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!
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.