Soft Money
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25 Destinations Where Your Dollar Will Go Far

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Soft Money
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Soft Money

When planning a vacation in a foreign country, finding inexpensive lodging and transportation is an important first step — but only the first step. There are also the costs of food, in-country travel, shopping, and other daily expenses, and to properly budget for those costs, first you must determine how much of that country's currency your U.S. dollars (USD) will buy. 

Currency conversion rates can change literally daily, so double-checking foreign exchange rates is essential before you travel. If a country you hope to visit currently has a good currency exchange rate relative to the value the dollar, it might be wise to switch some dollars into that currency now, in case the dollar weakens before your trip. Here are 25 countries where Hipmunk data show that your dollar will go further when factoring in the exchange rate with the local currency. 

Note: All currency exchange rates in this article were researched by the travel site Hipmunk in July 2019.

Related: Big Travel Mistakes Every Novice Makes and How to Avoid Them

Canada
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Canada

1 USD = 1.31 CAD
Visiting our friendly neighbors to the north is never a bad idea. And with the favorable exchange rate for the U.S. dollar, there's no time like the present. Canada's vast size presents endless travel options for visitors from charming Halifax, Nova Scotia to the hipster, art and foodie city of Toronto and the glittering West Coast city of Vancouver, as well as historic cities like Quebec and Montreal.

Not to be overlooked, Canada's numerous national parks make for truly budget-friendly options. At Jasper National Park, for instance, the largest national park in the Rocky Mountains, the entrance fee for an adult is 9.80 Canadian dollars (about $7.50 U.S.) Entry is free for youth. A Parks Canada Discovery Pass for one adult (which provides unlimited admission for 12 months) is 67.70 Canadian dollars (about $52 U.S.).

Related: 15 of the Best Road Trips in Canada and 26 Things Americans Don't Know About Canada

Mexico
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Mexico

1 USD = 19.07 MXN
America's southern neighbor has long offered affordable vacation options, though some of the more popular and upscale resorts and hotels have prices rivaling anything north of the Rio Grande.

Mexico City is an affordable destination for American budgets, and the city's National Museum of Archaeology is the largest museum in Mexico, featuring an impressive collection of Mayan artifacts (and an entrance fee of 75 pesos or around $4). Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula is better known for its Mayan ruins, including the pyramid at Chichen Itza, probably one of the best-known Mayan structures in the world. The total admission fee (including tax) for foreigners is 480 pesos, or around $25. And don't overlook street food when planning your meals.  

Related: 15 Memorable Things to Do in Oaxaca, Mexico's Culinary Capital

Cartagena, Colombia
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Colombia

1 USD = 3,199 COP
A destination experiencing a significant resurgence among trendsetting international travelers, Colombia is also a place where the U.S. dollar's exchange rate will take you quite far. What's more, with its Caribbean beaches, Amazon rainforest, Andes mountain range and desert plains, the activity and adventure options are endless.

Colombia's second largest city, Medellin, is a lovely place to just walk around at your leisure and explore the plazas, museums and colorful street graffiti. The average cost of a meal in Medellin at an inexpensive restaurant is 12,000 pesos (about $3.75), while a three-course meal for two people at a mid-range restaurant is 60,000 pesos (about $18.75). The walled city of Cartagena is another popular choice. Constructed during the 16th century to protect the Caribbean coast city from pirates at the time, the wall still stands to this day.

Related: 18 Things You Must Do While Traveling Central America

Iceland
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Iceland

1 USD= 122.033 ISK
Iceland has never been a cheap travel destination, and is unlikely to ever be. But the krona's exchange rate has weakened somewhat in recent years. In May 2017, a single U.S. dollar bought less than 100 krona, but by July 2018 the krona had weakened to 105 per U.S. dollar. This year, the dollar is still doing quite well against the krona.

A country that straddles the European and North American tectonic plates, Iceland is home to a stunning volcanic landscape, dotted with glaciers, volcanoes, hot springs, and lava fields. Summertime visitors can bask in the island's endless daylight, while visitors during the long winter nights can comfortably bathe in an outdoor hot spring surrounded by frozen snowfields on all sides. During your stay, don't miss Reykjavik, Iceland's capital, where museums showcase photography and maritime history.

Related: Here's How to Visit Iceland on a Budget

Thailand
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Thailand

1 USD = 30 THB
In Thailand, $1 buys about 30 Thai baht, which is not a bad deal at all. For folks watching their expenses, the country's capital, Bangkok, came in at No. 22 on this year's Backpacker Index of most affordable places to visit.

