(Tim Leffel is a guest blogger and author from The World’s Cheapest Destinations.)
When most people plan a vacation, they choose a destination first and then try to make it fit their budget. Often this means all kinds of compromises on where to stay, what to do, and where to eat because of limited funds. For those who reverse the process, however, there’s less need to scale back or be frugal if they’re headed somewhere inexpensive.
Just because a place is a bargain, however, doesn’t mean it’s not a fantastic travel destination. Many of the great wonders of the world are in value-priced places and when you get more for your money you can splash out more on where you stay, drink, and dine. Here are a six travel bargains that are popular, but not expensive.
The USA’s southern neighbor is often a sub-$500 plane ticket away but is an exotic destination that feels far away, especially once you get away from the beach resort areas. It has a vibrant culture and one of the world’s great cuisines, plus a staggering variety of great handicrafts. You can walk among buildings that are older than Jamestown and hear strolling mariachi bands while you sip your tequila in an outdoor café.
Sample prices: $2 bar beers, $5 lunches, and $6 dance or symphony tickets
Now one of the world’s top tourist destinations, this is still one of the best travel values on the planet. With great sightseeing, gorgeous beaches, and a unique culture, the Thai people show more than 20 million visitors a good time by providing a wide range of experiences.
Sample prices: $7 massages, $3 pad Thai meals, and 5-star hotels for $80 or less
Once a war-torn wasteland, now a destination bringing in more than four million tourists a year, Cambodia is home to one of the greatest historic structures on Earth: Angkor Wat. This sprawling complex dating back to the 12th century is an awe-inspiring wonder. Beyond its nearby town of Siem Reap and the capital, the country is a placid countryside with a string of beaches on the southern coast.
Sample prices: $5 massages, $2.50 cocktails, and an all-day tuk-tuk driver for $14
With the double-whammy of a sputtering euro and a lingering economic crisis, Western Europe’s best bargain destination has become a steal for those traveling with U.S. dollars. While capital Lisbon gets most of the travel press coverage, the wine regions and smaller cities offer a laid-back vacation experience or summer beach break at very non-European rates.
Sample prices: $4 bottles of good wine, $10 fancy restaurant meals, and luxury castle rooms under $150 per night.
Receiving more than 10 million visitors a year, Morocco enchants them with kasbahs and winding medieval alleyways, bazaars and date palm trees. With the Sahara Desert to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the west, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north, there’s a great diversity of attractions and an exotic atmosphere.
Sample prices: $2 taxi rides, $20-$30 first-class train tickets, and evocative riad hotels for less than $40 a night.
Thanks to the popularity of Machu Pichu, Peru’s tourism numbers keep rising each year and the infrastructure keeps improving to match. Cusco, the Sacred Valley, and Machu Pichu comprise the itinerary for most, but Peru also has the Amazon jungle, a Pacific coast, and the continent’s oldest human settlements.
Sample prices: $3 meals of the day, $2 Cusco taxi rides, $15 Sacred Valley bus tours
Any destination catch your eye? You can browse our travel articles for tips and guides and don't forget to check out DealsPlus for weekly travel deals from popular airlines like Southwest and Virgin America.