The World’s Cheapest Countries

by The Runaway Guide on September 20, 2011

fury fruit in thailandWhile the dollar has actually risen against the British pound in recent years, travel in the UK remains a budget killer. Fortunately, not all countries are as expensive as the UK or Western Europe. In fact, the majority of the world’s developing countries are comparable to great budget dollar stores.

However, even among the worlds developing countries, not all are as cheap as one might think. In isolated, sanctioned, or economically sound countries, prices and currencies can be unexpectedly high. In Sudan for example, a country who has endured sanctions for decades, the cost of living is considerably higher than its African neighbors. Similarly, in Jordan, a country with strong leadership, western alliances and a stable currency, prices are much more expensive than Syria.

So, which types of countries are ideal (dirt cheap), for the budget backpacker or runaway?

While there are a number of variables that affect prices, the following traits are most indicative of a bargain country. 1) Countries who produce their own food or who have low import costs. 2) Countries with high inflation, a struggling economy, and low GDP per capita.

Based on these factors and the experiences of backpackers, below are the top 4 cheapest countries in the world. 

4) Egypt

A great shot of the sphinx and the pyramids Few other places in the world can make you feel as though you have traveled back in time. From the pyramids of Giza, to old men smoking hookah and playing chess on every street corner, not only are the scenes reminiscent of an Indiana Jones film set in the early 1900′s but so are the prices. Traditional Egyptian fare at an inexpensive restaurant averages 2-3$. And succulent fresh squeezed sugar cane juice from a street vendor goes for around 40 cents. Finally, a bed in a hostel can be found for as little as 1.50$ a night. For these reasons, the 4th cheapest country in the world for backpackers is Egypt.

3) Bulgaria

topless girls at a bar on the beach in Varna BulgariaIn a land where yes means no and no means yes, a misinterpreted nod of the head by a topless black sea beach goer can land you in some pretty embarrassing predicaments. Fortunately, since a 3 liter beach side beer goes for around 2.50$, you can easily drown your disappointments on a budget. And when the morning arrives and you need something to wash all that alcohol up with, indulging in a delicious Burek breakfast pastry will only set you back 25 cents. For this, Bulgaria comes in at worlds cheapest country number 3.

2) India

cow dung for sale in IndiaIncredible India is the slogan, and from the Tajmahal to the tea of Darjeeling, it really is incredible. What’s also incredible is how much poop you will inevitable sacrifice your sandals to. In all seriousness though, there are few countries as unique, diverse and so non-western as India. And since buying new sandals can cost as little as 50 cents and showering off your feet in a decent hotel averages about 5$ a night, India falls in at 2nd place on the worlds cheapest countries list.

1) Nepal

wild marijuana in NepalNepal is the home of the Himalayas and the birthplace of the Buddha. And if you fancy getting higher than both, you can hire little kids to collect resin from wild weed plants for only 10 cents a ball. And when you become as hungry as an Ox, you can treat yourself to an Ox steak for under 2$ a plate. Finally, sleeping it all off at a nice hotel shouldn’t cost you more than 5$ a night. For these reasons, Nepal is the number 1 cheapest country for runaways and intense budget backpackers.

Conclusion

While there are loads of cheap countries around the world, the former four are some of the cheapest and most exciting for backpackers in particular. Not only are prices cheap in the country side but also in the cities. More, these countries consistently sport exchange rates that are favorable for the US dollar. So, if you’re looking for adventure with a budget of 10$ a day or less, be sure to head Egypt, Bulgaria, India or Nepal. Click here to see a map of the best countries for budget backpackers.

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Ezra August 27, 2012 at 8:37 pm

how about florida?
very nice free beaches. I colected a bunch of cool seashells when I went there.

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The Runaway Guide August 28, 2012 at 7:04 pm

:) that’s true!

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Bob March 21, 2012 at 12:51 pm

Hey Leif,
Have you ever been to Canada?

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The Runaway Guide March 21, 2012 at 3:41 pm

Not so much really, just Montreal, Quebec, Toronto

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Lash September 26, 2011 at 10:37 pm

Hi there! just discovered your blog via FB via this post. It’s a good list. I didn’t know about Bulgaria or Egypt being so cheap. Personally, I’d also add a few countries to this list: THailand, Indonesia and Ecuador. Can still do all of them for $400-500 US/month.
Enjoy your travels! I know I am~! cheers, lash

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The Runaway Guide September 27, 2011 at 12:36 am

Thanks Lash. I just got your email and checked out your site。すごいと思った。十二年間ぐらいの旅行は長いかかるだよ、本当にすばらしだけど。リンクexchangeをしましょう!

