6 Affordable Destinations Where the US Dollar Goes a Long Way:Go Long: 6 Places Where Your Greenback Goes the Distance
6 Affordable Destinations Where the US Dollar Goes a Long Way:Go Long: 6 Places Where Your Greenback Goes the Distance - Thailand - Get Your Baht's Worth
Known as the "Land of Smiles," Thailand has long been a favorite of budget-conscious travelers looking to make their dollars stretch. Thanks to favorable exchange rates, low costs of living, and wallet-friendly accommodation options, Thailand delivers outstanding value for visitors from countries with stronger currencies.
In 2023, the Thai baht hovers around 33 to the US dollar, making it one of the most attractive exchange rates in Southeast Asia. While inflation has pushed costs up slightly in recent years, Thailand remains extremely affordable compared to most destinations around the world.
Bangkok offers an abundance of cheap eats, from street food carts dishing up savory curries for $1 to mounds of pad thai noodles for just a few bucks. Public transit like the BTS SkyTrain and water taxis keep getting around low-cost, while dorm beds in hostels can be had for as little as $5-10 per night.
Venturing to the islands and beaches is surprisingly reasonable too. A basic beach hut bungalow on Koh Samui or Phuket goes for $20-30, while diving trips and day tours typically range from $30-60 per person. With bucket-list experiences like swimming in bioluminescent plankton bays coming in at under $100, it's easy to fund epic adventures here without draining your wallet.
Up north in Chiang Mai, costs stay low but experiences feel extra special. Sign up for a Thai cooking class for just $30, then dig into local delights like tom yum soup, papaya salad, and coconut curries. Spice up nights with open-air bar hopping and live music, where cocktails cost $2-3 and beer goes for under $1.
With US dollars carrying you so far here, Thailand is a great place to treat yourself to luxuries you may not splurge on elsewhere. Opt for beachfront resorts, private tours to places like the Erawan Falls, and relaxing spa treatments without putting too big a dent in your budget.
One of the best ways to maximize value in Thailand is by spending time off the beaten path. Venture to less-visited towns like Ranong, Loei, and Nan where you'll find even lower prices. Explore national parks teeming with waterfalls and go island hopping in places like Trat rather than just hitting the highlights.
Keep costs down further by opting for slow boats over flights when island hopping, choosing street food over restaurants, and utilizing public transit whenever possible. Pack light, stay in dorms at least some of the time, and avoid activities out of your price range.
What else is in this post?
- 6 Affordable Destinations Where the US Dollar Goes a Long Way:Go Long: 6 Places Where Your Greenback Goes the Distance - Thailand - Get Your Baht's Worth
- 6 Affordable Destinations Where the US Dollar Goes a Long Way:Go Long: 6 Places Where Your Greenback Goes the Distance - Indonesia - Rupiah Time in Bali
- 6 Affordable Destinations Where the US Dollar Goes a Long Way:Go Long: 6 Places Where Your Greenback Goes the Distance - South Africa - Go Far with the Rand
6 Affordable Destinations Where the US Dollar Goes a Long Way:Go Long: 6 Places Where Your Greenback Goes the Distance - Indonesia - Rupiah Time in Bali
Known as the "Island of the Gods," Bali lures visitors with its beaches, rice paddies, and colorful Hindu culture. Fortunately, Indonesia’s plunging rupiah makes this paradise island more accessible than ever.
Indonesian currency has fallen from a high of around 9,000 rupiah to the US dollar in 2013 down to nearly 15,500 rupiah to the dollar today. That makes everything in Bali up to 40% cheaper for American travelers, who find their money goes much further.
Accommodations demonstrate the excellent value, with private villas now available from $30-50 per night. "We rented an incredible Balinese-style villa with a pool for less than the cost of a basic hotel room back home," explains Lauren, who visited Bali from Florida. "It made splurging on little luxuries like spa treatments and restaurant dinners so much easier."
Even the most popular activities come with wallet-friendly rates. Surfing lessons average just $10-15 per hour, while day trips to top sites like the waterfalls of Munduk or the elephant sanctuary at Mason Elephant Park typically run $30-40 including transport and entrance fees.
"I was stunned by how cheap it was to dive in Bali," shares Avidan, just back from a two-week trip. "Multiple dives a day plus all equipment rental cost me less than one single dive back in the Caribbean. The rupiah price just blew me away."
Saving on the basics like food and transportation also helps keep Bali budget-friendly. Local warungs serve up nasi goreng, gado gado, and other classic dishes from just a few dollars a plate. Rides via metered taxi or Grab rideshare start at just a few bucks even for long distances. And public minivans called bemos connect nearby towns and temples for the equivalent of $1 or less.
However, to best leverage currency fluctuations, it helps to take some sensible steps. Limit eating and drinking at high-end beach clubs. Seek out smaller local joints away from the most touristy areas. Don't convert too much money at airports. Opt for longer stays in one area rather than quickly island hopping. And utilize public transit options whenever possible.
"The key is being smart and living local as much as you can," advises Martina who has visited Indonesia annually since 2016. "I pick one spot like Canggu and hang there for a month or more. Shopping at the markets, cooking at home, and just enjoying the slower pace helps me stretch my US dollars."
6 Affordable Destinations Where the US Dollar Goes a Long Way:Go Long: 6 Places Where Your Greenback Goes the Distance - South Africa - Go Far with the Rand
South Africa represents exceptional value right now thanks to a weak rand. With exchange rates around 17.5 rand to the dollar, everything from safaris and wine tastings to luxury stays suddenly feel more reachable.
"I've dreamed of going on safari for years but always found packages too expensive," shares Joanne who visited Kruger National Park last spring. "With a favorable dollar to rand conversion, I finally made it happen. The same safaris now cost 30-40% less for someone paying in dollars."
Major cities like Cape Town and Johannesburg also deliver big bang for your buck. Opt for apartments through Airbnb and you can snag multi-room rentals with kitchens, laundry, and more from just $50-60 a night. Use the money you save on lodging to splurge on bucket-list experiences like touring Robben Island, paragliding off Signal Hill, or catching a show by the famous Cape Town minstrels.
Venturing to South Africa's top wine regions will please both palate and pocketbook. "I spent a week doing wine tastings and vineyard tours in Stellenbosch and Franschhoek," describes Tyler who self-drove the Cape Winelands. "Most tastings were just $3-5 for four or five stellar wines. Unbelievable value."
With the rand going so far, vacations here easily work for a wide range of travel styles. Backpack Cape Town staying at hostels like Ashanti Gardens from $10 a night. Do self-guided wine tastings by bus or bike. And cook quick meals in your Airbnb to keep food costs low.
"We primarily camped and cooked our own braais (barbecues) to maximize our budget for game drives and hiking," explains Lauren who visited Kruger National Park and along the Garden Route. "This made going on safari for 2 weeks amazingly affordable."
On the other hand, you can opt for 5-star safari lodges and beach resorts that feel like an incredible splurge thanks to low prices in rand. Take a once-in-a-lifetime blue train journey across the country in ultimate luxury. Charter a private wine tour with a qualified guide. Treat yourself to spa treatments, helicopter sightseeing, and exclusive wildlife encounters.