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5 best budget travel destinations 2013

We've investigated the 5 best budget destinations for 2013. Read our list.

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There are actually many spots left on earth where you can get by on a few dollars a day. We’ve listed five of the best budget travel destinations here. Some of these budget places may surprise you – who thought that Berlin was among the world’s cheapest big cities? But it is.

We’ve used Numbeo’s cost of living index as help to single out the world’s cheapest destinations, although this list is not exactly a copy of that index, that would be too easy. Instead, I’ve weighted in other factors, too, such as sights, easiness to find transportation and other stuff. Simply the cheapest destinations I would consider going to myself.

So, here are the Traveling Reporter’s suggestions for the five best budget travel destinations 2013.

1. Bangladesh

Hawker at Shadarghat, Bangladesh. Photo: rajibulnsu

Hawker at Shadarghat, Bangladesh.
Photo: rajibulnsu

Bangladesh doesn’t even have a rating on Numbeo, but having been there myself I know it’s a cheap place. What’s more, there are sights everywhere – you can go tiger hunting in the delta, check out the ocean liners and oil tankers at the scrap yards of Chittagong, or just stare at the chaos of the streets of Dhaka, the capital. Beware, though, that this isn’t the easiest destination – there simply are no Western-like tourism in Bangladesh, yet. Unexperienced travelers might have some problems adapting to this very poor country. Finding food in central Dhaka might be exhausting since there are few real restaurants around.

2. United States

Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon

Obviously, if you are an American, you might just skip this part. But it’s a fact that the dollar is very cheap now, trading at about 0.77 to the euro at the time of writing (March, 2013). Dollars were even cheaper in January, and against some smaller currencies (not all European countries use the euro, for example) it’s an even better deal. If you have thought about a trip to the United States, it might be a good idea to consider doing it now because of the good value of the dollar, if for no other reason. (More: How to lower your gas bill.)

3. Southern Europe

Oia, Santorini, Greece

Oia Santorini Greece.

Sadly, the economic crisis is ripping through the societies of southern Europe – Greece, Spain, Italy and France all feel the deep impact of too much public debt and faulty banks. While all these countries use the euro, bargains can still be found. In some parts of Greece, for example, hotel owners are desperate for income, thus lowering prices by as much as 50 percent. Taxis, restaurants and tours can be found at good value, too. This will work as long as inflation is kept low within the euro zone.

4. India

Dyeing by the Ganga, Varanasi, India.

Dyeing by the Ganga, Varanasi, India.

Now this is the real deal. Surat, Thiruvananthapuram, Nagpur, Coimbatore, Kolkata, Hyderabad and a bunch of other Indian cities all come in at the very low end of Numbeo’s indexes, no matter the category – cost of living, rent, groceries, it’s all cheap. While Delhi hasn’t got that much sense of India about it – no cows in the streets, for example – I can really recommend Kolkata (Calcutta), Varanasi and Bombay. Especially Varanasi, so poor and yet so beautiful where it sits on the banks of Ganga (Ganges), is really worth a visit. And it’s bound to be a cheap one, too.

5. Berlin

Berlin Neuer Hauptbahnhof.

Berlin Neuer Hauptbahnhof.

Who said city breaks must be expensive? The German capital, as big as it is, runs at the Cost of living index of just below 82, compared with 160 for Oslo, 133 for Sydney and 115 for Tokyo. Berlin’s Rent Index stands at 29, compared with 130 for Hong Kong and 76 for Washington DC. In fact, Berlin is really a backpacker’s bargain, when you think of it. It helps, too, that the eastern parts of Germany tend to be even cheaper than the western. (More on Berlin here.)


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The editor of the Traveling Reporter works as a business news editor, and is a frequent traveler. When not doing any of that, he spends time on his boat and tries to figure out where to travel next. Two of his top destinations are the Philippines and San Francisco. Email Erik! Follow the Traveling Reporter at Stumbleupon, Tumblr, Chime In, Pinterest, Google+, Weibo, Storify, Facebook, Traveldudes, Myspace.