a rich history. There are many well-preserved castles and monasteries throughout the country.
In addition to its historical landmarks, the Czech Republic is known for its Bohemia’s Renaissance breweries, hiking, hilltop ruins, vineyards and rolling hills of Moravia.
Other cute towns worth exploring are Český Krumlov and Karlovy Vary.
Best for: mountains, caves, castles, spas
Home to: Bratislava, Košice, Levoča
Highlights: Banská Štiavnica, Spiš Castle, Demänovská Ice Cave, High Tatras National Park
Average day cost: $97
Although Bratislava can often be overshadowed by other neighbors – Budapest, Vienna and Prague, it’s a beautiful town.
Slovakia has plenty of stunning mountains. The highlight is the High Tatras National Park and Strbske Pleso.
In summer, there are plenty of hiking trails to explore. There are also many caves, such as Demänovská Ice Cave, one of the largest ice caves in Europe.
Last but not least, don’t forget about castles! Slovakia has many well-preserved castles, including Bojnice or Spiš Castle, which is one of the largest castle sites in Central Europe.
Best for: beaches, ancient Greek and Roman temples and forts, and medieval bathhouses
Home to: Tirana
Highlights: Tirana, Valbona, Berat, Gjirokastra, Ksamil’s beaches
Average day cost: $43
Beyond vague recollections of its Communist past, few travelers know much about Albania. It remains a hidden gem in Europe.
You might be pleasantly surprised by the world-class pristine beaches of the Riviera or uncover your inner adventure spirit climbing the mountains.
And the best part is Albania is very affordable.
Best for: Dracula, medieval towns, mountains
Home to: Bucharest, Sibiu
Highlights: Bucharest, Sighişoara, The Carpathians Mountain, Peleş Castle
Average day cost: $60
Romania is a land of contrasts.
You’ll find a mix of old and new architecture in the capital, Bucharest, and plenty of nightlife options.
For something more low-key, head to Sibiu, where you can explore medieval streets and castles.
And then there’s Transylvania which is home to Dracula’s castle (yes, it’s a real place!). The region is also famous for its mountains – The Carpathians – which make for great hiking and skiing.
Other highlights include Peleş Castle, one of the most beautiful in Europe, and Sighişoara Citadel, part of UNESCO heritage.
Best for: spas, lakes, architecture
Home to: Budapest, Lake Balaton
Highlights: Castle Hill and Thermal Baths in Budapest, Badacsony, Pécs, Valley of the Beautiful Woman in Eger
Average day cost: $58
Hungary is a land of spas and thermal baths. The most famous are in Budapest, but you’ll find them throughout the country.
Budapest is also home to many other attractions, including the castle hill area with its Buda Castle, Matthias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion. And don’t forget about the city’s thriving food scene!
Outside of Budapest, you can explore Lake Balaton – the largest lake in Central Europe. Or head to Badacsony for its vineyards or Pécs for its Roman ruins.
And if you’re looking for a unique place, go to Eger, where you’ll find the Valley of the Beautiful Woman – a series of caves created by an earthquake.
Best for: castles, historical sites, nature
Home to: Warsaw, Krakow, Gdansk, Wrocław, Poznań
Highlights: Krakow, Sopot, Zakopane in the Tatra Mountains,
Average day cost: $43
Poland is a country with a lot to offer.
In the capital, Warsaw, you can explore the Old Town, which is full of historical sites and castles.
Or visit Krakow for its beautiful architecture and cobbled streets.
You can explore the chic neighborhood of Kazimierz in Kraków, which is part of the Jewish heritage.
Gdansk is worth a visit for its medieval old town, while Wrocław is known as the “City of Dwarves” because of the many statues of dwarves around town.
For something outdoorsy, head to Zakopane in the Tatra Mountains – it’s been nicknamed the “Winter Capital of Poland.” And don’t forget about Sopot – a popular seaside resort town.
