There's a lot to consider when budgeting for a holiday, and while cheap flights and accommodation are important, so are all those hidden in-resort costs - no-one wants to have to sell an organ just to finance sundowners in that swanky rooftop bar. So, while getting to these budget destinations might cost a few bob, once you're there these countries offer great value...
10 CHEAPEST HOLIDAY DESTINATIONS FOR 2016
With beds for £1 and lip-smacking food for less than that, Cambodia is so cheap you can feel guilty for paying so little. Where once travellers often feared to tread, Cambodia is now very much on the Southeast Asia travel scene, particularly among backpackers and, increasingly, holidaymakers looking for five-star luxury without the price tag. Check out the De La Paix hotel - their rich wood interiors, in-room iPod docks and free WiFi access for about £250 (double room) a night is about as far from a grimey hostel as it's possible to get, and not painfully priced for the topnotch service they provide. It's also ten minutes down the road from the world famous Angkor Wat Archaeological Park. You can't leave Cambodia without visiting this iconic ancient site, preferrably at dawn to watch the sun rise behind Angkor Wat temple itself, a soothing and spectacular experience. Entry to this UNESCO world heritage site costs just £13 for a full day, although it's worth paying the £26 for three days - there are just too many temples to squeeze into one day and once the midday sun hits you'll want to take shade, or find some seriously strong air-conditioning.
A spending spree in Mumbai's designer shops and a stay in an international hotel in Delhi is going to cost you as much as it would in Dubai, but away from these enclaves the cost of living is ridiculously low. Even if you travel first class on the trains (the Rajdhani or the Shatabdi Express are the most comfortable to travel on, being fully air-conditioned with meals included in the ticket price) and take taxis everywhere, you’ll be hard pressed to spend a lot of money here and it's possible to live like a raj on just £15 (about 1,500 rupees) a day. India is the seventh largest country in the world, so unless you're planning an incredible six month sojourn, it pays to plan which of the country's 29 states you want to visit. Head to western India to Rajasthan for an assault of the senses in the state capital, the Pink City, Jaipur, or kick back on the white sands of Kerala in southern India. You can't fly all that way without seeing what may well be the most famous tomb in the world, the Taj Mahal, in Agra, northern India - just don't go on a Friday, it's closed. And don't worry about Delhi belly, you'll find some of India's best street food here in the capital, particularly in the narrow streets and bustling boulevards around Connaught Place in the centre of town. Pick your stall wisely - make sure they look clean and if they're busy it usually means the food is fresh, but it's still a good idea to pack the Immodium, just in case.
Unspoiled and undeveloped, despite its rise in popularity in the last few years, Vietnam is still super cheap, as well as a beautiful country. You can easily get by on £5 a day, including a guest house, local food, transport and a bit of drinking - a pint of Vietnam's most popular brew, Bia Hoi, costs as little as 50p. Hanoi, the former headquarters of French Indochina and then the administrative centre of communist North Vietnam, was declared the country's official captial in 1976 after reunification of this deeply divided nation began. It retains much of it's French flavour; you'll find some great patisseries producing croissants that rival Paris's finest right next door to an authentic _pho _noodle soup shack. Hanoi's Old Quarter, around Hoan Kiem Lake, is the best place to soak up some of the city's post-colonial charm - it's also a rare oasis of calm in this otherwise chaotic city, where locals go every morning at sunrise to practice tai chi. Experience Vietnamese rural life and see for yourself the lush, green rice terraces in and around the former French moutnain resort of Da Lat in the central highlands. The city is somewhat overrun with tourists (it's the main departure point for a lot of 'Easy Rider' motorcycle tours) but the flower farms, local tofu factories, cashew nut plantations, and of course the iconic rice terraces are worth stopping by to take a look, before speeding on along the coast southwards to Ho Chi Minh City, or Saigon.
Known as the Tibet of the Americas, Bolivia is a relatively remote bolthole, being one of only two landlocked countries in South America (the other is Paraguay). Wander along Calle Jaén, in Bolivia's administrative capital, La Paz, for a slice of South American life under Spanish colonial control - the street is home to some of the city's best preserved colonial buildings, whitewashed façades and ornate black grilled balconettes. It's also where you'll find a cluster of museums, including the former home of Pedro Domingo Murillo, who lead forces during the La Paz Revolution of 1809. See them all for the grand total of 40p and pick up your bumper bargain ticket from the Museo Costumbrista, which houses a ceramic depicting the hanging of the aforementioned revolutionary. As if that weren’t enough (there's more to life than museums?!) Bolivia perhaps boasts the best value food and drink in all of South America. For example, a bottle of Paceña beer generally costs less than £1 and a bowl of chairo (potato soup) about the same. Pack plenty of layers for when the sun goes down; although Bolivia generally endures hot and humid tropical summers, La Paz is surrounded by the altipano mountains and so stays cool all year round. Looking to turn up the heat? Head to Oruro, a city in the heart of the altiplano famous for its Carnival, held each year in February or March to honour the Virgin of Candelaria. Three hours by bus from La Paz and you could be taking part in this UNESCO protected presentation of indigenous and religious Bolivian culture, with more than 48 folk dance performances and a traditional parade.
