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10 Best Countries to Visit on a Budget

Envision yourself sitting by the ocean, sipping on pina coladas and watching the sunset before you. Better yet, you’re climbing mountains in search of the next breathtaking view. All of it is possible, even if you’re on a budget. Travel doesn’t have to cost a fortune or break the bank. Here are the 12 best countries to visit on a budget, with the cheapest countries displaying first, sorted by our Daily Budget Index, representing the sum of accommodation costs per day, 3 meals per day, and public transportation costs. 

Your next budget destination awaits! 

1. NICARAGUA

The most budget-friendly country, according to our Daily Budget Index, Nicaragua’s exceptional landscape, colonial architecture, remote islands and Caribbean and Pacific waters makes it the ideal country to visit, if you are looking to have a bit of everything, and are on tight budget. With the largest area of rainforest north of the Amazon, six active volcanoes and picturesque towns, Nicaragua is the jewel of Central America. Its vibrant festivals, historic cities and uninterrupted waters have travelers flocking to experience it all for themselves.

Best time to travel: November to April

Top Things to Do

  • Volcano board down Cerro Negro
  • Cliff jump off Somoto Canyon
  • Peer through bubbling lava of the Masaya Volcano
  • Swim through the volcano caldera of Laguna de Apoyo

Accommodation, Food and Transportation costs

  • Average accommodation cost per night: USD 10 – 20
  • Average food cost per day: USD 3 – 5
  • Average transportation cost: USD 3 – 5 

Daily Budget Index = USD 22 – 40 per day

2. PERU

Peru is without a doubt one of the most captivating countries in South America. From the wild Amazon jungles to the vast coastal deserts and icy peaks of the Andes, Peru hosts biodiversity that is rarely seen within a single country. The country is home to a lost city, ancient geoglyphs and indigenous cultures that span civilizations. Peru is a place of fascinating contrast and South American charm that leave travelers wanting to go back again and again.

Why you should goOn a budget? Peru is the place to go! While there’s been a boom in luxury travel in recent years, Peru is still the perfect destination for people on a budget. The key to success? Think like a local! Wander a few blocks from the tourist areas and you’ll find the super cheap (and super tasty!) local eats. For transport take a combi (minibus) to get around town and overnight buses to travel longer distances (save money on flights and accommodation – boom!). For places to stay hostels are not only the cheapest but in meeting like-minded travellers you’ll get the skinny on cheap and free things to do. That said, mid-range non-touristy hotels are often comparable if you’re keen on your own room for a change. Either way, don’t book in advance via booking portals – just turn up and you’ll get the best rate (assuming they have space!). If they don’t, try the next accommodation down the road. And therein lies part of the joy of budget travel – if you can go with the flow you’ll not only save money, but you’ll have unique unplanned experiences along the way that often become the highlight of your travels. Like that time I was stranded in a small village in the altiplano and got invited into a parade and ended up staying the night with a local family (cost – nada; experience – best memories of my trip!). Lastly – hot tip – exchange your cash for Peruvian soles in a bank, you’ll get a much better rate than in your own country or at the airport. Have fun! — by Steve Wilson from Aspiring Adventures 

Best time to travel: May to October

Top Things to Do

  • Revisit ancient Inca civilization at Machu Picchu or Choquequirao ruins 
  • Discover the mysterious Nazca Lines
  • Visit the Sacred Valley in the Andes
  • Flock to Lake Titicaca and stay on the floating islands of Uros

Accommodation, Food and Transportation costs

  • Average accommodation cost per night: USD 10 – 20
  • Average food cost per day: USD 3 – 5
  • Average public transportation cost: USD 5 – 10 

Daily Budget Index = USD 24 – 45 per day

3. CAMBODIA

There’s something magical about Cambodia that captivates travellers every time. Cambodia is the contemporary state of what was once the Khmer Empire, which existed during the Angkorian period. Many parts of that empire still remain within the country’s streets. Cambodia is home to several ethnic minorities who reflect much of the Cambodian spirit and generosity that have travellers longing to stay.

