It’s easy to imagine the breadth of travel opportunities for those wielding serious wads of cash and platinum frequent flier cards, those who are on a first-name basis with the hospitality manager at every Trump hotel worldwide, but the general populace who have the urge to visit a destination worthy of the term “exciting” may have tired of the biennial trips to the Smithsonian, Liberty Island or Mickey Mouse land.
With that in mind, we’ve put together a few of our favorite (fairly) exotic destinations that will stretch that greenback further. These out-of-the-way hotspots are exciting, fresh and worth sinking your money into the plane ticket getting there. Check out cheap airfare aggregator www.kayak.com if you need to get a head start in that department; you can find cheap single or double rooms in a local hostel or B&B at www.hostelworld.com, though we hear couch surfing can be just as fun.
Pint of Beer: $0.72 USD
Local Currency: Vietnamese Dồng (1 ₫ = $0.00005 USD)
Wrapping around a vast coastal expanse of Southeast Asia, Vietnam is a party paradise of golden beaches, biosphere reserves and national tourist areas, which act as highlight zones for what to see. While of course you can find your usual starred lodging choices, backpackers make up a large portion of the millions who visit each year, leading to a variety of pocket-friendly options. We’d suggest scoping out Nha Trang on the south coast, which is home to some of the top beaches in the country and some seriously sick scuba diving. Grab some Bird’s Nest Soup if you feel like testing out the local fare.
Pint of Beer: $1.75 USD
Local Currency: Belize Dollar (1 BZD = $0.53 USD)
Despite the fact that this Central American country is dwarfed by neighboring Mexico, and of course the States, the former British colony of Belize is ripe with natural attractions, specifically in the realms of ecotourism and Mayan ruins. Though Spanish is spoken frequently, the country’s official language is actually English, which will make it the easiest of our choices to get around in. Must-see attractions include the Great Blue Hole, a natural sinkhole set amongst the many reefs that surround the country’s shoreline, as well as the Xunantunich archeological site. The grub options are a mixture of traditional Mexican and West Caribbean — try the iguana or conch soup if you feel adventurous.
Pint of Beer: $0.62 USD
Local Currency: Malagasy ariary (1 AR = $0.0005 USD)
While the mere mention of this African island may have you thinking about the ridiculously popular kids’ film franchise, the only accurate detail you can look forward to is lots and lots of lemurs — catlike tree-dwelling primates who are scarily reminiscent of those Furby toys from years back. Wildlife aside, Madagascar is truly a country worth getting lost in, where the usual draw of beachgoing comes second (or third) to exploring one of the most pristine remaining rainforests left on the planet, chilling in the shadow of the massive alien Avenue of the Baobabs (above), or simply checking out the Afro-French culture in the capital of Antananarivo (try saying that three times fast…and drunk). Prepare for massive quantities of rice, the staple of Malagasy cuisine, along with laoka (side dishes) which could be anything from seafood to pork.
Pint of Beer: $1.32 USD
Local Currency: Złoty (pronounced “zwot-teh”) (1 zł = $0.31 USD)
While this Central European nation wouldn’t be your first guess as a cheap place to get away (it’s technically Eastern Europe, but don’t mention it unless you have a serious death wish), Poland is a country of welcoming, down-to-earth citizens who are always down for good times, relaxing and, of course, several shots of Polish Vodka. The capital of Warsaw is rich in history, Stalinist architecture and rebirth (the city was almost fully destroyed a couple of times due to war), but the best places to have a good time lie in the debaucherous city of Krakow (pronounced “crack-oof”) in the south, the gingerbread-crazed city of Torun (“tore-oone”) with its underground dungeon bars and of course the entire Baltic Sea coast (pictured above), a local party spot to visit from June to September. While you’re in the vicinity, try the pierogi, barszcz (borscht) and, yes, more vodka.