What’s the thing that holds people back from traveling? Money. Well, guess what. You can actually hike the Andes in Peru or watch the jaw-dropping sunset in Boracay while sipping rum on the beach. This article will bust the myth that you have to be rich to travel and will show you that the only thing you really need is some inspiration. Here are 20 cheap countries to visit on as less as $20 per day.
1. Marrakech, Morocco
A year ago I jumped on a plane and jet off to Morocco for 2 weeks with tons of plans and a pretty flat budget. After spending several days in Marrakech, I concluded that it’s absolutely possible to have an awesome day spent in this bustling city for as less as $20.
While accommodation is considered as the biggest expense when traveling, in Marrakech you’ll find it quite affordable. A bed in one of the best hostels in the city Backpackers Grapevine Hostel cost me just $8 including a breakfast.
Eve / Little big traveler
There’s no better place for lunch or dinner than the central square Jemaa el-Fnaa. I spent an average of $5 for a meal that included harira soup with bread or veggie tagine or other local snacks always accompanied with freshly squeezed juice. The food in the supermarkets is cheap as well.
One of the best experiences you can have in Marrakech is drinking your $1 mint tea on some of the rooftop terraces surrounding the square.
There are many things to do and see in Marrakech for free like visiting some of the parks and gardens, get lost in Medina or visit the tanneries. However, if you are into museums, the entrance fee in most of them is around $1-$2.
As for transportation, a ride with a shared taxi (about 20 min) cost me as less as $0.60.
2. Saigon, Vietnam
Saigon is one of the unmissable places to visit in Vietnam. It’s a city full of life, interesting sights and with a buzzing nightlife, that deserves more than a short visit. The French colonial past of the city makes it architecturally incredibly interesting. The Notre Dame Cathedral, the Central Post Office and the National Theatre are all must-sees.
There’s an incredible number of temples and pagodas, lovely markets and even the skyscrapers such as the Bixteco Financial Tower, from where there is a lovely view of Saigon from above.
Claudia / My adventures across the world
Yet, the most interesting places to visit is the War Remnants Museum. This isn’t a merry go round kind of attraction. It is likely to have a strong impact on most, for it touches upon a difficult part of Vietnamese history. Yet one we should all know about.
As the rest of the country, Saigon is incredibly budget friendly. $20USD per day will go a long way in this city, where it is possible to find accommodation under $5 USD (Little Jasmine Hostel) and to eat on a mere $3 USD in one of the many street food places which typically serve delicious food.
Moving around the city is incredibly cheap, especially by moto-taxi. Just look for motorbikes at the side of the street where the driver is holding two helmets. That is clearly a moto-taxi. The best attractions in the city are either free (such as the Cathedral or the Post Office) or very budget friendly (so is the War Remnants Museum). The only attraction that may blow the budget is the Bixteco Financial Tower, which costs $10 to get in.
3. Addis Abeba, Ethiopia
Addis, as the locals call it, is located in the heart of Ethiopia. In the beginning, it seems super chaotic and as if getting from A to B is a true adventure. However, taxis are everywhere and their drivers do understand English very well.
Begin your day in Addis on Africa’s biggest open-air-market, the Mercato. It may seem like an entire city once you enter this market and it truly is. You won’t understand its order, but you may find yourself in colorful spice alleys, in coffee stores or in areas, where everything from tires to brakes is being sold.
Fancy some cheap souvenir shopping? This truly is the best option.
Clemens / Travellers archive
Another way of having a typical and cheap Ethiopian day in Addis is by indulging in the true coffee experience. To be honest, coffee in Ethiopia is amazing, wherever you go. Choose one of the many stalls with signs saying “Buna” and bring some time as drinking coffee in Ethiopia takes time. It will only cost you about 20ct and you’ll get a little cup of freshly brewed beans with lots of sugar.
You do not really have to go to a proper shop to have coffee. Choose one of the random stalls with plastic chairs and follow the smell of roasted coffee beans.
End your day with Ethiopian food. This is usually served on one big plate, which is covered in Ethiopian bread, injera, that looks similar to a French crepe. This will not be more than 1-2 USD.
