Left arrow
Destinations

The Cheapest Travel Destinations in the World

Scott Keyes
By 
Scott Keyes
Founder & Chief Flight Expert (CFE)
11 min read
Last updated 
October 24, 2019

It’s a paradox of travel; some of the places that are cheapest to get to are among the most expensive once you’re there (we’re side-eyeing you, Iceland), while other places that you might spend a bit more to reach can more than make up for it in low costs once you’re there. 

So whether you’ve got a small travel budget to start with or you just want to stretch your budget to extend your trip, it’s important to consider how much a destination costs in addition to how much you pay for the flight—which is where this list comes in. Here, we’re rounding up some of the best cheap places to visit around the world based on the cost of accommodation, food, and activities in the country. 

It’s important to keep in mind that this list isn’t based solely on numbers, so it’s not just the countries that are the absolute cheapest places to visit. Instead, we’ve curated this list of countries that are both easy on the wallet and easy to explore. 

Pair one of these cheap destinations with a killer Scott’s Cheap Flights deal and you’ve got the makings of an incredible and budget-friendly trip.

Note: All prices listed are sample prices based on a mid-range experience. You could certainly spend less, or a lot more, depending on your particular trip. 

Namibia

Namib Desert

Arguably Namibia’s main attraction is nature—it’s a country of spectacular scenery and plentiful wildlife, from camping amidst the stunning orange dunes of the Namib Desert to going on safari in the grassy plains and wetlands.

Safaris through Etosha National Park go in search of elephants, rhinos, and big cats, while a visit to Damaraland gives you a chance to see elephants that have adapted to living in a desert environment. Of course, all-inclusive safari lodges are often splurges—but those luxury lodges aren’t the only options in Namibia. Many of the lodges have campgrounds, which are an exceptional bargain (think $10 per night).

Namibia also happens to be a great place for a road trip, so bring a friend and pack up a rented 4x4 for an extremely budget-friendly cross-country camping trip.

Sample mid-range costs:

  • Hotel: $100
  • Restaurant meal: $15

Getting there:

Deals to Namibia are rare, but we see deals to Cape Town and Johannesburg in the $500s-600s roundtrip fairly regularly, so focus on getting to the continent cheaply and then take a short flight from there. A flight from Cape Town to Windhoek, for example, takes about two hours and costs around $250 roundtrip. 

Egypt

Budget-traveler wisdom often involves avoiding famous cities because they’re more expensive than a country’s lesser-known spots. That’s often true, but in Egypt, Cairo is both a top destination and incredibly budget-friendly. Plus, it’s home to an excellent museum full of ancient Egyptian artifacts and it’s a stone’s throw from the pyramid complex at Giza, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and the equally-famous Sphinx.  

There’s lots to see outside Cairo, too, like long stretches of coast along the Mediterranean Sea and Red Sea plus the Nile River Valley. Abu Simbel, further south, is home to more archaeological marvels, and the popular seaside resort of Sharm el-Sheikh boasts both lovely beaches and coral reefs.

Egypt is largely a budget travel dream, even when taken at face value. For travelers who are experienced in the art of haggling, it’s an even bigger bargain.

Sample mid-range costs:

  • Hotel: 490 LE (~$30)
  • Restaurant meal: 60 LE (~$4)

Getting there: 

We’ve sent deals to Cairo from both coasts—including Chicago to Cairo for $526 roundtrip and Los Angeles to Cairo for $603 roundtrip—but if you can’t find a great deal to Cairo for your dates, another option is to focus on getting to North Africa or a European hub cheaply and then connect from there to Egypt on a regional carrier. 

Tunisia

Tiny Tunisia on the North African coast has so much to entice travelers—including bustling cities, well-preserved Roman ruins, and gorgeous Mediterranean beaches with whitewashed seaside towns reminiscent of Greece—and it’s much more budget-friendly than the European countries just across the water. 

A long coastline of inviting beaches and eminently photographable hilltop towns may be so alluring that you don’t even want to explore further inland, but if you can pry yourself from the sun and sand there’s plenty more to explore. For example, the capital city, Tunis, has a colorful UNESCO-listed medina and a fabulous archaeological museum. Dougga, El Jem, and Sufetula offer a peek into the reach of the ancient Roman empire with ruins of theaters, temples, and an enormous amphitheater only rivaled in size by Rome’s Colosseum. 

Tunisia’s long been a movie star, too—the Sahara desert near the town of town Tataouine was not only a filming location for several Star Wars films (some of the sets are still there and you can visit them), the town’s name was adopted as a planet name in the film franchise.

