7 Unique Destinations Countries to Consider for Your Next Backpacking Adventure

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Think frequent travel is just for the rich? There are a plethora of places around the world where you could easily backpack for 10-20 dollars a day, from Asia to Europe, while still being able to immerse yourself in vibrant cultures and authentic cuisines. For the cost of an Ikea couch, you could trek on some of the world’s biggest mountains, or spend a couple of weeks water-skiing. As the adage goes “experiences are the only thing that make you rich”. Get ready to enjoy some of the best backpacking experiences without spending a fortune.

1. Nicaragua

They may be English friendly in Costa Rica, but it’s also a rising tourist spot, which has caused the prices of everyday essentials to increase significantly. Fortunately, the neighbor Nicaragua is a viable alternative for backpackers. Not only it offers the Central American charm, but it also doesn’t put a strain on your pocket. Even the touristy places in Nicaragua cost $10 a night for dorm beds, and the smaller towns have tourist residences for even lower prices. Typical South American cuisine will only set you back a few dollars, making the country one of the best places to explore the beauty of Central America as a backpacker.

Nicaragua

  1. Isla de Ometepe – With its twin volcanoes and natural springs, it’s a haven for hikers, nature lovers, and those interested in pre-Columbian history.
  2. Granada – This colonial city is a great base for exploring nearby attractions like Mombacho Volcano and the Islets of Granada.
  3. León – Known for its historical architecture, vibrant street art, and proximity to volcanoes, León offers both cultural insights and adventure activities like volcano boarding.
  4. Corn Islands – Big Corn and Little Corn islands are perfect for a more relaxed, Caribbean vibe, with excellent opportunities for snorkeling and diving.
  5. San Juan del Sur – A popular spot for surfers, this coastal town is also a great place to enjoy beautiful sunsets and lively nightlife.
  6. Rio San Juan – Offering rich biodiversity, jungle river adventures, and the historic fortress of El Castillo.
  7. Reserva Natural Volcán Masaya – Visit this national park to see an active volcano up close, with a crater you can drive to.

2. Morocco

Morocco is one fine backpacking destination, but exploring the place usually means braving a couple of days in the Sahara, or navigating the brimming Marrakesh bazaars. For those who love fresh ocean breezes and tinier markets, the southern coast has Essaouria to offer. It’s a small fishing village, much less chaotic than the big cities of Morocco. Several backpackers opt for the more relaxed experience that Essaouira offers its visitors. The coastline is perfect for fisherman and surfers. Buy something at the fish market, and a local eatery will make a nice meal for you.

Morocco

  1. Marrakech – Explore the bustling medinas, historical sites, and vibrant markets for a true taste of Moroccan culture.
  2. Chefchaouen – Known as the Blue City, its blue-painted streets offer unique photo opportunities, nestled in the Rif Mountains.
  3. Merzouga – Gateway to the Erg Chebbi dunes, where you can experience a camel trek and spend a night in a desert camp under the stars.
  4. Fez – Home to the world’s oldest university, Fez’s medieval medina is a UNESCO World Heritage site, offering a glimpse into the country’s rich history.
  5. Atlas Mountains – Ideal for trekkers, offering breathtaking landscapes and the opportunity to visit Berber villages.
  6. Essaouira – A coastal city known for its windsurfing and kitesurfing, relaxed atmosphere, and beautiful fortifications.
  7. Ouzoud Waterfalls – Located in the Atlas Mountains, these waterfalls are a beautiful natural escape, surrounded by green valleys and orchards.

3. Indonesia

Of course, you can’t take Indonesia out of the any backpackers’ destination list. A country where a meal costs less than $1 if you eat locally. But most people forget that Indonesia has a lot more to offer than Bali. Though the Holy Island is one of the best beginners’ backpacking destinations, the prices are rising and it’s getting crowded day by day. In a lot of alternative places like Sumatra and Java, you won’t have to part ways with more than $5 daily for drinks and food. The fruits to are reasonably priced and it’s unimaginable to believe that motorbike rentals cost only $3-$5 a day in some places. Even some adventures can be done on a shoestring budget, including a Mount Rinjani trek on Lombok and swimming with manta rays.

Indonesia

  1. Bali – Known for its forested volcanic mountains, iconic rice paddies, beaches, and coral reefs, Bali offers a spiritual and relaxed atmosphere.
  2. Lombok and the Gili Islands – Offering stunning beaches, diving, and the challenging trek to Mount Rinjani.
  3. Komodo National Park – The only place in the world to see Komodo dragons in the wild, alongside spectacular diving spots.
  4. Java – Home to the cultural city of Yogyakarta, ancient temples like Borobudur and Prambanan, and the active volcano Mount Bromo.
  5. Raja Ampat – Known for its biodiversity, it’s a paradise for divers wanting to explore some of the richest underwater habitats on earth.
  6. Sumatra – Offers the chance to explore tropical rainforests, see orangutans in the wild, and visit traditional villages.
  7. Sulawesi – Known for its distinctive culture, underwater beauty of Bunaken National Park, and the fascinating funeral rites in Tana Toraja.

4. Turkey

Affordable backpacking destinations aren’t just limited to Asia. For experiencing “East meets the West”, hop on a plane and go to Turkey, where backpackers can go about well under $30 a day. A night in Istanbul costs around $5 if you choose to live in a dorm, while Turkish meals come in a variety of flavors that can satisfy your hunger for just a couple of dollars each sitting. Eating street food is one of the best ways to save money in Turkey. Transportation costs won’t empty your bank account either; the bus fares around the country are one of the lowest in the world. Even a luxury bus journey across the country will set you back $20 per backpacker.

