If you’re looking for some affordable destinations to put on your travel list for 2023, then I’ve got some perfect suggestions for you.

Unlike other lists of this kind, I’m going to stick to destinations that I’ve personally been to. The reason is simply that I’ve noticed many lists of ‘cheapest countries’ don’t get their facts straight!

For example, I’ve seen Costa Rica mentioned by a major outlet as the cheapest destination in the Americas, which clearly shows they haven’t been. (It’s actually among the most expensive.)

The cheap travel destinations I will list here are all places where I’ve spent my own money. I found that they’re not only cheap countries to travel but they became some of my favorite destinations during 10+ years of full-time travel blogging.


While inflation and increased airfares have affected travel costs, there are lucky still plenty of great travel bargains. If you are from a Western country then exchange rates with many emerging economies are actually highly favorable at the moment. For example, South America is generally now much less expensive than it was pre-pandemic.

Realizing just how far your Dollars, Euros, or Pounds can go in cheaper countries can be eye-opening. In many countries, it’s very doable to spend around $30 to $50 on all your travel expenses per person per day.

For the price of a single restaurant meal in, say, London or New York, you could be covering a whole day’s worth of traveling in cheap countries like Indonesia, Argentina, Vietnam, Mexico, or Turkey — to name just a few.


Quick answers — cheap countries to travel

Cheap countries in and near Europe:
Baltic States, Romania, GeorgiaAlbania, Bosnia, Turkey, Armenia

Cheap countries in Asia:
Vietnam, Nepal, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Philippines

Cheap countries in the Americas:
Mexico, Colombia, Guatemala, Argentina, Cuba, Bolivia

Cheap countries in Africa:
Morocco, Cape Verde

Cheap & easy beach holidays:
Mexico, Thailand, Indonesia, Turkey

 Some classic backpacker bargains:
Thailand, Mexico, Vietnam

Underrated cultural/adventure destinations:
Colombia, Romania, Laos, Bolivia, Georgia, Albania, Armenia
Miss these at your own peril!


1. Thailand

Thailand is back! And now is a perfect time to visit, with tourism fully back online but popular sights still being pleasantly uncrowded.


Resort tourism on the islands and beaches is more expensive than traveling around the inland provinces, though it can be a wonderfully cheap place to travel either way — and you can find great value on any budget. 

For the best prices, make your way to the northern Chiang Mai region and you’ll be in budget travel heaven. Amid the rice fields, Buddhist temples, and hill tribes you can find some of the best-value accommodation anywhere—whether you’re looking for a backpacker dorm bed (from $6 per night) or a quality hotel with a swimming pool (from $35).

New regulations have made world-famous Maya Bay picture-perfect once again, with all boat traffic banned and visitor numbers capped. 

Backpacker Budget: $30 a day (inland)
Mid-range Budget: $50-$60 a day
Highlights: superb beaches, ancient temples, amazing street food
When to go: peak season Nov-Feb — shoulder season Apr-Jun, Oct


2. Turkey

Turkey’s economy is suffering lately, but it’s one of the best deals on the planet at the moment for anyone exchanging Dollars or Euros for lira. Istanbul is the perfect starting point for a trip in Turkey but equally perfect for a city trip, being such an amazing and modern city but having prices you might expect from a remote or much less developed place.


Located between East and West and once home to the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires, you’ll find Roman ruins, cave cities, buzzing bazaars, and of course plenty of Mediterranean beaches.

Tip: Istanbul is amazing for a stopover; Turkish Airlines will even provide you with a free hotel if you visit on a layover.

Backpacker Budget: $35 a day
Mid-range Budget: $55 a day
Highlights: balloon flights over Cappadocia, cultural Istanbul, beach resorts
When to go: peak season May-Sep — shoulder season Apr, Oct


3. Colombia

Colombia is an amazing country to travel (and no, these days it’s luckily nothing at all like Netflix’ Narcos, a show that is set over 50 years ago!).

Within Colombia, you can find a bit of everything, having both a Pacific and Atlantic coast, the Amazon rainforest, and the start of the Andes mountain range. Add to this the buzzing cities of Medellín and Bogota, and the warmth of Colombians and their vibrant culture, and you’ve got one of the best budget-friendly travel destinations in the Americas.


I recently came back from a second trip in Colombia and wrote a guide for a one-week beach and nature holiday in Colombia and itineraries for several weeks. It’s one of my favorite countries and against the USD or even EUR it’s amazing value right now. In local Colombian restaurants, you can get a set lunch (soup, main, fruit juice + desert) for just $2.50.

