Top 10 Cheapest Places To Travel In 2023 [Asia + Europe Edition]
Where are the cheapest places to travel in 2023?
1. Bali, Indonesia
You might think that Bali is an expensive place to visit, and when you see the stunning photos featured in travel brochures which just ooze luxury, it’s not hard to see why. Yes, you could blow your life savings on swanky retreats, Buddha bowls and spa days, but you really don’t need too. If you’re savvy, Bali can be one of the cheapest places to travel in Asia. Accommodation and food is super affordable, and the prices of transfers and tours are really reasonable too. The highest expense is going to be the international flights (especially if you are coming from outside of Asia) but once you are there, it could actually work out cheaper than you think.
In fact, you probably won’t believe me when I say that the hotel I stayed in when I visited Ubud as part of a trip to Cambodia, Bali and Hong Kong, and during another stint travelling Singapore, Malaysia and Bali cost me just £14.50 per person per night (~$19.50 – based on 2 people sharing) – it had 2 swimming pools, a 4-poster bed and private terrace, included breakfast and was situated in the rice fields just off of Monkey Forest Road. And, my hotel in Kuta which was just a 10 minute walk from the beach, included breakfast, had a private terrace and a lush swimming pool cost just £8.87 per person per night (~$11.93 – based on 2 people sharing). Talk about snapping up a bargain!
2. Krakow, Poland
Poland is one of the cheapest places to travel in Europe, and Krakow is no exception. One of the most walkable cities in Europe, Krakow is located in the south of the country along the Vistula River. A popular city break destination for fun-lovers, history-buffs and culture-seekers, Krakow can be done on a budget as easy as wink. But in order to make Krakow one of the cheapest places to travel in 2023, you will need to avoid certain times of the year when prices can be inflated (especially for flights).
Due to the enchanting Krakow Christmas Market, December can be an expensive time of the year to visit the city. Similarly, a trip is going to work out pricey over New Year and during the European summer holidays which usually span from June-September. In my experience, flights tend to be less expensive at the beginning of the year or around November. I visited Krakow one March, and for the return flights and an apartment it cost me a grand total of £98.72 for 4 nights (~$132.72 – apartment based on 2 people sharing).
3. Langkawi, Malaysia
Located off the west coast of the Malay peninsula, Langkawi is an archipelago of 99 islands. The main island is Pulau Langkawi, and is Malaysia’s answer to a tropical paradise. With palm-lined beaches, jungle-clad mountains, the greenest rice fields and a crystal clear coastline, there are some wonderful things to do in Langkawi. And the reason it makes this list of cheap travel destinations for 2023 is because it is a tax-free island which means it’s rather affordable!
Like Bali, the biggest expense you will outlay is going to be your international flights, especially if you are not departing from another country or region in Asia. But you will not believe how affordable it can be for accommodation, food and drink. I remember being (perhaps) a little overzealous when popping to a local supermarket on arrival in Langkawi, and buying a few to many bags of crisps, sweets, and cans of local beer for the poolside because it was pocket-money prices (psst… it’s not just snacks which are cheap in Langkawi!).
4. St Julians, Malta
Malta seems to be becoming an increasingly popular holiday destination alongside well-loved counterparts like Greece and Croatia (or perhaps it’s always been popular, and I’m just noticing it more). Located on the east coast of the island, St Julians is an old Maltese fishing village that has now sprawled into a buzzy cosmopolitan town. With no shortage of things to do in St Julians, it’s the ideal base for any itinerary for Malta and if you visit at the right time, it’s budget friendly too.
One November, I found some really cheap flights to Malta from the UK and this led me to investigate the possibility of a quick holiday there (psst… one of the top tips for how to travel cheap in Europe is to visit off peak). Unsurprisingly, I soon booked the trip, and it is one of the cheapest getaways I’ve ever had. For the return flights, UK airport parking, Malta airport transfers and an apartment it cost me the grand sum of £139.87 (~$187.69) for 5 days based on 2 people sharing. Cheap, cheap, cheap.
5. Marmaris, Turkey
A popular Mediterranean destination for sun-worshippers and water-sports lovers, Marmaris is a port city which makes for one of the best summer city break destinations in Europe. With a winding promenade which snakes along the sandy beach and around the chic marina, Marmaris is the perfect spot to base yourself for wider exploration of Turkey via a good old organised day tour, such as to Pamukkale which is one of the natural wonders of Europe or to the Lycian Tombs in Dalyan which is one of the most unique places to visit in Europe.
