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I traveled to over 7 countries in 2023. Here are 4 of the most affordable cities I visited.

Dominique Mills in front of a temple.
Hanoi, Vietnam, was one of the most affordable places I visited this year. Dominique Mills
  • I traveled to over seven countries in 2023, and some places stood out for being budget-friendly.

  • Porto, Portugal, and Chiang Mai, Thailand, offered affordable accommodations and fun activities.

  • Hanoi, Vietnam, was one of my favorite trips because of its delicious cuisine and great sightseeing.

After traveling to seven countries this year, some places stood out for their remarkable experiences that didn't break the bank.

Here are the four most affordable places I visited in 2023.

Porto, Portugal, offered an array of affordable activities and accommodations

Porto, a city along the historic Douro River in Portugal, was an unexpected haven for budget-conscious travelers like me.

I stayed in two hostels throughout my four-day stay, which cost me less than $100 total. Both of them were in extremely convenient locations, with one even being inside Porto's train station.

From savoring traditional pastries with an espresso to strolling through narrow cobblestone streets, there was plenty to do without emptying my wallet.

Another fun, affordable pastime was wine tasting. The tours ranged from hour-long events to full-day river cruises, so it was easy to find one that fit my budget.

Additional activities such as walking tours, bar crawls, and hikes to famous viewpoints were also available for under $20.

Chiang Mai, Thailand, was culture-rich and inexpensive

Dominique Mills in Thailand with elephants.
Chiang Mai, Thailand, was inexpensive but beautiful.Dominique Mills

Nestled in the lush greenery of Northern Thailand, Chiang Mai is one of my favorite cities to visit. Beyond its picturesque temples and vibrant markets, the area was very affordable.

I found prices for many things to be notably lower than they were in surrounding areas, like Bangkok and Koh Samui. Highlights of the culture-rich destination included temples in the historic Old City and traditional Thai massages that cost as low as $5 an hour.

Chiang Mai's food was also unmissable with meals costing as little as $2. I especially recommend trying its famous noodle dish, Khao Soi.

Hostels I found started around $4 a night, and some hotels were as low as $20 a night. Compared to my other trips, these were great deals.

Luang Prabang, Laos, had a lot to offer for low prices

In the heart of Laos, Luang Prabang is a tranquil yet budget-friendly escape. The city is a UNESCO World Heritage site and sits along the third-longest river in Asia, the Mekong.

Luang Prabang's serene landscapes and cultural treasures were prime examples of slow living, which I enjoyed.

Some low-cost activities in the area include visiting food and clothing markets, having hands-on experiences with local artisans, and watching morning almsgiving ceremonies for monks, which I highly recommend.

I stayed in a hostel with a gorgeous pool and free breakfast for only $7 a night.

On my final night, I stayed in a small hotel for $16. But accommodations seemed to be affordable across Laos, especially outside of its capital, Vientiane.

Keep in mind that when visiting Luang Prabang, the US Department of State advises exercising increased caution and taking well-known paths due to bombs that were left over from the Indochina War.

Vietnam's capital, Hanoi, was incredibly affordable and perfect for a traveler on a budget

Dominique Mills in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Hanoi, Vietnam, was unique to any other city I visited this year. Dominique Mills

I've revisited Vietnam's capital, Hanoi, four times in the past two years because it's unique and incredibly budget-friendly.

The city proves that you can explore Vietnam inexpensively.

One of the best parts about the city is its food, from piping-hot bowls of pho to tables full of self-serve delicacies. My daily food budget was $14, but I often found myself spending less.

I recommend trying the famous bánh mì, a savory baguette sandwich. It sounds simple, but it's so delicious.

Hanoi also had interesting sights to see, including temples and lakes. One of my favorite stops was the Hoa Lo Prison Relic, a museum on the grounds of Hanoi's war prison. Entry cost less than $2, and it was educational and fascinating.

I loved the hostels in Hanoi because most of them offered complimentary, buffet-style breakfast and free beer in the evening.

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