With good planning skills and an eye for deals, you’ll find that luxury experiences aren't what makes travel so enjoyable (even though they help). In some corners of the world, all you need is the will to romanticise your life, and you almost wouldn't miss your warm bed.
If this sounds like fun, then this list is for you. Here are 20 of the world’s most budget-friendly destinations:
1. Puducherry, India
You could spend a whole month in India on a week's budget in Europe. Delicious street food, bus rides for touring and budget hotels all make it possible to spend just $30 a day there. Instagrammable sites are at nearly every corner, as this destination is rich in historic architecture and layouts. The Himalayas might cost a lot (physically and financially) to climb, but the view from the ground is entirely worth it, too.
2. Sihanoukville, Cambodia
Cambodia is generally famous as the location of Angkor Wat: a Buddhist temple complex that is currently a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Sihanoukville is a city in this historic country full of white sandy beaches and dishes adopted from multiple cultures. Despite these luxury offerings, it is recognised as one of the cheapest places in the world to live and visit. You can stay in one of its top-rated resorts for just $10 per night.
3. Cape Town, South Africa
While getting there isn't exactly inexpensive, but ¥¥¥this country is full of cheap thrills. After all, the fantastic weather is free all year round. You don't need too much to get a good glass of wine, either. For less than $5, you can also get into most beaches where you can swim, surf or soak up the sun with lots of beautiful people.
4. Tallinn, Estonia
Estonia is a hidden gem for many travellers and a great place to get the Nordic experience without spending too much. The destination is peak nature vibes, even receiving recognition as terrain of perfect biodiversity. As a small nation, many of the distances are walkable, helping cut transportation costs. You can visit to unplug in true cottagecore fashion for just $50 a day.
5. Vilcabamba, Ecuador
Get curled up between Colombia and Peru to taste the Andes mountains, Galapagos Islands and Amazon Rainforest all at once. Ecuador’s natural beauty is the most appealing part of the country, so you can have a great time with just $40 a day, taking walks and taking in the greenery. It's easy to be open to budget-friendly travel options like staying in hostels, using public transportation and eating street food because of the friendly locals, incredible sights and delicious eats.
6. Kraków, Poland
Compared to most other European destinations, Poland is pretty affordable, averaging about $50 per day for one person’s basics. Hotel rates are about $56 per couple, and it gets easier to find more discounted prices outside peak season. The gorgeous historic towns are great for walking, too, so you don't have to spend much on transportation.
7. Mexico City, Mexico
Unlike most other destinations, you don't have to settle for street food in Mexico. Though said street food is incredibly delicious and filling, local eateries are just as budget-friendly. You can spend just $40 a day to enjoy the street art, historic architecture, delectably affordable lobster tacos and beer that’s just as cheap.
8. Budapest, Hungary
Although visiting Budapest has gotten more expensive over the years, Hungary’s capital city remains one of the most budget-friendly tourist destinations in Europe. The paradise of Baroque architecture and art sits above 120 plus hot springs. As a result, there are many bathhouses, some of which barely cost $30 to enter. $3 bus rides and the friendly locals running affordable AirBnBs also make it possible to spend less than $60 on a weekend getaway here.
9. Pokhara Valley, Nepal
As the access point to the Himalayas, most people think of coming to Nepal for Mount Everest. But there are so many more exciting — and pocket-friendly — activities to do here. From white water rafting to paragliding, you’d have the time of your life for barely $30 per activity. For less perilous recreation, explore Buddhist monasteries or go on wildlife safaris to see Rhino. Just don't go too close to them.
10. Granada, Nicaragua
You can backpack your way through Nicaragua for just $20 a day, making it a great alternative to Costa Rica, which is (rightfully) becoming a bit of a luxury destination. There's also less crowd here, so you can do all the surfing you want with few people getting in your way. Natural wonders like the active volcanoes ensure free adventure waiting for you around every corner.
11. Buenos Aires, Argentina
Visit the Paris of South America without the Parisian costs. In Buenos Aires, there are many cafés, and you can easily find affordable steak dinners and wine, similar to dining in France. This destination is also loved for the significantly Boho aesthetic, a (pleasant) reminder that you are in a city full of many unconventional experiences while averaging just $35 a day.
12. Bangkok, Thailand
Bangkok is a world-famous destination for cultural landmarks like the elephant sanctuaries you can volunteer at. Despite the global recognition, it remains reasonably affordable, offering private cabanas and hour-long massages: a total of $15. After all the delicious street food and buzzing nightlife, you’ll find that you’ve barely spent $30 at the end of the day.
13. Lefkada, Greece
If you watch enough videos of people Island hopping in Greece, you can quickly conclude that it costs a fortune to get in on all that fun — it actually doesn't. If you visit at the right time, make the best of travel deals and stick to mostly appreciating the beauty of the place, you can spend less than $50 a day on Lefkada, the largest of the Greek Islands.
14. Baguio City, Philippines
Many of the 7000+ Philippine Islands offer twice the value of what you pay. Baguio City, though, is the site of the most popular tourist attractions in the Philippines. These attractions are incredibly picturesque; good for the memories and the gram. The best part is many of them are free to enter/participate. A quick weekend getaway here can cost just $50.
15. Cartagena, Colombia
Cartagena de Indias is close to lots of Caribbean Islands, so it's no surprise that one of the most popular attractions here is the beaches. The street art, cultural liveliness and an average of $40 per day are what bring backpackers around, though. Colombia is a destination for natural awes like the Amazon and the Andes, as well as man-made charms like San Basilio de Palenque, a UNESCO World Heritage Site just outside Cartagena.
16. Luxor, Egypt
For less than $40 a day, you can solo explore this historical destination. Because of the recent history of civil unrest, many still think it’s unsafe to visit Egypt. The bright side is: this is advantageous to budget travellers and those who don't like crowds. More popular tourist activities like seeing The Pyramids might not be great for a backpacker’s wallet, but the incredible landscape, affordable food and generous locals help make up for it.
17. Antigua, Guatemala
This destination might be a small country, but it sure is chock-full of huge attractions that’ll leave you feeling larger than life. From active volcanoes to ancient ruins, the past and present collide here, creating a surreal experience — all for less than $40 a day. The living Mayan culture is just as incredible as the historical sites with sexy Spanish, friendly locals and delicious street food.
18. Prague, Czech Republic
Fun Fact: Beer is cheaper than bottled water in the Czech capital. It’s no surprise that this destination is famous for its beer gardens. The real (pleasant) surprise is the fact that pubs here are less crowded than in more popular cities. This is an immense encouragement for group backpackers looking to enjoy each other’s company without feeling cramped. Each person can spend less than $40 a day.
19. Ratnapura, Sri Lanka
Between the lustrous beaches and colourful culture/history, Sri Lanka is a golden experience that thankfully doesn't cost as much gold as it gives. Islanders are quite hospitable, so staying in hamlets is a readily welcome idea, making it possible to spend just $50 per day. Just as friendly as the locals are the elephants — one of the island's most popular attractions. Adam’s Peak is also a pretty rewarding experience, costing nothing but 5500 steps to get to the top.
20. New Orleans, USA
Here, you get a mix of French and Caribbean culture in history, food, live music and festivals. Even without discounts, New Orleans is one of the cheaper US destinations. For just $50 a day, you can have the time of your life. Whether you're with your squad or have to kick it with strangers, you’ll find yourself open to new experiences.