If you're a college student, you should know that traveling abroad is good for you. It's been shown to improve learning outcomes and may even be a predictor for better grades and higher incomes later in life. It also teaches valuable life and professional skills such as adaptability, independence, communication, and cross-cultural understanding.
The only downside? All those benefits come with a price tag. And if you're a college student, odds are good that you're not exactly rolling in the dough. The good news it that it's still possible to travel on a tight budget— you just have to know where to go. Here are 12 cheap, lesser-known, and wonderful destinations to get you started. No matter which locale you choose, expect to pay well under $50 a night for the privilege of staying there.
Gorgeous architecture, historical attractions, and European sophistication distinguish Bucharest as a must-see city. Don't miss the National Art Museum, the Romanian Athenaeum, the Parliament Palace, or Calea Victoriei, a popular street packed with traditional cafes, bars, and restaurants. Visit in the summer for the best rates and mild weather.
Located on the Bay of Bengal, Chennai offers visitors beautiful scenery, historical attractions, and a rich cultural heritage. Because it's not a particularly well-known tourist destination, Chennai boasts budget-friendly accommodations year-round. Visit between November and February for great weather—highs are typically around 70 degrees. January is one of the most popular months because it features Chennai Pongal, a four-day celebration of the end of winter.
It’s a wonder this gorgeous island hasn't been overrun with tourists: Palm-covered beaches, stunning waterfalls, unique geological features, and a relaxed culture make for a perfect island getaway. The island is 88 square miles, so choose accommodations near the beach for easy waterfront access. Rates are very budget-friendly—you can rent a room or a whole home for around $29 a night. If you want to avoid monsoon season, plan to visit between March and May.
Malaysia's capital offers something for every kind of traveler, from jaw-dropping architecture (hello, Petronas Twin Towers) to primo shopping, delicious food, relaxing gardens, distinct neighborhoods, and spiritual exploration in mosques and temples. The city is also close to other attractions such as the Batu Caves and Putrajaya, which is one of the best places in the world to watch the sunset.
Lapu-Lapu is home to some of the most significant historical sites in the Philippines, making it a great destination for history buffs and anthropology majors. The city is also packed with art, restaurants, nightlife, live entertainment, beachfront scenery, and other cultural attractions. You can enjoy it all on a shoestring budget: Wallet-friendly accommodations start at $16 per night.
Ancient Incan ruins, ocean views, and a bustling metropolitan culture—Lima is ideal for the traveler who wants to experience big-city energy in a gorgeous setting. The city's off-season runs from June to October, and this is when you'll find the best deals on accommodations. The Festival season begins in October and continues through November; expect large crowds and a variety of cultural attractions, including the biggest religious procession in Latin America.
Coral reefs, palm-covered beaches, and budget-friendly hotels—Montego Bay is the tropical destinations for travelers with limited funds. Visit from October to early December for the best rates, abundant sunshine, and warm temps. Take a tour of the old sugar plantation or the working coffee plantation, practice your swing on the gorgeous fairways, soak up the sun on the white sand beaches, or kick back and enjoy the views of the Catadupa Mountains.
If you love the water, then get yourself to Nha Trang. Scuba diving and beautiful beaches await visitors to the city, which is located on Vietnam's south-central coast. While airfare will cost a pretty penny, you'll spend very little once you arrive—rates for budget-friendly hotels start as low as $8 per night, while luxury accommodations can be found for as little as $75 each night.
Located in the Andes Region of Ecuador, Quito is a nature lover's dream. It's also packed with colonial architecture, historical attractions, and a vibrant culture that you have to experience to fully appreciate. The city boasts a wide variety of budget hotels with rates starting as low as $20 a night. Before scheduling a trip, be aware that Quito's winter runs from June to September, while the popular summer months run from December to March.
San Juan is an island paradise—think white beaches and tropical rainforests—any time of the year. The winter months (from December through April) promise the best weather, but you'll find cheaper rates from May through September. If you're visiting in June, don't miss the city's SoFo Culinary Week. If you're an American citizen, you won't need a passport to enter San Juan, and you can use U.S. dollars as currency. (That's because Puerto Rico is a U.S. commonwealth.)
