After many years of traveling around the world I have come to the conclusion that I am a big fan of countries where you get a lot of bang for your buck! Every time I earn some money with my blog I calculate in ‘months in Thailand’. As Thailand is one of the best places to backpack in the world I stranded there a lot of times and it never really cost me more than $800 a month. In this list I will give you the best backpack destinations that I have visited and some backpack destinations for beginners.
On my first trip around the world in 2008 I literally had no clue where I was going. I just knew that there were a lot of countries to explore in Central America and that they were one of the cheapest countries to travel to as well, so I decided to take a leap of faith and booked a ticket to Mexico. After 5 weeks traveling through Mexico and Belize and Guatemala I ended up in Nicaragua.
Here I probably stayed in one of the cheapest hostels. I paid only about $1,5 for a bed. I admit there was no AC, but the fans did a great job too. Doing laundry was only $0,30 per KG but I a lost a couple pieces and was pissed I lost two expensive swimming pants in a week worth $80 a piece! It made me buy a new one, guess for how much? Exactly $1 and they were just as fine! LOL
There was one night I went out to a bar in Antigua and ran out of cash so I went to the ATM and took out $60 and got two notes worth $30. When I wanted to pay the guy said I couldn’t pay with a $30 note so he would star a tap for me as I was the only ‘gringo’ in the club anyway. When I wanted to pay my 8 rum-coke or so at the end of the night they were still asking for a smaller note as I only had to pay less than $10. Just like in the Philippines, the more rum, the cheaper the drink! Countries where alcohol is cheaper than water should definitely be rated as the best places to backpack in the world! Lol
It is no secret that traveling to Thailand is extremely popular with backpackers, but no wonder as Thailand has some amazing places to visit.
The country has some amazing hiking, jungle trekkings, endless temples, the bustling and unique city of Bangkok and of course the gorgeous Thailand islands and beaches.
One of my favorite polaces to go in Thailand is Koh Tao. It was scuba diving that once lured me to the island. In fact Koh Tao it is competing with Roatan in Honduras as the cheapest place in the world to get your Scuba diving certificate. Getting your PADI as many people name it cost about $250 including 3 days accommodation.
I have been living and diving on the island for a couple months and I can tell you that there is an amazing vibes and some great things to do in Koh Tao besides diving. The islandlife feeling is guaranteed and with daily sunset cocktails for about $3 that Thailand backpacking feeling can’t get any better. If you want some adventure you should climb up to the spectacular viewpoints in Koh Tao for some the best views over the island.
Renting a studio for one month cost about $300, for a 2 bedroom villa with a private pool you won’t pay more than $700. A tiny apartment in San Fransisco costs easily $2,500 a month, that means you can live 6 months on an island in Thailand. Still thinking that traveling the world is expensive?
Thailand is undeniable a cheap country to travel when you can find $1 beers in the supermarket and hostel beds for under $10. Some islands are more expensive than other find here which islands in Thailand are best for backpackers.
I have lived in Bangkok for a couple months not spending more than $500. How cheap is traveling in Thailand? Click on the link and I break down the prices for you. The Country of Smiles is also one of the best backpacking destinations for beginners and definitely among the best places in the world to travel solo. If there is one country where you sometimes will find more travelers than locals then it is definitely Thailand. I wrote a ton of blogs about Thailand, also including its safety issues.
I have only been one time to Laos and that was already 9 years ago when I was backpacking around the world the first time. I remember that I woke up a sleeping tuk-tuk driver for a ride of 15min that was supposed to be around $0,50, the going rate! He was a little upset I woke him up, refused to give me a ride, closed his eyes and went back to sleep. Later I thought damn this guy was right if someone would wake me up for $0,50 I would be upset as well. LOL!
Life in Laos looked like it stood still and everywhere I went there was this super laid back vibe. I rented a scooter in the South of Laos to explore the region for a couple days. I paid only $9 for 4 days for a nice motorbike. It was actually the first time I rode a bike with gears. It was a roadtrip to remember! I stayed overnight at an old grandma somewhere in a village next to a waterfall that was mentioned in the Lonelyplanet South East Asia on a shoestring. I paid only $3 and that included the best pancake for breakfast I have ever eaten. A huge pancake (probably with a ton of sugar), a couple bananas and a complete pineapple on it! It was more like a fruit platter on a pancake! This lady told me a story that she found $1,000 under the mattress one day and saved the envelop for about 2 months until an Australian backpacker came back to pick it up. She didn’t want any reward for it and the Aussies hit the road. Half an hour later they came back she said. A truck stopped in front of her house and the Aussies came back with rice for a whole year. The lady had tears in her eyes telling me the story. Don’t only travel here because it is the cheapest country in the world to travel but also do it for the amazingly lovely people!
