Travel doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, I’ve found that I often spend less when. I travel than when. I spend a month at home in the US.
When thinking of the world’s cheapest countries to travel to, destinations in Southeast Asia probably immediately come to mind first. While that’s a great place to start, I wanted to go a step further and create a definitive list of the cheapest countries to travel beyond the usual spots.
To get the very best and most complete list possible. I asked travel bloggers to help me come up with some of the cheapest countries to visit in the world.
The answers I got span five continents and a multitude of regions, topographies, and cultures. And as commenters have noted — I still have yet to scratch the surface of some other amazingly affordable countries. So before you go saying you can’t afford to travel, take a look through this post and have another think.
Pro Tip: No matter what your budget, it’s crucial that you travel with travel insurance. World Nomads offers affordable plans and it’s the only company I personally use. Get your free quote here.
It’s funny; even though I considered myself a master of budget travel, I learned a lot while compiling this list. Some countries I thought were expensive – like Russia and Chile – ended up surprising me with their affordability and sneaking onto this list of cheapest countries to travel to.
With a strict backpacking budget of $30 per day, or $900 a month (excluding flights, visas if necessary, gear, and travel insurance). I collected the best destinations to travel on a budget. These 40 top travel bloggers rose to the challenge. Get ready for some serious budget-friendly wanderlust!
Cheapest Countries to Travel in Asia
Travel in Thailand can be super cheap or you can even get a 5 star hotels for under $100. If you prefer to spend less and travel longer, then Thailand is definitely one of the cheapest countries to visit.
You can easily find a really nice hostel in Bangkok for $10 a night like Lub’d, my favorite hostel, or even much cheaper for a more basic hostel. If you are looking to go to the beaches you’ll realize fast accommodation can be pricey BUT did you know some islands have camping?
On Koh Adang you can rent a tent complete with bedding for 2 people for 200 baht a day — that’s less than $3 a person a night AND it’s even cheaper if you have your own tent at 30 baht (0.85 cents). The only accommodation on the island is in the National Park which offers a few chalets for 600 baht ($16.5) or camping.
Here’s a breakdown of traveling to Koh Adang, Thailand: $3 a night camping in a 2 person tent, $1 rent snorkel gear, $1.50 3 liters of water bought at restaurant on the island, $5.50 round trip long tail boat from Koh Lipe island, $8 for three meals at the restaurant on the island,. And $5-10 snacks and beers bought at 7/11.
You could spend as little as $10 a day exploring Koh Adang. There are several waterfalls to hike, beaches with amazing snorkeling, and epic viewpoints. You could even spend less than $30 and stay in the really nice chalets on the island.
There aren’t many other islands in Thailand where there are very few tourists. And you can basically have the beach to yourself!
Myanmar still falls under Southeast Asia travel budgets. But just tips the daily average price slightly while it still adjusts to a tourism level on par with its neighbors. But not by much. And by that I mean $5-$10 more per day, depending on if you are sharing a room and what activities you choose.
Myanmar costs on average of $35 per day, though it can be done for less, including food, drink. And accommodation. Buses are between $10-$15, which is your only extra expense.
This is adaptable according to your type of travel. I shared rooms with fellow solo female travelers I met on buses, or other travelers in a small group.
If solo, your main cost will be on accommodation. Where a single room can cost around $25+ per night when you can’t find a $10 dorm. You can choose to eat street food or head to local eateries, rather than dine in bigger restaurants. Nightlife is limited which lowers spend on alcohol.
However, most highlights of travel here are free or very cheap. Myanmar is one of the cheapest countries to visit in the world.
My top two budget activities? Riding the Yangon circle line train – a commuter route through the countryside, which for a few hours will count as the best $1 you’ve ever spent. And crossing the Goteik Viaduct – the highest railway bridge in Myanmar you ride from Hsipaw to Pyin Oo Lwin – is a hell-raising ride for $3.
Laos is definitely not one of the most popular destinations in Southeast Asia. This is the only country in the region without beaches, and hence tourists prefer to visit the neighboring countries.
Nevertheless, partly due to the lack of tourist hordes, Laos is a very authentic destination with beautiful landscape, inspiring culture and very friendly people.
In the North of Laos you can explore the dense rainforest and visit several communities with different ethnic groups. In Luang Prabang, the ancient capital of Laos, you can admire the mixture of French colonial architecture and ancient Buddhist temples.
