Best Budget Travel Destinations for 2018 | Sunday Observer

Best Budget Travel Destinations for 2018


Malaysia has some of the best street food and night markets in the world. “Spend some time in Kuala Lumpur, where three-star accommodations start at just $15 per night and $10 will cover three meals in one day,” says Jessica Bisesto, senior editor at the travel deals finder TravelPirates. “Looking for a cheap island destination? Head to beautiful Langkawi after you’ve spent a few days enjoying Penang. Offering the perfect combination of cities, highlands, beaches, and islands, Malaysia is an under-the-radar budget destination that offers something for everyone.” Tiny Gaya Island is one of the top 30 secret island escapes around the world.


Argentina is an exciting, versatile country with something to offer for all tastes and travellers. “From wine country in Mendoza to Buenos Aires—which has been called ‘the Paris of South America’—to Patagonia’s gorgeous peaks and valleys, this is a country that’s bouncing back as a top destination for tourism,” says Diana Plazas, VP of branding, marketing, and digital for Marriott International in the Caribbean and Latin America.

With the attractive current exchange rate, your money will go a very long way here. “Argentina lifted its VAT tax on hotel stays for international visitors, which represents a savings of 21 percent—that leaves you with more to spend at alluring tango shows, museums, vintage shops, and the country’s famous parrillas for authentic Argentinean barbecue,” says Plazas. You’ll be surprised at how affordable a steak dinner (with wine!) can be. Don’t miss Iguazu falls, one of world’s most incredible waterfalls.


With the hospitality of Italy, the gorgeous mountains of Austria, and gourmet delicacies of neighbouring Istria, Slovenia has it all for a fraction of the price. “While much of Southern Europe can come with tons of tourists and a too high price tag, you can have a five-star trip on a three-star budget in Slovenia,” says Collette Stohler, who runs the travel website, Roamaroo.

“You can have the elegance and gourmet delicacies of the Mediterranean at an Eastern European price. The best part is—you can visit the capital of Ljubljana, the beautiful lake town of Bled, Piran Beach on the Adriatic, and the GoriškaBrda wine region all within two hours of each other.”


A nature lover’s dream come true, Nepal is also an incredible destination for budget travellers. “Three-star hotels can be found from as little as $10 per night and three square meals will run visitors less than $9,” says Bisesto.

“Explore the many villages or make the trek to Mount Everest basecamp. Famous for its jaw-dropping mountain views and stunning temples, this small country packs a big punch and is a fabulous alternative to its more touristy neighbours, such as, China and India.”


You can get great value when booking a trip to any of Colombia’s top cities. The destination has seen a significant tourism development boom in the past couple of years, with travellers exploring cities like Cartagena, Medellin, and Bogota—which has a thriving art scene—and you don’t have to spend a lot of money to appreciate its beauty. “The cobble-stoned city center is very walkable, with colonial-era attractions and landmarks, and vibrant murals that are representative of the local art culture,” says Plazas.

“While the culinary scene in Bogota is also taking off, there are plenty of local eateries serving delicious, authentic cuisine. A bandeja paisa is a must!” Airlines have begun adding more direct flights from the U.S. to these cities, which in turn leads to major hotel growth.

“As a travel company we see a lot of potential here, and currently have 12 hotels open across eight different brands—think Aloft, Sheraton, Four Points, and W, to name a few—to accommodate travellers at all price points. Not only do they get a bargain, but also become part of Colombia’s growth as a highly sophisticated tourism hub in South America, and that’s very exciting,” says Plazas.


As more under-the-radar countries begin to experience higher levels of tourism, we anticipate prices in those destinations to increase, which is why, now is the time to visit beautiful Estonia,” says Biseto.

“Castles, palaces, and a beautiful coastline await visitors to this small Baltic country. Accommodations start at approximately $40 per night for a three-star hotel and meals for one day will run visitors about $18. Tourists should take advantage of the free walking tours and check museums as there are frequently free admission days throughout the year.”


Known for UNESCO World Heritage cities and Machu Picchu, Peru is a fantastic option for those travelling on a shoestring budget. “Food is delicious and cheap, with three meals costing less than $10 per day. Peru offers stunning beaches, mountains, canyons, and rivers making this country an incredible destination for budget travellers,” says Bisesto. As for a fabulous place to stay, consider the JW Marriott El Convento Cusco, a 16th century convent turned five-star hotel, located just two blocks from Cusco’s Plaza Mayor.


