There are many people who want to travel abroad but never do because they feel visiting exotic destinations is simply too cost prohibitive. However, there are many desirable destinations that can be incredibly affordable — with a little careful planning.
All of these destinations can be enjoyed for $15 a day — not including airfare to get there. These are the top places to go if you’re itching to experience a beautiful travel adventure on a budget.
15. Xi’an, China
Total cost per day: $14.05
Uncover the wonders of China’s Silk Road in Xi’an at its eastern end. The UNESCO World Heritage site is famous for its 8,000 terra-cotta warriors and 10,000 bronze weapons, but that’s not all there is to this exotic destination.
Take in a view of the city from the top of the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda, possibly the world’s first “skyscraper.” Seven stories tall, the pagoda was built 1,300 years ago when Xi’an was the capital of the prosperous Tang Dynasty.
The opulence of the city doesn’t have to drain your wallet. A stay at the Hang Tang House begins at just $6 a night and offers the feel of a four-star hotel melded with the hospitality of a hostel. It’s also the cheapest city on this list to get to, with round-trip flights from Los Angeles costing $569.
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14. Phuket, Thailand
Total cost per day: $14.05
Shimmering turquoise waters set against a backdrop of jungle-covered cliffs set the stage for a picturesque vacation in Phuket. The exotic flair comes with a low price tag.
Enjoy walk-to-the-beach hostels filled with modern conveniences, including pools and Wi-Fi, that cost an average of $3.93 per night. Eat an inexpensive meal out for about $3.16 or indulge your taste buds with street food at the Phuket Weekend Market, where you can also find deals on souvenirs.
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13. Manila, Philippines
Total cost per day: $13.96
This capital city is where the old and new collide — modern skyscrapers are intermingled with Spanish colonial architecture in Manila. While there, take a stroll through Rizal Park, and visit Fort Santiago and San Agustin Church to get a feel for the city’s history.
You can eat out two meals a day for less than $8, and hostels here cost an average of $4.88 per night. On top of that, it should only cost about $1.52 for daily transportation.
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12. Kolkata, India
Total cost per day: $13.95
Kolkata is a true cultural hub, home to many art galleries and traditional festivals. While there, be sure to pay a visit to the iconic Victoria Memorial, which has a stunning white marble exterior and houses several galleries inside.
You can get your fill of local cuisine here for about $6 a day, and get around on local transportation for only 60 cents on average. The average hostel cost is the highest of the places on this list, but lodging is still incredibly affordable, with an average price of $7.51 per night.
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11. Krabi, Thailand
Total cost per day: $13.80
If you’re a fan of outdoor adventures, you’ll love Krabi. There are plenty of picturesque beaches nearby where you can swim, snorkel or rock climb — Railay Beach in particular is known for its rock climbing. Or if you’d rather just relax on the beach, you can certainly do that too. And with hostels costing an average of $4.98 per night, it’s an affordable place to go no matter what kind of vacation you’re looking for.
Food is also cheap, with meals costing an average of $3.15. Daily transportation will set you back about $2.52.
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10. Lviv, Ukraine
Total cost per day: $13.79
Lviv is the only European destination that made our list, with hostels costing an average of $5.73 per night, meals costing an average of $7.34 per day and transportation costing less than a dollar per day.
The city is located in Western Ukraine near the Polish border, and its architecture is a blend of different European styles. Take it all in with a visit to High Castle Park, where you can see panoramic views of Lviv’s green-domed churches and surrounding hillsides.
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9. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Total cost per day: $13.78
The glass-and-steel Petronas Twin Towers dominate the Kuala Lumpur skyline, and they’re also home to an observation deck where you can take in more city views. And while you can enjoy modern architecture, dining and shopping options in this Malaysian capital, you can also get a sense of the country’s history by walking through its colorful Little India and Chinatown areas, or visiting the Batu Caves.
When you visit Kuala Lumpur, expect to pay about $3 per meal, $5 per night in a hostel and $3 per day for transportation. In addition to being one of the cheapest places in the world to visit, it’s also one of the safest.
8. Bangkok, Thailand
Total cost per day: $13.39
This bustling city is a foodie’s paradise, with traditional street carts selling all varieties of local cuisine for very affordable prices — expect to spend about $5 if you eat out for two meals a day. Outside of the food scene, visitors to Bangkok can spend time exploring the Grand Palace, Wat Pho Temple — home to a giant reclining Buddha — and the ornate local shrines dotted throughout the city. The Thai capital also has a thriving nightlife, with both high-end clubs and backpacker-friendly dives.
Hostels cost an average of $3.89 per night, and transportation will cost about $4.44 for four one-way tickets.
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7. Mandalay, Myanmar
Total cost per day: $11.50
Mandalay is the capital city where the last Burmese monarch ruled. At just $5 admission, you don’t want to miss strolling through the Royal Mandalay Palace when you visit the city. An inexpensive local meal costs about $2.
