Cheap holidays don’t necessarily need you to make sacrifices that make them any less fun. There are plenty of amazing, affordable destinations around the world that allow you to stretch your Aussie dollars. We’ve put together this list of five cheap holiday destinations for couples who want a good overseas holiday that doesn’t break the bank.
Our number one tip for keeping your travel costs down is to avoid the peak seasons when flights and accommodation are most expensive. Being flexible on the time of the year and even day and time you travel can save you a fortune on flights. The more you save getting there and back, the more spending money you have in your pocket while you are there.
Shoulder seasons are usually good value. Particularly for European destinations, look for deals either side of the peak Summer school holiday season. Outside of peak season you will have less crowds to deal with and more accomodation options.
The key is to do your research before you go so you know the best areas to stay, where the cheapest eats are and which attractions are free or low-cost.
Check out these five places for some of the best cheap holiday destinations for couples then start planning your next adventure.
When most Australians think of a cheap holiday spot, their first thought is Bali. It’s the ideal quick getaway for enjoying a champagne hotel room on a beer budget. Some people like to hang out at the hotel all day so they pay only a little more than flights and accommodation for their getaway. Others prefer to get out and explore each day to find some cheap things to do and places to eat.
With so many flights leaving from around the country, there are bargain flights on low-cost carriers. What you save on flights, you can spend living it up. While the budget airline experience isn’t always pleasant, it’s not a particularly long flight (4 hours from Perth, 6.5 hours from Sydney) so your discomfort is only temporary.
Once you get there you can enjoy a massage, sit by the pool, then visit a Balinese beach to watch the sunset. For a relaxing couples holiday it’s best to stay out of Kuta - do some research and find some of the less crowded areas. If you are keen to immerse yourselves in a little Balinese culture there are the temples, the Ubud Monkey Forest, Agung Rai Museum of Art and World heritage listed rice terraces to visit.
While friends and family may have boasted about their stay at a gorgeous villa with their own butler, that’s not the most budget-friendly option. There are plenty of well-appointed resorts that cater for the couples with no kids. Two adults can stay in very comfortable, affordable lodgings for well under 1 million Rupiah ($AU100) per night.
Generally, eating outside of the hotel will be better value and give you some quality food options. Bali now has some amazing restaurants so look online and check reviews to find trending food options nearby. Unless you‘re exhausted from a day of exploring, head out to find something to eat.
Being the tourist mecca that it is, there is no shortage of international and local cuisine to choose from. Whatever takes your fancy, you will find it in Bali.
Tip: Australians no longer need to pay for a visa on arrival in Bali. The visa waiver program means free entry for Australians wanting to stay in Indonesia for up to 30 days.
Average Prices in Bali :
Hotel: Budget rooms can be found for $30 - 60 per night. You can find a nice 3-4 star hotel for around $100 per night.
Meal for Two: Very cheap meals can be had in local Warungs ($5 - $10). There are so many dining options in Bali with lots of mid-range options that will cost around $20 - $30 for two.
Glass of Wine: Imported wine is quite expensive at around $10 per glass.
Bottle of Beer: $3 - 5 per bottle. Cheaper if you buy from a supermarket or convenience store.
Cup of Coffee: $1.50 - $3 for a cappuccino or latte.
Bottle of Water: $1 - $2
Thailand is another favourite holiday destination for couples looking for an affordable holiday. Still only a short plane ride away, Thailand has different things to offer than Bali if you are looking for an alternative.
There are plenty of affordable activities to keep you busy around Phuket. Walk around the fresh markets to check out the colourful local produce and the weekend markets to enjoy some bargain shopping. Visit the temples and take in the stunning views from different points around the island.
Water activities are popular with all day paddle tours, kayaking through sea caves, snorkelling, taking a long boat trip to Phi Phi island and Phang Nga Bay all on offer. If elephants are one of your favourite animals, you’re in luck. Visit an elephant sanctuary to feed and bathe the rescued beauties.
If you love Thai cuisine, eat till your heart’s content on meat and chicken curries, rice and noodle dishes. Then attend a Thai cooking class and take home tips for preparing your own.
Just like Bali, there are big variations in Phuket accommodation prices from cheap but good hostels to swanky resorts. Decide on the area you want to stay in and look for accommodation to match your budget. It’s possible to find a hotel room for under 2000 baht ($AU90) a night. If it’s nightlife you’re chasing, stay in the cheaper Patong area but if you prefer somewhere quiet and romantic, try the more expensive Mai Khao Beach area.
Tip: SIM cards for your phone are cheap to get from any convenience store in Phuket or you can pick up one from the airport luggage claim and buy credit for it at the local 7-11.
Average Prices in Phuket :
Hotel: Budget rooms can be found for $30 - $50 per night. You have many nice options in the $80 - $100 price range.
Meal for Two: $10 - $20
Glass of Wine: $5 - $8
Bottle of Beer: $2 - $4
Cup of Coffee: $3 - $5
Bottle of Water: 1.5L bottle from a convenience store $0.50 - $1.00
For decades Penang has been a popular destination for Australian travellers. There are plenty of activities to keep couples of any age busy.
If you are an adrenaline junkie, fill in the day at Escape Adventure Land. You can hurtle through the air on a zipline, free fall from a 20 metre platform, take a slide and swing on a tree rope.
If history is more your thing, there is plenty to learn during your stay in Penang. The Penang War Museum has 20 acres of tunnels, barracks, cookhouses, gun emplacements and memorials to explore.
Penang’s Interactive Museum will change your mind if you usually find museums boring. The clever 3D imagery makes pictures come to life.
Don’t go home without taking a funicular to the top of Penang Hill to take in the view of the whole island.