Vientiane is surely the calmest capital of the region, where you can visit the national monument of the country. In the South you can get lost between coffee plantations and picture perfect waterfalls in the Bolaven Plateau, and then take a rest on one of the 4000 islands on the River Mekong.
In Laos we spent as little as $20 per person per day. We spent around $7 on food, $6 on transport and $8 on average for double rooms ($4 per person), and the rest on other stuff. Laos is one of the cheapest destinations in the world, perfect for backpackers on a tight budget.
Besides being one of the most beautiful, captivating. And cultural countries in all of Southeast Asia, Vietnam is also one of the cheapest! Even without checking your budget every day it’s easy to live on less than $30 a day!
It is completely normal to find private, ensuite rooms in modern hotels for around $10 a night. Even in the major destinations of Ho Chi Minh City, Hoi An and Hanoi.
A typical meal can cost anywhere from $0.50 to $2, and in some places we were even buying banh mi (Vietnamese sandwiches). For as little as $0.20! A bia hoi (draft beer) is about $0.10-0.20 on the streets of Hanoi. And transport ranges from $0.25 for public transport up to $15 for overnight tourist buses.
One of the most popular ways to travel in Vietnam is by motorbike, and this can bring your costs down even lower. Alesha and I were living on about $10 a day each with our own transport, as fuel was so cheap and we could avoid getting taxis and buses everywhere.
You can buy a motorbike in Vietnam for about $250. And sell it for the same price when you are finished with it. This is also the absolute best way to travel Southeast Asia.
Some activities can be quite expensive, such as Halong Bay cruises, or trekking to Hang Son Doong, the largest cave in the world ($3,000 USD!), but in general Vietnam is one of the cheapest countries to travel to in the world!
To be honest, I thought China was going to be much more expensive than it actually was. We travelled around the country for one month in 2014 and our budget was an average of $30 per day.
Our trip started in Inner Mongolia, and then we moved on to Datong. Pingyao, Xi’an, Shanghai, Suzhou and Beijing, where we spent the final week visiting friends. We loved the Chinese capital – there are so many unusual places to see in Beijing that we never got bored!
We were able to keep our budget quite low for three reasons. Accommodation was free for most of our trip because we stayed with friends or Couchsurfed (highly recommended!), we always travelled by train or bus and ate street food most days.
However, there are many hostels in China – accommodation ranges between $8-10 for a dorm and around $20 for a double away from the main cities. Simple street food like noodles or dumplings can be had for as cheap as $1, or even less, while a sit-down dinner would probably be around $5-10 in a simple restaurant.
Overnight buses and trains were also a huge help to keep our budget down, as they were usually comfortable. On the other hand, entrance tickets are quite expensive, usually around $15 or so – so be careful!
Peninsula Malaysia is often overlooked as a destination for long term backpackers in Southeast Asia.
Malaysia may not quite be as cheap as ‘the big four’, but still definitely possible to travel well under $30/day. The majority of hostels range from 20 – 30 RM ($5 – 7). The quality of these will range from city to city. But the popular tourist destinations will have something for your comfort.
The food, wow! Malaysia is known for its food scene with a heavy influence of Chinese. Indian and Malay cultures ensuring you can try new dishes for weeks. Street food can be found for $1 – 2, and meals at local restaurants will go for $1 – 4. Each city has its own specialties to enjoy.
Getting around Malaysia is best done by the affordable buses that can connect you to everywhere on the Peninsula. Prices vary; for example, Ipoh to Penang (4 hours) is ~$6.
Alcohol is where the trickiest part of backpacking in Malaysia for less than $30/day comes into play. As a (mainly) Muslim country, alcohol is highly taxed, especially in bars and restaurants.
There are a couple of exceptions. Langkawi is duty free and in Penang, look to head to the shop ‘Cheapest Beer In Penang’ where you can get three cans of Singha for $3 and meet new friends in front of the shop.
For budget backpackers, it is difficult to find a country that offers as much as India.
Due to the vast size of the subcontinent. You could spend months there and still feel like you’ve not scratched the surface. Plus, you’ll probably find you’ve not skimmed much off your bank balance, either.
To experience the laidback, tropical vibes of India, head South to Kerala. Here you can hike for miles through tea fields, cruise the iconic backwaters and spot wildlife at one of the many vast, unspoiled national parks.
