136 World cities ranked cheapest to most expensive: Backpacker Index for 2016

Siem Reap monkWe have all heard that some parts of the world are “cheap” to visit while others are “expensive” but most people have a hard time quantifying any more precisely. That’s why Price of Travel launched our Backpacker Index numbers for cities all over the world in late 2010. Now totally updated in its 6th year, below you’ll find all major destinations around the world ranked by price for backpackers.

More specific information can be found by clicking on the regional articles just below, or by clicking on the individual city names in the main list.

During 2015 the US Dollar surged against virtually every currency on the planet, so the whole world is a relative bargain for American travelers in 2016. Fortunately for everyone else, there was very little inflation except for a few countries, so nominal prices barely went up at all. So for travelers who aren’t holding US Dollars, the rest of the world is still pretty affordable and it’s only the USA itself that you might want to avoid for the time being.

As always, Asia is home to most of the world’s best travel bargains, and even its most expensive cities (Tokyo and Singapore) are close to the center of this entire list.

Detailed information available by region

What the prices below mean

There is a longer explanation of the Backpacker Index on each of the regional pages, but the short version is that we found the price for a group of things for each destination, and then translated that into US dollars in late January 2016. While this data is meant for backpackers and budget travelers, the proportions will be nearly identical, so the list should also be useful to those with more money to spend.

For each city this daily total includes:

  • A dorm bed at a good and cheap hostel
  • 3 budget meals
  • 2 public transportation rides
  • 1 paid cultural attraction
  • 3 cheap beers (as an “entertainment fund”)

Backpacker Index: 136 global destinations for 2016

(Totals below are recalculated by exchange rate and re-ranked daily)

Cheapest to most expensive


*The prices for Caracas are using the official exchange rate. Visitors bringing in other currencies can change them at a much higher rate once there, so overall costs can be much less.

105 Responses to “136 World cities ranked cheapest to most expensive: Backpacker Index for 2016”

Adam @ SitDownDisco says:

Nice list. Based on my experience, there is no way that kuta is more expensive the phnom penh. Just no way. Also, KL cheaper than Vientiane? 3 beers in KL is enough to blow any backpacker budget whereas these costs are negligible in Laos…


    Adam, Thanks for the comments, and I know exactly what you mean. In the cases you mentioned, it’s because Phnom Penh has cheap hostel beds and Kuta doesn’t, so the accommodation cost in Kuta was higher. Also, hostels in Vientiane are weirdly expensive, quite a bit more per bed than in KL. All other costs are cheaper in Vientiane than in KL, but the idea behind this index is to judge things in a rigid way and show the results, rather than just going with my gut and moving them around freely. The list with all items broken down is available by clicking on the Asia Backpacker Index, linked at the top of every page.

    Another thing I hope people realize is that the value of this Backpacker Index is really in knowing that Hanoi is half the price of Bangkok, which is half the price of Singapore, which is half the price of Tokyo, more or less. For the cities that are bunched close together in prices you can just figure they’ll be about the same, even if one is 4 places down the list from another. Then there’s the phenomenon where most of us splurge in the cheap cities and not in the pricey ones. For example, in Siem Reap where beers are US$0.50, I’d have 8 pints a day, and in Bangkok where they are US$3 each, I’d usually have none. -Roger

Martin says:

Kraków? Warsaw? Hmmmmm – it is absolutely disable. Hello! there is EURO 2012 football Cup

Assd says:

Why is London cheaper than Amsterdam? Not only it’s not true, but also if you click on Amsterdam it says: “Amsterdam is a relative bargain among Europe’s great cities, as it’s noticeably cheaper than London”?


    Assd, good catch. I’ve spent a lot of time in both cities, and I’ve changed the methodology for this. I used to use $0 for the attraction costs for London because all the main museums are free, and that pushed it down the list below Amsterdam. In general, most things in Amsterdam are cheaper than most things in London, but hostels in London are cheaper and that affects ranking as well. Sorry this looks so confusing on the page, and I’ll make it more clear on the next update -Roger

beatles says:

Hi, nice try, but I must say, some of the things in there are just not true. I have no idea what your method for determining prices is ( I can only hope that you visited all those places and stayed there for a few days, but i sincerely doubt it), but I can tell you your assesment for Sofia, Tel Aviv and Zurich, unless you sleep under a bridge and eat the cheepest non-brand from a local supermarket, is just not true.
It might be a good idea to actually point out whete exactly you get your info from, or direct links to the palces that theoreticlle have those prices.


    beatles, thanks for the constructive criticism. I don’t expect everyone to read the entire article, but all the research is there if you look at the individual index articles that this is a summary of, and the individual city pages. Also, I have actually spent time in a huge majority of these cities, so most of the research is first hand. -Roger

      Johnny says:

      As someone who lives an hour form Tel Aviv I must Say that a lot of what you’ve said about the city being that cheap is totalllllly not true.
      Coca cola can (330 mL) at the beach = 3.5 USD
      Big Mac = 11.5 USD !!!! and that includes All of israel even cheap cities in israel and not 4 USD like you’ve said !
      Beer = 7 USD (ONLY if you’re lucky)
      Taxi from Airport could take up to 60 or 70 USD !
      and I’m still not talking about apartments that can range from 800,000 USD to 50 MILLION USD !!
      and belive I’m still not telling you what they can do to tourists !
      A lot of my friends went to london and they told me that being from Tel Aviv didn’t make them feel “beaten Up” in london “pricewise” while some alongside travelers even from europe Was totally shocked by the prices.



