Best Countries For Backpacking Map

1) View the world based on the best countries for budget backpackers.
2) Hover over countries to view stats in safety, cheapness, map keyfriendliness, & our World Travel Expert Rank (WTE Rank).
3) Click for travel guides and articles about that country.

 

Top 10 Cheapest Countries

*Numbeo.com statistics on Consumer Price Index

Top 10 Safest Countries

*Global Peace Index 2013

Top 10 Friendliest Countries

*WEF Report on attitude of population towards foreign visitors

Top 10 WTE Ranked Countries

*Average score from 10 world travel experts

The Runaway Guide’s Top 10 Countries

*My favorite countries for budget backpacking

1) Nepal 1) Iceland 1) Iceland 1) Bolivia, Equador, Ghana, Thailand, Tanzania, Namibia 5.0 1) Guatemala
2) Pakistan 2) Denmark 2) New Zealand 2) Guatemala, Nepal, South Africa, Peru, 4.8 2) Malaysia
3) India 3) New Zealand 3) Morocco 3) Mexico, Indonesia 4.6 3) Turkey
4) Algeria 4) Austria 4) Macedonia 4) Turkey, Cambodia, Romania, Belize, Spain 4.5 4) Thailand
5) Bolivia 5) Switzerland 5) Austria 5) Laos 4.4 5) Nicaragua
6) Vietnam 6) Japan 6) Senegal 6) Vietnam, Hungary, Myanmar 4.3 6) Romania
7) Egypt 7) Finland 7) Portugal 7) Colombia, Japan, Montenegro, Croatia 4.2 7) Korea
8) Bangladesh 8) Canada 8) Bosnia 8) Czech Republic 4.1 8) Egypt
9) Indonesia 9) Sweden 9) Ireland 9) India, Macedonia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Philippines, China, Slovenia, Uganda, Botswana, Bulgaria 4.0 9) Nepal
10) Macedonia 10) Belgium 10) Burkina Faso 10) Costa Rica 3.9 10) Ethiopia

Methodology behind the “Best Countries For Backpacking Map”

The Best Countries For Backpacking Map’s country ranking is derived from the experience of 10 world travel experts. Expert ranks are averaged to form the final score, 1 being the worst and 5 the best. This is the primary index of the map. The individual country rankings of 1) Safety 2) Cheapness 3) friendliness are derived from data collected from quantitative studies undertaken by the Institute for Economics & Peace, The World Economic Forum, and Numbeo.com.

For the most accurate indication of which countries are best for budget backpackers refer primarily to the WTE Rank.

Who Are The World Travel Experts?

11 travel experts rank countries based on good times, cheapness, and overall backpacker friendliness. Together they have backpacking experience spanning over 7 decades and in nearly every country in the world.

World Travel Experts

11 Of The Top 100

Leif Harum - RunawayGuide.com

I’ve traveled through over 60 countries as an ultra budget backpacker. I’ve hopped trains, hitchhiked, walked and even ran at times in my quest to experience every country in the world. The Middle East and Central America are my specialties.

On this site I  share my travel experiences, adventures, and advice so that you too may be prepared, empowered and inspired to create your own.

Norbert Figueroa - GloboTreks.com

Norbert left NYC in 2011. Since then he has traveled to over 80 countries. Before he became an expert travel blogging nomad, Norbert was an architect. On his blog he shares stories and experiences through the eyes of an architect.

Kate McCulley - AdventurousKate.com

Kate left home at 26. She has since been to over 45 countries in the past 3 years. On her travel blog she shows others how to find the freedom of the open road and shares her stories, such as the time she was ship wrecked in Indonesia. She is our Europe and SE Asia expert.

David Lee - GoBackpacking.com

David Lee has been backpacking the world since 2007. Since then he has visited over 50 countries. He’s a backpacking addict to say the least and has created one of the best resources for backpackers online. Though he’s been to every corner of the globe, he specializes in Colombia and South America.

