The Ultimate Guide to Top Backpacker Destinations: From Unawatuna to Costa Rica

2023-08-03 00:30:47 - Drany Macley Drany Macley, the senior editor of Vytravels.com, brings extensive journalism background and over eight years of experience in travel writing and editing to the site, offering practical insights and first-hand knowledge through articles on innovative hotels, backed by a BA in Journalism from Ithaca College.

With so many incredible destinations scattered across the globe, it can be a daunting task for backpackers to decide where to go next. From the sun-soaked beaches of Unawatuna in Sri Lanka to the enchanting Kathmandu Valley in Nepal, the adventurous souls among us are spoilt for choice. Whether you're craving the bustling streets of Bogota in Colombia or the breathtaking landscapes of Iceland, this article will take you on a whirlwind journey to some of the top travel destinations for backpackers. So grab your backpack, put on your travel hat, and get ready to explore!

 

Unawatuna, Sri Lanka

 

sri lanka

Sri Lanka, located in South East Asia, is a hidden gem that is slowly gaining popularity among backpackers. Its unspoiled beaches, vibrant culture, and unique experiences make it a must-visit destination. Unawatuna, in particular, is a favorite among backpackers due to its relaxed atmosphere and a wide range of comfortable beachside hostels and resorts.

 

Kathmandu Valley, Nepal

 

Nepal

Nepal, with its stunning backdrop of the Himalayas, is a dream destination for backpackers. The Kathmandu Valley, in particular, is a treasure trove of world heritage sites, boasting an impressive collection of 130 monuments waiting to be explored.

The Rest Up Kathmandu Hostel, situated in the heart of several major attractions such as Swayambhu and the Garden of Dreams Thamel Chowk, is a funky and vibrant accommodation option that backpackers love.

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Bogota, Colombia

 

bogota

Colombia, considered one of the top backpacker destinations in the world, offers an incredible experience for travelers, especially in its capital city, Bogota. The La Candelaria district is a hub for backpacker accommodations, featuring cool bars and restaurants within easy reach of the city's major landmarks.

The Granada Hostel, located in the heart of Bogota, provides a central and lively atmosphere for backpackers to mingle and enjoy their stay.

 

Iceland

 

Iceland has gained popularity as one of the best travel destinations, known for its natural attractions such as hot springs, stunning mountains, and vast plains. The country also offers a thriving artistic scene in its capital city. The geysers, glaciers, thermal springs, and the distinct sulfuric smell in the air create a unique experience reminiscent of New Zealand's volcanic activity. Iceland is a must-visit destination for any backpacker seeking adventure and natural beauty.

 

Copenhagen, Denmark

 

copenhagen

Contrary to popular belief, Scandinavia, including Copenhagen, offers plenty of affordable activities for backpackers. In Copenhagen, you can explore the art scene in Christiania, and climb the iconic Round Tower for panoramic views of the city. Don't forget to indulge in delicious Danish pastries or try the famous cheesecake at Bertels Salon Kompagnistæde.

 

Koh Lanta, Thailand

 

Koh Lanta© Photo: iStock

Thailand has long been a popular destination for backpackers due to its great weather, fascinating culture, and lively nightlife. It is also known for being affordable, making it ideal for budget-conscious travelers. While the beaches of Koh Phi and Maya Bay can get crowded, consider visiting the quieter islands of Koh Lanta or Railay Bay. These islands offer a more immersive experience of Thai lifestyle and showcase the country's beautiful beaches.

If you're looking for accommodation in Koh Lanta, the Hub of Joys Hostel is highly recommended and popular among backpackers.

 

Palawan, the Philippines

 

Philippines

For an adventurous journey, Palawan in the Philippines is a destination that won't disappoint thrill-seeking backpackers. From zip-lining to shark diving, there are plenty of bucket-list experiences to enjoy here. The stunning natural beauty and diverse activities make Palawan a must-visit destination.

RELATED: Discover the Green list countries you can travel to from the UK this half term

 

Ometepe, Nicaragua

 

ometepe

Nicaragua in Central America offers a blend of luxury eco-resorts and budget-friendly backpacking accommodations. For an adventurous experience, head to the volcanic island of Ometepe. Here, you can hike a volcano, swim under waterfalls, and relax on beautiful beaches.