Sample mid-range costs:

  • Hotel room: 120 DT (~$42)
  • Restaurant meal: 20 DT (~$7)

Getting there: 

We occasionally see deals to Tunis (like Detroit to Tunis in the $400s roundtrip or Indianapolis to Tunis for $597 roundtrip) but as with Egypt, another option is to fly to a Europe hub like Madrid, London, or Frankfurt and hop a cheap regional flight to Tunis from there. 

Morocco

Buzzing cities with busy markets and grand palaces, the sweeping sands of the Sahara desert, the snow peaked Atlas mountains—Morocco’s attractions are incredibly diverse, and many come at a small price. 

There are plenty of luxury hotels and tours in Morocco, but everyone can enjoy some of the most popular pastimes—wandering through the medinas or people-watching in public squares—without spending a thing. It may be hard to avoid temptations in the markets, but this is a great chance to hone your haggling skills.

Marrakech and Fez are both good options for budget travelers, though if you’re not on a true shoestring you’ll probably be happiest paying at least mid-range for lodging. Many historic riads (traditional houses and palaces) have been converted into small, boutique hotels with inner garden courtyards, and some of them are an incredible value for the experience.

Sample mid-range costs:

  • Hotel: 800 MAD (~$85)
  • Restaurant meal: 150 MAD (~$15)

Getting there:

We frequently send great deals to Morocco from across the US. For example, we’ve sent members deals like New York to Marrakesh for $560 roundtrip or Miami to Casablanca for $496 roundtrip. Due to Morocco’s close proximity to Spain, it’s also easy to find a cheap flight to Morocco from Madrid or Barcelona.

Vietnam

Ha Long Bay, vietnam.

Southeast Asia has long been a budget travel utopia, and Vietnam routinely lands in the top spot of the cheapest of Southeast Asian countries for visitors. 

Cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City offer a mix of colonial landmarks, interesting war museums, and modern cacophony. The limestone island rock formations in Ha Long Bay beg to be photographed, verdant jungles and rice terraces are lush surroundings for hikes around Sapa, and everywhere you go, you’ll feast on some of the best food anywhere for a few dollars per meal. 

While Vietnam is full of inexpensive options as far as meals, lodging, transportation, and activities go, it’s also full of packaged tours that are no bargain. If you’re willing to branch out from the coach crowd, you can score some jaw-droppingly great deals, including budget hotel rooms that boast mid-range level amenities.

Sample mid-range costs:

  • Hotel: $50
  • Restaurant meal: $8

Getting there:

We often see great deals to Vietnam, like Seattle to Hanoi for $555 roundtrip or San Francisco to Ho Chi Minh City for $469 roundtrip. To see more of the country, look at open-jaw flights that arrive in one city and depart from another. 

Cambodia

Cambodia’s top attraction, the Angkor Wat temple ruins slowly being reclaimed by the jungle, is probably enough reason to plan a trip. The fact that there are other similarly beautiful attractions—and that it’s one of the cheapest countries in which to travel—is a bonus. 

Check out the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, see more ruins at Angkor Thom and Preah Khan near Siem Reap, chill out on the many islands dotting the southern coast, or explore the mountains and mangrove forests along the Mekong River.

Travelers can save a bundle on accommodation and meals and still stay in fine budget hotels and eat extremely well. Big attractions like Angkor Wat aren’t cheap to visit, but splurges in Cambodia are few and far between—so you’ll still come out ahead.

Sample mid-range costs:

  • Hotel: $50
  • Restaurant meal: $10

Getting there:

Deals to Cambodia aren’t as common as deals to other Southeast Asia hotspots, but we do find them. For example, we’ve sent out members deals like Raleigh to Phnom Penh for $655 roundtrip and Santa Ana to Phnom Penh for $577 roundtrip. Another option: look for flights to an Asian hub like Singapore, Taiwan, Bangkok, or Hong Kong where deals are more frequent and then connect from there. 

Malaysia

Singapore is rightly a major draw in Southeast Asia, but it’s also an expensive one. Malaysia shares space on the Malay Peninsula with Singapore without the accompanying price tag. The incredible multicultural diversity of Malaysia only adds to the appeal, not least because that diversity is reflected in the abundant culinary options. 

Kuala Lumpur’s famous Petronas Towers reflect the capital’s modern side, though there are still charming historic pockets in the big city. The temples in the Batu Caves are an important religious (and tourist) site, complete with an enormous golden statue of a Hindu deity. The island of Borneo is one of the cheapest places to get PADI diving certified, and the beaches and jungles are excellent for relaxing and exploring when you’re not in the water.