If you’re into history, you can visit the Auschwitz concentration camp in the town of Oswiecim.
Best for: Adriatic coastline, natural beauty, cute towns
Home to: Zagreb, Hvar, Split, Brač, Amphiteatre in Pula
Highlights: Plitvice national park, Zadar, Dubrovnik, Vis island
Average day cost: $74
Did you know that some movie scenes of the popular Game of Thrones series were filmed in Croatia? Specifically, the city of Dubrovnik.
Since then, tourism in Croatia has exploded, which is both a good and a bad thing.
But let’s focus on the good part.
Croatia is well-known for its Adriatic coastline. And there are plenty of charming coastal towns to explore besides Dubrovnik, like Hvar, Split and Brač.
The capital, Zagreb, is a lively European city, combining elegant nineteenth-century architecture with a vibrant bar and club scene.
If you’re looking for something more outdoorsy, venture out to Plitvice national park. Hiking trails pass through 16 terraced lakes, waterfalls and a canyon. It’s a gorgeous sight full of natural beauty.
Cheapest Places To Travel in Asia
Southeast Asia has been on the radar for a long time as a backpacker’s dream. With its mix of volcanoes, rainforests, rice fields, beaches and coral reefs, it’s one of the most stimulating and diverse regions for budget travel worldwide.
You can spend the day exploring thousand-year-old temples and the night on the full moon beach party; attend a Buddhist alms-giving ceremony at dawn; go for a massage in the afternoon, and satisfy your cravings at night markets. Then, chill out in a cozy bamboo beach hut with an ocean view for one week and hike through the jungle, looking for orangutans the next.
In short, there are enough activities to do to keep you hooked for months. Although Southeast Asia is undoubtedly a popular travel spot, there are still many off-the-beaten paths that you can explore.
Southeast Asia includes Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos and the Philippines, etc.
Just to give you an idea, a fancy 5-star hotel in Southeast Asia can cost as little as $50, including an all-you-can-eat buffet-style breakfast and prime views.
Not to mention, their street food is delicious and super cheap. (As long as you’re careful with hygiene.)
In other words, if you’re traveling on a budget, Southeast Asia is a safe bet, except for Singapore.
You can live on as little as $20 a day in some Southeast Asian countries if you’re prepared to stay in very basic accommodation, eat street food and travel on local buses. However, don’t be afraid to splurge if paying a little extra will really enrich your experience.
Best for: nightlife, a tropical coast, temples, Thai cuisine
Home to: Grand Palace, Bangkok’s floating markets, temples in Chiang Mai, Khao Yai National Park, Phuket, Koh Phangan, Koh Samui,
Highlights: Pad Thai and mango sticky rice, Thai massage, full moon party, Songkran festival, floating markets in Bangkok
When to go: The cool season between November and February is the most pleasant time to visit and the most popular.
Average day cost: $87
With thirty million foreigners visiting the country annually, Thailand is Asia’s main holiday destination. Yet, despite the huge influx of tourists, the country is still mainly rural and traditional.
Thailand is famous for epic street food, wild parties, shopping, Buddhist temples, and of course, tuk-tuks and elephants. And I shouldn’t forget the beautiful islands.
If you’re on a tight budget, I recommend visiting North Thailand. You can find hostels here for as cheap as $5 a night.
Best for: off-the-beaten-path experience
Home to: Pha That Luang temple, Buddha park Vientiane, Wat Phou temple, Nam Et-Phou Louey National Park
Highlights: Vang Vieng, boat ride down the Mekong river, Nong Khiaw, Luang Prabang, Wat Phou temple, Si Pan don
When to go: November to February are the most pleasant months to travel in Laos.
Average day cost: $15
Until the 1990s, Laos remained shut off from the outside world and largely unknown to tourists.
Laos is a perfect choice if you prefer less touristy and more authentic travel destinations. The only downside is the lack of infrastructure.
