Top cheap countries to travel for backpackers.

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Cheap countries to travel. We have been circumventing the globe backpacking for most of the last 5 years. Our aim is always doing as many cool things as possible while spending the bare minimum. This article is not about the countries where we spent the least money. Even expensive countries can be travelled without spending money if you hitchhike, camp, couchsurfing and live on bread and water. These were our cheapest countries traveling as frugal backpackers. Traveling independent using local transport, shopping at local markets, do most of our own cooking and staying in hostel dormitories. Some optional activities completely change the budget required to travel a country. These are listed as an expensive activity and were omitted from the avg budget. Without further ado these were our 10 favorite budget backpacking countries:

VENEZUELA – $5.31 per day

For a budget backpacking destination Venezuela can not be beaten. Living of $5 a day while staying in a private room and eating restaurant food 3 meals a day. It is a country with big economic problems. Inflation is 1600% and the minimum wage is $12 per month.

We spent VEF 107 999   ($155) in  29 days, thus VEF 30723 ($5.31) each per day including all food, transport and other expenses.

We had some great experiences backpacking in Venezuela. The people are very friendly and it really is a beautiful country, but traveling here is frustrating at times. The main annoyances being standing in line, the police, bad service, empty shops and crime.

Venezuela travel
Venezuela, the ultimate adventure-budget travel country. Cheap countries to travel

THE CURRENCY ISSUE

When we were here, September 2015, the official exchange rate was $1=B6, on the black market you could however buy B700 with $1! This means that a Coke will only cost 27c at the black market rate, but you will pay $33 for the same Coke at the official exchange rate! If you bring cash it is an unbelievably cheap country to travel. If however you draw money at an ATM or pay by credit card at the official rate it is maybe the most expensive country in the world.

BUDGET AND PRICES

Our average budget was $5.31 a day each all inclusive.

Some prices: 10 hour bus ride B1300 ($2), 600ml Coke B200 ($0.27), beer B35 ($0.05), Lunch (big meal, chicken, rice, salad, vegetables) B700 ($1), budget hotel double room B1700 ($2.40), fancy guesthouse on the beach B3000 ($4.20)

BUDGET ACTIVITIES

Most things, try not to get robbed.

PRICEY ACTIVITIES

Angel Falls, best deal we could find: B120 000 ($170) for the 3 day tour including flights, canoe rides, accommodation and all meals

CLICK HERE More about our travels in  Venezuela:

venezuela-pin

INDIA – $13 per day

India is an amazing country to backpack on a budget, everything you need; cheap transport, cheap food and cheap accommodation. There are some amazing things to see and do, think The Taj Mahal, tigers, sleeping next to your camel in the desert and Holi the festivals of colors. We loved India!

We spent about ₹850 ($13) per day

BUDGET AND PRICES

Guesthouse for 2 ₹700 ($10.50), Streetfood ₹100 ($1.50), Restaurant Meal ₹150 ($2.40), Bottle of Water ₹20 ($0.35), 12h train (sleeper class) ₹500 ($7.50), attractions  ₹500 ($7.50)

Cheap countries to travel
India is an unreal culture and nature experience! Cheap countries to travel

TIPS

Travel India by train! it is not only cheap, but a great way to experience the local culture. Long trips in sleeper class couches is the real way to go. See our India Train Guide CLICK HERE

Eat the streetfood, super cheap and I still drool thinking about fried dahl,  masala dosa and drinking cups of real chai.

COOL BUDGET ACTIVITY

Amritsar, The Golden Temple. Backpackers can stay for free in the dormitory for tourists, free meals. A unique cultural experience living with the Sikh pilgrims in their holiest place for a couple of days. Go and see the Wagah Border Ceromony between India and Pakistan.  See our  ‘Backpacking Amritsar. The Golden temple and Wagah border Guide‘. CLICK HERE

PRICEY ACTIVITIES

Sunderban Tiger Safari by boat INR4500 ($75) 3 days/2 nights all inclusive

CLICK HERE for more about our travels in India:

India pin

GUATEMALA – $13.13 per day

Exploring volcanoes, jungles, lakes and colonial cities made this an excellent travel destination. Cheap transport and food made a low budget possible We loved getting around using the colorful chicken buses. Living on cheap and delicious tropical fruit, tortillas and amazing local coffee made this country a favorite.

