Cheap Places to Travel on the US Dollar

By Nomadic Matt | Published October 16th, 2012

us dollarsThe United States dollar isn’t what it once was. Though it has gained strength recently because of the ongoing debt crisis in Europe, it has fallen against the Australian, New Zealand, and Canadian dollars as well as just about every other major currency in the world. (It dropped greatly against the Swedish Krona while I was there this summer!)

As a constant traveler, I worry about currency moves like only a Wall Street trader would. Small changes in the value of the dollar can wreck my entire budget. My budget for Australia was $1000 short because the Australian dollar suddenly got stronger against the greenback.

Yet despite the sorry state of the US dollar, the world is still filled with great and cheap places where the dollar can go far. In fact, there are places in the world where the dollar has actually risen in value over the last few years. (I know – unbelievable, right?)

Here are some cheap destinations where your dollar can go far:

Costa Rica

costa rica is a cheap place to travel
Costa Rica is one of the few countries to have its currency lose ground to the dollar. A dollar now gets 500 Colons, up from 360 a few years ago. Though the country is one of the most expensive in Central America, your money goes a lot further than it used to, making it a better bargain. Costa Rica is a beautiful place and my favorite Central American country. As an added bonus, flights from the US are also very cheap. I paid $400 to fly roundtrip from NYC and you can sometimes gets fights as low as $300. On the cheap end, you’ll need about $40 USD per day, while for your mid-range costs you’ll need about $60. Compared to visiting NYC, Disney, or the Caribbean, Costa Rica is a steal.

Learn more and plan your trip with my guide to traveling Costa Rica

Vietnam

vietnam is a cheap place to travel
While I’m not a huge fan of Vietnam, it’s certainly a cheap country. When I visited years ago, the US dollar got 16,000 Dong. Now it gets close to 21,000 Dong! Back then, I was spending $8 a day, which included cheap guest houses, local food, transportation, and a bit of drinking. Of course, the price of goods has gone up a lot since I was last there, but the country still remains incredibly affordable, especially when compared to many of its neighbors. Realistically, if you budgeted 20 dollars a day, you would want for little. The Vietnamese Dong is one of the few currencies that has gotten worse against the US dollar in recent years.

Learn more and plan your trip with my guide to traveling Vietnam

Ukraine/Romania/Bulgaria

towns in bulgaria are a cheap place to travel
The real eastern part of Europe is the cheapest part of Europe. Last year, I visited these three countries and could not believe how affordable they were. I was living like a king for less than $40 per day, paying $8 a night for a room in Ukraine, $1.50 for a liter of beer, and a few dollars for a local meal. When most people envision a European vacation, they envision Paris, Rome, or Prague, but you can get that same charm here without the high prices of those other cities and you encounter far fewer tourists. These three countries offer some of the best value on the continent.

Learn More: Finding more than Dracula in Romania

“Central” Central America

tikal is a cheap place to travel
Outside of Costa Rica, other Central American countries such as El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua are an even better bargain. You can get by in all of these countries for less than $30 per day and they are a good alternative to touristy and “expensive” countries like Mexico, Belize, or Costa Rica. You’ll find wonderful historic ruins, jungles, food, and people in this part of the world. As the political situation in these countries stabilizes, more and more people are flocking to them (Nicaragua is becoming the new Costa Rica) so get going while the crowds and costs are few.

Learn more and plan your trip with my guide to Central America

India

taj mahal is a cheap place to travel
While India has always been a cheap country, the Indian Rupee used to ride high at 39 Rupee to the dollar. Now, you get 48 Rupee to the dollar. You now get 20% more money when you travel there. In an already inexpensive country like India where you can get by on as little as $20 USD per day, that extra money can go a long way. Even if you go for mid-range accommodation and food, you’ll be hard-pressed to spend more than $50 USD per day unless staying at 5 star resorts. While the flights can be expensive, once there everything is a bargain, making the long flight to see the historic Taj Mahal, the beaches of Goa, and the metropolises like New Delhi and Mumbai much more appealing.

Argentina

argentina is a cheap place to travel
Another country whose currency has lost ground to the dollar, the economic depression is hitting the country hard. That makes amazing Argentina – filled with history, beautiful people, culture, wine, football, and outdoor wonders like Patagonia – even more worth a visit. Buenos Aires is considered one of the liveliest cities in the world and most people here speak English. The only problem with this country is its rampant inflation, but even with that, you can still get by on around $40-50 USD per day.

