The 23 Best Countries to Backpack

Nowadays, worldwide travel is more easily attainable than ever. International flights are cheaper, countries that previously could never be visited are open to tourists. It’s easier than ever to see the world, and many are choosing to backpack from country to country. This style of travel allows backpackers to see the real culture of different countries, and for the most part, on an easy budget. Places like South America and Southeast Asia attract hordes of backpackers because they offer ultra-cheap options for travel in culturally diverse and naturally beautiful countries. 

For even less than $10 a day, you can travel around a new country experiencing authentic cuisines, amazing new cultures, see natural phenomena, and even the wonders of the world. Hike up the world’s tallest mountains or scuba dive in tropical waters, all of this is within reach for a backpacker with ambition. If you’re planning your first backpacking trip, read our article on the best for beginners. Some countries are easier to travel than others, so it’s best to start with an area more acclimated to tourists. 

 

A lake in Albania.

The beaches in Albania are still largely untouched by tourism.

 

Europe

 

Albania

If traveling Italy appeals to you but the price tag is too hefty, consider Albania as a destination. Here backpackers will find Mediterranean climates, views, and culture without western European prices. The country is lined with beautiful beaches which aren’t packed with tourists. You can easily take a plane or a train ride from other main cities in Europe, where the local cuisine is cheaper too. 

 

Spain

Spain is an excellent European backpacker destination. The sunny Mediterranean climate means trips can take place year-round, with sights to see all over the country. Barcelona holds bustling city attractions, with delicious Spanish food on every street corner. Tapas and cocktails on the beautiful Spanish beaches are a relaxing way to spend a few days of your backpacking trip, take a swim or try surfing in the warm blue Mediterranean waters. 

 

Hungary

This country locked in the center of Europe has a distinctly unique culture, which makes it an amazing place for a backpacker to explore. Hungary is filled with small towns and villages in the scenic countryside, while the capital Budapest is a hub of eastern European travel. Thermal baths and underground caves attract visitors from all around, so we highly recommend visiting Hungary, perhaps before making your way into eastern Europe.

 

Croatia

Croatia has become a much more popular destination in recent years, partly due to the huge success of Game of Thrones, filmed largely in the city of Dubrovnik. Fans of the show have to visit and see the unique architecture which is so distinctive, and beautiful no matter whether you like the show or not. Gorgeous sandy beaches beckon backpackers to camp for a few days, and the nightlife in Split and Zagreb attracts many who seek a good time on a budget.

 

Dubrovnik, Croatia.

See “Kings Landing” on your trip to Croatia.

 

 

Estonia

Estonia is the perfect backpacker’s destination for those who want to see Scandinavia but don’t have the budget for it. Rather than visiting the notoriously expensive Sweden or Denmark, try going to Estonia, where there’s a whole range of cultures in one place.

The old towns in cities are quaint and European, and excellent local cuisine is on offer at the same price as a burger. See the Russian, Baltic, and European influences in this small but interesting country. Traveling is an exciting way to spend your time, but in less-visited countries such as Estonia, it can feel a bit lonely. Read here about backpacking with a guitar and how it can help you make friends in new places. 

 

Madeira, Portugal.

Madeira, Portugal is home to some of Europe’s best sea views.

 

Portugal

Portugal is known for its stunning weather and laid-back lifestyle, it’s always been a popular backpacking destination. In Lisbon, cheap meals can be sourced at local restaurants, for less than $10 a time. Train rides around the country are a cheap way to travel, with accommodation being slightly pricier than eastern Europe for example. Surfing is popular on the coast, and there’s some great nightlife in the cities for partiers. No matter what type of trip you’re planning, Portugal has something to suit every backpacker.

 

Asia

 

Thailand

In the last few decades, Thailand has evolved from a relatively unknown and untravelled destination to a tourist hotspot. The coastline of the country is filled with all-inclusive resorts, but Thailand is also a very popular backpacking destination.

If you can tear yourself away from the beautiful beaches, northern and inland Thailand still offers tropical weather, breathtaking sights, and exotic surroundings on a fraction of the budget. All of Southeast Asia can be backpacked easily, and Thailand is just one of the several amazing destinations you can hit up on a trip. 

Thailand is filled with opportunities to take in rich culture and marvel at the natural landscape. Thai street food is another huge attraction, with delicious authentic Pad Thai made fresh for $1. Flying into Bangkok will be your biggest expense, but after you’ve seen the city, you can backpack the rest of the country for a few dollars a day. 