Earl Baron - WanderingEarl.com

Earl has been on the road for over 5,000 consecutive days. His travels have taken him to over 80 countries including Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Not only that but he has an awesome travel blog where he shares some of his best stories. Earl is one of the reasons I decided to start this travel blog. He is our expert on those countries most backpackers skip.

Alexandra Kovaco - CrazySexyFunTraveler.com

Alexandra, like the name of her blog, is crazy, sexy, and fun. She’s also traveled to over 35 countries around the world. She is our traveling in style expert.

Becki Enright- BackpackerBecki.com

Becki is a British travel blogger and backpacker who began her journey in 2007. She has since visited over 30 countries all around the world. She’s not afraid to get off the beaten path and wants to help others do so as well. She’s an expert on all things Asia and is on her way to the Middle East next.

Amar Hussain - GapYearEscape.com

Amar Hussain is a British blogger committed to making your gap year dreams a reality. He has been to over 40 countries in 9 regions in the world. He is our South and Central America expert.

Stephanie Yoder - Twenty-SomthingTravel.com

Stephanie has been traveling the world since 2010. She is not only a world travel expert but on heck of a travel blogging expert as well. Through her blog, she funds her life of wanderlust.

Stephen Schreck - ABackpackersTale.com

Stephen is a photographer, blogger, and world nomad. He’s all about pushing the limits and embarking on adventures out of the ordinary. Stephen along with Norbert tackled the Mongol Rally, a race from London to Monglolia in a 1.3 liter Hyundai.

Brendan van Son - BrendansAdventures.com

Brendan recently traveled the entire west coast of Africa by moped. He’s got loads of guides and interesting articles on his blog and online travel magazine Vagabundo.com. He is our Africa travel expert.

Defining & Quantifying Safety, Cheapness, & Friendliness

Safety: is derived from an extensive study undertaken by the Institute For Economics and Peace. In this 2013 study, 10 separate indexes, such s crime, homicides, and internal stability, are used to inform the GPI or global peace index. Click here for a map of the world by how prevalent peace and safety is by country, Global Peace Index 2013. Cheapness: The consumer price index was chosen as the primary indicator. It is a measurement of the average cost of consumer goods, including transport, groceries and restaurants among other things. It best reflects what you can expect to spend while backpacking through that country. Best Countries For Backpacker’s Map’s cheapness ranking is informed from a  quantitative study undertaken by Numbeo.com. Click here to see a map of the worlds cheapest countries, CPI Map. Friendliness: refers to the attitude of locals towards foreign tourists. Data for this category is derived from a 2013 study undertaken by the World Economic Forum.

Leave a Comment

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{ 70 comments… read them below or add one }

Lionel April 11, 2014 at 10:24 am

How can Canada have an average below the USA with higher values?

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The Runaway Guide April 11, 2014 at 6:37 pm

Hey Lionel, check out the methodology part.

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About Algeria April 9, 2014 at 12:39 pm

where is Algeria man

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The Runaway Guide April 9, 2014 at 4:16 pm

Seems no ones been yet unfortunately. But in the next update which will come out in a week or so, Algeria will be on it inshallah!

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Wilson Ng February 28, 2014 at 5:52 pm

I will vote for Thailand, Japan and Australia.

Wilson

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The Runaway Guide March 5, 2014 at 4:31 am

I hear ya, great countries for backpacking for sure although Japan and Australia are on the pricey side.

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griz326 February 28, 2014 at 12:30 pm

I did much of my travel as a merchant seaman. The safety of any place depends on the behavior of the traveler – barring run-ins with the law which put a traveler in grave peril.

What exactly is friendliness? How do you measure that? Friendly people beat and robbed most of the merchant seaman I knew. Friendliness of the natives can disarm you; a very bad thing.

The ranking of cheapest countries changes by the second these days.