4. San Marcos, Guatemala
Wandering along enchanting and narrow streets, wind chimes and dream-catchers lead you to a place filled with beauty and tranquillity, a magical village called San Marcos…
San Marcos sits on the northern shores of Lake Atitlan, a wondrous lake, surrounded by three volcanos. There is nowhere else just quite like it. Each village surrounding the lake has its own character and charm, you will struggle to find a reason to leave.
From the moment you step foot on the boat, you are greeted with kind, smiling locals dressed in colorful and traditional Mayan clothes. The boats are full of grinning small children on the way to school and kind looking women with large bags full of delights from their daily shop.
Orla & Serena / Global gorgers
To fully enjoy the wonders of San Marcos we’d recommend waking up early to enjoy yoga at sunrise, followed by a refreshing breakfast at Hostal del Lago. Next head on to the harbor to take in the spectacular views of the volcanoes smoking in the distance. Hop on the local boat and head to Panajachel where you can wander the colorful artisan markets, enjoying the craftsmanship of the locals.
Grab some local food from one of the many stalls before heading back to enjoy dinner at one of the many little eateries in San Marcos. We recommend Moonfish Café or Restaurant Fe, a quaint little restaurant serving a variety of tasty food!
The boat from San Marcos to Panajachel cost $6.50 (Return) and for the hostel, you’ll pay $7-$9 including free breakfast (Hostel Ahau). For lunch and dinner prepare around $4-$6. The market at Panajachel is free, as well as practicing yoga at sunrise.
5. Yangon in Myanmar
Yangon is unbelievably affordable, colorful, exotic and a lot of fun. It is no longer the capital city of Myanmar but is one of the largest cities in the country.
Yangon’s Shwedagon Pagoda is insanely gorgeous and appears to be sparkling over the city because it is built on a hill. The streets are dotted with small roadside tea stalls, the city has many parks and the locals are extremely humble.
Be sure to buy a longyi here, which is a sarong like local attire.
Sonal / Drifter planet
Yangon (and Myanmar in general) can be an expensive destination if you don’t research well in advance. The cost for a bed in a hostel can be as low as $5 a day (Little Yangon Hostel), meals can be as low as $2 or $3 in places where the locals eat.
Traveling around in local buses is super cheap. We paid less than $1 to go from Sule Pagoda to Shwedagon Pagoda. If you’re traveling with another person, you can easily find a guest house in downtown Yangon for $15 – $20 per night with breakfast. The entry to Shwedagon Pagoda is for $5 – $6 per person.
6. Istanbul, Turkey
If you’re only planning to spend 1-3 days in Istanbul, you’re best to base yourself in the Old Town area. There are lots of hostels available, but I was happy at Best Island Hostel where I stayed for $6/night. You have a view of the Hagia Sofia and Blue Mosque from the balcony). If you’re staying longer, you might like staying somewhere like Taksim. I stayed for two weeks split between Golden Galata Hotel and Paxx Istanbul, both less than $7/night. Airbnbs can be found from $10/night.
There are hundreds of attractions in Istanbul – the Spice мarket, and Grand Bazaar are of course free to enter. Furthermore, you’ll get free Turkish Delight samples. I’m not interested in history and found the Hagia Sofia and the Blue Mosque enough to look at from the outside. I preferred walking around different neighborhoods and patting all the cats. Alcohol can be expensive in Istanbul, so rather than go out drinking, why not volunteer to help feed the homeless. Free activities are abundant in Istanbul.
Jordan / Tiki touring kiwi
In terms of eating, try the various foods at the street carts found all over Istanbul. For less than a dollar, you can fill up on breaded goods to keep you happy for hours. For a unique experience, get an A’li Usta durum for 4 TL (about $1). Bistro type restaurants can be found around the city which is affordable ($2 – $5). Supermarkets are throughout the city too.
To get around, you’ll want an Istanbulkart which is useful for the metro, trams, and ferries. In general, expect to pay about $1/trip. If you love your walking, the sidewalks in Istanbul are generally good.
7. Bangkok, Thailand
My favorite city in the world Bangkok has something for everybody and every budget. The first time I went was on my honeymoon and I lived like a king for $100 a day but on recent visits, we’ve kept our budget to $20 a day per person.
