One of the biggest barriers to travel is money! In 2021 we are smashing down those barriers and giving you options for the cheapest places to travel in 2021.
There are so many cheap places to travel all over the world. There is a budget destination for every type of traveller!
In this post, we round up 10 of the cheapest places to travel in 2021 for different types of experiences. Don’t let money get in the way of exploring the world, go start saving and get out there.
Note: All prices listed in this post are in USD unless otherwise stated.
1. Cheapest tropical destination: Siargao Philippines
Tropical destinations are often associated with luxury resorts and high-end escapes. But it is possible to experience the beauty (& luxury) of the tropics on a shoestring budget!
Our top pick for the cheapest tropical destination is Siargao Island in the Philippines. Siargao is the ultimate tropical paradise with untouched scenery of endless coconut trees, white sand beaches, tiny islands and the clearest blue water you may have ever seen!
There is also plenty to do on the island for those backpacking and up for some adventure. From surfing to scooter rides, visits to lagoons, island hopping, partying, yoga and plenty of incredible accommodation and restaurant options. To top it all off Siargao has some of the most spectacular sunsets you can imagine.
While Siargao is on the pricier side compared to other parts of the Philippines, compared to other tropical island destinations like Tahiti, Fiji, the Cook Islands, the Caribbean, it is very budget-friendly. There are options on the island for people who want to splash out on luxury resorts but also many options for backpackers (BONUS you can still visit the luxury resorts even if you aren’t staying there!).
You can get incredible restaurant meals for $5-10 while local food will only cost you around $1-2. Popular tours and day trips will cost no more than $35 (plus there are always cheaper options). Accommodation in a hostel will cost around $10, For $50 a night you could get a room in a really nice boutique resort!
2. Cheapest place to experience wildlife: Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is one of the best budget-friendly destinations in the world. It tops our list for the cheapest place to travel to experience incredible wildlife. If safaris, nature and experiencing animals in the wild is your thing, then you need to get to Sri Lanka.
For $20-30 a day you could survive and still enjoy eating out, decent accommodation and participate in all the wildlife experiences.
There are two main national parks on the island where you can do wildlife safaris. The first is Udawalawe towards the centre/south of the island. You are almost guaranteed to see elephants in this park. As well as all kinds of birds, monkeys, buffalo and more. Yala is another famous national park in south-east Sri Lanka. Yala is most well known for being the home to many of the islands rare leopards! You can experience these wildlife safaris for as little as $30 for an entire tour package.
Plus there is plenty of wildlife to be experienced in the ocean in Sri Lanka. Hikkaduwa is famous for sea turtles. The ocean off Mirissa is on the migration route of blue whales and is one of the best places in the world to see them.
Accommodation in Sri Lanka will cost you as little as $10 for a private room in a guest house. For $20 you could get a really nice room in a beachfront resort! Fancy restaurant meals will cost around $7 and local food is $1-2. There are also many places to enjoy delicious cocktails for a bargain.
Public transport in Sri Lanka is dirt cheap with local buses and trains. In fact, the Ella to Kandy route, which is one of the most scenic in the world, will only set you back $2. There is always the option to hire a tuk-tuk driver to escort you around the island privately.
Sri Lanka is one of the best value destinations. It offers bucket-list wildlife experiences for less than the price of a hotel room in many other countries!
3. Cheapest place for a European summer: Portugal
Lisbon is, without doubt, the best value destination in Western Europe. It is the perfect spot to experience a European Summer. Much of the country is situated on the wild Atlantic coast. This gives Portugal an abundance of summer destinations and activities.
Budget-friendly accommodation is available in abundance in traveller hotspots like Lisbon, Lagos & Porto. You can get decent dorms and private rooms for between 10 and 20 euros. A glass of beer will only set you back 2 euros and most restaurants won’t set you back more than 10-15 euros.
Lisbon is one of the coolest cities in Portugal (& in Europe) with beautiful architecture, views, culture, food and is set right on the waterfront. There are also incredible street festivals during the summer months, like the sardine festival, which turns the city into a heaving celebration.
Porto is another beautiful city to visit in summer. It is set on either side of a river, connected by lofty bridges. The river flows into the ocean just outside of the city centre, meaning beautiful beaches and surf are just a stone's throw away from the main town.
The Algarve region, however, takes the cake for summer destinations in Portugal. Our top pick is Lagos, where you can experience exquisite coast beaches, caves and beautiful turquoise waters.
Portugal is also rich in culture, tradition, historical architecture and mouth-watering food. It is also easy to travel around Portugal with budget-friendly buses and trains from every main centre. Reaching Portugal from anywhere in Europe is a breeze with an abundance of flights to Port, Lisbon and the Algarve.
