Love to travel but don’t have much money? Never fear… These are some of the world’s cheapest countries to travel in.
If money were no object, who knows where we’d go. But sometimes, you need to know your budget travel limitations to make that trip last a little longer.
Generally speaking, if you’re travelling on a budget you’ll be staying in hostels, eating street food or in cheaper restaurants and using public transport as little as possible. Have a look at our article about finding the best cheap travel deals to make sure you start off right.
So if you’re looking for the cheapest countries to travel in, try to spend as much time in one of these awesome destinations as possible.
Average Daily Spend: Approx US$20 (less if you’re very frugal)
Massive, exotic and still super cheap, India is the original budget backpackers destination for all these reasons and more. You’ll find hostel beds for around Rs100 (about US$1.50) and in some places whole rooms for Rs200 (US$3).
A meal such as a thali in a street side restaurant will set you back around Rs100 and street snacks can be had for as little as Rs20 (US$0.30).
Travel is also very cheap, although there is a dizzying array of choices especially on the trains. The more expensive option will be first class air conditioned (1st A/C) but there are options all the way down to 3rd class, or preferably air conditioned chair class (CC A/C). New Delhi to Agra by chair class (with a/c) will be around Rs350 (around US$5-6).
Add in the diverse landscapes from jungle, to desert to stunning beaches and buzzing cities – you’ll easily find that passing time in India isn’t just a cheap way to travel but an exceptional cultural experience.
Currency: Indian Rupee 65 = US$1/GB£.78p
Fly To: New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Kochi, Goa, Thiruvanthpuram, Chennai.
Must See –
- Taj Mahal in Agra,
- Pilgrims and religious traditions by the Ganges at Varanasi (Benares),
- See the Himalayas in the Kulu Valley or head to Leh/Ladakh,
- Cruise the backwaters of Kerala.
Average Daily Spend: Approx US$20
Cool modern cities, possibly the best food in Asia (in my humble opinion) and loads of beautiful scenery. Malaysia is a great budget travel destination and one of the most diverse.
Accommodation in hostels can be as low as RM15 (around US$3) with single rooms being not much more expensive in some places at around RM20-25 (US$4-5).
Food is also cheap with a street food snack such as Roti Canai (delicious curry and flatbread) coming in at around RM1 (US$0.25) or a bigger dish such as Nasi Lemak (rice, spicy sauce and meat) around RM4 (less than US$1).
Travel is inexpensive, especially if you use the excellent bus services between cities. There are a lot to choose from but they’re normally super cheap. KL to Penang by inter city coach will set you back around RM40 (less than US$10) although you can pay more for a nicer bus. This takes around 4 or 5 hours depending on travel and your driver/bus.
Currency: Malaysian Ringgit 4.25 = US$1 / GB£0.75p
Fly To: Kuala Lumpur, Penang/Georgetown, Kuching, Singapore, Brunei.
Must See –
- Orangutans on Borneo,
- Tropical paradise on the Perhentian Islands,
- Exceptional Penang/Georgetown street food.
Average Daily Spend: Around US$25
Europe for under $30 a day? In Poland, absolutely. You’ll need to be a little frugal but there’s loads to see and do with castles and old cities to rival places like Germany or Scandinavia.
A hostel bed in Krakow will set you back as little as PLN26 (about US$7) or a room in a cheap hotel is approx PLN75 (US$20).
Polish food is very typical of Eastern Europe with lots of stews, sausages and sauerkraut style sides. A big meal for one with a beer will be around US$6 and smaller street food snacks or cafes will be around PLN3-7 (around US$1-2).
Travel is affordable by European standards. A ticket from Krakow to Auschwitz (about a 4hr journey) will cost PLN16 (approx US$4.25).
Currency: Polish Zloty 3.70 = US$1 / GB£0.77p.
Fly To: Warsaw, Krakow, Katowice, Gdansk, Wroclaw, Lodz.
Must See –
- Old towns of cities such as Warsaw and Krakow with castles and cool bars,
- Cheap skiing in the Tatra Mountains (Zakopane),
- Dark history at Auschwitz.
