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18 Amazingly Cheap Places to Travel in 2018

Want to travel without breaking the bank? Clearly, the easiest way is to go to cheap countries! The ones listed here are all among the cheapest places to travel, offering not just great value but also some of the world’s greatest sights and experiences.

I didn’t pick these countries based on some googling. I have been to all of these destinations myself (well, all except one). I can tell you from first-hand experience that they’re not just cheap but also among the most exciting places to visit.

Some of these picks might strike you as a bit alternative, depending on where you’ve already traveled. But don’t be put off as travelling in these countries is easier than you might think.

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. Be sure to check out my guides on how to find cheap places to fly to and how to use mistake fares and other hacks to fly very cheaply.

Once you’ve landed, use my top tips for traveling cheaply to never spend more than you have to.

Some quick answers

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

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

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

Especially great value in 2018 / 2019:
Argentina, Turkey


1. Georgia (Caucasus)

Svaneti

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

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 a gentle 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 Southeast Asia. Don’t be surprised to find $5 dorms or $15 a night budget rooms.

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

2. Laos

4000 Islands, Mekong River

Why: Wedged between the ever-popular Thailand and Vietnam, the landlocked country of Laos is often wrongly overlooked. Many people still think that Laos is a ‘crazy party place for backpackers’, but this was true only for the town of Vang Vieng during the early 2010s. Today, it’s a different place.

Laos is the Southeast Asia destination for adventurers. It’s 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, though not while losing its low-key rural vibe. If you want to escape the crowds and crave some authenticity, skip Thailand and go to Laos.

Don’t miss: sleeping in tree huts and zip-lining through the jungle canopy at the infamous Gibbon Experience.

Backpacker Budget: $20 a day
Mid-range Budget: $40 a day
Read more: my top places to visit in Laos

3. Argentina

Argentina’s ‘train to the clouds’

Why: Argentina is a ridiculously cheap country to travel in 2019. While its seemingly never-ending economic troubles are bad news for Argentinians, it does present an excellent opportunity for visitors (and the country could use your foreign cash). For anyone with hard Western currency, it’s rarely been cheaper to visit Argentina. Back in 2012, a US Dollar would get you about 5 Argentinian pesos. Now it gets you 40.

While flights to Argentina will cover quite a distance for many, once you get there you’ll enjoy great value, despite prices rising to match inflation. Oh, and it’s 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.

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.

4. Nepal

Annapurna peak

Why: 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 in 2017. If you’re thinking of a trip to South Asia but don’t want quite the hassle of India, then Nepal is simply the place to go.

Nepal also offers some of the world’s cheapest options for mountain trekking. There are routes throughout the Himalayas that are 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—and I was hardly being stingy.

Backpacker Budget: $20 a day
Mid-range Budget: $40 a day
Read more: my guide to backpacking in Nepal

5. Romania

Brasov old town

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

Let’s be honest here: some folks out there have pretty bad stereotypes about this country. Some think it’s dangerous (lol, no). Others think it’s the land of ‘gypsies’ (nope, that’s Romani people you’re thinking of, not Romanians). I recommend that you keep an open mind so you can discover this relatively little-known treasure of Europe. Don’t miss the chance to travel around the spectacular Transylvania region… yes, that’s the place Dracula is meant to be from.

It’s great value too. You can get by on a backpacker budget of about $30 – $40 a day. If you’re more in holiday mode, you’ll enjoy some great prices too. There are stylish B&Bs starting at $30/night, and even in a fancy restaurant I struggled to spend more than $25 a person.

Backpacker Budget: $40 a day
Mid-range Budget: $60 a day
Read more: 5 Reasons Why I Utterly Loved Romania

6. Mexico

Mexico is one of the cheapest places to travel in 2017 thanks to currency exchange fluctuations

Chichen Itza

Why: Ahhh, Mexico. It’s often such a misunderstood travel destination, especially among Americans misled by sensationalized news reports. Apart from a few non-touristy regions it’s actually a perfectly safe country to visit. It’s an amazing destination for a cheap beach holiday but equally for a culturally-focused backpacking adventure.

The classic travel route runs from Mexico City to Oaxaca and Chiapas states, ending on the Yucatan Peninsula. While resort cities like Cancun and Playa Del Carmen can be a little pricey, you can get much better value (and fewer crowds) in many nearby places. Be sure to check out our in-depth guide to the Yucatan Peninsula, written by our Mexico correspondent who spent several months uncovering all the best places to visit.