When looking where to stay in Bangkok I suggest the Sukhumvit area and Lub’d Siam is an amazing hostel that I’ve stayed at three times. It’s in the best location in the city, it’s super clean, great place to meet other backpackers, and prices often $10 for a female only dorm.
Hannah & Adam / Getting Stamped
Bangkok is known worldwide for its street food and its prices are great on the wallet. Phad Thai for $1, mango smoothie – $1, 1 liter of water – $0.30, and even beers for $1.
There are a ton of things to do in Bangkok for free. The Khao San Road, Erawan Shrine, catch the sunset, relax in Lumphini Park, explore Chinatown. There are a ton of free temples or visit after hours. You can have a blast in Bangkok for less than $20 a day.
8. Luang Prabang, Laos
My week in Laos was one of the highlights of my whole Southeast Asia trip. I started in Luang Prabang, then headed down to Vang Vieng and finished up in the capital city, Vientiane. I feel like a lot of people skip Laos on their SEAsia trip because it’s a landlocked country and not as well-known as Thailand, Vietnam or Cambodia. However, Laos shouldn’t be overlooked. There’s just as much to see and do, plus it’s just as cheap for those looking to keep to a tight budget.
In gorgeous Luang Prabang, there is a wealth of things to visit, from witnessing the giving of alms by orange-robed monks to eating coconut pancakes and picking up souvenirs at the night market, to taking a dip in the fairytale Kuang Si waterfalls.
Amy / Page traveller
In Vang Vieng, many come for the tubing (floating down the river in an inflatable tube with a beer in hand), but just as many come for outdoor activities, such as kayaking or hiking, or to jump into the turquoise waters of the Blue Lagoon.
You can also head up the Mekong River to the jungles of Huay Xi or head down to the bustling city of Vientiane, taking in the views from the Patuxai building, tucking into a cake from a Eurasian patisserie or exploring the eclectic mix of Hindu and Buddhist sculptures at Buddha Park.
Accommodation – Tony Central Hostel: $6-$7 per night
Buses between cities – $6-12
Meals – $1-2 for delicious street food or US$5-7 in restaurants
Sightseeing – no more than $2 (e.g. Kuang Si Falls, Buddha Park, Phu Si Hill for sunset)
9. Galicia, Spain
This Northern Spanish destination isn’t necessarily low-cost or really budget-friendly. However, if we join one of the best ways to visit Galicia with this premise, we can indeed make it work for $20 or less per day.
The key is doing the Camino de Santiago (St.James Way), a pilgrimage walking route that comes from the Middle Ages.
Hostels (called ‘albergues’) are around 5€ and food can get really cheap too if you rely on supermarkets and keep your restaurant meals to one per day taking advantage of the daily menus most of the eateries of The Camino have (usually around 8€).
Inma / A World to Travel
On the other hand, transport is for free as you can do it on foot, biking or riding a horse and the best attractions and things to do in Galicia are also entirely free.
Let me know if you come, I am based here and will be happy to answer your questions!
10. Sumatra, Indonesia
Sumatra in Indonesia is an amazing place and is very much off the beaten path when compared to other islands in Indonesia such as Java and Bali.
I spent just under 2 weeks there, staying on an island in Lake Toba, the biggest volcanic lake in the world, trekking around Bukit Lawang and seeing orangutans, and then doing some incredible scuba diving in Pulau Weh.
My accommodation ranged from $3 to $7 a night. Some of these places were double beds in a private room, so if you’re traveling with a friend or partner you can even half these prices! Reggae Guesthouse (Tuk Tuk, Lake Toba) and Olala Cafe Bungalows (Pulau Weh) get a special mention for great accommodation at a low price!
Craig Russell / No Real Plan
Food, I was spending roughly $1-$2 a meal and eating many great local dishes. Transport is cheap also, with many of the buses only costing $6 or less to travel long distances. Taxis can also be cheap if you split as a group.
Yes some of the activities will put you over $20 a day (for instance the 2 day orangutan trekking was $70 including guide, food, and accommodation in the forest), but then if you have cheaper days at the beach, just exploring lakes etc, then it will eventually average out to under $20 if you budget correctly over the course of a few weeks.
Sumatra is not visited by many people, and that’s what makes it so special. It feels like an undiscovered gem that you have been fortunate enough to find and explore, and it is so cheap to do so!