As a backpacker, you can live comfortably on a budget of between 1,000 INR and 1,500 INR ($15 to $22). Double rooms can be found in local guesthouses for as little as 300 INR ($4).
Dorm rooms in hostels are usually around 500 INR ($7.50), as this is a relatively new concept in India. However, the facilities are usually outstanding with air con, breakfast and luxurious hot showers included in the price
One of the best things about traveling in India is the food. Expect to pay around 100 INR ($1.50) for a “veg thali”- an Indian set meal consisting of rice, several curries, yoghurt and flatbreads. You’ll never go hungry with such amazing food this cheap!
Cambodia must be one of the cheapest places I have ever visited.
Siem Reap, despite being the ultimate tourist destination in the country due to its proximity to the complex of Angkor Wat, is very budget friendly.
A boutique hotel is as cheap as $15 USD per night. And a meal in an exclusive restaurant costs no more than $10.
But it is Battambang, which is a bit less explored, that is truly budget friendly. During my time there, I paid $3 for a bed in a 6 beds mixed dorm. And I even had air conditioning in the room. I added around $2 for breakfast, and $4 for a full meal.
When I took the Bamboo Train I paid $5 – I waited for someone I could share the train with; and a full day tour around the city and to the nearby villages and archeological sites costed me no more than $15.
Depending on one’s expectations and style of travel, the average daily costs for a backpacker are between $10 and $30 per day. That’s what I call being budget friendly!
Taiwan might get confused with a popular Southeast Asian country by many. But it is more similar to Japan in many ways.
Taiwan is one of the world’s most densely populated countries, but its high mountains and lush valleys are practically unknown to many that haven’t visited.
Southeast Asia is easier to travel on a $30/day budget, but here are three ways to explore Taiwan’s lush valleys and incredible mountains relatively inexpensively.
The easiest option is to use mass transit from the major cities to access incredibly lush places that unbelievably exist near the big city.
You’ll pay on average $10 USD per night for a nice hostel and $15-20 per night for the more stylish hostels. A meal will cost from $2-5, and transit will run you about $2-5 per day for MRT/bus fares. Luckily, most hikes and national parks are free.
Here are some ideas for great day trips: Sandiaoling Waterfall Trail and Shifen Waterfall (stay in Taipei or Ruifeng/Jiufen). Cising Mountain in Yangmingshan National Park (stay in Taipei). Guguan’s Seven Heroes and Hudie Waterfall (stay in Taichung). Taroko Gorge National Park (stay in Hualien). Wufengci and Yuemeikang Waterfalls (stay in Yilan or Taipei), Yunsen Waterfall (stay in Taipei).
There are two other great options for exploring Taiwan on a budget. The more adventurous (with international driver’s licenses) can rent scooters and others can get mountain permits and backpack to the numerous 3,000 meter peaks.
My favorites: Hehuanshan – Shimenggu – Maolin – Taiwan’s East Coast – Taiwan’s many islands – Yushan – Xueshan – Wuling Sixiu – Dabajianshan – Beidawushan – Jiaming Lake
The Philippines are one of the cheapest countries to visit, and it’s definitely affordable on $30 USD a day.
A dorm bed usually costs under $10. A simple roadside meal will only be a few dollars and as long as you don’t fly too much. Or arrange your flights well in advance, transport won’t break the bank either. A 2-hour ferry booked on the day of travel will usually cost less than $10.
The Philippines are a perfect place to treat yourself. We paid less than $30 for a stunning beachside bungalow on Siquijor Island!
Even adventure activities are quite affordable – a dive can be as cheap as $25! To make matters even better, the stunning nature, beaches and sunsets of the Philippines are free for everyone to enjoy.
How does cheap transport, endless street food, and plentiful cheap sleeps (less than $7 a night) sound?
How about all of that. Plus a country filled with people so excited to see you, you won’t have to pay for anything anyway?
Easily traveled for less than $15 a day, backpacking in Pakistan is a dream. It’s an offbeat country filled with the friendliest people you’ll ever meet in your travels. The chance you’ll meet someone wanting to host you for free. And show you around and pay for everything— is 110%.
Beyond being a cheap travel destination, Pakistan has something for everyone.
