12 incredible tropical places to visit if you're on a budget

By TravelWiseFeb 13, 2024 21:48 PMNews
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12 incredible tropical places to visit if you're on a budget
'' many budget options for tropical destinations for travelers. Source: Freepik

Many of the most affordable tropical destinations around the world offer beautiful beaches, delicious food, and unique attractions. Explore some of the best tropical vacations, including undiscovered places like Bonaire and Colombia, which are home to stunning marine life and beaches. Don't forget to visit hidden waterfalls and try local specialties.

Mexico and the Philippines are among the most affordable tropical destinations in the world with great beaches and friendly locals. Do you dream of sand and sea but have limited funds? There are many ways to travel cheaply and find yourself in the middle of a beautiful tropical paradise, as noted by The Travel website.

Each of the following affordable tropical vacation destinations has been selected and ranked based on the total cost per day, taken from the book Budget Your Trip. All of these destinations are known for their budget-friendly entertainment, food, lodging, and even free attractions and experiences.

Curaçao: postcard beaches and free entertainment

Average cost per night: $143

12 incredible tropical places to visit if you're on a budget
Curacao is one of the most popular summer vacation destinations. Source: Pexels

Curaçao is one of the most popular summer vacation destinations, and you only need to visit to understand why. The beaches look like postcards, and visitors will find fun, colorful buildings, delicious food, and plenty of opportunities to explore the underwater world through snorkeling and scuba diving.

Additionally, there is no shortage of free entertainment for budget travelers in Curaçao: from a walking tour of Willemstad to visiting Playa Lagun and enjoying the views while crossing the Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge.

Top tip: Rent a car to visit all the best beaches in Curaçao.

Must-see places: Mambo Beach, Blue Bay, Playa Lagun.

Cheapest time to travel to Curaçao: May - November

Aruba: Free attractions and discounts at diving companies.

12 incredible tropical places to visit if you're on a budget
A vacation in Aruba can be budget-friendly with strategic planning. Source: Pexels

Average cost per day: $139

Often associated with luxury, Aruba can be an affordable destination for a tropical vacation on a budget with some strategic planning. The optimal time, in September and October, offers substantial discounts due to reduced trade winds and higher temperatures. Hotels can reduce prices by 50% or more, and diving companies often offer discounted packages.

From June to August, although it is less hot, you can still save money. Vacationers on a budget can visit the free attractions in Aruba's capital, Oranjestad, including the free tourist trolley, the California Dunes, and the historic ruins of Balashi to experience Aruba on a budget.

Top tip: Use the well-equipped supermarkets to reduce food costs, especially at the expensive beach restaurants.

Best places: Balashi ruins, Oranjestad, California Dunes

Cheapest time to travel to Aruba: Fall

Bonaire: unspoiled marine life and beautiful beaches

Average cost per day: $108

Beautiful Bonaire is a top snorkeling destination and a fantastic Caribbean hotspot where you can save some money while seeing some of the best marine life in the Caribbean.

The most popular activities in Bonaire are snorkeling and scuba diving; there is a lot to see in these blue waters, and many of the best dive sites in Bonaire are actually shore dives (this is a convenient type of dive as divers can simply walk off the beach and swim straight to the dive site without needing any boat rides).

However, despite the fact that this affordable Caribbean resort is famous for its shore diving and pristine marine life, there are many other things to do in Bonaire besides diving; you can spend a great vacation lounging on the beach or enjoying the many free activities in Bonaire, as well as many other tourist attractions.

Top tip: Do not leave valuables on the beach unattended

Best places: Te Amo Beach, Lac Bay, Bonaire National Marine Park

Cheapest time to travel to Bonaire: January

Malta: a balance between European sophistication and tropical charm

Average cost per day: $55

12 incredible tropical places to visit if you're on a budget
Tourists on a budget can also enjoy numerous free activities in Malta. Source: Pexels

You can experience the beauty of the Mediterranean on a budget thanks to Malta. This wonderful country strikes the right balance between European sophistication and tropical charm, and you can find plenty of affordable accommodation, great food, and a friendly atmosphere.

Travelers on a budget can also enjoy numerous free activities in Malta, from touring the Old Town of Mdina without spending a dime to visiting Marsaxlokk Harbor and exploring the free-to-visit parts of the Citadel on the island of Gozo.

