Best Solo Travel Destinations on a Budget
Travelling is expensive. Travelling solo, even more so. There’s no one to share the travel costs with and that in itself makes travelling solo difficult. For this reason, it’s worthwhile to find countries that are affordable to travel around – budget accommodation, good public transport networks and cheap eats. We’ve created a list of the best solo travel destinations on a budget so you don’t have to pay an arm and a leg to travel on your own.
Best Solo Travel Destinations in Asia
Thailand tops our list of best solo travel destinations on a budget because this country has it all – a variety of experiences, budget friendly travel and hospitable people.
When it comes to traveller appeal, Thailand ticks all the boxes: perfect beaches, emerald jungles, ancient ruins, exotic islands, golden temples, captivating coral reefs, friendly locals, bustling cities, cascading rice terraces, tranquil traditional villages, steamy tropical weather, phenomenal food, five-star extravagance and indulgence on a shoestring. People just keep coming back to Thailand, lured by a wealth of travel experiences and an anything goes attitude.
Thailand is a very cheap and easy country to explore. The country has an excellent transportation network, and even the most remote villages are accessible by local bus. The range of its hotels, guesthouses, restaurants, shopping and nightspots is unrivaled in Asia.
Beautiful landscapes, adrenaline-filled adventures, delectable cuisine and the allure of a fascinating culture attract millions of solo travellers to Vietnam each year.
There’s plenty of variety on offer in Vietnam – it’s a land of emerald paddy fields and white-sand beaches, full-tilt cities and ancient pagodas, vast caves, craggy mountains and friendly minority communities.
Vietnam is a budget traveller’s dream, with inexpensive transport, outstanding street food, good-value accommodation and bia hoi – perhaps the world’s cheapest beer. And when it’s time to relax, there’s plenty of horizontal ‘me’ time to relish. Vietnam has outstanding spas – from marble temples of treatments to simple family-run massage salons with backpacker-friendly rates.
India will appeal to the solo traveller with its mix of magnificent landscapes, cultural traditions, colourful festivals and culinary creations.
Aficionados of the great outdoors can scout for big jungle cats on wildlife safaris, paddle in the waters of one of the many beautiful beaches, take blood-pumping treks high in the Himalaya, or simply inhale pine-scented air on meditative forest walks. India also offers a profound spiritual journey for solo travellers, and any traveller, solo or otherwise, can enjoy the benefits of trips to spas and yoga centres.
India caters for both the budget traveller and those looking for a luxurious holiday. From hostels and guesthouses to opulent palaces, there’s accommodation options to fit every budget. And with its excellent transportation network, travelling around India is easy and affordable.
Cambodia is catching up fast with Thailand, Vietnam and Laos as the destination for solo travellers to visit in South-East Asia.
Fringed by beautiful beaches and tropical islands, and sustained by the mother waters of the Mekong River and cloaked in some of the region’s few remaining emerald wildernesses, Cambodia is an adventure as much as a holiday. But there is one thing that draws people above all else – the breathtaking ruins of Angkor, indisputably one of the wonders of the world.
As with most South-East Asian countries, Cambodia has its fair share of budget accommodation and cheap local transportation. While not as well-developed as countries like Thailand, accommodation standards have greatly improved recently. Local meals and street eats are available in most areas making Cambodia a great value-for-money destination to visit.
Nepal combines Himalayan views, golden temples, charming hill villages and jungle wildlife-watching to offer one of the world’s greatest travel destinations for solo travellers.
Travellers are lured to Nepal by the chiming of temple bells, the chanting of Buddhist monks, the medieval majesty of the Kathmandu Valley, and the timeless appeal of trekking over snow-cloaked passes in the high Himalaya. The country is also home to some of the world’s best adventure sports and high-adrenaline activities.
There are few countries in the world that are as well set up for independent travel as Nepal. From teahouses along the major trekking routes to local homestays and basic hotels, the options are endless for the backpack traveller. Nepal is also one of the easiest and most exciting places in the world to trek. Getting around Nepal, however, can be tricky.
6. Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is spectacular, it’s affordable and it’s still mostly uncrowded. Now is the best time to discover it.
Until now, Sri Lanka has been undiscovered as a tourist destination. Countless scores of travellers have passed overhead on their way to someplace else. But now, Sri Lanka is looking up. If you’ve ‘done’ India, grown blase about Southeast Asia or simply want to explore a place whose appeal and pleasures are myriad, then it’s time you visited Sri Lanka.
Endless beaches, timeless ruins, welcoming people, wild elephants, killer surf, cheap prices, fun trains, famous tea, flavourful food – Sri Lanka’s attributes are many. Home to eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Sri Lanka packs a punch for a country so small. Distances are short so it’s easy to get around. There’s accommodation to suit every budget from rooms in family homes to five-star resorts.
China is modernising at an alarming pace, but travel selectively in this country and tap into a rich seam of antiquity.
