We’re always on the lookout for wallet-friendly destinations to add to our ever growing bucket list. So here are our top 12 picks for 2016 that won’t bust your budget!
[Check Out: Top 18 Places You Need To Visit in 2016]
1. Nepal – Pokhara
Credit: Marina & Enrique
Ready to get away from the bustling city and have your very own Eat, Pray, Love journey? It’s time to head to Pokhara and be greeted with amazingly breathtaking views of lakes and mountains! Even if you’re not a seasoned trekker, there’s still plenty to do – explore the Tibetan settlements, check out old Pokhara, and just immerse yourself in the laidback culture of the city.
#HHWT Tip: As the city is pretty small, don’t worry about transportation. You can easily get around on foot or rent a bike at a low fee. Head over to the Lakeside area and you can also find guesthouses/hostels with rooms under USD15 per night!
2. Hungary – Budapest
Credit: Randy Connolly
Budapest should definitely be on every history buff’s bucket list. It’s relatively cheap to visit Budapest as compared to other European cities and the city is filled with World Heritage sites. Best thing of all? A lot of these sights are free, so yay for our wallets! We’ll just let the photos do the talking here…
#HHWT Tip: Check out the Budapest card which allows you to save on admission fees and take public transportation for free!
3. Malaysia – Ipoh
Mouth-watering halal food has always been a major draw for those who visit Malaysia, with a blend of Malay, Chinese and Indian cuisines to choose from. Penang Island would usually be the port-of-call when it comes to good food, but we say that the town of Ipoh in Perak is also a contender! Cheaper than its more famous cousin up north, Ipoh is up and coming with affordable boutique hotels, yummy (and cheap!) food options (think finger licking nasi kandar, halal Chinese hawker dishes, traditional ice balls and even hipster cafes) and is central to lots of other attractions that Perak has to offer, from the hot springs of Tambun to the to the cool climate of Cameron Highlands.
#HHWT Tip: Like Penang, Ipoh now has a number of mural artworks and street art around town depicting Perak in the old days, popular Malaysian culture and even classic children’s games. Hunting for murals and taking a photograph or two is a fun way to spend the afternoon in Ipoh, before enjoying a cup of coffee at their many cafes.
4. Cambodia – Siem Reap
If you’re a history buff and love visiting ancient ruins, the amazing Angkor Wat in Siem Reap is definitely a must visit. We’re in awe of the structures and intricately carved patterns in the solid rock of the temples. There’s also plenty to see and do beyond Angkor Wat of course, from bargain hunting at their street markets, visiting the floating villages to watching an amazing sunset over the Tonle Sap lake. Best part is, there are also halal restaurants and Muslim-friendly accommodations in Siem Reap!
#HHWT Tip: Bring US dollars if you’re travelling in Cambodia – most attractions and dining places accept USD. Also, it’s easier to exchange any extra cash you have leftover back into your home currency!
5. China – Xi’An
From its rich history to the amazing authentic halal Chinese food, you’ll never run out of things to explore and do in Xi’an! And yes, it is surprisingly affordable to visit this city too. Whether it’s eating your way through the Muslim Quarter or visiting the sites on public transport, it’s both convenient and cheap!
#HHWT Tip: If you’re planning on visiting the Terracotta Army, take the public bus from Xi’an Railway Station (Bus No. 306) for around 1USD! It’s waaay cheaper than joining a day tour.
6. Thailand – Chiang Mai
We’ve been to Chiang Mai and we love it! With great street food like mango sticky rice (who can say no to fresh mangos?), markets to bargain to your heart’s content, culture you can’t wait to immerse yourself into (we love the Bo Sang Umbrella Village) and even a sanctuary for abused and injured elephants that you can visit and give back to the community (you’ll know why you should NEVER ride elephants after visiting the sanctuary), Chiang Mai is the northern Thailand gem that you should be exploring right now!