        Thanks for the feedback and I’ll definitely do some adjustments to the prices in Tel Aviv. However, things like hostels and public transportation are still relatively cheap, as are attractions, and those are the things that make up most of the totals in this Index. I appreciate the help with this though. -Roger

        Michael says:

        I agree with Johnny. I was in Israel for 7 months and Tel Aviv is extremely expensive. A non-happy-hour beer is 30 shekels which was 10 dollar when i was there. Beer from a grocery store is 10 shekels a bottle, so $3 when i was there. A fast food meal is 50 shekels, a bus ride is 6.9 shekels (maybe its changed), a hostel in Tel Aviv is 100-120 shekels for a dorm bed.

Daniel says:

Just wanted to say thanks for all the work in compiling these indices. I’ve been backpacking/ traveling on and off since the mid 80’s. There’s nothing like being able to travel for months and sometimes years due to the low cost of living of some of these countries. I just happened to be in Bali and SE Asia during the 1998 Asian Financial Crisis. Sleep, beach, eat, shop, eat, party, repeat. Can’t wait to do it again.


    Thanks Daniel. I really enjoy researching and compiling this stuff and it’s great to know that people appreciate it. My first trip to Bali was in 1998 as well and it’s still pretty cheap if you can deal with larger crowds and insane traffic. -Roger

      Daniel says:

      I love big crowds and insane traffic, lol. Are the watch sellers in Kuta still following people for miles? Everyday just for giggles I would do something to freak them out until they recognized me and knew not to bother. The dollar/ rupiah exchange looks about the same as it was in 98 but I’m sure the prices have gone up as well. No matter, I can’t wait to return. Thanks again for all your work.

gary says:

hi there Roger! like the list and am using it to plot my holidays. i know london well and reckon it can be done far more cheaply than you say. of course if you eat in a restaurant 3 times a day then it’s gonna be $85 but if you buy in supermarkets and go to all the free stuff london has to offer and use the city bikes to get around then it can be done for half as much. that’s what i’d say to anyone wanting to go but is put off by the high prices. cheers and keep up the good work. gary


    Gary, Thanks for the kind words and for using the site. I’ve also spent a lot of time in London and I usually spend less than the Backpacker Index price as well. But just to clarify, the Backpacker Index isn’t about the minimum price per day to visit, rather it’s comparing a typical set of expenses for each city so people can compare destinations to one another. London is cheaper than Zurich and more expensive than Lisbon, regardless of your travel style. -Roger

Johanna says:

Hi! Just back from Hikkaduwa Sri Lanka and I got to say that it should be quite high on the list. It’s a beautiful place with friendly people and the best of all: SUPER CHEAP! So why it’s not on the list?!


    Johanna, thank you for this. I’m actually going to Sri Lanka myself next week, and I’ll be adding Colombo to the site and the list. I typically just add the largest city for small countries because they give you an idea about costs in the whole country. -Roger

    Thilanga says:

    Thank you so much Johanna for your comment because i am a Srilankan and you immensely impressed me thank you so much best of luck 😀

Jossu says:

I dont get why there is so much complaining going on in here? It is a great list and if someone has a problem, why don’t you do a better list yourselves??

Thank you Roger. This gave me good ideas for traveling in the future.

Pasi says:

Where is Jakarta ? there is Bali, but its different, tourist place.. Indonesia many places is similar cost of living like bangkok and vietnam actually..


    Pasi, my goal was to list the most popular tourist destinations around the world, with multiple cities listed for the more popular countries. I might add Jakarta in the future, but it receives a fraction of the tourists that Bali does.

    Daniel, same answer really. Most cities I list are the only (and most popular with tourists) city in that country, and almost all of them are the most expensive in the country as well. This is mainly a tool to help people get an idea of how much each region costs compared to other regions. -Roger

Daniel says:

Why Cartagena is only colombian city on the list? And it´s probably most expensive. In Santa Marta(which is much better place than Cartagena) good private room cost about $13 Dorm bed $6-7(low season). 3 meals about $7, 2 bus tickets $1,2, beers 2$ and some cultural attraction $2-3. So my index for Santa Marta would be about $18-20.


I’ve been to several of these places, and I have to say that the list is generally quite accurate, even if the prices looks generally overrated

Frank says:

Time to visit some (east) African countries as well I think. I think I spent about 15 dollar a day when I was traveling through Tanzania.

Scott says:

These prices seem at best very, very approximate to me based on cities I know well and have visited this year such as Chicago and San Francisco. Though you list Chicago as about $12 per day more, my experience is that they are quite similar in price and if anything San Francisco is slightly more expensive because lodging is generally more.

While you could spend $66 a day in San Francisco by being very, very careful it would be difficult.