4. Cheapest place for a cultural experience: All of India
India is a huge country which is rich in a large diversity of culture, ancient traditions and architecture. It is also one of the cheapest countries in the entire world to visit.
India is exactly how you would expect it: Hot, chaotic, dirty but there is never a dull moment. Expect to be slapped in the face when you arrive from the culture shock! But once you adjust to the environment India will be sure to open your heart and open your mind with a completely different way of living. India is steeped in thousands of years of tradition and history.
You can get beds in dorms for a couple of dollars. Really nice private rooms in hotels and guesthouses will set you back less than $10. You can eat local food for less than $1. Nice meals are unlikely to cost more than $10, even in luxurious places like Udaipur. Travel by train, bus and plane over the entire country is easy and costs very little money.
India is the ultimate destination for backpackers and budget travellers who are wanting to travel for extended periods of time and get fully immersed in the experience of India.
Some of our top picks in India to experience its essence are Varanasi, Rishikesh, Dharamsala, Udaipur and Jaisalmer in the north. In the south, don’t miss Munnar, Varkala, Alleppey, Gokarna, Hampi and Goa. From towering mountains to desserts to lush rainforest and tropical beaches, India has it all.
Each region of India has a unique culture, food, customs and language. You can experience a vast plethora of cultural experiences by touring from the north to the south and you won’t need to worry about running out of money!
India is a land of stark contrasts, which is most obvious when you visit the main cities like Mumbai and Delhi. Slums reside next to 5-star hotels and you can spend $1.50 or $100 on food.
5. Cheapest place for an adventure: Pokhara, Nepal
Pokhara is a beautiful lakeside town in the heart of the mountainous region of Nepal. It is also one of the cheapest places in the world, rivalling India.
Don’t expect fancy facilities and robust infrastructure, expect the opposite! But this is what makes Nepal so memorable.
Pokhara is the best place to set up a base in Nepal when you are after an adventure. It is popular with backpackers, long term travellers, motorbike enthusiasts and adventurers. It is the place where many of the best hikes start. You can also go hand gliding, paragliding, kayaking and even take a helicopter ride around the stunning mountain ranges.
Nepal is the capital of mountaineering in the world, with the highest peak, Mt Everest. There are numerous mountain treks you can take all over the country, with the Annapurna trek being the closest to Pokhara. You can experience world-class mountaineering for a fraction of the price of other countries around the world. Guided hikes can be pricey, but you can do self-guided tours if you obtain the appropriate licences. All hiking routes have ‘tea house’ accommodation which is very cheap, usually a room in a locals house. They will house and feed you for a very affordable price.
If yoga is your thing there are also plenty of budget-friendly yoga retreat centres in and around Pokhara.
There are many places around Pokhara to explore too, such as lakes and remote mountain villages. Here you can explore what life is really like for locals. Nepalese people are some of the happiest, friendliest and most hospitable people in the world who will often demand you stay with them for free!
For $5 or less you can score a cosy private room is a guesthouse, dorms are even less. Local food like dal bhat (rice and lentils), momos (dumplings) and thukpa (noodle soup) costs $1-2 and is so delicious.
Nepal is a mountain-lovers paradise. You can wake up to mountain views each day and rest in the tranquillity of Buddhist culture and tradition.
6. Cheapest place for city vibes: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Forget New York City! Kuala Lumpur is a buzzing city which is famous for its sprawling metropolis complete with the world’s tallest twin towers, temples, rainforest, shopping and incredible food. It is also easy on the purse strings! Making this one of the best places to get that city vibe for less
Most people only visit the airport in Kuala Lumpur for a stopover, but it is well worth making a trip to this city on its own.
Some of the best attractions in the city include Batu Cave, Merdeka Square, the Forest Eco Park and the twin towers. There are many vantage points where you can admire the cityscape views like the plethora of infinity pools on offer.
Kuala Lumpur is also a foodie heaven with some of the most incredible cuisines available. This city is famous for blending Malay, Chinese and Indian flavours. Yum! Head to the Jalan Alor night market to feast like a king for less than $5. The city also has an incredible public transport system that is efficient and super cheap. They even have free buses!
City centre hotels can cost as little as $35, which is a bargain for a bustling metropolis location. Chinatown and Little India have even cheaper accommodation options.
7. Cheapest place for world-class temples: Siem Reap, Cambodia
Siem Reap in Cambodia is one of the gems of Southeast Asia. It has an array of amazing things to do, incredible food and world-famous architecture.