Learn more and plan your trip with my guide to Argentina

Cambodia

cambodia is a cheap place to travel
Cambodia is one of my favorite countries in the world and I recently traveled back there after a 5 year absence. Prices have increased a little, but not by much. Cross-country buses still cost less than $10, meals are $1-3, private rooms are around $10, and beer is still 75 cents. Everything here works in dollars. ATMs give them out, goods are priced in dollars, you get change in dollars – it makes converting pretty easy. I find the country to be cheap, friendly, and safe. Plus, Angkor Wat is one of the most amazing historical sites in the world.

Learn more and plan your trip with my guide to Cambodia travel

Greece

greece is a cheap place to travel
The falling Euro has made Europe as a whole much cheaper than it was before. However, the county most hit by this crisis is Greece. Now this once-cheap country is even more of a bargain than it was previously. With 10 Euro hostels, 20 Euro hotels, and 3 Euro Gyros, this country is a steal. You’ll get to enjoy beautiful islands, beaches, and delicious food at a fraction of the price of other European countries. Moreover, since the economic problems have caused a huge drop in tourist numbers, there are fewer crowds on those wonderful beaches! Greece is a bargain destination and my friends there tell me that the summer season was really bad. Visiting will not only get you great deals, you’ll help put much needed money back into the economy.

Learn more and plan your trip with my guide to Greece

Hungary

hungary is a cheap place to travel
Hungary is a beautiful country with a rich history. The capital, Budapest, is a marvelous example of old European design. Plus, the ruin bars, something completely unique to the city, are the best and most creative bars I’ve ever come across. Hands down the best bar scene in Europe. During the booming economic times of the earlier decade, Hungary was flying high with a growing economy and a strong currency. Now, one dollar gets you 220 Hungarian Forint, up from 150 in 2008. You can enjoy huge meals in markets for $5, ride the trains for $1, and stay in hotels (my favorite being Aboriginal) for $20.

South Korea

vietnam is a cheap place to travel
When I went to South Korea earlier this year, I was stunned by how cheap everything was. I had heard that South Korea was a bargain but in many ways its prices rival that of Southeast Asia. With the South Korean Won getting 1,113 Won per USD and most everything costing only a few thousand won, I can’t imagine busting your budget here. My friend and I went out for Korean BBQ complete with drinks and we each spent $8. You can pick up bottles of beer in 7-11 for less than a dollar. I don’t know why most people don’t talk about it but if you want a cheap East Asian country with a stunning countryside, South Korea is it.

All of these countries can provide a different and cheap alternative to expensive Europe, Australia, or Japan. Western Europe’s churches will be there 10 years from now, but the jungles of Central America? The rice fields of Asia? The old world of Eastern Europe? Probably not. With a weak dollar, it is time to think and travel differently and not pick the most obvious destination. Doing so will help you stretch your money and travel further and cheaper.

What’s next? Now, start planning your trip to one of these (or other) destinations by reading on of the articles below:
? In-Depth Country and City Destination Guides
? 5 Destinations Under $30 USD per Day
? 20 Ways to Save Money for Your Trip
? 10 Ways to Find a Cheap Flight

Editor’s note: I know there are plenty of other cheap destinations in the world where the U.S. dollar goes far but there’s only so many countries to include on one list! :)

comments 104 Comments

great information, I’m about to be making my way through to Argentina after I finish up here in Peru, then Chile -> Argentina.

Several times you say mention that because the exchange rate of a currency has improved against the dollar, it’s now a better deal if you’re using dollars. However, many of the countries you mentioned have higher rates of inflation than the dollar, so using that reasoning doesn’t make sense.

For example, Vietnam has had double digit inflation in recent years, much higher than the U.S. So let’s say a bowl of pho used to cost 10,000 dong a few years ago and now costs 20,000 dong. Converted into dollars, that would mean it used to cost 62 cents (at 16000 dong to a dollar) and now costs $1. Even though the exchange rate has improved, what you can buy hasn’t.

A better way to compare would be to ask, say, how much 10 tortillas or a bowl of pho or whatever used to cost in dollars compared to now. I agree that the dollar goes far in a lot of the countries you mentioned, and you can definitely get a lot of bang for your buck in Vietnam, but using the reasoning “the exchange rate has improved against the dollar in the past few years” doesn’t necessarily work if inflation rates are very different between the two currencies.

