The world's cheapest holiday destinations

By Paul Ewart

As we head into a new year, we're revisiting some of 2016's most popular Travel stories. This was one of them .....

These wallet-friendly destinations offer serious bang for your buck.

A view over La Paz in Bolivia. At elevations ranging between 3200 and 4100m above sea level, it's the highest capital city in the world. Photo / 123RF
A view over La Paz in Bolivia. At elevations ranging between 3200 and 4100m above sea level, it's the highest capital city in the world. Photo / 123RF

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.

INDIA

A long-time 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.

Goa boasts endless sandy beaches where travellers can soak up some sun and recharge their batteries. Photo / 123RF
Goa boasts endless sandy beaches where travellers can soak up some sun and recharge their batteries. Photo / 123RF

Head north for a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the hills in Darjeeling, then 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 low as $12 per night, enlightenment has never been more affordable.

The Ganges River runs through Rishikesh, India's yoga capital at in the foothills of the Himalayas. Photo / 123RF
The Ganges River runs through Rishikesh, India's yoga capital at in the foothills of the Himalayas. Photo / 123RF

BOLIVIA

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.

Simple dwellings on Isla de Sol, in the Bolivian portion of Lake Titicaca. Photo / 123RF
Simple dwellings on Isla de Sol, in the Bolivian portion of Lake Titicaca. Photo / 123RF

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 is world's highest capital city.

Here, a daily budget of $25 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.

Sunrise over Bolivia's Salar de Uyuni - the world's largest salt flat. Photo / 123RF
Sunrise over Bolivia's Salar de Uyuni - the world's largest salt flat. Photo / 123RF

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

CAMBODIA

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

Cambodian food at a market in Phnom Penh. Photo / 123RF
Cambodian food at a market in Phnom Penh. Photo / 123RF

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 $26 for a full day, or just over $50 for three days).

Figures carved into a wall at Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Photo / 123RF
Figures carved into a wall at Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Photo / 123RF

BULGARIA

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, hoppa.com, which compared prices for accommodation, transport and a variety of food and drink purchases.

Sunset in Bulgaria's Rhodope Mountains. Photo / 123RF
Sunset in Bulgaria's Rhodope Mountains. Photo / 123RF

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

This 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.

VIETNAM

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 $10 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.

Lanterns in the beautiful Vietnamese city of Hoi An. Photo / 123RF
Lanterns in the beautiful Vietnamese city of Hoi An. Photo / 123RF

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

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 holidaymakers are in.

Gjipe Beach on Albania's Adriatic Coast. Photo / 123RF
Gjipe Beach on Albania's Adriatic Coast. Photo / 123RF

Sharing the same ocean as Venice, on the coast there are white sand beaches, while inland are 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.

LAOS

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 holidaymakers can save their pennies and take in spectacular temples, wildlife-filled forests and isolated beaches, without having to jostle for space with crowds.

The Kuang Si Falls, near Luang Prabang in Laos. Photo / 123RF
The Kuang Si Falls, near Luang Prabang in Laos. Photo / 123RF

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 than adequate to cover a bed in a hostel, three meals, three beers and several rides on public transport.

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?

- news.com.au

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