Why you should go: Cambodia is a culturally-rich destination where you can stretch your budget without missing out on great travel experiences. By eating and drinking like a local in Cambodia, you’ll get a taste of delicious Khmer food without starving your wallet. If you are comfortable with street food, this is your least expensive option. This country has also some of the cheapest beer in the world at about USD 1 per bottle. Travelers will easily find cheap but decent dorm beds, guesthouses, boutique hotels and private rooms in Cambodia. For a more local feel, homestays and couch surfing is also available. Accommodation prices can get as low as USD 2 to USD 15 a night. Moreover, getting around Cambodia is a breeze with public transport to count on. Long distance buses are available to move you around from one town to another or to get in and out of Cambodia to and from neighboring countries such as Thailand and Vietnam. For example, you can get from Siem Reap to Ho Chi Minh for as low as USD 26. As soon as you’re in your destination in Cambodia, tuk tuks will be among the most common and cheapest form of transport for your epic journey. Renting a tuk tuk with driver for a day to should cost you around USD 15 for a whole day. Furthermore, exploring the towns of Cambodia by bike is not only a good for the heart and the environment, but good for the wallet, too. Budget travelers who want to escape touristy settings and dive into cultural immersion can easily do so in Cambodia’s numerous countryside scenes. — by Vibol from Green Era Travel

Best time to travel: May to October

Top Things to Do

  • Try your hand at tarantula wine – a locally brewed rice wine mixed with jackfruit and topped with live tarantula. Otherwise, you can always try fried tarantula. 
  • Explore the world wonder, Angkor Wat
  • Head towards Battambang to see the local Cambodian life
  • Take a plantation tour at Kampot to discover the many pepper plantations and fruit farms unique to Cambodia
  • Enjoy one of the craziest beach parties at Koh Rong 

Accommodation, Food and Transportation costs

  • Average accommodation cost per night: USD 10 – 15 
  • Average food cost per day: USD 3 – 5
  • Average public transportation cost: USD 5 – 10 

Daily Budget Index = USD 24 – 40 per day

4. NEPAL

If you’re a mountain lover, then Nepal is a country you don’t want to miss. Trek around the foothills of Everest and the Annapurna range, and enjoy the view of the Nepali river that wraps around the Himalayan gorge. Nepal is a supercluster of the world’s most dramatic landscapes and adventurous hearts. You can jump from canyons, kayak, paraglide and mountain bike the country’s steepest hills and ravines. Nepal is a country that gives travelers the opportunity to embrace Mother Nature at its finest.

Why you should goNepal is a heaven for budget travelers. A wide range of options for food, accommodation, and transportation services are available at a reasonable cost. You can drive your hunger with a plate of dal-bhaat at USD 3 – USD 5 — you cannot leave Nepal without trying dal-bhaat! Public transportation in major cities like Kathmandu will hardly cost you USD 2. Except in the few government restricted destinations like Manaslu Conservation Area, you can travel freely without hiring a guide. Backpacking is famous in the country and friendly locals will offer you help if you ever feel lost. However, hiring staffs from government authorized agencies is a great way to understand the culture and to blend with the locals too. — by Upendra Duwadi from Himalayan Leisure, Inc. 

Best time to travel: March to May / September to November

Top Things to Do

  • Mountain bike along the rolling hills of Kathmandu Valley or go for whitewater rafting on the fierce Bhote Koshi river or Marsyangdi and Trishuli rivers 
  • Trek up to Everest Base Camp to see the majestic Mount Everest or trek up to Poonhill to see the glorious Annapurna range
  • Find your way down Siddhu Gufa, the largest cave in Nepal
  • Go for a bungy or a swing jump from a canyon that is above 160 m high over the Bhotekoshi river 

Accommodation, Food and Transportation costs

  • Average accommodation cost per night: USD 15 – 20
  • Average food cost per day: USD 5 – 7
  • Average public transportation cost: USD 2 – 5 

Daily Budget Index = USD 32 – 46 per day

5. COLOMBIA

Sitting near the equator, Colombia is a country of diverse landscapes. From the unspoiled Caribbean coast to the Andean summit and Amazon rainforest, it’s a country filled with unmatched adventure. Colombia’s rich history and enthralling scenery draw explorers from all over looking for a different experience. The country’s biodiversity, seaside resorts, highlands and colonial past make it one of the best-kept secrets.

