The thing we love most about welcoming the New Year is the chance to create another year of memories. Another opportunity to create new experiences, meet new people and travel to new places. While some travellers enjoy the idea of a luxurious vacation, others prefer to maximise the value in his or her wallet.
Finding the perfect destination that is tailored to your budget is easy. All you need is an abundance of research and the HHWT team to help you along the way. Get your passports renewed and let’s see where 2018 can take us.
1. Taipei, Taiwan
Taiwan’s capital city is the playground for energetic vibes and city lights. With the Taipei 101 skyscraper as its centrepiece, Taipei is surrounded by shopping streets and modern architecture. Just use their public buses or MRT to move around cheaply. What if you need a break from a busy weekend in Taipei?
Credit: @clara_ontheroad on Instagram
Well, you can take a hiking trip to Yangmingshan National Park and Xiangshan (Elephant Mountain) hiking trail that comes with no entrance fees. You can also check out the Martyr’s Shrine, Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall and Dalongdong Bao’an Temple that is open to the public for free. Or even better, venture out to Hualien county!
Credit: Jennifer 真泥佛 on Flickr
When it comes to food, the Taiwanese sure knows how to prepare explosive flavours in every bite. We recommend hitting the streets for their wallet-friendly beef noodle soup, shaved ice desserts and sweet pineapple cakes. Consider having breakfast, lunch and dinner in these Muslim-friendly eateries in Taiwan.
Credit: @utamaputranto on Instagram
If you need more reasons to visit Taipei, we have eight reasons why Taiwan should be on your bucket list!
2. Chiang Mai, Thailand
A mountainous city that is sprawled with beautiful greenery and horizons, Chiang Mai is where Thailand keeps one of its best sceneries. Whether you’re into nature, adventure or cultural escapades, Chiang Mai has something for every kind of traveller. The culture seekers can follow the local’s footsteps and appreciate the century-old architecture of Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, Wat Pan Tao, Wat Chedi Luang and Wat Phra Singh with minimal entrance fees.
Credit: @mercury_ring on Instagram
Credit: @maxoulvey on Instagram
To refuel, savour the Thai beef biryani and Chiang-Mai-style chicken curry from these halal eateries in Chiang Mai. Shopping for souvenirs at the Saturday Night Market, Anusarn Market and Warorot Night Market is a must, so remember to bargain well. You can also enjoy an affordable traditional Thai massage after all those endless shopping.
Credit: @i_am_bird86 on Instagram
3. Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Flanked by Tonle Sap and Mekong River, Phnom Penh is always buzzing with activities and things to do. Also Cambodia’s capital city, this destination is enriched with culture and history, which you can explore at the Royal Palace, National Museum of Cambodia and the Independence Monument. The best and cheapest way to get around is the tuk-tuk, the country’s main mode of transportation.
Till this very day, the Cambodian genocide remains a dark period in the country’s history books. The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the mass grave of Cheong Ek are two places you can visit to learn more about it. If you’re looking for affordable places to stay, Phnom Penh is filled with backpacker’s hostels and clean budget accommodations. Before heading back, pick up some postcards, silks and miniature statues from the Central Market and Russian Market.
Credit: Ashley on Flickr
4. Penang, Malaysia
Ask any Malaysian about the country’s best tourist destination and Penang will rank high on the list. With the abundance of cheap eats, amazing tourist attractions and friendly people, what’s not to like about Penang?
Credit: @mercilessjun on Instagram
Backpackers hostel and budget accommodation are aplenty for the economical travellers. You can find wallet-friendly meals wherever you go especially in food courts and street side stalls. For the best of the best, you can grab mee sotong, cendol and nasi lemak from these halal eateries in Penang. Guess what? We even listed four of Penang’s nasi kandar restaurants as our picks for the best nasi kandar spots in Malaysia!
Credit: @chun_keat_93 on Instagram
Credit: @davehagerman on Instagram
5. Luang Prabang, Laos
Squinting is unnecessary to locate Luang Prabang on the north of the Laos map. Formerly the royal capital of Laos, this ancient capital is a magnet for travellers. If you’re looking for other pit stops besides Vientiane and Vang Vieng, this is the best place to be. Walking may be a good way to experience the city like a local, but you can hop onto a tuk-tuk for comfort. Alternatively, you can rent bikes from hostels or budget accommodations to explore at your own pace.
Credit: @rndm_i_know on Instagram
Luang Prabang is a place made for rest and relaxation. The laidback culture will fulfil the promise of serenity that you often crave when in the city. Prepare to maximise your daylight hours here, my dear travellers. Whether you’re chasing the sunset on Mount Phousi, learning history at the Royal Palace or shopping at the local night market, you will have the best time before the sun melts into the horizon. The best part is, these experiences will only cost you less than USD3 for entrance fees.
Credit: @rehollanda on Instagram
Credit: @eemanteoh on Instagram
6. Yogyakarta, Indonesia
Nicknamed as Jogja, this Indonesian city is best known for their ancient monuments, delicious food and rich culture. Aside from circling the famous Borobudur and Prambanan temples, visiting the Ullen Sentalu Museum, shopping at Maliboro Street and discovering the wayang kulit craftsmanship at Arya Classic Wayang comes to a close second. Brimming with excitement, there are fun things to explore for your first time to Yogyakarta. To move around, use the Trans Jogja bus system to cut down your daily budget.
