Did you know your Dollars, Euros, or Pounds can be worth a relative fortune in many other countries?

Due to different levels of development and currency values around the world, some places will simply get you much better value than others.

So forget about spending $30 or €25 on a single meal in London or Zurich. This same amount will easily cover a whole day’s worth of traveling in cheap countries to travel like Indonesia, Argentina, Vietnam, Mexico, or Turkey — to name just a few.

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Unlike some other lists of this kind, I can say I have personally visited all of the following countries. I can also you tell from first-hand experience that they’re not just cheap places to travel but also among the most exciting ones to visit.

This is the 7th year I’ve made this list, which has grown and changed over time. Countries can become cheaper or more expensive over the years, for example due to currency changes against the USD or EUR. Even so, countries that were once relatively cheap do tend to stay that way. (Even though prices go up in, say, Vietnam, they go up in Western countries too.) 

Laos

Of course, these are some of the cheapest countries to visit once you get there. It doesn’t yet take into account the cost of flights.

Flying halfway around the world for a week in a cheap destination might not make so much financial (or environmental) sense. But find a cheap flight or spend longer at the destination and it quickly becomes much more worthwhile.

Let’s go!

Cheap countries to travel

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

Cheap countries in and near Europe:
Baltic States, Romania, GeorgiaArmeniaUkraine, Turkey, Morocco

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

Excellent value in 2020 (due to currency):
Argentina, Turkey

 


 

1. Vietnam

Why: Offers incredible value despite a booming economy — and many parts of Vietnam remain relatively undiscovered.

I think Vietnam is highly underrated. Sure, there is concern about overtourism in Sapa and Ha Long Bay, but these are just two tourist sites within a huge country. (Vietnam is as tall as the US West Coast!).

I recently went back to Vietnam and was blown away by some of the less-known places. The northern province of Ha Giang is still as pure as it gets and Tam Coc is an amazing alternative to Ha Long Bay. The town of Phong Nha is an incredible adventure tourism hotspot, home to several of the world’s largest caves

Despite an economic boom fueled in part by the US-China trade war, Vietnam remains ridiculously cheap. 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.

Something else I noticed: the locals seem less desperate for tourist money these days, so touting and other hassles appear to have dropped precipitously. Now is the perfect time to go.

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

 

2. The Baltic States

Why: Think ‘Scandinavia on a budget’.

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

It’s not surprising that the vibe is a mix of Slavic Europe and Scandinavian cool — but at around just a third the cost.

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.

Estonia, in particular, is a post-Soviet success story, with its capital becoming a startup powerhouse. While I was sampling some local craft beers in Tallinn, a few friendly Esti’s were regaling me with tales of cryptocurrencies and IPOs.

Those who say Estonia is expensive probably have only visited the half-square-kilometer old center of Tallinn with its inflated tourist prices. Anywhere else you can still have dinner for under 7 Euro or a hotel room for 30 to 40 Euro a night. That’s maybe not the cheapest in the world, but a terrific bargain compared to the eye-wateringly expensive Scandinavia.

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

 

3. Georgia (Caucasus)

Why: One of the cheapest destinations in Europe, amazing for hiking, and just on the verge of being discovered.

This small country in the Caucasus is one you’ll probably be hearing more about it in the years to come. It’s an incredible destination and easy to travel in… and very easy on the wallet, too. When I visited last year, it was love at first sight.

It all starts in the eccentric capital of Tbilisi, where crumbling façades of traditional wooden Georgian houses stand next to Soviet-era architecture and daring contemporary designs. It’s a bit of a crazy architectural jumble, yet it has an amazing energy that will surely make you want to stay longer. From Tbilisi, you can explore the stunning Caucasian Mountain range, get your feet wet in the Black Sea, and visit ancient hilltop monasteries (and a few of them inside caves) all over the country.

Oh yeah, Georgia is super cheap. In parts, it’s even cheaper than in Southeast Asia. You can easily find $5 backpacker dorms or $15 a night budget rooms.

With easy to get 1-year visas-on-arrival, Georgia could well become the next digital nomad hotspot.

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

 

4. Laos

4000 Islands, Mekong River

Why: It used to be known as a crazy party place in the early 2010s, mostly due to the town of Vang Vieng, but today Laos is all about authentic travel.

Laos is sparsely populated, mountainous, and has nearly 70% forest coverage, and this makes it a paradise for outdoor activities like trekking, climbing, kayaking, zip-lining, and hot air ballooning — all at extreme budget prices. Thanks to improved infrastructure Laos has become more accessible, but not while losing its low-key rural vibe. If you want to escape the crowds and crave some authenticity, skip overtouristed Thailand 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: $20 a day
Mid-range Budget: $40 a day

 

5. Mexico

Mexico is one of the cheapest places to travel in 2019 thanks to currency exchange fluctuations
Chichen Itza

Why: Newsflash… there is more to Mexico than Tulum! And it’s really cheap.

Mexico is such an oft-misunderstood travel destination. Either it’s portrayed as a dangerous place in sensationalized news reports, or all its 2 million km² seem to have been reduced to just the overrated hipster enclave of Tulum.

