Friday, March 31, 2017

The 21 Best Budget Travel Destinations For 2017

From the Philippines to Georgia, this year’s list of best budget travel destinations features exotic ideas from some of the world’s experts in travel. While some of these countries made the cut thanks to fluctuating currencies (Australia, we’re looking at you), others like Kyrgyzstan are more off-the-beaten path.

With this list, stretch your dollar further in 2017. Time to get traveling!
Northern Vietnam is a great budget travel destination for 2017. Consider renting a motorbike to see spectacular scenery like these rice terraces and mountains.

The digital nomads Jarryd Salem and Alesha Bradford are based in Chiang Mai, Thailand. They are in the midst of traveling across land from Thailand to South Africa, and are documenting their wild journey on NOMADasaurus. These are their two low cost suggestions:

1. Northern Vietnam

Vietnam is known as a budget destination, but the region north of Hanoi along the Chinese border often gets overlooked by travelers. This is truly a shame, because Northern Vietnam is where the most sensational scenery and culture can be found. Rice terraces, towering mountains, twisting roads and ethnic minority people all add to the adventure.

For budget travelers, private accommodation can be found for between $10-15 a night or dorms are as low as $5. Food ranges between $0.50 - $2 a dish and transport never costs more than a few dollars between towns. To really keep your costs down consider renting a motorbike.

2. Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

With 93 percent of the nation covered in mountains and a rich history and culture that goes back thousands of years, Kyrgyzstan is one of the most spectacular and underrated countries in the world. The capital city, Bishkek, is an incredible hub for exploring Central Asia, with Silk Road remnants like the Burana Tower just a short drive away and some incredible trekking opportunities in the surrounding mountains.

Best of all for a budget traveler, Kyrgyzstan is surprisingly affordable. Private accommodation in the city can be found for as little as $15 a night and good meals start around $2. Even a traditional yurt stay with 2 meals can be as cheap as $20 per person.

One of the first budget travel bloggers, Matt Kepnes has made a name for himself with his website and community, Nomadic Matt. And although the backpacker’s travel style might have evolved over the years, he still knows how to travel for less. Here are his favorite go-to spots:

3. Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon offers a good mix of museums, historic buildings, eclectic music and nightlife, and squares and cafés to watch the world go by. I fell in love with this city when I visited. It had this old, gritty feeling that gave it tons of character. Plus, it is much less than many other European destinations, with budget accommodation clocking in around $30.

4. Seoul, South Korea

Seoul is a fascinating metropolis filled with high tech infrastructure, modern skyscrapers, historic buildings, a large expat scene and delicious Korean food all at rock bottom prices. Plus, since it’s a major hub it is easy to access this low cost city.

5. Bucharest, Romania

With several centuries of architecture in Bucharest, there is an interesting display of old and new here. There are plenty of museums, cemeteries, historical sites to explore, plus wild nightlife and cheap, hearty food to be found! A go-to spot for digital nomads, it's a city on the rise.

American Nicole Brewer first moved to South Korea over seven years ago to teach English. Since then the thirtysomething serial expat launched a blog, documenting her adventures at ILuv2GlobeTrot. Brewer now lives in a small town in Oman, where she is teaching at a college. Here are her two favorite budget destinations for 2017:

6. Cape Point, South Africa
Overlooking the Cape of Good Hope, the southern most tip of Africa is a cheap day trip from Cape Town.
Home to African penguins at Boulder Beach and Cape Point National Park, Cape Point is the most southwestern point of Africa. One can take an affordable day trip there from Cape Town with a hop on, hop off tour-bus. For 500 Rand or $35 for a full day, this tour is a must do in 2017.

7. Crete, Greece

The largest island in Greece, Crete is great for those looking to party on a budget, as it offers an array of clubs and restaurants with affordable prices. With idyllic beaches, there are lots of low cost lodging options, making it a steal when compared to the more well-known areas of Athens and Santorini.

The Australian couple Caz and Craig Makepeace of YTravel have traveled all over the world with their two children in tow. While they love life on the road, part of their philosophy is to travel slowly and make sure to experience it all. These are their favorite, off-the-beaten path recommendations:

8. Palawan, The Philippines

The Philippines is heating up as a destination for 2017. Palawan is where the magic still remains a little more untouched and quiet compared to popular, Boracay Island (which we do love). Palawan has some of the most diverse landscapes as well as some of the best aquatic life in the country. You'll spend your days snorkeling, diving, beach hopping and exploring underground cave systems.

Palawan is not a party island like Boracay, which means you'll save more money by spending your evenings relaxing with quiet conversation under a star filled sky instead of pouring it into the nearest beer bucket. That being said, beers are quite cheap in the Philippines.

9. Burleigh Heads, Queensland, Australia

I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest an Australian town as a budget destination! But honestly, Australia has never looked better for travel from a budget perspective.  Flight prices have plummeted and the Aussie dollar is much weaker, meaning travelers can get way more bang for their buck. Competition is also helping to lower the prices of accommodation, tours and eating out.

Burleigh has the best of Australia wrapped up in one small bohemian beachside town. The natural beauty of the beaches, national parks and nearby hinterland provides plenty to do without spending a lot of money. It has a flourishing coffee, food and craft beer culture, making it a hip place for both young and old travelers.

Plus, with a sub-tropical climate that sees 300 days of sunshine a year and very little sweater time, you can travel during off-peak times, save even more money and still have an incredible time.

10. Porto, Portugal

Porto is the second biggest city in Portugal. With its affordable eating, accommodation and inexpensive museums and tours, it is a trending budget destination in Europe.

