ancient mayan ruins in Guatemala
Often overlooked as a holiday hot spot, Guatemala boasts all the beauty of nature at rock bottom prices.

Incredible Destinations for Less: 14 of the Cheapest Places to Travel in 2018

The Affordable Way to Fuel Your Wanderlust

Between bills, grocery shopping and the everyday cost of living, adding travel to the mix seems nigh on impossible. Overseas vacations seem like a luxury few can afford. However, it is possible for you to go on a fabulous holiday that won’t break the bank.

It may not be luxurious, but by choosing to stay at the best value hotels or putting aside myths about hostels you can instantly bring the price of your trip down. Do that in tandem with picking from a list of cheap places to travel and you’re looking at the perfect romantic getaway, family vacation, solo adventure or spring break trip!

Setting your sights on cheap vacation spots will let you make the most of your trip, enjoying beaches, culture, food and adventure for a modest price tag. Let’s take a look at some of the cheapest destinations in the world — all the places you can get outstanding deals and make your dollars last longer.

Guatemala

Although it’s easily accessible from the United States and Canada, Guatemala is often overlooked as a holiday hot spot. This means you get to enjoy all of its natural beauty, mystical ancient ruins, volcanoes and lakes without the crowds — or the expense. From high mountains to hot beaches, you can hike up the steps of ancient Mayan palaces, frolic in Lake Atitlan, or tour the ancient colonial city of Antigua without draining your savings.

Guatemala is a cheap vacation destination, with an exchange rate of roughly eight Guatemalan Quetzals to every U.S. dollar. If you’re willing to travel by chicken bus and sleep in backpacker dorms, you can get by for around $25 USD a day. It’ll certainly be an adventure and you’ll learn a lot from being thoroughly immersed in the culture.

Splash out on basic hotel rooms and premium buses, and you can still travel for approximately $35 USD a day.

You can tailor your experiences in Guatemala to your budget. Even if you choose to splurge, you’ll find that a cheap trip is definitely possible here.

bright blue ocean shore and natural landscapeThe Philippines are a much are affordable option for those seeking a budget travel destination.Photo Credit: iStockPhoto / saiko3p

The Philippines

With beaches and scenery to rival top tourist destinations in the Caribbean, the Philippines are an affordable option for those seeking a budget travel destination. You’ll be able to experience some of the world’s best beaches for a fraction of the price of Caribbean resorts. Explore some of the world’s most captivating reefs and heritage sites for an incredibly low cost.

The Philippines’ tropical paradise is the best of Asia, and a literal jumping-off point for adventurers seeking to dive into pristine waters filled with marine life.

There is no shortage of luxury resorts in the Philippines, but the price range for accommodation and food starts incredibly low. For between $35-$50 USD a day you’ll be able to stay in air-conditioned hotel rooms, dine out in restaurants, travel via private van transfers and even rent motorcycles daily.

Some of the biggest expenses can be flights between islands, as you hop from Manila to Cebu, Boracay and Palawan. To cut costs, take a little more time and catch ferries where possible instead. You can also try booking tickets online. If you connect online using a Philippines VPN to disguise your overseas IP address, you might even get lower prices.

With a little planning, the Philippines has the potential to be one of the cheapest places to travel in the world.

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expansive landscape in South AfricaIf you’re interested in wildlife and nature look no further than South Africa.Photo Credit: iStockPhoto / Straystone

 South Africa

The cost of living is low in Africa, but it’s a notoriously expensive travel destination. Most tourists who travel to the continent have money to splash around on pricey safaris and extravagant lodges. There is still hope for budget travelers, however. For those looking for cheap trips, it is possible to experience the wonders of Africa’s landscapes and wildlife if you look to South Africa.

Much of the country is left untouched and preserved in national parks and animal reserves. You and your family can get up close and personal with much of South Africa’s wildlife through their guided safaris and the many meet and greets South Africa’s rehabilitation and conservation facilities offer guests.

You can also consider hiking through some of South Africa’s stunning national parks.

The cost of travel in South Africa isn’t as low as in Southeast Asia, but you can still plan a trip that takes in all the highlights for approximately $100-$150 USD a day. Within this price range you can sleep in hotels and dine out frequently, and also experience some of the most incredible experiences Africa has to offer.

Come for a shorter vacation and you will get value for money for a holiday you won’t soon forget.

oceanic landscape and waterfront in GreeceGreece is quickly becoming one of the cheapest vacation destinations in the world.Photo Credit: iStockPhoto / Count Kert

Greece

A troublesome economy gives travelers two very good reasons to visit Greece. Firstly, it means Greece is one of the cheapest vacation destinations in the world. Secondly, locals could use tourists’ support.

When you get there and fall hard for the charm of small eateries run by a grandmother, and hotels draped in brightly colored flowers, you’ll be happy to trade in large resorts for these much more charming options. Eating and staying locally is the best way to make sure your money is going to the right place, while also getting a better deal and a more enriching experience.