Although traveling from one island to another can be a pain in the ass and time consuming, the price you pay for ferry trips in Philippines are a joke for Western travelers. Long distance ferries are only a couple bucks and are actually a great travel experience. Choose one of the many bunk beds all clustered next to each other and sleep on an overnight ferry that brings you from one island to another.
Street food will costs you as less as $1-$2, a haircut in is $2, consulting a specialist for my ruptured eardrum was $30. Some travelers are moaning about the Philippines becoming more expensive, but I guess those travelers are getting too spoiled. I admit I hardly take the ferries anymore and hop on a plane for island hopping in the Philippines.
But what about camping on Kalanggaman Island? Such an amazing thing even if you are not traveling on a budget! Or travel to Siquijor an island off the tourist trail! There are even cheap ways to make it to Palawan by boat, because you can’t miss island hopping in El Nido.
How can you not admit that traveling in Philippines is cheap if the rum costs more than coke, so a double shot rum coke is cheaper than a normal rum coke! Get it!? 😉 With this fact it definitely has to be listed as one of the most affordable countries to visit. Let me help you create an itinerary for the best places to travel to in Cebu.
Island hopping in the Philippines is a little more off the beaten path as it is not part of the banana pancake trail that draws everyone to Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. If you are debating to travel to Thailand or to Philippines then take a look at the differences in transportation, cost of living, food and many other things in my article.
Hostel and hotel prices in Philippines are going to make you smile!
Of course Indonesia cannot be missed in this list of best countries to go backpacking. A place where meals cost you less than $1 in local restaurants and an ice cold beer in a bar less than $2.
But wait Indonesia is NOT Bali, Bali is just 1 of the 17,500 islands in Indonesia. The vast majority though will go backpacking in Bali. Understandable… as it is the most popular place to visit in Indonesia.
Bali is one of the best backpacking destinations for beginners, but it also is getting way too crowded and prices are rising fast. In a lot of places in Java and Sumatra you will not even spend more than $5 dollar per day for food & drinks. Fruits on markets are incredibly affordable, hotels costs less than $20 and you can find the most amazing waterfalls around. If you like to go off the beaten path in Indonesia I can recommend you to head to Sulawesi and check out the amazing things to do in Tana Toraja. This is the area of the walking death, no jokes!
When traveling around Bali I recommend you to get a scooter. This way you will get the feel with the island, because if you don’t I feel you miss most of what it is going on this beautiful island. For some people it is hard to believe that renting a scooter in Bali only costs $3 per day.
Want to swim with manta rays? It is not as expensive as you think! Check out my Nusa Penida blog on how to explore the rough coastline, chill on deserted beaches, driving from one amazing viewpoint to another and stay in some unique treehouses.
The real adventure traveler should head to Lombok and do the Mount Rinjani trekking to almost 4,000 meter above sea level (13,000 ft) or get high on magic mushrooms in Gili Trawangan. I told you already enough reasons why is Bali so popular, but check my article and find even more.
If you are traveling on a budget and looking for the cheapest country in the world to travel then definitely think about Central America as your destination. Over the last years Guatemala quickly became one of my favorite places to visit in the world. Very recently I traveled again to Guatemala and prices are still very affordable.Backing in Guatemala is very easy as there are public busses and cheap shuttles services throughout the country.
In 2008 I decided to study Spanish in Panajachel, an absolutely stunning village on Lake Panajachel. For 30h one-on-one with a Spanish teacher I paid $105 and for $55 more I stayed with a local family for one week, all meals included.
Some hostels in Guatemala are as little as $5 but the standards are good. I did not take part in any tours and traveled through Guatemala all by myself. Tikal, an ancient MAya city and one of the best places to visit in Guatemala was easy to visit on my own by public transport.
A cinema ticket in Antigua was only $2, but I remember a traveler saying that it was expensive. First I laughed but then I think he had a point as he told me he paid the same price for his hostel bed. 😉
One of the best things to do in Guatemala is an overnight trip to Acatenango Volcano. From the top of Acatenango you have the most amazing views over Volcan de Fuego an active volcano that erupts around 3 times per hour. The hike is very though, but the reward is unbelievable.
Central America is definitely among the best backpack destinations in the world. Guatemala is my favorite place, but I can also recommend the best places to visit in Honduras and the best places to visit in El Salvador.
Bolivia definitely deserves a spot In this list of cheap countries to travel. With 10 hour bus rides for just $6, pizzas for $2 and a bar where backpackers get free cocaine, Bolivia is a hidden gem. Fair enough, I am not sure if free cocaine should be a reason to travel to Bolivia. Also not sure if that last thing is still going on in La Paz’s Coke Bar.