 

Cambodia

 

Mixing backpacker party trails with disappearing Southeast Asian traditions, Cambodia caters to travelers of every style and interest. Languid cities and towns provide the perfect setting to learn about the country's complex history, while beaches and palm-fringed islands offer pristine and almost deserted beauty. Cambodia's ancient temples are unmatched in their grandeur, and its culture and remote regions beckon to be explored by the adventurous.

 

Bolivia, South America

 

Bolivia salt flats© Photo: iStock

A visit to Bolivia promises a memorable experience, making it one of the most popular backpacking destinations in South America. The country offers affordable accommodation, stunning architecture, and, of course, the famous salt flats. The salt flats in Bolivia provide a breathtaking backdrop for epic photos that will be cherished for years to come.

 

Tallinn, Estonia

 

tallinn

Tallinn, the capital city of Estonia, is an ideal destination for backpacking in Europe. With its affordable prices and rich culture, it offers an interesting and accessible experience for travelers. Many major sights can be explored on foot, free of charge. Don't miss the opportunity to climb to the top of Linnahall, where you can enjoy panoramic views of the city and the Baltic Sea.

 

Arizona, USA

 

grand canyon america

Explore the wild beauty of Arizona, USA, by spending a night in the incredible Grand Canyon. One popular route is trekking from the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park to the south, taking in the awe-inspiring scenery and visiting unique attractions such as Ribbon Falls, a stunning waterfall tucked within the desert landscape.

 

Budapest, Hungary

 

Budapest© Photo: iStock

Embark on a European backpacking adventure in Budapest, Hungary. Not only is it affordable, but it offers a diverse range of attractions. Visit UNESCO World Heritage sites, explore the Széchenyi Medicinal Baths (the largest spa bath in Europe), and immerse yourself in the vibrant culture. After a day of exploration, indulge in some well-deserved pampering and relaxation.

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London, UK

 

london

You don't have to leave the UK for an exciting backpacking trip. London, the capital city, offers a plethora of fun things to see and do, with many attractions being free of charge. Explore famous landmarks like the London Eye, Big Ben, and Buckingham Palace. Take time to discover diverse neighborhoods such as Camden, Chelsea, and Shoreditch. London guarantees an unforgettable experience for backpackers.

 

Laos, South East Asia

 

tubing laos

Laos, located in South East Asia, is an ideal addition to a longer backpacking trip through Thailand and Vietnam. The country offers a perfect blend of adventure and cultural immersion. Whether you're floating down the Mekong River or sipping coffee in a local market, Laos will captivate you with its charm and simplicity.

 

East Coast, Australia

 

Sydney Australia© Photo: iStock

Embarking on a trip along Australia's East Coast guarantees the adventure of a lifetime. Starting in Sydney, you can explore iconic sights before making your way to Byron Bay, the Gold Coast, Fraser Island, the Whitsundays, and the Great Barrier Reef. The journey culminates in Cairns, offering a diverse range of experiences from vibrant cities to stunning natural landscapes.

 

Thailand

 

Thailand is a quintessential backpacking destination known for its rich culture, affordability, and abundance of sights and activities. From breathtaking beaches to dense jungles, traditional culture to hip enclaves in Bangkok, Thailand's well-established backpacking trail caters to both first-timers and seasoned travelers.

 

Vietnam

 

Vietnam is a country buzzing with energy and optimism. Its eclectic cities offer endless opportunities to uncover the country's complex history and indulge in mouth-watering street food found in colonial backstreets. Renting a motorcycle and traveling through the expansive Ho Chi Minh highway or embarking on a boat cruise through Ha Long Bay are just a few of the many exciting experiences Vietnam has to offer. With its mountain tribes, offbeat beaches, and beautiful countryside, Vietnam is a true paradise for backpackers.

 

Peru

 

Peru, with its world-famous rainforests, ruins, and beaches, is an amazing and affordable destination for backpackers. A little knowledge of Spanish will come in handy, as most of the population does not speak English. However, the laid-back and friendly vibe of the country makes it welcoming to spontaneous travelers. Start your backpacking adventure in Lima, the capital, and consider hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu or enjoying the beach town of Máncora. Backpacking in Peru guarantees an unforgettable and unpredictable adventure.

