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.


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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