More realistic estimates for San Francisco, imo:

A dorm bed at a good and cheap hostel: $25 to $35 in a central, non sketchy area

3 budget meals: $21 to $30. Even sandwiches and Asian foods at hole in the wall places are $7, unless you eat at national fast food chains, eat at the cheapest taco stand you can find or get things at grocery stores, it’s hard to eat for less than $7 a meal.

2 public transportation rides: $4

1 paid cultural attraction: $10 seems more average to me. While there are a few paid things for $5 or $6, many museums are closer to $10 and some attractions are more like $25 (CA Academy of Sciences, Exploratorium)

3 cheap beers (as an “entertainment fund”): unless you’re going to a special happy hour somewhere you are in a minimum $5 a beer with the price of the beer and a tip for the bartender

To me this puts things in the $75+ a day range for SF.

At most, I’d find these rankings approximate. As in, each quartile of the rankings are probably similarly priced.


    Scott, thanks for your detailed thoughts, and I mostly agree with you. The hostel prices are exact rather than estimates, and the information for each one is right there in the main article. So San Francisco actually does have cheaper hostel beds than Chicago, surprisingly enough.

    With the food and drink estimates, they are the best ranges I could come up with, and they are fairly consistent through every city in the world in that Zurich is more expensive than London which is more expensive than Madrid which is more expensive than Naples and so forth. But yes, they could be adjusted by a dollar in either direction and they’d still look about right.

    I really do appreciate feedback like this and also that you are seeing that the most useful thing about this data is that you can see that some cities literally cost 4 or 5 times more than others when you look at them together. If each is 10% off by some peoples’ judgement, which I’d find reasonable, the big picture doesn’t change much. -Roger

MariOla says:

Well well well:)
this post is awsome:) so helpful information! thanks Roger.
MariOla have to admit, no alcohol during long travel makes a big savings. we don’t drink at all, so costs of traveling decrise around 20% from these in article’s list:)

tom says:


You could make an online form or system where site visitors themselves can upload the price of a selected “basket” of goods, with date, place of purchase, and price. This would lead to a more accurate, up-to-date, and always current index, given you get a minimum amount of data.

Just a suggestion…anyway, nice initiative, keep up the good work!



    Thanks for the suggestion and I’ve thought about such a thing, but there are a few other sites doing similar things and all of them have very incomplete data. The problem is that it’s very difficult to motivate enough people to participate. And after that, most people have wildly differing opinions on these things. For example, how much is a pint of beer in your home town? Some might say US$3 and others might report US$6 and they’d both be right. That’s why I’ve decided to do it editorially and with ranges. I appreciate the kind words and your interest though. -Roger

Sargam Wadhwa says:

This is a brilliant list explained really well. Very helpful. Thanks a lot man. Saved me a lot of money.

clamdigger53 says:

Mr.Wade,you sure take a lot of heat for providing such a wonderful list. It closely resembles a system i came up with,and is very helpful.TKS!

Kevin says:

The prices seems off to me. I stayed in San Francisco and it was $30 a night for the hostel. The trolley was $5 each way or a one day public transport pass was $14. My meals were about $7 a piece. That’s over $65 without ever doing anything, nor having 3 beers as mentioned.



    The Backpacker Index includes certain things in each city, but not everything. It includes a hostel bed, meals, 2 public transportation rides (not trolley rides, which are an attraction), and a few beers. Many cities on the list are too small to consider an all-day transport pass, and quite a few are totally walkable, so it’s hard to compare them all. That’s why we stuck with the group of items we did, even though most visitors will end up spending more on a typical visit. Thanks for the feedback though. -Roger

Sarah says:

Thanks for the list although based on my experience is not so accurate. In Canada for instance Montreal was much more expensive than Vancouver in terms of accomodation, places to visit and food. Actually there was a HUGE difference. And in Europe, Edimburgh is much cheaper than Dublin for instance. Then Ibiza cheaper than Lisbon… I guess we spend our money in very different ways, because if I made a list, cities like Amsterdam, Milan or Brussels would be also in very diffeent positions. They were cheaper than some others mentioned in lower positions.



    It’s true that even budget travelers spend their money in different ways, but these prices are mostly derived from the cost of hostel beds, attractions, and public transportation and such. Hostels in Amsterdam have gotten very expensive in the past few years, so it’s moved way down the list. If you read the comments on the Ibiza section you’d understand why it is where it is, and why it’s even on the list.

    Also, from my own experience I’ve seen that it can depend on which part of each city you stay in. You might have stayed in the touristy part of Montreal but a less expensive part of Vancouver, though the hostel price research is always for well rated hostels in the tourist district. But overall I really appreciate your remarks and I’ll try to keep making this more accurate as we go. -Roger

Kelly says:

THIS IS THE BEST! Thank you! I’m glad to have an at-a-glance comparison. I know that I need more money to go to Tokyo than to India for example, but I’ve always had a hard time placing those middle ground places like Istanbul on a scale. This is a good budgeting tool. I usually rent a room and stay clear of most paid tourist places, and don’t drink often, so it will keep a nice soft landing in the budget for my book purchasing addiction. Very nice. Very nice indeed.


We have been traveling the world for 14 months. this list is so inaccurate it isn’t funny. Quito Ecuador for $20 a day is so not true. I could go on but it isn’t worth it. I think the list maker needs to do more of his homework!



