Everybody is traveling. According to the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the number of international tourists hit a record high of 1.2 billion in 2015. Tourist arrivals grew by 4.4% in 2015 from a year ago. The latest World Tourism Barometer cited “exchange rates, oil prices and natural and manmade crises in many parts of the world” as major factors that influenced the robust performance of international tourism.
If you’re planning to travel abroad this year, whether for leisure or business, you should explore destinations beyond Tokyo, New York City or Paris. There are “gold mine” cities for tourism and property investment in less known parts of Asia, South America, Europe and Africa.
Here are 11 budget-friendly world capitals everyone should visit.
Plan a spiritual and cultural journey in Nepal’s capital city of Kathmandu by visiting Buddhist temples and heritage sites. The Swayambhunath Temple, also known as the “Monkey Temple,” and the Boudhanath Temple are important Buddhist pilgrimage sites. The Durbar Square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is surrounded with colorful alleyways that can give you a glimpse of Nepalese life. Take a stroll around the historic square and enjoy brewed tea (locally called “chiya”) in one of the little shops.
Where to stay: You may stay in small studio apartments in Kathmandu for $10 to $15 per night. Boutique hotels are available for about $30 per night per person. For a larger group, you can rent a $50/night two-bedroom vacation house.
The best way to know a nation’s soul is through its local cuisine. Discover Hanoi by visiting its eateries that serve pho ga or the traditional chicken noodle soup. After a hearty meal, stroll along the old Quarter for a shopping spree. The night market features Vietnam-made clothing, handicraft, and ornaments. Before heading back to your hotel or apartment, visit the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre or the Hoa Lo Prison.
Where to stay: Hanoi offers a throng of stylish loft apartments. Your may rent for $30 to $40 per night. For the budget backpacker, there are boutique hotels in Old Town for less than $20 per night.
Bhutan is an exciting destination not only for its majestic landscapes but also for the colorful festivals all year round. In autumn, don’t miss the masked Cham dances held during the four-day Tshechu Festival. You can also watch cultural dances and other performances at the Royal Academy of Performing Arts. For a glimpse of Bhutan’s rich history, visit the Dechen Phodrang Monastery which houses important artifacts dating back to the 12th century.
Where to stay: There are lots of accommodation choices across the Bhutanese capital from $200-per-night hotel rooms to $30-per-night heritage homes. Your group can also opt for furnished apartments for $80 to $100 per night.
Manila, The Philippines
A trip to Manila, Philippines will remind you of the strong foreign influences in the country. Intramuros, the Walled City, is reminiscent of the Spanish colonial era while Chinatown in Binondo showcases East Asian inspirations. The capital is also full of commercial establishments, shopping malls, and Western-style entertainment centers.
Where to stay: You will not run out of places to stay in Manila. There are five-star hotels, boutique hotels, serviced apartments and luxury homes for rent. Try resort-style living in the middle of the city by renting a furnished studio-type condo for $30 to $50 per night, just like in Sheridan Towers.
Ecuador suffered a massive earthquake in April 2016, which killed hundreds of people and destroyed countless structures. Many tourist destinations may remain closed for several months, but this should not discourage you from flying to this beautiful destination. Nevertheless, remember to take earthquake safety measures wherever in the world you may be.
Have a gastronomic affair with Ecuador’s capital city Quito. Feast on empanadas and paila ice cream while strolling along Centro Historico. You’ll find high-quality handicraft and trinkets as well as paintings and antique items. Get in touch with nature by joining birdwatching tours at Los Andes Paramo or the Cloud Forest. You’ll be amazed at the massive number of bird species in this part of the world.
Where to stay: Make the most of your stay in cozy Quito by renting a furnished room in a family house for $10 to $ 20 per night. You can also get yourself an entire house for less than $50 per night.
The next time you’re heading for Europe spends a week or two in Bucharest, Romania. Plan a tour of historic sites including the Piata Revolutiei, the University Library, and the Kretzulescu Church. Visit the Old Town where the bust of the original Count Dracula, Vlad the Impaler, stands. Don’t miss the National Museum of the Art at Calea Victoriei for a brief overview of Romanian art and culture. Enjoy a sumptuous meal with the locals at restaurants and lodges scattered all over the capital.
Where to stay: Stay in the heart of Bucharest. A furnished studio room is available for $25 to $30 per night. If you’re traveling alone, you can get a posh loft for $15 per night or a spacious room for $20.
Montevideo in Uruguay offers a unique South American taste. You’ll have an exhaustive list of things to do such as shopping, art gallery hopping, and dancing. If you’re looking for vibrant street parties, be in the capital in February or March for annual carnivals. Prepare yourself for long nights of drinking and dancing. Savor delicacies offered at the Feria Tristan Navajo market and at the Mercado del Puerto.
Where to stay: Rent a studio room near the beach for $35 per night. If you’re staying out most of the time, which should be the case, you can rent a room in an ancestral house for $10 to $15 per night.
The Bolivian capital city of Sucre has so much to offer, especially to travelers on a budget. Enjoy as many sweets as you can in chocolate shops across the city including Chocolates Para Ti and Sucre Chocolates. You can shop for clothes, tapestries and ornaments at reasonable prices as the Tarabuco Market, Mercado Campesino or Mercado Negro. Don’t leave Sucre without visiting Museo Nacional de Etnografia y Folklore for free art exhibitions.
Where to stay: The Bolivian capital is a backpacker’s heaven. You can get a $10-per-night room in a house or a bed-and-breakfast accommodation for less than $20 per night. Furnished apartments for small groups are also available for $30 to $50 per night.
Sofia is the laidback capital city of European destination Bulgaria. Go to the heart of the city and tour important sites such as the medieval Boyana Church, the St. Alexander Nevski Memorial Church and the Banya Bashi Mosque. A trip to the museum is a must in every perceptive traveler’s list. Visit the Museum of Socialist Art and be greeted by a large Lenin statue in the middle of the outdoor sculpture park. The National Art Gallery stores about 6,000 Bulgarian artworks. Cap your night with a serving of chicken kavarma and rakia (fruit brandy) in one of the local restaurants in Sofia.
Where to stay: Whether you want the comforts of a top-rated hotel or the coziness of an apartment, Sofia has your accommodation covered. Get a hotel room for $100 to $200 per night or an overnight stay in an artsy flat for $20.
Ditch your wedge heels for a pair of trekking boots when visiting the exciting Tanzanian capital of Dodoma. The Lion Rock, also known as Simba Hill, will show you a magnificent view of the entire city. You can also sign up for trekking and excursions organized by your hotel and local tourism groups. Have a chilled beer in one of the pubs in Dodoma and share stories with the locals.
Where to stay: Rent a cottage in Dodoma for $20 to $25 per night. You can share this accommodation with four of your friends. Traveling alone? Have an overnight stay in a private room for less than $10.
Dakar, as most parts of Senegal, is a former French colony. The city showcases its European influence through exquisite architectural designs. Dakar is a bustling city, housing international companies, banks, universities and commercial establishments. Visit its major markets for fine handicraft enjoy a peaceful afternoon at the beach, and be mesmerized by the artifacts at the IFAN Museum of West African Culture.
Where to stay: Whatever your budget may be, Dakar has a lot of choices for you. A furnished studio apartment is available for $20 to $30 per night. You can also opt for a private room in a house for $10 to $15.
It’s a big, big world out there. Don’t confine your choices to usual swanky tourist sites. The rise of the global tourism sector has opened doors to more options in accommodation and leisure destinations. Explore other world destinations.