The world's cheapest holiday destinations

By Paul Ewart of

Auckland International Airport. Could one of these places be your next holiday? Photo / Bloomberg
Auckland International Airport. Could one of these places be your next holiday? Photo / Bloomberg

They're the top wallet-friendly destinations that offer serious bang for your buck.

Money-savvy-travellers know that it's not about how you get there; it's about where you go. Yes, flights are a consideration, but it's the cost on ground - accommodation, eating out and of course, drinks - that will make a real difference to your bank balance. After all, nothing kills that post-holiday buzz like a maxed out credit card bill populated by overpriced sundowners and pricey seafood dinners.

Whether you're looking for lazy beach break or an off-the-beaten-track adventure, avoid potential financial strife with a trip to one of these seven bargain bonanza breaks for a holiday that won't break the bank.


The evening at sunset in India. Photo / 123rf
The evening at sunset in India. Photo / 123rf

A longtime favourite with the penny-pinching backpacker set, India remains as cheap as chips.

The flights might cost a fair bit, but you'll more than make your money back when you're living on a virtual pittance.

Head north for a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the hills in Darjeeling, flop and drop on Goa's famed sandy shores, where countless cut price, basic beach huts await.

Or get your Om on in the foothills of the lower Himalayas at the self-styled yoga capital of the world, Rishikesh. Here there's an abundance of yoga ashrams and meditation centres, many of which offer classes for free or for a small donation. And with accommodation priced at as little as $13 per night, enlightenment has never been more affordable.


Copacabana, Bolivia. Photo / 123rf
Copacabana, Bolivia. Photo / 123rf

By far the cheapest place to travel in South America, Bolivia also has some of the continent's most impressive sights: from the world's highest lake, Titicaca, to the seemingly endless salt flats of Salar de Uyuni; there's plenty to keep adventure-lovers happy in this remote bolthole.

Bargain-seekers should head to La Paz. Flanked by tall mountains and sitting at elevations ranging between 3200 and 4100m above sea level, La Paz the world's highest capital city.

Here, a daily budget of $27 can easily take you from morning to evening. Basic dorms are priced between $6-$10 (usually with breakfast included), you can visit the city's museums with a bumper ticket for around $1 and then - once you've satisfied your cultural cravings - you can fill your belly with perhaps the best value food and drink in all of South America.

Food market, Mercado Lanza, is a go-to for local eats, including the Bolivian speciality of "saltena". A few of these washed down with a bottle of local beer should cost $2, tops.


Angkor Wat temple in Cambodia. Photo / 123rf
Angkor Wat temple in Cambodia. Photo / 123rf

Now a staple on the Southeast Asia travel scene, Cambodia is the definition of travel on a shoestring.

With beds for mere dollars and tasty local food for even less, in this country your money goes far - very far. Yes, infrastructure isn't the best, but when you're spending this little you can't complain.

Home to UNESCO world heritage site, Angkor Wat - the largest religious complex in the world - the entry ticket to this ancient marvel will be your greatest expense (around $28 for a full day, or just over $53 for three days).


Bulgaria, aerial view from helicopter. Photo / 123rf
Bulgaria, aerial view from helicopter. Photo / 123rf

Europe on a budget? You'd better believe it! Stunning mountain ranges, black sand beaches and beautiful cosmopolitan cities, Bulgaria is a hidden gem.

The laid back Balkan country has come out on top as the cheapest holiday destination in Europe in research carried out by the British Post Office and in a study from airport transfers website,, which compared prices for accommodation, transport and a variety of food and drink purchases.

And at the centre of the country's cut price offerings? The summer favourite - and aptly-named - Sunny Beach.

The popular seaside destination on the Black Sea Coast, was found to be the best bet for sun-seekers on a shoestring, offering golden sand, a Mediterranean climate and beers for just over $1.


Statues of warriors in Imperial Khai Dinh Tomb in Vietnam. Photo / 123rf
Statues of warriors in Imperial Khai Dinh Tomb in Vietnam. Photo / 123rf

Buzzing street life, great food and stunning scenery; despite its rise in popularity over the last few years, Vietnam is still beautiful and it's still super-cheap.

The entire country is easy on the wallet, with an average of $11 covering basic guesthouse accommodation, local food (you can grab delicious streetside pho for $2) transport and the odd beer.

But for the cheapest beach destination - not just in Vietnam, but in the entire world - head to the UNESCO World Heritage city of Hoi An and make a detour to nearby Cua Dai Beach.

Travel website TravelBird painstakingly calculated the cost of spending a day at the beach at 250 coastlines around the world, looking at the average cost of sunscreen, water, beer, ice cream, and lunch and the result is the 2016 Beach Price Index in which Cua Dai came out on top.


Albania. Photo / 123rf
Albania. Photo / 123rf

The European backpacking trail is veering to the Adriatic Coast, specifically to the formerly troubled communist country of Albania.

Nestled at the top of Greece, Albania has remained largely undiscovered by tourists for years, due to its chequered past. But these days, Stalinism is out and holiday-makers are in.

Sharing the same ocean as Venice, on the coast there's white sand beaches, while inland there's beautiful mountain ranges and a buzzing capital city. Its timeworn prices and postcard-perfect coastline have prompted comparisons to Spain as it was 50 years ago.


Vientiane, the capital of Laos. Photo / 123rf
Vientiane, the capital of Laos. Photo / 123rf

While often neglected by tourists in favour of neighbouring Thailand, Laos has long been a Mecca for budget travellers in-the-know.

But this lack of mass tourism means that savvy holiday-makers can save their pennies and take in spectacular temples, wildlife-filled forests and isolated beaches, without to having jostle for space with crowds.

In the sleepy capital city of Vientiane, the 2016 Backpacker Index - an annual ranking of the world's cities based on affordability - suggests that a daily of budget of less than $20 is more that adequate to cover hostel, three meals, three beers and several rides on public transport. And further north in historic Luang Prabang, it's a similar story.

While more popular with backpackers, this gorgeous French-colonial town offers one of the most authentic and unspoilt experiences in Indo-China, it's officially Southeast Asia's best preserved ancient city (UNESCO put it on its World Heritage List in 1995). Buddhist temples, waterfalls, caves and wildlife sanctuaries, and all for a daily budget of $22 - what more could you ask for?


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