Because it’s more developed than other Southeast Asian countries, such as Laos or Cambodia, Malaysia often gets lumped in with its neighbor, Singapore, on the expensive scale. Nothing could be further from the truth, though, so you can take advantage of luxury hotels at mid-range prices for a little bit of decadence if you like.

Sample mid-range costs:

  • Hotel: 400 RM (~$95)
  • Restaurant meal: 60 RM (~$15)

Getting there:

We see flights to Kuala Lumpur in the $400s and $500s from cities across the US. Some recent deals include Newark to Kuala Lumpur for $467 roundtrip and Chicago to Kuala Lumpur for $525 roundtrip.

Taiwan

While many visitors might head straight for the capital city of Taipei on the northern tip of Taiwan, the southern part of the island offers some of the best bang for the traveler’s buck.

The oldest city in Taiwan, and its original capital, Tainan not only has an abundance of cheap street food, it also has a host of ornate temples to visit in between snacks. Kaohsiung, too, is a cultural hub disguised as a busy city, with great museums, music, and galleries. And it’s easy to escape the concrete and enjoy nature at the huge Kenting National Park, a popular spot for diving, hiking, and snorkeling. 

Bike share programs make getting around in the cities inexpensive, and there are even bike trails outside the cities that wind through some of the great natural beauty of Taiwan. As mentioned, street food makes eating well on a budget simple, though it’s absolutely possible to spend a small fortune on a fancy meal if you’re in the mood for a splurge.

Sample mid-range costs:

  • Hotel: 2,000 NT (~$65)
  • Restaurant meal: 500 NT (~$15)

Getting there:

We’ve sent deal to Taiwan like Portland to Taipei for $626 roundtrip or San Francisco to Taipei for $482 roundtrip. Once you land in the capital, you can hop a train to Tainan and be there in about 2.5 hours.   

Thailand

The famous beach towns of southern Thailand are dreamy, sure, but they’re also the expensive version of this otherwise budget-friendly country. Stick to the north—especially the Chiang Mai area—to stretch your travel budget.

Chiang Mai’s mountain setting is a marked difference from the urban buzz of Bangkok—there’s a lovely historic old town and dozens of temples. Outside the city, the scenery is a combination of rice fields and mountain ranges dotted with gorgeous temples; hiking and wildlife tour options are plentiful in northern Thailand.

Chiang Mai’s accommodation and food options are incredibly inexpensive, even at what you might think would be more luxurious levels—you can, for instance, find quite nice hotel rooms for what you’d expect to pay for a bunk in a European hostel dorm room. 

Sample mid-range costs:

  • Hotel: 3,000 B (~$100)
  • Restaurant meal: 500 B (~$15)

Getting there:

We frequently see great deals to Bangkok—like Houston to Bangkok for $515 roundtrip or Philadelphia to Bangkok for $613 roundtrip. Once you’re in Bangkok, flights within the country to northern areas like Chiang Mai are exceedingly cheap (as little as $30 roundtrip without a checked bag). 

Laos

Laos slices through Southeast Asia, lying between Vietnam and Thailand, and is far less visited than either of its neighbors. That’s a shame, since it has some of the appeal of both and is a fantastic bargain to boot. 

The capital, Vientiane, is relatively small, with the larger city of Luang Prabang being the main urban attraction; both offer a blend of historic temples and French colonial architecture. Laos’ big draw, though, is its great outdoors. The Mekong River cuts through the country, with jagged mountains on either side and picture-perfect waterfalls along the way. Adventure travelers can go hiking through the mountains, tubing on the river, rock climbing, or exploring underground caves.

Hotels in the cities are generally inexpensive, and outside the cities there are alternative lodging options (such as staying in a local’s home) that are often a good deal and a travel-enhancing experience.

Sample mid-range costs:

  • Hotel: $50
  • Restaurant meal: $10

Getting there:

Deals to Laos are rare, but score a cheap flight to Bangkok and you can get to Luang Prabang in about 90 minutes and for as little as $100 roundtrip. 

India

Ganges River, India.

India is well-known for being an exceptional bargain—especially if you’re willing to haggle. It’s also incredibly varied, from Himalayan peaks to sublime beaches. 

Densely populated cities like Delhi, Mumbai, and Kolkata are full of historic colonial-era buildings and important religious sites, while southern beach towns like Goa offer a laid-back vibe and even better deals. Animal lovers can go looking for tigers on safari, explore the pink palaces or Jaipur, or stroll along the Ganges River in Varanasi. And while the impressive Taj Mahal outside Agra is a must-see on any travel budget, it also happens that Agra is easy on the wallet.

