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Ten Must-See Countries on a Budget

From Iceland to Laos to Morocco, the world is full of awe-inspiring sights and cultures: so many, in fact, that planning where to go can seem rather daunting. Here are ten fantastic countries to kick start your adventures— even in days of economic gloom!

1. Turkey

With the credit-crunch pushing pricey Western Europe into even less affordable territory, Turkey becomes an ever more attractive proposition. Thanks to these cheap prices, a range of budget accommodation Turkey hostels can be found across the country). With its charming coastline, the country is set to become one of 2009’s most popular holiday spots.

2. China

Having stolen centre-stage in 2008 with the success of the Beijing Olympics, China is fast becoming a major tourist destination. Once solely the domain of adventurous backpackers, more budget flights and China hostels (as well as a general improvement in infrastructure) mean it’s now accessible to all. Things have settled down after last year’s major event, making this the ideal time to explore the neon-lit skyscrapers of Shanghai, the rice terraces of Yunan and many more of the diverse charms this vast country has to offer.

3. Scotland

Perennially popular for its rugged countryside and vibrant cities, Scotland runs towards the top of the list in 2009 because of its geography. Easily reached from the rest of the UK without blowing your budget on flights, it makes an ideal alternative to more far-flung destinations. Castles, lakes, old-fashioned pubs and a wide range of cheap Scotland hostels offer both culture and cost-effectiveness. And Scotland really does have it all – from skiing in the Cairngorms to Neolithic monuments on remote islands.

4. Iceland

Iceland may once have been notoriously expensive but the recent decline in their currency has suddenly made this breathtaking country affordable. From famed nightlife in the capital, Reykjavik, to geothermal pools and geysers, Iceland is a fascinating mix of urban and eco life. During the summer months, partying in the shadow of the ‘midnight sun’ proves a particular highlight.

5. Morocco

Like Turkey, Morocco will escape the expense of the Euro-zone in 2009, offering a taste of the exotic as well as value for money. Holidays here are guaranteed to provide plenty of sun, sea and sand, or, equally, explorations of ancient cities and towering mountains. New low-cost flights to Fes from major European airports also look set to aid Morocco’s popularity this year.

6. Laos

Now that Thailand has well and truly broken onto the holiday scene, adventurous travellers won’t find the same unaffected atmosphere on its shores. But away from the crowds and the con-artists, Laos offers a tempting alternative. Not only is it an incredibly beautiful country, but Laos is still unspoiled enough to offer a truly alternative experience. Head to Nam Ha National Park for the best of Laos’ waterfalls and culture.

7. Canada

Typically overlooked in favour of its loud American neighbour, Canada has much more to offer as a travel destination than the stereotypes would suggest. Cosmopolitan cities contrast remote landscapes, whilst world-class skiing sits alongside a full cultural calendar of festivals and events – making Canada an excellent travel destination all year round.

8. Albania

Situated well off the beaten path of Eastern Europe’s increasingly busy travel circuit, up-and-coming Albania is as fun as it is cheap. Away from the crowds that dominate Italy and Greece, Albania’s Ionian coastline is the perfect alternative to better-known seaside spots in 2009. Strange legacies from former paranoid dictator Hoxha’s reign (most notably the newly painted pillboxes) offer an interesting counterpoint to the idyllic setting, adding to the intrigue.

9. Syria

Affordable and jammed full of history (but woefully under-visited), a trip to Syria is a bit like stepping back in time. Check out the legendary city of Damascus and its hugely significant monuments, or shop for silk brocade and Turkish Delight in the marketplace. And when Syria’s urban charms have been exhausted, there’s always the beach at Latakia and the immense desert to explore.

10. Cuba

In all its crumbling grandeur, Cuba is arguably the Caribbean’s most intriguing destination. The streets are laced with ancient cadillacs and imposing Colonial architecture, with music and rhythm seeming to vibrate from every corner. What’s more, unlike many of the more jetset Caribbean islands, cheap hostels and a low cost of living make Cuba surprisingly affordable in these budget-conscious times.