Exchange Rate:

1 USD = 3.34 Peruvian Sol

Inexpensive meal: 10 PEN ($3)

One night at a hostel: 30-35 PEN (-10)

Best Time to Visit: April to October. Rainy seasons vary throughout the country, but summer tends to be the driest.

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Spain

 

More affordable, exotic, and wild than other destinations in Western Europe, Spain offers a diverse and extraordinary experience. The country is vast and incredibly diverse, from Moorish cities in the south to the Modernista landmarks of Barcelona, and charming mountain villages. While the beaches are a major attraction, Spain offers much more than just a beach vacation. Discover the hidden gems and unique culture that Spain has to offer.

 

Laos

 

The real treasure of Laos is its people, and the fact that it ranks high on this list speaks volumes. A trip to Laos immerses you in a world of adventure and cultural exploration. Whether you're cruising down the Mekong River or savoring freshly brewed coffee in a local market, Laos is sure to capture your heart.

 

Portland (Maine) - USA

 

best backpacking destinations - Portland

📸: @hil.will

Trendy Portland, Oregon has long been on the traveler's radar, but have you considered adding Portland, Maine to your USA wishlist? While cities like NYC and LA have their appeal, venturing away from the big cities allows you to experience the true essence of the US. Portland, Maine offers a local and community-focused feel without the crowds. Explore the cobbled streets of the Old Port, indulge in the vibrant arts scene, and discover the city's unique boutiques and restaurants. Don't miss the opportunity to visit the oldest public art museum in the US and experience the renowned farmers' market and local craft breweries. The Black Elephant Hostel is the ideal accommodation, reflecting the cozy and cool vibe of the city with its warm, family-like atmosphere and colorful interiors. It's conveniently located near the Old Port, allowing for easy exploration of the city before snuggling up by the fireplace in the communal lounge.

 

Liège - Belgium

 

best backpacking destinations - Liège

📸: Follow @ahmedashoour on Instagram for more stunning photos of Liège!

Liège, located in Belgium, may have been overshadowed in the past, but it's rapidly gaining recognition among backpackers. As the country's fourth largest city, it boasts impressive architecture, cultural highlights, and mouthwatering cuisine. Despite its many attractions, Liège has retained its laid-back, small-town charm, making visitors feel right at home. Don't miss out on trying a Liège waffle, famous for its delightful explosion of sugar grains inside. Take a leisurely stroll along the picturesque Meuse River and explore the medieval buildings in the main square. For a true local experience, head to Place du Marché, a collection of traditional bars and pubs that come alive in the evening.

To enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of Liège, consider staying at Liège Youth Hostel. This stylish and chic hostel offers fantastic social spaces, including an on-site bar with pool tables, foosball, outdoor areas with ping pong tables, and a vibrant café for breakfast. Meeting fellow travelers is effortless here, and the hostel is conveniently located just 5 minutes away from Liège's best nightlife.

 

Hà Giang - Vietnam

 

📸: Follow @ourtasteforlife on Instagram for more breathtaking photos of Hà Giang!

Hà Giang, the northernmost province of Vietnam, is often overlooked by backpackers due to its remote location, far away from the usual tourist hotspots. However, this hidden gem is worth the journey. The provincial capital, also named Hà Giang, serves as the perfect starting point for intrepid backpackers. Rent a motorbike and embark on a thrilling adventure through the region's winding roads, where you'll encounter rural communities, charming towns, and ancient traditions. All of this is set against the backdrop of Hà Giang's stunning rolling green mountains.

For a memorable stay surrounded by fresh mountain air, consider NoMadders Hostel, located just outside the city. This rustic and family-run hostel offers affordable dorms starting at only £4 per night. If you're looking for a bit more privacy, treat yourself to a private hut starting at £20 per night. The hostel also features an outdoor pool, a jungle-surrounded patio, a bar, and a hot tub for the ultimate backpacker experience.

 

Gijón - Spain

 

best backpacking destinations - Gijon

📸: Follow @ellie_etlalune on Instagram for more stunning photos of Gijón!