11. Cusco, Peru
On our year trip through the continent, we tried to travel South America on a budget in some places it was quite easy, Cusco is one of them. Cusco in Peru is one of the most interesting and old cities in South America with a lot to see and to do from exploring Inca ruins to hiking the Andes and relaxing in hot springs.
The advantage of staying in Cusco for a while, compare to some other touristy places, is that you can do it on a low budget. If you stay in hostels, use local buses to move between the attractions and eat in local places you will be able to spend as little as 15US$ a day.
Campbell & Alya / Stingy nomads
If you want to visit ruins and museums add to this US$5 extra, some entrance fees are quite high for foreigners. In total $20 a day per person is not bad. Some of us spend more money staying at home. Average price for a dorm bed in Cusco (Tupackers Hostel) $5, for a budget double room – $10.
To use local buses within the city costs less than US$1. Buses to nearby villages between $2 and $4 depending on a distance. You can have a set meal (soup, second with sides and drink) in a local place or at the city market or about $2. To eat in a fancier place will cost $3.
A good way to go even more budget and to see some great places is to do independent hikes around Cusco. You don’t need a guide for any hikes except for the Inca Trail. There are three incredible trails that you can walk without a guide – Salkantay, Choquequirao, and Ausangate.
We did all three and it cost us only $6 a day each including food for the hike, transport to get there and back and staying in campsites. The hikes were the highlight of our stay in Cusco the scenery and landscape on the hikes were stunning.
12. Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Phnom Penh is the capital of Cambodia and has a lot to offer for visitors. You can not only find stunning temples but also learn a lot about the dark history of the country. Those experience don’t have to be expensive, though. This is what we spent in one day in Phnom Penh per person:
Around $4 for accommodation (Panorama Mekong Hostel), $1,25 for breakfast, $1 for a fresh fruit juice, $1 entrance fee for Wat Phnom Temple, $1,5 for lunch, $0,6 for a bottle of water, $1 for a coconut, around $3 for a dinner and $0,75 for a beer.
Vicki / VickiViaja
If your accommodation is more or less central you will see that most points of interest are within walking distance. But if you want to go to the Killing Fields or see the S21 Prison both located a little bit outside of town, you can either rent a motorcycle for around $3 a day or go by tuk-tuk. The whole tour by tuk-tuk is around $15. Try to find some people to accompany you, the more people you are the cheaper it is per person.
Moreover, you can enter most temples in Phnom Penh free of charge. Just the Wat Phnom temple costs $1 entrance per person.
All in all, it can be super affordable to discover Cambodia’s capital if you don’t get caught in any tourist trap.
13. Kyiv, Ukraine
Kyiv is the ideal budget destination for travelers currently as it is more affordable for travelers than it has ever been. The country has been plagued by a number of issues in recent decades but is trying to flee those issues and enter a world where the people have a say in things and not the other way around.
There are many issues the country has to fix, but the younger generations are doing their best to showcase their ingenuity and put Kyiv on the map. There are flight routes opening in Kyiv regularly and new cafes and bars are popping up by the dozens.
Megan / Meganstarr.com
I don’t like calling destinations cheap because cheap is such a sour word to me, but if you’re coming from the west, you will find Kyiv an extremely affordable destination. A metro ride costs less than $0.20, a coffee less than $1, and a nice meal less than $4 (depending on where you go).
You can find hostels for prices cheaper than in Southeast Asia (Never Give Up Hostel). There are so many reasons to make Kyiv, Ukraine your next stop but do be sure to put your money to the locals and independent businesses if at all possible. You can do this even by grabbing a coffee or craft beer at a small, local cafe!
14. Jaipur, India
Jaipur is one destination that holds much royal charm and still can be explored on budget. The apotheosis of Jaipur itinerary is mouth-watering food and history galore. You don’t need a lot of money to savor the
royalty and exuberance of the Pink city.
Getting Around the heritage city can be explored with ease and comfort using local transport. Local buses, cabs, auto-rickshaws, and cycle-rickshaws are easily accessible.
Anjali / Travel melodies
If you are a foreign national, I’d recommend that you use Uber as auto-rickshaw drivers take advantage and charge hefty amount. Bargaining is the key here. I’d recommend hiring transport for a day as it saves money and hassle.