Siem Reap is often regarded as a temple stop destination, where people stop over for a day to visit the magnificent Angkor Wat temple. The Buddist and Hindu temples of Angkor Wat alone is reason enough to add Siem Reap to your bucket list. Set in the jungles of Cambodia, it is the biggest religious monument in the world
Siem Reap has so much more to offer than just Angkor Wat. Enjoy incredible local delicacies, visit floating villages, explore the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia and immerse yourself in Cambodian culture. This will allow you to fully understand the significance of Angkor Wat.
Cambodia is touted as being one of the cheapest destinations in Asia, beating Thailand, Bali and Vietnam for affordability. Accommodation, food (and booze!) and transport will barely make a dent in your wallet!
8. Cheapest place to visit ancient ruins: Mexico
Mexico is home to some of the most fascinating ancient civilisation ruins in the world left by the Mayans. There are ancient pyramids dotted all over the country from Mexico City, Palenque, Oaxaca and of course the Chichen Itza in the Yucatan Peninsula. Plus there are numerous museums all over the country with one of a kind artefacts from when the Mayans ruled Mexico.
One of the best travel routes to experience the ancient ruins of Mexico, off the American tourist package route, is to start from Mexico City and work your way to the Yucatan Peninsula via Oaxaca and Palenque. You will find the real Mexico, outside of American hotspots, is incredibly affordable and rich in authentic history and culture.
Merida is an amazing destination to base yourself in when you are visiting the ruins located in the Yucatan Peninsula. It is much more budget-friendly then more famous places like Cancun and Playa Del Carmen and is full of much more authentic and indigenous culture. Hostels cost around $10 per night and cheap food is easy to find.
It is easy to get around Mexico by bus and there are plenty of flights into Mexico City and Cancun from America and Europe.
9. Cheapest country to visit in South America: Bolivia
Bolivia is one of the most affordable destinations to visit in South America. It is one of the poorest countries on the continent, which makes it super cheap! Visiting Bolivia means you are also helping to support the local economy.
Bolivia is vast and has a plethora of landscapes and wildlife to explore within reach of the main city, La Paz. It is one of the cheapest places in the world to enjoy tours and have once in a lifetime experiences without breaking the bank. You can visit the towering Andes Mountain ranges, witness the epic salt flats, drive on the most dangerous road in the world and explore the wonders of the Amazon jungle.
You will only need to allocate around $40 per day to experience all of what Bolivia has to offer. Fill your travel itinerary with world-class adventure, breathtaking landscapes and incredible nature in Bolivia and get more bang for your buck.
10. Cheapest country to visit for Middle Eastern vibes: Turkey
Turkey is an incredible country, located in both Asia and Europe. It will satisfy your appetite for Middle Eastern vibes and won’t cost the world! The currency in Turkey has been greatly devalued in recent years, meaning you can explore the wonders of this country for less.
Turkey is full of outstanding Mediterranean food, architecture, history and culture. The best place to experience this is in the beautiful capital of Istanbul. There are incredible mosques, markets and shopping to feast your eyes on. Turkey also has stunning natural scenery which sits alongside ancient ruins which go back to the very beginning of human civilization.
Must-visit spots to experience Turkey include the white mineral terraces and ancient Greek ruins of Hierapolis in Pamukkale. Cappadocia is another bucket list destination in Turkey. Here you can experience the world-famous sunrise hot air ballooning over the striking valleys and rock formations for just 100 euros. Plus Cappadocia is rich in ancient history from past civilisations who lived in caves.
The turquoise coast is another must-visit spot in Turkey. There is the beautiful seaside city of Antalya where mountains meet the ocean. You can also enjoy all-inclusive boat cruises around the turquoise coast for around 200 euros. If you compare that to Sail Croatia you know you are getting a bargain! These boat trips cruise through beautiful clear waters, stopping in pristine bays, small villages and islands.
You can also go paragliding in Oludeniz, which is one of the best spots in the world for this activity! It will cost a fraction to do this in Turkey than in other countries around the world. There is no shortage of ruins to spot on this coastline!
It is incredibly easy to get around Turkey either by night bus or plane for very little money. You can score really nice accommodation in all the tourist hotspots for less than $20. You can also pick up incredible and unique souvenirs for a few bucks. The food is also very affordable! Most guesthouses and hotels include a beautiful Turkish buffet breakfast in their room rate too! A traditional Turkish bath is a must-do experience when you are visiting Turkey as well.
Turkey is actually an incredibly safe country to visit, with friendly people who will bend over backwards to help you and make you feel welcome in their country.
There you have 10 of the cheapest places to visit in 2021! So stop letting your bank balance hold you back.
It doesn’t matter what kind of travel experience you are after, there is a budget destination for you.