Everyone wants a travel bargain, but most of us aren’t willing to sacrifice too much to get one. Most people who follow Going Global aren’t going to stay in a hostel, eat fast food or only street eats and sacrifice a nice glass of wine on vacations. They want to have fun, visit a great location and be pampered, but preferably they’d do it without breaking the bank. So here’s our list of cheap luxury destinations. But note, we want to surprise people with our selections so we’ve generally stayed away from the Caribbean, Central America, Eastern Europe and the Philippines or Indonesia which are well known to bargain travellers.
It’s a long flight from the US and Europe and especially Asia, but it is worth it. When you arrive you’ll find good dining, local travel and most hotels are reasonably priced. Don’t get us wrong, you can spend almost as much on a W in Santiago as you would in NY, but there are many great alternatives. And Chile is a great country to see. It has surfing and a desert, magnificent wine areas and the urban excitement of Santiago, and much more to offer. Great food, friendly people, history, culture and of course wine, all at a reasonably affordable price.
It doesn’t offer the fun chaos of Thailand, it’s not as organized and tidy as Singapore and it doesn’t have the mystic of Bali, but Malaysia has lots to offer and it can be a very affordable vacation. There’s nature and jungle treks on Sabah and Sarawak which are on the island of Borneo, there is history and culture in Malacca along with one of the most affordable night markets in Asia on Jonker Street, there are great beaches with scuba in Langkawai, there is architecture, culture and great food and cocktails in Penang and of course Kuala Lumpur offers world-class hotels, a vibrant nightlife and shopping. Malaysia can be priced on par with other Southeast Asia destinations but if you shop around there are always deals to be had on luxury accommodations and experiences.
3.) South Africa
People are surprised to find that SouthA Africa has so much to offer and is relatively affordable… once you get there. Cape Town has lovely hotels for less than Europe, a food scene which is out of this world and nearby access to one if not the oldest wine route in the world. Wines are cheap, food is cheap, accommodation can be excellent and affordable and this is before you haggle in a market or even go on safari. There nice beaches in Durban, urban culture and shopping in Jo’burg (don’t miss a day trip to Soweto Township) and of course great safaris in Kruger National Park. Our advice is shop around for safari companies and providers and go off season if you want to save some dollars. But a great safari experience can be had for less than many think, though a quality operator with nice accommodations will not be cheap.
Most Americans and Asians don’t believe Europe can be cheap but it can be. Portugal has excellent seafood, nice wines, history, art, culture and very friendly people. Lisbon is a refined but slower paced capital city, the Azores Islands are beautiful and fairly inexpensive to fly to and affordable once you’re there and the Port region makes some of the best wines on the planet. We like Portugal and find it reasonably priced by European standards.
Certainly not as well known for as pricey as the Dubai or Abu Dhabi in the UAE, Oman has lots to offer but is far less expensive. Muscat is a cool capital city with an attitude all its own. The Mutrah Corniche is a lovely curved waterfront area of mosques and traditional buildings, restaurants and the best sunset in the country. It is also home to the Mutrah Souq which is a fascination Arab market where haggling is always encouraged. Getting out of town the Wadi Shab and the Bimah Sinkhole offers a nearby area to trek, see the coast and swim. Inland the Wahiba Sands and Wadi Bani Khalid Desert offer a glimpse of desert life local culture and if you want to venture further from the capital Muscart, Oman has its own Grand Canyon which is as gorgeous as you’d expect. But you might not expect the nearby town of Nizwa with a well preserved fort and exciting, chaotic souq.
Not only are these cheap luxury destinations, but they’re also thoughtful places, a little less common than other affordable getaways. They take a little more planning than just buying a discount airline ticket and showing up but the rewards are worth it. We can safely say each of these cheap luxury destinations are worthwhile spending the time and money visiting.