Top budget destinations

1. Detroit, USA

For me, personally, Detroit is a melting pot for everything. We get the best from the East Coast, West Coast and down South. – Big Sean, rapper

Art and invention have become more important than ever in Motor City, where Detroit’s sprawling array of derelict buildings and low-cost real estate have been reclaimed by new waves of artists.

Neighbourhoods like Corktown, Detroit’s oldest surviving district, are prime examples of the regeneration. Here, you can rejoice in the fun of old-school Americana, chowing down at retro burger joints, tastefully refurbished vintage diners and monster truck rallies, or delve into the music scene that birthed techno and some of the most influential figures in hip-hop.

While Detroit still has a great deal to overcome, this year marks a turning point in the city’s fascinating, enigmatic history.

2. Mexico

Few countries offer as much diversity for budget travellers as Mexico. The country’s vibrant mosaic of cultural and regional identities are almost as varied as the nation’s landscapes, which encompass everything from luxurious beach escapes and colourful colonial cities to stunning deserts and dense rainforests teeming with wildlife.

Add to this a thriving contemporary arts scene and a cuisine so deliciously brilliant that it’s been honoured on UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage, and you’ll find little reason not to visit.

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Despite the headlines, the majority of this massive country is also extremely safe for travel, while the unfortunate crash of the peso has made exploring even more affordable.

3. Transylvania, Romania

While Transylvania is almost synonymous with Dracula’s castle, there’s so much more to this fabulously cheap central Romanian region.

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Curious travellers will be rewarded with beautifully preserved cities such as Sibiu, Sighişoara and Braşov, bear tracking in the Carpathian mountains, bewitching Romani music and excellent trekking opportunities. Bike into the countryside, meanwhile, and you’ll find abandoned Saxon villages and a lifestyle that predates the Industrial Revolution.

Plus, with an expanding network of budget airline routes, Transylvania is now just a direct flight away from most European airports.

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4. Cambodia

A small country with a big history. – Beverley Palmer, author of The Rough Guide to Cambodia

The costs of visiting Cambodia are gradually rising, as tourism to the country and neighbouring nations increases, but you’ll still find excellent value here. Not to mention some of the world’s friendliest people and many of Southeast Asia’s most marvellous landscapes.

Beyond the UNESCO-protected temples of Angkor, which mesmerize millions of visitors every year, much of this mostly rural nation still feels off the well-trodden path.

Whether your adventures land you in sleepy colonial towns, villages of stilted wooden houses, bohemian riverside retreats or palm-thatched beach huts on offshore islands, time immersed in Cambodia’s alluring culture is time well spent.

The Rough Guide to Cambodia
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5. Greece

The Rough Guide to Greece
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Greece has long been one of Europe’s best destinations for the budget-minded, ever since it became a stop on the hippie trail in the 1960s.

Today, whether you spend your trip exploring eons of ancient history, soaking up the sun on a peaceful island, cutting loose at a beach party, watching the sunset over the mythical Metéora or simply gorging on the delicious food at local tavernas, you’re sure to be taken in by the country’s charms.

This year the economy should continue to show slow signs of improvement, but tourism remains crucial to supporting Greece’s future.

6. The Albanian Coast

Albania retains one of the last unspoiled coastlines in the Mediterranean. Sun-drenched mountains and white-sand beaches spill into the bright blue waters of the Adriatic Sea, while Ancient Greek ruins and historic Ottoman villages punctuate the surrounding rural landscape.

You’ll find none of the usual high-rise resorts, crowded shores and high prices typical in the rest of the Med here, with fresh seafood, quality bars and comfortable accommodation available at a fraction of the cost.

And with more affordable flights due to connect Tirana with the rest of the continent in 2017, Albania is set to be even more accessible for travellers on a budget.

7. The Philippines

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More than 7000 islands, a plethora of fascinating cultures and over 150 languages and dialects – it’s fair to say that you could devote a lifetime of travel to the Philippines and still not discover everything this country has to offer.

Some of the world’s most incredible dive sites, beaches, surf spots and local cuisine, coupled with exceptionally low prices, have always reeled tourists in. But the further you stray off the beaten path, the cheaper things tend to get.

Expect fascinating indigenous villages, incredible jungles brimming with unique wildlife, colourful fiestas, gorgeous colonial architecture and a wallet that still feels hefty at the end of your trip.

8. Texas Hill Country, USA

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Welcome to one of the barbecue capitals of Texas – and, in a state that prides itself on its beef, that’s saying something. Affordable, offbeat and a short drive from the music-filled streets of Austin, Texas Hill Country was made for road-tripping on a budget.

Standout bargains like the Hill Country BBQ Market host some of the finest meat purveyors in the country: prices are set by weight, and sizeable portions will set you back a few bucks at most.

There’s more to Texas Hill Country than meat, though: discover lush rolling hills for hiking, picturesque lakes to swim in and more than more than 350 wineries to visit.

9. Leipzig, Germany

If any city is buzzing right now, it’s Leipzig. Billed as the “new Berlin”, Leipzig still possesses the glorious cutting-edge scene that the German capital is gradually losing as gentrification by big-time developers takes its toll.

Here, you’ll find a pervasive sense of freedom among residents and visitors alike. In Leipzig, the city is still a playground. Entire factory blocks in the city’s east end lay unoccupied, with barren industrial buildings regularly transformed into the next wild club, exhibition space or grassroots festival.

There’s plenty of history, too: Leipzig is the birthplace of Mendelssohn and Bach, among other famous names.

10. Adelaide, Australia

After visiting Sydney and Melbourne, affordable Adelaide is a refreshing stop. The blossoming capital of South Australia is fast becoming one of the most exciting places in the country for budget travellers.

Low rents have allowed chefs to start up cool restaurants, and their risk-taking culinary inventions are making international waves. Vineyards in the rugged green hills surrounding the city deliver some of the world’s best wines, while fresh ingredients can be sampled at the food stalls in Adelaide’s century-old Central Market.

Factor in sunsets by the temperate St Vincent Gulf and the world’s second-largest annual arts festival, and it’s little wonder Adelaide is on the up.

South Australia Rough Guides Snapshot
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