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The dollar is much stronger today than it was a decade or so ago, meaning it will go a lot farther in many places around the world. From the sunny beaches in Mexico to European gems like Poland and hotspots in South America and Asia, you’re spoiled for choice with places that are wallet-friendly. If you’re looking for a real travel bargain, consider one of these destinations where your dollar will really go a long way.
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There’s really never a bad time to visit Mexico, the dollar traditionally goes a long way here, and it’s even better right now. Party like a celebrity, and maybe even rub elbows with a few in Cabo, popular with Hollywood stars like Jennifer Aniston and Gwyneth Paltrow, while enjoying idyllic beaches, world-class spas, and trendy nightclubs. With the dollar so strong, you might even be able to afford to stay at a hotel where five-star dining, infinity pools, and private butlers are considered standard amenities too. If ancient ruins and beautiful stretches of sand are your thing, head to Tulum for a fascinating and relaxing escape. Mexico City, the capital, is becoming increasingly popular too, with its culinary scene that combines tradition with innovation, along with a wealth of museums and a forward-looking art scene. There is a long list of destinations in Mexico considered budget-friendly.
Canada is an ideal destination for those who live near the border to snag some great bargains. If you want to take advantage of the country’s spectacular scenery and opportunity for outdoor adventure, you’ll have your pick of fabulous places from the dramatic peaks of British Colombia and Albert to the wild coastline of Newfoundland. Newfoundland is an incredible bargain in particular, with spacious, fully-equipped cabins and cottages available in the Gros Morne National Park region for under $100 a night. Enjoy a host of activities for a much lower cost than you’d probably pay at home (if they’re even available), including kayak tours, whale watching excursions, flightseeing and more.
A flight to South Africa from the U.S. isn’t going to be cheap, but once you get there you’ll get a good deal. Cape Town is a fabulous city to visit, head to Table Mountain and take in magnificent views over the Cape, sip a cool glass of Sauvignon Blanc at Camps Bay, and with just a short drive inland, you can enjoy more outstanding wine, along with gourmet meals surrounded by the rugged peaks of the Winelands. If you’ve always wanted to go on a safari, the exchange rate makes even elite safari lodges more affordable at places like Jock Safari Lodge in Kruger National Park. If that’s not in the cards, be sure to visit Boulders Beach, one of the few places on the planet to get up close to penguins in the wild.
Poland is one of Europe’s very best travel bargains. Some consider it a less fancy, cheaper version of Prague, with very budget-friendly accommodation, cuisine and alcohol – in fact, you can get by here on less than $25 a day. That includes lodging, meals, transportation and entertainment. In Gdansk, the Old Town is home to more bars per square meter than any other place in the world, filled with numerous drinking dens where vodka and other drinks continuously flow, along with live music venues and clubs that stay open ‘til dawn. In addition to nightlife, highlights include the gorgeous architecture, from Gothic to Renaissance, that’s been kept amazingly well intact after the Second World War, including the atmospheric Jewish quarter of Kazimierz and the regal Wawel Castle.
Most of Latin America offers an outstanding deal for U.S. citizens, but Colombia is one of the best. The nation is also experiencing a renaissance of sorts, in food, art, and technology. Cartagena, once considered too dangerous for visitors is far safer than it was at the turn of the 21 century. This coastal colonial city that sits at the edge of the Caribbean boasts impressive mangroves, sandy beaches and brilliant coral reefs along with a historic old town surrounded by the city wall, while the 500-hundred year-old coral stone forts and much of its walled city are admirably intact. The colonial city center is filled with old homes that have been transformed into restaurants, like La Vitrola and Carmen Cartagena, as well as fabulous boutique hotels such as the upscale Casa Lola Hotel.
Vietnam, and much of Southeast Asia, is renowned as one of the world’s best travel bargains. You can easily get by on under $20 a day, including lodging, food, and attractions. Camping out on the beach is relatively easy and free, and when hunger pangs hit, you can look forward to dining on a delicious bowl of Pho noodles for less than a dollar. And, the amazing cheap street food options are practically endless. Take advantage of the strong dollar by hiring a local outfitter to hike the mountains of the Central Highlands, or embark on an unforgettable river cruise. Of course, you can always enjoy lounging on the picture-perfect beaches of Phu Quoc Island for free.
One of the world’s most budget-friendly countries, Thailand has been a backpacker haven for decades, and today it’s still cheaper than ever with its alluring island destinations. Chiang Mai is the best bargain of all, where travelers can get by on less than $19 a day. This is also a place nicknamed the “land of smiles,” which means you’ll not only get to experience beautiful exotic scenery, but you’ll be able to do it among some of the friendliest, most welcoming people in the world.
For scenery lovers, New Zealand is a country that’s hard to beat, famous for its picture-perfect landscapes and lush “Lord of the Rings” settings. You’ll find everything from soaring mountains to picture-perfect beaches, fjords, and glaciers in this Instagrammer’s paradise. Queenstown, on the South Island, is a fantastic city with a burgeoning food scene that makes the ideal base for outdoor adventures who want to experience heart-pounding thrills like bungee jumping, Zorbing, and sky diving.
Another outstanding Latin America bargain, you can take advantage of the opportunity to splurge on excursions in places like Patagonia or the Atacama Desert. Torres Del Paine in Patagonia is lush with forests, glistening lakes, a maze of fjords and inlets, while the Atacama Desert is the world’s driest non-polar desert that’s home to Calle de la Luna, or “Valley of the Moon,” made up of giant sand dunes and stone formations that mimic the surface of the moon. In the colorful seaside village of Valparaiso, you can explore Bohemian neighborhoods, 19-century mansions, and a flourishing art scene that includes the gloriously restored landmark Palacio Baburizza and the Museo de Bellas Artes, showcasing European and Chilean artists.
While the flight to Russia isn’t exactly affordable, your dollar will go much farther when you get there. And, if you want to purchase high ticket items like a fur coat or a diamond necklace, those luxury goods are cheaper than ever. St. Petersburg is a delight – the country’s second-largest city is located on nearly 300 islands with a history and architecture like none other. It’s famous for its drawbridges and the Hermitage, one of the world’s premier historical and art collections where you can see works by Monet, Picasso, and Matisse, the opulence of tsarist Russia, Egyptian mummies, and Scythian gold. If you visit between May and July, you can bask in the White Nights, a stunning phenomenon with the city aglow in daylight throughout the night. The magnificent Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, a Russian-style church constructed at the location of Emperor Alexander II’s 1881 assassination, is a must-see any time of the year.