7 Great Haven Countries for Backpackers

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Not everyone prefers to stay in a five-star accommodation with 24/7 room service. Roughing it out is a different experience altogether. And no, it’s not just for avoiding a strain on the wallet. Going to places without a pre-determined aim, enjoying local cuisines, mingling with natives; it’s perhaps the most authentic travel experiences a backpacker can have.

While it may not paint a pretty picture for everyone, backpacking across several countries while immersing yourself in local experiences can be highly rewarding. Worldgoo brings to you some of the best havens to backpack through from around the globe. Take a look to learn more.

1. Nepal

Nepal has been a backpacking haven for long. For a truly authentic experience, you can book a few nights at one of the several homestays or guesthouses, as well as enjoy local cuisine such as tarkaari or bhaat. Also, the countryside has a lot to offer. You can go trekking or visit a sacred Buddhist or Hindu temple. Make sure the trip includes a visit to Pokhara; you’ll love its laidback charm. Other than that, you can explore the historical templates in Kathmandu. Other than that, you can stay in some teahouse trekking on the cheap at the Annapurna base camp. You’d love how affordable these places and activities are.

Nepal

  1. Everest Base Camp Trek – The ultimate trekking destination, offering breathtaking views of the world’s highest peak and Sherpa culture.
  2. Annapurna Circuit – A classic trek that circles the Annapurna massif, offering diverse landscapes from rice paddies to high mountain passes.
  3. Langtang Valley Trek – A relatively easy and less crowded trek offering mountain views, Tibetan culture, and the chance to see red pandas.
  4. Manaslu Circuit Trek – A challenging trek around the world’s eighth-highest mountain, offering remote trails and authentic Tibetan villages.
  5. Ghorepani Poon Hill Trek – Ideal for those limited on time, offering stunning Himalayan views, especially at sunrise, and exposure to the culture of the Gurung people.

2. Albania

The quieter of the Balkan countries often get featured in travel lists because of its connection of Mother Teresa, but it’s also an untapped paradise for backpackers. Food, transportation, and accommodation are quite affordable (if it is compared with other European cities), so it isn’t a surprise that a lot more backpackers are planning their trips to Albania. The best place to start is Tirana, the capital of the country. It’s not the most charming city but does have that local element. Backpackers can enjoy a drink in one of the several trendy watering holes with external cities. Other must-visit cities include Saranda and Berat. A trip to Saranda will allow you to get lost in Butrint, an ancient town, as well as go deep in the incredible Blue Eye spring and forest. If you prefer beaches, there’s plenty of virgin, unspoiled ones on the Adriatic coast.

Albania

  1. Albanian Riviera – Stunning coastal trails with unspoiled beaches, traditional villages, and ancient ruins.
  2. Theth to Valbona Valley – A classic and breathtaking trek through the Accursed Mountains, showcasing Albania’s rugged landscape.
  3. Llogara Pass – Offers panoramic coastal views and is the gateway to exploring the beaches and villages of the Riviera.
  4. Gjirokastër – A UNESCO World Heritage city with beautiful Ottoman architecture, cobblestone streets, and nearby hiking trails.
  5. Butrint National Park – Explore ancient ruins within a wetland of great ecological importance, offering a combination of history and nature.

3. Hungary

This had to make the list of the top backpacker’s haven. Hungary’s capital – Budapest – is one of the most backpacker friendly European cities around (and one of the most fun too!). Backpackers can go there to enjoy some mouth-watering Hungarian dishes while they enjoy boat parties or enjoy the music in ruin pubs. Hungary’s architecture is also stunning, with a tremendous Parliament Building that lights up at night. While you’re there, don’t forget to cool down in one of the popular thermal spas located across the city. If you’re planning a trip during summer, there’s also the Spa Parties (Sparty’s) to look out for, although these can get wild fast. In most Hungarian cities, everything is nearby. Also, the underground metro is quite cheap and takes you to all the attractions. And compared to other cities in Western Europe, accommodation is quite cheap. You can get hostel stays for as little as $7 to $15 a night.

Hungary

  1. Danube Bend – Hike along the Danube River, exploring historical towns like Visegrád, Esztergom, and Szentendre.
  2. Aggtelek National Park – Known for its extensive cave system, including the Baradla Cave, offering guided tours and hiking trails above ground.
  3. Lake Balaton – Surrounding areas offer excellent hiking, especially in the Tihany Peninsula, with beautiful views and vineyards.
  4. Bükk Mountains – Offers dense forests, limestone peaks, and the scenic Szalajka Valley, ideal for hiking and exploring caves.
  5. Hortobágy National Park – A UNESCO World Heritage Site, offering vast plains, traditional Hungarian pastoral culture, and birdwatching.