While some of the more touristy areas such as Athens and Santorini remain on the higher end of the budget ladder, many of Greece’s less popular islands boast even more beautiful views than those of its tourist traps. Consider exploring some of its smaller, lesser-known islands for a private, budget-friendly vacation you’ll be sure to remember.

fishing boats docked at a Portuguese waterfrontPortugal offers all the glitz, glamor and sun of Spain for more affordable prices.Photo Credit: iStockPhoto / StevanZZ

Portugal

If you have a hankering to explore Western Europe, but without the cost, you can easily plan an affordable vacation to Portugal. Portugal offers all the beauty and sunshine of Spain for more affordable prices. With similar food and culture, Portugal is a means by which travelers can experience the best of both worlds, while indulging in Portugal’s stunning sights and scenery.

There is also a deep history here which not only makes for fascinating walking tours and museum visits, but gives the cities of Porto and Lisbon the old world glamour of places like Paris. Portugal’s lengthy coastline is another huge draw. The Algarve in the south is a fairly resort-ridden spot, but further up the coast you’ll find plenty of hidden beaches and quiet towns to escape.

A budget of around $70 USD a day per person will be enough for nights in simple hotels, meals in local restaurants, and a glass of port or two.

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aerial view of BoliviaOften ignored as a holiday destination, Bolivia is teeming with traditional South American culture.Photo Credit: Getty Images

Bolivia

Hidden away right in the middle of the continent, Bolivia is one of the cheapest and most exciting destinations in South America. It would be an oversight to ignore Bolivia as a holiday destination. The country is teeming with traditional South American culture, food and music for a much more affordable price than in neighboring Brazil or Argentina.

La Paz is a high altitude and fast paced city you’ll find difficult to leave. Despite not having a coastline, you’ll also find some of the greatest natural wonders on the continent in Bolivia. No trip to South America is complete without a visit to the Salar de Uyuni, the magical salt flats in the south.

In the north there is the vast expanse of the Amazon jungle, where you could disappear for days and spend hours exploring rivers in canoes or basking on the deck of your wilderness lodge while watching capuchin monkeys dance through the trees.

Budget around $50-$80 USD a day for a comfortable trip that covers all the main attractions.

sunset over the Taj Mahal in IndiaIndia is a one stop adventure for those who seek it.Photo Credit: iStockPhoto / MasterLu

India

Today, India is quite possibly the cheapest country to visit in the world. It’s the ultimate budget travel destination — if you’re adventurous enough!

Steeped in culture, tradition and tasty cuisine, India is a one-stop adventure for those who seek it. India is vast — there is every possible kind of destination here. You can find beaches, mountains, temples, yoga and meditation retreats or adventure sports. Tourism in India is growing quickly thanks to its fantastic culture and breathtaking landscapes, so it’s now easier than ever to travel.

Plus, the U.S. dollar is nearly 70 times stronger than the rupee, so you’ll get the most out of your money.

A meal in a restaurant costs less than $3 USD, and if you dare brave street food you can find snacks for 50 cents. Taxis can cost as little as $1 USD, and decent hotels will only set you back around $20 USD. Plan to spend around $60 USD a day. (You can get by on a lot less if you don’t mind roughing it.)

pool and resort groundsMorocco is an eclectic mix of city and country.Photo Credit: iStockPhoto / Alexey Bykov

Morocco

Morocco is only a short hop from Europe, but it feels like a different world. It’s a country that indulges the senses, with richly colored, bustling medinas packed with donkeys and eye-catching textiles alike, flavorful tagines and landscapes that range from crisp mountains to the golden expanse of the Sahara Desert.

It’s a shopaholic’s paradise, and you’ll struggle to resist entering into a bartering session or two while in the souks. Morocco is also a land of temptation for photographers — Chefchaouen’s blue walls make it one of the most photogenic towns in the world, and glimpses of the Atlas Mountains from rooftops of Marrakesh are hard to ignore.

What makes Morocco all the more attractive is the fact that it is a cheap place to vacation. You can live like royalty, staying in majestic riads, riding camels and exploring palaces, for less than $70 USD a day.

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Cappadoccia with hot air balloonsThere are few better sights then gazing over the wonders of Cappadoccia.Photo Credit: Getty Images

Turkey

Sprawled across both Europe and Asia, Istanbul has a particular mystique that’s hard to resist. It’s also a cheap place to travel, so you may as well give in to the temptation!

As well as the grand mosques and spires of Istanbul, Turkey destinations include the ethereal “fairy chimneys” of Cappadocia, the regal terraces of Pamukkale and a Mediterranean coastline that has a bounty of beaches and walking trails alike. Then there’s the food — lush breakfasts of white cheeses, tomatoes and olive oil, gozleme pancakes stuffed with goodies, babaganoush, and toppings of yogurt on everything.

Turkey strikes a perfect balance between the new and unfamiliar and the comforts of Europe. Exploring this incredible country is possible for a mere $40 USD a day. Traveling overland by sleeper bus, eating in basic restaurants and using your feet to explore will help to keep costs down on your trip.