Tip: Bring a variety of clothes as the weather in Malta can change quickly.

Places to visit: Comino Island, Blue Lagoon, Golden Bay

Cheapest time to travel to Malta: Shoulder months

Dominican Republic: Azure waters and magnificent sunsets.

12 incredible tropical places to visit if you're on a budget
Choose all-inclusive resorts in the Dominican Republic. Source: Leonardo Rossatti, Pexels

Average cost per day: $52

Visit the Dominican Republic to enjoy the gorgeous blue waters, pristine beaches, and stunning sunsets in the Caribbean. This country offers a plethora of affordable hotels catering to every taste and style, including backpacker-style hostels and various lodging options.

Additionally, budget-conscious travelers can take advantage of the Dominican Republic's most affordable all-inclusive resorts, ideal for experiencing the luxuries of a resort without exceeding your budget.

Although the island is renowned for its sandy shores and tropical waters, there's much to explore beyond the beaches. The hidden waterfalls of Damajagua are particularly captivating.

Top tip: Explore the beaches, but don't overlook the inland waterfalls.

Best places: Bavaro Beach, Punta Cana, Damajagua

Cheapest time to travel to the Dominican Republic: May to September

Mexico: Kilometers of white beaches and accommodations for every taste and style.

Average cost per day: $46

12 incredible tropical places to visit if you're on a budget
Efrain Alonso, Pexels. Source: Mexico is an incredible place to visit if you want to save some money.

From the bustling, beautiful Playa del Carmen to lesser-known tropical destinations like Zihuatanejo, Mexico is an incredible place to visit if you're looking to save some money. Plus, it's very easy to get to, especially from the US and Canada.

There are great diving and snorkeling opportunities, miles of white beaches, and accommodations to suit every taste and style. In addition, there is great food, friendly people, and plenty of things to see during your vacation, from beaches to amazing ancient ruins in Mexico, especially in Tulum and Cancun.

Moreover, tourists on a budget can stretch their funds even further by staying in any of Mexico's lesser-known beach towns, which are usually overlooked in favor of the more quaint and well-known Mexican beach destinations.

Top tip: Don't drink the tap water.

Best places: Puerto Vallarta, Playa del Carmen, Los Cabos

Cheapest time to travel to Mexico: September

Tanzania: Visit Zanzibar - one of the cheapest tropical destinations.

Average cost per day: $37

12 incredible tropical places to visit if you're on a budget
Tanzania offers more than just luxury safaris, it boasts a stunning coastal region. Source: Freepik

Tanzania offers more than just luxury safaris, as it boasts a stunning coastal region that rivals the best tropical destinations. Zanzibar, part of an archipelago with the islands of Unguja, Pemba, and Mafia, stands out for its budget appeal. Famous for its white sandy beaches, turquoise waters, vibrant coral reefs, and the historic city of Zanzibar, it can be reached by taxi or minibus.

Despite its luxurious image, Zanzibar offers affordable accommodation, especially in tourist areas such as Stone Town, Kendwa, and Nungwi, which have inexpensive restaurants and plenty of daytime and nightlife. All in all, Zanzibar is one of the cheapest tropical places in the world to vacation.

Top tip: Don't hesitate to haggle over prices, especially in markets and with local vendors.

Best places: Zanzibar, Unguja, Pemba, and the Mafia Islands.

Cheapest time to travel to Tanzania: November to May

Thailand: Night markets and authentic food.

Average cost per day: $30

12 incredible tropical places to visit if you're on a budget
Tourists do not need to spend a lot of money per day in Thailand to have a good time. Source: Freepik

The tropical paradise of Thailand is another one of the cheapest tropical vacation destinations. There are many islands on the coast of the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea, as well as numerous charming little towns and bustling cities like Pattaya and Bangkok, offering plenty of interesting things to see and do without breaking the bank. It is entirely possible to explore Thailand on a small budget.

Wherever you go, a beautiful beach with crystal-clear water is never too far away. Additionally, the country is known for its affordability; tourists don't need to spend a lot of money per day in Thailand to have a good time. In fact, even $100 can go a long way in Thailand.

Top tip: Visit the night markets to taste the cheapest but most authentic Thai food.