Hotels and guesthouses near the railway station and bus station can be booked for as low as $8. Moustache Hostel with $2 per night is the perfect budget accommodation in Jaipur.
You can get a decent meal for as low as Rs. 50 ($1) in Jaipur. The Peacock Rooftop Restaurant is themed, award-winning rooftop restaurant serves Indian as well as non-Indian cuisine. Meal for two costs Rs. 300-500 ($4-$8) here. The lip-smacking lassi (a traditional yogurt-based drink) at Lassiwala is to die for and costs less than $1.
The Rawat Misthan Bhandar is famous for onion and dal kachoris (potato masala in a fried pastry) for Rs. 40 ($0.61). The Laxmi Mishtan Bhandar is a popular sweet shop in Jaipur which sees crowd all through the day. Do try their Ghewar (Rajasthani sweet.)
Amber, Jaigarh and Nahargarh Forts, Jal Mahal, Hawa Mahal, Jantar-Mantar, and City Palace. These are some attractions that can be visited on the minimal entry fee.
Travel off-season (March-May) as you get hotel rates cheaper than normal.
15. Stepantsminda, Georgia
Georgia should definitely be on everyone’s list of places to visit. The fact that it’s an affordable destination where you can easily travel the country on $20 per day makes it even more attractive.
To me, the most attractive thing about Georgia was the nature. That’s why I’ll give you a breakdown of how much does it cost to visit one of my favorite places in the country – Stepantsminda aka Kazbegi.
Bilyana / Owl over the world
Hiking to Gergeti Glacier in Kazbegi is the best thing that you can do there and it’s completely free.
The other reason people are visiting Kazbegi is the Gergeti Trinity Church, which is also free to visit. You can hike to the church for free (my way), or get a 4×4 jeep to take you there for 50 GEL / $20 (R.I.P. budget).
As for the accommodation, you can find nice guesthouses between 12-15 GEL / $5-$6 per night (Maria Guest House). In general, the food is around 10-20 GEL / $4-$8 and a beer cost between 2.50 – 4 GEL / $1-$2.
In Kazbegi village itself, you won’t need any transportation. To get there or back to Tbilisi, you’ll need to either take a taxi (good option if you split the cost between a couple of people) or marshrutka. The marshrutka ride costs 10 GEL / $4 one way. Hitchhiking is also easy and safe in Georgia.
16. Boracay, Philippines
Boracay is one of the most famous and most beautiful islands of the Philippines and internationally known for its incredible sunsets. Even though tourism is booming on Boracay, you can have a great time here while spending less than $20 per day.
Spend the night at Chill Out Hostel. At $11 per night, this is not the cheapest hostel in Boracay but here, the room rate includes an incredible and filling breakfast. Head to the beach for a relaxing morning swim after you get up and come back later for the full English breakfast. You won’t need any lunch after filling up with baked beans, sausages, toast bread and tropical fruits.
Mike / 197travelstamps
After breakfast, you can head back down to White Beach. The hostel is conveniently located around 5 minutes from the beach. Spend some time sunbathing or just walking around. If you get thirsty, head to the supermarket near the beach to avoid the higher prices of the bars. You will need around $2 for water or soft drinks. Even on a tight budget, there is no need not to spoil yourself every now and then. Spend around $3 for a 20-minute massage.
The best tourist attraction on Boracay is free – the incredible sunsets over White Beach. Grab a beer or a coke in one of the shops for $1 while you enjoy the scenery. Now, with the sun down, head back to the hostel for dinner. The restaurant at the Chill Out Hostel offers cheap and delicious food – you will get a filling portion for $3. And on party nights (which happens often in Boracay), they even offer free rum.
17. Bucharest, Romania
The capital of Romania doesn’t land on the bucket lists of many, but it’s a missed opportunity. Bucharest is alive with music, art, and culture. All you have to do is walk or catch a train to the old town to experience a vibrant mix of modern and gothic structures, parks, museums, art galleries, bars, and cafes. The energy is intoxicating and one-day isn’t enough. The best part? It’s all very affordable by almost anyone’s standards.