Best for: stunning scenery, rice terraces
Home to: Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, Nha Trang, HCMC, Ha Long Bay
Highlights: Sa pa and around, caving or jungle trekking in Phong Nha–Ke Bang National Park, Hoi An, cycle through the countryside of the Mekong Delta
When to go: Overall, late September to December and March and April are the best times to travel around the country, but there are some regional variations you should be aware of. For example, the dry season lasts from December to April in southern Vietnam and the Central Highlands. Along the Central Coast, the wet season runs from September to February, though even the dry season brings a fair quantity of rain.
Average day cost: $51
Vietnam is well-known for its breathtaking scenery, beautiful beaches, and hospitable people.
It’s a country with shimmering rice paddy fields, white-sand beaches, historical cities and pagodas.
Attention beer lovers! Vietnam has one of the world’s cheapest beers (below $1), locally brewed Bia Hoi.
Best for: river towns (Kampot), colossal temples, unspoiled beaches (Koh Rong, Koh Kong)
Home to: Royal palace, Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Ratanakiri
Highlights: Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Tonle Sap Lake, Koh Rong island, island hopping
When to go: December and January are dry and warm months, although Angkor is the most stunning during lush rainy monsoon seasons
Average day cost: $49
Having left its troubled history largely behind, Cambodia has established itself as one of popular Southeast Asia’s cheap destinations, offering a less developed and considerably more laidback taste of Asia compared to neighboring Thailand and Vietnam.
Infrastructure has been improving significantly in recent years, with new roads allowing access to once-remote destinations. Although getting around is still a bit time-consuming.
The temples of Angkor are one of Cambodia’s most popular tourist attractions, attracting around two million visitors a year. Still, away from the temples and parts of the coast, most of the country remains quite untouched.
This means a warm welcome from locals, unspoiled beaches, dense forests, and majestic rivers and lakes.
Best for: beaches, Buddhist sites
Home to: Shwedagon Pagoda, Ngapali, Kalaw
Highlights: Yangon, Hpa-An, Bagan, Inle lake, Mandalay, hiking in Kyaukme and Hsipaw
When to go: The best time to visit Myanmar is from November to February, when temperatures are somewhat manageable. The rainy season lasts from May to October.
Average day cost: $44
Myanmar (also known as Burma) has opened to the outside world only recently following the end of a fifteen-year tourism boycott by the oppressive local government. Since then, tourist numbers have already snowballed and rightly so.
Myanmar is full of glittering golden stupas, enigmatic Buddhist temples, picturesque mountain paths and extraordinarily diverse ethnic communities.
Most special of all, though, are the encounters with locals eager to introduce foreigners to their country after many years of isolation.
On top of that, Myanmar has stunning white beaches along the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal.
Best for: scuba diving, jungle hikes, beautiful beaches
Home to: Kuala Lumpur, Langkawi island, Malacca, Mount Kinabalu
Highlights: George town, Pulau Perhentian, longhouse stay, top scuba diving spot Sipadan
When to go: For the dry season and a buzzing atmosphere, May to September is the best time to go, with July and August being the busiest months because of the summer holidays in Europe and the United States. If you don’t mind rain showers, the months bordering the monsoon are March–April and October–November.
Average day cost: $65
Malaysia has something to offer every traveler – from lively nightlife in Kuala Lumpur and countless regional delicacies to trekking and wildlife watching in the world’s oldest tropical rainforest and world-class diving sites off the white sand beaches.
The country is full of charm and beauty and rich cultural history. The dominant religion is Islam, but the country’s diverse population of Malays, Chinese, Indians and Borneo’s indigenous tribes has created a fabulous melting pot of mosques, temples, churches, exciting festivals, and a wonderful mixture of cuisines.
Malaysians insist that their food combines the best flavors and dishes of the surrounding Southeast Asian countries, and after a few meals from street stands, you might agree.