Places to visit: Phuket, Koh Samui, Koh Chang, Koh Tao, Koh Lanta

Cheapest time to travel to Thailand: From May to October

Some parts of Thailand are much more expensive than others; for example, Koh Phi Phi is quite expensive compared to places like Koh Tao and Koh Samui, which are popular with tourists.

Malaysia: Friendly people and great food.

Average cost per day: $30

12 incredible tropical places to visit if you're on a budget
Malaysia is one of the cheapest tropical destinations for vacation. Source: Jimmy Chan, Pexels

Although it's not one of the cheapest tropical destinations to travel to from the US in terms of airfare, as tourists will have to take a longer flight to reach the sun-drenched shores of Malaysia, the trip is well worth it.

Malaysia is one of the cheapest tropical vacation destinations because it has hundreds of islands, a rich history, and many beaches where you can take a walk or just sunbathe.

Additionally, Malaysians are very friendly, the food is great, and you can find good accommodation for cheap, especially in touristy places like colonial Georgetown in Penang. Some of the most accessible islands in Malaysia are Pulau Redang, Pulau Kapas, Pulau Tioman, and Pulau Langkawi.

Top tip: Dress for the beach in a beachy way, but more modestly in cities and towns.

Places to visit: Rawa Island, Sipadan Island, Batu Ferringhi, Pangkor Island, Georgetown

Cheapest time to travel to Malaysia: Fall

Philippines

12 incredible tropical places to visit if you're on a budget
Best time to visit the Philippines to save money, September. Source: Pexels

Average cost per day: $26

If you're looking for friendly people, great beaches, and delicious food, then you should visit the Philippines - one of the world's cheapest tropical destinations to go on vacation.

This Southeast Asian country has more than 7,000 islands, endless miles of coastline, secluded jungle waterfalls, and extraordinary marine life (in fact, it's home to some of the best diving sites in the world, from Monad Shoal, which is one of the best dive sites on Earth, famous for thresher sharks, to Tubbataha Reef, one of the best places on the planet to see whale sharks).

Cebu is one of the best places to visit due to its proximity to the beach, incredible diving and snorkeling spots, and many lush inland waterfalls.

Tip: Bring cash as some places do not accept cards.

Must-see places: Cebu, El Nido, Bantayan Island, Bohol, Panglao, Negros Island, Palawan, Siargao Island

Cheapest time to travel to the Philippines: September

Nicaragua

12 incredible tropical places to visit if you're on a budget
Budget travelers will find a lot of free entertainment in Nicaragua. Source: Pexels

Average cost per day: $20

The Central American country of Nicaragua is a great alternative to more expensive tropical destinations, and you'll find the same beautiful nature here. The Corn Islands are amazing, full of idyllic landscapes, and offer breathtaking sunsets. Visitors will love the food, scenery, and tropical atmosphere of this stunning country.

What's more, budget travelers will find plenty of free entertainment in Nicaragua. For more budget-friendly adventures, travelers shouldn't miss Laguna de Apoyo and Granada Cathedral, among many others.

Top tip: Explore the best places in the country on local tours.

Best places: Little Corn Island, Big Corn Island, San Juan del Sur

Cheapest time to travel to Nicaragua: September and October

Colombia: Clear warm waters and tropical atmosphere.

Average cost per day: $16

12 incredible tropical places to visit if you're on a budget
Colombia is washed by two seas - the Caribbean and the Pacific - and boasts many fine sandy beaches. Source: Danilo Arenas, Pexels

Colombia has some of the most fabulous topography on the planet, including lush green spaces, towering cities in the Andes, and incredible beaches, so it's no surprise that it's always one of the many cheap tropical getaways for North Americans traveling here (such natural beauty usually comes at a price, after all!).

Colombia is washed by two seas - the Caribbean and the Pacific - and boasts many fine sandy beaches, clear warm waters, and a tropical atmosphere that is hard to beat. Visitors on a budget can also enjoy a variety of free activities, from strolling through the walled city of Cartagena to walking through the picturesque Barrio La Candelaria.

In addition, Colombia is the cheapest tropical vacation for tourists on a budget, especially if they come from North America, with an average cost of $16 per day.

Tip: Learn basic Spanish to navigate lesser-visited beaches.

Places to visit: Tayrona National Park, Cartagena, Playa Blanca

Cheapest time to travel to Colombia: October to February

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