While in the capital city, don't miss the Grand Palace a prominent landmark where admission is about 500 baht (or $17). At the southern tip of the country, the island of Phuket, nicknamed the "Pearl of the Andaman," is noted for its sunny beaches. Phuket was devastated in the year 2004 by an Indian Ocean tsunami, but the island has rebuilt and is a bustling international tourist destination. With its cheap food options, Phuket is very affordable for travelers seeking a new taste of authentic daily Thai life. A three-course meal for two people at a mid-range restaurant costs about 600 baht (roughly $20). 

Related: 30 of the World's Most Iconic Hotels

The Philippines
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The Philippines

1 USD = 51.15 PHP
An archipelago in Southeast Asia that includes more than 7,000 islands, the Philippines' top attractions include beaches, volcanoes, and wildlife. The capital city of Manila is also a regular stop for international tourists, particularly its old walled city of Intramuros where there are museums, restaurants and shops as well as the Manila Cathedral and Fort Santiago. Admission to the Museo de Intramuros is free.

Beach lovers looking for welcome leisure won't want to miss a trip to Boracay, a small island known for having some of the finest sand beaches in the Philippines, as well as crystal clear waters. The going rate for an inexpensive meal in Boracay is about 185 pesos (about $3.60), while a midrange three-course meal for two is roughly 800 pesos ($15.65).

Related: Best New Places to Vacation in 2019

Vietnam
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Vietnam

1 USD = 23,244 VND
Over the past couple of years, the U.S. dollar has strengthened against Vietnam's currency, the dong, making Vietnam a better deal than usual for budget-conscious American travelers. More good news: The Backpacker Index lists the cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City as two of the top three most affordable places to visit this year.

What to see in Hanoi? The Temple of Literature, right outside Vietnam's capital city, was built in the 11th century to honor Confucius. Admission costs only 10,000 dong (less than $1) for adults and is free to children under 15. Ho Chi Minh City (formerly known as Saigon), is probably best-known in America for the role it played in the Vietnam War, and many war memorials and museums dot the city. 

Related: 30 Travel Hacks That Will Save You Money

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
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Brazil

1 USD = 3.77 BRL
Long one of the most popular tourist destinations in South America, Brazil is another budget-friendly choice thanks to the strong U.S. dollar. In terms of what to see and do during a stay here, there's really something for everyone, from rainforest tours to taking in the sprawling metropolis of Rio de Janeiro, which is also home to some of the country's most iconic tourist stops including the much-Instagrammed Christ the Redeemer statue.

An inexpensive meal in Rio is about 30 real, (or $7.95) while a mid-range three-course dinner for two is 120 real (about $32). Another top attraction in Brazil is Iguacu Falls, located in the protected UNESCO-acclaimed Iguacu National Park. Entrance to the falls for foreigners is about 68 real or $18 for adults.

Japan
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Japan

1 USD = 108.16 JPY
Japan has been a relative bargain for those with U.S. dollars in recent years. But it might be best to make plans to go before the 2020 Summer Olympics, when things like hotels and air travel are likely to get far pricier.

There's so much to see and do in this vibrant and fascinating country it can be hard to know right where to start if you are new to the country. The sprawling metropolis of Tokyo may be the strongest jumping off point when traveling Japan, but be sure to also visit Kyoto, Hiroshima, and Mount Fuji if you have time. Food in Tokyo is a key part of the experience, and an inexpensive meal in the city is about 1,000 yen ($9.25), while a mid-range meal for two is 6,000 yen (about $55).

Hungary
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Hungary

1 USD = 292 HUF
Hungary's currency is the forint, which has weakened relative to the U.S. dollar in recent years. One U.S. dollar currently buys about 292 Hungarian forints compared with 282 last year.

Tourist highlights in the country include the famous Buda Castle District in Budapest, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that encompasses an ancient town district and some of the most important historical monuments in Hungary. Tours of the castle are paid for in euros and cost about 140 euros for one guest and 80 euros per person for two guests (which is about $150 to $89). Tours also include rides on a "funicular" railway. To get the best offers, make sure to look for vendors accepting local currency.

Indonesia
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Indonesia

1 USD= 13,990 IDR
The U.S. State Department has a Level 2 travel advisory (meaning "exercise increased caution," compared to "exercise normal precautions" for a Level 1 advisory) for the central Sulawesi and Papua regions of Indonesia due to terrorism and "civil unrest." But the good news is that advisory does not extend to the wildly popular tourist island of Bali.

While many international tourists visit Bali for its beaches, the island is also well-known for its many spectacular temples including Goa Gajah (Elephant Cave), a 9th-century Hindu temple carved directly into a cave; and Uluwatu Temple built at the edge of a rock cliff providing 180-degree views of the coastline below. Though many of these attractions have admission or parking fees, the costs are very low. At Uluwatu, for example, admission is just 30 rupiah for adults and 15 for children, which in both cases is less than $1.