When traveling my first time in Bolivia this was a popular bar to go. I swear I refused, read more about it in 30 amazing things I experienced while traveling the world to get to know what I think about using drugs while traveling.
However there are uncountable amazing places to visit in Bolivia that are much more worth it. Personally the Uyuni Salt Flats Tour that takes you across the Bolivian Altiplano in 3 days for less than $150 is absolutely amazing and one of my best travel experience of all time.
The things you will see on your way from San Pedro de Atacama in Chile to Uyuni in Bolivia re simply incredible. This tour alone is already enough reason why Bolivia deserves a prime spot in this list of best place to backpack in the world.
Another amazing thing to do in Bolivia is mountaineering. I climbed up to the summit of Huayna Potosi over 6,000m (20,000ft.) and this 4-day expedition only cost me $120.
Hostels and hotels in Bolivia wont cost you more than a couple bucks per night, which makes it the cheapest country to travel in South America. Street food is super cheap and alcohol is often so cheap that you will get drunk for just a couple bucks. I start to sound like an alcoholic now! Lol.
The world’s most crazy tourist attraction is also in Bolivia. In La Paz you can visit San Pedro Prison and yeah it is illegal, but I managed to get in on my first visit to Bolivia in 2008. Shaking hands with convicted killers was a weird thing to do, it made a deep impression and when you are into dark tourism, this is your number one thing to do in Bolivia.
From South America we go back to Asia where Vietnam deserves a mention for its cheap transportation and damn it again cheap alcohol here. Lol. Did you know that some hostels in Vietnam give you free beer between certain times at night? Beer Hoi can be bought from street vendors for as much as $0,20 for a pint. No wonder that these hostels are rated as big party hostels. Look for them in the Old Quarter in Hanoi. The two most popular hostels are are: Hanoi Party Backpacker Hostel and Hanoi Backpackers Hostel – Downtown.
It is not only the beer that is cheap. There is also a thing called rice wine. It can be found on the menu for $1,5 for a 500ml. It comes in a random plastic bottle but don’t let that fool you. No one knows what’s the percentage of alcohol. As it was so cheap we ordered a bottle. Locals fill the top of the plastic bottle and skull the rice wine. You can feel it go down your throat and I assume that tells you how strong it is, right? We ended up sharing with a Vietnamese family next to us and after a lot of laughter and handing over plenty of rice wine shots the drunk dad decide it was time to go. He jumped on his motorbike put his little kids and wife into place and drove off! 🙂
Other amazing places to visit in Vietnam are of Halong Bay, the beutiful karst mountain islands in the north of the country withe hidden beaches and Sapa, the endless rice fields where you can sleep in a homestay of local tribe people.
Another amazing and popular thing to do in Vietnam is to buy a motorbike and driving around the country. This makes it one of the best places to backpack alone. You save transportation costs and you are free to go wherever you want. It is best to buy and sell your motorcycle through a Vietnam Motorbike Facebook Page.
Although this is a fabulous way to see the country I understand that it is not everyone’s cup of tea but don’t worry. Hop-on-hop-off tourist class busses drive you across the complete country for just $50 only. This makes Vietnam one of the most affordable countries to visit regarding transportation. In the South you should definitely take a tour to see the best things to in Mekong Delta after you saw the crazy motorbike city of Ho Chi Minh.
May be not directly a backpacking destination for beginners, but why not!? Traveling in Iran is an absolutely amazing experience and a far more authentic budget travel destination if you compare it with the ones in South East Asia. You don’t need to get off the beaten track in Iran you are already off the beaten track.
Welcome to the Middle East, a pretty much undiscovered region in the backpacking world! Traveling to Iran really surprised me and gave me an inside into a world we don’t see much of in our media. Because of its beauty, the relaxed vibe and the tourist friendly budget accommodations I considered Iran as one of the best places to travel on a budget.
How much do you think a 2-weeks itinerary for Iran going around the country and visiting the most epic places has cost me? Click on the link above to read how I was possible to do all that for as little as $300.
Not really part of the Middle East anymore but an Islamic country with a big European influence, a great mix of cultures and a very underrated country. Traveling to Turkey is always a good idea and there is more to see besides Istanbul and the coastal areas.
Check out my list of the most beautiful places to visit in Turkey and find hidden monasteries, UNESCO World Heritage sites, Maldives like beach in the middle of the country, the rugged Black Sea coast, Ottoman Empire cities, majestic mosques, ancient Greek cities and unique landscapes. Turkey is a great backpacking destination with cheap prices for food, drinks, accommodation and tours.