Total: GTQ 1619/$210 in 16 days,  $13.13 per day

#guatemala
The beautiful Semuc Champe, one of our favourite places in Guatemala. Cheap countries to travel

ACCOMMODATION

Dorm bed GTQ 50/$7.60, Double Room  GTQ145/$20

FOOD

We shopped at the local markets and spent about $3 per day each on food

TRANSPORT

We travelled around using the local ‘chicken buses’, transport worked out about $3 per day each.

TIPS

Go to Semuc Champey it is awesome, take your own food they don’t sell anything there, only a restaurant. Don’t let the hostel see your food.

PRICEY ACTIVITY

Hike up Mount Tajumulco. You can do a 2 day hike through an agency , prices are around GTO 400/$50, including transport (chicken buses), food, water, gear rental and guide.

CLICK HERE for more about our travels in Guatemala:

guatemala-pin

BOLIVIA – $ 13.90 per day

We spent BOB 1164 ($167) in 12 days thus BOB 384 ($ 13.90) each per day 

Bolivia is known as the cheapest country in South America. Here are some awesome attractions. The Uyuni Salt flats is a photographer’s paradise and was one of our highlights in South America. We were discouraged from hiking and camping on our own, due to muggings and robberies. Activities and tours were expensive like in all other countries. If you travel by bus and stay in hostels during your travels Bolivia will probably be your cheapest country in South America.

The Uyuni Salt flats is a photographer's paradise and was one of our highlights in South America.
The Uyuni Salt flats is a photographer’s paradise and was one of our highlights in South America. Cheap countries to travel

ACCOMMODATION

BOB 25 to 35 ($10-$12) for a double room per night. Hostel bed $7 per night.

FOOD

A set menu “menu del dia” at a local restaurants is good value for money at around BOB 6-10 ($2-4). It is normally a main course, a drink and sometimes a small desert. We often bought food at the market and cooked for ourselves.

TRANSPORT

A 11 hour bus from La Paz to Sucre (700km) cost BOB 80 ($11.50), 7 hour bus from Sucre to Uyuni (370km) cost BOB 70 ($10).

PRICEY ACTIVITY

Uyuni Salt Flats Tour. Driving around the world’s biggest salt flats for three days was an awesome experience. This is a great way to cross to the north of Chili.  The tour cost b$650/$94 per person for 3 days/2 nights including food, transport and accommodation.

CLICK HERE for more about our travels in Bolivia:

Uyuni pin

ARMENIA-$14 per day

Where is that?  it’s OK, many people asked me that. It is a mountainous country in the South Caucasus region of Eurasia, where Western Asia and Eastern Europe meet. So next to Turkey. The country is beautiful, safe, it is easy to travel here, has cheap transport and delicious street food. It was the world’s first Christian country and you can see mount Ararat, where Noah stranded The Ark from here.

Our budget was about AMD7000 ($14) per day each.

The Khor Virap Monastry with Mount Ararat in the background. According to the bible this is where Noah stranded the Ark. backpack Armenia
The Khor Virap Monastry with Mount Ararat in the background. According to the bible this is where Noah stranded the Ark. Cheap countries to travel

ACCOMODATION

A bed in a dormitory with an excellent rating is AMD2000 ($4.3) a double room AMD10 000 ($20)

FOOD

We liked the budget food in Armenia and lived on  beef schwarmas (about $1.50) and flat bread with cheese for less than a $1. Brewed Turkish coffee in Armenia was good, strong and cheap 250 AMD ($0.60), make sure you ask for a Turkish coffee and the price, Americano is much more expensive at about 800 AMD ($2.40).

TRANSPORT

You can easily go to all sites independent using marshutkas, the local public transport. These mini buses are cheap to use costing about 400 AMD (1$) for  a half an hour shared ride. We hitchhiked often in the Caucasus area and the friendly people in Armenia made hitchhiking here a joy.

CLICK HERE for more about our travels in Armenia

Armenia back pin

PERU-$15.50 per day

A cheap country to travel with some amazing  attractions e.g. Lake Titicaca, the Amazon and Machu Picchu. Unreal hikes that can be done on a super low budget. We did some awesome multi-day hikes here. Hiking made Peru cheaper not more expensive!   During hikes accommodation was free and food was very cheap.