Credit: @joshsayavong on Instagram
Yearning for thrills and adventures instead? Take a cue from the thrilling activities you can do in Yogyakarta and take wacky photos at Umbul Ponggok as well as go sandboarding across Parangkusumo Sand Dunes. The flavours of soto ayam, ayam geprek and gudeg in Yogyakarta are amazing. We encourage everyone to make it a mission to find these affordable bites from these halal eateries in Yogyakarta.
Credit: @sddesmayanti on Instagram
Credit: @linggabinangkit on Instagram
7. Jaipur, India
The best way to do sightseeing in Jaipur is to embrace its charm one place at a time. With many sights and sounds calling for your attention, you would need to manoeuvre the streets on auto-rickshaw. Get a Wes Anderson start by visiting the pinkish Hawa Mahal. Then, grab a few rupees and locate the stunning forts of Amber, Jaigarh and Nahargarh on your map.
Credit: @natham2132 on Instagram
Aside from those places, the grand palace of Jal Mahal, the temple of Birla Mandir and the Albert Hall Museums are sights to behold. Remember to keep your smartphone battery full when you’re exploring these attractions. Shopping is a must and you can spot traditional handicrafts, Jaipuri quilts, intricate potteries and jewellery all over Jaipur. So save up from your stay at the backpacker’s hostel and channel it to your shopping fund.
Credit: Arian Zwegers on Flickr
Credit: @arushi on Instagram
8. Cebu, Philippines
One of many tourist-friendly provinces in the Philippines, Cebu is where local towns, beautiful beaches and nature splendours blend perfectly together. Budget travellers, be prepared for amazing travel experiences when you’re in Cebu.
Credit: @m.robin.m on Instagram
Relaxing at the famous Mactan beach is a must for anyone who loves being close to the sea. Getting an up-close shot of the Basilica del Santo Nino, Temple of Leah, Sirao Flower Farm, Heritage of Cebu Monument and Cebu Taoist Temple comes second. Simply hop into a multicab or jeepney and they’ll take you there. To crash for the night, check out downtown Cebu or the uptown area surrounding Fuente Osmena for budget hotels.
Credit: i.am.cham on Instagram
Credit: @rachelrodulfo on Instagram
9. Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
The hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Minh is the thing we love most about this Vietnamese city. We bet city travellers can agree. Surrounded by colonial buildings, coffee shops and local establishments, the streets are constantly buzzing with motorcycles and taxis. Trust us, there’s always something to do and somewhere to explore when you’re in town.
Credit: @cymraesellie on Instagram
There are many reasons to fall in love with Ho Chi Minh. If you’re here for a short getaway, visit the Independence Palace, War Remnants Museum, Gia Long Palace and Cu Chi tunnel for some historical facts. Visit the Ben Thanh market and other local street markets for affordable goods. Feeling hungry? Well, there are many halal restaurants in Ho Chi Minh to start and finish your gastronomic adventure. Look out for Pham Ngu Lao Street to find backpacker’s hostels to spend the night.
Credit: @cymraesellie on Instagram
Credit: @ddaiinah on Instagram
10. Marrakech, Morocco
There are many reasons why you won’t regret a once in a lifetime trip to Morocco. Visiting the Jemaa el-Fnaa, Majorelle Garden, Bahia Palace, Koutoubia Mosque and El Badi Palace are some of the many places you can explore in Marrakech. You can do it easily by moving around on taxis and buses that are equally affordable and efficient!
Credit: @isolavulcanica on Instagram
When it comes to halal food, there are many street stalls and fast food eateries serving cheap eats. Most of the time, these stalls are brimming with roasted nuts, roasted chicken, skewered meats, sandwiches and the local Harira soup. There’s even freshly squeezed orange juice or fresh mint tea that you can savour after a long day. If you’re looking for a place to stay, keep an eye on backpacker’s hostels in Marrakech area. You can also fuel your inspiration further with our 7D6N Muslim-friendly Moroccan adventure.
Credit: @birgitkaiserh on Instagram
Credit: @vctcdc on Instagram
11. Sofia, Bulgaria
Make the most out of your trip by focusing your budget on attractions such as National Historical Museum, Ivan Vazov National Theatre, National Art Gallery and Sofia Central Mineral Baths. There are a few halal eats in Sofia and they are largely found in Mediterranean, Turkish and Middle Eastern restaurants.
Credit: @vbdronography on Instagram
Explore around town using their public bus services that are as cheap and efficient as anywhere else. You can practice your bargaining skills at the Central Market Hall (Tsentralni Hali), Zhenski Pazar Women’s Market, Slaveykov Square Book Market and other flea markets in Sofia. Aside from pastries and potteries, you can also take home beautiful prints and clothes if you negotiate nicely.
Credit: Hans Porochelt on Flickr
Credit: @marina.ninova on Instagram
We’re so pumped for the New Year now! Whether you have Chiang Mai, Taipei, Yogyakarta or Luang Prabang on your 2018 bucket list, these budget destinations are ready to give you a year to remember.