Sharing a border with Greece and a ferry ride away from Italy is the Adriatic country known as Albania. “Home to many castles, jaw-dropping coastlines, and the Albanian Alps, this under-the-radar country is great for shoestring travellers. Three-star accommodations start from $17 per night, hearty meals will set you back just a few dollars, and affordable public transportation options are readily available. Enjoy hiking tours, national parks, fortresses galore, and more in this inexpensive country,” says Bisesto. Just make sure to avoid these stressful vacation mistakes.


A fantastic backpacking destination, Guatemala deserves to be on every budget traveller’s radar. “Filled with stunning architecture, Mayan ruins, colonial towns, volcanoes, and more, this small Central American country is known for its natural beauty and warm hospitality. Keen travellers can find three-star accommodations and three meals for as little as $25 per day––much cheaper than nearby countries such as Costa Rica or Panama,” says Bisesto. Check out Las Lagunas Boutique Hotel, a 19-bungalow property built in the middle of jungle bliss; it’s a fantastic place to stay, recommends Bisesto. She also likes the luxury boutique hotel Casa Palopo.


Mexico is an incredibly culture-rich destination, known for its bold and vibrant traditions, delicious cuisine, and warm, friendly locals. With an exchange rate that’s currently about 19 pesos to the U.S. dollar and a recent spike in new flight options from key U.S. cities, visiting this cultural paradise is a breeze for travellers coming from the U.S. “Mexico City’s pulsating art scene, great shopping, and amazing restaurants are not to be missed,” says Plazas. “I recommend the Mexico City Marriott Reforma Hotel, which is in a very central location, right on Paseo de la Reforma. You can book a room for less than $200 a night and you have museums at your fingertips. The Sheraton Mexico City Maria Isabel has arguably the best views of the iconic “Angel of Independence” with rates as low as $125/night,” says Plazas. Beyond the big city, you have Cancun’s gorgeous turquoise beaches and the vivid indigenous history that can be experienced in Pacific coast towns like Puerto Vallarta and Punta de Mita. And that’s just the beginning, as there’s plenty to satisfy culture-seekers while indulging their inner foodie, adventurer, romantic, and so much more. Mexico is also proof you don’t need to spend hours on travel to experience an authentic cultural destination. Great—and surprisingly affordable—places to stay in Cancun include the all-inclusive Moon Palace Cancun and the luxurious JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa.

Sri Lanka

This tiny island country packs a big punch at a small price. “Warm weather and stunning scenery await travellers to the “pearl of the Indian Ocean” nation. Guesthouses and Airbuses are readily available at rock-bottom prices; three-star hotels start at just $13 per night. Meals are inexpensive and budget travellers can enjoy three square meals at $9 per day. Sri Lanka is lesser-travelled than other countries nearby, such as, India and Thailand, meaning that more authentic experiences are there to welcome visitors,” say Bisesto.


Although the flights might set you back a pretty penny, the money you can save once you’re there in Chile is staggering. “Admire the Andes Mountains, hike the Chilean Incan Trail and explore Torres del Paine National Park. With a great mix of city, beaches, mountains, and desert landscapes, Chile offers something for everyone. With three-star accommodations starting at $20 per night and daily meals with local wine setting you back an average of $10 per day, this South American destination should be towards the top of any budget travel bucket list,” says Bisesto. Bonus: Chile’s Atacama Desert, the driest place on earth, is also one of the top 10 extreme travel adventures.


Whether you’re looking for stunning mountains, beaches, cities in the hills, or a taste of the Sahara Desert, Morocco is filled with history and culture and makes for a fantastic budget destination for 2018. “Accommodations of all kinds are available with fantastic three-star rated hotels, starting at $12 per night. The cuisine is delightful, offering a great mixture of spices and ingredients that suit any traveller’s preference. Spend the night in the Sahara Desert, visit the famous blue city of Chefchaouen, watch goats climb argan trees, and get your fill of beautiful architecture in this magical north African country,” says Bisesto.


Filled with fantastic and cheap food, wine, attractions and accommodations, the Azores islands are our top choice for budget destination in 2018,” says Biseto. “Off the coast of Africa in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, these islands are great for nature lovers and couples looking for romantic getaways, these gorgeous islands offer visitors impeccable views, unspoiled beaches, and coastal towns. Three-star hotels start from $63 per night and a nice meal in a restaurant will set you back about $8.” For those who want to splurge, check out the world’s most expensive vacations.