10 Best Destinations for Solo Travelers on a Budget

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Woman looking across the sea in Greece
Photo credit: hocus-focus/istockphoto

Embarking on a world adventure alone can be an exhilarating and terrifying experience all at once, particularly for first-timers. Along with tips for planning and saving money on a solo trip, we've come up with several destinations around the globe that are not only affordable, but also widely regarded as friendly and safe — as long as you take sensible precautions — for those traveling solo.
Beach in Placencia, Belize
Photo credit: Simon Dannhauer/istockphoto

A must-see destination in Central America, Belize is already known for its cheap snorkeling and diving experiences at the world's second-largest barrier reef and some of the world's best beaches — with the most popular destinations in San Pedro and Caye Caulker.

Solo travelers should head to Placencia Village for a more affordable, exclusive beach experience with no shortage of budget-friendly hotels, eateries, and ocean adventures. Located on a peninsula, the village is the centerpoint for an abundance of activities — from sailing and diving to exploring the Mayan ruins and wildlife at Laughing Bird Caye National Park.

Chiang Mai temple in Thailand
Photo credit: tawatchaiprakobkit/istockphoto

Thailand is teeming with idyllic island beaches, rich culture and cuisine, and adventure — all available at affordable prices, which makes it popular with backpackers and folks on a budget. Travelers can traverse the Mae Hong Son Loop through the forested northern mountains by motorbike or indulge in some of the country's best food in the southern city of Nakhon Si Thammarat.

Visit the less-traveled island district of Koh Lanta (easy access from Krabi International Airport) for empty stretches of white sand beaches and blue water as well as wallet-friendly pampering and water sports. Bask in the sun at a remote retreat in Chiang Rai, the Northern region peppered with low-priced, relaxing spas and holistic wellness retreats with on-site farms and fruit orchards. Nestled in the foothills, Chiang Mai's surrounding lush countryside and mountains and over 300 Buddhist temples make "the rose of the north" a quiet, picturesque place where solo travelers can linger.

Quebec City in Canada
Photo credit: rmnunes/istockphoto

From relaxing, small towns like New Brunswick to beautiful ski resort towns like Whistler to thriving metropolises like Montreal, Quebec City, Toronto, and Vancouver, Canada offers a variety of safe and dynamic vacation destinations — many with European appeal — at a fraction of the cost of other major cities around the world.

Travelers of all types will discover a slew of attractions: festivals and markets rich with local food and culture, historical sites and architecture, warm water ocean beaches and majestic mountains, and nightlife.

The Silver Pagoda in Cambodia
Photo credit: Pipop_Boosarakumwadi/istockphoto

While it's easy to get a visa to visit Cambodia, getting to Asia still isn't cheap. But affordable hotels and hostels — not to mention lots of budget-friendly activities like market browsing, cultural performances, and temple wandering or other adventure travel to UNESCO sites — make Cambodia a solid backpacker's country to "live it up" at low costs.

The capital, Phnom Penh, has a walkable riverfront with parks and eateries as well as the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda. The massive, art deco Central Market, or Phsar Thmei, resides at the city center. An hour away, travelers can learn about the stunning Cambodian silk weaving at the production factories on the quiet island of Koh Dach (or Silk Island) on the Mekong River.

View of the coast in Corfu, Greece
Photo credit: maniscule/istockphoto

Vacationing in Europe isn't always affordable, but Greece's ongoing economic crisis is still giving travelers' wallets a break (and a reason to support the local economy). Take in the country's amazing wealth of ancient ruins and history in the capital of Athens or the Peloponnese region in Southern Greece, where your dollar will stretch further than an island trip.

For a less expensive, restorative, and safe Mediterranean island getaway, opt for the biggest, most budget-friendly Greek island of Crete, which has many affordable hotels, or Corfu in the Ionian Sea. In addition to picture-perfect, whitewashed villages and the deep-blue sea, you'll find ancient ruins, scenic mountains, dramatic caves and gorges, and free or low-cost museums on these islands.

Riding camels across the Sahara Desert, Morocco
Photo credit: Nisangha/istockphoto

Morocco's rich and colorful culture, affordable hotels and hostels, extravagant yet budget-friendly meals, and dramatic landscapes — everything from mountains to deserts to coastal climes — make it an excellent destination for solo travelers, who can tour the country alone or link up with a group for single or multi-day trips.

Through the 15-day Imperial Cities tour by Explore Worldwide, you can uncover the sights and exotic souks (open-air markets) of Rabat, Meknes, Fes, and Marrakech, see the highest mountain range in North Africa and the spectacular rock formations of "Morocco's Grand Canyon," and take a camel ride or even spend a night in the Sahara Desert.

The Alamo in San Antonio, Texas
Photo credit: 400tmax/istockphoto

For those traveling within the U.S., Texas cities are super-affordable places to explore. In particular, San Antonio — ranked No. 8 in Best Affordable Destinations in the USA by U.S. News & World Report and was recently named the most affordable "foodie city" by WalletHub — is a must-visit spot in the state.

San Antonio's burgeoning restaurant scene, free Tricentennial celebrations in 2018, the Alamo historic site (the five area missions are Texas' only UNESCO World Heritage site), and the nearby Natural Bridge Caverns make it a unique place to explore on a budget.

City center in Prague, Czech Republic
Photo credit: Eloi_Omella/istockphoto

While there are many amazing places to visit in the Czech Republic, the capital city of Prague is the perfect, inexpensive European city for solo travelers, even for those new to going it alone, no matter the season. Excellent public transportation and Uber make getting around convenient; you can easily communicate in English in most places; and there are plenty of offbeat hostels for bumping into like-minded travelers.

The beautiful, walkable city is brimming with history and art. Visit the "largest coherent castle complex in the world," the Prague Castle, and take in unique public art like these bizarre sculptures. Then fill up on cheap hearty meals and beer after all the sightseeing.

Beach in Tulum, Mexico
Photo credit: SimonDannhauer/istockphoto

Even the tiniest of budgets can go a long way to cover top-notch food, accommodations, and adventure in Mexico. Sample the vibrant country's amazing street food in Oaxaca and fresh seafood without the inflated resort prices (not to mention free-flowing raicilla, a type of once-bootlegged mezcal) in the hippie-chic beach haven of Yelapa (accessible only by boat).

Experience the flourishing art scene in San Miguel de Allende or follow up a dip in crystal-clear waters with a nap in a hammock over the powderly white sand beaches of Tulum, where it's particularly easy to meet other solo travelers.

Salt flats in Bolivia
Photo credit: sara_winter/istockphoto

One of the cheapest, least frequented countries in South America, Bolivia might be a little rough around the edges, but there are many breathtakingly beautiful places to visit across the country. The country's wealth of natural beauty and astounding spots like the world's largest salt flats, Salar de Uyuni, can be seen inexpensively.

To get to the salt flats, travelers can book overnight tours in advance online, through tour offices in the capital of La Paz, or book day trips from the nearby town of Uyuni. Budget-conscious travelers can get by on less than $30 per day by eating at local markets and going on hiking trips. Even upscale dining at notable restaurants in La Paz won't set you back much.

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