Five countries that aren't as expensive as you think (and five that are)

Fewer funds do not equal less fun. That is a truism travellers have known for as long as they have been exploring the world. You may not have a lot of money to spend on your next holiday, but your experience does not have to suffer because of it. Even if you are flush with funds, who doesn't want to save money when and where you can?

Some countries have a reputation for being pricey, but when you actually go there, you can find great value for money - provided you don't want to do the whole trip in five-star luxury. Other countries absolutely live up to their reputations for burning holes in travellers' pockets - but they're such great destinations that they're worth the high price.



If you ride the shinkansen and stay in the big cities, eat at upmarket restaurants and reside in luxury hotels, you will spend a lot of money in Japan. However, it doesn't have to be that way: buy a JR Pass for train travel; venture away from Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto; eat at casual restaurants; stay in traditional inns. Suddenly, Japan becomes affordable. See


The Australian dollar has been losing ground against the US, but this country still offers great value for money if you know where to look. Steer clear of the major cities and you will find staples like food, drink and accommodation extremely affordable. Shopping, too, is a bargain, particularly in outlet malls. See


Zanzibar, Tanzania


You would assume a tropical island oozing history and charm would be expensive, but in the case of Zanzibar, off the coast of Tanzania, you would be wrong. There is beachfront accommodation here for around $50 a night. A meal at a local restaurant can be had for $10. Scuba-diving trips cost around $100. Bargain. See


SunOct29Malaysia - George Town, Penang, Malaysia ; copy by Brian Johnston credit: Shutterstock *** EDITORIAL USE ONLY *** Girl posing for a photo with street art piece

George Town, Malaysia. Photo: Shutterstock

There is a perception that Malaysia is more expensive than neighbouring countries such as Thailand and Indonesia, and in some cases that is true. Still, it won't exactly break the bank. Getting to Malaysia can be quite affordable, thanks to AirAsia X, and costs on the ground, such as five-star hotels in Kuala Lumpur, are a fraction of what you would pay back home. See


Though most European countries use the same currency, they are surprisingly disparate in terms of affordability. The likes of the Netherlands, Germany and Austria can be very expensive. Spain, meanwhile – particularly in the south – offers excellent value for money. See





Luzern, Switzerland,top view SatJul21Switzerland - Lucerne, Switzerland - by Steve McKenna Credit: Shutterstock

Lucern, Switzerland. Photo: SHUTTERSTOCK

This country can sometimes be eye-wateringly expensive. A drink at a bar is astronomical. A meal at a restaurant requires a new mortgage. However, a journey through Switzerland is worth every franc. It is one of the most beautiful places on the planet, the culture is fascinating, and the adventure activities second-to-none. See


It is no surprise to find that this playground for the rich and famous is affordable only for those who are rich and famous. The average daily cost for travellers in Monaco, according to is €169, or about $275. Next door in Italy it is €121. But Monaco is spectacularly beautiful, and there is nowhere else like it. See


Blue Lagoon, Iceland


Scandinavia is expensive: Sweden is pricey, Norway is also up there, and Iceland is off the charts. Restaurant bills look like international phone numbers. Bar tabs are the same. However, cook for yourself and go easy on the booze and this country can still be affordable, and it is well worth shelling out to visit a place like no other. See


Ouch. Bermuda is pricey. Much like Monaco, this is a haunt for the cashed-up, and it is priced accordingly. Even getting to Bermuda is expensive for Australians, with flights via LA and New York. Still, Bermuda is the classic island paradise, with turquoise waters, white-sand beaches, and pastel-coloured homes. See


It can be hard to commit to a holiday in Australia when there are so many other options, many of which appear better value for money. However, what Australia lacks in affordability it makes up for with unique, world-famous attractions: the likes of the Kimberley, Uluru, the Tasmanian rainforests and the reef. See



SatOct28coverIslands worlds best islands ; copy by Ute Junker
credit: SHUTTERSTOCK *** editorial use only ***Montreal, Canada - May 27, 2017: Old town area with people walking up street in evening outside restaurants in Quebec region citysunjan13cover - breakout

Photo: Shutterstock

No North American city is going to be as cheap as, say, somewhere in South-East Asia. However, in terms of value for money Montreal is right up there. This is a culture-rich city with an average daily spend for visitors of $210, according to – as opposed to, say, $340 in New York City. See


Venice is very expensive. Florence and Milan, similarly so. And let's not even talk about the Amalfi Coast. If you are looking for value in Italy, go no further than Naples. The capital of Campania is a little rough around the edges, but it has a lot of heart, as well as world-class museums, and incredibly good pizza for about €4 each. See


There is plenty of history in Santa Fe – this was a major hub during Spanish colonial times and a one-time capital of Mexico's territories. These days the city is a hotspot for artists, musicians, and new-age devotees. It is also very affordable, with free festivals and events throughout the year, plus well-priced accommodation. See


It seems crazy that a city such as Berlin could exist, that the capital of a country with a famously robust economy could be so affordable; that a tourist hotspot and major European centre could be so accessible. And yet, it is. Berlin's egalitarian nature extends to its tourism industry, with everything from hotel rooms to attractions priced to appeal. See


Plenty of what makes Bangkok so great can be enjoyed for just a few baht: from the world's best street food to temple visits to river cruises. However, for real value for money, look to the Thai capital's five-star hotels: luxurious properties that offer rooms for about $200 a night. See

See also: The 10 countries you should visit in 2019 if you're on a budget