The thing is: most of Mexico is perfectly safe to visit. And there’s a wealth of culture and adventure to unlock. The classic travel route runs from the buzzing Mexico City to Oaxaca and Chiapas states, ending on the Yucatan Peninsula. Due to the plunging value of the Mexican peso, you can get almost twice as many pesos per Dollar or Euro today than you could just five years ago.

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

 

6. Argentina

Train to the clouds in Argentina, a great bargain destination in South America
The ‘train to the clouds’

Why: Economic troubles make this an absolute steal for a developed country.

Poor Argentina. Its economy has seen more ups and downs than a yo-yo. But for foreign travelers with Western currency (and despite inflation), it still means Argentina is ridiculously cheap.

While flights to Argentina may cover quite a distance, you’ll enjoy incredible value once you get there. At the time of writing, a backpacker hostel dorm bed in the capital costs as little as $7 a night, with basic private rooms from about $25. Some of the prices are similar to Southeast Asia, while the level of development is similar to Europe or North America.

Oh, and Argentina is a delightful country to travel, of course! I explored the north—including Cordoba, Salta, Buenos Aires and the epic waterfalls of Foz do Iguacu—and loved every bit of it. And don’t miss the Patagonia mountain region in the far south, famed for its snowy peaks at Torres del Paine and the chance to see penguins and whales.

Backpacker Budget: $30 a day
Mid-range Budget: $50 a day
Note: the Argentinian peso fluctuates all the time. Be sure to check the latest situation.

 

7. Nepal

Prayer flags in Nepal, best and cheapest hiking destination in Asia
Annapurna peak

Why: Cheap (and very well-supported) mountain trekking in the Himalayas.

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

 

8. Romania

Colorful Brasov town in Romania
Brasov old town

Why: Leave your preconceptions at home and discover one of Europe’s travel secrets — and ultimate bargain.

Whatever you think Romania is, it probably isn’t. The spectacular Transylvania region, in particular, defies expectations — with its cute medieval towns, ancient fortified churches, and spectacular Carpathian mountain range. It’s simply one of my favorite destinations in Europe.

Let’s be honest: some folks out there have pretty bad stereotypes about Romania. No, it’s not dangerous. No, it’s not just full of grey Soviet-era buildings. Go and see for yourself. 

You can easily get by on a backpacker budget of about $30 – $40 a day. If you’re on a holiday, you can find stylish B&Bs starting at $30/night. Even in a fancy restaurant in Brasov, I struggled to spend more than $25 a person.

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

 

9. Turkey

Istanbul has many cheap flights from around Europe and is great value for travellers
Istanbul

Why: A weaker currency makes it a very cheap place to travel right now.

Recent political controversy aside, Turkey is a fascinating travel destination. Better yet, you get about twice as much lira for your Dollar or Euro now than just two years ago. I revisited Turkey last year on a stopover in Istanbul and was reminded of what a great cultural destination it is. 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.

Backpacker Budget: $30 a day
Mid-range Budget: $50 a day
 

10. Indonesia

The Komodo islands, one of the top destinations in Indonesia
Komodo islands

Why: There’s debate over whether Bali has jumped the shark. Consider the rest of Indonesia, which is amazing… and much cheaper, too.

Bali has long been the tourist hot-spot, but I think it may have gotten too popular for its own good. Reports of dirty beaches and increases in theft abound. I think the best of Indonesia can be found away from Bali: try adjacent islands like Lombok and Java, the spectacular Komodo islands and rural Flores, or go further into Sumatra, West Nusa Tenggara, or Sulawesi.

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 whole world to discover.

Backpacker Budget: $25 a day (* outside Bali)
Mid-range Budget: $50 a day

 

11. Armenia

Geghard monestary in Armenia
Geghard monestary

Why: Now is a great time to visit this newly democratic country

Something incredible happened in Armenia in 2018: the people peacefully protested its dictator, who eventually issued a polite mea culpa and promptly resigned. There’s now a real sense of positivity in Armenia and among its global diaspora, which makes now an excellent time to visit.

It’s still a poor country; its landscapes dotted with Soviet-era relics and ladas still drive the streets. It might not yet have the more mainstream appeal of neighbouring Georgia, 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, when the entire city of Yerevan fights each other with water pistols, balloons, and buckets. Even the police and fire brigade join in!

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

12. Bolivia

Salt flats of Uyuni

Why: South America’s ultimate cheapie destination.

Traveling in Bolivia may at times be slow and uncomfortable, but it also has some of the continents’ most amazing sights, such as the world’s highest lake Titicaca and the jaw-dropping and otherworldly salt flats of Salar de Uyuni. The best news is you can get by on just $20 a day.

If you’re an adventurous traveler and not so easily fazed by Bolivia’s remoteness then you might just want to book your tickets straight away. Not many airlines fly to Bolivia, but the country combines pretty well with Peru, where Lima has many international flight connections.

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

 

13. Colombia

Cartagena, not one of the cheapest places in Colombia, but one of the nicest
Cartagena

Why: Forget about Narcos; today’s Colombia is a much more positive, safe, and welcoming place, as increasing numbers of tourists are finding out.

