Places to go in 2023: Seven Budget-Friendly Trips

Traveling is not just about having fun and taking a much-needed break, it is also highly beneficial for your mental and emotional health. Those who travel regularly report improved relationships and greater productivity at work. Places to go in 2023 might be slightly limited due to geopolitical tensions, but that does not mean you have to give up on it entirely. A budget traveler can easily plan a trip to the countries mentioned below, if bookings are done well in advance.

According to Jersey Island Holidays’ survey, 80% of US citizens agree that after they have traveled they noticed a significant drop in stress. The best way to travel cheap is to use public transportation and book your stay well in advance.

budget traveler
Traveling is a form of therapy. (A woman traveling with a suitcase; Image Credit – Pexels/ Gustavo Fring)

A study published in the Hostelworld Global Traveler Report noted that Americans are half as likely as Europeans to go abroad and visit more than one country.

Foreign experiences increase both cognitive flexibility and depth and integrativeness of thought, the ability to make deep connections between disparate forms,” explained Adam Galinsky, a professor at Columbia Business School who has authored numerous studies that investigate the concrete links between creativity and international travel, to NBC News.

Our list of best places to go in 2023 have been curated keeping in mind one’s thirst of new experiences while keeping within budget.

Budget traveling Turkey
Over 6 million tourists visited Istanbul in 2021. (A screengrab of still photos of Turkey; Image Credit – Alessandro Carpentiero/ YouTube)

1) Turkey

A mix of oriental and European influences, Turkey has something for everyone. Anatolian rugs, old Greek cities, and stunning natural attractions make Turkey a draw for budget travelers. With a presence in Europe and Asia, Turkish cuisine is diverse and has an interesting mix of vegetarian and meat dishes.

Historical sites and natural wonders make Turkey a dream destination for most travelers, as it can fit any budget and niche itinerary.

The country blends old world traditions with modern buildings and can stun you with its vastness.

Bridges, ferries, metro services, all make for memorable travels, and you will not be disappointed even during long journeys.

Istanbul by itself is worth a visit spanning a week or more, with buildings dating back to the 1400s. It is also home to the Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, the Grand Bazaar, the Chora Church, and Topkapi Palace, amongst other architectural marvels.

As Istanbul is spread across Asia and Europe, you can also take a cruise along the Bosphorus River.

Public transport is much more reliable and cheaper than private taxis.

The official currency is the Turkish Lira (TRY) and it is smart to always have some cash on you. Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted in Turkey.

Backpacker Budget– $30 per day

Mid-range Budget – $55 per day

Highlights – Hagia Sophia, Hot air balloons of Cappadocia, Pamukkale hot springs, Dolmabahçe Palace, Koza Han Silk Market, The Terrace Houses.

Food – Turkish Tea, Baklava, Khavalti (the full Turkish breakfast), Kebap, and Dondurma.

When to go – June to September, as temperatures can get extreme during other times of the year.

Vlogs (YouTube) – Brett Conti ($100 budget), Rick Steves (Western Turkey), and Joyous Travel (Bird’s Eye view)

best places to travel
Mexico welcomed over welcomed 36 million international tourists in 2022. (A screengrab of Chichen Itza; Image Credit –
Andre Perneel/ YouTube)

2) Mexico

The awe-inspiring landscapes make Mexico one of our favorite places to go in 2023. Over 20 million foreign visitors make their way to Mexico every year. Historic colonial ruins, pilgrim centers, and white powdery beaches make this country a top destination for every kind of traveler.

The Instagrammable city of Izamal, the thrilling Sumidero Canyon, and numerous architectural wonders peppered throughout every city make for an unforgettable trip. Tourists especially enjoy its rich culture scene and vibrant cuisine.

The most famous tourist destinations in Mexico are Cabo San Lucas, Tulum, and Cancum. Nightclubs and all-inclusive resorts make for a quick gateway.

Capital Mexico City boasts of world-class hotels, delectable cuisine, and ancient Aztec sites.

You can also eat your way through the country, as traditional dishes have regional and familial differences, making for a unique cuisine. If you are keen ona food safari, you cannot afford to leave Mexico off your list of places to go in 2023.

The official currency is the Mexican Peso. However, the US Dollar is widely accepted in most tourist places. US citizens also receive a $800 exemption for gifts and personal articles, including one liter of alcoholic beverages per person over 21 every 30 days.

Backpacker Budget – $35 per day

Mid-range Budget – $70 per day

Highlights – San Miguel de Allende, Pyramid of Niches, Bonampak Murals, Cenote Dos Ojos, Cozumel Reefs National Marine Park, and Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral.

Food – Enmoladas, Tacos de Canasta, Cochinita pibil, Albondigas soup, Nieve de Garaffa(sorbet), and Horchata de Arroz (drink)

When to go – April to May and September to October

Vlogs (YouTube)- Sara Goes Local (Budget Travel), Wolters World (What Not to Do), and Mojo Travels (Bird’s Eye View)

Places to go in 2023
You can find endless paddy fields in Vietnam, as rice is a staple food for the people. (Paddy fields in Vietnam; Image Credit – Lee Nguyen/ Wikimedia Commons)

3) Vietnam

One of the few destinations that blends ancient history and natural beauty in the right proportions is Vietnam. Not to mention it is a shopper’s paradise, even if you are on a shoe-string budget. You can find the humble basics to world-class brands for a fraction of the cost it will cost you back home.