Backpacker Budget: $40 a day
Mid-range Budget: $60 a day
Read more: backpacker routes in Mexico

7. Turkey

Istanbul

Why: Turkey has suffered economic problems lately, though its weaker currency makes it a cheap place to travel right now. I revisited Turkey last year on a stopover in Istanbul, and was reminded of what a great cultural destination it is. Sat 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

8. Indonesia

Borobodur temples

Why: 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.

Bali has long been the tourist hot-spot, but I think it may have gotten too popular for its own good. The beaches are dirty and the cities overcrowded, though the north side of Bali still kept its charms. The best of Indonesia can be found away from Bali though: try adjacent islands like Lombok and Java, the spectacular Komodo islands and rural Flores, or go further into Sumatra, West Nusa Tenggara, or Sulawesi.

Backpacker Budget: $25 a day (* outside Bali)
Mid-range Budget: $50 a day
Read more: all Indonesian islands at a glance

9. Armenia

Geghard monestary

Why: Something quite 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.

Nevertheless it’s still a very 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 neighboring 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

10. Bolivia

Salt flats of Uyuni

Why: Welcome to South America’s ultimate cheapie destination, where you can get by on just $20 a day. 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.

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
Read more: my guide to backpacking Bolivia

11. Colombia

Cartagena

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

The country 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 to write this, but it’s the people that truly make Colombia one of my favorite countries in the world. I think the cities of Medellin and Bogota are also among the most buzzing and captivating on the continent.

Don’t miss: seeing the world’s tallest palm trees!

Backpacker Budget: $35 a day
Mid-range Budget: $50 a day
Read more: my guide to backpacking Colombia

12. Cambodia

Jungles of Chi Pat, Cardomom region

Why: 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 so much more to Cambodia. Its islands remain pleasantly undeveloped (at least, for now). Quiet Mekong towns like Kratie will give you a true taste of Southeast Asia. While Cambodia is undergoing some devastating deforestation, its jungles in the southwest have luckily been spared. Last year I went river boating and hiking in the Cardamom Mountains, and I highly recommend seeing these pristine rainforests for yourself.

Backpacker Budget: $25 a day (* outside of Siem Reap)
Mid-range Budget: $45 a day
Read more: my guide to backpacking Cambodia

13. Philippines

Batad rice terraces

Why: As any in-the-know travellers will tell you, it’s not actually Thailand that’s the first choice for amazing tropical beaches these days. For this you go to the Philippines. But even though this country has over 7000 islands, it’s not just a beach-focused one-trick-pony. Culturally it’s also a fascinating place, with its mix of Asian and Spanish/US colonial influences, incredible ancient rice terraces in the north, and countless opportunities to experience nature everywhere.

When you mention Southeast Asia most people will think of starter countries like Thailand or Vietnam, but it’s actually the Philippines that has given me some of the most epic travel memories. The island of Palawan is a current backpacker favorite, though I also highly recommend the less crowded and more diverse central Visayas (like Cebu, Bohol, and Siquijor islands). You won’t be disappointed.

Backpacker Budget: $35 a day
Mid-range Budget: $60 a day
Read more: top places & recommended itineraries

14. Ukraine

Lviv (photo credit)

Why: Ukraine is the only country on this list I haven’t yet been, 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 of renting a beautiful modern apartment in Lviv for 200 Euros. No, not per night, but per month.

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

15. Cuba

Havana

Why: “See it before it changes,” is the familiar refrain when it comes to Cuba. There is a sense that one day it may be overrun by mass tourism from the US, though following recent US policy reversals that day seems a little more distant again now. Cuba used to known as an expensive place, when it was focused mostly on filling its state-run luxury hotels with high-spending tourists. These days it can be quite a bargain, especially once you get out of central Havana.

It’s also perfect for getting a truly local experience. Long before Airbnb was even a thing, Cuba already built up a 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.

Note: Cuba can be waaaay cheaper if you manage to pay in the local currency instead of the CUC tourist currency. A mojito in central Havana might cost $8 on the tourist prices, but $0.30 locally. You have to be pretty savvy to find these local prices though.

Backpacker Budget: $40 a day
Mid-range Budget: $65 a day
Read more: How to Travel On a Budget in Cuba

16. Guatemala

Lake Atitlan

Why: Costa Rica may be the mainstream favorite in this region, but it’s also hella expensive. Guatemala is not only a lot cheaper (by at least half), but 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
Read more: my guide to backpacking Guatemala

17. Thailand

Krabi

Why: Popular? Very. But Thailand can still be one of the cheapest countries to travel. The further away you get from the most commercialized 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).