Backpacker Budget: $30 a day
Mid-range Budget: $50 a day
Highlights: Caribbean beaches, Tayrona National Park, Medellin
When to go: peak season Dec-Mar — shoulder season Jul-Sep


4. Albania

Some say this underrated country could be “the next Croatia”. For now, it remains very much under-the-radar.


Albania’s unspoiled coastline, quirky capital, well-preserved Ottoman-era towns, and impressive Alps offer so many reasons to go. You can learn about the fascinating history of this once-isolated country, which was known during the Cold War as the ‘North Korea’ of Europe. Today, it’s a developing democracy, and improved infrastructure has made it easier to travel. 

Oh, and did I mention it may well be the cheapest destination in Europe? You can easily find hostel dorms for $10 or budget hotel rooms for around $25. Albanian cuisine is fantastic and a good lunch or dinner might cost you about $2 to $4.

Backpacker Budget: $25 a day
Mid-range Budget: $50 a day
Highlights: Hiking the Accursed Mountains, cheap beach stays, the historic town of Gjirokaster
When to go: peak season Jul-Aug — shoulder season Apr-Jun, Sep-Oct


5. Mexico

Mexico is one of the cheapest places to travel in 2021 thanks to currency exchange fluctuations

Mexico is typically best known for its beach resorts like Cancun, Cabo, or Tulum. They’re great, though these tourist-priced locations are only ‘inexpensive’ if you compare them to, say, Miami or Hawaii. Many would already consider that a good deal, but if you really want cheap, you have to explore other places in Mexico.


One classic (and safe) cultural travel route runs from the buzzing Mexico City to Oaxaca and ending on the Yucatan Peninsula. If you’re on a budget, check out Chiapas state: it’s filled with jungles, waterfalls, and epic Mayan ruins — and travel costs are among the lowest in all of Mexico.

Backpacker Budget: $40 a day
Mid-range Budget: $65 a day
Highlights: hopping around the Yucatan, Mexico City, Oaxaca for foodies
When to go: peak season Jun-Sep, Jan — shoulder season Oct-Nov, Apr-May


6. Argentina

Poor Argentina. Its economy has seen more ups and downs than a yo-yo. But for foreign travelers with Western currency, it still means Argentina is extraordinarily cheap. Much of its appeal is enjoying European-like development (Buenos Aires was once known as ‘the Paris of the south‘) but paying prices far below what you’d expect.

Just one thing: you will get the best prices by paying locally in Argentinian pesos that you’ve exchanged at the so-called “blue rate”. If you book hotels on international platforms then prices will be higher.


Oh, and Argentina is a delightful country to travel, of course. The north has Andean and Quechua regions as well as the epic waterfalls of Iguazu. Cities like Cordoba and Buenos Aires have so much culture to offer. And don’t miss the Patagonia mountain region in the far south, famed for its snowy peaks, glaciers, and the chance to see penguins and whales.

Tip: can’t find a cheap flight to Buenos Aires? Try Santiago, Chile, from where you can also launch your trip into northern Argentina

Backpacker Budget: $30 a day
Mid-range Budget: $50 a day
Highlights: Patagonia, Iguazu Falls, Buenos Aires
When to go: peak season Nov-Feb, shoulder season Sep-Oct, Mar-May


7. Nepal

Oh, Nepal… you had me at “namaste.” The kind-hearted nature of the Nepalese and the wonderful bustle of Kathmandu instantly enchanted me when I visited a few years ago. Nepal also happens to be one of the world’s cheapest places for mountain trekking, whether guided or independent.


There are routes throughout the Himalayas that are very well-supported and have many tea houses where you can eat and sleep. When doing the epic 7-day trek to Annapurna Base Camp I spent just under $20 a day.

Backpacker Budget: $20 a day
Mid-range Budget: $40 a day
Highlights: chaotic Kathmandu, trekking in the Himalayas
When to go: peak season Oct-Nov — shoulder season Sep, Dec, Mar-Apr


8. Cape Verde

Can an entire country be labelled a ‘hidden gem’? If so, then Cape Verde is definitely one. This small archipelago off the coast of Africa is little-known but it’s such a wonderful winter escape.

The island of Sal is known for its inexpensive package holiday resorts, though for culture and nature, it’s truly all about the magnificent island of Santo Antao. I did some of my best hiking and trekking there in years. The landscapes are just unbelievable.


