Traveling on a budget can sometimes feel like such a limiting factor that will eventually drive down the quality of your journey. Naturally, if you feel like staying at 5-star hotels and having expensive dinners at restaurants every day, you’ll probably be sorely disappointed on a low budget. But, if your goal is to explore other cultures, afford yourself a decent vacation, and travel the world, there are some cheap places to travel internationally that will sate all those needs.
One common belief is that all the cheap places to visit in the world have some inherent flaw in them – that they’re either dangerous due to political instability, offer a low quality of food, or are simply lacking in activities. The truth could not be the furthest thing from, as you’ll see from some of the cheapest countries to visit that we’ll display right here.
Nicaragua, $33 per day
It is said that Nicaragua is following in the footsteps of Costa Rica. If you’ve never been to Costa Rica or aren’t familiar with countries of Central America, what this means is that Nicaragua, still very cheap to visit, will not be that way for much longer. It is expected to become at least as expensive as Costa Rica, so you should visit it while it has a place in this article.
First and foremost, why choose Nicaragua? This country is blessed with some of the most widely varied landscapes in all of Central America. From active volcanoes rising above colonial towns to stunning beaches and wildlife reserves, there’s a wealth of experience to be earned from exploring the incredible regions of Nicaragua without paying a dime!
The local currency in Nicaragua is Nicaraguan Cordoba (NIO). At the time of writing this article: 1 USD = 33.7505 NIO
Check the current value at XE Currency Converter.
What to See in Nicaragua?
A great thing about Nicaragua is that most of what you can experience out there is completely free or extremely cheap – all you need is a spot of an adventurous spirit and a good idea of where to go. By free, we mean to say that there are no exorbitant entrance fees – you need only worry about getting there.
Masaya Volcano is a perfect spot for adventurers who’d like to see the most famous volcano in Nicaragua, besides the ones on Ometepe of course. However, unlike Ometepe, which can turn out to be quite expensive if you’re not careful, a visit to Masaya is as cheap as it gets. You can drive up the volcano these days as there’s an actual road leading there, or get a taxi from Masaya to the tourist office for about $5 (150 cordobas) and walk the rest of the way. Guided tours of lava and bat caves are $10 per person.
Once you’re there, you can marvel at the bubbling lava below you – the sight is much better during the night than it is in the day. Don’t stick around for too long, as the fumes for the volcano are quite unhealthy – 20 to 30 minutes there is enough to cause damage to you depending on weather conditions (especially wind).
Ometepe is a volcanic island rising from the depths of the enormous Lake Nicaragua, with two volcanoes to boast – Concepcion and Madera. The island itself is huge and exploring it may take too much time (or money), depending on how much of it you’d like to see. From the port of San Jorge, a ferry to Moyogalpa on Ometepe is about $2 (60 cordobas).
Our advice once you get there? Rent a bike. It will cost only about $5 for the day, which is much cheaper than getting a motorbike, 4-wheeler, scooter, or even a horse. If possible, arrange taxis and rentals beforehand, as there is much scamming going on!
Worthy mentions: Cerro Negro, another volcano that’s a tough hike, and even tougher descent (on a board). Beautiful Corn Islands are a paradise in the Carribean Sea, reached by plane from Managua. Playa Madera and Somoto Canyon are worth paying a visit as well.
Where to Stay in Nicaragua?
- Leon. Apartamentos Centrales is the cheapest bedding option out there, starting at as little as $5 for the night. Casa el Rio is a homely accommodation in the center of Leon for about $10 a night. From Leon, you need an hour’s ride to Cerro Negro.
- Granada. Hotel Lucys costs about $12 per night and lets you explore the charming colonial town of Granada. Rising above you is Mombacho, another volcano worthy of exploration and adventure, and Masaya is not too far either.
- Managua. You’ll find cheap bedding options easily here, ranging from $11 (Souvenir Hostal en Nicaragua) to $20 for budget travelers. A lot of options are available in the capital in terms of getting to know Nicaragua and its culture.
What to Eat in Nicaragua?
The rule of the thumb when visiting countries that have culture and cuisine very different to your own is mimicking what the locals are doing – eat where they eat – crowds of locals are a good sign of quality.
It goes without saying that this is not always necessarily true but it’s a good idea if you want to be on the safe side. Moreover, you’ll usually pay less than $2 per person for such a meal (up to 60 cordobas). Eating in restaurants in Nicaragua usually entails spending from $2-$5 per meal.