    Thanks for the comment, and we are always trying to make this more accurate. However, it seems that you’ve missed what this list is really about. It measures things like hostel beds, public transportation costs, and attractions, and the prices for Quito are all accurate. If you spend far more in one city than another it’s not necessarily because bus rides cost more. The list is a way to compare basic costs for backpacker travel in these cities, not a shopping cart. -Roger

Jim says:

Please do admit – you are working for Vietnam Tourist Authority. Sadness.
India number one!!!!!

Erick says:

I appreciate this very much but must say this is quite a bit off. I traveled to 17 countries last year in Europe, Asia, and South America. Santiago isn’t even close to being cheaper than Poland or Mumbai. I spent two months in Santiago last year and it was comparable to U.S. prices outside of hostels. Also KL is expensive now. Quite a bit more than some places listed as more expensive. They are undergoing a huge boom right now and people are taking advantage of that. Maybe because this list is over a year old and the data may be a bit older.

Would love to provide you some data on request as I keep VERY detailed accounting records. Great website. Always recommend you to my readers.



    I appreciate your interest in this data and your comments as well. The thing about the Backpacker Index is that it’s made up of a set group of components, and all of those prices are listed on the main regional pages (Europe, Asia, etc.). So you could say that the daily food allowance or the beer prices for a particular city are off, and those are at least a little debatable. But the other components are hostel beds, attraction prices, and public transport prices, and those are fixed based on a standard criteria. Does this particular index show what every traveler will spend in one city compared to another? Nope, but it does compare the basic costs for a backpacker visit pretty well. In other words, it’s not trying to say that everything in Santiago is cheaper than everything in Kuala Lumpur, it’s saying that a set group of basic backpacker expenses are cheaper.

    Another thing that happens to pretty much all travelers is that we tend to “normalize” our expenses between cheap and expensive places. We splurge in cheap places and look harder for bargains in expensive places. I visited Kuala Lumpur several times last year and I can assure you that public transportation and hostel beds are quite cheap. And I can show you where to get a big glass of beer for US$3 (during happy hour). And I’m sure you are aware of all the street-side Chinese and Indian places where you can get a full meal for US$4 if you are on a backpacker budget. It’s true that KL has more and more posh places and expensive hotels, but that doesn’t always effect the backpacker scene.

    Anyway, I’m open to adjusting things if you have specific corrections on the individual numbers, but there would probably be people who would claim they are less accurate by their own experiences. I’m trying my best, and I appreciate the feedback and help, so thanks for spreading the word. -Roger

      Parks says:

      Thanks so much for your list and all the hard work that obviously went into it! I am in the beginning stages of planning a trip for me and my son. Although we won’t be backpacking it, I know this list will help me budget.
      In all of your travels, which place would you say is the most far removed from U.S. culture? I would like to expose my son to something completely different. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.



        That’s very nice of you to say, and I do think those indexes should be helpful on any budget. I hope you are aware of the Europe 3-star Traveler Index and the Asia 3-star Traveler Index, which might be closer still.

        To answer your question, Varanasi, India is the “most unusual” place I’ve ever visited, mainly because of the ceremonial way they cremate dead people in full view along the Ganges. Almost all of India is quite shocking at first, but not necessarily in a good way. Perhaps more helpful, I think Bali, Indonesia has an amazing and very different culture from the West. The island is gorgeous and a few parts (Kuta-Legion-Seminyak, Nusa Dua, Ubud) of it are really crowded and touristy, but once you get outside those zones you can easily see the authentic culture. The island is very fertile for rice production, so the Balinese have long had plenty of time to do art and make music and such. It suffers from its own popularity a bit, but I still think it’s easy to explore outside of the tourist bubble when you want, and it’s great value (cheap). Best of luck.-Roger

Chris V. says:

The overall ranking seems correct for my experiences, but I would not say Zurich is the most expensive. Oslo & London is definitely pricer. (3 beers in Oslo will set you back $30) As for the prices listed, this must be for very stingy and frugal travelers. I would assume all meals are cart and wagon food and even then I’m not sure how the prices could be so low. I’m not a backpacker but I know just eating at cheap fast food places put me close to these limits.


    Chris V.

    Thanks for your comments. The most expensive cities part of the list is a little bit controversial, especially as everyone agrees that Oslo is more expensive than Stockholm (and maybe Zurich) for general expenses, especially for those who live there. But it sounds like you realize that this is based on a set criteria for budget travelers, and it just so happens that hostel beds and a few other things are actually more expensive in some than in others. And yes, as you suspect, the food (and drink) totals are for a backpacker who is trying to keep expenses low. So breakfasts and lunches are generally assumed to be fast food or street food. -Roger

raj says:

where is Dhaka?the capital of Banglabesh.



    Dhaka is still on my list of possible places to add to the site. You are actually the first person to ask about it, and I’ll probably work on it soon, so thanks for the comment. There are plenty of other countries that aren’t represented at all, although Bangladesh is one of the few in that part of Asia. -Roger

Lauren says:

This list is amazing, thank you for all the work you put into it. It will be a great tool for planning my next trip.



