This country routinely makes the list for the new “it” place to travel as it eclipses both Spain and Greece as a destination, but due to currency issues, it is one of the cheapest places to visit right now. And it may become cheaper depending on any further U.S. trade tariffs. June is routinely cheaper than July or August — much like anywhere else — and what you’ll find is a warm climate, a cultural and archeological history of Greek, Roman and Ottoman influences, plus cuisine that charts its legacies. Instanbul and Ankara are more expensive than smaller centres, and the southern beach cities of Adana and Bodrum can be pricier — but it is still cheaper than major centres in Europe. One blog post features an Istanbul hotel room for $7 in 2018.
Getting anywhere is the major cost, but travel from Canada to Istanbul will cost about $1,500 from the West Coast, to less than $1,00 from Eastern Canada if you search for deals.
The beautiful downtown Niles Hotel Istanbul is on sale right now with rooms for less than $100. Similarly, there are incredible deals on apartments from about $55 a night.
Turkey is known for its incredible cuisine with many influences that make it a culinary playground. From humus and gyro-style rotisserie meats, to the wet burgers (they taste better than they sound) made famous by Anthony Bourdain — all from $1 to about $4.
While trendy tourists continue to hit France and Italy, Portugal remains one of the cheapest countries in Western Europe for travellers looking for rich culture, inexpensive food and numerous touring options from museums to beaches.
Instead of travelling in summer, when all of Europe is packed, consider spring or fall when you can get better deals on accommodation. The southern area, the Algarve, is popular and even more affordable in the shoulder seasons. Lagos is a gorgeous beach resort area worth exploring with a wide range of inexpensive accommodation.
Portugal is well-serviced by trains and buses so getting around is cheaper than renting a car. If you start your explorations in Lisbon, be sure to make time for a trip to Porto to view the Ribeira district, tour the Se cathedral and hit a few cafes for meals. Check out Gaia for tours of port producers and tastings, then head to the Soares dos Reis museum.
From Canada, you can get a flight to Lisbon—if you book early— for about $1,200.
Once there, accommodation will cost anywhere from about $120 a night, to less than $100 if you book on Airbnb. In the southern beach area of Algarve, there are sweet little rooms for as little as $50 a night.
A perennial favourite for backpackers and travellers who like to spend weeks on end in exploration, Thailand is inexpensive, particularly in the north at Chiang Mai and Pai and away from the southern centres of Bangkok and Phuket. If you’re headed there though, you’ll likely want to spend some time at the southern beaches.
We found flights from Vancouver to Bangkok in May for less that $700. Tempting, isn’t it?
Accommodation is typically very inexpensive with a condo in Bangkok for less than $80 a night. In the north in Chiang May and five minutes from the airport, rooms can be booked for as little as $14 a night, whereas the local Holiday Inn has rooms starting at $76 per night, on sale.
Flights and accommodation are the easy part , then you’ll want to decide where to go and what to see in order to make the most of your trip. For starters, consider the Grand Palace and the floating markets in Bangkok, and a trip to Phang Nga Bay with a boat ride to view the limestone cliffs. About 80 kilometres north of Bangkok is Ayutthaya, a historical city that is a UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Northeast of Bangkok is Khao Yao National Park, a lush expanse of forests and grasslands and home to more than 300 types of birds as well as elephants, bears and jackals. In Chiang Mai, Doi Suthep features the Bhubing Palace, plus hundreds of Buddhist temples.
Street vendors are extremely popular because the food is fresh, authentic and costs a little as a few dollars, but also consider a sampling at night markets. Savvy travellers stay away from Western-style restaurants and can eat very well for less than $5 a day.
4. Mexico City
This massive city is a must-see. About 21 million people live here in more than 1,500 neighbourhoods. This is a city for walking, so find accommodation in a neighbourhood from which you can plan day trips. Consider the Centro, Roma, Juarez, Coyoacan and Condesa areas and consider using Uber for trips that require a car.
Nonstop flights are less than $600 from Vancouver or Toronto in May, and prices increase slightly throughout the summer.
A room at the Barcelo Mexica Reforma is about $115 on a special sale for travel in May and the hotel is within walking distance to the historic centre of the city.
Be sure to include a trip to Teotihuacan, just outside of the city. The archeological site features two Aztec pyramids, the Temple of the Moon and the Temple of the Sun. Ask at your hotel to arrange a private tour, which isn’t very expensive and will likely bypass lineups for parking. Avoid going at Easter, though, as this is a mecca for Mexicans at this time of year.
Meals can be about the same price as those in Canada if you stick to establishments with English menus. So opt for local places and consider using a translation app. This way, you’ll be able to get great meals at affordable prices.
5. Grand Canyon
By the time you’re scoping out flights and places to stay, we’re sure the U.S. federal shutdown will be over. Right? The Grand Canyon marks 2019 as 100 years as a national park and offers several days of no-fee access. This could be an ideal family vacation that will nurture the naturalist, the historian and the hiker.
If you have the time, you can take a road trip to Arizona. Otherwise, you’ll want to fly to Phoenix and catch a connecting flight to Flagstaff and rent a car. There are two regions of the park: The North Rim and the South Rim. The South Rim remains open all year and is the most popular, receiving 90 per cent of the park’s visitors. There are campgrounds at both rims and you need to make reservations. The North Rim is open from May 15 through Oct. 15 and with no air service, is accessible only by road.
Accommodation can run anywhere from $140 at a Travelodge in Flagstaff, to an average of about $150 a night at numerous motels. The quaint and rustic lodges are more expensive, and there’s even a glamping-style Under Canvas option if you want to splurge for a night for about $430.
A flight from Toronto to Phoenix costs less than $600.
Flights from Phoenix to Flagstaff are about $328.
Meals during your stay can be anything from the fine dining in the park’s lodges in the South Rim, to delis and cafeterias. There is such a wide selection that you don’t need to spend a fortune on meals.