We’ve finally weathered the COVID storm, and you may be eager to get out there, see the world and make up for the lost time. With a majority of countries now open restriction-free, there are many options – perhaps too many – to consider, and we know how hard choosing can be, especially now that the soaring cost of international travel must be taken into account.
To help you narrow it down, we have listed 4 bucket list experiences for 2023 that are not only incredible but also surprisingly cheap:
Explore A Fairy-tale Blue City In North Africa
Morocco is one of the trendiest destinations for Americans in North Africa due to its fascinating history, geographically diverse environment, ranging from golden sand dunes to Atlantic and Mediterranean coastlines, and millennial traditions. Although Marrakech, Rabat, Meknes, or Fes often steal the scene, it’s Chefchaouen that deserves your attention.
Dubbed the ‘Blue City’, its enchanting walled medina is a maze of cobbled alleyways flanked by centuries-old leather workshops and houses famous for their strikingly-blue facades. Wandering the narrow passageways, you’ll stumble upon countless secret patios, richly-decorated doorframes, and medieval mosques.
Being much smaller than Morocco’s quadrumvirate of Imperial Cities, with a population of only about 42,000 people, this cerulean-tinged gem is a lot more pleasant to explore. On average, booking a room in the center of town will cost you US$37.70; the cost of living is cheap, too: a single person’s daily expenses in Morocco are estimated at US$13.27, according to Numbeo.
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Climb The Rock Of Guatape
Colombia is the cheapest vacation spot for Americans in the Global South and arguably the country with the most breathtaking scenery. Nestled in the heart of the Antioquia department, a short two-hour drive from the paisa capital of Medellin, lies Guatape, a recreational zone of outstanding natural beauty.
If you’re the outdoorsy type, there is an extensive list of activities to keep you busy for days, such as camping and going on trails, but one attraction, in particular, cannot be missed: El Peñón de Guatapé, a monumental granitic slope crowned with a three-story observation tower, accessible via a 650-700 step-staircase built into the side of the slope.
For only US$4.35, you can climb up to the summit and be greeted with a rewarding panorama of the lakes, lush green patches, small farms, and several colonial towns spread over the reserve. Don’t forget to bring a water bottle with you and approach it gently: you don’t want to suffer from exhaustion or vertigo when assistance may be limited.
A Do-Nothing Vacation In Phu Quoc
After the last stressful couple of years, a ‘do-nothing’ vacation should definitely be on your bucket list for 2023, and Phu Quoc, and the wider Vietnam, is well-supplied with wellness centers and beautiful coastal sights – without requiring the crippling outpour of money these overpriced Caribbean resorts do.
If it’s some relaxation you’re craving and a mental health break, this tropical Vietnamese island is where you should be headed in 2023. It is packed with peaceful retreats offering just the right amount of luxury, where guests are encouraged to put their phones down, reconnect with nature, and live in the moment.
We absolutely love throwing ourselves into action-packed itineraries, but knowing when to slow down and unwind is just as important. Phu Quoc is that for us: remote crow-free beaches, tropical forests, and tranquil fishing villages. Of course, it doesn’t replace conventional therapy methods, but it will shield you from the chaos of the modern world.
The average price of accommodation per night? US$51.80.*
*Based on the top-rated lodging providers listed on Booking.com
Travel From Europe To Asia In Istanbul
Istanbul is indisputably the world’s most thrilling city break. From buying gold at cheaper rates at the Grand Bazaar to marveling at the imperial grandeur of Dolmabahçe Palace, it boasts a plethora of ancient landmarks and one-of-a-kind experiences you won’t find easily elsewhere. Crossing from Europe to Asia has to be our favorite, though.
You see, Istanbul is such a huge, sprawling metropolis it straddles the Eurasian border, stretching as far North as the Balkan Peninsula in Europe and Anatolia in Western Asia. Over the centuries, authorities have come up with so many innovative ways to bridge the gap between both continents it hardly feels like there is a body of water separating them at all.
Nevertheless, taking a US$0.10 commuter ferry to Asia as you marvel at the towering minarets in the distance, driving on a cross-continental bridge suspended over the iconic Bosphorus Strait, or traveling beneath the seabed on a high-tech train connecting both sides in under 15 minutes (for only US$0.58) will always feel magical.
You Don’t Need To Go To Europe To Tick Items Off The Bucket List
If you’ve traveled abroad already since normality was reinstated, you may have noticed the atmosphere is markedly different from the pre-pandemic years:
Everyone seems excited to be welcoming back tourists, and cities look livelier than usual after surviving an intermittent cycle of lockdowns, but prices have surged as a result of overwhelming demand and an unstable economy. In a worst-case scenario, you should be prepared to shell out at least US$1,704.13 per person on a one-week vacation in Europe.
Even once-affordable destinations like Croatia are no longer as cheap as they once were, and the purchasing power of Americans is dropping fast as the dollar depreciates further. For budget travelers, this means that a week-long escapade to Europe will need to be postponed, but that doesn’t mean bucket list trips should be ruled out altogether…
Luckily, there are some budget-friendly alternatives out there, from exploring a Blue City in North Africa to relaxing on a picturesque island in Southeast Asia – and if you’re looking for affordable international trips that are closer to home, you can always check out the top 8 cheapest spring break destinations that are a short 3 to 4-hour flight from the U.S.
Traveler Alert: Don’t Forget Travel Insurance For Your Next Trip!
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com