Best for: volcanic landscapes, surfing beaches
Home to: Jakarta, Java, Borobudur temple, orangutans, Bali, Sumatra, Danau Toba lake
Highlights: Ubud in Bali, orangutan sanctuary, Gunung Rinjani trek, the vivid culture of Tanah Toraja Sulawesi, Banda islands, scuba diving in Raja Ampat
When to go: May through to October is dry. The peak tourist season is between June and September and over Christmas and New Year.
Average day cost: $49
The Indonesian archipelago spreads over 5200km between Asia and Australia and consists of 17,000 islands to explore. Interestingly, in Indonesia, more than 500 languages and dialects are spoken. This diversity gives you an idea of Indonesian cultural richness.
Of course, the hot spot in Indonesia is Bali which doesn’t need much introduction. The island became especially popular after the release of the movie ‘Eat Pray Love.’
Although Bali has become a bit overcrowded and overcommercialized, which made prices shoot up, it’s still worth a visit. You can find awesome surfing spots, emerald-green rice terraces, exceptionally artistic culture and buzzing nightlife here.
Best for: beaches, scuba diving
Home to: Vigan, Chocolate hills, Palawan, Mayon volcano,
Highlights: diving with whale sharks, Cordilleras 2000- year-old rice terraces, Boracay, Malapascua island, Bacuit archipelago
When to go: Dry season is from November to April.
Average day cost: $50
Although the Philippines is a bit of a detour from the rest of Southeast Asia, it’s well worth it.
Suppose you’re ready to handle some eccentric infrastructure, a laidback attitude towards time, and a national obsession with karaoke. In that case, the Philippines has plenty to offer, especially over 36,000km of jaw-dropping coastline with diamond-blue lagoons.
Best for: yoga, Indian cuisine, ashrams
Home to: river Ganges, New Dehli, Varanasi, Rishikesh
Highlights: Taj Mahal, the pink city of Jaipur, Kerala and Goa
When to go: very diverse climate, so it depends on which region you want to visit
Average day cost: $32
India is a country of contrasts and colors. It’s either a love or hate relationship. Stretching from the frozen summits of the Himalayas to the tropical greenery of Kerala and the beaches of Goa, India is sure to keep you entertained.
India is still one of the world’s least expensive destinations for Americans. US dollars can go a long way, and you can be confident of getting good value for your money.
Outside the tourist resorts of Kerala and Goa, you can still get by on a budget of as little as $15 per day if you eat in local canteens – ‘dhabas’, stay in a cheap hotel and use a bus ride or rickshaw to get around.
On a budget of $37.50 per day, you’ll be able to afford comfortable mid-range hotels, meals in smarter restaurants, regular rickshaws or taxi rides and entrance fees to monuments. Spend over $90 per day, and you can indulge in smart hotels and eat in the top restaurants.
Best for: trekking in the Himalayas, exploring historical religious sites, wildlife safaris, outdoor activities
Home to: Mt Everest, medieval cities of Patan and Bhaktapur, Bardia national park
Highlights: climbing Mt Everest’s base camp, Kathmandu, Nagarkot, Pokhara, Bandipur
When to go: Most visitors come in the autumn peak season (late Sept to late Nov), when the weather is clear and dry for mountain visibility and neither too cold nor too hot.
Average day cost: $31
Hindus believe that the mountains of Nepal are the home of gods. If you look at the Himalayas, you’ll understand why.
Nepal’s diverse scenery ranges from lowland jungles with tigers to Mount Everest’s frozen peak, where no life can survive for long. You can find here pagoda-roofed Hindu temples, villages with rice-farming terraces and pretty monasteries.
If you avoid tourist traps, you can enjoy Nepal for as little as $30–40 a day, including food, transport and accommodation.
Best for: spicy food, exotic beaches, wildlife safaris
Home to: Colombo, Negombo, national parks Yala, Minneriya
Highlights: Adam’s Peak, British tea town Nuwara Elija, Mirissa, Talalla
When to go: Sri Lanka’s climate is rather complicated for being such a small island because it has two separate monsoons. The best time to visit the west and south coasts is from December to March, while the best weather on the east coast is from April or May to September.
