Everyone at some point has scrolled through an influencer’s Instagram of a sunset beach photo with palm trees and pink sand and wondered “How can I afford that?” With the right tips and tricks, you can also plan the vacation of your dreams without the stress of overspending. However, finding cheap vacation spots doesn’t have to mean a bland trip. We’re talking cascading waterfalls, red rock canyons, and rainforests. There’s no wrong time to start planning the most practical and unforgettable trip of your life.
1.) Costa Rica
The first of cheap vacation spots with a view is Costa Rica. The Costa Rican Colon is the accepted currency, which is converted to $0.0016 USD. This gorgeous country within Central America can be an affordable trip if budgeted effectively. Luckily, many activities in Costa Rica are outdoors and involve nature. In the touristy parts of Costa Rica, a cheap meal can cost as much as $6 USD. For meals you’ll want to plan to spend at least $15-$25 a day, and another $15-$20 for transportation. For the daily hotel cost, you should spend at least $25-$30 and activities can range anywhere from $50-$90. Visit Cahuita National Park for free, or Arenal Volcano National Park for $15. Without the guided tour, you can hike around Manuel Antonio National Park and only pay for a park ticket or bus fee. While you’re in Costa Rica you’re going to want to visit Uvita Waterfalls, which is a $2 entry for a relaxing and scenic attraction. Many bars in Costa Rica have happy hour specials and some even have karaoke nights, where guests get a free shot every time they sing. Try renting a bike for as low as $5 while you’re visiting, which works as a great way to explore beaches and other parts of town. Costa Rica is known for its breathtaking beaches, for instance, Tamarindo Beach, which is completely free and you can do anything from swimming to sunset walks.
Number two on the list of must-see cheap vacation spots is Cambodia. The type of money used in Cambodia is known as the Riel, and 1 Riel is equivalent to $0.00024 USD. In Cambodia, you’ll want to book a hostel for your stay, in order to save money and make friends along your trip. A hostel costs around $5-$10 per night or $15 for a private room. Onederz in Phnom Penh is $8 a night and has a pool on site. You can also check out Airbnb before your stay, with most rooms starting at $5 a night. To get around Cambodia, most people commute by bus. A bus ride ranges anywhere from $7- $10 per ride. Meals in this Southeast Asian country are tasty and inexpensive and the lowest cost is $1 per meal. A can of beer can also be purchased for a mere $1 cost, as well. It is best to expect spending at least $7 per day in Cambodia, unless you splurge on activities such as the Cambodian arts and dance show, the Siem Reap floating villages, or climbing and caving, however, all of these range from $16-$54.
3.) South Korea
South Korea is another of our cheap vacation spots to explore that has the most flavorful food, colorful temples, and picturesque mountain trails. The South Korean currency is the Won. For every Won spent, you are only spending $0.00085 USD. For transportation, using the train is the cheapest route to go, for $11. You can save even more when you select the standing option for train tickets, which lowers the cost of your ticket. For food, you’ll want to try Kimbap, a seaweed and rice roll made with your choice of fish, meat or vegetables, and costs anywhere between $3-$5. For one bottle of Soju, a Korean rice liquor, the cost is as low as $2.80. Korean hostels can be as cheap as $9 a night, or if for a more comfortable stay at a hotel, you’ll spend $16 a night. One of the most popular activities in Korea is to visit their spas, called jjimjilbang (찜질방), some of which will let you stay overnight for a cheap price. Jjimjilbang’s only cost $5-$6 and have hot tubs, showers, saunas, and offer massages, as well. For activities, visit Bukhansan National Park, which offers free admission for 129 kilometers of hiking trails. You can also visit Ihwa Mural Village, where groups of artists have created charming floral mosaic designs and paintings over stairwells and abandoned buildings, and souvenir and coffee shops surround the village. Of course there are the temples in South Korea, which only cost a few dollars to enter, and most of which are used for religious practice and have historic significance. Plan a day to visit the local beach or river and don’t forget your camera, and this is both completely free and worth every minute of your time.
Armenia is one of the only cheap vacation spots that isn’t surrounded by water, so this destination is perfect for those who prefer the mountains. This country is mountainous and landlocked, located between Western Asia and Europe. The currency of Armenia is the Dram. One Dram is equal to $0.0021 USD. Some of the cheapest activities to do in Armenia include walking around the city, a free walking tour in Yerevan, or free admission to the Cafesjian Center for the Arts. Other free attractions include the Dancing Fountains, Vernissage Market, and Jermuk Waterfall. The cheapest way to get around Armenia is by GG or Yandex, both of which are apps similar to Uber. A ride with one of these ride-hailing apps cost between $3-$4 per ride, but if you’re in Yerevan, you’ll want to take the metro for a small price of $0.21 USD. Armenia offers many cheap hostels that charge just $3 USD a night. As a tip for planning all cheap vacation spots, always search for the months when tourism dwindles. The best time to visit Armenia is during April or May and end of September to mid-November, which is when crowds diminish and prices drop. Traditional Armenian meals cost the least, such as lahmajoun, a type of Armenian pizza, which is just $2 USD per plate.