Although India may not be the easiest place to travel in, it’s absolutely one of the cheapest. The asking price might be well within your budget, but the locals often expect shoppers to bargain, too, so hone those haggling skills. 

Sample mid-range costs:

  • Hotel: 5,000 INR (~$70)
  • Restaurant meal: 1,500 INR (~$20)

Getting there:

We regularly see deals to India in the $600s, like NYC to Chennai for $614 roundtrip or Miami to Mumbai for $662 roundtrip. If you plan to see a large swathe of the country, look at open-jaw flights that fly into one city and depart from another. 

Indonesia

Indonesia is a country of islands—thousands of them. So yes, while Bali is arguably the best-known tourist destination in Indonesia, it’s extremely easy to find other less-visited (and potentially less expensive) places to visit.

You might start on the island of Java to dive headfirst into the chaotic energy of Jakarta, the Indonesian capital. Head to Sumatra for its gorgeous beaches and the orangutans who live in the surrounding jungle, or the Gili Islands for their excellent diving opportunities and more relaxed vibe. And, of course, Komodo is home to those famous Komodo dragons.

Bali isn’t all high prices, but tourist demand has a tendency to raise prices there more than on some of Indonesia’s other islands. No matter where you choose to make your Indonesian home base, note that transportation can be costly. To save on transit, consider renting a motorbike.

Sample mid-range costs:

  • Hotel: 700,000 Rp (~$80)
  • Restaurant meal: 300,000 Rp (~$35) 

Getting there:

We regularly see deals to Bali from both coasts for under $600 roundtrip. Once there, you can connect to other islands by ferry or flight for relatively little money. For example, the short flight to Sumatra costs about $160 roundtrip. 

Sri Lanka

The island nation of Sri Lanka isn’t exactly an undiscovered travel paradise, but it’s far less visited than other countries in Asia. And it’s got plenty of natural beauty to recommend it.

Ancient Buddhist sites can be found in both the cities and the countryside, including a 5th-century fortress atop Sigiriya rock. And there are so many beaches to choose from that you can probably find a spot where you’ll have the soft sand almost all to yourself. 

Sri Lanka’s long-distance trains combine transportation with incredible scenery, and hikes through mountains, rainforests, and tea plantations are incredibly popular. There are also safaris into Yala National Park to see leopards and elephants—though that’s one excursion that’s a splurge in an otherwise-inexpensive country.

Sample mid-range costs:

  • Hotel: 9,000 LKR (~$50)
  • Restaurant meal: 3,000 LKR (~$15)

Getting there:

Sri Lanka deals are rare, but not unheard of. In the last year we found deals from NYC to Colombo for $514 roundtrip and LA to Colombo for $597 roundtrip. You can also use the “Greek Islands trick” to find a cheap flight that gets you to a hub airport close to Sri Lanka (such as Singapore or Kuala Lumpur) and then take a regional flight from there.   

Poland

Savvy travelers have long known that if you want to stretch your budget further in Europe, you go east. That’s still true today, even as the EU folds more Eastern European countries into its borders, and it’s harder to find a better case for heading east than Poland.

Poland suffered greatly during World War II, but the country has come a long way since then. Warsaw’s historic center was faithfully rebuilt after most buildings were destroyed during the war, and it’s now a UNESCO site, while culturally rich Kraków’s beautiful old center remained undamaged. Holocaust memorials and concentration camps like Auschwitz-Birkenau offer crucial reminders to not let history repeat itself. Łódź is both an important Jewish heritage site and a contemporary city with a new entertainment district, museum dedicated to modern Polish art, and an artificial beach area in summer. For outdoorsy types there are lovely beaches along the Baltic Sea and the beautiful forests of Białowieża National Park.

Polish cuisine is relatively inexpensive by European standards, and it’s often stick-to-your-ribs filling. Spend time in some of Poland’s smaller (and very charming) towns, like Wrocław and Gdansk, and you may find even better deals. 

Sample mid-range costs:

  • Hotel: 300 PLN (~$75)
  • Restaurant meal: 90 PLN (~$22)

Getting there:

We see flights to Poland in the $500s roundtrip from across the US quite often (even nonstop sometimes). And, with the ease of getting cheap flights within Europe, it’s easy to snag a cheap flight to another hub in Europe, like London, Amsterdam, or Frankfurt, and then take a cheap flight from there to your final destination in Poland on a budget European carrier. 

