|9 Destinations That Won't Break the Bank|
|By Rana Freedman, Lonely Planet||Aug 2, 2013, 2:31 PM|
Scandinavia is notoriously expensive, so if Sweden is on your list, be savvy and head to Gothenburg. Away from the glitzy main drag are character-filled neighborhoods such as Haga and Kvarnbyn, and some great attractions, including edgy art space Röda Sten and picnic-friendly view spots in Keillers Park. The large student population keeps the city affordable, with cheap eats, a large amusement park, plenty of museums and lots of open green spaces. This is as much Scandinavia as you can get for your money.
While not the bargain it was 10 years ago, Cambodia is still a great deal. There has been a boom in the number of mid-range hotels in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, and for those looking for something even cheaper, a huge amount of budget accommodations remain. The less-visited areas are even more affordable -- the south coast is fringed with tropical islands and a handful of beach huts. But be sure to visit the iconic temples at Angkor Wat, which are unrivaled.
South America's most-indigenous nation and best-value destination is outstanding. Bolivia offers world-class trekking, incredible crafts markets, filling street food (empanadas anyone?) and good-for-the-money excursions. La Paz and must-see Uyuni are a bit more expensive, but away from here meals will rarely go higher than $5 and the prices of even high-end accommodation will cause you to smile.
Spain has been a better value in the past few years, as currency fluctuations and falling costs have combined to make the country one of Europe's best bets for an affordable vacation. The wonders of Spain's cities, wild north coast and fabulous national parks are not to be missed. To make your dollar stretch even further, opt for a hotel without a pool, go easy on the wine and extra courses when eating out and visit outside the peak season, when you'll find price hikes.
Slovenia is as picture-perfect as Switzerland, Austria or Italy, but you'll definitely notice the difference in your wallet. Slovenia is one of Europe's most attractive countries and offers skiing, trekking, rafting and scenery to boot. It's sophisticated while having all the rural, rustic charm of a lesser-known European country. Another point: It's a relatively small country, and those short distances can help keep prices down, especially as there are plenty of inexpensive buses out of Ljubljana to anywhere you wish to go.
Nepal is a fantastic option for those who seek adventure. Though costs rise once you enter the national parks, Nepal is the most wallet-friendly spot for Himalayan hiking and offers the most astonishing rewards for the least investment anywhere in the world. It's incredibly easy to travel independently here but prices are still low if you hire a porter or take an organized expedition. Further to the south are its wild national parks where you can search for rhinos and tigers on the back of an elephant.
Travel experts speak in unison when asked to name their favorite cheap U.S. city: Portland, Ore. Great food! Free things to do! More than 40 breweries with pints of perfectly crafted beer! The city has been thrust into the limelight by the "Portlandia" TV series, which is not all that far off in showcasing the city's progressive take on urban life. Portland is funky neighborhoods, food carts, independent bookstores, bicycles, farmers markets, rain and nature-loving citizens. Just make sure to "keep Portland weird."
Georgia is little known to most travelers. But those who visit come back raving about an outrageously beautiful country offering excellent, inexpensive cuisine, such as the ubiquitous "khachapuri" (cheese pie). The country has recently invested in tourism development, resulting in a growing number of good-value hotels and homestays -- great ways to meet super-friendly locals, as well as keep costs down. And with your savings, you'll have plenty of money left to explore the gorgeous towns, old churches and stunning mountain scenery of this up-and-coming destination.
Namibia beckons those in search of a good deal. While its neighbor Botswana courts the luxury traveler, this desert country welcomes all, and offers incredible attractions. You do need your own wheels or to join a tour to see some of the wonders such as Etosha National Park and the Skeleton Coast, but Namibia's big-ticket draws remain affordable via locally arranged tours or self-drive car hire. Some of the most fun things you can do here -- sandboarding around Swakopmund and hiking Fish River Canyon -- are also some of the best-value outdoor pursuits in southern Africa.
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