Gijón, located in Spain's northern Asturias region, was once a sleepy fishing port but has now transformed into a vibrant destination for surfers, foodies, and party-goers. Solo travelers will feel right at home in Gijón, as it offers a lively atmosphere and a buzzing social scene. Take advantage of the al fresco drinking and dining options in the Centro district and immerse yourself in the local culture. Don't miss the opportunity to try Asturias' famous cider and witness the traditional pouring method, which involves pouring the cider from a great height. But before indulging too much, head to Playa de San Lorenzo, a beautiful sandy beach perfect for beach yoga and surfing. Gijón's relaxed and easy-going vibe is simply irresistible!

For an unforgettable beachfront experience, stay at Gijón Surf Hostel. This hostel is the go-to place for surf enthusiasts, offering affordable board rentals, lessons, and a convenient location near the beach. The hostel features a spacious social area surrounding a swimming pool, complete with a tiki bar, a restaurant, and fun activities like beer pong and foosball. Every night, there's even free yoga sessions to help you embrace the chilled-out spirit of Gijón.

 

Siargao Island - The Philippines

 

best backpacking destinations - Siargao Island

📸: Follow @marinechanal on Instagram for more breathtaking photos of Siargao Island!

Siargao Island, known as the wave-riding capital of The Philippines, is a true paradise for nature lovers. This stunning island is filled with natural treasures such as waterfalls, lagoons, caves, and lush jungles, all surrounded by beautiful beaches. Aside from its natural beauty, Siargao offers a vibrant nightlife scene, with casual bars and famous cocktail buckets. Make sure to attend the Jungle Party on Friday nights for an unforgettable experience. Don't miss the opportunity to watch the sun set over the ocean from the pier on Cloud 9 beach, while surfers ride the last few waves of the day. Siargao Island is a place of pure magic!

For the ultimate backpacker experience, stay at Mad Monkey Siargao, part of the renowned Mad Monkey hostel chain. This hostel features a massive social space centered around a swimming pool, complete with a tiki bar, a restaurant, and engaging activities like beer pong and foosball. Mad Monkey is famous for its wild events and bar crawls, and every night, the staff leads their tribe of travelers to the best parties on the island.

 

Surat Thani - Thailand

 

The Ultimate Guide to Top Backpacker Destinations: From Unawatuna to Costa Rica

Surat Thani, located in Thailand, may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of top backpacking destinations. However, this city offers an authentic Thai experience away from the usual tourist crowds. Start your day by exploring the city center, where you'll find crowd-free temples like the majestic Surat Thani Pillar Shrine. Immerse yourself in the local culture by joining the locals for a few Chang beers on the laid-back Ban Don Pier. From there, hire a longtail boat and journey through the canals that surround the city, enjoying the picturesque rural life and keeping an eye out for the impressive monitor lizards that inhabit the area. And of course, don't forget to indulge in some of the best Thai cuisine available, including classics like spicy papaya salad, pad Thai, and crispy pork, which can be found at the buzzing night market.

For an authentic and charming stay, check out Boundary Hostel and Cafe, a rustic family-run establishment located just two minutes' walk from the night market. This cozy hostel offers comfortable dorms, unrivaled hospitality, and a complimentary breakfast. The friendly staff are more than happy to recommend amazing local experiences, and when you're ready to move on, they can help you arrange transportation to nearby islands.

 

Iran

 

Following recent initiatives by the Iranian government to loosen visa conditions and reform the historic nuclear deal with the Middle East, Iran is becoming an increasingly popular tourist destination, according to The Daily Mail. While some may have doubts, one Base staff member, an Iranian native who wishes to remain anonymous, disagrees with the Daily Mail's article. According to this staff member, "Daily Mail is soooo wrong. There is no way Iran would become a top destination for backpackers. Why would people go to a country where you can't legally drink? However, places to visit in my opinion would be the city of Shiraz where you can visit Persepolis. Isfahan is nice too." The rest is up to you to decide!

 

Colombia

 

Colombia, a personal favorite of many travelers, has long been associated with negative stereotypes. However, those who have ventured beyond the popular tourist destinations of Peru and Ecuador will tell you a different story. Piers, a legendary Base hostel manager with magnificent hair, spent three months teaching English in the capital city of Bogota. According to him, Colombians are some of the friendliest and most inquisitive people he has ever encountered. The country's varied terrain offers endless opportunities for adventure, from the laid-back Caribbean coast to the intense football culture and the intriguing political and historical legacy that still resonates today.

best tourist destinations colombiaColombia - one of the best backpacking destinations in the world.