Cape Verde offers good value for money, while also being safe and fairly well developed. I spent about $45 a day as a budget traveler, staying in B&Bs and eating the local food. Don’t miss my 7 reasons why you should travel to Cape Verde.

Backpacker Budget: $45 a day
Mid-range Budget: $70 a day
Highlights: hiking on Santo Antao, beach resorts on Sal
When: peak season Dec-Jan, Jun-Sep — shoulder season Feb-Apr, Sep-Nov


9. Vietnam

Vietnam is one the cheapest Asian countries — and one of the most exciting!

There is more to Vietnam than the typical itineraries. Take the northern province of Ha Giang, which is as pure and authentic as it gets. The limestone landscapes at Tam Coc are also not to miss. The town of Phong Nha is a fantastic adventure tourism and caving hotspot; camping inside the world’s third-biggest cave is a trip I’ll never forget.


The costs in Vietnam? Simply put: very low. Eat local and you’ll struggle to spend more than a few dollars per meal, while locally brewed beers cost as little as $0.20 a glass. Hotel rooms offer incredible value; as little as $10 will get you a clean and comfortable place to stay. Whether you’re a backpacker or just looking for a holiday on a budget, Vietnam has you covered.

Backpacker Budget: $25 a day
Mid-range Budget: $45 a day
Highlights: Ha Long Bay, cute Hoi An, the chaos of Hanoi
When to go: peak season Nov-Mar, shoulder season Apr-Jun, Sep-Oct 


10. Romania

Seriously: don’t dismiss Romania.

People seem to have preconceptions about this Eastern European country. Only when they visit does the penny drop that it is simply incredible.

Just like the Dracula it inspired, the spectacular Transylvania region has a whole lot for you to sink your teeth in. Consider its cute medieval towns, ancient fortified churches, and mighty Carpathian mountain range. It’s perfect for a spring or summer trip, but equally enchanting in winter, with low-cost ski resorts and snow-covered castles.


You can easily get by on a backpacker budget of about $30 – $40 a day in Romania. If you’re on more of a holiday, you can find cute B&Bs starting at $30/night. Don’t miss out on this European travel secret.

Backpacker Budget: $40 a day
Mid-range Budget: $60 a day
Highlights: Towns in Transylvania, European safaris in the Carpathian
When to go: peak season Jun-Aug – shoulder season Apr-May, Sep-Oct


11. Bosnia-Herzegovina

Most people still associate Bosnia mainly with the war that took place there — checks calendar — an entire twenty-seven years ago.

But this Balkan country next to Croatia has gotten back on its feet and has so much to show you if you give it a chance.


The Medieval town of Mostar is a real highlight, its iconic bridge once connecting trade routes going as far as Venice and Constantinople. I was also impressed by the capital Sarajevo, which has such genuine warmth, interesting architecture, and a wonderful historic quarter. It’s delightfully budget-friendly and one of the truly underrated capitals of Europe.

Backpacker Budget: $30 a day
Mid-range Budget: $50 a day
Highlights: Sarajevo and Mostar 
When to go: peak season Jul-Aug, shoulder season May-Jun and Sep


12. Cambodia

Angkor Wat in Cambodia, the cheapest country in Southeast Asia

You’ve probably heard of Angkor Wat— a vast temple complex that was once the heart of the ancient Khmer empire. This sprawling site is highly worth a visit, especially if you take the time to go beyond just the central temples.


But there is much more to Cambodia, from the gentle town of Kratie along the Mekong River, to the unspoiled jungles of the Cardamom Mountains and the laidback island of Koh Rong Sanloem. Happily, it’s also one of the cheapest destinations in Asia.

Backpacker Budget: $25 a day
Mid-range Budget: $45 a day
Highlights: Angkor Wat, Battambang, islands off the coast
When to go: peak season Dec-Feb, shoulder season Apr-May, Nov


13. Laos

4000 Islands, Mekong River

Think of Laos as Thailand but without the mass tourism. It’s sparsely populated, mountainous, and has nearly 70% forest coverage, making it a paradise for outdoor activities like trekking, climbing, kayaking, zip-lining, and hot air ballooning — all at budget prices.


Thanks to improved infrastructure Laos has become more accessible in recent years while retaining its low-key rural vibe. That makes now the perfect time to go. If you want to escape the crowds and crave some authenticity, skip the Thai beaches and go to Laos. You won’t regret it.