Best time to travel: February to April

Top Things to Do

  • Visit a coffee farm and learn about the coffee process
  • Go mud bathing in the Totumo Volcano
  • Trek the Lost City of Teyuna dating back to AD 800
  • Go for whitewater rafting from Rio Verde to Rio Samana
  • Check out the street art in Bogotá
  • Relax within the sounds of nature at Tayrona National Park 

Accommodation, Food and Transportation costs

  • Average accommodation cost per night: USD 15 – 20
  • Average food cost per day: USD 3 – 5
  • Average transportation cost: USD 5 – 10 

Daily Budget Index = USD 29 – 45 per day

6. INDONESIA

Indonesia is a country that sprawls across more than 17,000 volcanic islands with 8000 of them inhabited. Over 300 languages are spoken across the country. Located in Southeast Asia, Indonesia is a plethora of cultures, people, customs, animals and traditions; it’s like finding multiple countries in one. Each island holds a different personality and characteristic, welcoming countless adventures for travelers who come visit.

Why you should goFrom deep jungles, abundance of wildlife, active volcanoes, some of the whitest sand beaches on earth to the chaotic city of Jakarta and the thousand-cultured milestones in Bali, Indonesia has almost everything in one single shop. You can easily dine for 5 USD per person -yes, including drinks at most of the restaurants around Indonesia, making this jewel-like country one of the most affordable yet gorgeous countries in the world. Usually the island of Bali is a highlight because you can have a superb journey for 15 days in all directions of the island where you will find impressive monument  but if you travel all the way to the east into the little Gili islands, then Caribbean-alike grains await. If you are not very keen about going to the beach, then there is an active volcano in the middle of the island where you can engage in a 2 hour hike to see all 3 islands with a beautiful sunrise spectacle. Besides all this, accommodation can be very affordable as well, starting around 20 USD per room night. — by Arturo Ambrosio Guerrero from Legend Travel Group

Best time to travel: April to October

Top Things to Do

  • Walk, relax or surf on the beaches of Bali — most of them are free!
  • Hike an active volcano (try Tangkuban Perahu that last erupted in 1969 – you can still see smoke coming out of it!). Most of Bali’s volcanoes are free to climb barring a few like Mount Agung that need permits for safety reasons.
  • Experience a Saung Angklung Udjo show (showcasing the various traditional dances, costumes and cultures of Indonesia)
  • Learn traditional crafts. Kota Gede, a district of Yogyakarta, is famous for its silver factories. Join a workshop in the city and learn to make silver jewellery!
  • For an offbeat experience, visit  the Taman Festival Bali ghost town that lies in Padanggalak Beach, north of Sanur. This place is an abandoned amusement park, which closed shortly after opening in 1997 and now all that remains are the deteriorating and spooky ruins. Be careful where you step though. 

Accommodation, Food and Transportation costs

  • Average accommodation cost per night: USD 20 – 30
  • Average food cost per day: USD 3 – 5
  • Average public transportation cost: USD 5 – 10 

Daily Budget Index = USD 34 – 55 per day 

7. VIETNAM

Walk through rice terraces and among thousand-year-old trees, explore caves and get lost in the chaotic cities and rural villages of this Southeast Asia gem. Vietnam is a land of staggering beauty, complex cultures and compelling history – and it has a place for everyone. The country’s diverse cultures, ancient temples, Buddhist shrines and French remnants have travelers coming back time and time again.

Best time to travel: February to April / August to October

Top Things to Do

  • Eat the delicious street food that costs less than 1 USD. Don’t miss trying out Banh Mi, a famous Vietnamese sandwich. The soul warming noodle soup, ‘pho‘ (say “fuh”), is sure to fill your belly anyday! 
  • Sip “weasel” coffee, a special Vietnamese-styled coffee made of civets that eat coffee berries.
  • Relax on the beaches of Nha Trang, if you are a beach bum on a budget then this is the place to be!
  • Light a lantern in Hoi An
  • Cycle through rice fields in Mai Chau

Accommodation, Food and Transportation costs

  • Average accommodation cost per night: USD 20 – 30
  • Average food cost per day: USD 3 – 5
  • Average public transportation cost: USD 5 – 10

Daily Budget Index = USD 34 – 55 per day

8. PHILIPPINES

Over 7000 islands make up this archipelagic country, defined by its volcanoes, beaches, hidden lagoons and Spanish-influences. The Philippines’ charm lies in its Jeepneys (graffiti-covered jeeps), sandy beaches, turquoise blue waterfalls and stone churches that fill its megacities and rural areas. The country’s’ vibrant hospitality, deep history and breathtaking landscape have travellers always returning back for more. On top of it all, the Philippines is a backpacker’s paradise because of how cheap it is.