Another of the cheap vacation spots you’ll want to visit is Portugal. With its colorful cities, romantic beaches, and historic churches, Portugal will win you over. One of the best free activities in Portugal is to walk around Belem, Lisbon and admire the 16th century towers and extravagant gardens. Another attraction you’ll want to check out it Feira da Ladra, or Lisbon Thieves Market, which is a 100-year old flea market. For a cheap and fast meal in Portugal, try a bakery where you can buy a Pastel de Nata for $1 USD. Other street foods and a drink, range from $6-$8 USD in price. A glass of wine in Portugal costs $1-$3 USD and the local beer no more than $1.20 USD. To get around Portugal, you’ll simply purchase a single ride metro ticket for $1.64. For a 24 hour unlimited travel ticket, the price comes out to $6.15 USD. Among these cheap vacation spots, Portugal makes for a unique trip with its natural attractions such as the volcano crater, Crovo Island and Pico Island with a volcano that makes up the entire island. The cost of a hostel for the night ranges from $8-$11 USD.
The first of the natural free attractions you’ll want to visit in Australia is Lake Hillier, with its naturally shocking magenta pink lake water. Another sight for your itinerary is Kings Canyon in Alice Springs, with gorgeous vibrant red sandstone. If you’re eager to dip into Australia’s clear oceans, plan for a swim in the Fairy Pools, which are located in Noosa National Park. Hostels range from $13-$20 USD a night in Australia. Most people use the bus to commute in Australia, and depending on the distance you’re traveling, tickets cost anywhere between $2.15-$5.60 USD. Bakeries are the cheapest food option while you’re visiting Australia, with a sausage roll or meat pie for $5. Banh Mis are another popular food item in Australia, and cost roughly $5-$8 USD.
Of the many cheap vacation spots to choose from, Thailand is one of the most breathtaking countries. You can visit an ethical elephant nature park and where you get to interact with the rehabilitated animals directly. Another free activity in Thailand is visiting the Khmer Ruins, which were once used as a Hindu place of worship. Thailand also has many national parks such as Sai Yok National Park with hiking and biking trails and a calming waterfall view. Transportation in this Southeast Asian is as cheap as $1 USD for a daily bus ticket. Hostels can cost as low as $3-$6 a night in Thailand. The average meal, Thai bat, usually costs anywhere between $1-$3 USD. The beaches are insane, and Maenam and Koh Lipe are two of the most popular that are also free and incredibly scenic.
What’s not to love about this country with gorgeous, glittering seascapes, charmingly nautical white and blue buildings, and succulent olives picked right off the vine? To save the most money, you’ll want to visit off-season, with ideal months being May or September. Numerous free walking tours are offered to explore Athens, with its rich history and neo-classical architecture. In Greece, one Euro is the same as $1.17 USD. You can find cheap Airbnbs for $12 a night or if you’re going with friends, you can rent a whole house for $22 per night. To travel in Greece, it’s easiest to book a speedboat the night before, and although they’re slightly more expensive than the ferry ticket of $35 USD, it takes only three hours to get from Mykonos to Athens, whereas, on a ferry it would take seven. If you want to speed up your travels and splurge, a one way speedboat ticket to Mykonos from Athens may be worth the $52 USD. Opt for gyros or souvlaki which cost less than $3 USD. Free of charge, you can visit the Natural Pools of Giola in Astris, Drastis Cape in Corfu, and the Blue Caves of Zakynthos.
Number nine of cheap vacation spots is Morocco. If you stay in Morocco, you’ll be sure to enjoy the view without burning a hole in your wallet. One USD is worth 10 Dirhams, which is the Moroccan currency. The cheapest way to stay is a hostel where the room cost per night is anywhere between $8 and 10 USD. The incredible flavors of Moroccan foods will amaze you with its low cost and such gourmet quality. If you can find a non-touristy area, a meal, such as Tagines, will only cost about $5 USD, and some pizza shops will sell personal pizzas for $1 USD. The most convenient and cheapest way to commute is an $8 bus ticket to Morocco. A must-see attraction is a guided tour through the Sahara Desert. The cheapest tours cost roughly $100 but include camping under the stars and camel ride for a three day and two nights excursion. Next on the list are the Atlas Mountains, which are free to roam, with hostels along the trail. You won’t need a tour to visit the “Blue City,” known as Chefchaouen, but rather a $20 USD bus ride for a day trip packed with color. Another cheap and scenic activity is the Ouzoud Waterfalls, where you can choose a $3 USD guided tour or you can explore on your own.
Another popular place amidst the best cheap vacation spots is Brazil. This is the largest country in both South America and Latin America, well known for the Amazon rainforest and basin. Brazil offers many free activities including public gardens and beaches. Praia do Futuro and Itamambuca Beach are two beaches you’ll want to visit when you travel, complete with clear water and palm trees. Your wallet will be happiest with a stay at a hostel for $9-$15 USD per night. For a cheap meal, choose a sandwich and drink in the local cafe which costs approximately $3-$5 USD. Many people ride the bus in Brazil, which is one cheap option, however, long distance buses run at the rate of $4 USD per hour. More free activities you’ll want to visit are Iguazu Falls, an architectural building in the city center called Teatro Amazonas, and the historic walking district, Centro Historico.
Which of these cheap vacation spots would you choose for your next trip? When it comes to traveling, do you prefer museums and festivals more or would you rather spend time visiting national parks and beaches?
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