Check out hostels in the heart of the city where you can rest for as little as $6.30 per night after soaking in Mandalay’s culture.
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6. Marrakech, Morocco
Total cost per day: $10.56
If you want to visit Africa on the cheap, consider booking a trip to Marrakech — it’s the only African city that made our list. City highlights include Jemaa el-Fnaa, a lively square full of local performers; the Majorelle Garden; and the Bahia Palace. There are also many marketplaces dotting the city’s alleyways, where you can browse textiles, pottery and jewelry created by local artisans.
The average hostel cost in Marrakech is $3.74 per night, and local transportation costs about 41 cents per trip.
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5. Agra, India
Total cost per day: $10.18
No visit to Agra is complete without a visit to the Taj Mahal. The colossal mausoleum dates back to the 1600s and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Nearby the Taj Mahal is the ancient Agra Fort and the Itmad-ud-Daula, another beautiful and historic tomb that’s come to be known as the “Baby Taj.”
You can get two meals a day in Agra for an average of $5.84, while hostels will cost an average of $3.02 per night. A round-trip ticket from Los Angeles to Delhi — which is about a three-hour drive from Agra — costs $876.
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4. Chiang Mai, Thailand
Total cost per day: $10.11
Thailand is one of the cheapest countries to visit: There are four cities in Thailand that made our ranking, but Chiang Mai is the cheapest, with hostels costing an average of $3.15 per night and meals costing an average of $1.58.
Located in northern Thailand, this city in the mountains is the site of numerous stunning Buddhist temples, as well as galleries, boutiques, cafes and restaurants. Chiang Mai’s signature dish is its khao soi — egg noodles in curry — so be sure to get this savory meal while you’re there.
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3. Colombo, Sri Lanka
Total cost per day: $9.78
Whether you want to get a taste of history, lounge by the beach or stroll through a museum, you can do that all in the capital city of Colombo, Sri Lanka. Top sites to visit include the Galle Face Green oceanside promenade, the Gangaramaya Temple and the National Museum of Colombo, which has an exterior just as remarkable as the exhibits it houses.
Get a sample of the local cuisine for about $2 a meal, and stay at a hostel for an average of $5.42 per night. It’s also inexpensive to get around, with one-way tickets for local transportation costing about a dime.
2. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Total cost per day: $9.38
Ho Chi Minh City is one of three cities on this list that you can visit for less than $10 a day, with hostels costing an average of $4 per night, two meals per day costing an average of $4.34 and four one-way tickets on local transportation costing an average of $1.04.
While there, fill up on local food and stock up on souvenirs at the Ben Thahn Market, and learn about the city’s wartime history at the Cu Chi Tunnels.
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1. Bali, Indonesia
Total cost per day: $9.05
Does sitting in the shade of a tiki hut and surfing the waves off a tree-lined beach sound like your ideal exotic vacation? Then head to the sandy beaches of Bali.
Nothing says you have to drop a lot of dough to head to this vacation spot. An inexpensive meal goes for less than $2. The same goes for spending the night. Tuck into a hostel near the beach for about $4. You’ll be positioned to build your surfing skills at Old Man Beach or sit back and relax at Canggu Beach.
Not only does Bali top our list of beautiful, cheap places to travel, but it’s also one of the world travel destinations you can actually afford to live in. So if you love it enough when you visit, you might be able to afford to make it a permanent vacation.
How to Travel the World for Less
No matter where in the world you want to travel, there are ways to save on your next trip:
- Consider lodging alternatives to hotels, such as hostels or campsites, which are often significantly cheaper.
- Flights are often the biggest expense of a trip, but you can use tools like Google Flights to comparison shop, or set up a Skyscanner alert to be notified when prices drop for your desired destination.
- You can save money on food by opting for local food trucks and stalls over restaurants — plus, you’ll get more of an authentic experience that way.
- When it comes to sightseeing, use online travel guides to be your own tour guide rather than paying for an official tour of a city or site.
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Jodi Thornton-O’Connell contributed to the reporting for this article.
Methodology: GOBankingRates analyzed 50 cities around the globe to find 15 stunning destinations where you can visit on less than $15 a day. GOBankingRates found average nightly hostel costs from Hostelworld.com based on hostels near the city center during the week of July 13 to July 20, 2019. We then found the cost of an inexpensive meal for one, twice a day, and four local transportation tickets, all sourced from Numbeo. All of those factors were added together to determine a daily sum for each city. Round-trip flight costs from Los Angeles International Airport for the week of July 13 to July 20, 2019, were sourced from Expedia, but not included as an official ranking factor. Los Angeles was used as the origin city because LAX offers the greatest number of international flights.