12 Cheapest Countries To Backpack in 2018

exotic destinations

Did you know it’s possible to travel on as little as $10 a day in some parts of the world? Well, if you get creative with your travel destinations, it most certainly is. Most people know that India and Eastern Europe are cheap places to travel but most of the world’s best budget backpacking destinations are a little off the beaten track and you won’t find most of these countries on other ‘budget travel destinations’ lists… This is some real adventure gold right here folks.

I’ve been travelling the world broke for nearly nine years now, I normally travel on a budget of around $10 – $15 a day but this becomes a lot more fun when you pick a cheap place to travel as suddenly you can afford beer!

This is a list for adventurous backpackers, for those who want to explore the world without breaking the bank, this is the ultimate list of cheap places to travel…

Cheap places to travel

The Ultimate List of Cheap Places to Travel…

1. Iran

Cheap places to travel

Nasir Ol-Mosk Mosque in Shiraz

One of the most overlooked cheap places to travel, backpacking Iran is a truly incredible experience. Iran is probably the easiest country worldwide to hitch a ride and you will often be invited into homes so you rarely even have to pay for a place to sleep.

Iran is an often misunderstood country and is frequently slated in the media, something which continues to make me angry. I’ve spent nearly six months in Iran now, visiting four times across 2016, 2017 and 2018. My wife is Iranian, I speak some Farsi and I feel strongly connected to this amazing country. Iran is one of the cheapest countries to visit in the world and is a broke backpacker haven…

With gorgeous Islamic architecture, legendary hospitality, beautiful women and the stunning island of Hormuz, this is a country which will take your breath away at every turn. Backpacking across Iran is a truly amazing experience and it’s one of my favourite budget travel destinations in the world. If you’re happy to hitch and to Couchsurf, you can travel here for under $10 a day.

I’ve camped out all over Iran, Couchsurfed with dozens of hosts, hitchhiked thousands of kilometers – the legendary Iranian hospitality means it’s totally possible to travel on a tight budget and Iran is actually a very safe country to visit. If you’re into hitchhiking, this country is a mecca…

For more information: Check out my Backpacking Iran Travel Guide.

2. Venezuela

Cheap places to travel

$100 changed into local currency on the black market

I first visited Venezuela in 2015 and I fell in love with this vibrant intoxicating country pretty damn fast. Burning cars, riot police and protestors were my first view of the country but I was quickly made welcome by my Couchsurfing host and I managed to ninja my way around the country without being robbed – an impressive feat.

With sixty beers for a dollar (yep, that’s not a typo!), Venezuela is officially the cheapest place to travel in the world. You need to conceal your money and carry your dollars in cash to take advantage of the black market exchange rates but assuming you do… Venezuela is such a cheap country for travelers that you can stay in five star hotels for just $2 a night, take taxis for 25 cents, go on multi-day all-inclusive mountain treks for under $100 and party hard for under $5 a night.

Venezuela has a deservedly bad reputation as the rough part of South America but I couchsurfed my way across this amazing country with ease and had a truly incredible time. If you’re in search of real adventure and keen to travel on the cheap; You can have an absolute blast in Venezuela for under $50 a week. Truth be told though, you should only travel to Venezuela if you’re an experienced backpacker.

For more information: Check out my Backpacking Venezuela Travel Guide.

3. Nicaragua

Cheap places to travel

Volcano boarding in Nicaragua

An easy introduction for backpackers… Nicaragua is the cheapest place to travel in Central America and makes an excellent quick vacation spot for those on a budget. Nicaragua is a wonderland of volcanic peaks, crazy parties, jungle treks and Mayan sites.

I spent nearly three months exploring Nicaragua and it’s hands down my favourite budget travel destination in Central America. It’s safe, easy to get around and has something for everyone.

You can score a room for just a couple of dollars a night and expect to eat street food for under a dollar. Alcohol is cheap and the beaches are free! If you’re a first time budget backpacker, Nicaragua is a solid choice.

For more information: Check out my Backpacking Nicaragua Travel Guide.

4. Cambodia

Cheap places to travel

The legendary ruins of Angor Wat

A popular stop on the backpacker trail, Cambodia is not as cheap a place to travel as it used to be but you can still score beers for 25 cents and budget dorm rooms in hostels for just a couple of dollars.

Many backpackers in South East Asia save Cambodia for the last part of their trip as this is the place you can make your money stretch the furthest in this part of the world. Cambodia used to be the cheapest country to visit in SEA but today, that is probably Laos. 

At a fraction of the price of neighbouring Thailand and with plenty of gorgeous beaches, steamy jungles and fascinating history, Cambodia is another solid choice for a first time budget traveler as it’s safe, easy and fun. If you only have a couple of weeks holiday and you want to live it up, Cambodia is a good place to travel for a cheap vacation extravaganza.

For more information: Check out my Backpacking Cambodia Travel Guide.

5. Pakistan

Cheap places to travel

Truck-art, just one of Pakistan’s thousands of unique attractions…

Pakistan might not be the first budget travel destination to spring to mind when planning out your round the world trip but think again; backpacking across Pakistan is a simply awesome experience!