India
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India

1 USD = 68.99 INR
India has always had lower costs than America even when the dollar-to-rupee exchange rate is relatively low. How far does the rupee go in India? Consider the Himalayan city of McLeod Ganj, renowned for its sizable population of Tibetan expatriates (the city is also the home of the Dalai Lama, and the Tibetan government-in-exile).

"Budget" hotels and accommodations in McLeod Ganj average from as little as 329 rupees (about $4.75) to about 1,645 rupees (about $24). Bargains are harder to find in the more "touristy" destinations, however. At the Taj Mahal, arguably India's best known attraction, the entrance price varies based on where the visitor hails from: admission is 50 rupees (less than a dollar) for Indian citizens, but 1,100 rupees (about $16) for "foreign tourists." It also costs an extra 200 rupees ($2.90) to visit the Taj Mahal's main mausoleum.

Gyeongbokgung Palace
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South Korea

1 USD = 1,179 KRW
A nation known as much for its expansive capital, Seoul, (where there are 10 million inhabitants), as it is for its green countryside and Buddhist temples, South Korea is another country on the 2019 Backpacker Index of most affordable places for a trip. Seoul earned a ranking of 72 among the 137 global destinations on the index.

Visitor highlights in the city include Gyeongbokgung Palace, which was constructed in 1935 as the main palace for the Joseon dynasty. Admission is about 3,000 won (about $2.90) for adults and for those 7 to 18 the price is about 1,500 won (right around $1.25). Those looking for a more laid-back experience may want to head south to Busan, on the southernmost tip of the country. The city is known for its seafood offerings, particularly at Jagalchi Market, where there are hundreds of stalls selling fish.

Nepal
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Nepal

1 USD = 110 NPR
A legendary destination located mainly in the Himalayas and bordering China's region of Tibet, Nepal is famous for attracting hikers and backpackers from around the world. Everything from meals to hotels can be very budget-friendly here, particularly with the dollar purchasing so many rupees. The cost of a meal at an inexpensive restaurant is just 250 rupees, or about $2.27. If you're planning to live a little larger, opt for a mid-range restaurant, where a three-course meal for two people is still only about 1,050 rupees, which is about $9.50. Stays in four-star hotels can be had for as little as $56 per night.

Argentina
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Argentina

1 USD = 29 ARS
In Argentina, it's not just about what you can see during the day. This Southern Hemisphere country gives American stargazers the opportunity to see entirely different constellations in the night sky. Looking for adventure? In the country's colder southern regions, especially places in parts of the Andes Mountains, there are many stunning glaciers, including at Los Glaciares National Park, which straddles the border with Chile and has been an official World Heritage Site since 1981.

Further south is Patagonia's Tierra del Fuego National Park, the oldest national park in Argentina. For visitors seeking man-made wonders, Argentina's capital of Buenos Aires offers excellent art museums, including the National Museum of Fine Arts (Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes) where admission is 200 pesos or about $4.67. At the Fortabat Art Collection, admission is just 140 pesos, roughly $3.25.

Chile
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Chile

1 USD = 691 CLP
Another popular South American destination where the U.S. dollar has some of its strongest buying power, Chile features geographic diversity like few other countries. Visitors will find snow-capped mountains, picturesque coastline, sprawling deserts and ancient forests. In the country's capital Santiago, the Plaza de Armas is a popular attraction that includes a neoclassical cathedral and the National History Museum. A meal at an inexpensive restaurant in Santiago will set you back about 6,000 pesos or all of $8.68. Looking for something fancier? A mid-level restaurant meal for two is about 30,000 pesos or about $43. Need a cheap place to stay? Youth hostels can be found for as little as about $25 per night.

Charles Bridge in Prague, Czech Republic
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Czech Republic

1 USD = 22 CZK
Prague attracts the lion's share of fame in the Czech Republic thanks to it being "the City of a Hundred Spires." Between the colorful baroque buildings in Old Town Square, (the city's historic center), the Gothic churches and famed medieval Astronomical Clock, there are plenty of reasons the crowds congregate here. And don't miss the fascinating Museum of Communism, which explores daily life under the Czech Republic's ruling political party from 1948 until 1989. Admission is just 290 korunas for adults (about $13).

Poland
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Poland

1 USD = 3.81 PLN
Poland is one of the cheaper European countries, and its 14 UNESCO World Heritage sites include the Bialowieza Forest, one of the largest existing remnants of the primeval forest that at one time covered most of the continent; Warsaw's Old Town (carefully reconstructed after its complete devastation during World War II); and the medieval town of Torun, still surrounded by stone walls built in the early Middle Ages. Another worthwhile attraction is a trip to the Wieliczka Salt Mine, originally a working mine later carved into elaborate underground city featuring breathtaking chapels. Admission to the Wieliczka mine starts around 74 zlotys for a non-Polish adult (just under $20).