If you are looking for all inclusive style affordable places to travel in 2023, then Marmaris might just tickle your fancy. It is (usually) one of the cheaper package deal holiday destinations (especially for us Brits) and if you’re flexible on dates and avoid the European summer time, you might be able to snap up a bargain with one of the big travel operators. Even if you’re not an all inclusive type of traveller, it can sometimes work out cheaper to book this way than self-catering (and then you’ve got the option to eat in the hotel too).
6. Chiang Mai, Thailand
Situated in the north of the Land of Smiles, Chiang Mai is usually on most backpackers hitlists during their Thailand itinerary. Surrounded by mountains that are carpeted in jungle, Chiang Mai is a paradise for adventurers, culture-seekers, foodies, and history-enthusiasts alike. Thailand is famed for being inexpensive, but some areas are easier on the wallet than others, and Chiang Mai is one of them, with accommodation, food, transport, day trips, drinks, and other attractions being budget-friendly.
Thailand was the first place I travelled around in Southeast Asia, and it gave me a glimpse into just how affordable the region can be (I’ve never looked back since). For 5 nights in a hotel with a private bathroom and balcony, based on 2 people sharing, I paid an insane price of just £25.50 (~$34.20) which is just astonishing (you’d struggle to get 1 night in a decent hotel in the UK for that). Granted, the prices may have increased a little since I visited, but I would bet that Chiang Mai is still one of the cheapest holiday destinations in 2023.
7. Prague, Czech Republic
Eastern Europe is renowned for being one of the cheapest places to travel in Europe, and the enchanting city of Prague is no exception to the rule. Boasting an Old Town resembling the pages of a children’s fairytale book, Prague is a bucket list worthy 2023 travel destination. With cobbled streets lined with some of the finest Gothic and Romanesque architecture, there is no shortage of things to do in Prague to fill any short city break or longer getaway.
If you’re sensible, the price of food, drink and attractions in Prague are affordable, and like Krakow, flights to Prague from other European destinations tend to be relatively cheap if you avoid peak travel periods like Christmas and summer. I visited the city as part of a dual trip to Prague and Rome, and stayed for 5 nights. So you have an idea of how much accommodation costs in Prague, an apartment just on the outskirts of the city cost me £113.50 (~$152.53) based on 2 people sharing. For a decent burger meal somewhere delicious like Sad Mans Tongue, you can expect to pay in the region of £8-£9 (~$10-$12) – you can get cheaper food depending on where you want to eat.
8. Hoi An, Vietnam
Hoi An is one of my absolute favourite places in Southeast Asia, and is one of the very best places to visit in Vietnam. It is a uniquely special place, where Oriental and French Colonial influence charmingly intertwine with modern Vietnamese life. You might recognise Hoi An for its world-famous array of colourful lanterns which illuminate the streets and the Thu Bon River at night. Wandering through Hoi An, you will stumble across an abundance of architectural delights, from colonial buildings to Chinese temples.
Hoi An is another one of those places that was extremely kind to my bank balance, hence its appearance on this list of the cheapest places to travel in 2023, and should be a definite stop on any Vietnam itinerary. Everything about Hoi An is affordable, from the food to the drink to the accommodation. If you choose wisely, your accommodation may include the use of bicycles which is one of the best ways to get around Hoi An and will avoid you spending out on this separately. Just scroll through Hoi An hotels to see just how unbelievably cheap good quality accommodation can be.
9. Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Located in the south of beautiful Bosnia and Herzegovina close to the Croatian border, Mostar is a city where east and west collide. Throughout the Old Town you will see Ottoman influence everywhere you look, from the food to the trinkets sold on riverside stalls. The emerald Neretva River flows through Mostar, under the tall arched Stari Most (the Old Town bridge) which takes pride of place in the city. You might recognise Stari Most as the bridge used by daring divers who take the plunge into the cold blue waters below.
10. Budapest, Hungary
Last but far from least on this list of the cheapest places to travel in 2023 is the Hungarian capital, Budapest. One of the most magical Christmas city breaks in Europe, I spent 3 days in Budapest one December and I have the fondest memories of my trip there. Split into Buda and Pest by the mighty Danube River and connected by the impressive Szechenyi Chain Bridge, the city is fast becoming one of the most popular city break destinations in Europe, perhaps owing to its abundance of things to do, beauty and sheer affordability.
Just a word of warning… flights to/from Budapest are usually going to be more expensive around December because like many other European cities, it too has some wonderful Christmas Markets (I was just lucky to find cheap flights). But you can expect to pay reasonable prices year-round for accommodation, food, drinks and transportation. To give you an idea, I paid £35.50 (~$47.53, based on 2 people sharing) for a central apartment for 3 nights, and a pint of local beer in one of the ruin bars cost around £2.00 (~$2.68) at the time. Pretty affordable right?