 

India

For the adventurous backpacker not afraid to rough it a little bit, India is one of the best countries to visit. If you’re able to barter, then traveling India will be a breeze. Hostel beds and restaurant meals can be found for just a few dollars, while mouth-watering street food will cost you merely cents. Soak in the rich and colorful culture of India while gorging on the mind-blowing local cuisine, and enjoy this backpackers paradise. 

 

Vietnam

Another excellent destination in backpacker-friendly Southeast Asia, Vietnam is a wonderful place to travel. The sights and activities visitors to the country can enjoy are often cheap or free, and accommodation is just as inexpensive. Many backpackers choose to see the country from a motorbike, but buses are another cheap option.

In Hanoi, street vendors and cheap restaurants offer a huge range of delicious foods, and outside of the major cities, beautiful landscapes are waiting to be marveled at. Save money in Vietnam, while seeing one of the best countries to backpack up close. 

 

Nepal

Nepal is the ultimate destination for the serious hiker/backpacker. Some of the world’s highest peaks are located in Nepal, along with thousands of miles of backpacking trails and treks. Hikers come to face the Himalayas every year, where there are plenty of treks for outdoor lovers. The landscape offers mountain vistas and vast open spaces, and the trails are filled with even more attractions.

Along your trek, you’ll pass lodges, temples, and houses where you can find accommodation, places to enjoy authentic local cuisine, popular sites and more. In Kathmandu, even more bustling city sights and street food awaits when you’ve finished seeing all the natural beauty that Nepal has to offer. 

 

Gokyo Lakes, Khumjung, Nepal.

Climb the most famous and tallest mountain in the world, or at least see it.

 

Cambodia

Cambodia is another cheap place to backpack, a country full of character and charm. Accommodation is available in the world’s cheapest hostel for only $1 a night, and huge feasts are available from street food vendors for even the tightest of budgets. Exotic locations and beautiful beaches make Cambodia one of the best countries to backpack and one of the cheapest countries at that. 

 

Phillippines

The Phillippines holds a wealth of natural wonders, phenomenal sights which attract many backpackers and tourists. It’s not as popular as other destinations in Southeast Asia, but it’s just as cheap. The breathtaking sights that can be seen around the country are making tourism slowly rise, but delicious street food and cheap accommodation mean this is still a dream backpacker destination. 

 

Indonesia

Bali can be a little pricey and touristy, with many holidaymakers and first-time travelers making it their destination. The city is still wonderful to see, but outside the far-out islands offer a much better experience. Ultra-cheap food and accommodation can be found on almost any Indonesian island paradise, without competing with the tourist crowd. Adventure awaits for backpackers in Indonesia, where beautiful beaches are a dime a dozen.

 

A national flag in Bali.

Who doesn’t want to visit a tropical island paradise?

 

Turkey

Turkey, where the west meets the east, is a diverse and fascinating travel destination. Accommodation is cheap, and Turkish cuisine offers delicious healthy meals for pocket change. Street food is always a great choice, check out one of Istanbul’s many markets for some bargains. Just watch out for pickpockets! As long as backpackers are smart about the way they travel, then all of these destinations are safe. 

 

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is one of the best countries to visit in Asia because there are so many experiences in one small country. Go trekking around tea plantations, take scenic train rides, and see temples and elephants. It’s a cheap place to get around, and the street food is to die for. Get a private room in a guesthouse for less than $5, and see some of the most famous archeological sites in the world.

Backpackers rely heavily on their equipment, backpacks most of all. In Asian countries like Sri Lanka, finding replacements for damaged equipment can be a headache, just imagine being trapped with a broken backpack in a country where they don’t speak English. Prevent this problem by carrying a good backpack repair kit, so you’ll be prepared for whatever your travels might throw at you. 

 

Laos

Laos is another fantastic backpacker destination in Asia. Travel the region on a motorbike, it’s one of the cheapest countries to get around and stay in. The food and natural surroundings are wonderful to experience, as well as the welcoming nature of the locals. The gorgeous country of Laos is a paradise for hikers, there are amazing treks through beautiful landscapes all over. 

 

Laos landscape.

Laos holds some truly phenomenal sights!

 

Africa

 

Morocco

Morocco is known as one of the easiest countries for backpackers to visit in Africa. Fresh food and drinks are almost ridiculously cheap, and accommodation is equally affordable. The amazing desert scenery in Morocco is highly enjoyable, and why not furnish your trip with a jaunt into the Sahara Desert. Treks and tours can be booked without breaking the bank, so see this wonder of the world on your visit to Morocco. 

