5 Incredibly Affordable Vacation Destinations
I wrote this piece for a financial blog in 2016.
I'd be willing to bet that if I asked you to list all the places your friends, family, and coworkers like to vacation, the list would consist mostly of Mexico, Hawaii, Cuba, and Orlando. We are creatures of habit, us bipeds, but did you know that if we think outside of the box, just a smidge, we might save a buck or two and have a vacation story different from everyone else’s? It’s true! Leaving the vacation comfort zone and heading out further into the world could actually result in a more affordable and enjoyable vacay. Check these places out:
Not only is Thailand incredibly affordable, but it’s a definite bucket list place, and I don’t just say that because they serve their rum in literal buckets. I say this because life in Thailand is so very different from how we live in Canada that it’s hard not to be in total awe the entire time you’re there. Bustling city streets full of tuk-tuks, and night-markets selling food on a stick for mere pennies, to tropical beaches and never-ending nightlife, Thailand has everything. Ride an elephant or visit an uninhabited island, maybe dive off a waterfall or try a plate of freshly stir-fried spicy cashew chicken, all for next to nothing. Accommodations in Thailand are so inexpensive if you’re willing to try a hostel or rent a condo or share your space. You could stay there twice as long as you might stay in Mexico and pay the same amount. Thailand is geared toward younger backpacking travellers, so the price point for just about everything is within a student’s budget. The tricks are to stay away from the tourist traps, stick to hostels or shared accommodations and eat what the locals eat. You won’t be disappointed with that fresh chicken satay you just bought off a street vendor. Trust me!
Must see places in Thailand:
Koh Phi Phi - this tiny boutique island is a hotspot for backpackers and fans of the movie, The Beach, which was filmed on the waterfront amongst the islands near Koh Phi Phi.
The floating markets in Bangkok - take a canal tour in a longtail boat and see one of the few markets in the world located entirely on water.
Phuket’s Bangla Road - The party never stops here! Whether you’re into Muay Thai fighting, grabbing a beer or heading to the beach, everything is a party on Bangla.
Thailand’s close neighbour, Cambodia, is even more affordable. It’s another backpacker’s destination, but because it’s not quite as popular as Thailand, you can find yourself paying even less for everything. There is also still an element of fear Westerners have when it comes to Cambodia. Once a war-torn country, landmines used to be a concern when travelling there, but no longer. These days, visitors to Cambodia testify that they wouldn’t even hesitate to bring their kids along. As long as you bring your common sense with you, it’s as safe to travel to, if not more, than Mexico. You will see a different way of life, that’s for sure, but you will not be taking any more of a risk travelling there than you would Fiji, Thailand or Indonesia.
Cambodia boasts the same gorgeous beaches you’ll find in Thailand or Mexico or Hawaii. If you visit, be sure to check out:
Angkor Wat - The “largest religious monument in the world” according to Wikipedia, Angkor Wat is a cluster of temple structures, nestled deep in the jungle, being swallowed up by flora rapidly. It dates back to the twelfth century and began as a tribute to the Hindu god, Vishnu. Since then, it’s changed to a Buddhist temple compound. It is one of UNESCO’s world heritage sites and one of those places you’ll never forget.
Phnom Penh - Cambodia’s capital, sitting snug next to the Mekong River, is a must-see destination, and one of the most affordable places to visit.
Koh Rong - 43 kilometres of white sand beaches? Yes please! Koh Rong is an island in the Gulf of Thailand that rises high out of the water. Its hills are covered in lush forests and hide waterfalls throughout. A true paradise, Koh Rong is a place you need to see!
Home of the trendy tapas-style dining, Spain is another backpacker's paradise. This makes it one of the most affordable, as well. Spain is our first developed country on the list, making it a destination that’s just a smidge more comfortable to travel to. Along with the affordability, comes an entirely new culture, tons of history and romance, great cuisine and the safety net of a developed country. If you hop the pond and check it out, you gotta see these amazing spots:
La Concha - Located in the foodie destination, San Sebastian, La Concha is a breathtaking beach considered one of the most beautiful in all of Europe.
The Sagrada Familia - a project that began in the late 1800s and is still yet to be completed, the looming, impressive basilica is a sight to behold.
Alhambra - This seemingly never-ending palace presides over Granada and has since the 14th century.
India is huge, bustling, affordable, and wildly different. No matter where you go, for the most part, you’re going to find cheap food, cheap travel, and cheap accommodations. Enjoy an exotic location without breaking the bank. Indulge in the flavorful cuisine, and the bustling sights and sounds and avoid coming home to debt! Some must-see spots in India are:
The Taj Mahal - Yes, I know this is a no-brainer, but it had to make the list. This stunning structure will absolutely blow your mind.
The Ganges - This mighty river is thought to be sacred in Hindu culture. It is also home to the endangered Ganges River dolphin.
Humayun’s Tomb - Located in Dehli India, this tomb is the final resting place of an emperor who lived in the 16th century.
I bet this is not a place that has ever crossed your mind to visit, but it really ought to be! Get the old-world charm of travelling in Europe, while saving your hard-earned dough! Bulgaria. Is. Gorgeous. Those same white sand beaches and turquoise waters as the Mayan Riviera dot the coastline of Bulgaria. The same medieval architecture you’ll find in Italy and London and Prague are sprinkled throughout the hillside. The same delicious ingredients you’d find in Greece or Turkey are everywhere in Bulgaria and the weather seems always to want to cooperate. Bulgaria has some of the oldest cities in all of Europe, and the nightlife is not to be missed. You can’t miss these places in Bulgaria:
Slanchev Bryag - Otherwise known as Sunny Beach, Slanchev Bryag will surely fool you into thinking you’ve landed in Tahiti. The beaches will take your breath, and the nightlife will take your sleep.
St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral - A Bulgarian orthodox cathedral, the St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral was built in the early 1900s.
The Rila Monastery - another UNESCO world heritage site, this monastery was built in the 16th century.
An affordable vacation doesn’t always mean a dull one. Here we have picked five exotic places to visit that won’t break the bank. This year, I hope you leave the all-inclusive box and head out there to see our world. You definitely won’t regret it, and you won’t come home to insurmountable debt.
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