As the world slowly reopens from hibernation, we are confident to say that everyone is eager to travel, experience, and explore once more. The good news is holiday getaways don't always have to be expensive. Sometimes, the most exciting memories are made in places where no luxury cuisine is served at your table conveniently nor a beautifully chiseled marble sculpture in the middle of a hotel room lobby. The best memories are sometimes found on the steps going up to see the magnificent sight of Machu Pichu or some island somewhere in the Caribbean where the dolphins are putting on a one-of-a-kind show for ephemeral tourists. There are many reasons to travel with your family and many places to explore without breaking the bank. Here are some surprisingly affordable bucket list-worthy destinations to add to your...well - family bucket list!
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Explore the Mystic Stories of Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat, being the largest religious monument intricately built by hand, still stands tall and strong after 900 years. It took thirty-seven years to build this otherworldly ancient structure and it is as big as Siem Reap city. Angkor Wat tells a story about how people from the past dedicated their lives to their artisan delicate crafts, spiritual beliefs, and beauty. The architectural perfection of Angkor Wat is made of millions of stones carried by over 6000 elephants. Every inch of the temple is amplified with ancient faces and animals and its longevity depends on the pristine engineering of its 1600 columns.
Angkor Wat's ceremonious facade may exude luxury but its budget-friendly economy says otherwise. Anantara Angkor Resort dwells nearby flaunting a lush oasis aesthetic complete with amenities perfect for holiday pampering. Air-conditioned suites, azure pool, and sumptuous breakfast that goes along with it come in $190 a night. Anantara offers a half-day tour around the temple and you will be led by a tour guide that knows every inch of it and every story ever told. Slowly unravel the mystery of the Khmer capital with a guide that takes you to places in a sedan with ACs, goes in line for you for the entry fees for other notable historical ancient attractions, an authentic Cambodian breakfast, and drinks for $150 for two people.
Angkor Wat and Khmer Empire Capital are UNESCO World Heritage Site since the 12th century. The rich history of Cambodia and its devoted people is something worth every penny just to experience a piece of it. The good thing though is that Cambodia is an inexpensive country that offers no less than satisfactory when it comes to its street foods, cold beverages, intriguing stories, and alluring beauty. Spend only $3 for every meal and $62 to galivant its temples and save the rest for buying artisan hand-crafted sustainable souvenirs from the locals.
Gorilla Trekking at Mount Gahinga National Park
Just look but don't touch, although, some are a little bit more friendly and they might want to give you a tap, so, just let them. Gorilla trekking in Uganda is an uncanny experience. There are less than 900 mountain gorillas left in the world and half of these endangered primates dwell in the lush vast lands of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mount Gahinga National Park. They are within the colorful nation of Uganda. What an experience this will be if you have older kids.
Uganda is found in the eastern region of Africa and it is recently famed as one of the friendliest countries worldwide. Given such high recognition, Uganda's gorilla tour, regardless of their top tier rank, still set their cost low to give everybody a chance to experience quality time with barely surviving gorilla species.
In the neighboring area, Rwanda, even in low season, hanging out with mountain gorillas cost $1500 while in Uganda, you can go and enjoy a day with endangered primates for only $450. Although there might be some differences in terms of what comes along with both packages, if you're on a budget or want to splurge on other parts of the region, Uganda's offer is a practical choice.
The top lodges to take a rest after a long day with your spirit animals are Volcanoes Safaris Bwindi and Gahinga Lodges. Apart from the bargain in the price, these lodges offer private chalets, luxury services, delectable cuisines, and some African refreshments all for $200.
Cruise the Caribbean Expanse
When in the Caribbean, why not rent a sailboat, and off you float its ocean where most ancient underwater creatures thrive to live. Imagine hovering on top of a restless clear blue sea while the wind blows to lift the sails that take you few knots closer to a golden beach situated in the middle of the Caribbean archipelago, a radical experience for a yearly holiday but sure is a memory worth the spaces on your walls.