Budapest, the historic Hungarian capital on the Danube, is a definite must-see on anyone's European tour. While it's not quite as cheap as it was before the budget airlines got there, prices here will leave plenty of cash in your pocket. Indulge in luscious cakes, get refreshed on strong liquor and sweat it out in the famous thermal spas. Stop for a sweet treat at Gerbeaud's for gourmet pastries too pretty to eat (almost), or visit a traditional kávéház (coffee house) for a calorific (who's counting?!) slice of _kürtőskalács _or chocolate chimney cake. With meals for £2, train tickets for £1 and rooms for £10, Budapest is a beautiful bargain. And you can visit those beautiful bathhouses, such as Gellert, for £10, with massages starting at less than a tenner. If you're after a quiet countryside retreat, check out Lake Balaton in Transdanubia, western Hungary. The biggest lake in central Europe, it's a popular summer retreat for local families looking to escape the big smoke during the summer heat - it's an easy one and a half hour train ride from Budapest and the biggest resorts are found in the cities of Siófok and Balatonfüred. Take a hike in the northern hills, swim in the lake or sail out on the cool waters, before enjoying some locally produced wines from the vineyards dotted across nearby Badacsony Hill.
There's Belize. There's Costa Rica. There's even Guatemala. But for real bargain-basement Central American value, plump for Honduras. The country isn't up there on the most-visited lists, but if you do decide to give it a go you'll discover white sand beaches reminiscent of the Maldives, diving to rival the Red Sea, and mega cheap food and drink - all while spending less than £20 a day. For the Caribbean at a fraction of the cost, check out the swathes of pristine beaches along Honduras's northern coast. One of the busiest centres along this idyllic stretch is Puerto Cortes, a bustling port famous for its trade in bananas with strong Spanish heritage, signs of which survive to this day - get out to Omoa, a picture-postcard seaside town with a colonial fortress to explore. If you're really serious about sniffing out the prettiest post-colonial towns, look no further than the quaint Spanish houses, ornate cathedral and packed plazas in Comayagua's historic town centre. A small city two hours drive northwest from Honduras's capital, Tegucigalpa, Comayagua was once the country's religious and political centre, but today its main draws are the colonial buildings and cute plaza cafés - bag a traditional Honduran baguette or bistek (steak) sandwich from café La Casa de Sandwich for about £1.50 and picnic in the nearby Parque Central.
Bulgaria's Black Sea resorts have undergone a bit of a boom with British visitors in recent years, probably because they offer a total bargain compared with traditional summer sun destinations like the south of Spain. If you prefer city breaking to beaches, capital Sofia offers hearty food, warm company, 'robust' drink and a comfy bed, all yours for £20 a day. Just a 20-minute subway ride from the airport terminal (30-40 minutes if you're travelling in by bus) you can satisfy your inner culture vulture in Sofia - the second oldest city in Europe is stuffed with museums and galleries, including the Musuem of Socialist Art and the National Literature Musuem. Soak up some summer sun and do a few laps down at Liulin Beach, with its three outdoor swimming pools, a sand area and a footie field - there's even a canteen to grab a slice of pizza post-exercise. Despite becoming a burgeoning holiday destination, many places outside of Sofia remain relatively untouched by bargain-hungry holidaymakers and the further east you go, the cheaper it gets. Want sun, sea and to save a few pennies? Head for Nesebar, a UNESCO World Heritage site a few hours south of Varna and a great spot to start your budget tour of Bulgaria's Black Sea coast. Although much of Nesebar's ancient city of Messembria has collapsed into the ocean, there are still plenty of old churches to admire and cobbled lanes to stroll along - buy locally produced lace to take back as a souvenir, just watch out for cheap tourist tat versions.