NomadicMatt

I see your point and while inflation does go up and costs rise, that doesn’t mean the place is still not a deal. Moreover, to continue the Vietnam example, while inflation was very high in the past, the recession hit them hard and it’s not as high as it once was.

Great post, Matt! I went to Greece last summer and it was surprisingly inexpensive. It seems I’ll have to head over to SE Asia for the rock-bottom low prices though!

sudheer

Hi, recently i went to Goa,India. it’s a wonderful place to go and enjoy the beaches. The prices are cheaper in mansoons from june to october and in nov to january the prices are doubled. Beers and wines are very cheaper than the whole India.

If you go right now to Argentina with lots of USD, you’ll be king. $1 buys you about 6 pesos (or more) in the street, compared to less than 4 some years ago. Most Argentines are facing dire restrictions to buy USD and will do anything to get their hands on them. I’d like to go there again next year… but only time will tell if the USD will still stand strong by then.

NomadicMatt

I have a friend in Buenos Aires right now and he is amazing how much his dollar gets him,

MHMHVagabond

I may have missed something back there.
Was your point not to bother exchanging into Peso and just spend dollars “at the Peso’s” exchange rate?

We spent two weeks in Argentina in 2008 and the conversion was about 3 to 1 peso to dollar. We felt like we were riding high. I CAN’T believe it’s 6 to 1 now. Incredible. There was also a food shortage there, and the supermarkets looked like they had been pillaged, yet the food portions at most of the steak joints were massive. It didn’t seem right…

Beware!

Nowadays, you can’t buy much with 6 pesos.

Example: a 2 liter Coca Cola bottle in the supermarket is around 15 pesos, which is 2.50 USD, right?

So, all in all, the Argentinian peso has gone down but the inflation is rising at the same pace…

I would say that Argentina is, probably along Chile, the second most expensive country in South America (Brazil is the most expensive one).

Damon

Yeah, 5 years ago Argentina was a crazy deal. These days, it’s gotten more expensive. Just as an example, a taxi 5 years ago was a splurge from the airport at $25; now it is ~$40.

If you are traveling to Argentina, do learn how to convert your $USD through the “black market”. The normal exchange rate (e.g. what you get from the ATM) is 4.9 pesos per USD. You can get close to 6.5 pesos per USD if you convert through unofficial exchangers.

Can I ask you where was the photo in the UKraine/Romania/Bulgaria section taken?
Last summer we spent 100 Lei (around $27) for a night in a nice apartment in Romania (ok, it was in the middle of nowhere, it’ll probably cost more in Bucharest). The amazing thing was that my wife, a Romanian, commented: “it is a bit expensive”.

NomadicMatt

Velinko Tarnovo in Bulgaria

Bucharest is expensive. We paid 30 euros/night in a double room in 2011.
But the more off the beaten path you go, the better . In a smallish mountain resort in the western part of the country we paid 65 lei / $18.60 for a double room. Plus although it was July everything was cheap. We paid also about $15 for 2 pizzas, 2 coffees and 2 waters in a super pizza place in the same resort.
Sighisoara is superb but finding a place to stay might make it a bit expensive. And same goes for very popular places.

Alexandra

The price of 100 lei (almost 30 dollars) for a night in the middle of nowhere – Romania is a little bit expensive, form a Romanian’s point of view, considering that the minimum wage in this country is 5 times as much! From a visitor’s angle, it’s rather cheap. Eating out is very affordable too!
As for Greece, for example, the food is rather expensive, as well as public transportation. Beware of the taxi drivers in Athens and Thessaloniki, because they tend to stop along the way to pick up more customers and at the end of your journey, you will pay for the other ones too if you remain the only one in the car!

Angela O.

This is some good knowledge to know Matt, thank you! I’m definitely going to be in Budapest next year and am a happy camper when it comes to exchange rates and prices there (although a lot can change in a year). Keep up the awesome writing!

Dean

Nominal exchange rates are a pointless metric. As other commenters have stated, inflation is more than just a mere caveat. Iran might seem a bargain based on the rial plunge, but inflation is a killer. Ditto Brazil. Purchasing power is key. And as long as Greece is in the eurozone it will always be overvalued. I can personally attest, though, to Hungary (+ neighboring countries), Cambodia and South Korea being relatively cheap.

dhammer53

Beto and Matt,

re: Argentina and 6 pesos per dollar.