We spent PEN 2008  ($ 592) in  37 days, thus PEN 54.20  ($15.50) each per day

Machu Picchu, beautiful and impressive
Machu Picchu, beautiful and impressive. Cheap countries to travel

ACCOMMODATION

Double room in a hostal PEN 52 ($15) per night. Dormitory Bed  PEN 17 ($5) per night.

FOOD

Breakfast (some bread and tea) included at most hostels. The best place for lunch is a menu at one of the local restaurants. A Peruvian menú is  a set meal including a starter (normally soup or a small salad), a main course, a drink and sometimes a small dessert. The price is PEN 5 – 10 ($1.5-3), we usually paid about $1.80 for lunch.

TRANSPORT

We often used buses, the prices varied, we paid about PEN 15 ($4.50) for a longer bus ride of 6 hours (380km). Shorter rides of around 2 and a half hours were about PEN 10 ($3).

TIPS

Buy trekking gear in Cuzco, it is cheap! We bought a National Geographic Tent in Cuzco for $38, we saw an identical tent in Argentina for over $200! (definitely not a fake)

PRICEY ACTIVITY

Machu Picchu entrance is $40 including Machu Picchu Mountain. Machu Picchu is amazing despite the 4000 tourists a day, a must see.

The Inca Trail -Prices for the 4 day group service Inca trail trek generally range between USD $560 to 1600 per person.

I recommend skipping the Inca Trail, hike a different route. There are many amazing hikes around Cuzco and several options to hike to Machu Picchu. The Inca Trail is the most famous and most touristy, this does not make it the best.

CLICK HERE for more about our travels in Peru

salkantay-trek-pin

CAMBODIA – $16 per day

Everywhere on the South East Asia backpacker’s trail is cheap to travel, Cambodia might just be the leader of the pack. Ticking all the boxes for a great budget backpacking country; sites, cheap food, accommodation and transport.

Budget about KHR 68 ($16) per day 

Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat Cheap countries to travel

BUDGET AND PRICES

Food in local restaurants is cheap, I loved the Lok Lak (stir fry beef and veg with lemon sauce) Amok (curry with coconut milk) fish or chicken for about 10KHR(2.50$) per meal.Transport was cheap, paying roughly $1 per hour of bus travel. A local beer is about 4KHR ($1).

Accommodation here is a bargain, paying about 12KHR ($3) for a bed in a dormitory and $8 for a double room.

TIPS

Phnom Pen is a cheap city with a lot to see. Sihanoukville is the beach party capital of Cambodia, cheap drinks and big boat parties, I did not really enjoy the crazy party scene here.

PRICEY ACTIVITY

Entrance to Angkor Wat is expensive at KHR80 ($20) entrance, but close your eyes and pay, it is a must see.

NICARAGUA – $17 per day

Great surf spots on the pacific side, good Caribbean diving, beautiful volcanic islands and amazing biodiversity. Combine this with cheap accommodation and food to make a great budget backpacker’s spot!

Our budget was NIO 500 ($17) each per day

Volcano boarding from Antigua was awesome!
Volcano boarding from Antigua was awesome! Cheap countries to travel

ACCOMMODATION

Double room in a hostal NIO 445 ($15) per night. Dormitory Bed  NIO 207 ($7) per night.

TRANSPORT

Transport with local buses was about $1 per hour.

FOOD

Shopping at local markets and supermarkets is cheap. We cooked for ourselves most of the time. The most popular dish to buy at local restaurants is gallo pinto (rice, beans, plantain and meat) about NIO100 ($3.40).

TIPS

We loved Little Corn Island! We stayed for 10 days on this great little Caribbean island, diving, snorkeling, running and drinking rum out coconuts that we picked on the beach!

PRICEY ACTIVITY

Volcano boarding Leon C814 ($30), Night Dive Little Corn Islands C1124 ($38)

CLICK HERE for more about our travels in Nicaragua

little-corn-pin

 VIETNAM – $17 per day

Buying a motorbike on a backpacker’s budget. Travelling around a beautiful country, with emerald waters and towering limestone islands topped by rain forests, oh yes and lots of rain. Drinking liters of great coffee and living of beef soup for lunch. Good diving and great adventures, I loved Vietnam.

