24 Budget Travel Destinations With Rich Cultural Experiences

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For those of you who love to travel and explore multiple cultures, you can visit many places to immerse yourself fully. While things can get a little expensive, you don’t have to worry because there are multiple places filled with rich history that can fit within a tight budget and still be a lot of fun.

1. Antioquia

couple taking picture in front of Antioquia
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The sixth-largest Department of Colombia, Antioquia, is a spectacular option for travelers who don’t want to sell their kidneys for a trip.

According to The Columbian Way, this region is home to a group of people named Paisas. These natives have distinct dialects, mouth-watering cuisine, as well as traditional music and folklore. If you plan on visiting the place, you really need to have their infamous Arepas Antioqueñas, which are essentially corn patties.

2. Cuba

vintage car driving through streets of Cuba
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While flights to Cuba cost a bit more, the accommodation and everyday transportation are very cheap for Americans planning to visit. Hosting several Jazz festivals, Cuba has tons of musical genres native to the country, ranging from Mambo to Cha-Cha-Cha to Afro-Cuban Jazz.

Additionally, there are a ton of art museums to explore, like the Museum of Fine Arts in Havana, which has exhibitions of gorgeous Cuban art.

3. Ecuador

the Plaza Grande in Ecuador
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Latin American Backpacking recommends a daily budget of $25 to $30 for US tourists in the country. Not only will you be able to have a lot of fun with less money, but the place has an Indigenous community with its traditions to learn about.

The Amazon rainforest is home to several tribes who are very welcoming and will teach you about their traditional beverage, chicha, along with their ritual cleansings.

4. Hawaii

Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head, Honolulu, Oahu Island, Hawaii
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An average of $4,000 to $5,000 is required for a three-week trip to Hawaii. In the world of travel, this is far less than what you’d see in some other places.

Hawaii is home to King Kamehameha the Great, with an invigorating heritage that still shines through. You can learn their traditional craft, called lau niu, in which coconut palm is used to make hats and roofs.

5. New Orleans

French Quarter New Orleans
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For a cultural experience, New Orleans is perfect because of the cosmopolitan nature of the place, with a blend of French, Spanish, Cajun, and Creole people. With a budget as low as $50-60, you can navigate the bustling streets of the place. From Mardi Gras parades to spectacular jazz music, there are tons of riveting things to do.

6. Oaxaca

people in downtown street of Oaxaca
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In the heart of Southern Mexico lies the gorgeous place named Oaxaca, filled with mouth-watering delicacies and serene views. When you visit this quaint locale, you’ll get to partake in their traditions, like their Dia de los Muertos, to honor those who’ve passed away.

You can also enjoy their local drink called mezcal or go on a shopping spree for Zapotec rugs. The best part is that for a two-week trip, you’ll only have to spend around $640.70.

7. Basque Country

San Juan de Gaztelugatxe in Basque Country
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While it may be found in France, Basque has its own unique festivals and culture that make it a fantastic place to go and have some fun.

Whether you decide to enjoy their National game named Pelota or you indulge in some delicious food at Pays Basque, which, according to The Good Life France, has 1500 secret gourmet societies known as Txokos, you’ll experience something unlike you’ve ever experienced before.

8. Yucatan

The Pyramid of Kukulcan in Yucatan
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Located in Mexico, Yucatan is home to the incredible Mayan ruins and some of the most pristine sandy beaches and dazzling waters. If you’re more of an adrenaline junkie, then you might want to head to the skate park or Telchac Port to sail across the blue waves.

Out of all the places here, I’d recommend checking out the flamingo routes to watch the majestic pink animals in their natural habitat.

9. Bosnia & Herzegovina

Street of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
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According to Via Travelers, as an American, you can visit Bosnia without a visa for up to ninety days, which means this trip will cost you a lot less. Contrary to popular belief, the place is safe to travel to and is filled with lively people welcoming you into their hometown.

You can splurge in the streets of Sarajevo’s Old Bazaar for little carpets and ornaments, or you can even visit their festivals to see pure mastery of wood and art.

10. Greece

The Academy of Greece
Image Credit: Thomas Wolf – CC BY-SA 3.0 de/Wiki Commons.

When you see the exciting nightlife and picture-perfect landscapes of Greece, you might instantly think it’s more expensive. However, a round-trip flight can cost anywhere from $120 to $1730, which is relatively cheap.

If you’re also a fan of Greek mythology, then going on a tour of ancient Athens will nurture your inner geek. Additionally, you can visit the grand theater at the Epidaurus Festival, where infamous artists like Frank Sinatra have previously performed.

11. Russia

A man dressed as Chyskhaan, the spirit of cold in Yakut mythology.
Image Credit: Ilya Varlamov, Own Work – CC BY-SA 4.0/Wiki Commons.

Experts of Trip.com calculate a trip to Russia to be between $50 and $70 a day, which isn’t a lot of money. Since it’s freezing cold here, you’ll be able to enjoy a delightful and warm, humid sauna named Banya.

The city of Moscow feels unreal, almost like a scene from a Disney movie so prepared to be blown away by its sheer beauty.  With every vacation comes a warm, hearty meal, so definitely try their beetroot soup called borscht.