Porto has a historic center that dates back to 300 BC, a Unesco World Heritage colorful riverside quarter and dramatic 12th-Century Romanesque cathedral churches and chapels. Stop by the Port Houses for a tipple or two as you meander the riverside and hilly streets filled with hipster bars and smoky cafes.

Canadian YouTube star Nadine Sykora has traveled to nearly 50 countries, while earning six figures a year. The millennial is known for her high-quality, adventure focused content. Here are her best budget destinations for 2017:

11. Tobago, Trinidad and Tobago

This small island is not very touristy and cheap in comparison to many other places in the Caribbean. From beaches to restaurants to diving, it is an adventure-lovers dream.

12. Trencin, Slovakia

Think: a beautiful small town under the shadow of a medieval, castle. A lovely place to visit for less in Europe.

Lee Abbamonte, the youngest American to visit every country in the world, is famous for his top 30 lists, like the best cities in the world. These are his three favorite travel destinations for the new year:

13. Luang Prabang, Laos

Laos is tranquil, beautiful and cultural. This out of the way destination has as much bang for the buck as anywhere on earth.

14. Cairo, Egypt

Thanks to political unrest and fluctuating currencies, the cradle of civilization is as cheap as it will ever be. You can get tremendous value especially on top end hotels and tours.

15. Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

Bolivia is one of the most beautiful and underrated destinations in the world is cheap, fun, easy and well worth acclimating to the altitude for the views and amazing photos. Do it for the gram!

Following an epic year-long road trip around the United States and Canada, Josh and Erin Bender are planning their next big trip and sharing their adventures along the way at Travel With Bender.

Traveling with two young children, here are the Australians' recommendations for low cost family travel:

16. Moab, Utah
Incredibly natural geography make Moab a top notch destination for 2017.

Southern Utah is one of our favorite places in the United States thanks to its mouth-wateringly delicious landscapes. Close to three major national and state parks (Arches, Canyonlands, Dead Horse Point), Moab is centrally positioned to spend a few days exploring this beautiful wilderness. You only need a car or an RV and your sense of adventure. To keep the vacation budget as low as possible, use an RV to save on accommodation costs or make use of small hotels offering off-peak discounts. If you don’t already have one, get your hands on an annual pass for national parks to save on entry fees.

17. Antigua, Guatemala

There are lots of reasons to love amazing Antigua. But if you’re looking for a budget vacation in Central America with a generous dose of culture, this is it.

You can find relatively low cost accommodation, transport and food is cheap, and there’s no shortage of amazing cultural events like Semana Santa  - the world’s largest Easter celebration. For peace of mind, consider renting a house or apartment in a gated community.

If you have time, extend your vacation to the nearby Lake Atitlan region which is often ranked as one of the most beautiful places in Central America.

 

18. Brasov, Romania
With medieval castles and low cost lodging, Romania has lots to offer in 2017. 

Romania in winter is magical. It has many of the conveniences of Western Europe but at Eastern European prices. Grab a rental car and drive into the snowy Transylvanian Alps. There’s plenty of affordable holiday homes and apartments in Brasov and the nearby countryside, plus the city houses beautiful Christmas markets. Many Romanians in tourism-centric cities understand and speak some English so language is rarely a problem. And while in the area drive to the heart-warming Libearty Bear Sanctuary and the world famous, Bran Castle, the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s 1897 horror novel, Dracula.

The travel bloggers behind Two Monkeys Travel Kach and Jonathan Howe were recently married  and are now on a yearlong honeymoon, which they kicked off in Antarctica. After traveling all around South America and Asia on a shoestring budget, here are their top destinations:

19. Hopkins, Belize

While this surprising little paradise has a reputation as one of the most expensive countries in Central America, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a budget destination. Belize is still a whole lot cheaper than Europe or the Florida coast.

Although a great deal of the 240 miles of coastline are built up with resorts, like Placencia, Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker, we found one little bastion of chill hiding in plain sight: Hopkins. Hopkins, Belize is everything that a Caribbean beach paradise should be  - natural, rough around the edges, with fallen palm leaves littering the beach and driftwood washed up on the shoreline. Food and accommodation options are simple, maybe even a bit limited, but that will be the last thing on your mind as you sway in a hammock at sunset, wishing your time here would never end!

20. Copán, Honduras
Kach Howe fell in love with beautiful ruins like these at the budget travelers dream in Copan, Honduras.
Honduras gets a bad reputation as one of the most dangerous countries in the world, which puts a lot of people off from traveling there. In truth, it’s a beautiful country with a huge amount to offer in nature, history and culture. While there is crime in the major cities between gangs, it doesn't affect the tourist destinations as much as the media would lead you to believe.

The high altitude provides fresh, cool air and mountainous landscapes which are home to the best Mayan ruin sites we have seen outside of Mexico. There are far fewer tourists and the ruins offer a much more natural and wild feel to them. The town has everything from cheap hostels to expensive hotels and everything in between, with the best food found on the streets or in tiny street-side cafes. Just an hour minibus ride further into the mountains is a beautiful natural hot springs, sculpted into the terraced hillside. If you give Copán (and the rest of Honduras for that matter) a chance, you’ll be very happy you did!



21. Tbilisi, Georgia
Poland and Czech Republic are better known as budget travel destinations in Europe, but Georgia has lots to offer in terms of architecture and history.
A country usually overlooked as a budget travel destination in favor of more famous names like Czech Republic or Poland, we found Georgia to be one of the most interesting places we’ve ever visited.

In Tbilisi, beautifully preserved orthodox churches and medieval style architecture are punctuated by recent modern architectural landmarks. The Georgian food is truly amazing and the most surprising element of our stay, with far more fresh vegetables and unique flavors than we ever expected.

In the comments below, share your favorite budget hot spots for 2017.

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