If there’s one thing backpackers love more than traveling on the cheap, it’s adventure. We have compiled ten of the world’s most beautiful backpacking destinations that are relatively affordable, but also provide ample opportunity for exploring the great outdoors and undertaking one-of-a-kind adventures.
Although Australia is anything but cheap, working holiday visas are easy to obtain and will allow you to see more of the country than a regular tourist visa would. Many backpackers pick up odd jobs like bar tending or fruit picking while travelling so they can enjoy the country’s notorious surf spots and nightlife without worrying too much about money. Australia is also a top destination for adventure travel and could be a great place to give skydiving, white water rafting, or deep sea fishing a go for the first time.
Peru is famous for the ancient city of Machu Picchu, but even if you don’t want to shell out $600 or more for a 4-day trek, there are still plenty of other reasons to visit. The landscape is amazingly diverse, with everything from snow-capped mountains to lush Amazonian jungles, impressive canyons, and laid-back beaches where you can surf or just hang out while enjoying a couple of pisco sours.
Ethiopia is often overlooked by backpackers due to its history of political instability, which is a shame considering the country’s affordability and unique culture (as one of the only countries in Africa that was never truly colonized). Some of the highlights for travelers in Ethiopia include the ancient walled city of Harar, the spectacular Blue Nile Falls, and the Danakil depression (where you can see hot springs and volcanoes as well as sulphur and mineral salt formations).
Croatia is known for its luxurious coastline. While it’s not as cheap as some other Eastern European countries, it’s still more affordable than the Euro Zone, especially if you avoid peak season from July to September. Aside from sun and sea, Croatia has a rich culture and history, as evidenced by the well-preserved medieval city of Dubrovnik. You can get a taste of the wild by visiting national parks like Plitvice Lakes and Krka.
The Philippines is an archipelago of over 7,000 islands. Although it’s not as well-known as some Southeast Asian destinations, it’s well worth a visit. There are over 30 volcanoes, a tropical rain forest, Spanish colonial architecture, and some of the world’s most beautiful rice terraces. The fact that many Filipinos speak English will also make it easier for you to get around and make new friends along the way.
Madagascar is one of the largest islands in the world. This beautiful place is surrounded by the crystal clear waters of the Indian Ocean. The island is well-worth visiting if you’re a nature lover, as over 80% of its animal and plant life is unique to the country and can’t be found anywhere else. Aside from the spectacular rainforest and wildlife reserves, you won’t want to miss Avenue de Baobab, which is lined with hundreds of meters of magnificent 800-year-old Baobab trees.
Aside from being super cheap and convenient for travelers, Thailand is brimming with natural beauty, wildlife, and culture. Although some of its islands have become overrun in recent years, there are still plenty of off-the-beaten-track places to explore, especially in the north of Thailand. Try wilderness trekking in the mountains of Chiang Mai, where you can visit impressive temples, palaces, and floating markets or take a scenic boat ride along the Mekong River.
Bolivia is one of the most affordable backpacking destinations in South America, but that’s certainly not the only reason to add it to your bucket list. Bolivia also has the highest percentage of indigenous peoples in South America. The capital of La Paz boasts the world’s highest and longest urban cable car system, which is a great way to see the city while avoiding the hoards of traffic below. A few other things you won’t want to miss include the salt flats or Salar de Uyuni where you can spend a night in a hotel made entirely of salt, and the high altitude lake of Titicaca, which is lined with ancient Inca ruins.
India’s low cost of living has made it one of the most popular backpacking destinations in the world, attracting more than six million people each year who are looking for everything from a month of cheap partying to spiritual enlightenment. Goa is well-known for its gorgeous beaches and vibrant nightlife. However, if you’re up for something more adventurous you can explore the limestone caves of Meghalaya, go skiing in Kashmir, or try river rafting in Himachal.
Morocco has a similar feel to Mediterranean countries like Greece and Italy. This beautiful destination has gnarled olive trees and a dazzling coastline. It is also distinctly North African with its Islamic architecture, fragrant spice markets, and rooftop terraces. Trains in Morocco are cheap and reliable, making it easy to get from place to place. You won’t want to miss seeing the blue streets of Chefchaouen or visiting the brightly colored dunes of Erg Chebbi at sunrise or sunset.
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