World's cheapest countries

2012-07-05 16:22

So, we recently found out which cities around the world are considered to be the most expensive, and also which countries have been named the happiest and unhappiest.

While socio-economic issues aren't always the predominant thing that makes us travel somewhere or not, it always is something to bear in mind... especially when you're bound by a budget, or feeling a little blue already.

This time round, we'd like to put a smile on your face AND your bank managers by giving you a list of the cheapest places to travel to right now. Spoiler alert: you're probably going to have to head East!


Interestingly Vietnam also made it onto Happy Planet Index's list of top 10 happiest places in the world - it's in the number two position. So, what does that tell you? Number 1 bucket list destination right now! While other Southeast Asian countries like Thailand and Indonesia might be overly commercialized and tourist savvy, Vietnam still has most of its innocence quite intact. Much of the country is filled with picturesque farmlands and villages, while the beaches and forests also capture hearts and imaginations.

Currency: Vietnam Dong, 1.00 ZAR = 2,482.61 VND

Top places to visit: Halong beach, Mekong delta, Hanoi


No one travels to India and returns unchanged. It's pretty much a fact. Whether it's due to a spiritual, cultural or social experience doesn't really matter, the important thing is that India just has such a dizzying array of bursting-out-of-the skin life to offer that it's impossible not for something essential to stay with you when you leave.

Currency: Indian Rupee, 1.00 ZAR = 6.76 INR

Top places to visit: Goa, Kerala and Kashmir for natural beauty, Mumbai and Delhi for the city vibe


An absolute favourite destinations for South Africans right now, because its highly affordable and oh so tropical. While the parties are legendary, there's a good deal of culture and history to keep the more subdued among us thrilled too. Of course, clothing is one of the cheapest commodities here, so pack light on the way over!

Currency: Thai baht, 1 ZAR = 2,482.61333 VND

Top places to visit: Bangkok for the fast paced party city vibe, Mae Hong Son for a cultural encounter with mountain tribes and Koh Samui for an island adventure.


This archipelago comprising 7,107 islands provides an intriguing mix of modern and traditional, as certain islands are home to only villages, while others house cities such as Manila. The palm-lined beaches and rich volcanic soil have cultivated postcard perfect views all round, while the traditional foods leave the senses tantalized and longing for more.

Currency: Philippine Peso, 1.00 ZAR = 5.04 PHP

Top places to visit: The capital city of Manila, Boracay aka the beach that never sleeps and Bohol.


The Indonesian archipelago comprises approximately 17,508 islands, has 33 provinces and is home to over 238 million people, so no wonder "Unity in Diversity" is the national motto. Indonesia has had a mix of influences, all stemming from their historic trade links with both India and China and the more recent introduction of Christianity. As with the rest of the countries mentioned so far, Indonesia is also home to some of the most amazing natural beauty and has become something of a mecca for wave riders of all sorts. It's a popular destination for backpacking as well as more luxurious travel.

Currency: Indonesian rupiah, 1.00 ZAR = 1,123.27 IDR

Top places to visit: Bali for surf, Borobudur for culture and Komodo National Park for nature.


Like Vietnam, Cambodia doesn't immediately spring to mind when planning a trip to Southeast Asia. However, if you're not one for the crowds of Thailand or the rough and rugged surfers who frequent parts of Indonesia, Cambodia is certain to charm the socks off you. Cambodia's landscape is characterized by a low-lying central plain that is surrounded by uplands and low mountains and the vegetation is typically tropical and foresty.

Currency: Cambodian riel, 1.00 ZAR = 488.79 KHR

Top places to visit: The Angkor Wat historical park in Siem Reap province, the beaches in Sihanoukville and the capital city Phnom Penh are the main attractions for foreign tourists.


No matter what your interests are, China probably has something that will get your heart beating double time... except Facebook and Twitter. But who needs that when you can check out the majestic Forbidden City in Beijing, the breathtaking scenery of Jiuzhaigou or even a perfect replica of an Austrian town? Yup, China is full of all sorts of uncanny surprises and cultural experiences.

Currency: Chinese yuan, 1.00 ZAR = 0.76 CNY

Top places to visit: the cities of Beijing and Shanghai, the historical Silk Road, the Yangtze river and Xian to see the famous terracotta warriors


If an adventure in Eastern Europe has been on your heart for a long time, consider starting your journey in the magical mash-up that is Bulgaria. Bulgarian history has a mix of influences, including local Thracian, Slavic and Bulgar heritage, along with Greek, Roman, Ottoman and Celtic, all of which are still visible in various forms - architecture, food, people. Much of the country has remained untouched by urban sprawl, so you will still encounter the beauty of rural and pastoral living, as well as typical coastal culture in the towns bordering the Black Sea.

Currency: Bulgarian lev, 1.00 ZAR = 0.19 BGN

Top places to visit: The Black Sea town of Balchik, Rila Monastery, the capital city of Sofia


So, the country has been going through a bit of a rough patch lately, and rumour has it that bikinis and booze have been banned, but that doesn't mean it's not worth checking out anymore. In fact, now might be the best time to go! Egypt can be divided in to 4 very different natural regions which include the Nile Valley and Delta, Western Desert, the Sinai Peninsula and the Eastern Desert, each with their own distinct feel and culture.

Currency: Egyptian pound, 1.00 ZAR = 0.72 EGP

Top places to visit: So, it might not be original, but going to Egypt and not seeing the Pyramids and the Sphinx would just be wrong! Other than that a cruise down the Nile, an adventure in the Valley of the Kings and checking out Cleopatra's legacy in Alexandria all come highly recommended.


While many of the other South American countries are quite heavy on the pocket, Colombia seems to bring some relief. It may have gained fame as the capital of drug lords, but these days Colombia is getting itself sorted out and attracting tourists from all over to its culturally diverse and historically rich shores. The majority of the urban centres are located in the highlands of the Andes mountains, but Colombian territory also encompasses Amazon rainforest, tropical grassland and both Caribbean and Pacific coastlines.

Currency: Colombian Peso, 1.00 ZAR = 213.77 COP

Top places to visit: Medellin - once an infamous, drug-riddled city, now clean and fresh. It's known as the City of Eternal Spring due to its near-perfect climate. Cartagena, a perfectly preserved colonial city, San Gil for adventure and Barichara for a village experience.

Read more on:    travel international

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