Nothing like a good list to bite into on a Monday morning. And today there are some excellent ones to look at.
A website called priceoftravel.com puts out a series of lists each year to outline what places in the world are the most affordable to visit. I spotted their backpackers' list for Europe last year, but just this morning I found a vast amount more; not only backpacking places in Europe but also 3-star places in Europe and a backpacking daily cost index for North America and for the entire world; very cool.
I can't vouch for the results, but their rules seem fair. For backpackers, they choose the cheapest bed in a good, central hostel with good reviews for one night, then add in two public transit rides, one paid famous attraction, three budget meals and three cheap, local beers or glasses of wine. It's a similar deal for 3-star hotels but they change transit to two short cab rides and aim for better restaurants (but still in the budget category).
For North America, here are 12 cities they reviewed in order of cheapest to most expensive: Las Vegas ($57.90/day U.S.), New Orleans, Washington D.C., Montreal ($63.59), San Francisco, Los Angeles, Honolulu, Miami Beach, Toronto ($78.59), Chicago, Vancouver ($82.02) and New York City ($89.30). The most expensive in the world was Zurich at $115.96, good for 116th and last place. Close behind were Oslo, Venice, Stockholm, Helsinki, Amsterdam and Sydney.
For Toronto, they cited the high cost of public transit but also said the city is one of the nicest and cleanest (not so much any more, I'd say, personally) around and that transit isn't too much of an issue given the compact downtown. They said the nightlife district is one of the best in the world, which is good to hear.
For Europe 3-star travelers, the cheapest was Sofia Bulgaria (see photo below right) at $48.55 per day. Then came Bucharest, Budapest, Krakow, Riga Latvia, Sarajevo, Belgrade, Bratislava Czech Republic, Kiev and Tenerife, Spain (in the Canary Islands). Most expensive were Helsinki, Copenhagen, Rome, Brussels, Stockholm, Oslo, London, Venice, Paris and Zurich, at a whopping $201.88 per day. Which means you could spend almost FOUR DAYS in Sofia for the price of one day in Zurich. I like Zurich a lot and have never been to Sofia, but I imagine the Bulgarian city would be pretty decent at a quarter the cost of Switzerland.
The website also rated the most and least affordable spots in the Caribbean, using a 3-star hotel room for a week and a return flight from New York City. Which isn't so useful for Canadians as we don't fly south out of New York very often. Most affordable was Cancun, then Negril, San Juan Puerto Rico, Puerto Plata and Barbados. Most expensive in their survey were Grenada, La Romana in the Dominican, Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla and, no surprise, exclusive St. Bart's.
For all-inclusive places (again, not flying out of Canada, so potentially misleading for us) the list was as follows: Cancun, Puerto Plata, Ocho Rios, Punta Cana, Montego Bay, Negril, La Romana, Samana in the D.R., St. Lucia, Nassau, Antigua/Barbuda, Barbados and, lastly, Aruba.
Looking to really save money as a backpacker? The cheapest spots in the world survey were Pokhara, Nepal ($14.75; see photo at left), Hanoi, Kathmandu, Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, Phnom Penh, Chiang Mai in Thailand, Delhi, Goa in India, Quito Ecuador and Hoi An, Vietnam. That's three spots for Vietnam in the top 10.
I could go on and on but that provides a pretty good overview of a fun site. Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia continue to provide excellent value for students. And adults, too. You spend more to get there, perhaps, at least to Southeast Asia. But the daily savings can be huge compared to Rome or Paris or Scandinavia. Let alone poor Zurich.
JAUNT.CA DEAL OF THE DAY
- 7-night All-inclusive stay at the 3.5-Star Dunes Hotel Beach & Resort, located in Margarita, Venezuela
- Includes return airfare from Toronto to Margarita, and round-trip airport/resort transfers in Venezuela
- Accommodations in a Room featuring 1 king, queen or 2 twin beds. Max. Occupancy: 3 adults (max 1 child per room)
- Daily breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and unlimited alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks
- The resort is in the heart of Venezuela's vacation hub
- Enjoy world class diving on off of shores that rival the best in the world
- Choose from a variety of activities on the resort
- Valid for travel on the following departure dates: February 20, 27 & March 6, 2013
- Pricing (rates are per person, plus tax):
Child (2 yrs): $299
Child (3-6 yrs): $349
Child (7-12 yrs): $499
- Valid passport required for travel from Canada
- This offer is refundable until 5PM EST on February 4, 2013. After that time, this offer is 100% non-refundable.