Average Daily Spend – US$30
Pretty much all of Eastern Europe is a bargain for budget travellers looking to for cheap travel. Romania has plenty to keep the most discerning backpacker busy, plus you’ll be able to say you went to Transylvania!
You’ll find a bed in shared rooms or hostels for around 55 Lei (US$10-15) in places like Cluj-Napoca or Bucharest.
Food is an amazing fusion of east meets west, with dishes featuring strudels and pastries through to stuffed vine leaves and shoarmas (shawarmas) stuffed full of spiced meat.
Romania is also gaining a reputation for some excellent wine, which is dangerously cheap (around 5 Lei or US$1.25). Expect to spend around 12-20 Lei (US$3-5) a pop on street food items or around 30 Lei (US$8) for a meal in a cheaper restaurant.
Currency: Romanian Lei 4 = US$1 / GB£0.77p.
Fly To: Bucharest, Cluj-Napoca, Timisoara.
Must see –
- Bran Castle is the inspiration for Dracula and is closely linked to Vlad the Impaler,
- Find cheap skiing and snowboarding in Poiana Brasov,
- Spot brown bears in the Carpathian Mountains.
Average Daily Spend – From US$15 and up.
Up there with the cheapest places to travel in the world, Bolivia is a budget travellers dream. Even without being frugal you may struggle to spend US$20 a day.
As a travel destination its a gem, with some of the most spectacular scenery in South America, which has got to be saying something. Lakes, mountains and deserts, not to mention the buzzing cities of La Paz and Sucre mean you’ll not be far from a lot of fun.
If you go super budget you’ll be finding hostel beds for around US$3-4 and feasting on empanadas for about US$0.25 each. A meal in a restaurant is around US$5-8.
Transport too is very cheap with a bus ticket from La Paz to Uyuni around US$2.
Currency: Bolivian Bolivianos 6.90 = US$1 / GB£0.77p.
Fly To: La Paz, Sucre.
Must see –
- The Uyuni salt flats are the must see sight in Bolivia,
- Lake Titicaca is studded with beautiful destinations like Isla del Sol,
- Tiwanaku is the mostly destroyed centre of the once powerful Aymara civilization.
Average Daily Spend – From US$15 and up.
There are a lot of great budget options in Central America including Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, which are all similar price wise. In fact pick any one of those countries and overland through them for some epic budget travel.
Why Nicaragua? Unspoiled rainforests packed full of wildlife, amazing and cheap scuba diving, beautiful beaches? Do we need to say more?
Hostel beds will be around US$4, however a basic private room can be picked up for as little as US$8-10 in some places. Expect to pay more in tourist centres.
Food is cheap, with a standard rice and meat meal costing around US$2.50. Alcohol too is cheap with prices from under $1 for beers and rum cocktails.
Currency: Nicaraguan Cordoba 30 = US$1 / GB£0.77p
Fly To: Manaus.
Must See –
- There are many nature reserves including Chocyero-El Brujo,
- Climb volcanoes at Masaya or Matotombo,
- Stunning Caribbean beaches on the Corn Islands.
Average Daily Spend – US$30 and upwards (less if you’re frugal).
Ghana is a relatively easy African country to travel around: Ghanaians are friendly, the transport network is decent and there’s plenty to see and do.
Hostels are not a big thing in this part of Africa but you’ll find reasonably priced hotel rooms around US$15, less if you head to the styx.
Street food is cheap, with a meal of rice and stew for around $1 or more. However restaurants can be expensive, although a meal can be found for US$5 in more budget restaurants. The sky can be the limit though.
Getting around is reasonably priced with bus tickets from Accra to Kumasi costing about US$7-8. It’s not the cheapest destination in Africa but it is great value and a beautiful country.
Currency: Ghanaian Cedi 4.40 = US$1 / GB£0.77p
Fly To: Accra.
Must See –
- The are lots of castles built along the coast including Elmina Castle, a relic of the slave trade era.
- Head to wildlife reserves such as Mole and go elephant spotting.
- The twin cascades at Boti falls.