Despite being the Dominican Republic's capital city, Santo Domingo has yet to attract large herds of tourists. And that's great news for the wallet-conscious traveler, because low-budget accommodations abound (even during spring break!). Enjoy your savings while soaking up rays on the city's beaches or tearing it up in one of the many salsa/merengue clubs.
You may know Ubud from a little book called Eat, Pray, Love. Bali's gorgeousness is on full display here, as are pretty rice paddies, open-air markets, and mystical attractions. Visit between July and September for the best weather. (But do be prepared for larger crowds than you'll find during the city's rainy months.) Homestays are popular in Ubud, but you'll also find plenty of budget-friendly hotels both within and outside of the city's center.
And there you have it: Even if you're an impoverished college student, a wide variety of amazing cultural, natural, and historical destinations are within your reach. Save every dollar you can, and soon enough you'll have enough money to get there.
This article was originally posted on Hipmunk's Tailwind blog on February 14th.
Kuala Lumpur, or fondly known as KL, is a big city with an area of 94 square miles and a population of 1.3 million. Being a big city, sometimes we wonder, what can we do in this city? Where to go or what to do? Here are my 7 suggestions based on my personal experience. 7 things that we can do while in Kuala Lumpur:
Not exactly in Kuala Lumpur, but this place is located near to the border of Kuala Lumpur and the state of Selangor. Batu Caves is a limestone hill that has a series of cave and cave temples. The main attraction here, apart from the highest Lord Murugan statue in the world, is the fact that one has to climb 272 concrete steps in order to reach the Temple Cave. It has another cave for exploration, called the Dark Cave tour, which is open for the public to explore, with a fee of course. To read more on Batu Caves, go here. To go to Batu Caves, take the Komuter Line train to the Batu Caves station.
Yes, it is Indian food. But don’t you know that Malaysia is Truly Asia. Yeah, go to the Petaling Street (Chinatown) area this time of the year and with the upcoming Visit Malaysia Year 2014, the Malaysia Truly Asia song will go into your mind like a North Korea propaganda song. Haha. So, if you have never had the chance to go to India, try the banana leaf rice in Kuala Lumpur. They are delicious, exotic for those who are going to eat with the hand (right hand only, please) for the first time and satisfying. There are plenty of banana leaf restaurants around, just go on a food hunt!
No visit to Malaysia is not complete if a trip to the tallest twin building in the world is not included in the itinerary, they say. I agree. If we were to visit a particular place, of course we are going to take photos with the famous landmark of the place, no? Well, a visit to the skybridge comes with a fee, so if you want to enjoy the place for free, just go to the 2 exits in the middle of the shopping mall for different views of the towers. One exit through the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra and another through the KLCC Park. Definitely a sight to remember. To get to the Twin Towers, just take the Kelana Jaya Line LRT, exit at KLCC Station.
For a dose of colonial period building, the Sultan Abdul Samad Building can fix that. Built in 1897, this is one of the oldest buildings in Kuala Lumpur. Previously used as the British government administrative office, this building had also been used as court houses as well as the Culture and Heritage Ministry office. This building had also seen a lot of historical events, such as the independence day and the infamous trial of Anwar Ibrahim. The design is unique to the period it was built and is evidenced by the similar concept buildings around its vicinity. To go here, take the Kelana Jaya Line or Ampang Line LRT and disembark at the Masjid Jamek station.
Nothing beats roadside stalls. Seriously. Whenever I am travelling out of Malaysia, I tried to eat at roadside stalls, if possible, which are always the best -- minus the hygiene. Lol. The same goes to Kuala Lumpur. There are plenty of such stalls at Chinatown area. The one near the Petaling Street offers good kuew teow goreng (fried noodles or fried flat noodles) and tons of other fried foods. Also satay and Chinese steamboat. Near Dataran Merdeka besides the river is D’Tebing, a roadside food stall. Just find one. Amazing experience.
I intended to ride on Singapore'’s MRT from one end to the other to see the city during one of my visits there. Nevertheless, considering the fact that almost the whole journey were underground, I cancelled the plan and did something else instead. But here in Kuala Lumpur, most journeys are elevated, so you could see the city from a higher point, including all the suburban places. So, why don't you buy a ticket to the next station, but ride it until the last station, and then at the last station, get back into the train and go back to the station where you bought the ticket to. Sounds like a plan? ;)
I said 7 did I? Well, maybe you can suggest what is the 7th thing that can be done in KL?