 

Nicaragua

 

backpacking destinations for beginners 1

On his first trip around the world in 2008, Tom, a well-traveled individual with a talent for cracking jokes, found himself in Nicaragua with little knowledge of where he was headed. He soon discovered that Central America was not only affordable but also filled with countries waiting to be explored. Tom's leap of faith led him to Nicaragua after traveling through Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala. During his stay, he experienced the affordability of the country, with cheap hostel beds and low laundry costs. He even encountered the unique situation of only being able to pay with smaller notes at a bar. Just like in the Philippines, the more rum he consumed, the cheaper the drinks became. Tom believes that countries where alcohol costs less than water should definitely be considered the best backpacking destinations in the world.

 

South Africa

 

South Africa has been on the radar for a number of years, but international tourism has truly blossomed recently. Simon, a marketing guru with a contagious sense of humor, is a born and bred South African who knows the country like the back of his hand. He recommends heading to the southern tip of Africa for incredible food, exquisite beaches, and the opportunity to get lost in the vast Kruger National Park while observing wild animals in their natural habitat. A trip to South Africa is an absolute must for any traveler's bucket list.

best places to go backpackingElephants in South Africa.

 

Tibet

 

When it comes to Tibet, we turn to Tom, an experienced traveler known for his intriguing anecdotes. According to Tom, Tibet is an incredible country, despite the ongoing political turmoil between the Chinese government and Tibetan natives. The landscape alone justifies a visit, with its awe-inspiring beauty. Tom recommends visiting the small western town of Lhatse, known for serving the best Momo's (Tibetan dumplings) you will ever taste.

 

Israel

 

Tom also has great insights into Israel, a country he describes as one of the most fun and exciting destinations he has ever visited. Jerusalem, the historical and cultural capital, is a treasure trove of winding streets and iconic landmarks. The old city's vibrant atmosphere is a result of its unique mixture of diverse cultures. Tom suggests taking a bus from the Damascus Gate to the West Bank city of Ramallah, where you can experience the friendliness of the Palestinian people firsthand. Don't forget to try Taybeh, the Palestinian beer, and engage in a game of Shesh Besh with the locals while enjoying a hookah. However, Tom advises travelers to keep an eye on safety cautions, as tensions and violence have escalated in Jerusalem recently.

jerusalem israelJerusalem - one of the best backpacking destinations.

 

Puerto Rico

 

Puerto Rico is a small yet diverse destination that offers something for every traveler. With its rainforests, rocky coastlines, surf beaches, mountains, and Caribbean islands, Puerto Rico is a true paradise. The historic capital city of San Juan is home to 16th-century forts, including the famous El Morro, and offers affordable options for accommodations, food, and a vibrant nightlife. To relax and soak in the island vibes, a visit to Rincon, a popular island off the west coast of Puerto Rico, is highly recommended. This island is renowned for its world-class surf, tropical rainforests, scuba diving, snorkeling, whale watching, and beachfront bars.

puerto ricoPuerto Rico - one of the best backpacking destinations.

 

Uruguay

 

Uruguay may not be the first place that comes to mind when thinking of backpacking destinations, but it offers a unique experience off the beaten path. Situated between Brazil and Argentina, Uruguay is often overlooked by travelers following the traditional Rio to Buenos Aires route. However, this little touch of paradise offers some of the world's best party beaches. One highlight is La Barra Beach, consistently named among the world's top party destinations. Experience the vibrant nightlife and enjoy the stunning beaches of Uruguay.

best backpacking destinations uruguayUruguay - one of the best backpacking destinations.

 

Cuba

 

Cuba has been featured in numerous articles as an up-and-coming destination, and Dave, a quirky and creative individual, recently returned from a trip to the country. According to Dave, visiting Havana feels like stepping into a nostalgic wonderland. Since the country was cut off from most of the world 54 years ago, it has retained much of its charm from the 1960s. From the classic cars to the architecture, every corner of Havana is a sight to behold. The streets are filled with vibrant Latin flavors, music, smiles, and friendly characters. With the recent renewal of ties between the US and Cuba, now is the time to visit before the crowds catch on!