What is it that you want? Where is that you are buying it? A beautiful basket purchased in the city may seem cheap until you take a bus into the hills and find the people making them. Then the basket is cheap.

Eating cheap food is always a risk. When I buy food from street vendors, I buy from vendors with many people waiting to buy their food.

Accommodations? I travel with a bed wrap and light sleeping bag so bed bugs, lice, and mites are several layers away from me. This preparation enables me to buy a less expensive bed for the night.

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The Runaway Guide March 5, 2014 at 4:35 am

I completely agree. It’s really not possible to quantify or objectively measure friendliness, safety and cheapness. So much depends on the way someone travels. Best to refer to the WTE rank as this score is one derived from the actual experience of highly traveled backpackers.

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Silvana February 23, 2014 at 8:17 pm

Everything is wrong about this. Colombia´s friendliness is for sure more than 2.

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The Runaway Guide February 27, 2014 at 3:19 am

Hey Silvana, I agree. I think the wef report on friendliness towards foreign visitors might be fabricated. It rarely matches up to my experience.

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Sharon February 23, 2014 at 9:33 am

Morocco was absolutely not friendly being a woman and travelling by myself. I was always wearing loose clothes, long pants and long sleeves, no make up at all and got insulted in the street by men without any reason at least three times.
It only changed when I joined some other travellers to travel with them.

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The Runaway Guide February 27, 2014 at 3:25 am

Hey Sharon, North Africa and much of the Arab world is like that. My theory is that they have too much sexual frustration. It’s annoying but you just gotta brush it off and keep going. But I think it is better traveling with people if you’re a girl. It’s a bit safer and a lot less hassle .

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ovidiu February 20, 2014 at 8:44 am

Romania Friendliness = 1 ???
Be f#ckin’ serious!
At least 4 it’s a more accurate and real number.

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The Runaway Guide February 27, 2014 at 3:31 am

Hey Ovidiu, I totally agree. I think the WEF report is inaccurate for so many countries.

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robert saint amour February 18, 2014 at 11:24 am

after sixty years of roaming this planet, this has to be the the most ignorant list i have ever read….

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The Runaway Guide February 19, 2014 at 6:46 am

Cheers, care to expand? you did read the methodology bit yea?

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Tiffany February 17, 2014 at 6:44 pm

I am a 20 year old tourist curious person and wanted tips on when to start the trip, preparation, money accumulate, because I know I was put here to explore the world but don’t know how to go about it the smart way. I’m a student/part time worker that wants to be given the opportunity to explore but am totally not fit for travel yet, since money is the problem. Any tips on changing that.

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The Runaway Guide February 19, 2014 at 6:49 am

Hey Tiffany, best way to start is to save up a bit of money at first. Then check out sites like helps.net for job/volunteer opportunities. But I find the best way to find work abroad is to show up and ask around.

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Rianne February 17, 2014 at 4:16 am

Nice overview! This is very useful! :)

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The Runaway Guide February 19, 2014 at 6:49 am

Thanks Rianne, glad you found it helpful

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mamelouk February 16, 2014 at 1:43 pm

I think safety is not weighted enough in the total score. no way I’m backpacking in a country with safety “1″ even if it’s friendly and cheap (india, turkey, mexico, etc.)

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The Runaway Guide February 19, 2014 at 6:50 am

safety isn’t really weighed at all towards the finally score, at least not the GPI safety index. The final score is the average from 12 travelers.

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Prestashop February 15, 2014 at 11:43 am

Best country to visit is Romania, cool girls, beautifull and we have a lot of entartaiment for you guys!

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The Runaway Guide February 19, 2014 at 6:51 am

Hahah, I really enjoy Romania and the girls there, so I’ve got to agree with that :)

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madenia February 15, 2014 at 9:23 am

North of Bali we also have place for backpack..i use 1 of my house give tge who need..special for backpack

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The Runaway Guide February 19, 2014 at 6:52 am

Hey Madenia, good to know, maybe I’ll make it there one day and you can show me :)

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Panagiotis February 14, 2014 at 11:29 am

Think te hole article is to bring FYROM into the picture …easily written as “Macedonia”.
Don’t be a backpacker if you don’t know about history then ….