Greece

Monemvasia, Greece

Visiting Greece on a limited budget can absolutely be done, but it means paying attention to timing and your money will go a lot farther in less popular places outside the Mykonos-Santorini-Crete loop. 

Mythology and history are in the air almost everywhere you go in Greece. The capital of Athens buzzes with the energy of a huge population but the old center still manages to feel like a collection of villages—and it’s hard to beat the hilltop Acropolis and fantastic Acropolis Museum for tourist attractions. Head into the northern mountains to visit legendary Delphi or rent a car and drive through the Peloponnese to Olympia, where the Olympic games began, or to Mycenae to explore a culture so ancient the ancient Greeks developed mythology about them.

The timing of your trip hugely impacts the overall cost, so if you’ve got your heart set on a vacation in the Greek islands then think shoulder season. It still won’t be cheap, but it may be cheaper, and it may still be sunny enough for beach-going. For mainland Greece, winter offers even more bargains, so long as you’re not intent on sunbathing.

Sample mid-range costs:

  • Hotel: 100€ (~$110)
  • Restaurant meal: 20€ (~$22)

Getting there:

Flights to Athens from the East Coast often drop to the $400s roundtrip (and sometimes even lower) though as recommended above, another option is to focus on getting to Europe as cheaply as possible and then connecting to Greece from there on a low-cost regional flight. 

Estonia

Russia may be out of the budget travel realm, but countries formerly in the Soviet Union have some of the same flavors without the same price tag. Perched across the Baltic Sea from Finland, Estonia is similar in some ways to Russia, neighboring Latvia, and nearby Scandinavia—but it’s entirely its own creature.

Estonia’s capital, Tallinn, has an incredibly well-preserved old town (it’s a UNESCO site) with gorgeous Russian Orthodox cathedrals and a palace that was once a summer home for a czarina. Just over half the country is covered in forest with very few people living there, so nature lovers can get away from the usual crowds of Europe with ease. Not only that, the country is small enough that it’s also relatively simple to base yourself in Tallinn and make day trips to smaller towns.

Sample mid-range costs:

  • Hotel: 50€ (~$55)
  • Restaurant meal: 25€ (~$27)

Getting there:

Flights to Estonia drop to the $400s and $500s every so often. In recent months we’ve sent members deals like LAX to Tallinn for $495 roundtrip and Miami to Tallinn for $531 roundtrip.  

North Macedonia

The word “Macedonia” is a little confusing, referring to both a European region and a Greek region (it’s even the Italian word for fruit salad). The tiny nation that was once part of Yugoslavia, however, nowadays goes by North Macedonia.

However small North Macedonia might seem on the European landscape, it’s a cultural crossroads that packs a pretty big punch. Skopje, the capital, is a busy city that wears its multiculturalism on its sleeve—at any given time you might wonder if you’re in Greece, Turkey, or the Balkans. Stroll through the Old Bazaar markets or take to the trails on Vodno, the mountain that looms over the city. The country also offers plenty of outdoor attractions, too including hilltop monasteries, Roman ruins, and forested mountains.

Sample mid-range costs:

  • Hotel: 2,800 MKD (~$50)
  • Restaurant meal: 600 MKD (~$10)

Getting there: 

Deals to Skopje are very rare, but we have found them, including NYC to Skopje for under $500 roundtrip. You may be better off looking for a deal to a hub like Paris (which we frequently find for less than $300 roundtrip from both coasts of the US). You can typically find a roundtrip flight from Paris to Skopje for under $150 on a full-service carrier like Austrian or Air France and even less on a budget airline like Wizz Air.  

Portugal 

For the most part, finding great travel deals in Western Europe is more about timing and luck than anything else. There are, however, still bargains to be found here—including Portugal.

Perhaps because the Iberian Peninsula is so overwhelmingly dominated by Spain, Portugal is skipped far more often by travelers than other countries in Western Europe. Whatever the reason, one result is that prices are lower in much of the country. Lisbon, the capital, is an exception (it’s seeing a spike in tourism lately, so prices aren’t as low as they are elsewhere in Portugal and it’s more crowded), as are the spectacular (and spectacularly popular) beaches during the busy summer season—but, luckily, there’s more to see.

Head for Porto in the north to explore the charming city or visit its port wine country. Better yet, visit the area bordering Spain, well away from the coast, to escape both beach crowds and higher prices. 

To find the best deals at Portugal’s beaches, you’ll still need to think about timing (shoulder season is a good option), but if you focus your attention away from the hotspots you can even have a relatively cheap high-season trip in Portugal.

