1. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Punta Cana has lovely white sandy, beaches to go along with over 100 resorts that draw in guests from all over. The month of July is one of the cheapest periods of the year for resort prices, so you can find very nice all-inclusive beach hotels starting well under US$200 per night for two people. Which makes Punta Cana a must on our 20 cheapest places to travel this summer 2017.
3-star hotels from: US$50 per night for two people
4-star hotels from: US$150 per night for two people
Few countries have changed so much over such a short time as Vietnam. It is a country on the move: access is now easier than ever, roads are being upgraded, hotels are springing up and Vietnam’s raucous entrepreneurial spirit is once again alive and well as the old-style Communist system gives way to a socialist market economy. The country’s greatest attraction is its sublime countryside, from the limestone karsts of the north to the waterways and paddy fields of the Mekong Delta, with blissful beaches and frenetic cities crammed in between. Then there’s the cuisine – for only a couple of dollars you’ll be eating some of the best food on offer, shoulder to shoulder with the locals.
With beds for £2.50* and food for less than that, Cambodia is such a cheap place to go on holiday that you can feel guilty for paying so little. Where once travellers often feared to tread, Cambodia is now very much on the Southeast Asia travel scene, particularly among backpackers and, increasingly, holidaymakers looking for five-star luxury without the price tag. Check out the Siddharta Boutique Hotel with their richly decorated interiors and dreamy outdoor pool for as low as £50 a night (double room). It’s also ten minutes down the road from the world famous Angkor Wat Archaeological Park.
There’s a reason why Thailand remains so popular with backpackers – it’s got idyllic islands, a rich culture, beach-huts and plenty, tantalising cuisine and adventures galore, and all are available at very low prices. Despite the popular routes through the country, it’s not hard to get away from all the crowds – you can hire a motorbike to make the 600km trip along the Mae Hong Son Loop through the forested northern mountains.
Due to the country’s ongoing economic difficulties, the cost of vacationing in Greece is marginally lower than it used to be. While it’s still pretty pricey to stay on famous Greek islands like Santorini or Mykonos, pick a quieter Greek getaway like Paros or Skiathos and you can still enjoy the days in 28 degree heat, sipping ice-cold Mythos.
Neighboring Costa Rica may be getting all the attention, in part thanks to its tourism board launching elaborate TV ad campaigns featuring singing sloths and toucans, but Nicaragua offers many similar experiences at easily just a third of the price. Stable and relatively safe, it nevertheless remains an emerging travel destination. The surfer hangouts along the coast, and you can climb an active volcano if that’s your thing.
Just a stone’s throw from Europe, Morocco is a fantastic budget getaway. If you’re a backpacker, you’ll be happy to know Morocco has a small but growing network of hostels. If you have a little more to spend, consider staying in some of the famous riads—traditional hotels with garden courtyards offering wonderful relief from the buzzing city streets.
It’s hard not to fall under the spell of Guatemala and its compelling mix of natural beauty and Maya traditions. Rock-bottom prices make this one of the best to visit. Jump onto one of the country’s famous camionetas or “chicken buses” to explore, and be wowed by the monumental Maya temples of Tikal.
From white sand beaches to jungles and savannahs, from blue flame spewing volcanoes to remote rainforests where you can meet orangutans in the wild… Indonesia is a whole world to discover.
Bali is the main tourist hot-spot thanks to its many beaches, Balinese Hindu culture, and easy access via Denpasar International airport. But consider exploring other regions as well: take some time to explore the Komodo islands and Flores.
India remains one of the ultimate destinations for budget travellers – there are few countries where you can still travel so extensively and eat so well for so little. If you’re after a beach break, head for the gorgeous beaches of the temple town of Gokarna; for amazing food, it’s hard to beat the puris and kebabs of Mumbai’s street stalls; or head to the Golden City of Jaisalmer from where you can explore the seemingly endless sands of the Thar Desert.
As with other destinations in this list, Colombia is now much cheaper to travel for Western tourists. Thanks to currency exchange fluctuations, it’s cheaper to go there now than a few years ago.