If you are a foodie with a love for beer, Vietnam should be one of your places to go in 2023. Obsessive about beer, almost every Vietnamese city has its own brand. Backpackers can economize throughout their trips by traveling overland by rail, bus, or budget airline.

You might also want to explore the floating markets in Mekong Delta, the Cu Chi Tunnels, and the history town of Hue.

The country is known for its hospitable population and long coastline, and has an excellent service industry.

One of the best places to travel to is Halong Bay, where thousands of limestone islets for the green ocean.

The Vietnamese Dong is the official currency of Vietnam. While carrying cash is recommended, most establishments accept payments from card operators like Visa.

Backpacker Budget – $30 per day

Mid-range Budget – $60 per day

Highlights – Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, Sapa countryside, Cat Ba Island, Pu Luong Nature Reserve, and

Food – Ga nuong, Goi Cuon, Pho, Bun Cha, Vietnamese coffee, and Banh Goi

When to go – December to February

Vlogs (YouTube)- Suitcase Monkey (10 Day Itinerary), Lloyd & Mandy (What to Know), and Shachi Mall (Shopping Guide)

Budget traveling
Situated more than 7,000 feet above sea level in the Andes Mountains, Machu Picchu in Peru was built by the Incans in 1450-1460 (Machu Picchu; Image Credit – Wikimedia Commons)

4) Peru

There is hardly any traveler who hasn’t heard of the Machu Picchu or Lima. The South American nation is bucket-list staple and is known for Spanish colonial towns, sun-kissed beaches, and Inca ruins. The Nazca lines give you a glimpse into the civilization that existed between 500BCE to 500CE.

It is the home of the Incans and history nerds love the natural paradise that is Peru. Numerous hiking trails, peppered across the country, make it a favorite of backpackers and budget travelers.

Natural wonders and cultural treasures help Peru consistently make it to the best places to travel lists. It has a remarkable geography, including deserts and volcanoes.

With its vast landscapes and different offerings, you can plan trips for every season. As the Tourism website states, Peru is “a country of open doors” and American citizens do not need a visa to enter the country.

Colorful and multicultural, Peru is a feast for your senses making it one of our top choices for places to go in 2023.

The national currency in Peru is Nuevo sol. Most ATMs accept Visa cards for cash withdrawals.

Backpacker Budget – $40 per day

Mid-range Budget – $60 per day

Highlights – Rainbow Mountain, Machu Picchu, Arequipa, Colca Canyon, Nazca Lines, and Huacachine Sand Dunes.

Food – Aji de Gallina, Anticuchos de Corazon, Rocoto Relleno, Leche de Tigre (Drink), and Mazamorra Morada(dessert)

When to go – May to October

Vlogs (YouTube)- Vagabrothers (Tips and Travel Guidance), Touropia (Bird’s Eye View), and Geography Geek (Peruvian landscape)

Traveling in 2023
The Tatacoa Desert looks like Mars with its red rock landscape and is one of the best stargazing spots in South America. (The Tatacoa Desert; Image Credit- Sara Pons/ Wikimedia Commons)

5) Colombia

Colombia is a melting pot of multiple cultures and cuisines. The home country of popular actress Sofia Vergara, Colombia is well-known for its aromatic coffee and exotic fruits, not to mention its talented artists.

The country has a laid-back vibe that pulls in all kinds of travelers, and the breathtaking colonial architecture combined with adventure activities is sure to give you an adrenaline rush.

As the world’s second largest exporter of flowers and the producer of the world’s finest emeralds, beauty is everywhere. 

The South American nation is also famous for its rich biodiversity and obsession with football. Made with exotic spices and indigenous ingredients, Colombia’s traditional dishes tantalize every taste bud and make every trip worth your while.

The country’s protected areas include coral reefs, deserts, the Amazon rainforest, the Andes mountain ranges, indigenous protected lands, ancient ruins, and national parks. This is why Colombia makes it to our places to go in 2023 list and is the preferred destination of a discerning traveler.

The national currency is the Colombian peso and credit cards, particularly Visa and Mastercard, are widely accepted in touristy places. However, it is better to deal in cash and ATMs are tough to find in rural areas.

Backpacker Budget – $30-$35 per day

Mid-range Budget – $50 per day

Highlights – Cano Cristales, Santa Catalina, Tatacoa Desert, Banco De La Republica Museum, Guatape, and Carnival of Barranquilla

Food – Ajiaco, Colombian Coffee, Fritanga, Lulo (fruit), Hormigas Culonas, and Lechona Tolimense.

When to go – December to February

Vlogs (YouTube)- BackPacker Steve (Bird’s Eye View), Ryan Fila (What to Know), and BuzzzFeed Bring Me (Breakfast Foods)

Traveling in 2023
The Iguazu Falls comprises of 275 different waterfalls and are spread across the Argentina-Brazil border. (Iguazu falls; Image Credit – Pablo H/ Flickr/ Wikimedia Commons)

6) Argentina

One of the top tourist destinations in the world, Argentina is known for tango and adventure.