Much of the Thai coast has fallen prey to overtourism in recent years, but with the right itinerary, you can still avoid the crowds. For Thai islands with a laidback vibe, consider the Koh Chang archipelago in the east near Cambodia.

Backpacker Budget: $30 a day (* inland)
Mid-range Budget: $50 a day
Read more: top places to visit in Thailand

18. Morocco

Why: Morocco is a fantastic budget getaway given that it’s the most stable country in North Africa and just a stone’s throw from Europe. It’s quite cheap, though only if you manage to steer clear of the pushy salesmen trying to sell you overpriced rugs!

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 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
Read more: 31 Morocco photos that will inspire you

19. Vietnam

Mui Ne

Why: From the beautiful chaos of Hanoi’s Old Quarter to the serene Hoi An riverfront adorned with colored lanterns, Vietnam is truly a country full of contrasts.

Unfortunately one of the downsides of Vietnam is that it can be highly focused on packaged mass tourism, which can be felt especially strongly when touring Halong Bay or the Mekong Delta — but strike out on your own and you’ll be able to get a true taste of this exciting country. It’s also among the cheapest countries in Asia: eat local and you’ll struggle to spend more than a few dollars per meal, and locally brewed beers cost as little as $0.20 a glass.

Backpacker Budget: $25 a day
Mid-range Budget: $50 a day
Read more: my guide to backpacking Vietnam

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

Backpacker budget: assumes you’ll stay in hostel dorms or share a room in cheap guesthouses. You’ll eat mostly local food in cafes/eateries and use local transportation, and avoid expensive private tours.
Mid-range budget: 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.

Has this article given you the itch to travel the world? If you want to jump into the deep end of travel, you might want to check out my inspiring guide Travel the World Without Worries, in which I tell you exactly how you can find the time and money to go on an epic adventure!

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 engine Kiwi.com to compare options, and to set up a few flight price alerts so you can jump on opportunities when they arise. You can try some destinations using the widget below:

Cheap Countries to Travel in 2019

Country Suggested Daily Budget
Georgia $20 – $40
Laos $20 – $40
Argentina $30 – $50
Nepal $20 – $40
Romania $40 – $60
Mexico $40 – $60
Turkey $30 – $50
Indonesia $25 – $50
Armenia $20 – $40
Bolivia $25 – $45
Colombia $35 – $50
Cambodia $25 – $45
Philippines $35 – $60
Ukraine $25 – $40
Cuba $40 – $65
Guatemala $25 – $50
Thailand $30 – $50
Morocco $40 – $60
Vietnam $25 – $50

I selected this list based on my own experiences and where it’s currently cheap and safe to go. Of course, there are many more cheap travel destinations…

What countries are top of your list? Leave your comments below!

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Summary | 11 Annotations
The countries listed here are all among the cheapest places to travel, offering not just great value but also some of the world’s greatest sights and experiences.
2017/11/29 09:15
Laos has an established tourist trail leading to the UNESCO world heritage city of Luang Prabang as well as the adventure travel hub of Vang Vieng.
2017/11/29 09:16
To get to Laos you usually go to neighboring Thailand first, which has many budget flight connections from around the world.
2017/11/29 09:17
seeing the sun come up over the Himalayas while surrounded on all sides by some of the tallest peaks in the world is an experience I won’t ever forget.
2017/11/29 09:20
Situated at the edge of Europe along the Caucasian Mountain range, it’s clear that Georgia has so much to offer in both cultural and natural attractions
2017/11/29 09:21
Nicaragua isn’t yet quite on everyone’s radar—and that’s a great thing as it has kept prices low.
2017/11/29 09:22
Nicaragua offers many similar experiences to Costa Rica at easily just a third of the cost
2017/11/29 09:22
Take Cambodia’s beautiful beaches and islands, which have yet to become truly commercialized.
2017/11/29 09:24
Just 3 hours from Angkor Wat the charming city of Battambang has well-preserved French Colonial architecture and a thriving art scene.
2017/11/29 09:25
Cuba is a perfect destination for those who like to get a local experience.
2017/11/29 09:25
But if you avoid this remote area you’ll find that everything in Ukraine is perfectly normal
2017/11/29 09:26