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Mica September 26, 2011 at 2:34 pm

I had no idea that Egypt was cheap. My mother traveled there solo a few years ago and she said it was super pricey. Then again, she was staying in fancy hotels and whatnot. But good to know you can do it on the cheap. Nepal has been on my list for years, and I knew it was cheap-and the bit about the boys collecting resin is hilarious. Now I gotta go there for sure. How was Ox steak though?

I’ve got a girlfriend staying with us here in Chiang Mai who’s just arrived from Bulgaria. She was painting there for a few months and she said the women were gorgeous and they eat everything with some kind of cream and it was delicious!

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The Runaway Guide September 27, 2011 at 12:30 am

Egypt’s super cheap if you’re on a budget. If you’re going 5 star though, forget it. Syria is also really cheap and a cool country to visit.
Yea, little kids come out of nowhere at all hours to ask if you want some resin lol. Ox steak is delicious! Although a few times I got some pretty gnarly thick black Ox hairs on it.
Thats cool you’re in Chaing Mai, I never made it there when I went to Thailand. Not sure what that cream is. Bulgaria was a bit of a blur for me, too many 3 liter bottles of beer lol.

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Jade Johnston September 23, 2011 at 3:59 pm

I always through Egypt would be expensive! Well it’s good to know that its not! One thing that I have been really disapointed in, is how expensive the pacific island are. Due to their islolation and the fact that most import much of their food – it can run a backpacker 40 – 80$ a day! :(

Jade Johnston – http://www.ouroyster.com/home

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The Runaway Guide September 27, 2011 at 12:22 am

Egypt is expensive if you go 5 star but if you rough it at 0.1 star, in a hostel, you can get by on 5 dollars a day.

I heard about the Pacific islands being expensive. I guess I will have to save them for my retirement. Are you on one of those islands now?

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flipnomad September 22, 2011 at 8:54 pm

great list man… never new that bulgaria can be a cheap destination too….. i always had this preconceived idea that the entire europe is an expensive destination!

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The Runaway Guide September 27, 2011 at 12:08 am

Thanks, yea, Bulgaria is super cheap. So is Albania, Moldova, and Romania. If you’re into wines, Moldova has some of the cheapest tours and tastings. Really all of Eastern Europe is a bargain. You oughta check it out one day.

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Gladys | ByahengBarok.com September 22, 2011 at 4:09 pm

Egypt? really? that’s great to know… my friends and i are planning to go to nepal late next year. :)

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The Runaway Guide September 27, 2011 at 12:07 am

Egypt and Nepal are awesome for the budget backpacker. In few other places can you buy so much with a buck. It feels good. Will be heading to Egypt in a few weeks.

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Jim September 21, 2011 at 5:05 am

Value for money I’d agree India is great for history, culture, food and sightseeing.

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Grace September 21, 2011 at 3:10 am

Great compilation. I didn’t realize Nepal was so cheap. I heard that it can get expensive if you want to trek along the country. Is it true? Or is it expensive because you need to get guides?

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The Runaway Guide September 21, 2011 at 8:35 am

Thanks Grace. Yea, if you want to trek hardcore, you have to get a proper guide and its going to be expensive. But if your just hanging out, even in tourist cities such as Phokara, its still really cheap. Cheaper than any other country I have been to. Whats the cheapest country you’ve been to?

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Nomadic Samuel September 20, 2011 at 3:56 pm

I agree with your list – especially India. I found it cheaper than anywhere else in SE Asia (already a cheap region in general) and yet I experienced more than I ever had in any other country. Definitely, fantastic value!

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The Runaway Guide September 21, 2011 at 2:29 am

I hear ya. What are some other cheap countries in South America?

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Nicole September 20, 2011 at 2:39 pm

Great post Leif!

I’d love to go to Nepal but always thought it was ridiculously expensive – nice to know that this isn’t the case. :)

And with the Aussie dollar faring better than the US dollar at the moment, I may just have to put some of these countries on my ‘to do’ list sooner rather than later. :P

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The Runaway Guide September 21, 2011 at 2:32 am

Thanks Nicole,
Yea, Nepal is great, so dirt cheap. Wonderful country, with great fruit shakes :).

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