8. Sri Lanka
'With gossamer-fine sands, cloud-wrapped mountains, waterfalls, tea plantations and palm trees wafting in the breeze, Sri Lanka is the picture perfect paradise'... Ok, thanks tourist brochure. We'll concentrate on feasting on fish curry, trekking in the jungle and staying in hotels on the beach for tuppence. Well, not quite two pence, but you can live like royalty for under £25 a day. Modern tourism began to boom on this idyllic south Indian Ocean island in the 1960s, but it's somehow managed to stay on the sidelines of many a Southeast Asian itinerary, so it's still possible to pick up a low-cost luxury bargain. Stay at the five-star Cinnamon Lodge, located in Habarana, the epicentre of a cultural triangle encompassing Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Kandy. The swish suites here boast fantastic views over the tropical Habarana Lake - take it all in from your own private jacuzzi, while being served champagne by your on-call butler - or you can bag a single room, with all the same spa, swimming pool and dining facilities, from as little as £42 a night. If you can bear to drag yourself away from air-conditioned luxury, the temples, monasteries and stupa speckled throughout the surrounding countryside offer a window into Sri Lanka's Buddhist culture - 70% of Sri Lankans are Buddhist. If you don't fancy days on end temple traipsing, stick to the highlights: the Sri Maha Bodhiya (Bodhi Tree Temple) in Anuradhapura and the Sri Dhalada Maligawa (Temple of the Tooth) in Kandy, arguably the most sacred places on the entire island. Be warned, foreigners tend to pay higher entrance fees, although some tuk-tuk drivers might offer to sneak you in for free!
Due to the country's ongoing economic difficulties, the cost of holidaying in Greece is lower than it used to be. While it's still pretty pricey to stay on famous Greek islands like Santorini or Mykonos, pick a quieter Greek getaway like Paros or Skiathos and you can still while away the days in 28 degree heat, sipping ice-cold Mythos (between about £1.50 and £4 a pint depending on where you stay) for half the price. If you're all about pool parties and super-cheap shots, then Ios is the island for you, famous for its all-night raves and young backpacker crowd. Not got time for a full-on island-hop? Settle for a day trip to the Sardonic Gulf island of Hydra, just one and a half hours by catamaran from Athens and the spot for some of the best souvlaki (kebabs) you'll find anywhere else in the Aegean Sea - Pirofani restaurant has been dishing up this delicious drunk food for over 20 years and takes some beating when it comes to flavour and value for money. Not enough meat to satisfy your inner caveman? Sail across to Kefalonia (which you might recognise from the big screen adaption of the famous book, Captain Corelli's Mandolin) for a slab of traditional pie, filled with oozing meats and gravy, wrapped in a blanket of filo pastry. Ferries run regularly between the islands, but if departing from Athens head to the port of Piraeus to check the boards for updated prices and schedules - most of the Aegean Islands take about four or five hours to reach by high-speed ferry, six to eight on a regular one.
Flight prices to Ireland have tumbled over the past few years, meaning you can get to Dublin for less than you might think. Once in the Irish capital, stay at the central Generator Hostel and you could pay just £6 for your bed. Free things to do in the Irish capital include visiting the Chester Beatty Library, to check out its world-famous and dazzlingly expansive collection of rare books and manuscripts, and talking a walk with the deer herd in Phoenix Park - this is the largest enclosed recreational space in any European capital so there's plenty to explore. Do some budget shopping at the weekend Blackrock Market, Dublin's oldest, and sup on the central city's (rumoured) cheapest pint, just £2.30 in the Pavilion Bar at the cricket pitch in Trinity College. If you'd rather get out into rural Ireland, head to Galway, where prices are lower than the capital across the board and a weekend break could cost you about 20% less. You could spend some of those savings on the city's vibrant nightlife (thanks student population!) with a trawl through the city's pubs - where Guinness is around 15% cheaper than in Dublin - and the live music sessions at trad music pub An Pucan are free.
10 CHEAPEST TRAVEL DESTINATIONS FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Because it’s one of the South American countries with the lowest income per capita, Bolivia’s touristic offers are incredibly cheap: it is not at all unrealistic to say that you will most likely not spend more than $30 a day! In fact, independent travelers guarantee that you will get more for your money here than anywhere else on this continent.
And Bolivia is quite a place for backpackers, being recommended especially to those who care more to see amazing sites, like the ancient Inca trails, Lake Titicaca and the Amazon, than having all-inclusive treats inside their hotel.
2. BALI, INDONESIA
Even if the average expenses for a short-stay tourist in Bali are no longer as cheap as they used to be ten years ago, you would agree that it is still more than reasonable to pay $15 per night for a guesthouse room and $7 for a moped that will provide you with enough mobility to explore the amazingly picturesque local villages and temples.
Of course, there are some other great attractions that will not cost you a dime: Bali’s white beaches and public landscape gardens are waiting for you!
3. ECUADOR, ECUADOR
Well, if you decide that this year you can’t afford a trip to the Galapagos Islands, head for Ecuador instead! Here, you will need no more than $35 for a comfortable stay; seafood is a bargain (you won’t see those prices elsewhere in the world!), and you can get some nice local crafts for very cheap prices, too.
