For travelers wishing to widen their horizons, overseas vacations can be quite an expensive undertaking, but it doesn’t always have to be that way. If you head off the beaten path, make advance bookings, and look for discounts, you will find some truly exotic destinations that could even work out to be less expensive than a domestic trip. With our list of budget-friendly destinations you will find that financial restraints do not have to limit your travel, but can actually enhance it. After all, there’s nothing more satisfying than getting the best value for your money.
1. Koh Samui, Thailand
Many beach destinations fail to live up to the hype, but Koh Samui isn’t one of those. What you get is in fact more than what you see, because no photo op could do justice to the beauty of this Thai island. With its white beaches, clear blue waters, and coral reefs this is paradise for every beach lover and scuba diving enthusiast. There is also a lot to explore on land, with lush tropical forests covering the landscape and an abundance of exotic flora and fauna.
2. Koh Rong Island, Cambodia
Koh Rong is Cambodia’s second largest island and is just off the coast of Sihanoukville. Till very recently, the island was secluded and only drew a handful of tourists, as it even lacked access to electricity. While that has changed and there are now plenty of accommodation options, along with noisy beach parties and raves, there are also many tranquil beaches, just within walking distance from the crowded spots. This should come as no surprise, considering that the island has an astounding area of 43 km of beaches. With its clean white sands, spectacular sunsets and serene coves, the island truly has something to offer for everyone.
3. Hsipaw, Myanmar
Hsipaw is a little village in Myanmar, to the north of Mandalay. Often overlooked in the past and simply used as a base for trekking expeditions through the surrounding hills, Hsipaw is fast emerging as a tourist attraction in its own right. The sleepy village beckons tourists with its laidback lifestyle and fascinating history, as it once was a Shan royal city. From here, you can explore the surrounding countryside and villages to get a true taste of Shan culture. From Hsipaw, you can also enjoy some of the best hill treks in the region and visit the famous mountain villages. If you are looking to do some shopping or take some souvenirs home, head to Central Riverfront at dawn and the Produce Market a little earlier.
4. Kapas Island, Malaysia
If you are looking for a destination that is truly off the beaten path, you needn’t look any further. Kapas Island is so exotic and off the grid that it does not have any ATMs and tourists withdraw money on the mainland before getting to the island. Yes, you can be sure that no one back home would have ever visited this destination. Kapas Island is tiny by any standards – just 2 kms long and 1 km wide. This is in fact what makes it so appealing to tourists looking for nothing but relaxation, sun-kissed beaches, diving, and snorkeling. The island is peaceful and offers the perfect getaway, especially for tourists who are put off by huge crowd and noisy parties. At Kapas Island you can also enjoy turtle-spotting, short jungle treks, and sea-kayaking.
5. Sumatra Region, Indonesia
Most travelers tend to overlook Sumatra and can see little further than Bali, when considering a trip to Indonesia. There’s a lot more to the country beyond Bali. You would be surprised with the rich offerings of Sumatra. In fact, the island of Sumatra could alone furbish a list of 10 exotic destinations. From lush rainforests and limestone caves to crater lakes and pristine beaches, Sumatra has it all. The indigenous population is also friendly and their vibrant traditional cultures are fascinating. Some of the most popular locations in Sumatra include Lake Toba, Pulah Weh, Bukit Lawang, and Banda Aceh, to name a few.
6. Vientiane, Laos
Vientiane is a treat for sore eyes, especially if you’ve already traveled through the major tourist hubs of Southeast Asia. It is one of the smallest capitals that you can find in Asia and it is free of all the urban sprawl that characterizes so many other cities in the region. It is quite unlike any other place you will have visited and has a European charm, with its old French mansions and tree-lined avenues, yet with a distinctively Oriental flavor. Nestled between rugged mountainous terrain and fertile plains of the Mekong, the city has a rich culture and is filled with architectural marvels that showcase its colonial past and Asian heritage.
7. Taichung, Taiwan
Taichung is Taiwan’s third-largest city, but it is a model for eco-friendly development. The city’s appeal lies in its modernity that successfully embraces and protects its natural environment. A thriving center of commerce, Taichung also has a vibrant cultural scene and friendly locals. A world-class city in every conceivable way, Taichung will not disappoint as there is something for every type of tourist. Naturalists will take delight in the greenery that thrives in and around the city, while history buffs will find immense pleasure in the well-preserved historic sites spread throughout the city. The city is filled with urban parks, museums, shopping districts, night markets, and temples.
8. Subic Bay, Philippines
The Philippines may be off the radar for most Indian tourists , but this makes a trip to the country even more exciting. Beyond its glitzy capital Manila, the country has a lot to offer and Subic Bay is probably one of the most popular rising attractions. Formerly a major US naval base, the area is now home to the Subic Bay Freeport Zone, which is for all practical purposes, a giant recreational and commercial hub. This tax- and duty-free zone is a shopper’s delight and an important center for commerce. Despite the industrialization and urbanization, environmental conservation is important to the locals and there are numerous eco-tourism parks, an open-sea marine park, and other protected areas that celebrate the flora and fauna of the region. While here, you can enjoy the best of nature, from sandy beaches to dense forests, and you will find lots to do with plenty of adventure sports activities, including wreck dives.
9. Dubai, United Arab Emirates
If you like to live it up and really want to experience the pinnacle of modernity and urban development then Dubai is the place to be. Filled with opulent and extravagant architectural marvels, this small city will leave you mesmerized. Dubai is in every sense a triumph of the human spirit and a testament to the tenacity and ambition of its people. Dubai may be home to some of the world’s most opulent and expensive hotels, but if you’re not planning on staying at the Bhurj Khalifa you can easily find accommodation that fits into your tight budget. An obvious first choice for shopaholics and party goers, the city also has a rich, if less explored, cultural legacy that can be enjoyed at its many museums and souks.
Brunei is a strange and enchanting country that can scarcely be described in words. This small nation is located on the island of Borneo, the rest of which is part of Malaysia. The country is most famous for its oil reserves that have helped make it one of the richest countries in the world, a fact that has enabled it to undertake planned development and effective protection for much of its coast and rainforests. Tourists are drawn to the country for its great natural beauty and welcoming natives. The country also has a rich cultural heritage, with various western and Asian influences, but with Islamic culture being the most dominant .
No matter what your travel budget, a good deal on travel and accommodation will always maximize your pleasure. If you’re in the mood to splurge on accommodation, don’t settle for budget hotels in expensive cities; instead pamper yourself with stays at luxury hotels at any of these destinations. Now that you have a new list of exotic destinations to explore, draw up your plans, book your tickets, and pack your bags!