Don’t miss sleeping in tree huts and zip-lining through the jungle canopy at the infamous Gibbon Experience, or Laos’ most epic waterfalls in the Bolaven Plateau.

Backpacker Budget: $25 a day
Mid-range Budget: $45 a day
Highlights: Luang Prabang, Mekong river journeys, the Gibbon Experience
When to go: peak season Nov-Feb, shoulder season Oct, Mar-Apr


14. India

A “country of contrasts” is a travel writing cliche, but this definitely describes India. While it can be a place of poverty, India’s economy is also booming — and what’s most striking is the sheer range of development and prices you can experience.


A modern mid-range hotel in central Mumbai might cost you at least about 60 USD a night, whereas a room in the desert city of Jaisalmer might cost you just 5. That’s just India for you. But if you are on a budget, you can definitely travel India on a shoestring budget.

Due to the chaos and patience needed India may not be the first overseas country to tackle, but many regions have a reputation for being particularly easy to travel, including the northern desert region of Rajasthan and the laidback tropical state of Kerala in the south.

Backpacker Budget: $15-20 a day
Mid-range Budget: $40 a day
When to go: peak season Nov-Feb, shoulder season Oct, Mar


15. Indonesia

The Komodo islands, one of the top destinations in Indonesia

Indonesia’s best known destination is of course the resort island of Bali. But in this massive archipelago — that is wider than the United States — there is so much more to discover.

Consider Bali’s neighboring islands of Lombok and Java, the spectacular Komodo islands and rural Flores, or go further into Sumatra, West Nusa Tenggara, or Sulawesi. While many consider Bali cheap, Indonesia’s other islands are even more so.


From white sand beaches to jungles and savannahs, and from blue flame spewing volcanoes to remote rainforests where you can meet orangutans in the wild — Indonesia is a budget traveler’s dream.

Backpacker Budget: $30 a day 
Mid-range Budget: $50 a day
Highlights: Bromo volcano, Borobodur temples, Bali, islands beyond Bali
When to go: peak season Jun-Sep, shoulder season Mar-May & Oct-Nov


16. Bolivia

Anyone looking for 5-star luxury should maybe give Bolivia a pass. Life is simple in these parts and travel can be slow and at times a bit uncomfortable. But… it’s also South America’s ultimate budget destination, where you could easily get by on about $20 a day.


Not only that, Bolivia has some of the continent’s most amazing sights, such as the world’s highest lake Titicaca and the jaw-dropping and otherworldly salt flats of Salar de Uyuni. With its remote feel and sense of adventure, it’s one of my favorite backpacker destinations in South America.

Not many airlines fly directly to Bolivia, but the country combines well with neighboring Peru, where the capital Lima is well connected internationally.

Backpacker Budget: $25 a day
Mid-range Budget: $45 a day


17. Philippines

The best beaches in Southeast Asia? If you ask me, with over 7,000 tropical islands, Philippines is the place to go.

Besides having oodles of unspoiled coastline, it’s also a culturally fascinating place, with its mix of Asian and Spanish/US colonial influences. You’ll also find spectacular rice terraces in the north and incredible nature with jungle and volcano treks.


Consider the island of Palawan, the diverse central Visayas islands or Batanes province, among many other destinations.

Backpacker Budget: $35 a day
Mid-range Budget: $60 a day
Highlights: islands in Palawan, surfing in Siargao, Batad rice terraces
When to go: peak season Dec-Feb — shoulder Nov, Apr-May


18. Cuba

“See it before it changes,” is the familiar refrain when it comes to Cuba. And it still feels very much like stepping through a time machine.

Before I visited I had always heard Cuba of as an expensive country, but this seems to be based on its state-run luxury hotels focused on high-spending tourists. Travel in Cuba can actually be quite easy on the wallet, especially when using its huge network of family-run Casas Particulares offering affordable and charming local accommodation.


With none of the typical signs of globalization, vintage cars still driving through the streets, not to mention all the rum, sun, and salsa — spending some time in Cuba is guaranteed to be a unique experience.

Backpacker Budget: $40 a day
Mid-range Budget: $65 a day


19. The Baltic states

Often overlooked and tucked between the Nordic countries and Russia you’ll find the three small Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

Why go? Just think ‘Scandinavia on a budget’.

Squint your eyes and the Baltics may well remind you of Finland with its many woodlands, peat bogs, lakes, and log cabins painted in deep red. The people are similarly fond of cross-country skiing, saunas, and vodka. One key difference is that the costs are just a third of what you might find in the Nordics.