The capital’s tiled roofs and numerous church spires make Quito look a lot like an exotic and ever-sunny Prague! As you may already know, it is the second highest capital worldwide and it accounts for a thrilling visual experience because of its perfectly balanced mix of urban and ancient indigenous cultures.
Through the villages in the central highlands, a very popular sightseeing spot is a surreal green crater lake – make sure you put Laguna Quilotoa to your must-see list!
4. DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
You may have heard of this destination because it is often associated with mass-market resort tourism. However, if you take a step back from the all-inclusive travel packages, you will discover that in fact the Dominican Republic has a lot to offer to independent tourists as well. A good idea for saving some money is to have your meals in the local spots, which are easily accessible because public transportation is incredibly cheap.
While you’re busy saving money, don’t forget about the main sightseeing spots, such as the lagoons all over the northern coast and the incredible Barahona National Parks – they are truly inspiring!
Vietnam is definitely one of the bargain destinations in Southeast Asia for the year to come; enjoy it while it lasts, though, because recent market research in tourism show that its popularity is steadily increasing. What you will be particularly delighted with is the famously good and cheap traditional food. Note that, for example, most of the dishes come for as much as $2, while a full meal in a local restaurant will not cost you more than $5.
For transportation, we recommend you to get local rates in order to avoid paying touristic prices for services like bus trips and motorbike rental. Once you get there, explore the traditional villages and take a visit or two to the ethnic minorities’ markets – travelers who have been there mostly agree that you shouldn’t miss the markets in Can Cau and Bac Ha.
If you’re in for some exuberant dragon dancers, colorful fairs and great fireworks, then make sure you will get there for Tet, the largest festival in the country. Also, you will surely enjoy Vietnam’s great diversity of temple and pagodas which are a great reflection of the wide variety of religions in the country.
Now that the war is over, Serbia is investing a lot in its tourism. Even if you won’t find there the famous Croatian beaches or the amazing scenery from Montenegro, you can be sure of one thing: Serbia beats its neighbors hands-down when it comes to wallet-friendly food and drink.
Also, a basic hotel room will can be booked for no more than $25. The people in the Balkans are known as really energetic party people – so do your homework in advance and get some advice on the best clubs and bars if you are feeling like it!
In Serbia, all the roads go to Belgrade (which translates as “The White City”); actually, the capital city has just been nominated by Rough Guides among the 10 must-visit cities of the world in 2015 thanks to its spectacular scenery and new bohemian neighborhoods! The city will also provide you with a busy schedule of live music performances and jazz or traditional music festivals all throughout the year.
Another great vacation pick than will not drain your bank account is the country of Picasso and Don Quixote! Journals may be full of stories about the country’s financial concerns, but tourism is just as competitive as before the crisis began, only at much affordable prices; and yes, this includes the world-renowned flamenco classes in Seville!
Local fiestas on the coast, the surreal architecture of Barcelona, climbing in the high Pyrenees, or a city break in Madrid – there is plenty of choice for all kinds of travelers all throughout the year. And if you are here for the first time, keep in mind that this is a country that will create an addiction and a permanent long to return!
8. ANTALYA, TURKEY
There is no excuse to miss the Turkish Riviera, even if you are travelling on a budget! This beautiful place comes without expensive price tags and, as elsewhere in Turkey, the cost of every item is pretty much negotiable. Being located on the south-western coast, this fairy-tale-ish place will provide you with the best things to do and see.
It is famous for its crystal clear waters bathing the Mediterranean beaches, for ancient ruins filled with legend, but also for all-inclusive five-star waterfront resorts still much budget-pleasing than in other places in the world.
Kathmandu and Pokhara are Nepal’s tourist capitals – both find their places in top 5 cheapest cities to travel to, and they certainly do live up to the hype! The serene and picturesque towns down the Himalayas can provide you with decent rooms for less than $20 a night.
Trekking can add significantly to the cost, but if you’re not a passionate trekker you can have a great time in the dozens of restaurants serving non-expensive, but tasty local foods. Pubs and bars are packed with delicious cocktails using the local rums obtained through centuries-old recipes.
The Greek archipelago has plenty to offer to all kinds of budgets. A tour of the 17 monuments included in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites will guide your explorations and enrich you culturally; and you can customize it in order to best suit your preferences and budget.
The Greek cuisine won’t let you down either: local specialties are sensorial cruises among tastes and aromas; the Greeks have an ancient knowledge of combining exquisite aromatic herbs and spices in wise simplicity.
You will find yourself in front of a wide variety of ingredients for a perfect holiday, without paying an arm and a leg for it. Sun-kissed beaches, amazing food in cheap local tavernas, mythology, culture, vibrant resorts, and all-night parties – find them all in Greece! Among its 6 000 islands and islets, you can be sure you will find one with a character and a vibe that is just what you are looking for.