We’re headed to EZE (Thank you BA and LAN) and have a question about currency exchange. When you say you get 6 pesos ‘on the street’ can you elaborate. Thanks.

Great post, Matt. Bookmarking it now.

There are some real bargain countries to travel in the world. Great picks! For some reason I thought that South Korea would be fairly expensive to travel, so it’s good to know that it’s much more affordable.

NomadicMatt

I was surprised at how cheap it was, especially since I had just come from Japan where everything was triple the price.

Been to Greece and Hungary, live in Romania. I can certainly agree with you on these three. I even found a triple room for 33 euros in Budapest during New Year’s Eve. Cannot wait to go! :)
And hope to make it to Vietnam and India next year :)

How about Indonesia? My friend said if you are earning dollar, Indonesia is pretty cheap. Well, I am Indonesian, and I know with one dollar you can have quite nice lunch haha.

NomadicMatt

Indonesia is also another country that can be very cheap to visit.

Great article, Really useful to traveler to find out cost of nice vacation spot with US Dollar.

Thanks
Mirrin Rose

Did both Bulgaria and Cambodia this year. Laugh out loud cheap!

It would be such an experience to take a family on one of these trips. So many would love to take their children abroad so they can learn about other cultures, but think it’s so expensive. It’s amazing that price doesn’t have to take away an amazing experience for children. Plus, you never know what these other cultures can do for your children’s imaginations and dreams!

Great article. I love to travel and love to travel cheap, local food and beer is the way to go. I especially like how you tell us the prices on both from countries you’ve visited.

Cheapest so far for me was the Philippines and Nicaragua… and I highly recommend both!

Heather Wolf

Is this Kenney? I am looking here for trips for Nick’s 40th! lol

The one problem with Argentina at the moment is that, while the exchange rate might be great, the country is so large that travel transportation costs are killer. If you are staying in a contained area (like Buenos Aires), you’ll find the country to be relatively cheap. But once you start touring around the country, the bus and plane costs add up significantly. By South American standards, Argentina is a pricey option. That said, it’s well worth it! I love the country!

NomadicMatt

That could be said for any country/big city. I was simply making a general statement Argentina is affordable.

Maire

Matt – I can take no more – stop arguing with your commentators! It’s kind of churlish – these people have taken the time to visit, read and comment on your blog – make them welcome!

Kal

He’s merely responding to them. If you think that is rude them you might have to reevaluate your notion of blog etiquette. I think it’s beneficial to everyone to see two sides of things.

Ecuador has to be hands-down one of the best places for the USD to visit. They actually use the USD as official currency. Be warned though to never use anything over a $20 USD bill as most shops can’t or won’t break them.

- Hostel shared dorm-room in the capital, Quito, will run you about $7 USD, a private room for $10-12 USD.
- Liter beer: $0.80 at the store, bar will be $1.50
- local lunch with soup, salad and main dish with a juice: $1.50-$2.50
- Cheese burger on the street: $1.25
- buses will cost you about a $1 per-hour, and in less then 10hrs you can cross the whole country from North to South.
- Nestle chocolate bar: $0.40
- Small Coca-Cola: $0.35
- 15min taxi on avg in the city: less then $2-$4, if you pay more then $5 you went really far! (NOTE: during the day they use the meter, at night you have to negotiate the price)
- Local bus in the city: $0.25 one-way

You can easily backpack around Ecuador for $20-$25 USD per-day, depending on how much you party. Only country that would cheaper then Ecuador in South America would be Bolivia, Peru is slightly a tad bit more then Ecuador but it’s a MUCH bigger country to see with more sights as well. Colombia and Argentina would cost about the same, with Brazil and Chile being the most expensive countries in South America to visit.

NomadicMatt

Thanks for the information Troy!

Croatia is a dream as well. After spending three months touring the country this summer, I’ve experienced culture and euro shock when I hit Germany afterwards.

NomadicMatt

Croatia is affordable if you get off the Dalmatian coast.

Nick

what about Switzerland, Norway, UAE? Are they affordable?

NomadicMatt

Not at all. They are all very, very expensive.

Man do I know that feeling! I look at exchange rates everyday hoping the USD improves. I also took a hit to my budget because the exchange rate took a turn for the worse. Great Insight and suggestions.

NomadicMatt

Thanks Stephen!

