Although it’s tempting to book a spontaneous trip to that Instagram-worthy locale on your bucket list, chances are you’ll come back from those top travel destinations with your pockets empty — or worse, trapped in debt. That’s why GOBankingRates put together a list of 20 hot destinations that you can visit for less than $100 per day.
These cheap vacation spots boast inexpensive hotels, food and local transportation, along with all the sightseeing and experiences you could want. Vacationing on a budget is easy if you’re in the know about the best cheap places to travel this year.
Last updated: August 30, 2021
15. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
- Total cost per day: $29.63
Although all of the cities in GOBankingRates’ study are considered the hottest and cheapest places to travel, vacationers will find the top two cities to be almost ridiculously affordable at under $30 per day.
In Ho Chi Minh City, you can stay for $13.67 per night and eat at inexpensive restaurants for $2.17 per meal on average. You can also get around the city for as little as $0.30 per one-way ticket and eat a three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant for $12.60 on average, which is less than some fast food meals you may be used to eating.
14. Buenos Aires, Argentina
- Total cost per day: $41.01
In Buenos Aires, you’ll find affordable local transportation — costing only $0.27 per one-way ticket — as well as three-course meals at midrange restaurants for only $15.34 on average, which is the third-least expensive on GOBankingRates’ list. Lodging is also quite affordable at an average cost of $17.33 per night.
13. São Paulo, Brazil
- Total cost per day: $41.93
With free concerts, plenty of running trails and food vendors, Ibirapuera Park is the top attraction in São Paulo, according to TripAdvisor and U.S. News & World Report. Visitors will spend an average of $18.33 per night for hotels and $0.85 per one-way ticket to get around on local transportation. And food is pretty easy on the budget as well. You’ll pay as little as $5.77 for a meal at an inexpensive restaurant in the city, while fare at a three-course, midrange restaurant runs about $14.43 per person.
12. Bali, Indonesia
- Total cost per day: $45.26
The tropical paradise of Bali is much more affordable than you might think. Visitors can stay for as little as $14 per night or $25.33 on average. And you don’t have to spend much on food, either. Expect to pay $1.72 per meal on average at inexpensive restaurants, which is the least expensive meal cost on the GOBankingRates’ list. Bali also has the least expensive local transportation out of all the destinations on the list at $0.24 per one-way ticket.
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11. Shanghai, China
- Total cost per day: $49.45
Shanghai is an ideal city for budget travel. The average hotel cost is only $23 per night. It also offers the third-cheapest meal at an inexpensive restaurant — costing only $4.64 a pop. Overall, you can expect to eat well on a budget in Shanghai. Visitors are able to order a three-course meal at a midrange restaurant for only $19.33 on average.
10. Cancun, Mexico
- Total cost per day: $54.75
On average, you’ll spend over $50 a day in Cancun, but it’s still quite affordable. The average hotel cost is $22.67 per night. Meals at inexpensive restaurants can be had at $7.51 a pop, and you can get three-course meals at midrange restaurants for $22.54 per person. Aside from the popular beaches and nightlife, visitors can swim with dolphins or tour the Chichén Itzá, a famous Mayan archaeological site.
9. Johannesburg, South Africa
- Total cost per day: $57.18
The top attraction in Johannesburg is the Apartheid Museum, where visitors can educate themselves on South Africa’s history, according to TripAdvisor and U.S. News & World Report. Hotels in the city are $18 per night on average, and you can get a meal at an inexpensive restaurant for $8.39. If you want to enjoy a three-course dinner at a midrange restaurant here, you’ll pay $20.99 per person.
8. Athens, Greece
- Total cost per day: $70.72
Some notable landmarks in Athens include ancient ruins of the Acropolis and the Parthenon — perfect for history junkies. Hotels will cost you an average of $28.67 per night, and you can expect to pay around $12 for a meal at an inexpensive restaurant. Getting around Athens is bit more costly than many of the other destinations on this list but still quite reasonable at $1.65 per one-way ticket.
7. Panama City, Panama
- Total cost per day: $73.07
Panama City has the fourth-cheapest local transportation on the GOBankingRates’ list. It costs only $1.40 to purchase four one-way tickets — that’s $0.30 each — around the city, which makes this cheap Caribbean destination one of the best places to go on vacation. Plus, average hotel costs in Panama City are affordable at $36.67 per night.
6. Lisbon, Portugal
- Total cost per day: $75.48
Expect to spend an average of $34.00 a night for hotels and $2.10 per one-way ticket for local transportation — not bad for a cheap vacation. And if you manage to exhaust everything that Lisbon has to offer, you can take a day trip to nearby Sintra, home to Quinta da Regaleira. It’s a famously grand 20th-century residence with captivating gardens and hidden passages.
5. Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
- Total cost per day: $79.56
You can vacation in Abu Dhabi for approximately $80 per day — making it a cheap place to travel internationally. Expect to pay $8.17 for a meal at an inexpensive restaurant and $27.23 for a three-course meal at a midrange restaurant in the city. Local transportation is kind to the wallet, costing only $2.16 for four one-way tickets to get around the opulent city.
4. Prague, the Czech Republic
- Total cost per day: $80.15
Start your cheap vacation in Prague with a meal at an inexpensive restaurant for only $6.90 on average. And expect to pay $42-$55 for each night you stay in a hotel. Some popular attractions in this architecturally beautiful city include Old Town Square, Charles Bridge and Prague Castle, according to TripAdvisor and U.S. News & World Report.
3. Dubai, United Arab Emirates
- Total cost per day: $87.33
Being able to enjoy vacationing in a foreign city for less than $88 a day is pretty amazing. Hotels in Dubai are $38.33 per night on average, which is good because it will allow you to put more of your budget toward food. While a meal at an inexpensive restaurant is $9.53, a three-course meal at midrange restaurant will cost you $34.03 on average, which is pricier than all of the other options on this list.
- Total cost per day: $88.48
Although you’ll spend an average of $46.67 per night on hotels in Singapore –one of the more expensive lodging costs on this list — it’s still considered one of the cheapest countries to visit. You don’t need the budget of 2018’s “Crazy Rich Asians” to enjoy a fun tropical vacation in Singapore. A meal at an inexpensive restaurant will cost $10.20, while a three-course meal at a midrange restaurant is $25.98.
1. Madrid, Spain
- Total cost per day: $93.13
As the capital of flamenco, Madrid offers exciting song and dance performances, along with a very active nightlife. However, make sure to watch your budget when it comes to food: A meal at an inexpensive restaurant costs $14.18 on average, which is the priciest on GOBankingRates’ list. And if you opt for a three-course meal at a midrange restaurant, expect to pay the second-highest price on the list at $29.54.
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Cynthia Measom contributed to the reporting for this article.