Why you should goIf you are on a tight budget, The Philippines is a great country to visit! Shop at the places that locals use and you will find inexpensive goods. These small convenience store are called “sari-sari” stores and found all over the country. These can also offer freshly cooked meals that are low-priced. Filipinos are renowned for the fact that they like to eat, and all kinds of foods are available! Fast food joints like McDonald’s, or the Philippines equivalent, Jollibee, is also available that offer meals at lower prices than you would find in the west. Travelling around in a bus from town to town is also cheap. The modern ones are comfortable and air-conditioned. Bus stations are busy places, and services are frequent. Even cheaper transport are the colourful jeepneys, and tricycles found throughout the country. Be sure to carry low denomination coins and notes to make payment. Travelling between islands won’t break the bank either, particularly if you look out for domestic airline “Promos” (Filipinos love to get a good deal), or take local ferries.— by Nigel Sutherland from Philippine Trails

Best time to travel: December to February

Top Things to Do

  • Go island hopping (start with The Visayas)
  • Swim with whale sharks in Donsol
  • Kayak along the El Nido Secret Lagoon
  • Helmet dive the waters of Boracay

Accommodation, Food and Transportation costs

  • Average accommodation cost per night: USD 15 – 20
  • Average food cost per day: USD 3 – 5
  • Average public transportation cost: USD 10 – 20 

Daily Budget Index = USD 34 – 55 per day

9. MOROCCO

The gateway to Africa, Morocco shines in its diversity. The country’s lyrical landscape will have you quickly falling in love, whether you’re welcomed by its sweeping Saharan dunes or the vast mountains range of the High Atlas. Discover centuries-old trails, ancient ruins and desert medinas while finding familiarity in the country’s urban designs. Morocco is a country of many faces and sounds rooted deeply in its African, European and Middle Eastern culture — perfect for the ultimate cultural adventure.

Best time to travel: March to May / September to October

Top Things to Do

  • Ride a camel and marvel at the Sahara Desert
  • Hike the High Atlas mountains to reach Northern Africa’s highest peak, Mount Toubkal
  • Explore the imperial cities, starting with Marrakech
  • Relax and spend your time in a hammam, Morocco’s traditional bathhouse of the Almohad dynasty

Accommodation, Food and Transportation costs

  • Average accommodation cost per night: USD 20 – 30
  • Average food cost per day: USD 3 – 5
  • Average public transportation cost: USD 5 – 10 

Daily Budget Index = USD 34 – 55 per day

10. MEXICO

A country built on the foundations of some of the world’s greatest archaeological monuments of the Mayan civilization, Mexico is home to some of the most breathtaking structures and art of the 21st century. The country’s lush jungles, volcanoes and deserts hint to endless adventure. Directly off the Pacific and Caribbean Seas, Mexico is a festive country with a love for celebration and culinary delights.

Best time to travel: December to April

Top Things to Do

  • Explore the art and life of the iconic Frida Kahlo
  • Visit the historic Templo Mayor, the centrepiece of the ancient Aztec empire
  • See the floating gardens of Xochimilco
  • Tour the ancient Mesoamerican pyramids of Teotihuacán
  • Try some of the tastiest variety of Mexican cuisine. We definitely recommend you to Chiles en Nogada, Arrachera con salsa Arriera and Tortas ahogadas. 

Accommodation, Food and Transportation costs

  • Average accommodation cost per night: USD 25 – 35
  • Average food cost per day: USD 3 – 5
  • Average public transportation cost: USD 5 – 10 

Daily Budget Index = USD 39 – 60 per day

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