Green hills in VietnamThe paddy fields in Vietnam seem like they're from a dream.Photo Credit: Getty Images

Vietnam

Vietnam is a country of contrasts, from hectic cities crammed with non-stop motorcycles, to a surreal countryside where limestone karsts and paddy fields are veritably draped in calm. There’s also an outstanding culinary cuisine, and you can find pho in dollar-a-bowl food stalls that would rival the most expensive in New York.

Happily, Vietnam is also an inexpensive vacation spot. The serene beaches, marvelous vistas of the Mekong Delta and iconic views of Halong Bay can all be yours to experience for around $50 USD a day.

This budget will allow you to sleep in comfortable hotel rooms, eat in restaurants (although you still may find some of your best meals in food stalls), get around in taxis and indulge in frequent massages. Everything you could hope for on a relaxing holiday!

St George Church in EthiopiaEthiopia is full of surprises. Take in astonishing sites such as St George Church, carved out of stone, in Lalibela.Photo Credit: Getty Images

Ethiopia

Ethiopia isn’t a place that springs to mind when you’re casting around for cheap vacation ideas. It isn’t a place that springs to mind when you’re coming up with vacation ideas at all. For adventurous travelers committed to getting the best value for money on their trips though, Ethiopia should be right at the top of the list.

First off, it’s a wonderful country to explore. It’s the source of the best coffee in the world, a delicious and unique cuisine that is unlike anything else you’ve ever tasted, some of the most mountainous landscapes in Africa and a culture that escaped the influences of colonization.

In Ethiopia you’ll come across plenty of surprises. There are castles that look like they are straight out of Europe, walled cities that are among the holiest in the Islamic world and ancient churches carved out of rock. Tourism is still in its infancy, so the lack of infrastructure means traveling here can be a challenge. Take it on, though, and you won’t be disappointed.

Ethiopia is on par with India in terms of cost. Comfortable hotel rooms start at $10 USD a night, meals in restaurants rarely exceed $3 USD and even private transfers (as opposed to dirt cheap public buses) usually only cost around $20-$30 USD.

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Padar Island in IndonesiaLook beyond Bali and explore the Komodo Islands — such as this destination, Padar Island in Komodo National Park.Photo Credit: Getty Images

Indonesia

Bali is famous for being one of the cheapest vacation spots in the world. Indonesia is much more than just Bali though, and you’ll find the other islands even more affordable.

On Komodo Island you can get a look at the terrifying Komodo dragons, swim with manta rays and sink your toes into the sand of tri-colored beaches. Lombok is a chill surfing spot, and the vehicle-free Gili Islands are the ultimate places to relax.

Throughout Indonesia you’ll find stunning natural attractions that are often free to visit. Sweeping beaches, waterfalls, rice terraces and lakes are all an integral part of any Indonesian experience.

Ultra-budget travelers could get by on $20 USD a day — opt for more comfort and you’ll only spend around $30 USD.


Town on the coast of SloveniaIt doesn't cost much to see some beautiful natural and historic sites in Slovenia.Photo Credit: Getty Images

Slovenia

Despite being surrounded by some of the most expensive countries to travel (Switzerland and Italy) Slovenia is still one of the cheapest vacation spots in Europe.

Some of the biggest attractions are completely free — it doesn’t cost a thing to walk around Lake Bled and snap hundreds of photos of the Church of the Assumption in the middle! Visit nearby Triglav National Park to discover an area of concentrated beauty, with scenes of alpine fields full of flowers, and shaggy cattle with bells around their necks hemmed in by rickety wooden fences.

Glacial streams have carved beautiful patterns through the rocks in the area, and created irresistible natural swimming pools. Entrance fees to Savica Waterfall or Vintgar Gorge (both close to Lake Bled) only cost a few euros to access.

The capital, Ljubljana, is also delightful and budget-friendly. It’s enough just to stroll along the willow-lined river, enjoying views of the hilltop castle and the triple bridge. When you’re ready to rest your legs, take a seat in one of the al fresco bars or restaurants and enjoy a cold drink for only a few euros.

A daily budget of $80 USD is more than enough to enjoy what Slovenia has to offer.

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Kuang Si Falls in LaosA highlight in Laos is the ethereal Kuang Si Falls.Photo Credit: Getty Images

Laos

Most holidaymakers looking for a good deal in Southeast Asia head to Thailand. For something a little more interesting, less crowded and equally friendly to your wallet, Laos is a fantastic option.

There are all the things anyone looks for in a holiday destination — gorgeous temples, jungles alive with wildlife and pristine beaches. French colonial towns add in some fusion architecture and delicious cuisine, and a Buddhist culture casts an aura of calm over the country.

Highlights include the Kuang Si Falls, Si Phan Don Archipelago, UNESCO heritage town of Luang Prangang and temples such as Wat Xieng Thong.

All of this beauty and adventure could be at your fingertips for as little as $50 USD a day. This modest budget will afford you luxuries such as air-conditioned rooms, private local guides that will show you all the best sights and decent local restaurants.

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