Macedonia is greek , is Greece , FYROM is vardaska.slavs not Greeks . Do you understand that ?

By the way why Greece is not in any category ..?
I can be with a greek salad ( 3 euro ) alone on a beach , sleeping there all night , finding 100 friends around and talk under the moon nearby the calm see with 26 degrees tripping and discussing about greek myths and the stars …

I am very disappointed to see all these …

What is a backpacker by the way ? :)

Panos

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The Runaway Guide February 19, 2014 at 6:54 am

I’m a bit confused, are you upset that Macedonia is no longer a part of Greece? Did you want me to call it the former yugoslav republic of macedonia? A Backpacker is someone who travels with a backpack and is on some kind of a budget.

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Aravella Salonikidou February 19, 2014 at 4:33 pm

You are not confused because you know very well why any Panagiotis should be upset. Macedonia is still part of Greece, and I’ m from there (Thessaloniki …you know). The point is how you can skip Greece when you’re traveling around Macedonia (ok, no problem) and Turkey etc.

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The Runaway Guide February 27, 2014 at 3:38 am

Hey Aravella,
I understand Macedonia and Greece is very similar in culture and history and that much of the region of Macedonia overlaps with greece and vice versa but going by todays political boundaries and not those of ancient greece or the ottoman empire, it’s a separate country. So it’s going to get it’s own ranking. But I agree visitors to Macedonia should also check out the whole Panagiotis region.

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Aravella Salonikidou February 27, 2014 at 12:57 pm

I think i’m wasting my time. You must study history and geography first! We don’t talk about empires and nothing is similar etc. And of course nothing is ‘…overlaps ….and vice versa’. Greece anyway it’s a beautiful and safe country and you don’t Want to know anything about it, you don’t even use a capital letter to name it. Why don’t you come here first and then … go ranking.
I feel citizen of the world and not a greek or something ( it’s Hellas anyway). For a person who creates a guide it’s really stupid! Dislike! (Sorry for my mistakes, we are barbarians here… :) )

Someguy21231 February 11, 2014 at 3:58 pm

India and Turkey are not safe countries, even suggesting it is strange. Turkish police are known to be thieves and even rapists and Islam is still rampant over there.

India is well known for its rapes of anything that moves. I really don’t know what kind of individual wrote this article.

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The Runaway Guide February 19, 2014 at 6:58 am

Rampant eh? You even been? I always feel safer in Istanbul than I do in Paris, that’s for sure.

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sirmoz February 5, 2014 at 5:59 pm

So Turkey is better than other European countries ?!! I’m Turkish and i can’t believe this.We are friendly but eastern Turkey is not good for “backpackers”.

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The Runaway Guide February 11, 2014 at 11:44 am

I think Turkey is one of the friendliest countries on earth. It’s one of my favorites because of it. I actually had a friend visit Eastern Turkey and Kurdistan who really enjoyed it.

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Ben February 11, 2014 at 8:33 pm

If you hover over Turkey on the map, you’ll notice they gave it a 4 for friendliness and cheapness, a 4.5 from the experts, and a 1 for safety.

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The Runaway Guide February 19, 2014 at 7:02 am

that’s right. Turkey is a great country for backpacking. 4+4+1=9/3= has nothing to do with the final score. read the methodology bit.

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baap February 5, 2014 at 11:53 am

How does the data determine the red vs. blue ranked countries? This is highly subjective and based on limited research, if that. 10 world traveling experts.. I see. I call B.S on this. For example, Mexico is rated as blue but is highly volitile and violent due to the “war on drugs”. Russia/Saudi/Pakistan are all rated red due to the political bias that exists without any on the ground real world experiences.

