18 Amazingly Cheap Places You Should Travel to in 2018

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1. Laos

I’m starting this list with Laos for entirely subjective reasons, as I’m about to travel there for a second time—and getting excited all over again.

Laos has an established tourist trail leading to the UNESCO world heritage city of Luang Prabang as well as the adventure travel hub of Vang Vieng. Nevertheless, Laos is a decidedly low-key place. Stay in small towns surrounded by rice fields and pokey karst mountains or simply unwind on an island in a Mekong riverine archipelago where you can spot rare Irrawaddy dolphins.

A room in a basic guesthouse costs just about ten dollars a night, and the food is cheap and super yummy. To get to Laos, you usually go to neighboring Thailand first, which has many budget flight connections from around the world.



Mexico is one of the cheapest places to travel in 2017 thanks to currency exchange fluctuations

The ancient Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza

2. Mexico

The exchange rate between the Mexican peso and currencies like USD and EUR remains much more favorable now than it was just a few years ago, making it even easier to travel in Mexico on a budget.

 Attractions include some gorgeous beaches, epic desert canyons, and Mayan ruins hidden in the jungle—not to mention the cultural and culinary treats of cities like Oaxaca, Merida, or Mexico City. A basic room costs as little as $20 a night, while seemingly every street corner has a small cart selling something cheap and delicious to eat.

Backpackers will love Mexico, but it’s also perfect for a bargain holiday. For best value, avoid resorts in Cabo or Cancun in favor of lower-key beach towns such as Tulum, Puerto Escondido, Zihuatanejo, or Mazatlan.

By the way, don’t brush Mexico aside based on safety concerns (especially based on US news). A few trouble spots aside, you’ll no doubt find the situation very different from what you imagine.



Prayer flags and mountain peaks along the Annapurna trail

3. Nepal

Oh, Nepal. You had me at “namaste.”

The hustle and bustle of Kathmandu and the kind nature of the Nepalese had me instantly enchanted when I visited this year. It got even better when I went trekking through the mountains: seeing the sun come up over the Himalayas while surrounded by some of the tallest peaks in the world is an experience I won’t ever forget.

Tour companies provide guided treks which can be pricey, but it’s possible to trek independently for under $30 a day (if you sleep and eat in tea houses along the way).

But Nepal isn’t just about its accessible and affordable trekking; other activities include jungle safaris, kayaking around Lake Phewa, and visiting the many temples of Kathmandu. With basic private rooms starting at $10, you won’t need to spend much.



An excavated cave monastery in southern Georgia (photo credit)

4. Georgia

No, not the US state! I’m talking about the country in the Caucasus.

Georgia is high on my list to visit in 2018 as the buzz around this country from fellow travelers just refuses to stop. While I have yet to visit, I wanted to include Georgia here as blog posts like these have persuaded me it’s now the place to go.

Situated at the edge of Europe along the Caucasian Mountain range, it’s clear that Georgia has so much to offer in both cultural and natural attractions. Accommodation is dirt cheap by international standards, with $5 dorms or $20 rooms not uncommon even in the capital of Tbilisi.

Don’t be surprised if I’ll be reporting from Georgia sometime this year…



The temples of Borobodur on Java

5. Indonesia

From white sand beaches to jungles and savannahs, from blue flame spewing volcanoes to remote rainforests where you can meet orangutans in the wild… Indonesia is a whole world to discover.

Bali is the main tourist hot-spot thanks to its many beaches, Balinese Hindu culture, and easy airport access. But consider exploring other regions as well: adjacent Lombok and Java are equally fantastic in their own ways. In 2015, I had a phenomenal time exploring the Komodo islands and Flores.



Typical southern European charm in Portugal

6. Portugal

Portugal is having its moment in the spotlight right now, as I’ve witnessed first-hand while living in Lisbon over the past year. Its tourism boom is fueling an incredible redevelopment (along with some inevitable issues), though it seems that at least for now Lisbon is maintaining its sunny charms.

 Of course, there is so much to see beyond just the capital. Consider the up-and-coming second city of Porto, the karst cliff beaches of the Algarve, the old university town of Coimbra, or the adventurous Atlantic archipelago of the Azores.

Avoid the most touristy places, and you can enjoy some argain prices. The 60 euro cent coffee is not a myth…



The old colonial town of Granada

7. Nicaragua

Compared to neighboring Costa Rica, the tourism industry in Nicaragua is still in its primordial stages. While the former is busy trying to attract high-spending ecotourists from the US, Nicaragua isn’t yet on everyone’s radar—and that’s a great thing as it has kept prices low.

 Nicaragua offers many similar experiences to Costa Rica at easily just a third of the cost. I loved the colonial town of Granada, the surfer hangouts along the coast, and the many nature- and adventure activities around the country (including climbing an active volcano). It’s a fantastic and arguably much underrated Central American destination.

You can still use the better-connected Costa Rica as your entry point to fly into; grab a cheap flight to Liberia, from where it’s just a 1-hour drive to the Nicaraguan border.