 

Fiji

 

Fiji, a beloved destination among the staff at Base, offers a little something for everyone. Whether you're looking for a unique cultural experience or endless stretches of surf beach, Fiji has it all. The main island, Viti Levu, encompasses diverse landscapes, including volcanic lakes, mountains, and pristine coastlines for surfing and snorkeling. One standout attraction is the stunning Manta Ray Island, where you can snorkel with these magnificent creatures. Meanwhile, Beachcomber Island is known for its legendary party scene and communal accommodations, making it a must-visit for backpackers. Fijians are widely regarded as the happiest and friendliest people, ensuring an unforgettable stay in this tropical paradise.

fijiFiji - one of the best backpacking destinations.

 

Australia

 

Of course, Australia deserves a spot on the list! Australia offers a wide range of experiences, from its unique culture to its stunning surf beaches and natural wonders like the Great Barrier Reef and Fraser Island. One staff member who knows Australia well is Lydiane, a French-born Australian citizen who has fallen in love with the country. With its diverse landscapes and incredible road trip opportunities, Australia is truly a backpacker's dream. Whether you're drawn to the iconic landmarks or simply want to soak in the laid-back Aussie vibes, Australia has it all. Don't forget to stop by a Base hostel on your journey to say hi!

 

New Zealand

 

Last but not least, we couldn't forget about New Zealand, our second home. New Zealand offers breathtaking landscapes and diverse experiences for backpackers. Explore the country's volcanic lakes, hike through majestic mountains, learn to surf in Raglan, go white water rafting down the highest commercially rafted waterfall in the world, visit Hobbiton, go bungy jumping, skydiving, or hang-gliding—the possibilities are endless. Backpacker buses provide an affordable and flexible means of transportation, making it easy to explore the country and meet fellow travelers along the way. From the North Island to the South Island, New Zealand is a true backpacker's paradise.

Now that you have the inside scoop on the best backpacking destinations, it's time to start planning your next adventure!

 

Philippines

 

best places to backpack in the world 2

Despite the inconvenience and time-consuming nature of traveling between islands, ferry trips in the Philippines are incredibly affordable for Western travelers. Long-distance ferries cost only a few dollars and offer a unique and enjoyable travel experience. Passengers can choose from a variety of bunk beds grouped together, ensuring a comfortable overnight journey from one island to another.

For budget-conscious travelers, street food prices range from $1 to $2, while haircuts can be obtained for as little as $2. Even specialized services, such as consulting a specialist for a ruptured eardrum, only come to around $30. Some travelers may complain about the rising prices in the Philippines, but such statements seem to arise from a sense of entitlement. Personally, I have found it more convenient to opt for flights when exploring different islands in the Philippines, bypassing the ferry system.

However, have you considered the option of camping on Kalanggaman Island? This incredible experience is well worth it, even for those not concerned about their budget. Alternatively, there is the opportunity to travel to Siquijor, an island that is not frequented by tourists. Furthermore, there are affordable ways to reach Palawan by boat, ensuring that visitors do not miss out on the incredible island hopping experience in El Nido.

It is undeniable that traveling in the Philippines is cost-effective, especially when you consider that a double shot of rum mixed with coke is cheaper than a regular rum and coke. This fact alone solidifies its position as one of the most affordable countries to visit. If you're looking for guidance on the best places to visit in Cebu, I would be more than happy to help you create an itinerary.

cheapest country in the world to travel 2

Island hopping in the Philippines offers a less beaten path compared to the popular banana pancake trail that attracts travelers to Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia. If you're contemplating whether to travel to Thailand or the Philippines, I recommend examining the differences in transportation, cost of living, cuisine, and other aspects detailed in my article.

Accommodation prices for hostels and hotels in the Philippines are sure to bring a smile to your face.

 

Indonesia

 

Indonesia is renowned for its extensive collection of islands, making it a dream destination for backpackers seeking exploration. With approximately 15 to 18 thousand islands, depending on who you ask, Indonesia offers unparalleled opportunities for students to discover new and exciting territories. Consider starting your journey in Sumatra, where you can embrace the beauty of the morning mist from the comfort of a cozy lodge, listen to the calls of wild monkeys, or unwind next to a serene waterfall. Alternatively, Sumba Island is the perfect destination for morning yoga sessions on the beach. It is just a short 1-hour flight from Bali, a place that offers equally thrilling experiences such as snorkeling, surfing, and swimming.