Picking a hostel within walking distance of a train line means you can get around quickly, easily, and cheaply. If you’re on a tight budget, I recommend free walking tours (they’re amazing!). Also, try to stay somewhere with a kitchen so you can make your own meals. Furthermore, limit yourself to buy coffee and/or beer when you’re out and about.
Charlotte / The Global Shuffle
Stay in a hostel dorm for around $8 per night, have breakfast at the hostel (there’s almost always a ‘free’ cupboard, so take your pick!), then skip down the road in the morning for coffee ($2.15). You can find even a studio like Studio Amzei for as less as $7.
Go on a free walking tour at 10:30am, or catch the metro to Izvor and head to the National Museum of Contemporary Art ($0.40 for the bus, adult/student $2.65/$0.66 for the museum), then walk or catch the bus to the Old Town and grab some lunch ($7+), before making the 12-minute walk to spectacular Cişmigiu Garden (free). From there, you can see a live show ($1.30+), and use the Couchsurfing hangouts app to find another traveler to grab a beer with ($1.85+) and stop at one of the hole-in-the-wall eateries for dinner ($3+).
18. Santa Ana, El Salvador
Can you spend a meaningful, interesting day for just under $20? Here’s how you can do that in Santa Ana, El Salvador. You can stay in a decent hostel in town for as less as $10 per night (Pool House Hostel).
The most wonderful highlight of the region is the Santa Ana volcano. It can be explored as a day trip from Santa Ana town and would cost about $12 per person. That includes local transportation, a guide, park entry fees, even a local snack – pupusa.
Bistra & Nace / The magic of traveling
If you go grocery shopping for dinner and cook, there you go – you had a day full of adventure, close to nature, a nice hike with cool views, and a smoking volcano for just under $20 per person. Before you enjoy your freshly cooked dinner, you might take a quick walk in the town center and contemplate the fine architecture of the theater and the cathedral, as well as the vivid colorful vibes around.
19. Langkawi, Malaysia
Malaysia is probably not known for a shoestring budget destination in Southeast Asia. However, Langkawi is not only a hidden gem for its beauty but for the fact that this place is a haven for budget travelers.
Langkawi is an island located up in the north of Malaysia right at the border to the south of Thailand. Not many travelers and tourist have any idea that Langkawi is taxed free island. This makes everything in Langkawi a lot cheaper compared to Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur. You can easily find a hostel dorm bed for $4-$5 a night (Clover Guesthouse Langkawi) or a hotel private room for $8. Go rent a motorbike or a scooter for $5 and enjoy it for 24-hours.
Mary / Move To Vietnam
The amazing Malaysian food can be enjoyed for as long as $0.50. I bought swimming goggle for $3 dollars and a boogie board for $9 dollars. A good quality sunglasses cost $4 and lasted for almost a year!
The fact that this is an island, there are many things you can do for free that will keep you busy whilst enjoying the warm weather of Southeast Asia.
20. Mexico City, Mexico
Mexico City is a great budget destination – this huge city certainly has a lot to offer for little money. Explore the historical center with its iconic sights such as the huge cathedral (actually, the biggest cathedral in Latin America) in front of the Zocalo, the National Palace, and the Palacio de Bellas Artes.
For a great view of the city, go to the rooftop café opposite of the Palacio – it will only cost you the price of a coffee! But Mexico City has even more to offer. Visit the famous Frida Kahlo house, spend a day exploring the river system of Xochimilco on a Trajinera (a traditional boat) and do a day trip to the nearby pyramids of Teotihuacan. You certainly won’t get bored!
Patrick / German backpacker
You can easily find a bed in a hostel dorm for around 10$ a night (Mexico City Hostel), and most sights around the historical city center are completely free of charge. If you’d like to see some other areas of the city, just take an Uber. Even if you’re going to the opposite side of the city, it will only cost you a few dollars. There’s also a lot of delicious and cheap street food, where you can enjoy your Tacos for less than 1$. Have a look where the locals go to make sure it’s a good place.
Mexico City is a great budget destination. You shouldn’t miss it since you’ll get a great experience even when traveling on a low budget.
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These are just 20 cheap countries to visit but by far are not all of them. With a little bit of research and a pinch of ingenuity, you’ll be able to travel almost everywhere in the world for as less as $20.
Have you traveled on a tight budget? Share your experience in the comments below.