Sample mid-range costs:

  • Hotel: 100€ (~$109)
  • Restaurant meal: 35€ (~$38)

Getting there:

We see a lot of great deals to Portugal, like Boston to Porto for $244 roundtrip, Miami to Lisbon for $369 roundtrip, and New York to Lisbon for $281 roundtrip

Hungary

Budapest, Hungary

Technically Hungary is considered part of Central Europe, but it’s often grouped with Eastern Europe when it comes to its affordability.

The charming capital city of Budapest, with its two historic sections (Buda and Pest) split by the Danube River, is full of architectural marvels like the hilltop castle and imposing Chain Bridge. Elsewhere in Hungary, you can visit historic churches, medieval villages, hilltop vineyards, and Roman ruins. Ease your travel-weary bones in one of the country’s many thermal springs and spas, such as an Ottoman-era bathhouse in Eger, or Lake Héviz, which is fed by a hot spring. 

Hungary offers wonderful deals even if you never leave its capital city, but travelers willing to get out of Budapest stand an even better chance of finding great bargains on lodging, food, and entertainment.

Sample mid-range costs:

  • Hotel: 10,000 Ft (~$33)
  • Restaurant meal: 7,500 Ft (~$24)

Getting there:

Great deals to Budapest (like NYC nonstop to Budapest for $480 roundtrip) come up with some regularity, but keep an eye out for deals to Vienna, too. Those are sometimes even better (like this widespread deal to Vienna from across the US in the $200s and $300s roundtrip) and it’s only a three-hour train ride from Vienna to Budapest. 

Italy

Before you get your hopes up, the inclusion of perennially popular Italy on this list doesn’t mean you can visit Venice, Florence, and Rome for ultra-cheap. Instead, this is an invitation to spend more time exploring parts of Italy that most travelers ignore—like the south.

Italy’s south begins roughly around Naples, but the true bargains are even further south. Explore the unique conical “trulli” homes of Puglia (the heel of the boot) or the ancient cave dwellings of Basilicata (the instep). Escape the cities in the mountains of Calabria (the toe). Or, get off the mainland entirely with a short boat ride over to Sicily, where you can feast on seafood, see Greek ruins, and hike (or ski) Europe’s largest volcano. For the ultimate get-away-from-it-all trip, however, head to Italy’s other island region, Sardinia. 

Southern Italian regions (including the islands) have some of Europe’s most popular beaches, so the summer high season means traditionally high prices and large crowds. Avoid summer and the beach and you’ve got the makings of an even more budget-friendly visit to Italy.

Sample mid-range costs:

  • Hotel: 89€ (~$97)
  • Restaurant meal: 23€ (~$25)

Getting there: 

Deals to Sicily and Sardinia are rare, but deals to Rome and Naples come around more often. For example, we’ve found fares like NYC to Naples for $290 roundtrip, Atlanta to Rome for $380 roundtrip, and Detroit to Rome for $398. From either city, it’s a short, inexpensive flight to the islands. 

Ukraine

Ukraine has been in the US news a lot lately, but many Americans still know little about its diverse landscapes, attractions, and people. There are domed Russian Orthodox cathedrals like the glorious St. Sophia’s in Kiev. There’s uber-charming Lviv, with its UNESCO-listed old town. There are seaside towns along the Baltic, charming villages along the Danube River, and dense forests in the dramatic Carpathian Mountains.

Ukraine isn’t always easy to travel in (public transportation isn’t great, for instance, and trips to the east aren’t recommended these days), but it offers such stunning scenery and mind-bogglingly low prices that intrepid travelers may find it’s worth the effort.

Sample mid-range costs:

  • Hotel: 1,000 UAH (~$41)
  • Restaurant meal: 500 UAH (~$20)

Getting there:

Ukraine deals don’t come around often but we’ve found deals under $500 roundtrip from places like Charlotte, Fort Lauderdale, Phoenix, and Philadelphia. To increase your chances of finding a great price, consider booking two different segments; snag a cheap flight to a Europe hub and then book a second roundtrip from there to Ukraine. 

Romania

If most people know anything about Romania, it’s probably the Transylvania region (thanks, Dracula). That lack of deeper understanding, however, benefits travelers who visit the country for its beautiful landscapes, interesting architecture, and great prices. 

Romania’s capital city, Bucharest, is a good place to start—it’s one of the cheapest big cities to visit in Europe—but the real appeal lies elsewhere in the country. There’s the imposing Carpathian Mountains, heavily forested and full of wildlife, and the attractions of Transylvania, including Bran Castle (of Dracula fame), well-preserved medieval villages like Sighişoara and Braşov, and more dramatic scenery.