Whether you want to camp in the presence of the tallest mountains in the world. Have entire Mughal-era wonders to yourself. Or drown yourself in spicy delectables day in and day out for less than $3 per day. Pakistan is sure to be worth your while.
Armenia isn’t usually an instant hit with travelers, but I fell in love with Armenia at first sight.
Perhaps because of my propensity for unconventional places or my interest for places with a tragic past. Regardless, Armenia won my heart despite the short amount of time I spent there.
In comparison to its Caucasian neighbors, Armenia is truly unique in its culture and history. The country has its own alphabets and language family, own ethnicity, and cultural identity.
At times it feels like Asia and at times it’s very much European. The charming blend of East and West is very evident in this intriguing country. What’s more, it’s cheap and safe to travel, and easily accessible from most parts of Europe.
Some expected costs are as follows. The cost of hotel/hostel starts from $15 USD per night. An average meal costs $5 in a simple diner. A marshrutka, or mini bus, ride in the city is less than $1, and a day tour is around $15.
Oman is packed full of incredible nature. You can wake up in the morning on a beach. Watching turtles laying their eggs, and by sunrise be walking through a desert surrounded by camels.
Hospitality is a big deal here, so expect to be invited, fed. And spoilt by any locals you make a connection with. Whilst most people think Oman is not doable on a budget. And with traditional accommodation and tours it wouldn’t be, there are a few ways to keep your costs low.
Wild camping is possible in most of the country. Whether you are in the desert, on a beach, or high upon a mountain range – grab your tent and sleeping bag and you get nature’s best bedrooms for free.
Most attractions also cost nada, from beautiful wadis of crystal clear water, incredible beaches, desert treks, or exploring magnificent mosques; as of yet, tourism hasn’t attached a price.
Your biggest expense will be a car, 2WD start around $25 a day and 4WD $60 – A 4WD is essential if you plan on driving deep into the desert or true off roading. For those less adventurous a 2WD will suffice.
So, grab a few mates to split the costs, stock up on affordable food at a supermarket or enjoy cafe meals for a few bucks. Then you can easily do Oman for under $30 a day, and trust me, it will be a trip like no other!
Bangladesh is not everyone’s first choice. It’s dangerous there, right? Women shouldn’t go there, right?
Well, I backpacked Bangladesh for a month straight, met other women who were doing it too, and if you’re looking for cheap, you’re going to the right place!
This is one of the poorest countries in the world but. I cannot stress enough how kind and generous the locals are to make up for it. Their generosity is endless.
There are so many reasons to come here but the most famous are that Bangladesh has the largest mangrove forest in the world and the longest beach in the world. Cool huh?
To whet your appetite, literally, Bangladesh has some of the most amazing food I’ve ever tasted. Their curries are just so goddamn delectable and varied, starting from just $1 USD in a local restaurant.
Don’t even get me started on the tea! For just 7 cents you can have the most glorious milky sugary cup of chai ever. Watch out… you will get addicted to it.
Hostels/hotels can be as cheap as $4.50 USD for the night and taking a bus from one end of the country to the other (admittedly dangerous in terms of crashes. But the best way to mix with the locals) costs as little as $1 USD.
Unless you’re staying in the crème de la crème of hotels. Spending $30 a day is going to be very difficult!
The biggest expense in Russia is the visa. Once you are in, it is very affordable to get around, eat, and enjoy the sights.
I have only spent time in Moscow and St. Petersburg but can only assume that the other parts are even cheaper.
Dorm room accommodation starts from $5 USD and is of a decent standard. Couchsurfing is also active and accommodating in Russia.
The Moscow metro is a tourist attraction in itself as the stations look more like museums. And a ride will cost you just 50 cents for as long as you like.
There are also great free walking tours in both cities which will allow you to orientate yourself and see some of the major sights. We loved the Space Museum in Moscow and then wandering around the parks surrounding it which are filled with impressive statues and buildings.
Food in Russia varies and, . Despite the large scale of just about everything else in this country, portions can be small.
We applied the rules of budget travel (eat away from main attractions, check the prices before going in, ask locals for recommendations). And ate decent food for around $3-5 USD per meal.
Russia’s main cities are incredibly beautiful and impressive and can easily be enjoyed for under $30 USD a day.
LIFE IS SHORT, JOIN THE ADVENTURE!
Get travel tips right in your inbox so you can create the adventurous life you want. Discover ways to travel longer, and further.