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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Backpacking, cheapest locations

Cheapest Countries for Backpacking

Backpacking is one of the most liberating ways to travel around the world. Being able to walk, bus or hitchhike, staying under canvas or in cheap rooms and trekking to beautiful sites while avoiding the tourist traps are great ways to see the ‘real’ countries. Trying to backpack on a budget needs some careful planning – you need cheap food, economical accommodation, access to low-priced public transport and some cash to visit special attractions.

1. Malawi

Malawi - A cheap destination for African Wildlife

The Republic of Malawi – to give it its full name – is a landlocked country in the southeast of Africa. It’s bordered mainly by Mozambique to the east, south and west, Zambia to the northwest and Tanzania to the northeast.

We would be looking at a daily cost of $20 due to a very favourable exchange rate and a negligible tourist industry. Accommodation-wise you will be able to find a bed for under $3, and a decent, locally-sourced meal will set you back less than $2. Public transport is cheap and cheerful, if not a little hair-raising.

For outdoor activity you can try your hand at water-skiing on Lake Malawi for a fraction of the cost of a similar experience at more well-known resorts. Cape Maclear is a beautiful backpacker’s destination where you can enjoy swimming and diving in the crystal-clear waters or sunbathe on the beach. Malawi is a relatively small country and you can easily trek through the entire length of the country in a day or two. The safari trail is a big attraction – elephant-spotting being a popular draw. The views from the mountainous areas are spectacular and watching the sun setting over the amazing vista as you prepare to bed down for the night is pretty special.

The capital city of Lilongwe has extensive markets and you will be hard-pressed not to buy a few bargains.

The people are typically welcoming and friendly – keen to be good hosts and continue to earn their reputation as the ‘warm heart of Africa’.

Be sure to have a good travel insurance policy as Malawi is a known malarial region. If you are travelling for more than 3 weeks look at a dedicated backpacking policy. We recommend not to swim in Lake Malawi (as many do) due to the number of water based parasites which can causes diseases like bilharzia.

2. Turkey

A Blue Mosque Skyscape, Istanbul, Turkey

The eastern border of Europe gives you the chance to experience standards that Westerners are used to but at prices more typical of Eastern countries. For a little over $30 a day you will be able to pick up some remarkable memories as you travel around enjoying fabulous fare, culture and scenery.

Accommodation will set you back around ten bucks in a hostel in the capital city of Ankara. Other cities will give you the same standard of lodging for around half this price. The southwest coast is expensive and touristy and not good for a budget-conscious traveler. Heading east will get you rooms that come with breakfast and lunch included too for around $30. And, indeed, it’s the eastern side of Turkey that is the real joy for budget backpackers.

The price of public transport is remarkably cheap and for around $15 you can get a good standard of bus service across the country. As you head east, the culture becomes distinctly Middle Eastern as the influence of migrant Kurds exerts its friendly influence. You can get very tasty meals for just over $4 – a real bargain!

Turkey has some amazing ruins and historical attractions – it’s seen many cultures come and go and is constantly evolving. Explore the ghost city of Ani on the Armenian border and travel to the Gobeklitepe Temple where this amazing structure is still being painstakingly unearthed and revealed!

3. Ethiopia


Smiling eyes, Ethiopia

To the south on the Horn of Africa lies Ethiopia, the most populous landlocked country in the world with over one million souls living here. Backpacking around the country will set you back just over $12 a day. Depending on your comfort requirements a bed for the night can cost as little as $3 but, for a few dollars more, you can enjoy a few more frills. If you avoid the tourist areas and head to the authentic streets you will be able to eat healthily for less than a $1 a meal. You would expect to pay up to $2 for a meal in a restaurant so either option is still a good price. If you enjoy your coffee you must take every opportunity to sample it here, Ethiopia started the world’s coffee addiction and it now accounts for over half their foreign trade and employs more than 10% of its citizens. Oh and for a fraction over 10 cents a cup you can’t go wrong.

Travelling by bus works out at about a dollar per hour heading between cities. These are typically very crowded and hot though but if you go opt for a higher class of bus at around $3 per hour you will have more space, comfort and welcome air conditioning!

Some of the best places to visit are the temples at the UNESCO World Heritage Sites including Aksum. For five bucks you can search through the chapels that reputedly house the Ark of the Covenant. Aksum dates back over 4,000 years and, according to tradition was where the Queen of Sheba met with King Solomon.

4. Nepal


Sadhu at Pashupatinath temple, Kathmandu, Nepal

Our last choice is a perennial favorite of the budget backpacker. An adventure through Nepal can cost as little as $14 per day. Despite the earthquake two years ago, Nepal is recovering and is very welcoming to visitors.

Hitchhiking is popular and commonplace in areas like Jomsom, there is a strong sense of community and the willingness to help each other out is humbling. Public transport is mainly provided by modern minibuses that have air conditioning. A public transport pass costs only $12.

Food is inexpensive; a restaurant meal comes in at under $2 and if you shop in the local markets you will eat well for $1.

Some of the best sites in Nepal are free, the awe-inspiring World Peace Pagoda (Nepal is home to two of the world’s 80 Peace Pagodas) south of Phewa Lake in Pokhara. The snow-capped mountains of the Annapurna Range are beautiful and you can easily spend a day hiking around the circuit of the Annapurna Conservation Area.

Note: The first four pictures in this post have been re-used under the Creative Commons License.



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