With the American dollar quickly regaining ground as the U.S. economy continues to recover, travel to foreign countries is finally becoming affordable once again. While the euro remains slightly stronger than the dollar, travel to economically weaker European countries, like Greece, has become fairly cheap. However, traveling to other countries with currencies that are significantly weaker than the dollar is one of the most cost-effective ways to see the world. While this does mean skipping most of Europe, the strengthening dollar has opened the door to bargain-basement travel to beautiful countries in Central and South America and Asia.
If you’re looking to travel in 2016 and want to take advantage of favorable exchange rates, consider a trip to one of the following three countries with cheap currencies that translate to big savings.
The Cambodian Riel
The Cambodian riel has one of the best exchange rates for Americans. One U.S. dollar is equal to just under 4,039 riels. Of course, price tags on Cambodian goods do carry a few more zeros than American shoppers are used to seeing. Staple items such as a loaf of bread, a bottle of water or half a liter of beer clock in at 5,000 riels or less in most cities, making Cambodia easy on the wallet.
If you’re looking to stay a little longer and experience the country as a local, the average monthly cost of renting a one-bedroom apartment in the city center is only $550 in the capital city of Phnom Penh, where prices are highest. Outside of the city center, rent drops to just over $250. City center rent in other towns can be substantially lower.
In addition to being affordable, Cambodia boasts some of the most stunning scenery and beautiful historical sites in Asia. The most popular destination is the ancient seat of the Khmer empire, Angkor, which includes the breathtaking Angkor Wat and Bayon temples and a beautiful Buddhist temple intertwined with trees, Ta Prohm.
The Croatian Kuna
If you want to visit Europe, but you don’t want to lose out on exchange rates, Croatia offers plenty of natural beauty without the typical continental price tag. The Croation kuna is stronger than the Cambodian riel by a long shot, but it still gives Americans a sturdy 6.96 kuna to the dollar. In the popular coastal town of Split, most foodstuffs – such as bread, rice, fruits and vegetables by the pound, and bottled domestic beer – cost less than 7 kuna. Even cigarettes are cheaper due to fewer taxes on tobacco, clocking in at about $3.50 per pack. Monthly rent for one-bedroom apartments in the Split’s popular city center is just over $330, with the national average resting around $290 per month.
Situated just across the Adriatic Sea from Italy, Croatia offers some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, in addition to the stunning Plitvice Lakes further inland. Croatia has beautiful national parks and big beach-side resorts all along the coast. The capital of Zagreb is situated further north and inland, offering a more typical European city experience.
The Costa Rican Colón
For those looking for a little more Latin flavor, both Central and South America offer numerous cheap options for American travelers. You can find one of the most favorable exchange rates in Costa Rica, with $1 yielding more than 535 colones. In the country’s capital city of San José, where prices are highest, most staple foods are still less than $1. Monthly rents are higher than the national average, with a one-bedroom, city-center apartment renting for $565. On average, city-center rents are around $430 per month with food and entertainment prices being correspondingly lower depending on the city.
Costa Rica is a popular destination for travelers because of its consistently perfect weather and the multitude of activities available. On its pristine shores, you can find all manner of water sports, snorkeling and boating. The country also has an impressive network of national parks that draw visitors from all over the globe because of their breathtaking natural beauty and the wide variety of plants and animals that inhabit Costa Rica’s forests. Though activities marketed to tourists are always on the pricier side, the low cost of day-to-day living in Costa Rica means that you could easily splurge on a few tours or excursions without breaking the bank.