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Budget Travel Destinations

With the US dollar dropping and foreign currencies on the rise, many travelers are finding that their favorite overseas destinations are now financially out of reach. There are, however, many fascinating and affordable places to visit around the world, each offering travelers the opportunity to explore different cultures, foods, and landscapes.

Eastern Europe is still a bargain for the budget-minded traveler. Meals and lodging are considerably less expensive than in Western European countries, and most of Eastern Europe is served by the Eurail system which offers a variety of relatively inexpensive multi-day, multi-country rail travel passes. Bargain hunters could get by on less than $100 per day.

Much of Central America is even less expensive for food and lodging, and offers a variety of transportation options at a wide range of prices - from ramshackle, pokey "chicken" buses to first-class, air conditioned tourist shuttles, and from taxis to private cars and drivers or chartered boats. Time, comfort and safety, as well as expense, should be considered when making transportation decisions. Careful spenders could manage on as little as $60 per day.

The South American countries of Argentina, Ecuador and Peru can be equally affordable. Bus travel is the most common form of ground transportation, and coaches range from quite luxurious in Argentina to considerably more rustic in Peru. Train service is also available in some areas, and private cars and drivers can be hired. Frugal travelers could spend less than $70 per day.

Some of the best travel bargains are found in Southeast Asia, where pleasant hotels and good food can be had at rock-bottom prices. Transportation options include everything from the human and horse-powered for intra-city exploration, to luxury buses, chartered minibuses, ferries, chartered boats, and long distance taxis for more extensive touring. A budget of $45 a day will buy food, lodging and transportation.

The following table is intended to give travelers an idea of mid to high range costs for food, lodging, and ground transportation. Please remember, however, that it is only a guide - exchange rates will change, and prices will vary both regionally and seasonally.

Country

Currency/

Exchange

Accommodation

Meals

$ Per Day**

Code

Rate*

Med - High

Med - High

Med - High

Bulgaria

Lev (BGN)

1.33

$30 - $75

$6 - $15

$60 - $135

Hungary

Forint (HUF)

172.89

$65 - $150

$7 - $15

$100 - $210

Poland

Zloty (PLN)

2.42

$75 - $200

$12 - $40

$115 - $300

Romania

Leu (RON)

2.51

$45 - $300

$7 - $40

$80 - $400

Guatemala

Quetzal (GTQ)

7.82

$20 - $60

$5 - $20

$40 - $115

Honduras

Lempira (HNL)

19.47

$30 - $90

$6 - $22

$55 - $180

Nicaragua

Cordoba Oro (NIO)

19.29

$15 - $50

$4 - $15

$30 - $110

Panama

Balboa (PAB)

1.02

$25 - $80

$5 - $20

$45 - $165

Argentina

Peso (ARS)

3.13

$40 - $150

$5 - $45

$65 - $245

Ecuador

US Dollar (USD)

1.00

$15 - $150

$4 - $30

$40 - $245

Peru

Nuevo Sol (PEN)

2.98

$25 - $225

$5 - $30

$55 - $325

Indonesia

Rupiah (IDR)

9,376

$5 - $25

$2 - $11

$20 - $100

Laos

Kip (LAK)

9,438

$18 - $50

$1 - $4

$25 - $100

Malaysia

Ringgit (MYR)

3.26

$23 - $95

$5 - $17

$45 - $185

Thailand

Baht (THB)

29.81

$20 - $55

$6 - $17

$45 - $145

Vietnam

Dong (VND)

16,250

$16 - $90

$2 - $10

$30 - $145

*Based on the Interbank exchange rate for January 17, 2008.
** Meals, hotel, and ground transportation.

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