The country’s capital Buenos Aires is quite European and home to buildings from a bygone era. The capital city is known for its speakeasies, nightclubs, and character-rich bars.

The South American nation also has picturesque glaciers, sun-kissed vineyards, and a buzzing nightlife. The walkable boulevards make it tempting to explore the nation on foot.

Argentina also has a cheap public transport system, especially in the capital. It is easy to explore the country on a tight budget, as hiking trails are free and there are many campsites to choose from.

The Salta la Linda is one of the most beautiful cities filled with historic mansions, old churches, municipal plazas, and buildings that date back to the1500s.

Argentina’s Mendoza province is the perfect spot for guided wine tastings, tours, and accommodations during the harvest season. Argentinian steak and Malbec wines make for a heady combination.

If you are into ancient history, you would like to see the Cave of the Painted Hands, a rock art collection created between 13,000 and 9500 years ago. But if you’re just looking to relax and soak up some sun, you can hole up in one of the numerous resorts dotting the country’s beaches.

The official currency is the Argentine Peso. Visa and Mastercards are accepted at most places, but as the economy often fluctuates wildly, it is better to do your homework. It is recommended to carry cash and confirm exchange rates before charging things to your credit card.

Backpacker Budget – $40-$45 per day

Mid-range Budget – $60 per day

Highlights – The Presidential Palace, the Casa Rosada, The Catedral Metropolitana, Iguazu Falls, and Pensinsula Valdes.

Food – Choripan, Alfajor, Provoleta, Fugazza, Tira de Asado, and Medialunas.

When to go – October to mid-December and April to June.

Vlogs (YouTube)- Wolter’s World (Bird’s Eye view), Before You Go (Things to Do), and Nicki Posts Travel Stuff (Argentina 101)

best places to travel in 2023
Luang Prabang is renowned for its rich architectural and artistic heritage. (Temple Wat Xieng Thong, Luang Prabang; Image Credit – Basile Morin/ Wikimedia Commons)

7) Laos

Buddhist temples, remote mountains, and green farmlands in Laos call out to budget travelers. The South East Asian nation offers many wonders for a frugal traveler.

The landscape is a mix of French colonial architecture, tribal settlements, and Buddhist monasteries.

Under communist rule for over 40 years, the country offers a mix of natural and cultural attractions. Rural life in Laos emits a magical old-world charm as paddy fields and stilt houses coexist, making it our places to go in 2023.

Ethnically diverse, it is home to different tribes and the Kahu and Alak elders in the south have traditional face tattoos. The country has many community-based cultural initiatives to preserve its unique identity.

For those who seek adventure, the country has many jungle zip lines and underground caves. The laidback charm of the countryside makes you want to explore the region on foot.

Unlike its bustling neighbors, Vietnam and Thailand, Laos with its storybook-like charm appeals to every traveler.

The city of Luang Prabang is home to exquisite temples and majestic palaces. To the north-west is rare wildlife, trekking routes, and charming homestays.

The Laotian Kip is the official currency, and major cities offer money exchanges using ATMs or credit cards. Visa cards are accepted almost everywhere, but they are often charged in USD or Thai baht. It is best to carry cash for transactions in the countryside.

Backpacker Budget – $25 per day

Mid-range Budget – $35 per day

Highlights – Nam Et-Phou Louey National Park, Vieng-Xai caves, Mekong River cruises, Khmer Hindu temple of Wat Phou, and 4,000 Islands

Food – Khao Poon, Sai gok, Tam Mak Hoong, Laos Sticky Rice, and Laos Larb.

When to go – November to April

Vlogs (YouTube) – Travel the World (Places to See), Travels on Toast (What not to do), and Mark Wiens (Street Food)

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Benefits of Traveling: Places to Go in 2023

A Cornell University study also found that people experience direct experience in just planning a trip. Since time immemorial, revered teachers have recommended travel as a way to broaden our horizons and to experience what the world has to offer.

Our list of places to go in 2023 have been cherry-picked with a view to help you disconnect and disengage from the frantic pressures of everyday life.

No one trip will magically reinvent you,” says Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, a professor of education, psychology, and neuroscience at the University of Southern California. “But studies have shown that there is power in your own interpretation of your experiences. You can use travel, along with meeting new people and trying new things, as an opportunity to reevaluate the values and beliefs that you normally take for granted.”

American author Mark Twain stated that travel makes us question our prejudices, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness. It has been repeatedly proven that traveling is a means for self-reflection and rejuvenation.

“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.” – Anthony Bourdain

The best way to travel cheap is by thoroughly planning every aspect of your trip. If you know what you have to do next and how, you will bleed less money. 

Speaking to new people and gaining fresh perspectives also translates to greater creativity and compassion towards others.

Traveling brings new vigor to the mind as pushing yourself out of your comfort zone can increase the level of dopamine in your brain. When you look for places to go in 2023, we hope you pick one of these places, as they offer a plethora of experiences for the nature-, history-, and adventure-lover in you.

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