Renting a car in Turkey for 2 weeks was just $400, a Liter of gas less than $1. These are perfect conditions for an ultimate road trip and experience some of the best things to do in Turkey. Check out my ultimate 2 week Turkey itinerary for more info about the costs of traveling in Turkey.
So many travelers have told me that China was not the cheap backpack destination they had hoped for! But what did you do mate?
I traveled around China for exactly one month from Beijing to Tibet, to Chengdu and back to the East coast. Rode multiple bullet trains, took a domestic flight, experienced 3 times a 24+ hour train ride, did a 3 day tour to a secluded National Park, saw the biggest Buddha, met the Terracotta Warriors, explored the Chinese Wall, did a boat tour on the Yangtze River in Yongsue, explored Beijing, saw giant Pandas in Chengdu and that all for $900.
I guess you understand now why I think China is one of the cheapest places to travel in the world!
I know China does not sound appealing, but hey have you been there? Prejudice? Yes, we are all complaining about Chinese tourists around the world, but what is it really like to be traveling in China? Go and find it out, you will be surprised! Plus I told you already . There are endless amazing places to visit in China: culture, history, stunning nature and a lot of super cool adventures. I truly think China is among the best places to backpack in the world!
One of my favorite countries to visit is Nepal. Not just because it is one of the cheapest countries in the world to travel it also has the most magnificent landscapes and super friendly people. The Nepali people will make your backpacking trip one to remember for sure. On top of that you will hear the mountains calling all the time. The majestic Himalayan peaks are hard to resist.
When visiting Nepal for the first time in 2013 I thought I was definitely not the hiking type, but I totally fell in love with it. Don’t get me wrong I am still not that traveler that has his hiking boots hanging off his backpack. In fact I think that hiking boots are among the most overrate travel product there is. Check my packing list for Nepal for all the gear recommend you to bring with you for your trip to Nepal.
In 2013 I conquered the Annapurna range on my Nikes and Havaianas. In total I stayed up in the mountains for 15 days and guess how much money I spent? The total amount of $180 USD! That comes down to $12 USD per day and in return I got one of the best travel memories in my life.
Hiking in Nepal is a life changing experience that everyone should try. These majestic mountains make you realize that we humans are not as cool as we think. Nature is a beast and it is so unbelievably stunning! Beds up in the mountains all cost $1, meals start from $1 at the bottom, and will cost you $4 at base camp on more than 4,000 meters (13,000 ft) altitude.
Trekking in Nepal unites travelers. You eat all at the same time at the same table, there is no internet, no electricity and all you do is interact with random strangers that have the same goal and mindset. For this fact I would definitely recommend Nepal as being one of the most amazing places to travel solo and if you are looking for a budget destination where you get the most for your money then please put Nepal high on your list. Trekking in de Himalaya? Dont skip the Poonhill Trek or go off the beaten trek and do the Langtang Valley trek towards the Chinese border.
Another great budget destination is India. A lot of people start hesitating when they hear stories about traveling in India, but this crazy country has so much to offer it is undeniable one of the most amazing places in the world. Yes, India also is a very intimidating destination. But above all it is one of the cheapest countries in the world to travel.
Traveling in India will not hurt your wallet at all and in return you get to try amazing food, see spectacular landscapes and experience the most unbelievable things. To me India is one of the best countries to travel for food. Everyone warns you to not eat on the streets and to be really cautious with food and drinks, but when people tell me things like that I do the opposite. I try street food all the time, eat in local restaurants and totally love their delicious juices. I never got sick or anything like that.
India is one big travel adventure! Cost of street food: <$1. Restaurants: $2. Hostels: $3-$5. Some cities can be overwhelming at first, but there are some places where you can escape the bustle a little bit. India's capital was not really my favorite and therefore I think spending 24 hours in Delhi is enough, but please travel to Pushkar; you will love this holy Brahma town on the lake.
There is no need to sleep in hostels if you have a little bigger budget. Nice mid range accommodation in India costs around $8-$15 per room. I hiked around in the North of India where I slept for like $2 a night in a tent in the mountains. Cost of backpacking in India? Not more than $20 per day. I don’t think I need to tell you that this is one of the best places to travel on a budget. Looking for more of my India travel blogs click on the link.
14. Sri Lanka
Recommending people a Sri Lanka holiday feels a bit trciky. Personally I think it is an amazing backpacking destination, but if you limited on time, Sri Lanka can be tedious. I have been to this great country twice, but I describe it as a budget friendly destination and rather a place where I send travelers and not people on a holiday. Going around in Sri Lanka simply takes time and people on a holiday don’t want to waste time traveling around too much.