Exchange Rate:

1 USD to 14,014 Indonesian Rupiah

Inexpensive meal:

30,000 IDR ($2.14)

One night hostel:

~140,000 IDR (-11)

Best Time:

April-May or September, when it’s off-peak season but still showcases beautiful weather.

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Guatemala

 

If you are on a tight budget and searching for the most affordable country to travel, Central America should definitely be on your radar. Over the past years, Guatemala has emerged as one of the most beloved destinations among travelers. Recently, I revisited Guatemala and discovered that prices remain incredibly reasonable. Getting around the country is hassle-free, thanks to public buses and affordable shuttle services available throughout.

In 2008, I decided to enhance my Spanish skills by studying in Panajachel—a jaw-dropping village located on Lake Panajachel. For a mere $105, I received 30 hours of one-on-one instruction with a Spanish teacher. To further immerse myself in the local culture, I stayed with a welcoming family for an additional $55, inclusive of all meals.

best places to backpack alone 1

While there are hostels in Guatemala with prices as low as $5, the quality standards are impressive. During my solo travels, I opted against joining organized tours and explored Guatemala on my own, seamlessly utilizing the public transportation system. Even visiting Tikal—an ancient Maya city often regarded as one of the country's top destinations—was an accessible experience through public transport.

A cinema ticket in Antigua, for example, only costs $2, prompting reflection on the price paid by fellow travelers for a simple hostel bed.

One of the highlights of Guatemala is embarking on an overnight trip to the Acatenango Volcano. From the summit, one can enjoy breathtaking views of the Volcan de Fuego—an active volcano that erupts approximately three times per hour. Although the hike is physically demanding, the rewards are beyond imagination.

Central America undeniably belongs to the select list of best backpacking destinations on Earth. While Guatemala remains my personal favorite, I also highly recommend exploring the best places to visit in Honduras and El Salvador.

 

Turkey

 

Turkey's awe-inspiring landscapes and unique history as the connection between Asia and Europe have made it increasingly popular among backpackers. Istanbul, Turkey's largest city, served as the political epicenter for both the Ottoman and Byzantine empires. Commence your journey by visiting the Istanbul Old Town and the centuries-old Grand Bazaar—a vibrant marketplace dating back to the 15th century. Hosting thousands of shops, it pulsates with the essence of the city, offering an immersive experience of Turkish culture and cuisine.

Exchange Rate:

1 USD to 5.26 Turkish Lira

Inexpensive meal:

25 TL ($4.50)

One night hostel:

45-58 TL (-11)

Best Time:

Spring and fall, when tourist crowds are smaller and the weather is ideal. Summers can be sweltering, while winters bring snow.

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China

 

best places to travel on a budget 4

Many travelers have expressed disappointment with China not living up to their expectations of a cheap backpacking destination. However, I must ask: what approach did they take? In my case, I embarked on a month-long journey across China—from Beijing to Tibet, Chengdu, and back to the East coast. During this adventure, I experienced multiple exhilarating activities, including riding bullet trains, taking domestic flights, enduring three 24-hour train rides, embarking on a three-day tour of a secluded National Park, visiting the Terracotta Warriors, exploring the Great Wall, and enjoying a boat tour on the Yangtze River in Yongsue. Remarkably, all of these experiences amounted to a mere 0.

After gaining such incredible firsthand experiences, I can assert that China truly offers some of the most budget-friendly travel opportunities in the world.

 

I understand that China may not initially appeal to everyone's sense of wanderlust due to certain prejudices or preconceived notions. However, I challenge those individuals to embark on their own journey in this incredible country. You may be pleasantly surprised by what you discover. In addition to being home to some of the most iconic tourist attractions, China offers limitless opportunities for cultural immersion, historical exploration, stunning natural landscapes, and thrilling adventures. In my opinion, China ranks among the top destinations for backpacking worldwide.

 

India

 

 

India stands out as another outstanding budget-friendly destination. While some individuals may hesitate due to stories about traveling in India, the country's offerings are undeniably incredible, making it one of the most enchanting places on Earth. Beyond its affordability, India presents a myriad of experiences, including exquisite cuisine, spectacular landscapes, and truly unforgettable moments. For me, India is a food lover's paradise. Despite widespread caution against street food, I actively seek out local street vendors, dine at authentic restaurants, and indulge in their delightful juices. Surprisingly, I have never fallen ill or experienced any negative effects.