A week-long itinerary with a massive tall-masted ship that comes along with it is enough to get you onboard to StarClippers. As for The Royal Clipper, with a starting price of $300 per night, a ship that holds the Guinness World Record as the largest to have five-masted square-rigged, will indulge you to a trip of your lifetime. All meals are included in the package so all you have to do is to pack your best beach wears, bring an extra pair of sunglasses, visit the Caribbean's sandy beaches and soak up in the sun and forget all about land things and live your boat days as if they were your last.
Ride the Rails to Machu Picchu
Hop on the rails of Peru and slow-ride your way to the beguiling veneer of the astounding landscape that envelopes the hypnotizing grace of the 15th-century ruins. Machu Picchu is situated high and deep in the mountains of Central Peru and getting there is one thing most tourists look forward to. The journey going to these spiritual ruins is just as mind-boggling when you get there.
If you want the closest access to this magical abode, take the route from the point in Agua Calientes, hop on a train or go on a walking trek if you have enough energy or if you are up for it. There are rail options that go up to hundreds of dollars while the Inca Rail is at around $60. The train going to Machu Picchu is designed with wide panoramic windows so tourists get to see the hidden underrated beauty of the Sacred Valley. Inside your magical ride, bar and outdoor viewing decks were built for your visual pleasure on top of the fleeting scenic nature of Peru on the way to Machu Picchu. Kids love trains and if Machu Picchu is not for, why not try Europe? here are some reasons to travel Europe by train with kids.
Say "oui" to The World's Most Romantic City
Paris is a city that needs no introduction, but it does need some convincing when it comes to travel expenses. A sparkling city exuding with joie de vivre is just a place you want to go to when on a holiday without spending much of your hard-earned money. Paris is surprisingly listed as one of the affordable destinations without compromising eye candies and food indulgence. Even the smallest cafes found in the smallest alleys serve sumptuous delicacies that will make your mouth melt along with the chocolate ganache you are about to take a bite. And Yes this is Paris!
Paris' newest and hip hotels for savvy travelers such as CitizenM Paris Gare de Lyon are located in the central area of the city. It is also near the Seine and Gare de Lyon train station, hence, getting around the city is easy breezy. Although getting lost in this cultural benchmark of a city doesn't sound that bad, really. Room rates in these new accommodations in this old charming city start at $150. Quite a cheap option for a premiere city but sure is trés chic.
The best way to experience Paris like a real Parisian is to stand at the cafes coffee bar instead of pulling up a chair, don't take the elevator when going up to the Eiffel Tower so you'd only have to pay half the price of the admission fee and wander inside Louvre Museum on a Wednesday or Friday. If you're lucky to be there during the first Sunday of the month, admission is free!
Live Large in Taj Mahal
India, apart from its sparkling jewels, beautifully patterned fabrics, and authentic city ambiance that goes home with you after just one trip, houses the world's most impeccable architectural supremacy; the Taj Mahal.
India is fairly cheap and you can live large in this city even on a tight budget. However, just like any other country in the world, the hustles and bustles of the city come with smart locals who would want to take more from you. Just be aware and try to outsmart them if you can!
In Agra, royal treatments worthy of Majaraja await you while you uncover the rich culture of this boastful city. Fancy dinners and luxurious hotels such as ITC Mughal Hotel has a suite called Mughal Chamber Suite that comes with a price of only $120. With such a cheap offer, you get to live and be served like Indian royalty. An experience that outweighs fancy dinners in New York City.
Splurge in Cape Town
Cape Town is a colorful city rich in art and culture. The younger dwellers are mostly inclined in fashion and art in a city oozing with inspiration and fresh perspectives as tourists come and go leaving footprints of their own individuality.
Cape Town is a Rainbow Nation which just recently became a cheap destination. A $599 roundtrip ticket from South African Airways and direct, non-stop flights from JFK and Johannesburg. From the airport, it's a short trip to Cape Town a city renowned for its scenic beauty, dashing culture, and charm. The exchange rate is at around $1:R12 (12 rands. Pampering yourself in good food and award-winning wines in Cape Town is affordable. The city is filled with gourmet restaurants, specialty cuisines, and luxury hotels to spoil you on your vacation. Table Mountain has one of the most stunning views while Robben Island is painted in historical stories about the primitive life many moons ago.