The mountains in Pakistan are hands down the best in the world and the hospitality you will experience here is truly very special. I Couchsurfed my way across Pakistan with no problems and have spent over three months in this amazing part of the world.

Whilst transportation costs can add up, it’s possible to hitchhike and once you have made some local friends you will rarely have to pay for much; you can expect numerous offers of a place to crash. Food will rarely set you back more than a couple of dollars and you can camp for free in The Himalayan mountains.

Pakistan is a wonderland of stunning treks, friendly people, underground parties and ancient traditions. Best of all, Pakistan is the cheapest place to travel if you want to explore one of the ‘stans.

For more information: Check out my Backpacking Pakistan Travel Guide. Here are ten reasons you should travel to Pakistan.

6. Eastern Europe

Cheap places to travel

Buzludzha, a historical peak in the Central Balkan Mountains, Bulgaria

With epic soviet ruins, friendly locals, frozen cities and colourful traditions, Eastern Europe is a great place to explore if you are on a tight budget. It’s extremely easy to hitchhike across Eastern Europe and beer is almost always cheap.

Albania is probably the cheapest place to travel in Europe, followed closely by Bulgaria and Romania. For kick-ass parties and beautiful people, head on up to Ukraine or Russia. Check out this post for a full list of the cheapest places to go backpacking in Europe.

For more adventure inspiration: Check out my buddy Jazza’s account of us breaking into Bulgaria’s UFO.

7. India

Cheap places to travel

Driving a Tuk-Tuk across Rajasthan, India

An oldie but a goodie, broke backpackers have been travelling to India for decades now. When I was nineteen, I spent a year backpacking around India and spent under $3000. It’s possible to survive here comfortably on $10 a day and you can even do it for less.

India is one of the most popular budget travel destinations but that’s largely because so many people know about it… For a taste of real adventure, and to avoid the hippie-wannabe hordes, cross the Wagah border and explore Pakistan instead.

India is definitely one of the cheapest countries to visit in Asia and is cheaper than neighbouring Nepal and Pakistan, but the hassle here can get on one’s nerves after a while.

In total, I’ve spent nearly two years backpacking across India now and have probably seen only about half of what this amazing country has to offer. Like many India veterans, I both love and hate the country.

For more information: Check out my Backpacking India Travel Guide.

8. Bolivia

Cheap places to travel

Is anybody else seeing double?

The cheap South American country that people DO know about, Bolivia is a good budget choice if you want to check out South America and don’t feel quite ready for Venezuela. With the famous salt flats, stunning architecture, dirt cheap parties and world-renowned hiking, Bolivia is an epic cheap budget travel destination.

For more information: Check out Flora’s Guide to Bolivia.

9. Turkey

Cheap places to travel

Cappadocia, Turkey

In 2016, I hitchhiked across Europe and then from Istanbul up to Georgia; hitchhiking in Turkey is very easy indeed which makes this a good budget travel destination. It’s worth travelling with a tent in Turkey and there are also lots of caves, especially around the Cappadocia region, where you can survive with just a sleeping bag. I returned to Cappadocia, one of my favourite places to visit for a digital detox and some time beneath the stars, in 2017.

Turkey is an often overlooked destination but if you are off in search of a cheap place to go on an adventure, Turkey offers fantastic bang for your buck and is an epic way to travel overland from Europe to Asia.

Go and find my Geocache in Cappadocia!

10. The Philippines

Cheap places to travel

Stunning jungle-clad islands in The Philippines…

One of my favourite countries in South East Asia and one of the cheapest island countries to visit in Asia, The Philippines is a place of gorgeous beaches, swaying palm trees, pounding parties, friendly locals and living legends.

For an adventure with a difference, trek into the jungles in search of Whang Od; the last Kalinga tattoo master. Manila is a damn expensive city and should be avoided by travelers on a budget, get yourself straight out to Sagada or Palawan and travel slow to keep costs down.

For more information: Check out my Backpacking Philippines Travel Guide.

Cheap places to travel

I believe most destinations in the world can be explored on pretty much any budget – I backpacked across Japan on a budget of just $30 a day. Budget travel is simply the best way to test your metal, to explore a new culture and to interact with local people, I wouldn’t trade in my years of totally broke backpacking for all the five star hotels in the world. That said, it helps when you visit a country which is already cheap and the list above are my top choices for dirt cheap places to travel around the world. Happy adventuring amigos!

Hitting the road for the first time?

Learn how to ditch your desk and travel the world on $10 a day! 

If you’re a first time backpacker about to embark on a round the world adventure, you’re in for a rollercoaster of a ride… Check out the ditch your desk section of the site to learn how to quit your job and earn money whilst travelling around the world.

It may seem daunting, but there are so many different ways to become a nomad these days that if you really want to go travelling, if you really want to experience everything the world has to offer, all you have to do is make the commitment to travel – no matter how little money you have.

Be sure to check out my backpacking packing list to get some decent gear sorted for your new life of vagabonding…   In particular; you are going to want a backpacking tent  or a camping hammock, it’ll save you a bunch on accommodation!

It’s also well worth packing a camping stove so you can cook your own food and save money on meals.

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cheap places to travel

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