India truly embodies the concept of a grand travel adventure.

 

Georgia

 

 

Georgia, one of my recent discoveries, joins the list of affordable countries to explore. Some individuals view Georgia as a European destination, implying that it holds the top spot on the list. However, as an avid traveler, I find Asia to offer unparalleled value for money. Nevertheless, Georgia surprises visitors with its affordability, exemplified by the option to embark on a 4-hour train journey for a mere . Additionally, dining out will not put a significant dent in your budget, with meals typically costing no more than . Even activities like skiing remain accessible, with lift tickets priced at $15.

Tbilisi and Batumi, the country's two largest cities, attract a diverse community of world travelers and nomads. Meeting fellow adventurers is effortless in Georgia. To plan your trip accordingly, consult my Batumi Travel Guide and Tbilisi Travel Guide.

For those who book an Airbnb, you may even find bottles of homemade wine as a delightful welcome gift. Furthermore, Georgia boasts an incredibly relaxed visa policy, granting travelers from various countries, including Europeans, Americans, Australians, and Koreans, a visa valid for an entire year.

 

Bangladesh

 

 

Recently, I had the distinct honor of being the first international travel blogger invited by the Ministry of Tourism Bangladesh to embark on a trip to this remarkable country. For those seeking unique and affordable travel destinations, Bangladesh should be at the top of your list. A trip to Bangladesh guarantees an unforgettable experience.

Prepare yourself for a country that may not lend itself to the most picturesque Instagram photos but offers an incredibly authentic travel experience that is hard to come by elsewhere. Foreigners are revered in Bangladesh, and the local people are some of the friendliest I have encountered across more than 100 countries.

Unquestionably, traveling in Bangladesh is extremely budget-friendly. Every corner you turn reveals something completely new and unparalleled. I encourage you to click on the above links to gain a glimpse of my experiences in this incredible country, including my exhilarating journey atop a moving train.

 

Mexico

 

Mexico offers a budget-friendly backpacking experience, with affordable plane tickets ensuring a cost-effective journey. Whether you aspire to explore pristine beaches or trek through tropical rainforests, Mexico provides something for every traveler. Additionally, the country boasts an abundance of historical sites, rich culture, and ancient ruins to delve into. Moreover, the gastronomic delights, particularly the authentic tacos, make it impossible to resist planning a trip to Mexico. If you're unsure about where to begin, Mexico City, Guanajuato, and San Miguel de Allende are prime cities to explore for student backpackers.

Exchange Rate:

1 USD to 19.26 Mexican Pesos

Inexpensive meal:

90 MXN ($4.60)

One night hostel:

230-345 MXN ($12-18)

Best Time:

November-May, when the weather is sunny and dry.

 

 

Costa Rica

 

Central America offers a plethora of incredible backpacking destinations, and Costa Rica stands out as the perfect starting point. With its remarkable blend of volcanoes, natural hot springs, rainforests, and stunning coastlines, it caters to adventurous backpackers seeking thrilling experiences. Keep your budget under control by camping, couchsurfing, or staying in backpacker's dorms. Opt for local eateries instead of tourist-oriented spots to save on meals. Just make sure to allocate ample funds for activities like the Corcovado National Park, where you can embark on unforgettable hikes amidst lush rainforests teeming with diverse flora and fauna.

Exchange Rate:

1 USD to 608 Costa Rican Colóns

Inexpensive meal:

4,393 CRC (.20)

One night hostel:

6,000 CRC ($10)

Best Time:

January to April. Costa Rica experiences heavy rainfall during the summers and fall, making spring the ideal time to enjoy good weather. (Perhaps a spring break trip?)

 

With so many incredible destinations to choose from, it's clear that backpackers have the world at their fingertips. Whether you're seeking adventure in the mountains of Nepal, exploring the vibrant streets of Bogota, or soaking up the sun on the beaches of Thailand, there is no shortage of thrilling experiences to be had. From ancient temples to stunning landscapes, from bustling cities to secluded islands, the possibilities are endless. So grab your backpack, dust off your travel boots, and embark on a journey filled with unforgettable memories. The world is waiting for you.

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