    Thank you for taking the time to mention that. Also, I hope you are finding the more detailed lists for each region, plus the pages for individual cities. There’s a lot there, which might not be obvious to everyone at first. -Roger

John Elkins says:

just wanted to say thank you… you seem to put a lot of effort into this… I appreciate you answering each comment…

(Very nice of you to say. It’s one of the things I enjoy most about running this site. -Roger)


Great list and great idea! My personal experience goes against some of the figures though but it would be impossible to make a truly accurate index. For example, I find Phnom Penh to be far cheaper than Bangkok. I found Hoi An to also be cheaper than both of them. Bangkok is expensive from my experience. Do you think there is a way to develop this further?


    Thanks Dan. I agree that each traveler might have a slightly different spending experience in each city, but these numbers are based on many factors and generally people are finding them very reliable. Not sure what you mean by develop this further because I have a whole busy website on this topic already, but keep in touch if you have ideas. -Roger

sam says:

Dhaka and kolkata are much cheaper than Delhi or Mumbai. Small towns in India may be even cheaper than Pokhara towards lodging and food.

Travoline says:

Nepal is cheaper and the best place for go trekking. Loved that place.

Seifmou says:

why Tunis in not in the list ?
it is even cheaper than morrocca or Egypt!



    Tunis isn’t on the list simply because we don’t have enough information for it. We are adding about 30 more cities to the site at the moment, and we will put Tunis on the list soon as well. Thanks for taking the time to mention it. -Roger

Tharaka says:

Hi, I have planned to visit Myanmar in January end (2015),If some one can please help me with deciding what my budget for two people should be ,it will be a great help.how many days we can spend for 2000$? Will we be able to visit places in Myanmar without a guide? As backpackers I mean. Pls help



    Most things in Myanmar are quite cheap, although there aren’t as many budget hotels in the country yet compared to Cambodia or Thailand. You should be able to get a good idea by looking at our Yangon prices page. Two backpackers sharing a room should be able to get by on maybe US$50 per day, as long as you mainly eat street food and keep transport expenses low. But if you prefer to eat in sit-down restaurants with English-language menus, and drink in bars, then costs can go up quite a bit. -Roger

Shahbaaz Khan says:

Hello Roger ,

First I would like to appreciate your intelligence and expertise on the topic of travel and living , Secondly I would like to thank you on this individual attention you give to every post and suggest them so openly on an immediate basis as I can see the date and time of questions asked and answer replied .

I am here as I too want a piece of advice on travel and living . We are 3 friends from the middle east planning to visit a country it can be any place in the world . We have chosen October , November or December to be the perfect month to visit as we are more interested in cold climate or beaches or a place for three young guys in their mid 20’s to have a lots of fun .

Our budget would be $ 2000 per person including the air fares , a little long stay of minimum a week .

What ever you would suggest would be our final decision for sure , So I thank you in advance for your suggestions and waiting eagerly for your response .

Take Care
Shahbaz Khan



    Thank you for the kind and flattering words. It’s too much pressure to say that where I suggest is where you’ll go, so let’s do this in a couple of stages. Your budget should be no problem starting in the Middle East, since there are cheap flights to all over Asia and Europe from the UAE and Qatar.

    I notice you left a shorter version of this on a post about Asia, and I think that might be your best bet, depending on your goals. However, you mention wanting a “cold climate” or beaches, so I’m not sure which to suggest as they are more or less mutually exclusive. And when you say “cold climate”, what temperatures do you have in mind? I used to live in the desert of Arizona so going to a place where they have winter was nice. Are you looking for a place that isn’t as insanely hot as where you live, or a place that actually gets snow or at least real cold weather?

    And when you say you want to have “lots of fun,” that could mean quite a few things. My first guess is that drinking cheap alcohol might be part of it, but for other people it could mean anywhere from renting Jet-skis to drug-friendly places or places with plenty of young girl travelers or places with “working” girls. Depending on what you are after, I can make recommendations for any of it. And is staying halal important because that can done as well if it is?

    This sounds like a very interesting challenge and I’m looking forward to hearing more specifics. If you prefer to ask more privately, send an email to [email protected] and I’ll answer. -Roger

Stacey says:

This is wonderful and I think it’s horrible that people would insult the work that you put into it. We all have different travel styles and I think this list is a great starting point. I am a mom of 4 and we are planning on selling everything and traveling for 2 years. I will definitely be using this list to form a rough itinerary.



    That’s very nice of you to say, and I appreciate the kind words. But I also appreciate the constructive criticism from anyone who is trying to help, and I also understand that some of the critics are people who didn’t read what the list is based on, so they don’t even know what they are talking about.

    I’ve been updating and honing the city information on the site, and we’ve been adding many new cities this year as well. So in January, 2015, this list will be longer and also at least a bit more accurate. Best of luck on your 2-year upcoming trip with your family. -Roger

Nicholas says:

I’m sorry if this has already been answered, but are these numbers essentially how much a backpacker could live off per day? This is an excellent list and it going to help me greatly while in Europe.