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The Runaway Guide February 11, 2014 at 11:46 am

Everyone keeps calling BS without reading the methodology! Just read it and then comment yea? The color coding is based on backpacker experience, that’s it. the other rankings were included to provide a degree of objectivity. If I had known they would be so controversial and confusing I wouldn’t have included them

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Peter Newson February 2, 2014 at 6:18 pm

Something’s wrong with your math:- Spain gets 5,4,3 ranks in #5; Portugal gets 5,4,5 yet ranks down in #4

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The Runaway Guide February 2, 2014 at 7:28 pm

Hey Peter, check out the Methodology bit below the map. Those rankings are from independent studies. The primary rank is the average rank from the travel experts. That’s how the color coding was determined

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Harrison February 7, 2014 at 1:05 am

Indian’s (2) less friendly than Thai (5) people? I am not sure what your experiences where, but your blog for me loses all accountability with such a remark.
Morocco the 3rd friendliest? Also hysterical.

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The Runaway Guide February 11, 2014 at 11:48 am

those rankings come from independent studies and were included to provide a degree of objectivity. They have nothing to do with the color coding or final WTE score.

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NomadiKat February 2, 2014 at 12:28 am

I don’t know if I agree with this. The Philippines? = Worst backpacking experiences I’ve ever had. How can you list it as green? Did you ever try traveling through the South and Mindanao? Hmmmm. Also, how about Cuba? If you’d like some info about backpacking Cuba, I’m your girl.

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The Runaway Guide February 2, 2014 at 7:31 pm

Hey! I’ve never been so I’m not sure but that’s the average rank out of about 9 travelers. Cool site! I’ll keep you in mind for the next update :)

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Havana February 2, 2014 at 11:56 pm

Hey I’ll be heading to Cuba soon if you could give me some tips and advice that would be amazing. Thank you x

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The Runaway Guide February 11, 2014 at 11:50 am

Nice! I’ve actually never been, but check out GoBackpacking.com, Dave has some good articles on Cuba.

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cottonpatch February 13, 2014 at 7:01 am

Backpacking in some parts of Mindanao are as good as backpacking in Pakistan. But I’ve been to other places in Mindanao that are actually nice.

Overall, my entire north to south Philippine experience has been good. I guess it depends on every person and the visited region of a country.

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The Runaway Guide February 19, 2014 at 7:07 am

Hey, that’s interesting you found the Philippines and Pakistan equally good for backpacking. You sound like the best kind of backpacker, open minded and chilled out. Good on ya.

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AkwaabaGolden February 1, 2014 at 8:01 am

Have to say, I’m happy to see Ghana on the list :) And Ghanaian love foreigners!

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The Runaway Guide February 2, 2014 at 7:55 pm

Never been but that’s what I’ve heard! Looking forward to going!

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suresh February 1, 2014 at 7:59 am

I bet Nepal is one of the friendliest country among other countries listed.Welcome to the country of Himalayas.
love from Nepal.

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The Runaway Guide February 2, 2014 at 7:56 pm

Yea, Nepal is definitely friendly, especially compared to India. Thanks for commenting!

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Charlotte February 1, 2014 at 3:42 am

Nice post! Surprised that China didn’t feature in any of those lists though. I’ve been living there for about a year total and have found it to be quite a budget-travel-friendly location. And extremely cheap too! I’m definitely hoping to check out SE Asia this spring some more though, so I will keep this list, and your site, in mind before I head off for my next trip!

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The Runaway Guide February 2, 2014 at 8:00 pm

Hey Charlotte, cheers! China got a fairly good rank by travelers though. Totally, let me know if you ever want some SE asia tips :)

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Bryan January 29, 2014 at 9:46 pm

This is really helpful, but because the Global Peace Index incorporates conditions that have no affect on backpacking, such as nation militarism, and external conflicts, it does not necessarily reflect the level of safety within a country. For instance, the safety score of the US is lower due to its militarism and continuous external conflicts that have no bearing on traveling within the country.