Average Daily Spend – US$35 (less if you’re frugal)
Quite possibly one of the cheapest places to travel in western Europe, Portugal is a beautiful country with loads to offer. Exquisite beaches, great food and cool cities mean you’ll have plenty to do. Neighbouring Spain can also be done on a similar budget if you are wise.
Hostel/dorm rooms can be found from around €10 (approx US$8-12) if you book in advance. With a bit of shopping around you can find a private room in Lisbon for about €15 (US$17).
A snack from a street food market or fast food stand will set you back anything upwards of €5. A beer in a bar with a small tapas snack will be about €2.Restaurant meals will be anything from around €8-10 and up.
Transport though will still cost a few pennies; a bus ticket to Porto from Lisbon (2.5 hrs) will be around €20 (US$22) while the slightly faster train will be nearer €30 (US$35). Check ride share sites for cheaper options.
Fly To: Lisbon, Porto, Faro.
Must See –
- The old towns of Lisbon and Porto are beautiful,
- Surf or sunbathe in the Algarve.
Average Daily Spend – US$25 approx
A famous comedian who I’m not going to name sort of put Kazakhstan on the map. But there are lots of reasons to visit, and they don’t involve being culturally inappropriate!
This sprawling country, the worlds 9th largest, is home to diverse cultures, beautiful and serene wilderness and is great cheap travel destination. The capital is Astana but the largest city is Almaty, which has a reputation as an expensive city in the region.
However, done right Kazakhstan is as cheap as they come and can also be a convenient place to see more of the ‘Stans, as the central Asian nations are known.
Accommodation is a bargain with hostels from around 800-900 Tenge (US$3), but a decent hotel room can easily be found for around 3000KZT (US$10).
Food in the area varies from traditional kebabs and stews such as Plov, a ubiquitous rice dish full of meat and vegetables. You’ll find street food such as kebabs (shashlik or shawarma) from around 200-300 KZT (US$0.60-70) and a plethora of pies and cakes everywhere.
As the country is massive you’ll probably spend a lot of time on public transport. Buses are cheapest with a 14 hour bus ride from Almaty to Karaganda coming in at around 2500KZT (US$7-8).
Currency: Kazakhstani Tenge 322 = US$1 / GB£0.77p
Fly To: Almaty, Astana, Karaganda.
Must See –
- Kok Tobe hill above Almaty is a great vantage point to take in the view,
- National parks such as Ile-Alatu are a great place to go kayaking or trekking,
- Exquisite architecture on churches and temples around Almaty and Astana.
Average Daily Spend – US$20-25
It may have some bad press at the moment, but there are few places so affordable to travel and so packed full of famous sights as Egypt. Besides the obvious tourist spots such as the Pyramids at Giza there are also beautiful ancient cities such as Alexandria and Luxor, paradise beaches of the Sinai and the hustle bustle of Cairo.
You’ll find hostels and shared rooms from around EGP100 (US$6) but hotel rooms are cheap. A private room won’t be much more for around EGP150 (US$8) – although the standard may not be high.
Food is super cheap, kebabs and falafels are the standard and you’ll rarely pay more than EGP100 (US$5) even in a restaurant. Street food will be around the EGP25-50 range (US$2). As a very Muslim country you won’t find much in the way of alcohol outside of hotels and designated areas – but it can be found.
Travel is very affordable, a metro ride in Cairo is around EGP4.00 (US$0.25) and a reasonable length taxi ride is about EG£20 (US$1.10).
You’ll have to do a Nile boat cruise so budget around US$25-30.
Currency: Egyptian Pound 18 = US$1 / GB£0.77p.
Fly To: Cairo, Alexandria, Sharm-El-Sheikh, Hurghada, Luxor.
Must See –
- The Pyramids (of course)
- Valley of the Kings
- Nile cruise
- Scuba or snorkel the Red Sea
A word to the budget travelling wise
No list of cheap travel such as this can be definitive. We have tried to give outlines as to the average costs in each destination but fluctuations in exchange rates or global situations can change prices in an instant.
In depth guides to regions can also be found at sites like WikiTravel which are packed full of useful info.
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