4. Colombia

One of the best havens for backpackers will be a country associated with travel warnings. While you might be at a slight risk (like you’d be elsewhere if you’re unfamiliar with how to get by), you’d be able to enjoy affordable backpacking with little tourists in sight. Colombia is one of those countries. While most people in the US believe Colombia is still operated by ex-mafia members and drug cartels, the country is a lot safer than it was in the 80s. Use the knowledge to your benefit and include Columbia in your travel bucket list. For below $10 a night, you can sleep in a hostel bed in Cartagena. Beach hammocks cost as little as $3 in Playa Blanca and just $10 for a boat journey. The food is a little for expensive, but if you get meals from street vendors, you’d just be shelling out a few dollars per eat.

Colombia

  1. Ciudad Perdida (Lost City) Trek – A challenging trek through the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta to reach the ancient ruins of Teyuna.
  2. Tayrona National Natural Park – Beautiful beaches, coastal lagoons, and rainforest hikes, showcasing Colombia’s diverse ecosystems.
  3. Cocora Valley – Famous for its towering wax palm trees, cloud forests, and hummingbirds. A starting point for the Los Nevados National Park.
  4. Minca – A small mountain village in the Sierra Nevada, known for coffee plantations, waterfalls, and birdwatching.
  5. San Gil – Colombia’s adventure capital, offering everything from hiking and rafting to paragliding.

5. Nicaragua

One of the world’s best retirement oasis, Costa Rica is a great place to be for a backpacker. However, it’s a little bit expensive, and the majority of the population is semi-fluent in English. Fortunately, its neighbor Nicaragua is an ideal alternative and offers Central American vibes to that backpacking without the prices. You can find dorms for as little as $10 a night and even less when you go to a smaller town. Meals would cost you just a few dollars, so if you have the typical backpacker’s budget, putting Nicaragua on your list would be a smart move.

Nicaragua

  1. Isla de Ometepe – Formed by two volcanoes rising from Lake Nicaragua, the island offers hikes, waterfalls, and petroglyphs.
  2. Mombacho Volcano – A cloud forest reserve where you can hike around craters, enjoy wildlife, and get panoramic views of Granada and Lake Nicaragua.
  3. Indio Maíz Biological Reserve – A remote rainforest offering rich biodiversity, river adventures, and the chance to see indigenous wildlife.
  4. Corn Islands – Little Corn Island, in particular, is a paradise for snorkeling, diving, and enjoying Caribbean vibes with less tourist footprint.
  5. Miraflores National Park – Offers a genuine eco-adventure with its dense forests, wildlife, and the opportunity to connect with local indigenous communities.

6. Bolivia

South America once used to be cheap; now it isn’t. That said, there are still a few hidden areas where backpackers can survive in just a few dollars a day. Bolivia is one of the best countries for the purpose, offering exotic destinations and South American vibes that are within reach of a backpacker’s spending ability. You can get primitive locations to stay for as less as $5 a night. Meals including beans and rice cost just a few dollars.

Bolivia

  1. Isla del Sol (Lake Titicaca) – Explore Incan ruins and enjoy panoramic views of South America’s largest lake.
  2. Madidi National Park – One of the most biodiverse areas in the world, offering treks through the Amazon rainforest.
  3. Yungas Road – Also known as Death Road, offers an adrenaline-pumping bike ride with stunning views, leading to lush landscapes.
  4. Salar de Uyuni – Trekking across the world’s largest salt flat provides surreal landscapes, especially after rainfall when it becomes a giant mirror.
  5. Amboró National Park – Offers diverse ecosystems from Amazon rainforest to Andean mountains, ideal for bird watching and nature treks.

7. Turkey

Turkey is popular for uniting the East with the West. Dorm rooms cost as little as $6 in Izmir and Istanbul, and plenty of affordable dishes are offered to help backpackers remain full. One of the best ways to keep costs low is to eat off the streets. Transportation costs don’t make backpackers sweat either; a bus ride across several cities costs as little as $20.

Turkey

  1. Lycian Way – A 540 km trail along the coast of Lycia in southern Turkey, offering stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea and ancient ruins.
  2. Cappadocia – Famous for its unique rock formations, cave hotels, and hot air balloon rides. Hiking through the valleys like Ihlara Valley offers a unique landscape.
  3. Kaçkar Mountains – A paradise for trekkers looking to explore the alpine scenery, traditional villages, and biodiversity of northeastern Turkey.
  4. Mount Ararat – For the more adventurous, trekking up Mount Ararat, Turkey’s highest peak, provides a challenging and rewarding experience with historical and biblical significance.
  5. St. Paul Trail – A long-distance footpath following the travels of St. Paul, offering a mix of Turkish culture, history, and natural beauty.

Final Verdict

Sure, a visit to the destinations mentioned on this list means forgoing some comforts, but the connection you’d make with the locals and the environment around you can’t be undervalued. Plus, you’d be meeting other backpackers from all over the world, making friends and delight memories along the way. So, where are you off to next?

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