Colombia will give a perfect taste of the South American continent, as you have both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, the Amazon rainforest, and the start of the Andes—all within relatively easy reach. I loved the Colombian culture and its incredibly welcoming people. It might be a cliche, but it’s the people that truly make Colombia one of my favorite countries in the world.

Exchange rates between the Colombian peso and USD or EUR also remain favorable, making it 30% cheaper to travel there now than when I visited just a few years ago.

Don’t miss: the captivating city of Medellin, and seeing the world’s tallest palm trees!

Backpacker Budget: $35 a day
Mid-range Budget: $50 a day

 

14. Cambodia

Angkor Wat in Cambodia, the cheapest country in Southeast Asia
Temples of Angkor Wat

Why: Inexpensive and well worth visiting on the Southeast Asia travel trail

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’s more to Cambodia. Its islands remain pleasantly undeveloped (for now) and towns like Kratie along the Mekong River will give you a true taste of Asia. 

Don’t miss: swinging in a hammock on the quiet island of Koh Rong Sanloem, or river boating and hiking in the Cardamom Mountains

Backpacker Budget: $25 a day (* outside of Siem Reap)
Mid-range Budget: $45 a day

 

15. Philippines

Batad rice terraces

Why: The most stunning beaches in Southeast Asia… but that’s not all.

For amazing tropical beaches, you don’t necessarily go to Thailand anymore these days. With over 7000 islands, the Philippines is now the place to go. Besides its mostly unspoiled coastlines, it’s also a culturally fascinating place, with its mix of Asian and Spanish/US colonial influences, incredible ancient rice terraces in the north, and amazing nature.

The island of Palawan is a current favorite, though I also highly recommend the less crowded and more diverse central Visayas (like Cebu, Bohol, and Siquijor islands) or Batanes province. You won’t be disappointed.

Backpacker Budget: $35 a day
Mid-range Budget: $60 a day

 

16. Ukraine

Why: Possibly the cheapest country to travel in Europe — and safe.

I haven’t yet been to Ukraine, but rave reviews from my traveler friends compelled me to add it. I think it deserves a spot on this list, as it’s possibly the cheapest country to travel in Europe.

Yes, there is still a simmering conflict involving Russian-backed separatists in the easternmost region. But if you avoid this remote area you’ll find that everything in Ukraine is perfectly fine. The coastal city of Odessa on the Black Sea is a traveler’s favorite, while the beautiful city of Lviv (close to the Polish border) is hotly tipped as offering some of the best value in Europe. Some digital nomads told me about renting a beautiful modern apartment in Lviv (pictured) for 200 Euros. Not per night, but per month.

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

17. Cuba

Havana

Why: A unique country shielded from globalization where you can truly ‘travel like a local’.

“See it before it changes,” is the familiar refrain when it comes to Cuba. Following US policy reversals that day seems a little more distant again now. Cuba was once known as an expensive place, when it was focused mostly on promoting its state-run luxury hotels to high-spending tourists. These days it can be quite a bargain, especially when using its huge network of family-run Casas Particulares offering affordable and charming local accommodation.

With barely any internet access and 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

 

18. Guatemala

Why: Costa Rica may be the mainstream favorite in Central America, but it’s also hella expensive. Guatemala is a cheaper alternative.

Guatemala is not only a lot cheaper than Costa Rica (by at least half as much), but if you ask me, it has a wow-factor that simply no other country in Central America 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

 

19. Thailand

Why: Popular? Very. But Thailand can still be one of the cheapest countries to travel, especially in the north.

The further away you get from the popular beaches, the better it gets. Head all the way to northern Thailand to the Chiang Mai region, and you’ll be in budget travel heaven. Here 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 $5) or a comfy hotel with swimming pool (from $30). It’s no wonder than Chiang Mai is still the world’s go-to place for digital nomads and expats looking for super-low cost of living combined with high quality of life.

Don’t miss: the less-touristy parts of Bangkok or the beautiful Chiang Rai region

Backpacker Budget: $30 a day (* inland)
Mid-range Budget: $50 a day

 

20. Morocco

Morocco is the most stable country in North Africa and just a stone’s throw from Europe. It’s quite cheap as well, though only if you manage to steer clear of the pushy salesmen trying to sell you overpriced rugs and trinkets! 

If you’re a backpacker, you’ll be happy to know Morocco has a small but growing network of backpacker hostels. If you have a bit more budget, 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

 


 

P.S. Keep in mind the budgets listed here are only suggestions. It 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.

P.P.S. I have an amazing inspirational book that’s all about how you can travel more and travel cheaply. Check it out if you’ve got the itch to travel!

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.

Cheap places to fly to

Of course, some of these countries may take a long flight to actually get to. Flights can be expensive. But if you search around, you can often find some pretty great deals. I recommend using the search engines to compare options, and to set up a few flight price alerts so you can jump on opportunities when they arise.

You can read more about finding cheap flights in my detailed guide.

Cheapest places to travel across Europe, the Americas, Asia and Africa. Find out which countries offer the best travel experiences on a budget! #BudgetTravel #Europe #Asia #Africa #Travel #TravelTips #SoloTravel #IndieTravel #IndieTraveller