Turkey

  1. Istanbul – Straddling two continents, Istanbul is rich in history and culture, with landmarks like the Hagia Sophia and Grand Bazaar.
  2. Cappadocia – Famous for its fairy chimneys, cave hotels, and hot air balloon rides.
  3. Lycian Way – A 540 km trail along the southern coast, offering stunning sea views and ancient ruins.
  4. Pamukkale – Known for its mineral-rich thermal waters flowing down white travertine terraces.
  5. Ephesus – One of the largest Roman archaeological sites in the eastern Mediterranean.
  6. Antalya – A gateway to the Turkish Riviera, with beautiful beaches and the ancient cities of Aspendos and Perge.
  7. Mount Nemrut – Home to the giant head statues of the gods from the kingdom of Commagene, offering a unique sunrise experience.

5. New Zealand

Going on a backpacking trip with a group? Then pick New Zealand! The best way to see the country on the cheap is to rent a campervan; the fuel is cheap, and you’d find loads of inexpensive and free camp groups that accommodate campervan parking on the island. It cost around $100 a day to rent, so with a group, it’d cost $15-20 a person for a night, which isn’t expensive considering a days’ worth of travel and accommodation. When it comes to meals, your best bet would be to purchase locally grown vegetables and fruit or to discover a few roadside eateries and stuck up on food. Either way, it’s possible to backpack across this country without overblowing your budget.

Tongariro National Park

  1. Tongariro National Park – Offers the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, known as one of the best one-day hikes in the world.
  2. Abel Tasman National Park – Known for its great coastal track, golden beaches, and kayaking.
  3. Queenstown – The adventure capital, offering bungee jumping, skydiving, hiking, and skiing.
  4. Fiordland National Park – Home to the stunning Milford Sound and the challenging Kepler and Routeburn Tracks.
  5. Rotorua – Offers a glimpse into Maori culture, geothermal wonders, and mountain biking trails.
  6. Bay of Islands – A subtropical micro-region known for its stunning beauty, Maori artifacts, and colonial history.
  7. Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park – Offers challenging hikes and stunning vistas of New Zealand’s highest mountain.

6. Thailand

Even though Thailand is no longer an “off the beaten track” place, it’s still a backpacker’s dream due to its culture and beauty, minus the overpriced drinks and tourist crowds. For best enjoying Thailand while staying within your budget, go to the inland and northern regions, basically places far away from the beach. You’d notice that backpackers can still experience breathing exotic signs and tropical oasis in these places for only a few dollars per day. If you can shack up with more people, dorms cost as little as $3 a night, while a private bed and bath go near $10. Thai food is also cheap; authentic Pad Thai costs as little as $1 if you eat from the roadside. Also, taking the train from Bangkok to other places will only cost you $15-$20 maximum.

Chiang Mai

  1. Bangkok – Thailand’s bustling capital, known for its vibrant street life, cultural landmarks, and floating markets.
  2. Chiang Mai – Offers a more relaxed atmosphere with a rich cultural heritage, night markets, and proximity to trekking opportunities.
  3. Islands of the Andaman Sea – Including Phuket, Krabi, Phi Phi Islands, and Railay Beach, offering stunning beaches, rock climbing, and diving.
  4. Khao Sok National Park – Known for its ancient rainforest, limestone karsts, and the beautiful Cheow Lan Lake.
  5. Pai – A laid-back, bohemian town surrounded by mountains, offering hot springs, waterfalls, and hiking.
  6. Sukhothai – Home to the ruins of the ancient city of Sukhothai, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
  7. Kanchanaburi – Known for the Bridge over the River Kwai, beautiful waterfalls, and national parks.

7. Malawi

Africa has several things to offer to the average backpacker. While going to Africa by plane might cost a bit, backpacking in places like Malawi is quite cheap. In fact, you can survive in $15-$20 a day, courtesy of a missing tourist industry, and poor economic conditions. Moving around the country is more affordable than reaching it, and the budget sticker prices mean you can immerse in adventures on the cheap, from the beds to the taxis to the food. You can easily find a place to sleep in $2 plus around the country, and several local meals are priced at $1. Entertainment too is cheap in Malawi; for just a few dollars, you can get the same high-class water skiing experience that would’ve asked you to give away a week’s paycheck in another tourist country.

Malawi

  1. Lake Malawi National Park – A UNESCO World Heritage site, offering beautiful beaches, snorkeling, and kayaking in clear freshwater.
  2. Mount Mulanje – The highest peak in Central Africa, offering challenging hikes and stunning vistas.
  3. Liwonde National Park – Known for its river safaris, bird watching, and populations of elephants and hippos.
  4. Nyika Plateau National Park – Offers unique landscapes, with rolling grasslands and diverse wildlife, ideal for trekking and mountain biking.
  5. Zomba Plateau – Known for its forested mountains, waterfalls, and views over the former capital, Zomba.
  6. Nkhata Bay – A vibrant lakeside town known for its clear waters, ideal for swimming, diving, and relaxation.
  7. Majete Wildlife Reserve – A success story in conservation, now home to the Big Five and offering safari experiences.

Conclusion

Regardless of the destination you pick, these locations are the hidden gems that every backpacker around the world should aim to explore. For more backpacking tips and essentials, explore the other content published on our site.

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