We traveled around Vietnam for 2 months on a budget of about $17 per day each

#hoiann
Vegetable market in the beautiful riverside town, Hoi ann. Cheap countries to travel

ACCOMMODATION

A place to sleep is a bargain in Vietnam starting with dormitory beds at about VND68 000 ($3) and a double room for VND182 000 ($8). For about $15 you can get a double room with AC, flatscreen TV, Spa Bath, etc.

FOOD

We lived of Pho Bo (Beef soup) for about 20,000 dong ($1) per bowl, for 35000 dong ($1.65) you can have a plate of rice, any kind of meat and some salad. We drank a lot of coffee in Vietnam, Ca Phe Den (black coffee) for about 10.000 dong ($0.50).

TIPS

This is a great country to travel by motorbike. You can buy a bike for $200 and a month later sell it for the same. Even if you break down in the middle of nowhere, in  a little while someone will appear with a tool box that can fix any problem you can imagine, even replace your engine for not to much.

PRICEY ACTIVITY

Ha Long Bay boat trip 3 day 2 nights $70 , Hike Sapa Valley 3 day 2 nights $60.

CLICK HERE for more about our travels in Vietnam:

vietnam-pin

 MALAWI

Africa is not a great continent to travel on a budget. Activities and sites are very expensive and if you make use of overland trucks or shuttles transport costs a lot. Lake Malawi is beautiful, with tons of amazing things to do around the lake. I spent 9 months in Malawi and it is the cheapest country that I have traveled to on the continent.

Travel budget for Malawi $19 per day.

Cheap countries to travel
Some of the beautiful places to travel around Lake Malawi.Cheap countries to travel

Accommodation

Dormitory beds in a good hostel start at about MK5800 (8$) and a double room for MK18 120 ($25). Camping around the lake varies between $5-10 per tent.

Food

Shopping at the local markets is very cheap. A meal at a local market is about MK870 ($1.20) for a piece of chicken and nsima. Nsima is made from ground corn and the starch served with most meals. Local restaurants  charge about MK2175 ($3) for rice with chicken/beef stew. At a hostel or western restaurant a burger and chips goes for about MK3630 ($5).

Transport

Transport with a local minibus taxi is about $2 per hour. A local bus from Lilongwe to Mzuzu (354km) 6 to 10 hours is about MK7250 ($10).

Tips

Malawi is very cheap if you travel independent, shop at local markets and cook yourself.

PRICEY ACTIVITY

Scuba dive in the lake, warm water, good visibility and see thousands of colorful cichlids – MK32 670 ($45).

Go for a horse ride at Kande Beach, ride through bushes on the beach and take your horse for a swim! – MK32 670 ($45).

CHILE -$11.95 per day

Chile is the odd one out in the list, it is an expensive country. It was however possible to travel cheap.

We spent CLP 653 600 ($ 979,50) in  82 days, thus CLP 11 970  ($ 11.95) each per day including all food, transport and other expenses.

Our secret for traveling so cheap was camping, hitchhiking and couchsurfing. We never used public transport in Chile hitchhiking thousands of kilometers from the Atacama desert in the north to Punta Arenas in the south. We did many multi-day hikes in Chile and because we did it on our own it was very cheap.

budget Chile
Chile – We spent 64 amazing days in Chile, discovering some fantastic places while hiking on our own. Cheap countries to travel

 

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Cheap countries to travel.

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7 Comments

    • Thank you Leanie, glad you enjoyed the post! Please let us know if you have any questions. Safe Travels!

  • Fantastic list! I am almost ready to travel after reading this! You did such a great job researching these countries..

    I love Peru.. I love everything you stated here and hopefully I get to travel to Peru one day 🙂

    • Hi George, thanks for reading, glad you liked the article! The budget for each country was not researched, it is exactly how much we spent while travelling there 🙂 Hope you make it to Peru, safe travels!

  • This is an incredible list of travel possibilities. Retirement is just around the corner, and I will be selling it all and hitting the road. Thanks for this. I always eat the street foods and stay in the cheapo places. It really broadens your perspective on how the world operates.

    • Hello, Mary! Thank you for reading! We’re sure you’ll enjoy travelling and experiencing different cultures and meeting new people!
      Good luck!

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