While the beaches along the Black Sea get busy (and more expensive) during the summer, most of the country is devoid of tourist crowds and the accompanying high prices. 

Sample mid-range costs:

  • Hotel: 200 LEI (~$46)
  • Restaurant meal: 60 LEI (~$14)

Getting there:

Like Ukraine, Bucharest is another destination where it can be hard to find amazing airfare deals (though we have found a few rare deals, like NYC to Bucharest for $281 roundtrip). But budget regional carriers like Wizz Air and Ryanair offer roundtrip flights under $100 from cities like London and Paris, so look for a cheap flight to one of these hubs and then connect from there to save. 

Georgia

Tbilisi, Georgia

Not long ago, travelers heading to Georgia had to repeat the explanation, “No, the country,” like broken records. Today, Georgia isn’t nearly as undiscovered as it used to be, though it still offers plenty of bang for the proverbial buck. 

Georgia is, like neighbor Turkey, a cultural bridge between Europe and Asia, with visible influences from both. Tbilisi is the busy and cosmopolitan capital, with a charming old town and lively nightlife scene. Batumi, a beach resort on the Black Sea, is another nightlife hotspot. The country’s great outdoors stretch from the coast through rolling vineyard-covered hills and up into the soaring Caucasus Mountains.

Despite the fact that Georgia is catching on with travelers, it remains a great bargain, particularly if you skip the beach towns in the summer high season. 

Sample mid-range costs:

  • Hotel: 100 GEL (~$33)
  • Restaurant meal: 20 GEL (~$7) 

Getting there:

Georgia deals are also quite rare (though we’ve found flights to Tbilisi for under $500 roundtrip). To save, look for a cheap flight to a city like Athens or Istanbul; from there it’s 2-3 hours to Georgia and flights are often under $200 roundtrip.  

Albania

Despite its proximity to European hotspots Greece and Italy, Albania remains comparatively ignored by tourists. That’s largely due to a repressive government that kept the country closed off for decades, but now that Albania is welcoming visitors, people are starting to realize what a treasure trove it is.

Tirana, the pretty capital, sits roughly in the middle of this little country and offers museums, charming public squares, and great day trip options. The coastline stretches along both the Adriatic and Ionian seas and is punctuated by beach resort towns that are getting increasingly popular during the summer. Unsurprisingly, you’ll find hints of Italian and Greek culture in Albania, including both ancient Greek and Roman ruins—but the combination of outside influences and local flavors make Albania utterly unique.

For the moment, at least, Albania is still under-appreciated by travelers, and one of the cheapest European countries to visit. 

Sample mid-range costs:

  • Hotel: 50€ (~$54)
  • Restaurant meal: 10€ (~$11) 

Getting there:

As with some of the other destinations on this list, Albania isn’t easy to reach on a cheap flight. But it doesn’t have to be expensive. Budget flights from London or Paris take about three hours and can cost under $200. Pair that with a cheap flight from your home airport to one of those cities (we regularly see US cities to London or Paris for around $300) and you can get to Albania for a steal.  

Mexico

Diverse Mexico delivers inexpensive travel options in abundance.

The sprawling and busy capital, Mexico City, is a delicious mix of old and new. There’s both colonial-era and modern architecture; cheap and delicious street food and chic restaurants; and art legends and pop culture. The Yucatán Peninsula is home to ancient Mayan sites like Tulum and Cobá, and Oaxaca is full of mountains and volcanoes. And every region has its own unique contributions to the culinary landscape, few of which make it onto the menus of “Mexican” restaurants outside the country.

Sample mid-range costs:

  • Hotel: 1,000 MXN (~$50)
  • Restaurant meal: 300 MXN (~$15)

Getting there:

We see a plethora of deals to destinations all over Mexico. Flights to Mexico City are often around $250 roundtrip from cities across the US, as are flights to Puerto Vallarta, Oaxaca, and Cancún

Guatemala

If you’re looking for lush landscapes, ancient ruins, and beaches on two major bodies of water at a fraction of the price of Costa Rica, consider Guatemala. 

In Guatemala City and nearby Antigua you’ll find plenty of archaeological museums and well-preserved colonial architecture, but it’s the countryside that’s truly impressive, especially to adventure travelers. 

Head south for volcanoes and the famous Lake Atitlán, which fills an old volcanic crater. Head north for fascinating Mayan ruins, including the towering temples of Tikal. There’s also jungle trekking, white-water rafting, caving, scuba diving, surfing, and paragliding—and you should have plenty of energy for everything with all the local coffee. 