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The Runaway Guide February 2, 2014 at 8:06 pm

I see what you’re getting at, but it takes into account a lot of variables. I think they use 10 different indexes to make it. Its true about the US abroad but it’s also true that the US has one of the highest gun related homicide rates in the world.

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Chris January 29, 2014 at 3:21 pm

I have to say, Nepal is one of the friendliest countries I have visited, especially towards backpackers.

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The Runaway Guide January 29, 2014 at 3:32 pm

I agree, Nepal is definitely a good place to backpack in. I found Nepal to be pretty friendly and so did most of the contributors, that’s why it got a perfect score of 5.

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segacs January 29, 2014 at 1:09 pm

Neat concept, but you can expect a LOT of debate about your rankings. Your “experts” have each only been to some of these countries, and seem to be going based on their own personal experiences and prejudgments more than any ranking data that you claim to use. And the rankings seem to take country statistics as a whole, and not just areas and goods that are most relevant to backpackers. “Cheapness” should focus on a backpacker basket of goods like accommodations, food and drink, transportation and such. “Safety” should focus on areas frequented by backpackers, and not on localized violence in remote areas that is unlikely to touch or affect tourists. “Friendliness” seems like an impossible thing to rate, since it’s so subjective.

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The Runaway Guide January 29, 2014 at 3:24 pm

Hey Segacs, thanks for commenting. Cheapness comes from a study done by Numbeo.com. It was not ranked by the travel experts. Safety and friendliness also comes from separate studies. That’s why the color coding and main index of the map comes from real backpackers. I included these studies in an attempt to add a degree of objectivity but from my experience there are many instances where they are flawed. I’m considering removing them entirely and replacing them with just the rankings of backpackers.

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Tim L. January 29, 2014 at 11:22 am

Interesting and fun, but the first column doesn’t bear much resemblance to what travelers experience rather than expats buying a basket of goods and services. Nepal is cheaper than India. Cambodia is cheaper than Vietnam. Bulgaria is cheaper than Macedonia.

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The Runaway Guide January 29, 2014 at 3:18 pm

Hey Tim, good point. One of the reasons I decided to put this together was to disprove the world economic forum and numbeo rankings. This is why the map is based off of the experiences of actual backpackers. Considering the amount of comments about this, I’m considering dropping those rankings provided by independent studies entirely and instead using rankings from just backpackers. What do you think?

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Nell January 28, 2014 at 1:44 pm

Wow now that’s a very useful information for everyone. Pinned it ! :)

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The Runaway Guide January 29, 2014 at 3:36 pm

Thanks Nell! Glad you enjoyed it!

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Carlos Francisco January 28, 2014 at 11:24 am

Malawi’s friendliness rating is completely incorrect. Your research needs some updating and actual experiential input. Just common knowledge in Africa that Malawi is one of the friendliest countries on the continent!?

Just saying. Otherwise nice layout but not sure from this incident that it is that reliable.

Carlos

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The Runaway Guide January 29, 2014 at 3:20 pm

Hey Carlos, I completely agree. Under methodology, you can see that this is not my research. In fact, I made this map in part to disprove the findings of friendliness study undertaken by the world economic forum. That is why Malawi scored high according to 12 backpackers.

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bakeca Napoli January 28, 2014 at 3:39 am

interesting….good to know

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The Runaway Guide January 29, 2014 at 3:36 pm

Thanks!

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The Runaway Guide February 28, 2014 at 9:56 am

I love Greece! I’ve been to Thessaloniki a few times! Good times and good food, can’t get enough of that Tatsiki! I’m sorry if you disagree with the ranking or current political boundaries but I can’t change it. I only had one vote towards the final ranking and I gave greece a 4 out of 5 which is pretty good. I’m doing an update soon and bringing in 13 more backpackers to rank.

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