Jaw-dropping sights and unforgettable experiences don’t have to come with a hefty price tag. From budget-friendly cities to the most affordable countries, these cheap places to travel will help you make the most of your vacation dollars.
From the cobblestone streets of Budapest to the pulsing dance clubs of Rio de Janeiro, these budget travel destinations will give you bang for your buck.
Located in the heart of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, Merida is an under-the-radar travel destination that offers excellent value. Your pesos will go a long way in this city, which is home to tons of culture, beautiful places and delicious food.
Start with a stroll along Paseo de Montejo, a tree-lined street that’s lined with some of the city’s most impressive buildings. It’s also a great place to spot some of Merida’s most charming shops and cafes.
Another must-see is the century-old Teatro José Peon Contreras, where you can watch a (peaceful) reenactment of Mayan ballgames that were once played to the death.
For some local flavors, head to Mercado Lucas de Galvez, the main market where you can pick up fresh fruits, veggies and spices. The market can be hectic, but it’s an entertaining experience that will give you a glimpse of Merida life. If you want to buy some meat, ask for Miguel Trompudo — he slaughters a cow every Friday morning and sells one pound for 60C$ (2,50 USD). It’s surprisingly inexpensive.
2. Mekong Delta
A visit to the Mekong Delta is a chance to experience a completely different side of Vietnam, away from the crowds and cookie-cutter tours. Spend time visiting the floating markets, observing local life from your boat and trying some of the region’s delicious cuisine.
Another country that isn’t on everyone’s radar, Serbia is a wonderful destination for budget travelers. The former Yugoslav nation is home to a charming capital, medieval villages and stunning natural scenery.
The country also boasts a number of cheap activities, including trekking, caving and jungle safaris for adventurers, while culture lovers can explore temples and learn about the region’s fascinating history. There are also plenty of great budget hotels to stay in. If you’re looking to stretch your travel budget even further, consider visiting the area during the shoulder or off-season for lower prices.
3. Mulu National Park
The 529 sq km park features karst landscapes and gorges with crystal clear rivers, jungle trails leading to waterfalls and wild orchids and ferns. At its centre is the iconic Pinnacles of limestone spires and a rainforest ecosystem supporting an unusual array of wildlife. The most stunning geological formations are the Clearwater Cave and Deer Cave systems. There are also two other famous hiking attractions, the Headhunter’s Trail and the limestone cliffs of the Limbang Ridgeline.
Non-cavers can join daily guided tours of the show caves with a park guide for RM20. Alternatively, jungle treks can be organised with local guides who take you on longer hikes and even overnight treks into real expedition camps.
Accommodation is basic and mostly outside the park at the airport, homestays and dorm rooms from RM20 a night. The park HQ does have a cafe with a more expensive menu and a few other places to eat. Carry cash as many of the villagers and homestays don’t accept cards.
For millennia, the Silk Road was the main route for trade and culture. Uzbekistan is synonymous with this history and hosts some of the most stunning Silk Road cities like Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva. Timeless mosques define the skyline of these old towns and strolling around their streets is like stepping back in time.
The Fergana Valley, shared by Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, is a cultural crossroads. The region offers a rich history and an abundance of natural beauty. It is home to a number of important medieval Silk Road cities including Andijan, Namangan, and Kokand and is known for its horses.
With a little research and planning, Uzbekistan can be a great destination for travelers on a budget. Be sure to book your flights early and add travel cost protection which you can do at checkout when booking your flight. Also, consider selecting a flight with lower emissions.