Read more: Summer Budget Destinations
You have to try gallo pinto (rice and beans), it’s one of the local specialties! Chicken meat is most commonly eaten around Nicaragua, so you’ll be certain to have healthy options! By all means, avoid eating western food while you’re here – not only will you miss out on local delicacies, but also spend way too much on expensive burgers and pizza.
Local bears are usually no more than a $1 for a bottle, and $2 in bars and restaurants.
Short bus rides cost about $0.25 on the so-called chicken buses while driving around town in a cab won’t get more expensive than $3. For longer destination rides, make sure to ask around for correct prices, especially if you plan on taking a bus to a different country.
Average Amount Spent/Day
Transportation and Activities: $15
Food and Drinks: $5
Laos, $28 per day
Traveling to Laos can mean a lot of things: exploring vivid landscapes, meeting a unique culture, or simply trying to complete the challenge of visiting all countries of Southeast Asia.
In any way, there’s so much to see, so much to do and taste that’s going to make for an unforgettable experience – and also a very cheap one at that. If you’re looking for the cheapest country to visit in this corner of Asia, then Laos is the answer.
The local currency in Laos is Lao Kip (LAK). However, you can use both USD and Thai baht as well sometimes. At the time of writing this article: 1 USD = 8.875 LAK
Check the current value at XE Currency Converter.
What to See in Laos?
Laos proves that landlocked countries can be just as magnificent and interesting as the ones that have access to the sea. You don’t need beaches and oceans when you’re in the presence of such an incredible country and all the historic and cultural wealth it exposes.
So, it’s important to know what you’ll be facing in this great Asian country and to make a decision whether you’d like to come or not accordingly.
One common way of visiting Laos is by crossing the border from Thailand in a little place called Huay Xai – that is, if you were in Thailand, to begin with. If not, Huay Xai is worth visiting either way. This little border town is known for the most spectacular cruises of Mekong River that can take you as far as Luang Prabang.
Read more: Southeast Asia on a Budget
There are many different takes on the cruise as well, the cheapest option being the slow boat 2-day ride to Luang Prabang which is usually $30. A speed boat ride is $40 per person, while there are also options that can cost up to $145, but include bedding along the way and a visit to Buddha Caves. It’s up to you to find the most convenient (and budget-friendly) cruise.
Huay Xai is also right next to the famous Bokeo Nature Reserve that works on the conservation of Black-cheeked Gibbons. What’s very interesting about this place – if you’re not one of the birdwatchers, who have multiple reasons to be excited about Bokeo – is that you can stay in treehouses only reachable by ziplining 500 feet above the jungle as part of the Gibbon Experience. To be fair, staying at one of these houses is on the more expensive side, costing from $190 for a single night to $310 for a three-days and two-nights experience. Definitely worth a visit, though.
Visiting Phonsavan will reveal the land of hills to you and introduce you to rural aspects of this country. All similarities with the cowboys of the western culture are intentional.
Finally, there’s a lot to see and do in the cities of Luang Prabang and the capital Vientiane. Plenty of cheap bedding options and activities are available there, and you’ll get to learn so much more about the lives of people there.
Worthy mentions: Vang Vieng, backpackers haven, located between Luang Prabang and Vientiane. Si Phan Don Islands are an interesting experience to have, especially in a country that doesn’t actually have access to the sea.
Where to Stay in Laos?
- Luang Prabang. Luang Prabang has a wide range of possibilities to suit every budget, from $9 per night that you’ll pay in Jasmine Hotel, to the more expensive Hotel Sofitel Luang Prabang (about $64 per night). If you want to be close to the old town, stay at Oui’s Guesthouse (about $29 per night).
- Vientiane. Much like any other serious tourist destination in the world, Vientiane offers backpacker hostels where you can stay for as little as $5 for the night. This increase to $11 for Sutchai Resort which is on the outskirts of Vientiane, while the hotels closer to Mekong River and the night market cost $30 and more.
- Huay Xai. Both Phonethip and Friendship Guesthouses cost less than $10 per night in this small town on the border with Thailand. It really is an interesting place to launch an exploration from, especially a cruise on Mekong River or a visit to the Bokeo Natural Park.
What to Eat in Laos?
Laos is not short on delicious food to try while you’re there, and it’s incredibly cheap.
Let’s start with delicious sien savanh – pieces of beef marinated in soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, garlic, and pepper. Then, there’s equally awesome Laab, a minced meat delicacy that comes with chilies, ground rice, fish sauce, and lemon juice. It is an original Laos meal!
