These days plenty of people are feeling pinched and the popularity of budget travel is on the rise. So what countries are the best bargains? These ten value travel destinations give you more than your money’s worth.10. The global economic crisis hit Icelandhard, shuttering its banks and sending its economy into a tailspin, but one good thing did come of it, Iceland has become a bargain again. Mid-range accommodations run US$80-US$180 per night, a 3-course meal is US$15-US$30, and a half liter of beer is US$5. From your base in lively and spirited Reykjavik, you can venture out to see glacial lagoons, geysers, volcanic craters, steaming geothermal spas and some of Europe’s most impressive waterfalls. And one more good thing: Iceland has its own lost cost airlines to get you there.
9. If any one country can be said to enjoy an ongoing reputation for being a great bargain, it’s Thailand. Once word gets out and the tourists start pouring in, prices usually spike, but not in Thailand where the typical hotel room still costs only about US$80 per night and a meal in a fine restaurant won’t set you back more than US$30. And there is so much to see and do in Thailand. The interior consists of tropical mountains and rivers abounding in gorgeous flora and fauna. Bangkok is a vibrant world class city, and the seacoast is necklaced with luxurious resorts and charming villages.
8. But at least one country in Southeast Asia has decided to give Thailand a run for its money. Long situated at the crossroads of Southeast Asian trade, the Philippines has a rich colonial history. Add to that a diverse natural environment of mountains, rivers, jungles and some of the world’s best waters for snorkeling and diving and you have a potential tourist Mecca. Fortunately, most of the world has yet to catch on, so the Philippines remains a flat out bargain. Mid-range accommodations run US$60-$US120 per night. A 3-course meal is about US$10 and a bottle of beer is less than US$1.
7. Another captivating destination just waiting to be discovered is Namibia. Boasting a diverse geography of mountains, deserts and coasts, this southeast African nation is keen to attract tourists. Devoted to ecotourism focused on Namibia’s abundant wildlife, the country takes visitors on safaris and to remote lodges where a seven night stay starts at less than US$75 per night. A three-course meal in Namibia is about US$3 and a domestic beer is about US$1.50. At those prices, just getting there is the main expense.
6. Low prices are often associated with a country bouncing back from hardship. That’s certainly the case with Nicaragua. Many people still remember the war and bloodshed of the 1980’s but Nicaragua today is a stable, functioning country where tourism is a major economic driver. To dangle a carrot, the country reaches out to visitors with prices that are deliberately kept lower than in neighboring countries like Costa Rica. Here you can get a good hotel room for US$50 per night, a 3-course meal for US$15 and a domestic beer for US$1.50. Nicaragua is an up-and-comer in the Central American tourist market.
5. One of the last bastions of reasonably priced, culturally rich tourism in Europe, Bulgaria stands out for its fascinating history, varied terrain, and mix of cultures. It also hits the mark for low prices. Long a bargain getaway for Greeks, Romanians and Germans, the rest of the world is beginning to wake up to the deal that is Bulgaria. Three and four star lodgings hover around US$75 per night. An ordinary meal in a restaurant is about US$10. And a 33cl bottle of beer will set you back a paltry US$0.75. At these prices it’s hard to believe you are still in Europe.
4. Australians have long known about the travel bargain that is Malaysia. Increasingly the rest of the world is catching on too. Malaysia offers warm weather year around, wonderful island life, fascinating culture and a dazzling world class city in Kuala Lumpur. But the best thing about it is the low prices. A bottle of beer will set you back a mere US$2.50, a delicious meal of unique regional fare can be enjoyed for less than US$5 and a night at a full service golf resort is about US$100 per night. It’s a whole lot for startlingly little.
3. Speaking of little, spunky little Latvia has won a reputation as the little country that could, standing up to its gigantic Russian neighbor in the 1980’s before gaining independence a decade later. This Baltic nation offers one of the best travel bargains in northern Europe. In Riga, the country’s showcase city, a good hotel room starts at US$40 and a meal at a top quality restaurant runs about US$30. Steeped in history and brimming with charm, Latvia has plenty to offer.
2. When it comes to first world amenities at third world prices, Argentina is second to none. This country’s tumultuous economic history has taken it from the highest heights to the lowest lows and back again, settling at a mid-range level for goods and services that are often better than expected for the price. Mid-range lodgings at amenity rich hotels in cosmopolitan Buenos Aires cost a mere US$40-US$100 per night. A gourmet meal only rings up at about US$25, and a taxi ride to just about anywhere is US$2. But here’s the kicker: outside of the city the prices are even lower. Yet with all that Argentina doesn’t take the prize.
So where is the best value travel destination in the world?
1. Nestled between India and Myanmar in Southeast Asia is a place once considered hopeless. Racked by political unrest and devastated by famine through much of the 1970’s, Bangladesh has quietly worked a revolution in the last two decades, assuming a global leadership role in green initiatives and steadily building up its tourism industry. Made up of lush low-lying jungles and swamps, and a long sandy coastline, Bangladesh offers trekking, canoeing, ancient Buddhist temples and tigers in the wild. With mid-range lodging at US$10 per night and meals at US$1, it is arguably the lowest priced travel destination in the world.