These are great suggestions. I’ve been looking into stretching my vacation dollars, and I’ve also found Istanbul to be a pretty reasonable place. The airfare is surprisingly low and you can find hotels there for fewer than $80 a night. There may be some other hidden expenses, but I’d love to try there.

Mike K

Istanbul is very affordable. With their new Islamic Government they started really taxing alcohol, but a beer is as expensive as it is in the US, and you can get a good sized meal for the price of one beer. Everything other than alcohol is cheap.

Thanks for the suggestions Matt. I’m planning for a Vietnam and Cambodia trip next year and hopefully South Korea. Include Philippines in the list as well:)

Marla Johnson

We just got back from a month (September) in England (very expensive) and Greece. Greece was amazingly cheap! Our hostels were beautiful with ocean views, huge balconies to look out at the views, 1-2 bedrooms and a kitchen. We had the “apartments” all to ourselves the entire time. The people are very friendly and the food/beer was cheap too. We flew from Boston to England (VA) for about $650.00 rt. Then caught flights on RyanAir for $125.00 rt. to Greece. Way less expensive than the tickets from Boston to Greece. Just be careful with your luggage, RyanAir charges for every single thing they can. I would def go back, the weather was very warm and dry. The ferries between islands can be expensive and sometimes tricky to work out. For example; The boat runs to one of the smaller islands on Monday but there isn’t a return boat until the Tuesday of the following week. Spending a week on a very small island may not be idea to some.
Great article Matt! Thanks :)

NomadicMatt

Ryanair is great when you can avoid their fees but the second you get hit with a fee, that ticket is no longer anywhere near cheap!

Nice post! I’ve been traveling through Western Europe the past 2 summers and it was a killerrr for my budget. I’ll be doing SA and hopefully SA next year so I’m hoping that will be better.

Nicaragua is a great value. I spent 2 1/2 months there and was very happy.

Also, just left Greece yesterday after being there for a month and prices aren’t bad but not as good of a deal as you think. Can’t beat the 2.50 euro gyos though! the food has been amazing!

NomadicMatt

Depends where in Greece you were.

Jeciwyn

Hey! Awesome post–Nicaragua sounds intriguing, what about safety for female traveling alone? Thanks! <3

NomadicMatt

I think Singapore is expensive, especially as their currency has gotten stronger over the last few years.

coffeecream

singapore is getting very expensive. inflation goes up every year.
vietnam maybe a cheap country to visit , however it depends on which province you visit or live.

some items increase in vietnam as well.

I love your recommendations. I am also surprised about South Korea. I have never been, and I imagined it would be quite costly, but it is great to read about how affordable it is. Another place I love which is in-expensive is Montenegro. Kotor is stunning, and really well priced for a European destination.

NomadicMatt

Yeah, Seoul was much more affordable than I thought. I was quite happy about it!

I clicked on this hoping to see Cambodia on there. I’m here now (Kampot) and I’m so smitten. $2 shared dorm and the world at my feet? It’s like they’re paying ME to be here!

Jack

This is what retirees should do: live on very little for a few years and let the IRA and 401k plans grow. Then return to the USA and have a more secure retirement. The last person to listen to concerning retirement is a retirement planner. I know, I was one for 20+ years ! !

Great post, this just added more places to go to on my list! :)

Great post Matt, I’ve always enjoyed your content. I’m currently redoing my (very) new blog now during my last week in Chicago.

Although, I knew Latin America was cheap, I’m happy to see the majority of the countries I’m leaving for next week on this list! A year or two in Central America and South America awaits! Do you have any way off the beaten path recommendations?

Amanda

Good article, very timely as well–I know a lot of people who save for almost a full year to go on their dream vacation, so this is about that time to start putting funds together. It’s encouraging to see a comprehensive list like this that helps travelers like myself to stretch our dollar further, in such differing locations like the jungles of Costa Rica or the Grecian coastline.

I was in India last year at 1 AUD to 45 Rupees; now it’s 1 AUD to 55 Rupees, so keen to go back there and see if things are actually cheaper, or whether, like some people have commented, inflation balances things out.

Also, Matt, where are those 20 Euro hotel rooms in Greece? I was there August (that’s probably my problem right there) and 40-45 Euro was the norm for a budget room.

Agree with you on Hungary and Bulgaria being good value right now. I was in South Korea last October and it wasn’t as cheap as you described, but then I live in China so it seemed a bit expensive to me (OK, not expensive, but not cheap. Reasonable would be the right word). Perhaps one should travel to Japan first, and then hit Korea, and it will seem like a bargain!