Croatia
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Croatia

1 USD= 6.63 HRK
Croatia has undergone a new tourism boom ever since HBO's "Game of Thrones" aired; the fictional city of King's Landing is actually the modern day Croatian city of Dubrovnik, and several other locales from the show are in Croatia. To get off the tourist track somewhat, opt instead for the medieval city of Korcula — the birthplace of that pioneering traveler Marco Polo — and a beautiful Adriatic island about 30 miles off the Croatian shore. LAdventurous travelers in Korcula can stay in a friendly hostel for as little as $38 per night. In the seafront city of Pula, the skyline is dominated by the ruins of ancient Roman amphitheater, where admission is 50 kuna or about $7.50.

Related: 26 Stunning 'Game of Thrones' Filming Locations Worth Visiting

South Africa
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South Africa

1 USD=13.88 ZAR
Safari anyone? South Africa's Kruger National Park is a must-see for anyone who's hungry for adventure and who has a safari on their lifetime bucket list, particularly with the U.S. dollar being so strong against South Africa's currency, the rand. Visitors to Kruger have a good chance of seeing all Africa's "Big Five" animal species: lions, rhinos, elephants, leopards, and buffalo. Admission to the park for Americans (and other non-South Africans) is 372 rand (about $27). South Africa's largest city, Johannesburg, is home to the Apartheid Museum, a stark concrete edifice chronicling the history of South Africa's now-abandoned system of legally mandated racial segregation. Admission to the site is 100 rand, about $7.

Australia
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Australia

1 USD = 1.43 AUD
While traveling to Australia from the United States may be a fairly substantial journey, the good news is that at least once you get there, your dollar will pack a little punch. The U.S. dollar has been doing better than the Australian dollar for much of the past decade, though in recent years the Australian currency has begun to gain a bit of strength.

As for planning what to see and do in this enormous and varied destination, the list practically warrants a story of its own. Sydney, with its much-photographed opera house on the harbor, is a popular gateway to the country, but additional favorites include the Great Barrier Reef and Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, deep in the heart of the country. Entrance to the park is 25 Australian dollars for an adult (or about $17.50) and that fee covers three days of visiting and can be extended to five days for no additional cost. A family pass, which includes admission for two or more children, is $65 AUD (or about $45).

Bulgaria
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Bulgaria

1 USD = 1.75 BGN
The value of the Bulgarian lev is pegged to the euro. As a result, the U.S. dollar exchange rate with the Bulgarian lev depends on the U.S. dollar and euro exchange rate. That said, U.S. dollars will still buy a lot.   

A fascinating Balkan nation that includes Black Sea coastline, mountains and the famed Danube River, Bulgaria is a place where visitors can immerse themselves in a strong heritage of traditional dance, music and crafts that continues to this day. The country is also home to UNESCO World Heritage sites including Nessebar, a 3,000-year-old seaside city located on a rocky peninsula on the Black Sea. The cost of a meal at an inexpensive restaurant in Bulgaria can be found for as little as 10 leva (about $5.70), while a meal for two at a mid-range restaurant is about 44 leva (about $25).

Stockholm, Sweden
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Sweden

1 USD = 9.4 SEK
Nordic countries such as Sweden are an outdoor lover's paradise. Sweden offers stunning landscapes, unspoiled forests, and thousands of lakes to take in, as well as many archipelagos. The country's history is also intriguing and worth exploring. The Vasa Museum in Stockholm for instance is the most visited museum in Scandinavia and displays the world's best-preserved 17th century ship. Admission is 150 kronor (about $16). The cost of a meal at an inexpensive restaurant in Stockholm meanwhile is about 120 kronor (about $10.85).

Romania
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Romania

1 USD = 4.23 RON
A country long associated with the legend of Dracula, Romania is a destination that includes medieval towns, the forested region of Transylvania and of course, plenty of massive, fascinating castles, including Bran Castle and Peles Castle. Bran Castle dates back to the 14th century and is a former royal residence as well as the supposed lair of Dracula. Exploring this intriguing property costs about 40 lei ($9.45). Peles Castle is a lavish summer palace that was built in 1874. Admission is 30 lei for adults (about $7).

Israel
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Israel

1 USD = 3.52 ILS
Another destination that Hipmunk suggests travelers keep in mind when considering the value of the dollar, Israel is home to some of the world's most famous religious sites. It is where the some of the primary events for those of the Jewish, Muslim, and Christian faiths are believed to have taken place. Jerusalem alone is packed with religious significance, and is the location of the Temple Mount and Dome of the Rock (admission is free), as well as an old district filled with other notable religious sites. An inexpensive meal in Jerusalem is about 60 shekels ($17).