 

Central and South America

 

Guatemala

Mayan ruins and volcanoes are just two of the many wondrous attractions in Guatemala, where sights to see and things to do are endless. It’s easy to travel on a budget in this part of Central America, where food is delicious and accommodation is cheap. The ancient Mayan sites make this one of the most popular backpacking destinations in the world, where you can camp on beautiful beaches or go trekking through tropical jungles. 

 

Nicaragua

Nicaragua is known for its dramatic terrain of scenic lakes, intimidating volcanoes, and beautiful beaches. Neighbouring Costa Rica is a long-time tourist favorite, but because of this, the prices are beginning to rise. Nicaragua offers an equally fantastic Central American experience without the higher prices. This gorgeous country has a lot to offer, it’s definitely a bucket list destination. Eat out at local restaurants and enjoy delicious food for just a few dollars, and enjoy this region’s beauty on an easy budget. 

 

Columbia

Colombia has a rocky past and a murky reputation, but this doesn’t stop it from being one of the best countries in the world to backpack. The country is safer than most of America views it, and the smart backpacker can use this to their advantage. Enjoy the stunning country of Columbia without fighting with tourists or paying high prices. It’s easy to travel on a budget, you can sleep in a hammock on a Carribean island for $3 a night. If that doesn’t convince you to visit this paradise, we don’t know what will. 

 

Bolivia

Bolivia is another of the cheapest countries to travel to in South America. Attractions include mountaineering and exploring the wilder parts of the country. In the cities, street food and nightlife are excellent, and the world’s craziest tourist attraction in La Paz offers backpackers to chance to shake hands with a murderer. 

 

Oceania

 

New Zealand

New Zealand is actually one of the best countries to backpack in a group. One popular way to save money while traveling in New Zealand is to buy and sell a campervan and travel around in style! There are plenty of cheap options for campgrounds on both the beautiful islands, where world-famous sights and attractions can be seen all over. Budget travelers should buy local produce to save money in New Zealand, with roadside grocery stands a popular option. 

 

Queenstown Hill, Queenstown, New Zealand.

New Zealand is another destination where breathtaking views are an every-day thing.

 

Australia

Australia is a country packed with adventure, it’s one of the best countries in the world to backpack. Many choose Australia for their first time traveling, for one thing, it’s easy for English speakers. The wildlife is mind-blowing and the cities are modern and vibrant, it’s definitely one of the best countries in the world to backpack. However, it’s not as cheap as traveling in Asia or South America, so traveling Australia on a budget might present a challenge.  

 

Final Verdict:

There are hundreds of destinations all over the world that would make amazing backpacking destinations. However, we’ve rounded up the very best, to inspire your next international trip. The cheapest countries are in Central America and Southeast Asia, these countries have been popular with backpackers for years. 

Traveling on a budget is doable if you just start out with a plan, with so many countries offering amazing experiences at incredible prices. In Vietnam, Thailand, and Cambodia, delicious street food and natural produce make the foodie backpackers go crazy, and there are plenty of scenic treks for the hikers. You can visit Mayan ruins or see active volcanoes, every new experience is a great story to make your friends jealous back at home.

If you’re backpacking on a larger budget, New Zealand and Australia have to be top destinations. These countries are so backpacker-friendly, and there’s so much to see and do in this part of the world. Climb mountains or lounge on sandy beaches, your trip can be whatever you like. These are truly two of the best countries to backpack in the world, the experience you can enjoy in Australia and New Zealand is unparalleled. 

Europe offers a different backpacking experience again, as for Americans European culture has always been a topic of interest. Backpacking around Europe can be budget-flexible, with the more popular west home to some of the biggest cities in the continent. If Paris and Barcelona are too expensive, the Balkans hold culture-rich and highly inexpensive European travel. Albania and Croatia offer gorgeous weather and sandy beaches on a backpacker’s budget, just as good as the resorts in Greece. 

All of these countries hold endless possibilities for backpackers, with so much to see and explore, traveling the world is a true life-long endeavor. The best countries to backpack in the world are easily within your reach, just make a plan and set off to enjoy your trip!

 

Bonus tip: Check out this video to see some of what Albania has to offer!

 

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Riley Draper

Riley Draper

Riley Draper is a writer and entrepreneur from Chattanooga, Tennessee. As a world traveler, he has been to more than fifty countries and hiked some of the most elusive trails in the world. He is the co-founder of WeCounsel Solutions and has published work in both national and global outlets, including the Times Free Press, Patch, and Healthcare Global. When he's not writing, he's probably on a hiking trip or climbing in the mountains.