Other “dark horses” where you can get good value through exchange rates right now are Albania and Malaysia.

Benson

Henry

Do you have any information on ther best places to visit in Uruguay. I’m planning to there in Feb 13.

wow! that’s cool for south Korea but i wish you can just visit Kenya in Africa, it is one of the cheapest country here in East Africa!

Ben

Coming from the UK to Argentina, would it be wise to convert a load of £ into US$ in that case to use on the black market in BA?

Love the photos here and I didn’t realize that South Korea is so affordable, great to know…

in BA now

Yes- if you can bring USD do. The shops, restaurants etc. will take USD at a higher exchange rate than you will get aking money out of an ATM or currency exchange. And almost everyone will take your USD.

However it is not cheap here. Inflation has been 25% for the last 10 years a good steak in a nice restaurant is $15-20 USD with no veg or salad. Pizza $20 in USD terms. So I wouldn’t call it a bargain.

Jack

Why is Africa left out of the story? Probably because stats are unavailable. Some countries, like Ethiopia, are priced 40 years ago. Modest hotel: $5. Best espresso in the world: $.25. Good meal, a few bucks. Botswana is a bargain, and nice. Kenya can be low, if you don’t stay at international-type hotels. I just got back from Mexico, expensive.

MF

Botswana a bargain?!

It’s one of the most expensive destinations on the planet. The gov’t wisely tries to limit numbers to preserve the place. Yes, you can camp out for a pittance. But the lodges run $1000 U.S. per night per person and up.

NomadicMatt

Having just come back from Botswana, I’m not sure what lodges you were staying in. Camp sites are 6 dollars a night and budget lodges are like $20-30. If you’re staying in 5 star, super luxury lodges, then I’m sure you’re going to spend a lot. You would anywhere. I’m not sure why you would want to though. I stayed in a very nice lodge in Maun for $40 USD.

Most of Africa is very inexpensive if you stay away from the main tourist trail. By that I mean safaris in the Serengeti (Tanzania), Masai Mara (Kenya), and Botswana. Safaris are quite expensive even if you camp rather than staying at a lodge. For example just the entrance fee for the Serengeti is $100 per day. You have to have a vehicle, guide, cook, and supplies along with you, all procured at US prices. That said we’ve spent the money and gone more than once, including with the grand kids. Uganda, where I’ve spent a lot of time is quite reasonable with many lovely areas such as Lake Bunyonyi, Mt. Elgon (Sipi Falls), the Rwenzori Mtns. If you arrive during the week in off season you can even see the gorillas for $500 in the Impenetrable Forest without a reservation. One of the most interesting countries is Mali. I’ve spent a lot of time there. But half of the country is off limits to westerners right now because of the coup in March and the takeover of northern Mali by sharia extremists. When Mali becomes stable again the Dogon region, Djene with the mud mosque, and the boat down the Niger River to Timbuktu are not to be missed. Angola, where I am right now, is expensive in the capital because most food is imported. Luanda rivals Tokyo as the most expensive major city in the world. But interior Angola is beautiful and the cities have a very Brazilian feel to them. Good restaurants charge US prices. But local food is inexpensive. Africa is a huge continent where there is tremendous variety. Benguela, Angola has lovely beaches; so does Namibia. The beaches on the Indian Ocean side of Zanzibar (Tanzania) are lovely and inexpensive. Though I’ve only been in Addis, Ethiopia has a lot to offer. Ugandans in particular are incredibly friendly. English is spoken in all the former British colonies. Many African countries offer great travel experiences. But most Americans have never been here.

AK

Now you get INR 55+ for a dollar. Enjoy :-)

Sylvia

This is the right webpage for anybody who wishes to understand this topic.
You know a whole lot its almost tough to argue with you (not that I personally would want to_HaHa).
You certainly put a fresh spin on a topic that’s been discussed for many years. Excellent stuff, just wonderful!

i find it interesting you found South Korea cheap, I worked there for a year and found it to be one of the most expensive Asian cities. must have been hanging out at the wrong places! The USD will also go a long way in Indonesia and the Philippines.