Ponder the legends of the Forbidden City, rediscover your sense of wonder on the Great Wall or try to fathom the timeless expressions of the Terracotta Warriors. Submit to the charms of Píngyáo or glimpse Nirvana at the serene Mógāo Caves. Meander among the historic villages of Wùyuán or wake in an ancient Hakka roundhouse. Eating your way around China is one of the best ways to journey the land, so pack a sense of culinary adventure along with your travelling boots.
From youth hostels and guesthouses to cheap, rural homesteads, budget accommodation is plentiful in China. Getting around is easy with an extensive modern train and bus network covering the nation, and there’s plenty of cheap eats everywhere.
It’s the combination of people and cultures that lures solo travellers to Indonesia year after year.
Made up of more than 17,000 islands and a medley of cultures, cuisines and religions, Indonesia boasts a diverse range of experiences from new eco-resorts offering orangutan encounters in Sumatra to the tribal traditions of Papua. Indonesian reefs are a diver’s fantasy while the surf breaks above are the best anywhere. Bali is no secret, but there are also Papua’s stone-age folk, the many cultures of Flores, the artisans of Java, the mall-rats of Jakarta and much more.
Due to substantial investment in new air, land and sea connections, it has never been easier or cheaper to explore this tropical country. Now is the ideal time to explore Indonesia.
Visit now as Kyrgyzstan is quickly becoming an in-the-know favourite for independent travellers seeking unspoilt natural beauty.
A half-forgotten land of mountain valleys, glittering lakes and felt yurts, Kyrgyzstan is a dream for DIY adventurers, eco tourists and wannabe nomads. Add to the natural beauty a well-developed network of semi-nomadic, yurt-dwelling shepherd homestays, and it’s easy to see why Kyrgyzstan is rapidly becoming the gateway of choice for Western travellers in Central Asia.
The time to visit Kyrgyzstan has never been better. The country boasts more than 2700km of newly marked trekking routes, a countrywide push of community-run tour products, a revamped national highway system cutting transit times immensely, and a simplified e-visa program for those not on the list of 60+ visa-free countries.
Independent travel is growing in the Maldives as word gets out about a network of inexpensive places to stay on the islands.
The Maldives is home to perhaps the best beaches in the world and is perfect for anyone wanting a tranquil, remote and back-to-nature experience. Unrivalled luxury, stunning white-sand beaches and an amazing underwater world makes the Maldives an obvious choice for a holiday of a lifetime.
An increasing number of inhabited, non-resort islands have their own locally run guesthouses, bypassing the inexpensive resort scene and bringing visitors close to what can be the otherwise elusive Maldivian culture. Popular islands for independent travellers include Maafushi, Rasdhoo, Thoddoo and Dhigurah, but there are many more, contributing to a growing independent travel scene across the atolls.
Overshadowed by its neighbours, India and Myanmar (Burma), Bangladesh creates astonishingly few ripples given everything it has to offer.
The country is a rural wonderland laden with waterways, peppered with villages and bursting with humanity. Bangladeshis are famously friendly, and you are almost certain to receive a warm welcome everywhere you go.
Bangladesh is home to diverse, exciting cities, Asia’s longest beach at Cox’s Bazar, and the mangroves and wild tigers of Sundarbans National Park. Bangladesh has always been an inexpensive destination for travellers, and Unesco World Heritage sites are waiting to be discovered, such as the open-air museum that is the historic city of Bagerhat, and the atmospheric Buddhist ruins at Paharpur.
If you enjoy making friends, mixing with the locals and having the opportunity to travel around a country without bumping into too many other foreign faces, then Bangladesh is just the place you’ve been looking for.
Best Solo Travel Destinations in Europe
Solo travellers will love Poland’s chic, medieval cities such as Kraków, Gdańsk and energetic Warsaw.
Away from the cities, Poland offers a diverse range of solo travel experiences, from swimming on its Baltic Sea beaches to hiking its magnificent mountains and kayaking its interlinked lakes. In fact, Poland’s towns and cities are dotted with ruined castles, picturesque squares, colourful houses and historic churches that are a treat for any traveller. If you’re partial to good home cooking, you’ve come to the right place for heart-warming Polish food.
Although prices are slowly rising as its economy gathers momentum, Poland is still good value for travellers year-round. It’s a fascinating time to visit this beautiful country.
Albania is a pocket of great value hiding in plain sight, with a unique history and none of the crowds of Montenegro to the north or Greece to the south.
Endowed with incredible natural beauty, including some of Europe’s most impressive mountains and miles of beautiful beach, Albania has become an open secret among backpackers wanting to escape the crowds elsewhere in Eastern Europe.
Albania is a destination where you can hike amid beautiful mountain scenery, stay in tiny and timeless villages and explore the buzzy capital Tirania for far less than pretty much anywhere else in Europe. The country has an exciting food scene and offers seriously distinctive dining while its archaeological sights, such as Apollonia and Butrint, and its one-of-a-kind blend of Balkan, Mediterranean and Italian influences are no secrets. From its vibrant markets to its picturesque museum towns, Albania extends a warm welcome to all its visitors.
Travelling through most European countries can be expensive, which makes travelling through Slovenia a dream for the budget solo traveller.