I enjoyed traveling in Estonia, which has a ton of history and charm all the while also being a tech startup powerhouse. While I was sipping some local IPAs in Tallinn, a few friendly Esti’s were regaling me with tales of IPOs.

Tallinn’s small tourist center can be a bit pricier, but the country as a whole is very inexpensive. Dinner is often under 7 Euro and hotel rooms go for 30 to 40 Euro a night.

Backpacker Budget: $35 a day
Mid-range Budget: $70 a day


20. Guatemala

In Central America, Costa Rica tends to get the most attention as a tourist destination thanks to its bundant wildlife and highly developed eco-tourism. But if you ask me, Guatemala deserves strong consideration as well. It may not be quite as developed, though its landscapes have a wow-factor that few countries can match.


Hidden in its northern jungles are the Mayan temples of Tikal, a stunning sight especially at sunrise. Equally breathtaking is the highland lake of Atitlan in the south, ringed by volcanoes and quaint villages where the pace of life is delightfully slow. And don’t miss Semuc Champey, a great place to explore river caves by candlelight and swim through cascading pools in the jungle.

And the best part? Many a traveler ends up spending under $25 a day in Guatemala. 

Backpacker Budget: $25 a day
Mid-range Budget: $50 a day


21. Morocco

Morocco is just a stone’s throw from Europe and quite cheap to travel. That is, if you manage to steer clear of the pushy salesmen trying to sell you overpriced rugs and trinkets! If you only go on organized tours, you may find Morocco to be quite averagely priced, but expenses drop considerably when traveling independently.


For great value accommodation with a bit of luxury, consider staying in some of the iconic riads—traditional hotels with garden courtyards offering a pleasant relief from the buzzing city streets.


They say the Sahara has more grains of sand than there are stars in the universe, which is a wonderful idea to contemplate while you’re camping under a clear Milky Way sky in the middle of the Moroccan desert.

Backpacker Budget: $40 a day
Mid-range Budget: $60 a day


22. Republic of Georgia

Georgia (the country) is a fascinating destination that’s right on the edge of Asia and Europe. It’s super cheap, sometimes even rivalling the low costs of countries in South or Southeast Asia. It’s currently dealing with an influx of Russian emigrants fleeing conscription, which has put tourism on a low boil, but it remains a wonderful destination to visit. 


In its eccentric capital, crumbling façades of traditional wooden Georgian houses stand next to Soviet-era architecture and daring contemporary designs. I loved my stay in Tbilisi and was surprised by its wonderful soul and character. From Tbilisi, you can explore the stunning Caucasian Mountain range, take a dip in the Black Sea, or visit ancient hilltop monasteries (and a few of them even built inside caves).

With 1-year visas for remote workers, it’s an ideal digital nomad hub within a stone’s throw of Europe.

Backpacker Budget: $20 a day
Mid-range Budget: $40 a day


23. Armenia

Geghard monestary in Armenia

Something incredible happened in Armenia in 2018: the people peacefully protested its dictator, who eventually issued a polite mea culpa and promptly resigned. Ever since there’s been a sense of positivity in Armenia and increased interest in tourism there.


It’s still a poor country; its landscapes dotted with Soviet-era relics and ladas still drive the streets. Neighbouring Georgia might have more mainstream appeal for now, but you’ll love Armenia if you’re into places that are off the usual trail. I had the great fortune of visiting during Vardavar, an annual event in which the entire city of Yerevan fights each other with water pistols, balloons, and buckets. Even the police and fire brigade join in!

Learn more: don’t miss my top reasons for visiting Armenia.

Backpacker Budget: $25 a day
Mid-range Budget: $40 a day


P.S. I wrote an inspirational book that’s all about how you can travel more and travel cheaply. If you want to the world but not sure where to start or how to do it on a budget, my book will give you the answers!

P.P.S. Keep in mind the budgets listed here are only suggestions and always depends on how you travel. The suggested budgets are per person per day and don’t include one-off expenses like flights or travel insurance.

Backpacker Budget: this assumes you’ll stay in hostel dorms or share rooms in cheap guesthouses. You’ll eat mostly local food in cafes/eateries and use local transportation, and you avoid expensive private tours.

Mid-range budget: this assumes you’ll stay in nicer B&Bs, local guesthouses or budget hotels, regularly take day tours and other organized activities, and have sit-down meals in a nice restaurant at least once a day.

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