12. Andalusia

Traditional flamenco dresses dance in Andalusia
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A region in southern Spain, Andalusia is filled with Moorish culture that’s evident in its cuisine and their architecture both. You’ll find stunning Islamic calligraphy in the Real Alcazar Palace and the Mezquita in Cordoba, which will leave you feeling very intrigued.

But what’s most memorable about the place is its flamenco dance, which is filled with lively and energetic people telling a unique story.

13. Timor-Leste

Aerial photo of Dili, Timor-Leste
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This little country was disputed for several years until it finally got its independence. But don’t let its small size fool you because it’s a magnificent place filled with vibrant cultures.

One of the best hotels to stay here is Hotel Esplanada, which is only $90 a night but has all the luxury of a five-star place. Don’t forget the Tais market for handwoven scarves and fabrics that are a hallmark of Timor.

14. Sarawak

Bat cave in Borneo in Sarawak
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For American natives, Malaysia is an ideal place to visit because it doesn't cost an arm and a leg. Experts at Champion Traveler estimate the cost for a solo traveler for a seven-day trip to be under $650.

Textiles and art are some of the most unique things to experience in the city of Sarawak, and you can even visit the Tun Jugah Textile Museum or observe the process of ikat weaving, native to the location.

15. Cambodia

Aerial view of Khmer Empire in Cambodia
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Previously home to the Khmer Empire, Cambodia has a vibrant handicraft industry, so you should keep some money aside to buy some memorabilia to take home with you.

Spirituality is a big thing here, with a Buddhist tour of Siem Reap and temples of Angkor that offer a deeper insight into what Cambodia is all about. You can also enjoy apsara, which is their traditional dance.

16. Japan

Cherry blossoms with temple and Mount Fiji in Japan
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Traveling is quite expensive, but if you’re visiting Japan, a round-trip ticket would only cost you as little as $600. While Japanese culture has gained popularity in recent years, there’s something about going to their homeland to experience it that makes it much more unique.

From their tea ceremonies and the geishas to the matcha-making process and cherry blossom trees, everything is so different from what we’re used to, which makes it even more fun.

17. Bhutan

The Tiger's Nest Monastery in Bhutan on side of mountain
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Bhutan will cost you about $90 every day, including food, accommodation, and all other expenses. When you first step into the country, you’ll notice the Bhutanese architecture, which is almost like a blend of Tibetan, Indian, and Nepalese landmarks.

You can also see the mesmerizing handicrafts at the Choki Traditional Art School, which will leave you stunned by their sheer beauty.

18. Kerala

Variety of Indian food on table form Kerala
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A day in Kerala will cost you around $27. Also known as ‘God's Own Country’ because of just how jaw-dropping it is, Kerala is great for people on a tight budget. Located in India, it has spicy and aromatic food that will satiate your hunger for fantastic food. The stark difference in clothing will leave you shocked as you witness the glittering and vibrant sarees called kasavu.

19. Uzbekistan

architectural of Uzbekistan
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One of the most hospitable nations across the globe, Uzbekistan used to be a significant part of the Silk Road, and you can still see several cultural influences there. A mix of Eastern and Western cuisine, their food will taste quite different than what you’re used to.

Try their national dish called plov or pilaf to immerse yourself in the country entirely. The good news is that it just costs around $30 to $50 per day, including living costs.

20. The Tibetan Plateau

Train on railroad going through the Tibetan Plateau
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Also called Zoige, the Tibetan Plateau is located in China and is perfect for budget travelers. A crucial hallmark of this place is the nomadic culture, with white tents lining huge grass fields and domestic yak scattered everywhere. Additionally, you can also see various mosques that light up Zoige.

21. Ethiopia

traditional round hut, Tukul, in a village in Ethiopia
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For coffee fanatics, Ethiopia seems like heaven itself. The best part about it is that it only costs about $400 per person for seven whole days, according to Budget Your Trip. If you’ve finalized your trip here, then you should see the high and mighty churches in Lalibela.

On top of that, there are several mountain communities you can be a part of and get to know about their unique perspective and way of life.

22. Mauritius

Aerial view of Ile aux Chats on Rodrigues in Mauritius
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Suppose you’re looking for a place where you can experience an array of cultures unlike you’ve ever done before. In that case, you should head to Mauritius because you’ll be able to find churches next to mosques next to Hindu temples and synagogues. The two most popular things here include Mauritian sega, a dance that started as an expression of loss and heartbreak, along with sugar cane farms.

23. Nepal

Aerial view of the Himalayan mountain in Nepal
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One of the most budget-friendly places across the globe, Nepal is ideal for active people who like to keep their heartbeat up with some exercise. You can enjoy a trek up the Himalayan mountains and then sit back and observe the panoramic views below.

Experts at Budget Your Trip state that a one-week stay here will only cost you $262. You can also visit the place visa-free as an American passport holder.

24. Morocco

Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca, Morocco
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A little sweet and a little savory, Moroccan cuisine is known for tajines, a stew that has both meat and vegetables. Apart from delicious and hearty meals, you’ll also find several shopping places where haggling is a common practice.

Don’t miss out on their mint tea because you’ll fall in love with it. The best part of all of this is that you can experience all this for under a thousand dollars for a whole week.