#HHWT Tip: If you’re not afraid of heights (or even if you are, it’s time to conquer that fear!), you should definitely check out zip lining in Chiang Mai. It’s loads of fun and the adrenaline rush you get from zipping from tree to tree will make you feel just like Tarzan 😛
You might easily overlook Croatia when you’re planning a trip to Europe for its more popular neighbours like Italy and Vienna in Austria, but we’re here to tell you that Croatia is the place to be! With its reasonable exchange rate, a tonne of rich culture and history, gorgeous pebbled beaches, bike trails (for those of you who enjoy taking in the sights on two wheels) and seafood galore, we’re so ready to discover what Croatia has to offer.
#HHWT Tip: Croatia has a long history with Islam, although being predominantly Catholic. Visit the beautiful Zagreb mosque if you’re in the capital of the country, or check out the stunning mosque in Rijeka. It would definitely be an experience to pray in a Croatian mosque!
8. Vietnam – Hanoi
Want a budget trip but not willing to compromise on experience? Hanoi is just the place you need to visit with its vibrant culture! With numerous scenic sites and cultural relics, there’s plenty to see in Hanoi on a budget. Yes, you can expect to spend around USD20/day (or less) for your food, lodging and sightseeing.
#HHWT Tip: Hop on a scooter taxi to truly experience Hanoi like a local! A typical 10 min ride should cost you less than a dollar (USD).
9. Indonesia – Lombok
Bali getting a little touristy for you? Head on over to Lombok, also known as the island of 1000 mosques. Unlike Bali, halal food is easily available in Lombok, which also boasts great beaches, diving spots on the nearby Gili Islands and a local vibe that you can’t get in Bali. You can enjoy a private villa with unbeatable prices, kick back and relax as you soak up the beauty of Lombok and the Gilis.
#HHWT Tip: Fret not if sandy toes aren’t really your thing and adventure is more your game. Lombok also has amazing waterfalls and even an active volcano that you can trek up to (or take a helicopter up…but that’s not really for budget conscious travellers). Lombok has got it all 😉
10. Perth, Western Australia
With laidback vibes and breathtaking landscapes, Perth is on our list for everyone who has always dreamed of visiting kangaroo land. Its close proximity from Singapore and Malaysia, increase in number of budget airlines flying to Perth and a drop in the Australian dollar do not hurt either! Not only is the relaxed city known for it’s unbeatable sunsets, amazing beaches, culture and nature, there’s also lots to do if you’re up for a road trip down the coast of Western Australia – the whitest beach in Australia is an 8 hours drive away!
#HHWT Tip: Getting around Perth is great for your wallet too, because you can explore the city for free using their CAT (Central Area Transit) buses which navigates the city’s key attractions. If your trip takes you down to Fremantle (which is a must for their famous fish and chips), you can also explore the area by bike for free!
11. Greece – Crete/Lemnos
Credit: Brinks Mat
When we say Greece, Santorini and luxury holidays probably come to mind. Although Greece still isn’t as cheap as some of the other destinations in this article, the cost is definitely way lower than it used to be due to the current economic situation. So skip the more touristy cities (yes, we mean Santorini, Athens or Mykonos), and you may just end up spending a lot less than you expect to! Instead, check out Crete or Lemnos, where you wouldn’t be bombarded by tourists. Crete is known for its vegetarian food and Lemnos for its seafood, so you can soak in the culture and try the local food there too!
#HHWT Tip: If you’re planning a summer vacation, do note that prices will be slightly inflated during July/August.
12. Philippines – Boracay
Boracay is pretty much synonymous with white sand beaches and even though it’s been gaining popularity amongst tourists through the years, it’s definitely still worth a visit! (Perfect short getaway? :P) The best part? You can find budget accommodation near the famous beaches and go crazy with the water sports from as low as 4USD (banana boating)! Need more convincing? Check out 6 reasons why you HAVE to visit Boracay!