Budget Friendly Alternatives for Expensive Countries

  • by Ari Travels
Budget Friendly Alternatives for Expensive Countries

Sometimes dreams are bigger than the wallet as I would like to say. Traveling to unique destinations does not have to be expensive. Today we will talk about some of the most (popular) expensive countries in the world and where you can visit instead that won’t burn a hole in your wallet. By booking a call with me, you can still afford to travel to some of the most expensive countries in the world, but still consider checking out these budget friendly alternatives as they are a great option for minimal planning and stress! 


girl with long blonde hair on beach hammock in the maldives

Instead of the Maldives, Visit the Philippines

The Philippines is known to have some of the best beaches in the entire world. The Philippines can be traveled to for under $30/day which includes accommodation. You can take local boats to see some of the most pristine beaches with lots of sandbars and clear blue water that is almost identical to the Maldives. There is plenty of snorkeling here too. If you’re feeling boogie, you can even rent out a private island in the middle of the ocean for under $200/night. 


Island Recommendations in the Philippines 

The Philippines is made up of thousands of islands. Some of the most common ones to visit include 

  • El Nido, Palawan 
  • Bohol
  • Cebu 
  • Sirago 

You can easily island hop by ferry if you’re on a tight budget. Make sure to book your ferries on 12goasia for the best prices.


Where to stay in the Philippines 

You can find very nice hotels for as little as $5/night or hotels for under $20 

I noticed the best prices for accommodation are using booking.com for hotels and Hostelworld for hostels 


girl with long blonde hair at sekumpul waterfalls in bali, indonesia

Instead of Hawaii, Visit Indonesia 

Indonesia is by far my favorite country I have ever traveled to. Indonesia offers insane hikes with breathtaking volcano views, waterfalls, beaches and more. I find it a great budget-friendly alternative to Hawaii because the landscapes are almost identical (to be honest, I think Indonesia’s landscapes are better!). Traveling in Indonesia will run you less than $30/day which includes accommodation. If you were to travel to Hawaii, you’d be paying $30 just for one meal! 

Check out my FREE full one month itinerary and travel guide for all of the recommendations of what to do and where to stay to have the best, budget friendly adventure throughout Indonesia. 


girl with blue floral crop top and white skirt at a pagoda in vietnam

Instead of Japan, Visit Vietnam

Japan is by far a great destination, but it can be very pricy especially Tokyo vs. Vietnam is one of the cheapest countries in the world to travel to. It’s possible to travel in Vietnam for under $20/day including accommodation if you are on a very tight budget.

Vietnam offers everything from cultural city life, endless options for restaurants and bars, and a stunning countryside with lakes, rice fields, waterfalls and pagodas. You will get a feel of the busy city of Tokyo and the countryside of Kyoto, but without the high price tag.


Places you should visit in Vietnam (plan to spend 3 weeks to a month here)

You can get from place to place by affordable sleeper buses or trains for under $20!

  • Use 12goasia for the most affordable prices!


Where to stay in Vietnam

For the most affordable hostels, check out hostelworld and for Hotels, use booking.com. TIP:  Guesthouses on booking.com will be cheaper than hotels!


 Girl  with long blonde hair on a hike in Switzerland

Instead of Switzerland, Visit Austria 

Switzerland is one of the most expensive countries in the world to travel to. I mean who wouldn’t want to see those mountain views and all the unique Scandinavian villages. Well, you’re in luck because this specific city in Austria is going to offer you the same views and villages for a fraction of the cost. 

You will want to spend 1-2 days in Vienna, 1-2 days in Salzburg and then from Salzburg take the train to Hallstatt. Hallstatt Austria is the winner here and looks almost identical to Lauterbrunnen Switzerland, except you can travel around Austria for approx. $40/day. There are tons of beautiful hiking trails around Hallstatt and Salzburg with views for days! 

Trains in Austria are easily accessible and affordable. 