Eating well on a budget is easy in most parts of Guatemala, and the local transportation (colorful “chicken buses”) are both entertaining and a bargain, too.

Sample mid-range costs:

  • Hotel: 550 Q (~$70)
  • Restaurant meal: 130 Q (~$17)

Getting there: 

We regularly see flights to Guatemala City in the $200s roundtrip, and even lower. Recent deals include Houston to Guatemala City for $129 roundtrip, Denver to Guatemala City for $275 roundtrip, and Las Vegas to Guatemala City for $270 roundtrip

Colombia

Cartagena, Colmbia

Long a favorite on the backpacker trail, Colombia has been rising in popularity lately, though it’s still an incredible bargain. The country’s northern coast, in particular, offers some of the best beach deals in the Caribbean.

The great outdoors in Colombia takes many forms—from Amazon rainforest to Andes Mountains to beaches on both the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea. It’s a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, with diving, jungle trekking, and rock climbing only a few of the many ways you can work up a sweat. Being in the capital city Bogotá might make you pant a little, too—it’s one of the highest-altitude capitals in the world. And, the well-preserved old city of Cartagena and ancient ruins of Ciudad Perdida offer a peek into Colombia’s fascinating past.

Sample mid-range costs:

  • Hotel: 120,000 COP (~$35)
  • Restaurant meal: 30,000 COP (~$9)

Getting there:

Colombia deals come up pretty regularly, even from smaller airports like Albany, Buffalo, and Harrisburg. Recent deals include Orlando to Bogotá for $253 roundtrip and Providence to Cartagena for $363 roundtrip.  

Ecuador

Ecuador, set right on the equator on the northwestern coast of South America, crams an awful lot of things to do and see into not much space—and it also happens to be one of the best deals on the continent. It’s ideal, then, for travelers who are short on both money and time. 

Natural wonders are top attractions here, including a portion of the mighty Amazon, the volcanoes of Cotopaxi National Park, and even some of the Andes mountain range. The capital city, Quito, has both colonial architecture and mountain views, and beach towns along the Pacific Ocean are increasingly popular. 

Visiting one of Ecuador’s top sights, the Galapagos Islands, is not something that can be done super cheap—but with the low cost of visiting other spots in Ecuador, it might make it easier to justify the splurge.

Sample mid-range costs:

  • Hotel: $75
  • Restaurant meal: $20

Getting there:

We often seen good fares to Ecuador in the $300s and $400s from around the US, like Nashville to Quito for $344 roundtrip, San Francisco to Quito for $414 roundtrip, or Fort Lauderdale to Guayaquil for $303 roundtrip

Bolivia

Landlocked Bolivia in the middle of South America has some iconic landscapes and ancient ruins, not to mention a road known (not without reason) as the World’s Most Dangerous Road. Even if you skip the latter, it’s hard to not have an epic trip in Bolivia.

This is the land of the famous Lake Titicaca, the biggest lake in South America, and the surreal Salar de Uyuni salt flats—both of which seem to have mirror-smooth surfaces that almost glow. And the natural and historical wonders don’t end there. There’s also the otherworldly rock formations of the Valle de la Luna and the pre-Incan archaeological site of Tiwanaku. Plus, both the Amazon River and the Andes Mountains wind their way into Bolivia.

Sample mid-range costs:

  • Hotel: 300 BOB (~$43)
  • Restaurant meal: 200 BOB (~$30) 

Getting there:

Great fares to Bolivia come around with a fair bit of frequency. Some recent deals include Miami to La Paz for $382 roundtrip and fares to Santa Cruz from all over the US, including dozens of smaller airports like Tallahassee or Columbus, in the $500s-$600s roundtrip.  

Join Scott's Cheap Flights and get amazing flight deals up to 90% off sent right to your inbox.

Last Updated 
October 11, 2019
The Cheapest Travel Destinations in the World
Scott Keyes
Founder & Chief Flight Expert (CFE)

Scott has traveled to 46 countries (and 46 states!), living in California, to Oaxaca, to Oregon. He’s left-handed, drinks five cups of tea daily, and holds a vendetta against the “Happy Birthday” song. On a dare, he once ate 13 hot dogs (and a bowl of Dippin’ Dots) at the ballpark. He grew up in Ohio and founded Scott’s Cheap Flights in a Denver coffee shop. Favorite airport: PDX.

Get alerts about cheap flights up to 90% off normal prices
Find out when airlines accidentally publish the wrong prices
Save hundreds on summer, peak season and holiday flights
Sign Up
Right arrow