If you’ve been dreaming about an exotic vacation, but think you can’t afford it. Think again. These destinations offer the world’s best values, which could help turn that dream into a reality.
Porto, Portugal (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Portugal is considered one of the most affordable Western European destinations, less expensive than its neighbor Spain as well as the popular Greek Islands. It also retains much of its old-world charm and is dotted with ancient castles, picturesque fishing villages, and endless olive groves. Porto, the nation’s second-biggest city, offers especially budget-friendly and accommodation, along with inexpensive museums and tours, yet it’s filled with a wealth of delights, like its historic center that dates back to 300 BC, a colorful riverside quarter, world-famous port wine houses and dramatic 12th-Century Romanesque cathedrals.
La Paz, Baja California, Mexico (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Just about any destination in Baja offers the opportunity for an affordable vacation, but La Paz arguably tops them all. This peaceful town not only offers lots to see and do, but it provides a more authentic experience without the crowds, and at a much lower price than popular Cabo. From November through April, it’s one of the world’s best places for whale watching, with some 18,000 California gray whales migrating toward the area’s lagoons where they spend the winter. This is also a fantastic time for swimming with whale sharks, sea lions, manta rays, and the hundreds of colorful, tropical fish in the Sea of Cortez. No matter when you arrive, you’ll be able to dine on mouth-watering meals, many of which include fresh seafood and organic produce, for a fraction of the cost of what you’d pay in the states.
Bac Son Valley, Vietnam (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Vietnam is well-known as a budget destination, but the region north of Hanoi is often overlooked. While it’s even more affordable, it’s also home to some of the most stunning scenery and culture, with soaring mountains, rice terraces and more. Budget travelers can book private accommodation for only $10-15 a night or dorms as low as $5. Camping out on the beach is a relatively easy and free option too, and meals range from just 50 cents to a couple dollars a dish.
Ljubljana, Slovenia (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Tucked in an alpine valley along the Ljubljana River, this capital city looks as if it’s part of a fairy-tale. Often ranked as Eastern Europe’s most beautiful city, it’s not only romantic, a bit quirky and very walkable, it’s incredibly affordable. A nice hotel room can be booked for under $15 a night, and it’s easy to get by on less than $40 a day, with both entertainment and dining quite inexpensive too. But don’t be fooled by that cheap price – cheap doesn’t always equal a lot of nothing to do. You can wander charming cobblestone streets lined with interesting museums and art galleries, as well as hip bars and charming cafes that offer lots of fun after dark. At the hilltop castle, learn about Slovenian history in the interactive museum and then take in the jaw-dropping view of the city and well beyond from the tower.
Sonesta Maho Beach Resort & Casino, St. Maarten (Prices & Photos)
While St. Maarten itself isn’t exactly known as a cheap destination, this adults-only property offers an outstanding value with a practically exhaustive list of inclusions: unlimited meals, snacks and drinks (including alcoholic beverages), minibar service, beach and cocktail parties, aqua aerobics and dance classes, a kids’ club with supervised activities when you need a break from the little ones, and more- all at a very affordable price. It sits right on a mile-long white-sand beach overlooking Great Bay and the Caribbean, and features three swimming pools, four restaurants, four bars, the Golden Casino, and the Serenity Spa, with an extensive menu of relaxing services.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (Prices & Photos)
Myrtle Beach is renowned as one of the best budget-friendly family beach destinations, and you’ll find a number of good, affordable accommodation options, particularly Captain’s Quarters Resort. Here, guests not only enjoy affordable rates, but are right on the beach in addition to having access to a large water park, an indoor lazy river pool, a children’s pool with a pirate ship, two outdoor pools, a Jacuzzi, pool bar, arcade and a bowling alley. The one- and two-bedroom efficiency units include a full kitchen, while suites feature a full kitchen and a separate living area. Many rooms enjoy ocean views, while all offer free Wi-Fi and flat-screen TVs.
Vieques, Puerto Rico (Prices & Photos)
If you’re seeking an affordable Caribbean destination, room rates in Puerto Rico pale in comparison to other islands in the region. Fly into the capital city of San Juan, to explore the numerous cultural attractions and experience the lively nightlife, and then take the ferry to Vieques Island, just a few dollars round-trip, to relax and soak in the sunshine on miles of secluded sandy beaches. Blue Beach is famous for outstanding snorkeling with an abundance of colorful fish as well as giant sea turtles. You’ll also see plenty of wild horses, which run rampant across the island, and can even enjoy a romantic horseback ride along the beach.
Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Bolivia is one of the most spectacular and underrated destinations on the planet. It’s long been a favorite among adventure travelers and backpackers due to the scenery, wealth of things to do and being remarkably affordable. It’s also home to the largest salt flat in the world, Salar de Uyuni. Located in the Bolivian Andes, the expanse of salt creates an unending white landscape during the dry season, though area is most breathtaking in the rainy season when it’s covered in water. The reflection of the blue sky creates an even more surreal landscape.
Selva Negra, Nicaragua (Prices & Photos)
Nicaragua is another ideal destination that backpackers have known about for years, but all types of travelers have been discovering it as of late. It’s loaded with fantastic, budget-friendly options, like Selva Negra, an organic farm and coffee estate that offers all types of accommodations, including one-bedroom bungalows for less than $100 a night. Located within a lush, mountain setting rich with wildlife like monkeys, lizards, and all kinds of birds, you’ll have the opportunity to go horseback riding and hike to waterfalls accompanied by the exotic sounds of the jungle.