Average day cost: $18
Sri Lanka is a small island close to India. Marco Polo called Sri Lanka the finest island of its size in the world. And I think he had a point.
There are idyllic beaches, jungles, elephants, leopards and misty hill countryside with perfectly trimmed tea plantations.
If you love spicy food, you’re in for a treat.
Best for: ‘desert castles,’ natural wonders
Home to: Jerash, Amman
Highlights: Petra, Dead sea, hidden campsites in Wadi Rum, stargazing at Feynan, red sea diving
When to go: The best time is spring March to May
Average day cost: $122
Although Jordan might be a bit pricier than other destinations on this list, I decided to include it anyway because this beautiful country seems a bit underrated.
When I think of Jordan, the first thing that comes to mind is a picture of a floating man reading the newspaper on the Dead Sea.
Jordan is about 85 percent desert with red dunes, but don’t let that fool you because the country is full of life. Some landscape looks like you were transported to another planet, Mars specifically.
The ancient site of Petra will sweep you off your feet.
You shouldn’t miss out on delicious Arabic cuisine.
Best for: mosques, Turkish cuisine, outdoors, traditional spa Hamam
Home to: Bursa, Edirne, Hagia Sofia, Blue Mosque, Troy
Highlights: shopping at grand bazaar in Istanbul, hot air ballooning over Cappadoccia, Pamukkale, Aegean islands, Ordu cable car ride
When to go: the best time is in spring or autumn; the weather here is gentler with fewer crowds, while late October and early November see the idyllic ‘Indian summer.’
Average day cost: $24
Istanbul is a breathtaking city, with mosques scattered all over, an incredible food scene, and countless historical sites to delve into. Turkish breakfast is super delicious and healthy at the same time.
Turkey’s home to some incredible landscapes, too — whether it’s taking a hot air balloon ride at sunrise through Cappadocia or splashing through the salt pools of Pamukkale.
And the best part is that it’s pretty inexpensive. You can enjoy all Turkey has to offer on a budget of $25 – $50 a day.
Cheapest Places To Travel in Africa
Although Africa is not Southeast Asia, it’s possible to find a few affordable places to travel on the continent.
I’d recommend visiting Morocco, Egypt, South Africa, Namibia and Tanzania. These are countries that offer great value for your money.
Best for: surfing, oriental architecture, beaches, kasbahs
Home to: Casablanca, Marrakech, Rabat, Taghazout
Highlights: Marrakech, the blue city of Chefchaoun, surfing in Taghazout, exploring the Medina of Fez, camping in the Sahara Desert
When to go: The best time to visit Morocco is during the spring or fall. Therefore, march-May and September-November are the ideal months to go.
Average day cost: $41
Morocco is full of colors. You’ll fall in love with oriental architecture and traditional houses called riads and Marrakech’s buzzing street markets.
Chefchaoun is a breathtakingly beautiful blue town where you can get lost in winding alleyways.
If you visit Fez, you’ll feel like you have time traveled into the medieval era.
For a truly unforgettable experience, spend a night camping in the Sahara Desert.
I also recommend visiting the coastal towns of Essaouira and Taghazout. Taghazout is a popular surfing destination.
Best for: pyramids, diving, ancient ruins, temples
Home to: Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor
Highlights: The Great Pyramids of Giza, Abu Simbel temples, scuba diving in the Red Sea, sailing in a felucca on the Nile River
When to go: The best time to visit Egypt is from October to April, when the weather is cooler and there’s less chance of rain.
Average day cost: $32
There’s no denying that Egypt is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. It’s home to some of the most iconic world wonders, like the Great Pyramids of Giza and the temples of Abu Simbel.
But Egypt is more than just ancient landmarks. You can also enjoy diving in the crystal-clear waters of the Red Sea, sailing on a felucca down the Nile River or exploring Cairo’s bustling markets.