Ron

Shhhhhhh! Let’s keep the Philippines a secret. The beaches are just as good as Thailand but they’re not overrun by tourists. Don’t ruin it for the people who know. :)

Mark

We recently traveled to Belize and were surprised how expensive everything was. Food, lodging, and transportation were equivalent to US prices. Definitely not a bargain. Peru, on the other hand is a beautiful country and cheap and highly recommended. We spent a week in Cusco and surroundings and hiked the Inca trail for a week. Amazing.

MF

I recently traveled to Cambodia. Definitely not the bargain claimed by numerous travel sites. Hotels, restaurants, local transportation–including tuk tuk –all expensive! Boat ride on Tonle Sap: $70 U.S. per person.

Delhi, India, likewise. Cheapest decent hotels were $200 U.S. per night. Cost of car and driver to various sites, including TM, very expensive.

True, as Lonely PLANET readers have always known, if you rough it-really rough it—many destinations are cheap. If you want good creature comforts, same places are expensive.

NomadicMatt

You’re traveling upscale. A nice hotel with a/c and private bathroom is about $20 USD per night. Food? Less than $10 or up to $20 if you eat all western food. Tuk tuks are only a few dollars.

We simply have different opinions on what is “decent.” For me, it doesn’t need to be a Marriott.

India is inexpensive. Don’t forget Bangladesh. It’s also inexpensive. I was there last year and thoroughly enjoyed it. I’m taking my wife next month. Dhaka is a big city of 15 million people. It’s home of a large cotton clothing industry. Shawls saris, etc. are incredibly inexpensive if you’d like to add to your wardrobe and stock up on gifts. Bangladesh is the eastern half of Bengal State of former British India. Kolkota (Calcutta) is the western half of Bengal State. The countryside is beautiful. The farms are incredibly well tended. Provincial towns have many cultural attractions of Bengali culture. There are good beaches in the Chittagong region in SE. The cultural and literary traditions have developed over three millennia. There are mixtures of Hindu and Buddhist culture amid the majority moderate Islam. Food is incredibly inexpensive. A reasonable guest house in Kushtia (western Bangladesh) was $15 per night. Lodging in the capital is more expensive. Visas are expensive at $180, good for 90 days. Get a multiple entry one for the same price. India’s just next door. Nepal’s to the north. Myanmar (Burma), on the east, is opening up to tourists. At the mouth of the Ganges River there is annual flooding which is posted all over our news. But the rest of the Bangladesh is well diked. Savoring the Bengali culture is well worth a visit. I’m glad to be going back for another five weeks.

gsiegler

Go to Laos. This country is beautiful and very cheap.

DRS

I was in Czech Repubic in 1999 and beer was 15p per pint and 2 students were renting a room in Prague for £10 per month.(I could not quite get my head around it to be honest)

I am not sure what the prices are like now though.

Brandon

Great post! I was thinking of going to Costa Rica for two weeks during the summer. Can anyone tell me whats the total cost would be (estimate) and hows the nightlife?

NomadicMatt

Total cost varies based on your travel style. The nightlife in Costa Rica is very good.

Roxy

Hi Matt, don’t feel bad about being ripped off in Vietnam. On my backpacking trip, I was constantly getting ripped off…and I’m Vietnamese! I spoke the language (though they didn’t know it), and though they laughed and talked, they weren’t always talking about me. What I gathered is that it is a very poor country used to the survival of the fittest mentality. Vietnam has been at war almost every year of its history, so the country is constantly impoverished. it has only been open to tourism since the 90s so it has a long way to go before it can get to the level of hospitality Thailand has. I have traveled to over 40 countries and Vietnam was the second worst at hospitality. First was Morocco for me (A woman grabbed my hand and drew henna designs all over it as I walked past, then insisted I pay 60 bucks). Yet I loved all the countries. I realized they were way worse off than me and that’s what they were used to. They just need to be educated, but I don’t know how to even get that ball rolling.

Crispulo

I would add to this list Venezuela! I don’t know if you have been there but it has a lot of beautiful tourist places and with the recent devalue of the Bolivar (Venezuelan currency) and the prevalence of the black market exchange you can get 23.00 Bolivares per Dollar instead of the official 6.30 Bs per $.