    Always happy to hear that this information is helpful. The short answer is, yes, the Backpacker Index totals should be typical daily expenses for a budget traveler staying in hostels, seeing a few sights, having a few beers each day, and trying to keep food costs down. It would be pretty easy to do a trip on less than these totals, but it might not be much fun. -Roger

Robert says:

I love it when I plop into something for a completely unrelated reason and discover a thoughtful approach to something I haven’t really considered. The majority of my professional career I have worked for 5 billion plus multi national companies two in the US and one German. This stuff is a no brainer when you have an in house travel group or don’t have to think about cost when you just show up in Baden Baden or at 700 per night suite in Kona for a conference. As employee number 2 at a viable start up, having sunk everything into operations and materials to make a go of it the value of what you are sharing could actually get us over the hump. ie. am inundated with orders from Asia. I don’t know Asia but will travel with product to meet dealers. Like I said, this isn’t my space, but you have provided my itinerary with every single destination specifically listed. Never happened to me in 20+ years of business. without this I would have spent 5 times what I will and I have no doubt I will enjoy my accommodations as much as I did when we had a guy who spent his life figuring this stuff out. Thank you!

Robert says:

Oh, the unrelated reason I came here in the first place was to look at your list of where the $ is strong to guide my marketing campaign. If I work from the bottom up ie. most expensive, these are in fact the countries that spend the most with us. Can I export to excel.

🙂 thanks

Ashok says:

Excellent details.. Can imagine the amount of time and effort you have put in

Mark says:

One call tell this is outdated. Costa Rica for example is now one of the msot expensive countries in the world. I just got home from paying basic monthly bills

rent $3,500
water $155
electrity $390
internet 175

Please tell me anwhere else in the world whee you pay this montly for 3 bedreoom apt.



    Thanks for the anecdotal information, but this list is for cities rather than countries. Also, this list is a ranking of cities by costs for budget travelers rather than people living there. Lastly, Costa Rica has an average income of about US$500 per month, so you are clearly in the top group and not a good indicator for typical costs there. -Roger

Bill says:

An excellent resource, thanks. I compared the places from my last 5 years of travel to your list and the ranking matched my memory, except for Dubrovnik – which is probably because of my travel style and memory.



    Thanks. I was just in Dubrovnik a few months ago and I was shocked by how expensive most things were, so I assume prices have gone up quite a bit recently. Prices for similar things in Split were much lower, which was also a bit surprising. -Roger

Kroydon says:

Whats about Numbeo data


I mean consumer price +rent index .This data should go along with Rogers provided data .Currency fluctuation plays big role as well .
Take Venezuela for example
Official rate for $ is 6.3 bolivar .Black market rate is 255 bolivar.
Argentina has similar situation with official rate and black market rate .

I visited Zimbabve when they had hyperinfilation ,visited karabach in azerbaidzan ,transnistria ,even crimea peninsula occupied by Russia .

Most important thing is that capital can be expensive and rural area dirt cheap
Would like to get analytical rewiev.
Terrorism,safety ,crime figures play important role as well.Who will backpack in Somalia,afganistan,iraq on these days ?
I was in Kiev and Goa .
Ukraine 1 year ago ,Goa 1 and half year ago .
Kiev Ukraine is much more expensive tha India .
I found Kiev be in the same price bracket with major Polish,Hungarian cities .
And Varna,Bourgas in Bulgaria was cheaper ,however Ivano Frankovsk ,Lutsk,Lviv was dirt cheap compare with Western prices.

Another point is cheap flights .
Thomson.co .uk and Thomas cook got good deals mostly tio mexico,dominican republic ,cuba ,Trinidad Jamaica,maldives with return flights £230-260 incl taxes
Which of these destinations would be cheapest for 1-2 months,for winter period ?



    I agree that the Numbeo data is some of the best when it comes to living expenses for expats, but of course my data is primarily focused on different kinds of short-term travelers and there are many notable differences. And I totally agree that generally speaking, the capital or largest city in any country will be its most expensive, although there are exceptions (Zurich and Venice are more expensive than the capitals, and Berlin is cheaper than many others).

    When it comes to combining this information with flight data, I have no real choice but to let the reader sort that out. Slightly more than half the readers of this site are Americans, but even within the US there are huge differences in flight costs for different destinations.

    As for where to go in winter for the best deal, that’s also complicated. The cheapest countries in the Caribbean region are Mexico and the Dominican Republic, but of course each of those has expensive resort areas and shabby small towns that are cheap and with nothing interesting to see or do. If you can speak Spanish then some of the smaller towns in those two countries could work, but if you don’t it could be challenging.

    The Maldives is quite expensive, by the way. And I don’t think you’ll find a place in the Western Hemisphere that is as cheap as Goa, although the accommodation standards don’t go as low as they do in Goa either. Best of luck with this. -Roger

    As for Ukraine one year ago, it sounds like you were there shortly before their currency collapsed and inflation set in (on some things). If you go right now it will be MUCH cheaper than when you were there.

lakshminadh says:


This is great work. This will give some guidelines to the global traveler. if you can put some deviation +/- form the index then that will help the travelers to plan accordingly.
Regards, Lakshminadh, Chennai



    Thank you. I’m not sure specifically what you are suggesting regarding a deviation factor. My hope is that people who want more specific information about any given destination will click on the “city page,” which provides many details including price ranges for hostels, hotels, food, and drinks. Everyone has their own travel style, so I think that people can check the Index total for a city they are familiar with, and then compare it to cities they plan to visit. That should also help people figure out a reasonable budget based on their own preferences. -Roger

Kroydon says:

Would be nice if you would publish cheapest desctiations for winter time for 3 months .From December till March .
Americans are lucky ,cause you got Florida ,California,Texas .For us Europeans is bit tricky .
Only Canary islands left ,and its not very warm in Tenerife in January either .