Penang hotel accommodation starts at a very affordable RM85 (AU$30) per night. Penang is famous for its street food so you can eat delicious food on a budget of only $30 a day.
Tip: Hire a driver or rent a car and visit the fishing villages dotted along Penang’s coastline for a look at how some of the locals live.
Average Prices in Penang
Hotel: Budget rooms can be found for $30 - $50 per night. Nicer resort options start from $70 - $90 per night.
Meal for Two: Food is plentiful and cheap in Penang. You can have a delicious meal for two for as little as $10.
Glass of Wine: $8 - $10
Bottle of Beer: $5 - $6 (Domestic beers from a supermarket cost $2 - $3)
Cup of Coffee: $3 - $4
Bottle of Water: $0.5 to $2
If you thought a long flight to the northern hemisphere was out of the question on your tight budget, think again. Many parts of Europe are pricey no-go zones for travellers on tight budgets but you can still enjoy a European vacation in places like Budapest without spending a fortune.
Hungary’s capital Budapest offers relatively cheap food, travel and accommodation. Steeped in history, Budapest straddles the beautiful Danube River with its 19th century Chain Bridge. Visit the Budapest History Museum to learn about Hungarian life since the Roman times then visit the amazing architecture of the city. The Hungarian Parliament Building is a gothic revival style of building and Fisherman’s Bastion is a fortress with seven turreted lookout towers straight out of a Disney movie. Budapest is famous for its historic spas.
After a few days of walking and taking in all of the sights you can rest your aching feet, relax and unwind in the ornate Széchenyi thermal bath. Move between the huge indoor and outdoor pools of every temperature and relax under the water jet massagers in this beautiful and historically significant local icon.
When tea time rolls around, discover traditional Hungarian cuisine like beef goulash made of beef, noodles and vegetables seasoned with paprika. Chicken paprikash, and hearty soups including fisherman’s, vegetable, bean or chicken broth. Look for no-frills, small family-run restaurants called etkezde which give you a taste of what dining during communist times was like. Offering hearty, home cooked fare it will fill you up on comfort foods. Food courts and casual lunchtime eateries also offer well-priced traditional food. Just because they are cheap doesn’t mean the food isn’t good!
Affordable hotel rooms are available for around 30-50 EUR (AU$48-80) and a budget apartment in a central district will set you back around 40-60 EUR (AU$64-96) per night.
Tip: It’s best to use the local currency Forint to pay for food, tours, museum entries, etc. While you can use Euro or US currency, it’s usually at a higher exchange rate so you pay more. Use an ATM or reliable exchange bureau. Budapest’s public transport system is good and reliable but make sure you have a valid ticket because ticket inspectors are active and have no sympathy for clueless tourists!
Average Prices in Budapest
Hotel: Hotels or apartments are available for $50 - $100 per night.
Meal for Two: Lunch in a local restaurant can be as cheap as $8 - 10 for two. Plenty of dinner options for $15 - $30.
Glass of Wine: $2 - $5
Bottle of Beer: $1 - $3
Cup of Coffee: $1.50 - $3
Bottle of Water: $1 - $2
The cities of Dubrovnik and Zagreb are the well-known tourist hot-spots of Croatia, but they aren’t as budget friendly as surrounding towns. If you choose less expensive village nearby and you can save yourself a small fortune and still enjoy all the attractions that have made the region famous.
To save even more on accommodation and live how the locals do, stay in private accommodation. Croatians were renting out rooms long before Airbnb came on the scene! Some private accommodation offers half-board so you can enjoy authentic home-cooked meals as well. If you want your own space, look for an apartment with kitchen facilities so you can prepare your own meals. Affordable apartments and hotel rooms are available from around 400 kuna (AU$90) per night.
The Croatian cuisine is a melting pot of other national influences including Italian, French, Austro-Hungarian, and the Ottomans. The range of traditional dishes varies from seafood to spicy stews and pasta. When you eat out pizza, pasta and risottos are good budget options. Some less familiar dishes include eel and frog stew and spicy fish stew.
Don’t think taxis are your own transport option, Croatia boasts a fast and frequent bus system. The ferries are also a cheap way to see the Croatian islands.
The peak season to travel is summer so avoid July and August when the price of everything from accommodation to car rentals is at a premium. Spring and autumn are great times to travel.
Touring around Dubrovnik, one of your first stops should be to walk the amazing city walls and forts to look out over the old city and the Adriatic sea. Take a boat ride out to visit the Elafiti Islands for a look at the Blue Cave and make sure the stunning Plitvice Lakes and Krka National Parks are on the list.
The architecture around Croatia is incredible with centuries-old basilicas, cathedrals, fortresses, castles and a roman amphitheatre that all equal budget friendly touring.
You can take a short day trip across the border into Bosnia and Herzegovina to see the magnificent Mostar and Kravice waterfalls and historic towns.
Tip: The number of fresh orange roofs shows just how many houses were damaged during the Homeland War in the 1990s.This is recent and painful history so leave it to the locals to decide whether they want to discuss the war years with you. Avoid asking insensitive questions.
Average Prices in Dubrovnik
Hotel: $90 - $110 per night.
Meal for Two: $20 - $35
Wine and Beer: It’s much cheaper to buy alcohol from the supermarket, beer for $1 - $2 per bottle and decent wine from $5 - $10 a bottle. Drinks in restaurants and bars in the touristy areas are comparable to Australian prices.
Cup of Coffee: $1.50 - $3
Bottle of Water: $1 - $2
Before you Go - Don’t Forget Your Travel Insurance
Whichever cheap overseas holiday destination you choose, there’s one thing you should never skimp on. Travel insurance. Be sure to take out a policy before you go for peace of mind should anything go wrong.