Free Your Spirit in Bangkok
Thailand is a country known as the Land of Smiles and it is indeed because of the happy people that live there. Bangkok is a Southeast Asia trip of a lifetime that must be penciled onto your bucket list. Whether it is a laidback vacation you seek with the family or something bold and profound, Bangkok has it all in-store for free-spirited world wanderers.
Bangkok is a city brimming with golden temples, mesmerizing palaces, and a winding Chao Praya River that somehow became the center of their daily consumption trade. Authentic Thai Spas will give you a headstart upon arriving in the country with prices starting as low as $10 for a 2-hr massage, your worries will surely melt away. Apart from the top-tier massage treatments, Thai dishes are to die for. The incredible palate of their local cuisine just for a few dollars is just as exquisite as the homemade pasta of Italians.
Anantara Baan Rajprasong is an affordable hotel sitting on the lap of luxury. They offer plush one and two-bedroom suites with kitchenette and living rooms for only $92 per night. The hotel has lush gardens and is detailed in a tropical aesthetic with a pool you just want to jump in. Anantara Baan Rajprasong is located at the heart of the city.
See the Beguiling Northern Lights
One of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World happens in Iceland unannounced all the time. The Northern Lights is a fantastical winter night sky view where the Aurora Borealis put on a show whenever the time and all the aerial elements are present.
Traveling to the far north may seem quite a bit expensive, but the iridescent lucid random formations of the glowing neon greens, purples, and golds will leave feeling guilty of not going to see it just for once in your life.
Iceland is the best viewing spot for Aurora Borealis. With only a $500 back and forth ticket and some extra cash to chill in glass domes, your Iceland experience is a story you will never get tired of telling. While waiting for the lights to mysteriously appear, you can take your time in the geothermal Blue Lagoon, listed as the world's 16 most beautiful destinations, and see what the fuss is all about inside the lava tunnels. You can also break the bank and go whale watching on your thick coats and comfortable winter shoes.
Go Deeper Into the Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon has only one accommodation located just right below the rim. Phantom Ranch is the only accommodation when in Grand Canyon and it can only welcome guests enough for 92 people at a time. This accommodation is typically an exclusive stay-ins for hikers and overnight mule riders coming from the South Rim going down to the banks of the Colorado River.
If you want to visit the Grand Canyon National Park, due to its high demand recently, you will need to enter the new online lottery that can win you a coveted slot. However, twist it, you will have to wait 13 months for your booking. Rather, you can just wait for available slots and book it right away.
Viva Las Vegas
All year-round, most gateways and flights to Las Vegas are cheap. The Sin City is recently famed as the fantasyland city for its diverse spots for culture, cuisines, luxurious accommodations, and fun-filled family-friendly adventures.
Dining and accommodations in Las Vegas typically come with a live show. If you want to give away your extra cash or try your luck with it, slot machines and other mini-games are everywhere for non-high rollers. Being in Las Vegas, you don't need a rental car to get around because you can practically walk on foot while admiring the splashing and dazzling neon lights all over the city.
Las Vegas glitz and glamour are located at the Strip where most of the main draw for many visitors if they truly want a true-blue Las Vegas venture. However, it is only for those who brought a lot of cash with them. On the brighter note, downtown, hotels are dressed in retro colors and designs exhibiting the old Las Vegas appeal. Hotel rooms in downtown Las Vegas go as low as $65 a night and you can simply drive to the Strip and galivant enjoy watching high-rollers bet all their chips in one bet will serve you the rush only Las Vegas can deliver.
There are many beautiful places in the world you can visit without spending all of your life savings. If your family is the adventurous type who's up for anything that life brings, just pack a bag and be citizens of the world. But, if you want something subtle, enjoyable without any rush, slow-pace your journey to Machu Picchu or sail the winds of the Caribbean for a week. Just make sure to disconnect your gadgets and be there in and at the moment with your family.
Stay well and be well