Very few regions is left for European or North Americans winter holders .

Central America ,Bolivia ,Paraguay and Peru with Ecuador and south east asia .That’s it .

Who wants to go to Africa ?
I was with my blonde girlfriend in Morroco ,Senegal ,Tunisia .
No thank you !
Never will come back.I saw how Australian girls cried within first 20 minutes in Fes airport .It was big harassment on them from Morroco man.Many arabs harassed these blonde girls,and I invited them to join taxi ride with me into same hostel.

I am still confused with Venesuela and Argentina .Venesuela can be very cheap or very expensive due to black market rates .How about Argentina ?

Airport tax reduced for carribean flights .Flights from UK to Carribean islands becamed 20 % cheaper .Carribean islands is expensive.

Of course India left ,with Laos,Vietnam,Cambodia,Philipines,Indonesia.
Thailand is expensive for long term stay.India visa nearly £100 with dully immigration procedures.Nightmare .

Yes Ukraine is good choice with grivina devaluation by 74% against $ and pound .Ukraine is cold in winter .

Visas to some destinations can add a lot on top .Flights costs too..

Would like to read your review Roger about costs for 3 months in those places and compare these places

1.Central America
2 South America
3.South East Asia
5.Maby few safe African countries

is any places left ,I thing only Cape Verde .
I planning to do what many people do .Leave my rented house in England ,rent council garage for 3 months ,put all my stuff into the garage .Lock the garage and fly to cheap and warm destination.
It cost £1000 to rent a house in England + council tax,petrol,heating expenses
I would save a lot if I would simply fly for 3 months and fly back in March,stay few days in hostel,rent a house again and drive a lorry for another 9 months.

Is India and Nepal still cheapest destinations?
I thing would be nice if cheapest destinations would be published seperatly for Europeans and Americans .

Its like separate article with analytical reviews
For example ,for Americans would be cheaper to fly to central America ,and for Europeans to South East Asia or India.
Or maby there are places which I do not know.Even Thailand can be different with expensive south and affordable north .

Frederik says:

I just went to Asia and your price are just not the real numbers man…I went to Hanoi which is WAY cheaper than Saigon. Then I went to Phuket in Thailand. I cant believe they are almost at the same place on your ranking. Phuket was more expensive than Beverly hills. A drink was 10 US any restaurant I went. A sweet ice tea was 8 US, Your ranking is just totally not right my friend.



    Thanks for your helpful feedback. I debated whether or not to include non-backpacker destinations like Phuket on these lists because there is always the fear that someone is going to look at the big number at the bottom and fail to read the explanation, which is what you did. But I decided to include many of these resort towns because many backpackers visit as part of longer trips to the area. The Phuket numbers are for Phuket Town, which is far cheaper than the beaches, but you’d have to read the little paragraph to know that. I’d hope that even if you don’t read it before using the data, that you’d read it before commenting, but I’m not surprised that some people don’t do that either.

    Not that it’s too important, but I’ve spent a lot of time in Phuket in recent years and even on the beaches I can easily find things that are good bargains. Either you went to a 5-star resort or you went to the heart of the Patong entertainment district and didn’t pay attention to prices before ordering. Honestly, there are 70 baht bottles of beer out there if you avoid the super touristy places. Most of Patong is a rip-off, so value-conscious visitors avoid it after the first day.

    All of that said, I’m sorry that you had to pay so much for everything and I’m going to try to figure out a way to make it even more obvious what this data is, even though most people won’t bother to read it. -Roger

      Paige charron says:

      Wow! You are so patient and polite with your responses! You do seem to get a fair amount of feedback from folks who have not read the details. I have found this very helpful, and haven’t seen breakdowns like this, so I appreciate all your work!

Blaise says:

You’re pretty good. I’d like to access your previous 5 years on this ranking and compare.



    I had thought about leaving the earlier versions of this list online, but I chose not to because most of the changes along the way have been tweaks and revisions to make it all more accurate, rather than major swings in prices between places. The currency has obviously shifted a lot in the last 5 years. However, core inflation is pretty much zero for most of the world, except for places like Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil, India, and a few others. Mostly, things that were listed at US$1 five years ago are still mostly listed at US$1 today. Public transport costs have crept up slowly in most places, as have museum prices. But hostels have gone down in some cases, often after some new competitors open up nearby. In other words, it’s hard to actually find meaningful trends even with this data. I will continue to thing about how I can archive some of it though. Thanks again for asking about it. -Roger

Girc says:

I just wanted to say thanks for this work you do! 🙂
it does not really matter how precise the list and after all it can’t be defined by 1 number! anyways, serious backpacker will do his own research before traveling, after all he is the budget traveler 😀
so Roger i hope you skip all the negativity, you’re doing great and this info has been a good starting point for my previous travels!
Thank you! 🙂



    Thank you for that. Actually, way over 90% of the feedback I get for this site is very positive, and I don’t mind people offering constructive criticism if they actually understand what this list is about and what the numbers mean. And hopefully the information here keeps getting more accurate. I’m glad you find it useful. -Roger

Katie says:

I think Nicaragua and other parts of central America should be in there for sure.



