10 cheap travel destinations
11:41 AM, Mar 15, 2013
NICARAGUA - Nicaragua is poised to become the next Central American destination to gain serious popularity. More political stability, incredible ancient ruins, lush jungles, fabulous beaches, and unbeatable prices will likely start drawing bigger crowds in the coming years. And with great popularity comes swelling prices. For now, though, it's not just the basics that are affordable: If you want to go grand, you can do it for less, too. Think luxury hotels for the cost of a New York City motel.
CAMBODIA - Something I've noticed from talking to hundreds, if not thousands, of other travelers over the last decade: people love Cambodia. Love with an affection usually reserved for first crushes and grandchildren. Consequently, Cambodia stands out among Southeast Asian destinations not just for its affordability, but for that magical blend of welcoming people, fascinating culture, and sights worth crossing oceans for.
TASMANIA, AUSTRALIA - Tasmania. Is it on your travel radar yet? If not, maybe it should be. Hobart, an old-meets-new harbor town on the Australian island, makes a splashy debut on not one but two major travel lists, with prime spots on both TripAdvisor's Travelers' Choice 2012 Destinations on the Rise and Lonely Planet's Best in Travel 2013.
UKRAINE - Its name translates to "land on the edge," and this year Ukraine may be on the edge of discovery for visitors in search of rich history on a tight budget. Visitors return from the country amazed at its cultural wealth, the warmth of its people, and the fact that travelers can live large for under $50 a day.
SOUTH KOREA - South Korea has visitor-friendly affordability in the bag. Not only can budget travelers find the basicsfrom hotel rooms to great mealsat reasonable prices, but the country also has a ton of free perks, discounts, and other affordable and helpful services specifically for visitors.
GULF COAST - As the Gulf Coast of the U.S. slowly recovers from one of the biggest oil spills in history, tourism is way up. But unlike many destinations where popularity fuels rising prices, the coastal cities and towns of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi remain affordable to visitors looking for thoroughly unpretentious beach vacations.
CROATIA - Croatia is at a crossroads. In July, the country will become a member of the European Union, a move that will help finance more tourism infrastructure. That will be great for foreign visitors looking for an easier vacation experience, but less great for budget travelers willing to trade some legwork for low prices. Since Croatia won't be adopting the euro immediately, travelers won't yet be subject to the upward adjustment that seems to come with becoming a eurozone country.
PANAMA - Panama's great canal-expansion project will be complete next year, at which point it will be able to welcome more giant cruise ships and many more visitors. And with so much to offer, from incredible wildlife to pristine beaches, it's easy to see why the country's popularity is set to soar. For now, though, reasonable prices reigngrab a traditional meal for under $5 or live it up in a luxury hotel for under $120.
SRI LANKE - Spectacular, affordable, and still mostly uncrowded: that's how Lonely Planet characterizes Sri Lanka right now. And that's why the venerable travel publication named this island nation off the southeastern tip of India one of its top picks for the best of travel in 2013.
TURKEY - Turkey is on the rise, so the time for the best of the new at the price of the old is now. In the last decade, the country has grown its tourism infrastructure by 67 percent, and more recently it has emerged as a global airline hub. And those are just a few of the reasons we recently named Turkey one of our Destinations to Watch in 2013. For now, the dollar will still get you far in this country of ancient ruins, historic towns, and beckoning beaches.
Here are 10 destinations great enough to make the journey worthwhile, yet still cheap enough to ensure vacation abundance.