It’s sometimes said that Colombia is like South America in miniature, as you have both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, the Amazon rainforest, as well as the start of the Andes, all within relatively easy reach. Forget about Narcos; today’s Colombia is a totally different and much more positive place.
12. Istanbul, Turkey
With one foot in Europe and the other in Asia, Istanbul is undeniably alluring. Though seeing all the major sights – the Aya Sofya, Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace to name but a few – can quickly eat into your lira, the city can still be great for tighter budgets. Arguably the best ways to really soak up the city are from a Bosphorous ferry, wandering the streets of the Grand Bazaar, or on a streetside terrace.
13. South Africa
Even if it isn’t this list’s cheapest country in absolute terms, South Africa will give you excellent value for money in 2017. Compared to 2012, you can get almost double the amount of South African rand against many Western currencies.
Day-to-day travel costs such as lodging and food are surprisingly low for a developed country. You’ll probably end up spending on adventure activities instead, which includes safaris, canopy tours, shark diving, caving and even ostrich riding.
Considering the abundance of mind-blowing ancient sights, you’d expect travel in Egypt to cost a lot more than it does. Sure, if you tick off all the major attractions – including the Pyramids, the Valley of the Kings and Abu Simbel – then costs are going to creep up, but tempered with cheap food and decent budget accommodation.
Note, however, that due to safety concerns some governments currently advise against travel to all or parts of the country; check the latest advice before you go.
Bulgaria’s Black Sea resorts have undergone a bit of a boom with British visitors in recent years, probably because they offer a total bargain compared with traditional cheap holiday destinations like the south of Spain. If you prefer city breaks to beaches, capital Sofia offers hearty food, warm company, ‘robust’ drink and a comfy bed, all yours for around £35 a day. Just a 20-minute subway ride from the airport terminal (30-40 minutes if you’re travelling in by bus) you can satisfy your inner culture vulture in Sofia – the second oldest city in Europe is filled with museums and galleries, including the Musuem of Socialist Art and the National Literature Museum.
Flight prices to Ireland have tumbled over the past few years, meaning you can get to Dublin for less than you might think. Once in the Irish capital, stay at the central Generator Hostel and you could pay just €13 for your bed. Free things to do in the Irish capital include visiting the Chester Beatty Library, to check out its world-famous and dazzlingly expansive collection of rare books and manuscripts, and talking a walk with the deer herd in Phoenix Park – this is the largest enclosed recreational space in any European capital so there’s plenty to explore.
While travel in Bolivia can be uncomfortable sometimes, it is also South America’s cheapest country by far—and one of its most exciting ones. Apart from its wonderful people and traditional culture, it has some of the continents’ most amazing sights. Accommodation and food prices are so low as to be comparable with Southeast Asia. If you’re an adventurous traveller and not so easily fazed by Bolivia’s remoteness or the high altitudes in the Andes, you might just want to book your tickets straight away.
18. Shanghai, China
The biggest appeal for budget – if not all travellers – to Shanghai is undoubtedly the abundance of amazing street food on offer, from xiao long bao soup dumplings to scallion pancakes and sticky rice parcels (zongzi). Much of the city’s appeal lies in exploring its busy streets on foot and experiencing for yourself the juxtaposition between old and new China.It’s still possible to find an accommodation bargain at the lower end of the scale.
Cuba has long had a see-it-before-it-changes appeal, and recent thawing in relations with the US makes it feel like the clock is ticking. With internet access still rare, you shouldn’t rely much on online booking sites. Instead, a great way to travel in Cuba is to use its extensive network of family-run B&Bs. Any house with a blue sign on the door has a room for rent, and these casas particulares cost upwards of $20 a night. Get ready for some rum, sun, cigars, vintage cars, and salsa dancing!
20. The Gambia
Africa’s smallest country is already known for its beautiful beaches, but it’s well worth venturing beyond them to experience its other delights. Top of the list has to be the Chimp Rehabilitation Centre in the River Gambia National Park, where you can watch the primates in their natural habitat.