Summer is approaching, and the cost of travel is starting to rise. Airline and hotel prices will continue to increase along with the temperature, and it can be difficult to stretch your dollar in popular destinations like Paris and Tokyo.
But it’s a big world, and there are plenty of destinations that can be experienced on the cheap without sacrificing beauty or excitement.
Here are five affordable locales you can travel to from the U.S. this summer, according to data compiled by Quicken for Travel + Leisure.
The Balkan nation often gets overlooked, thanks to western European countries and its continental neighbor, Turkey, but there is plenty to enjoy in this physically and culturally diverse land bordering the Black Sea.
Bite the bullet on a $700-1,400 plane ticket in the summer months, and watch your money go to work once you arrive thanks to a favorable exchange rate that’ll fetch you a Bulgarian Lev for $.56.
That means you can enjoy a guesthouse room for just $14-28 a night, or nab a mid- to upper-level hotel for $35 in between mass transit commutes around the country for just $.50. Or hop on a bike and take in sweeping views of the Black Sea at the Seaside Garden for just $8-10. If you drive about 35 minutes from there, you can experience the breathtaking, historic churches of Nessebar and grab a seven-day museum pass for $11-50, or walk the vendor and entertainment-laden streets of Sozopol for free. Here — and pretty much everywhere in the country — you can try local street delicacies for a mere $3-5 or grab a beer for just over a dollar.
Make sure at one point you splurge a little on Bulgaria’s signature seafood platters, which can include family-style offerings of mussels and fried stingray for a whopping $9.
Ancient Greece’s influence on modern art, politics and science is well-documented. But for all the cultural heritage embedded throughout the Mediterranean country, Greece is surprisingly cheap. As usual, plane tickets are the most expensive part of the trip, with fares ranging from $850-1,700 depending on your date and city of departure, but it’s well-worth it upon landing.
Stay in a decent hotel for less than $100 a night and wake up fully refreshed and prepared to visit the country’s iconic landmarks such as the Acropolis of Athens and Temple of Olympian Zeus. You can take a tour with your own private guide for $39, or enjoy a walking tour of Mount Lycabettus for $35.50. The absolutely stunning Simos Beach on the island of Elafonisos is free and full of straw umbrellas to take refuge from the sun as you enjoy the crystal blue water in front of you.
Once you get back to the city courtesy of a $1.50 bus ride, enjoy some traditional souvlaki skewers for just $2-3.
Thailand and Vietnam usually get more attention, but tucked in between is the lovely country of Cambodia, home of Angkor Wat — the largest religious monument in the world.
You can experience the monumental temple complex and the Archaeological Park for $28 a day — a bargain considering the nearly nine centuries of history behind it. When you’re done admiring ancient architecture, take in the country’s more contemporary structures thanks to the fantastic street art on buildings along Street 93 in the capital city of Phnom Penh.
And eat everything you can in your spare time — you might as well considering you can chow down on a delicious bowl of Cambodian pork and rice for around a dollar before you wash it down with a pint of beer for as cheap as $.75. To get access to all of this you’ll need to drop somewhere between $700-1,000 for a plane ticket, but it’ll quickly balance out once you arrive. You can stay in a guesthouse for $5-10, or enjoy the luxury of a hotel for $50 per night.
India is a massive country full of history, landmarks and delicious food, and it is relatively cheap to visit. One Indian Rupee converts to roughly one and a half cents, which means you can grab a pint of the popular local Kingfisher beer for about $1.50. Complement that with some delicious street food ranging around $1.50-6.25 and don’t be afraid to splurge on some kabobs for a taste of one of the country’s many signature dishes.
Once you’re all fueled up you can take a private tour from Agra to Delhi to take in sights like the Agra Fort and, of course, the iconic Taj Mahal for just under $100 — which isn’t much considering the trip spans a day and more than 100 miles. For some cheaper options that require a little less effort, try the Delhi Evening Tour, which includes the Ancient Hanuman Temple and the Gurudwara Bangla Sahib (a Sikh house of worship) for $22, or see the Changing of the Guard ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan — the official home of the President of India — for a grand total of zero dollars.
While plane tickets can run you around $700-1,300, you can enjoy a stay in an Indian hotel for the low cost of $10-12 a night.
We mentioned earlier that Vietnam can be a pretty popular destination along with Thailand rather than its neighbor, Cambodia, but Vietnam is a wonderful value, as well. Not only is the airfare one of the cheapest on this list, with summer flights from Los Angeles to Ho Chi Minh available as low as $570, but the cost of galavanting around Vietnam is ridiculously low.
Stay in a standard hotel for just $10-15 a night, or pay even lower for dorm or hostel if you’re truly on a budget. Out and about in the country is no different in terms of expenses. For just $10 a day, you can rent a trademark Vietnamese motorbike for a day and drive the Binh Tay Market, which is free to explore, but full of inexpensive goods and food items you can purchase as well.
You can also check out the Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens for just $1 a ticket and then cap off your day with some dinner. A dollar or two will buy you a large bowl of the classic Vietnamese noodle soup, pho, and if you’re thirsty you can grab a beer for as little as $.65.