Read more: Eating in London on a Budget
As usual, the same rule applies here – eat where the locals are eating. Getting one of the delicious Lao meals from a food vendor will cost about $2-$3 per meal. That means that you can spend about $10 per day on food and trust us, considering how much meat there is in Lao cuisine, you’ll be as full as you possibly can. The price we mention here includes the famous Beerlao, a beer so great and nourishing that you’ll often find in neighboring countries as well.
Tuk-tuks have a reputation for being exceedingly cheap but they are also inclined to scam naive tourists. In Laos, they can cost you anywhere from $3 to $6.25 for a ride around town (30,000 kips to 50,000 kips). Much like anywhere else in Southeast Asia, make sure the price is agreed upon before going anywhere.
However, in Laos, there’s actually a cheaper option called Songthaew (Jumbo). These glorified pick-up trucks can cost you as little as $1.25 (10,000 kips) for a ride, but they operate in irregular intervals and can be quite crowded at times. Just wave it down when you see one and get onboard!
Bus fares are usually about $4 for local distances and $10 for intercity routes.
Average Amount Spent/Day
Transportation and Activities: $8
Food and Drinks: $10
Georgia, $16 per day
For such a small country, Georgia certainly features the most varied types of natural features. Take a look at what this unbelievably beautiful country where west and east meet has to offer to you.
The local currency in Georgia is Georgian Lari (GEL). At the time of writing this article: 1 USD = 2.850 GEL
Check the current value at XE Currency Converter.
What to See in Georgia?
The rich cultural and historic heritage of Georgia is not reflected just in its many towns, villages, and walled-off fortresses. No, it can also be recognized in the very rugged landscape of the country, comprised of many green hills, towering mountains, dark deep caves, and an overall abundance of rock and stone.
The unique existence of Georgia on the crossroads where west meets the east promises an experience you’re likely never to forget – and also enjoy to the fullest for incredibly small amounts of money. Indeed, it’s one of the incredibly cheap places to travel internationally.
There’s the majestic city itself – Tbilisi. From Betlemi Street, the Jewish quarter of the city to Abanotubani’s Turkish-style baths, this city breaths contradictories on your every step. Enjoy the sulfurous baths for as little as $10 (30 GEL). Sameba Catherdral, or Holy Trinity Cathedral, is the most amazing representative of orthodox architecture with a garden to boast – the visit is totally free of charge!
Make your way to Kazegi next – this small town provides the most breathtaking views of the Great Caucasus mountains – it’s a sight out of epic movies, and you’ll get to live it!
Read more: Visiting Europe in Winter
Worthy mentions: Lagodekhi Protected Areas are Georgia’s oldest nature reserves. Batumi and Svaneti are excellent getaways that will both teach you a lot about the history of Georgians and their people.
Where to Stay in Georgia?
- Tbilisi. Staying in the capital of Georgia is incredibly cheap, with prices ranging from meager $3 per night at Rustaveli Old, or the beautiful Guest House when in Tbilisi for $9 per night. You’ll find equally cheap bedding options across all of Tbilisi, as well as Georgia.
- Batumi. Batumi will require you to spend more money on accommodation than you might be ready to spend. Rock Hotel First Line is probably going to be the best budget option for you, costing roughly around $12 per night. The proximity of the Black Sea really inflates the prices in this town, so think twice before renting here.
What to Eat in Georgia?
There’s no need for us to emphasize how original and delicious the cuisine of Georgia is – we’ll dive straight into the best dishes you can find – khinkali! It is one of the must-eat foods in Georgia, and you definitely have to try it. Khinkali are stuffed pasta dumplings – if you’re thinking Chinese Soup Dumplings, you’re on the right path, just imagine them way bigger.
Khachapuri looks like an eye with an egg for its pupil and surrounded by a lot of bread with melted cheese and butter. It’s not the healthiest food you can imagine, especially considering that you’ll be dipping it into even more cheese, but it’s as Georgian as you’ll get. A must-have!
Eating the food in Georgia is extremely cheap and won’t cost you more than $6 per day, meaning you’ll be spending about $2 per meal (if you avoid the fancy restaurants).
Marshrutka is the remnant of soviet times, a yellow van that’s as cheap as they come – $0.35 for a ride around town, or $10 if you want to go to another city. Bus fares are even lower – $0.21 to be precise. That is a fare that you’ll find in very few places in the world, and you’ll be rewarded with a ride in a yellow bus around town!
Average Amount Spent/Day
Food and Drinks: $6
- Armenia – $19 per day
- Bolivia – $27 per day
- Colombia – $28 per day
- Turkey – $29 per day
- Peru – $37 per day