A quick google search will show you everything Venezuela has to offer.

matt l

not sure what u are talking about in Cambodia..took a boat ride on tonle sap for next to nothings. just 5 dollars. we had a guide who picked us up at our hotal each morning for 5 day and spent whole day showing us around ankor wat into downtown siem reap till late in evening taking us whever we wanted and only cost us 100 US dollars for all five days combined. Hotels very resinonable $30/night. food was cheap all be it not tasty.(we had indian food a lot there we found it to be best flavor)

sam

hi
with 15000 usd,,,do you think we can make small project in cambodia as restaurant or sheep farm? i am planing to go and live in cambodia

Ed

I notice a big difference of opinion re posters views on the cost of living of particular places. We’re living in an ever connected (mainstreamed), comercialized, franchised world (world economy). With an explosion in world travel and tourism, accomidations, standards, expectations and pricing have also exploded. Travelers are accustomed to various standards of living and often bring unrealistic expectations to a destination. Generally, to reap the bargains of a local economy, it’s important to do a little reseach into what and where the bargain/s are and in turn practice taking advantage of the bargains There are inherent bargains everyplace mentioned. Hint: avoid major tourist traps and franchises, etc., take the time, optimise, and find the biggest bang for your buck.

Bill

Great article Matt. Would you be able to suggest some places to stay and/or an airline for a trip to Costa Rica? Thanks!

NomadicMatt

Shoot me an e-mail with specifics.

Big shout out to Central America as well, we just spent a couple of months there and although it was harder to get around overland compared to South America (choice of bus companies, ability to book online etc) we loved it. Nicaragua and Guatemala are absolute gems! And if you can be in Guatemala for Semana Santa, all the better!

Rob

Don’t forget about other cheap European destinations such as Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia.
I’m visiting all them right now and they are also super cheap (I’ve also just come from Romania and Bulgaria on this trip).

Janet

Hello Matt – I loved your site and read everything! My husband and I are considering a trip to Istanbul in Aprl 2014 from Miami. Istanbul has always fascinated me from afar. Do you have any thoughts on this city? Is is an expensive choice these days? Thank you.

NomadicMatt

Sorry but I’ve never been.

Frank

I would also recommend Armenia as a relatively inexpensive travel destination for those with US $. Plus, Armenians are warm, friendly people, many of whom (especially the young folks) speak English very well. It’s been 2 years since I’ve been to Yerevan, but a couple I know biked for 2 weeks through Armenia with another American couple last year. They had the time of their lives, lived inexpensively, and made so many friends among the curious Armenians who wanted to know what they were doing on their cross-country bicycles, and brought out to them water, food, and warm wishes during the entire time!

Matt Clausen

The Philippines. About 43 pesos to the dollar. A meal for 1-2$. Lodging for 4-8$ a night. You can take a (very cramped) bus for 7 hours that only costs 7-9$. Looking forward to compare it with Thailand and Cambodia.

Kari

Any cheap n safe recomendations for a single mother with 3 yr old?. I want to show my child other cultures but since i live 5 min away from mexico n there is too much violence im skeptical about leaving us grounds:) .

sam

South Korea is possibly more costly than the US. By your description, you won’t get to eat a descent meal, visit places, and not to mention flight ticket is around at least $1700. If you want to enjoy a night out, good luck trying not spend under 100 dollars.

NomadicMatt

1 USD = 1113 Won. The math works.

Jorge

I arrived to Argentina in January, and I change 1 USD to 10.5.

Now its february and you can find 1 USD to 12.5-13 pesos.

Im from Chile, and trust me, this is by far the cheapest country in South America if you have USD. At least this summer.

Katarzhyna

Thanks for posting this, Matt!
So I’m obsessed with traveling and I’m going to turn 18 in a few months. Anyway, I’ve always wanted to travel to japan and south Korea and I was actually pretty excited to see you mention that s.Korea was pretty cheap to go to. How much was the airfare when you went? Because that’s the only darn thing that’s getting in my way…I’m not the richest teen in the world. I have never had time to work so I only have about 500 dollars in bills and maybe some more in my bank account. I’m trying to do some research for some cheap hostels and airfare tickets and whatnot…ugh I wish this was easier. I feel like I would have a better time in Japan (since I learned to speak the language quite well) but it’s probably more expensive ; ^ ; what do you recommend for me if you can think of anything? Any advice or information will be most helpful!

Matt, I find myself constantly coming back to this post for inspiration and information. great info. Thank you!!

NomadicMatt

You’re welcome! Thanks for reading.

Rob

You forgot to list malaysia! It’s one of the best countries and relatively inexpensive to visit and retire to. They have an awesome program called”the my second home program.” Also, you can just take a bus or a train ride to Singapore

Leave a comment