You want to see the world, but your budget has other ideas. If you want to find the best places to backpack or just want to know which backpacking destinations are affordable, how can you ensure that financial constraints don't cramp your style? Here are some tips for travellers looking for an ultra low-cost holiday option that cuts out some of the costly luxuries you may not always want, or need. So where are the cheapest backpacker destinations? Read on for the ten best places to backpack for travellers on a budget.
The Cheapest and Best Places to Backpack
1. Pokhara, Nepal - from £8.50 a day
Image credit: Bella Whitaker, "The Generator Judge"
The most affordable place for backpackers in the world is also arguably the most beautiful - and it's considered a trip-of-a-lifetime by many travellers, even those of considerable means. Flanked by the Annapurna mountain range, and with breathtaking views of its snow-capped peaks, Pokhara is full of sights to see that cost absolutely nothing - including the World Peace Pagoda on the Southern fringes of Phewa Lake. According to Price of Travel's index, all this can be yours for as little as $14.32 (£8.50) per day excluding flights.
2. Hanoi, Vietnam - from £9.44 a day
With its cheap but delicious food, great public transport system and breathtaking scenery, Vietnam is a well-trodden route for backpackers, gap year students and all those on a budget looking for an experience to remember. There's a wealth of backpackers' hostels here, and the proud tradition of shoestring travel in the area means you'll be well catered-for - and among friends. Many of the hostels lay on entertainment at night, and offer valuable local knowledge on everything from taxis to budget day trips. You can stay in Hanoi from $15.88 (£9.44) if you budget really carefully.
3. Chiang Mai, Thailand - from £10.50 a day
Chiang Mai is the largest and most culturally-significant city in Northern Thailand - and you can stay there for a little over a tenner a day. In this cheap backpack destination you can take part in a night-time zoo safari, pick up fresh, exotic local fare cheaply at the many food markets, and visit the region's beautiful and ornate temples. Services that would cost a pretty penny at home - such as full-body massages - cost a fraction of the price here, and if you have some spare cash left over at the end of your visit, the delights of Bangkok are only an hour's flight away.
4. Goa, India - from £10.85 a day
The legendary nightlife, beach bars, hippy haunts and mixed-heritage architecture keep tourists flocking back to this UNESCO-listed spot year after year - and some of the clever ones are doing this cheap backpacking destination for just £10.85 a day. If you don't want to go for the very cheapest dorm-style accommodation here you may not have to even on a very modest budget, as basic hotels come very cheap. You'll want to avoid travelling in the peak season (between Christmas and New Year), however, as this is the one time of year when prices spike.
5. Saigon, Vietnam - from £10.85 a day
The second Vietnamese location on our list is pricier to visit than the slightly smaller Hanoi, but is still an astonishingly affordable holiday choice. Food and drink is particularly cheap here: you can pick up a fabulous cocktail for as little as 84p. If this permanent happy hour sounds a little too tempting, you can avoid temptation by hopping on a tour bus for an hour or two: a trip around the entire city will set you back little more than £8.
6. Kathmandu, Nepal - from £10.98 a day
Travellers have been coming to admire Kathmandu's Buddhist tradition, culture and architecture as well as the majestic views it offers of the Himalayas and Mount Everest for years, yet this mysterious and beautiful city remains a highly affordable option even for those on a tight budget. Food, drink and tours guided by a bona fide sherpa are all within reach for a small sum, and you couldn't put a price on the breathtaking mountain vistas and Buddhist temples you'll see here. Stick to local cuisine for the most fresh and affordable dining and drinking options.
7. Vientiane, Laos - from £12.71 a day
Laos is gaining a reputation as a great place to party and enjoy a laid-back, sunny break. In the meantime, prices remain on the low side, so this is a great option for younger travellers looking to have fun and make the most of a stunning yet cheap backpacking destination. Vientiane is a popular destination for its 'East meets West' vibe and mix of the urban and rural, and everything here comes cheap - from the Tuk Tuk to the airport (£2.20 into the city centre) to the beer (roughly £1 a bottle).
8. Delhi, India - from £21.71 a day
India's capital city is a destination that's high on many travellers' bucket lists, but happily the cost of visiting there is anything but. Unlike most of the other destinations in this list, Delhi does have its fair share of expensive restaurants where you'll pay Western prices, but these are balanced out by a vast array of cheap dining options - from street vendors selling mouth-watering savoury snacks or chaat, to affordable sit-down meals. Don't come here expecting a booze-fest however: alcohol is pricey - and scarce outside of hotels. Transport is easier on the wallet: many travellers to the city hire a private driver on arrival, since the costs for this service are so low.
9. Luang Prabang, Laos - from £12.91 a day
Another popular stop-off point on the Southeast Asian backpacker trail is Luang Prabang in Laos. As the country's most popular tourist destination its prices are a little steeper than what you'll encounter in Vientiane, but it's still relatively very cheap and the rewards are well worth the extra pennies: here you'll find intricate Colonial Architecture, restaurants to suit all budgets and hotels from the basic to the extravagant. Many of Luang Prabang's best loved attractions are free - from the views at the top of the city centre's steep hill to the stunning natural scenery.
10. Bangkok, Thailand - from £12.95 a day
Bangkok's best-known tourist destination manages to scrape into this list of cheaper options for shoestring travellers, mostly by virtue of being located in one of the most affordable countries on earth. Accommodation, food, transport and entertainment all come in at very reasonable prices, though watch out for the premium you'll pay on alcoholic drinks.
As a backpacker, you'll have six key requirements - beyond the obvious luggage items:
- 1. Access to low-price guest houses or hostels.
- 2. Three cheap meals a day.
- 3. A public transport pass, preferably at discounted rate.
- 4. Enough spare budget to visit major attractions.
- 5. An 'entertainment fund' for drinks and other treats.
- 6. Affordable transport to and from the UK.
Assuming all of the above are available, there are some backpacker destinations where a little can go a very long way, and you'll see just as much (if not more) of your chosen area than many of those who paid full whack.
If you found this post on the world's cheapest backpacking destinations helpful, you may want to read more of our Travel Tips articles. Also check out our travel blog for additional inspiration and travel tips to make your holidays hassle-free!Top