Not to mention the delicious Arabic cuisine or super affordable all-inclusive beach resorts.
Best for: safari, outdoors, wine, surfing
Home to: Johannesburg
Highlights: Cape Town, Table Mountain, Western Cape Winelands, Kruger national park, Garden Route, penguins on Boulders beach
When to go: South Africa is a predominantly sunny warm country, but when it does get cold, you really feel it – indoor heating is limited, and everything is geared to fine weather. Southern hemisphere seasons reverse those in the north, midwinter in June and July and midsummer over December and January.
Average day cost: $74
South Africa is a large, diverse and beautiful country.
It has a bit of everything – from the picturesque Garden Route towns and Winelands of the Western Cape to the vast Karoo semi-desert across its heart and one of Africa’s premier safari destinations, Kruger National Park. It’s also one of the greatest cultural melting pots of the African continent.
It has excellent infrastructure. Especially in Cape Town, you can find all the comforts of the western world combined with the exotic touch of Africa.
I have over 50 countries under my belt, but Cape Town is my absolute favorite city to this day.
They even have penguins on the beach. I mean, how cool is that?
The only downside is that ocean is cold all year round. However, with the proper wetsuit, you can enjoy world-class surfing.
You can go shark cage diving or sky diving for an adrenaline rush.
Cape Point is a unique place with breathtaking scenery where two oceans meet – the Atlantic and Indian.
South Africa is also one of the best places in the world to go on safari. In Kruger National Park and other reserves, you can see the Big Five (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant, buffalo).
And if you love wine and good food, you’ll be spoiled with countless choices.
Best for: desert, wildlife
Home to: Windhoek
Highlights: Etosha National Park, Skeleton Coast, Sossusvlei dunes
When to go: The best time to visit Namibia is during the dry season, which runs from July to October.
Average day cost: $62
Namibia is a land of contrasts and incredible natural beauty.
The vast Namib Desert stretches along the country’s entire length, while in the north, you’ll find Etosha National Park – one of Africa’s premier wildlife-viewing destinations.
Namibia is also home to some of the tallest sand dunes in the world and otherworldly landscapes, as well as the Skeleton Coast – a stretch of coastline littered with the wrecks of ships.
Best for: safari, wildlife, Mount Kilimanjaro
Home to: Dar es Salaam
Highlights: Zanzibar, Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Crater
When to go: The best time to visit Tanzania is between July and October. This is the country’s dry season, meaning there is less chance of rain (and malaria) and wildlife is easier to spot as animals as the bushes are the least dense.
Average day cost: $85
Tanzania is home to some of the continent’s most iconic wildlife, including lions, elephants, and rhinos.
And, of course, there’s Mount Kilimanjaro – the tallest mountain in Africa.
Tanzania is also home to the Serengeti National Park. It’s a great place to see wildlife in its natural habitat.
Finally, don’t miss a chance to visit Zanzibar – an exotic island off the coast of Tanzania that’s well worth a visit.
Bonus: 14 Travel Hacks To Find Cheap Flights
- Stay flexible with your dates and destinations (filter the search by everywhere, anytime and find the cheapest flights)
- Book flights with low-cost carriers or budget airlines
- Compare airfare deals by using multiple websites (Google Flights, Kiwi, Skyscanner, Hopper)
- Once you find your cheap flight ticket, check the ticket price directly from the airline. I often find cheaper deals this way.
- Use VPN to find flights or search under different currencies
- Book early to get the best deals on your airfares (but not too early)
- If you don’t mind multiple stopovers, you’ll find cheaper flight prices
- Use credit card points to earn air miles
- Set up price alerts
- Fly with hand luggage only
- Fly overnight
- Travel on Tuesday or Wednesday
- Avoid peak season
Kamila is a freelance writer for hire and a blogger. On her blog, Expat in Canada, she and her partner share useful information about life and travel in Canada. When she’s not writing, you can find her on a yoga mat, coaching, or drinking a cup of tea.