Cheap treasures of the world
Signs of a global economic recovery are glimmering, but are they enough to justify taking a major vacation?
Well, the world is always bigger than our wallets are deep. One of the simplest options is to find a place that has a lot to offer but hasn’t yet been hit by the price inflation that comes with mass popularity.
To help travelers in search of value, we’ve assembled, with the help of professionals from USA Today, CNN and Lonely Planet, a list of destinations that are worth going to while they’re still cheap.
Advance bookings to Mexico are at their strongest in 15 years, according to Catherine Banks, vice-president of Legacy Travel, a travel agency in the US. “Cost structure is different than most other places, ” Banks told CNN earlier this year, meaning Mexico is inherently cheap. Combine that with the negative publicity of drug-related violence and a weak world economy that is starving Mexico of its traveling business, and this country is ready to make a deal.
“In Cancun and Riviera Maya, there are more five-star resorts than the Caribbean and Hawaii combined, ” Banks added. “And the price isn’t even close to the same.” They’re all sitting empty and waiting for guests.
Currency condition: The Mexican peso has been weak and inflation low in recent months, according to Forex.com. Its ratio to the Chinese yuan is now 1:0.5.
Its name translates as “land on the edge”, and this year Ukraine may be on the edge of discovery for budget travelers in search of rich history. Visitors can enjoy its cultural wealth, the warmth of its people, and the fact that their daily spending is below $50 (307 yuan).
The country’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites are cooperating with locals to offer special deals, such as a traditional meal for just a few dollars. It’s the kind of travel experience you will reminisce about once the moment has passed, so now is the time to build those memories.
Currency condition: Ukraine was greatly affected by the 2008 economic crisis and its GDP dropped by 15.1 percent as a result. Since then, the hryvnia, the local currency, has been devalued and currently trades at 1:0.75 to the Chinese yuan.
South Korea has visitor-friendly affordability in the bag. Not only can budget travelers find the basics —from hotel rooms to great meals —at reasonable prices, but the country also has a ton of free parks, discounts and other services specially for visitors. For instance, until August 25, a free shuttle bus transports foreign visitors between the capital city of Seoul and Jeonju, a popular tourist destination. A free phone service offers tourists multilingual assistance 24 hours a day.
Currency condition: In March, South Korea’s Ministry of Finance cut its economic growth forecast from an earlier projection of 3 percent to 2.3 percent in 2013. In combination with the tense situation on the Korean peninsula, South Korea’s won has fallen to a ratio of 1:0.0055 against the Chinese yuan.
Turkey is on the rise, so to get the best of the new at the price of the old, go now. In the last decade, the country’s tourism infrastructure has grown by 67 percent, according to USA Today, and more recently it has emerged as a global airline hub. Those are just a few of the reasons this country of ancient ruins, historic towns and beckoning beaches is a destination to watch this summer.
Currency condition: Last December, the Central Bank of Turkey lowered its exchange rate for the first time in 16 months —from 5.75 percent to 5.5 percent, according to The Wall Street Journal. Consequently the lira is falling and currently stands at 1:3.34 to the Chinese yuan.
Popular resort areas in Egypt, like Sharm El Sherk, are as relaxing as they ever were —and also less stressful for your wallet. “The overall sentiment is that resort areas like Sharm El Sheik are very safe, ” said Tony Cardoza, president of a US travel agency, in an interview with CNN. “But most vacationers appear to prefer traveling to places that haven’t seen as much civil unrest.” That preference has made Egypt a buyer’s market. Low demand also has another benefit: smaller crowds. “Clients going now have been able to get pictures of themselves in front of the pyramids with no other tourists blocking the view, ” Cardoza said.
Currency condition: The Egyptian pound is sinking like a stone in futures trading, foreshadowing a devaluation of 50 percent or more, according to BBC News. While that benefits foreign currency holders, it may also lead to inflation.