A train from Ella back to Colombo will easily take about 10 hours, but might only be around 200 kilometers. In first class a ticket will cost you about $25. The same trip can be taken in tourist class with the windows and doors open for only a couple bucks. This train ride though is rated among the most scenic in the world but be careful you might lose your iPhone trying to take a picture! Yes, that happened to me.
Cheap homestays can be found all around for as less as $10 per night for a double room. If you live like a local Sri Lanka is one of the best places to backpack in the world. It is may be not one of those backpacking destinations for beginners as traveling around can be an adventure and a hassle sometimes, but at least English is widely spoken which makes it a lot easier. Check out one of my first blogs ever: Traveling Through Sri Lanka In A Tuktuk.
One of my latest additions to this list of cheap countries to travel is Georgia. Some people consider it part of Europe and with that it would be the first country on the list from Europe. As you all know I love traveling in Asia way more as the value for money is simply the best in the world for backpackers. But in Georgia though you can take a 4 hour train for just $7 and going out for food won’t cost you more than $6. Even buying a lift ticket to go skiing won’t break your budget: $15.
The two biggest cities are Tbilisi and Batumi and they are full of world travelers and nomads. Meeting people when traveling to Georgia is easy. Where to go and what to do? Check my Batumi Travel Guide and Tbilisi Travel Guide.
If you book an Airbnb there is a big chance you get some free bottles of wine with it as Georgians love to make their own wines. And another reason why Georgia deserves a spot in this list of best places to backpack in the world is that is has the most easy-going visa policy. Europeans, Americans, Australians, Koreans, etc. get a visa for 365 DAYS! Say what!?!? 🙂
Very recently I was the first international travel blogger to be invited by the Ministry of Tourism Bangladesh to take a trip to Bangladesh. Especially travelers that are looking for cheap countries to travel AND unique destinations this is where you want to go next. If you travel to Bangladesh you won’t regret it.
This country is not where you get your amazing Instagram pictures taken, this country is absolutely f$*king unbelievable for adventurers like you. Please consider a trip to this amazing country, a more authentic travel experience is hard to find. Foreigners are like gods in Bangladesh and the people are the most friendly I have come across in the more than 100 countries I have visited so far.
There is no need to tell you that traveling to Bangladesh is cheap and affordable for almost everyone. Bangladesh is just one adventure after the other. Everywhere you look you see something you have never seen before. Click on the links above to get a feel of what I experienced traveling to this amazing country and see how I sat on top of a riding train!
How to travel on a budget
Now you know what the most affordable countries to visit are but that doesn’t mean that you know how to travel on a budget! Click on the link to read all my tips and tricks to safe money while traveling the world. Rather working while traveling? Then there are a bunch of options and you don’t always need a visa or a computer. Let me explain to you how!
Obviously Central America and Asia are the have the most affordable countries to visit, but there are also some unexpected places you would never think would be cheap to travel. In 2008 I went to Fiji, yes the honeymoon island in the Pacific and found out that budget travel was easy. Even some expensive countries can be done on the cheap but then you need to be a bit more creative and sacrifice a little more of your privacy. Seychelles on a budget? Yes possible too!
Some other tips on how to save money while traveling? Forget roaming cost and buy a local sim card, this way you will save a lot of money being connected to the internet. Dont think you are going to travel and you dont need your phone! Especially as a solo backpacker you are going to use it all the time. Nowadays this is one of the easiest ways to meet people. There are meet up apps, Facebook Groups and many more ways to reach out to other solo travelers.
Buying a local sim card is a must do! To show you how easy it is check for example my articles about buying a prepaid sim card in Indonesia or find out more about buying a sim sim card in Turkey.
Backpack destinations for beginners
If you are looking for the best places to travel on a budget than you found the right list. I have traveled to all of the following budget friendly countries at least once and made amazing memories in each one of them. I am not saying these are the cheapest countries in the world to travel but this is a list of some of the best places to travel on a budget. The best backpack destinations for beginners are mostly clustered in South East Asia for the very simple reason that English is widely spoken, there are heaps of travelers from all over the world around, getting around is super easy and on top of that these are some of the most affordable countries to visit. Think about countries like: Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Indonesia.
Looking for tips on how to pack your backpack? From my friend I got a valuable tip to use packing cubes. Try them!
I hope you enjoyed reading my article and you going to use the tips. If I missed a great backpacking destination for beginners let me know. Tell me what is for you the cheapest country in the world to travel? I am curious…
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Thanks you for keeping up with Traveltomtom!