Hiking trail recommendations in Austria 

- Gratlspitz Mountain

- Lünersee Circuit Trail

- The Eagle Walk

- Kröndlhorn

- Karlsbader Hütte


Accommodation in Austria

You can find places here for under $30/night and even less, if you choose to stay in a hostel. Use booking.com for hotels and hostelworld.com for hostels. 


girl in a green bikini on a sandbar in Panama

Instead of Aruba, Visit Panama 

Aruba accommodation is limited and can get pricy because most of the accommodation here are just resorts. In Panena, especially the island of Bocas del Toro, you will have awesome landscapes and a tropical vibe, but all for an affordable price. See wildlife, crystal clear blue water, and go on snorkeling and jungle adventures. There are many accommodation options here to fit all budgets and cost of living will run you less than $30/day. 


Acommodation in Panema 

Hostels in Panama 

Hotels in Panama 

Consider staying at the Selina's new hostel in Bocas Del Toro 


Instead of Kenya, Visit South Africa

Most people go to Africa for the safari experience and who wouldn’t want to see wild animals up close while sitting driving a jeep? Well, safari’s can cost well over $2,000 just for the experience. Lucky for you, South Africa offers day trip safaris at Kruger National Park for only about $100. You will see the the same animals and have basically the same experience, minus the expensive lodging. 


Accommodation in South Africa is very affordable.

You can find hostels for under $12/night or hotels for under $40/night  

Hostels in South Africa 

Hotels in South Africa 


girl with long blonde hair at la fortuna waterfall in costa rica

Instead of Saint Lucia, Visit Costa Rica 

Personally, I think Costa Rica has even more to offer than Saint Lucia and for the price, in my book it’s a win-win! Costa Rica is very close to the USA (about 6 hour flight that normally has one layover) and has the most biodiverse landscapes in the world. Its tropical mountainous, jungles and beaches will leave you in awe. Costa Rica offers accommodation similar to the ones you would see in Saint Lucia (villas with private pools overlooking mountains and sea) but for a fraction of the cost. 

If you are interested in planning a trip to Costa Rica look no further than my 7 day road trip itinerary. It will cover everything you will need to know, where you should go, where you should stay and what you should do! 


girl with long blonde hair, orange top and white skirt in ksamil, Albania

Instead of Greece, Visit Albania 

The south of Albania has a lot to offer. From the old villages of Gjirokastër

to the pristine white beaches of Himarë, the south of Albania has landscapes, beaches and architecture that replicate some of the Greek islands. Now, the blue dome churches you see in Greece cannot be replicated, although it is worth visiting Southern Albania and won’t even put nearly as big of a drain on your wallet. You can find places to stay for as little as $10/night and are located right next to the beach. 


Where to Stay in Albania 

Base yourself in the town of Saranda which is located right off the cost of Corfu, Greece

You can get here via ferry from Corfu. 

Hostel Recommendations (click for more) 

SR Backpackers is where I stayed and it was my favorite hotel!: $10/night 


Hotel Recommendations (click for more) 

Apartments Rai: $18/night  

Hotel Erioni: $26/night

Hotel Mano: $33/night

You can book any day trip island hopping tours or tours to see old villages and national parks right with your accommodation (booking online is not common for excursions). It’s very easy and accessible to also go to these places on your own and take a shared shuttle or public bus for only $2 one way. Don’t forget to also do a day trip to the blue hole during your time here (the blue hole day trip can easily be booked online though)! 


Best beaches in Ksamil

  • Bora Bora Beach
  • Kep Merli 
  • Main Beach 
  • Mirror Beach 

Best beaches in Himarë

  • Pile beach
  • Prinos beach
  • Potami beach

Now that you are aware of the budget friendly alternatives to expensive countries, it’s time for your next adventure. I am here to help you plan your next trip of a lifetime that won’t break the bank. Feel free to reach out to me for any planning advice, custom itineraries or questions! Happy traveling!

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