Slovenia is a miniature version of Europe and is a great-value destination for anyone who’s after the continent’s highlights but is short on time or funds. In a single day you can tour a Venetian-tinged seaside town, cross Alpine passes and dine by the river in the heart of Ljubljana. If you’ve got time up your sleeve, you can dine in world-class restaurants, visit wineries and discover small towns.
Slovenia has everything from beaches, snow-capped mountains, hills awash in grape vines and wide plains blanketed in sunflowers to Gothic churches, baroque palaces and art nouveau buildings. This is also a land of outdoor activities available for much less than you’ll pay for in other Alpine countries.
Getting around is easy and cheap, and many road and rail journeys are spectacular.
Best Solo Travel Destinations in South America
Peru conjures up images of the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, but there’s much more to see in this country.
Besides archaeological sites, there are several natural treasures, including the world’s deepest canyons and the highest navigable lake. Walk through the dusted remnants of a vast ancient city at Chan Chan, the largest pre-Columbian ruins in all the Americas or fly over the puzzling geoglyphs etched into the arid earth at Nazca.
Peru is also a racial melting pot of cultures whose profound influence is everywhere. The country’s rich culture runs the gamut from sophisticated Lima to mist-shrouded ancient ruins. Visit remote communities and see how old ways live on.
In the last few years, Peru has made great progress in its tourism industry and today, it is much easier to travel around the country.
While Argentina’s big cities have a lot of urban pleasures to offer, it’s the natural world that’s the greatest attraction for visitors.
From mighty Iguazu Falls to the thunderous, crackling advance of the Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina is a vast natural wonderland. The country’s marvellous mix of world-beating wine, awesome mountain and lake scenery and its crackling-with-life capital Buenos Aires makes it even more appealing.
In the past few years, costs for travellers to Argentina have crept up, but the country’s recent efforts to encourage visitors can offer some significant savings. Overseas visitors who pay for their lodgings with an international credit card will receive a refund on the 21% rate of Value Added Tax, plus there are savings on visa fees for certain nationalities.
If you want to see the best of South America but short on time or money, Ecuador is the place for you.
Ecuador may be small, but it has a dazzling array of wonders – colourful colonial towns, Kichwa villages, Amazonian rainforest, Pacific Ocean waves and the breathtaking heights of the Andes. The famed Galapagos Islands are a magnet for wildlife lovers, while the Amazon rainforest offers a vastly different wildlife-watching experience.
Ecuador’s cultural diversity is equally varied. Home to a dozen indigenous groups, highland towns renowned for textiles, laid-back fishing villages and stunningly situated jungle lodges, Ecuador makes for a very colourful travel experience.
As you might expect in a small country, buses are quick, plentiful and cheap: hardly anywhere is more than half a day’s journey away.
Best Solo Travel Destinations in Africa
Egypt sits on the bucket list for most people and for good reason. It’s the perfect destination to visit in Africa for solo travellers.
With sand-covered tombs, austere pyramids and towering Pharaonic temples, Egypt brings out the explorer in all of us. Visit the Valley of the Kings in Luxor, where Tutankhamun’s tomb was unearthed, and see the glittering finds in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Hop off a Nile boat to visit a waterside temple, or trek into the desert to find the traces of Roman trading outposts. The adventures are endless.
Egypt is the most traveller-friendly country in North Africa and the Middle East. Most of the tourist spots are well-connected by cheap buses, budget accommodation is plentiful and decent eateries are thick on the ground in nearly every corner of the country.
Due to political instability in the country, it is advisable to travel with an escorted tour group for safety reasons.
Morocco is an exotic gateway to Africa. From Saharan dunes to the peaks of the High Atlas, this is a country tailored-made for travellers.
The trick to travelling in Morocco is to leave enough time to watch the world go by with the locals when there’s so much else to fit in: hiking up North Africa’s highest peak, camel trekking, shopping in souqs, getting lost in the medina, and sweating in the hammam. Between these activities, you can sleep in the famous riads, relax on panoramic terraces and grand squares, and mop up tagines with saffron and argan.
Morocco is great for the solo traveller as there is a wide range of budget accomodation options (campsites, hostels, homestays and refuges), including single occupancy of rooms, good transport networks between towns, and cheap eats. Also, Morocco is one of the safest African countries for travellers.
After a decade of political ruin, violence and economic disaster, tourism is back in Zimbabwe.
Visitors are returning to Zimbabwe to spot the Big Five around spectacular parks, discover World Heritage-listed archaeological sites and stand in awe of a natural wonder of the world: Victoria Falls.
Treasures – Zimbabwe is full of them. One of Africa’s safest destinations, a journey through Zimbabwe will take you through an attractive patchwork of landscapes, from central highveld, balancing boulders and flaming msasa trees, to laid-back towns, lush Eastern Highland mountains and a network of life-giving rivers. Along the way you’ll receive a friendly welcome from locals famous for their politeness.
If you can think of other countries that would make great solo travel destinations on a budget, please leave a comment below. We are always looking at improving our lists so we can help solo travellers find the best travel destinations.