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What Are the Emerging Cheap Destinations?

Montenegro - Flickr Creative Commons photo by Trish Hartmann

Montenegro – Flickr Creative Commons photo by Trish Hartmann

I’m in the thick of updating my Travel Writing 2.0 book to be released in November, but next year I’ll start the process of researching the bargain places to travel again for the 5th edition of The World’s Cheapest Destinations.

I think by now I’ve learned a thing or two about this subject and I often get commissioned to write an expert’s view article on the subject, like this one: 6 Popular Destinations Where You Can Travel for Cheap. That one was on places that are famous and get millions of visitors each year, like Mexico that’s a better-than-usual deal right now, and Cambodia which will be a perpetually great deal for years to come.

Each time I do a new edition though, I’m surveying the whole landscape to see what has changed. Turkey and Argentina were in the first edition but faded out as they got more expensive. Argentina may make it back in on the next edition, at least as an honorable mention. (Turkey is a much better deal right now too, thanks to a sputtering economy and a currency devaluation.)

My question to you well-traveled readers is, which places should I be looking at to research in 2016? Where have you been lately that was a screaming bargain or at least a terrific mid-range value?

The New Backpacker Hotspots?

I’ll be looking into a lot of places that were off limits when I put out the first edition at the end of 2002, like Myanmar/Burma and Sri Lanka. I’ll also be checking out spots that everyone avoided even five years ago but are now getting a steady flow of backpackers. These are mostly in Europe, with Montenegro and Albania at the top of my target list. Both are kind of scruffy, but the coastal views are divine!

Albania travel

Albania – Flickr Creative Commons photo by Artur Malinowski

Every edition I try to find good candidates to join Morocco and Egypt in Africa, but always end up coming up short. If you’ve spent time in an African country that was a deal for travelers—without requiring you to live like an impoverished local to keep the budget low—I’d love to get your comments. Especially if there’s more to do there than listen to live music and go to the local market.

I know for sure I’ll be returning to a few favorites for some on-the-ground research of my own, especially India and Nepal, but I could use some recent eyes and ears for some reality checks on the other places. If you want to see what countries were included in the last edition, hit the Amazon page, click “Look Inside,” and check the table of contents.

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David Whitley

Wednesday 20th of April 2016

South Africa is absurdly good value at the moment. The rand is well down, and food/ accommodation/ drink/ tours costs surprisingly affordable.


Tuesday 12th of April 2016

Venezuela :) black market currency exchange at 360 to 1 ! Is that right ?!


Thursday 8th of October 2015

Just returned from 2 months in Pune, India. I plan to return. Each month I'm there, I save 1K USD. I stayed in a shared guest flat often completely to myself with daily maid service including laundry for about $320/month (can definitely be done cheaper) About $300/month for everything else: 65 rupees per $-40-50 rupees for an auto rickshaw, 80-130 rupees for a good meal, 45 rupees for a double cheese omelet. 10 rupees chai. Dentistry is excellent and hugely cheaper than USA. Drugs are mostly less than Medicare D in US. I stayed in a large city with a lot of westerners so my trip was on the high end price wise. I'm a bird watcher and India has a huge number of species. People are nice, culture is awesome, food is great and it's cheap as hell. L

Morris McKinney

Wednesday 30th of September 2015

Hi Tim, Recently, I returned from a five month trip primarily to Eastern Europe that also included a bit of Asia. Georgia and Armenia are both interesting places to visit. They are quite cheap. Both countries adopted Christianity in the 4th century. Therefore, archeological sites featuring churches are a big draw. Both have good food, plenty of museums, friendly people, and lots to do and see. They seem quite safe. The cheapest way to get there is to fly from Istanbul. If you are willing to fly late at night, you can book a flight for about $75 one way to Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia. A $15, six hour van ride will transport you to Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. I stayed in a lovely two bedroom, two bath apartment on the 12th floor of a communist era building with fabulous views for $19 per night. It was in an excellent location and even had a washing machine. A similar two bedroom apartment in Tbilisi cost $32. There were plenty of options with lower prices. The alphabets of both countries are unique. They look similar to Arabic. Fortunately there is plenty of English also. It was easy to visit these two places.

Macedonia might be a good addition to Albania and Montenegro. All three have a lot to offer as well as low prices. Poland is both cheap and extremely interesting. It is safe and fun to visit Lviv in western Ukraine. The Ukranian currency, the hryvnia, has virtually collapsed. I found Istanbul and the other locations I visited in Turkey to be bargains.

Although you were asking for potential new countries to add to the next edition, two of your existing choices, Bulgaria and Hungary, are fabulous places and need to stay in your excellent book. Budapest is one of my favorite Eastern European cities. The last time it was this cheap to visit was when the communists were still in charge.

Thank you for all of your assistance in travelling to interesting places around the world at bargain basement prices.

Tim Leffel

Friday 2nd of October 2015

I really appreciate your input Morris. Last time I swung through that area I went to Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria. This time I need to hit some or all of the ones on your list. Looking forward to it.

Aleta H.

Wednesday 30th of September 2015

Vietnam and Cambodia are still cheap ... India outside the big cities...