    You are right. I’m going to add at least one city in Nicaragua and also one in El Savador on the next update, if not sooner. Thank you. -Roger

amy says:

thanks so much for this list!! I know its been said, but i cant believe people are being so critical about it.
YES this is useful to BACKPACKERS!!!
I love staying in hostels, eating street food, travelling by bus etc to maximise the time i can spend in a country. me and my fiance are trying to pick a few countries to visit with a set budget in order to maximise our time away, and this list is SO HELPFUL! its not easy to find information designed for people not wanting to stay in hotels and cruddy tourist traps.

thank you so much, a true hero for the wandering souls! x

Geoff says:

So Ukraine really is cheap by global and not just European standards, then? Cool. I wondered if it might be when I was there but I hadn’t done enough travel in places like S/SE Asia to compare. Shame you can’t go there now as easily as you used to. Although if you try to go too cheap you end up eating that fried nonsense they sell at metro stations which is 99% dough with 1 gram of meat in the middle haha – although generally the street food was good.



    Yes, Ukraine is very cheap by any standards right now, but you may also be aware of the rampant inflation and currency devaluations that have continued through the first half of 2015, so it’s a moving target. One of my designers lives in Ukraine and he says prices have gone up by maybe 50% in the first half of 2015 on food and some other things, but not on everything. So long story short, the Backpacker Index for Kiev could be off by maybe 30% at any given moment. Fortunately for us, inflation around the world is almost nonexistent outside of a few places like this one and Argentina, Brazil, Russia, and a bit in India. -Roger

Fernando says:

Excellent review!, but I have a question:

This values are for a single person but is there any correction factor for finding the index for a couple, I guess that is not “times 2” because when your are travelling in a couple there are some expenses which are cheaper (accommodation for example). So, wouuld you say “times 1.8”??, “times 1.5”?




    Thank you. Actually, for the Backpacker Index, it is priced per person because it’s based on staying in dorm beds at hostels. If two people stay in the same hostel, they’ll have to pay for two dorm beds, so the total is twice as much. The other calculations are for meals, transportation, attraction, and drinks, and all of those would obviously be double for two people compared to one.

    However, if you go to the homepage of this site you’ll see some articles labeled “3-star Traveler Index” for Europe and Asia. Those are also priced for one person, but they are based on double occupancy at a 3-star hotel. So if you are more of a hotel person than a hostel person, those totals should be more useful. And if you are staying in 2-star hotels or private double rooms in hostels, the totals could be a bit lower. I hope this helps. -Roger

Deegii says:

What about Mongolia?



    Mongolia doesn’t get much tourism, and I’ve never been there myself. But I’d like to add at least one city to the site in the future. I’ll have to find someone who has been there. Thanks. -Roger

Shawn says:

Thanks Roger for providing this index! I just love peaking at it occasionally to fantisize about my next vacation adventure.

Austin says:

Hi Roger. I just want to say other cities in Russia are definitely cheaper than Saint Petersburg…. personally I’d like to do Southern Siberia, which I think might be slightly cheaper than Saint Petersburg, although apparently the real cheap cities are small cities in areas south of Moscow.



    I’m sure you are right about that, and Moscow in particular is notoriously the most expensive city in Russia. That same fact is true from nearly every city on the list, as the largest cities and capitals are generally the most expensive cities in each country. But those are also the cities that people tend to visit on these trips, so those are the ones I list. If I were to list every city that someone might possibly visit then the cheapest 30 or 40 would all be villages in Nepal, and that isn’t too helpful or interesting. Thanks for reading and commenting. -Roger

Sunil says:

Hi Roger
What about the country Seychelles. I am planning to visit for holiday



    The Seychelles is fairly expensive and at this point it’s a bit too obscure to be included on this list. This list primarily focuses on cultural destinations rather than sunshine destinations. In fact, we have a lot of data on Caribbean islands, but we don’t include those on this list because it’s a totally different type of holiday. Thanks for the comment. -Roger

Amir Alam says:

Hello Roger
I m from Pakistan and there are a lot of inexpensive places like Islamabad,Murree,Naran valley and a lot of places from Gilgit Baltistan and kashmir.I myself have visited those places they are very beautiful and cheap also but you have not mentioned these places in your list.
Your work is very helpful for tourists.You have worked really hard on it.I really appreciate you on your masterpiece. Its magnificent stuff.



    Thank you for the nice words, and I appreciate your comment. As I’ve mentioned before, I’d like to list cities in Pakistan and other places that are often considered “global hot spots” but I’ve personally visited very few of them and only tiny numbers of tourists are going to these places under the current conditions. So as interesting as they’d be to me and at least some of the website’s audience, I’d also run the risk of overloading visitors who are trying to decide among the currently popular destinations.

    In other words, if the list included one or more city from each of the 200 or so official countries in the world, and multiple cities from the most popular countries like France, Italy, and the US, then the list would contain at least 400 entries and most people would glaze over near the beginning of the list. Still, in the future, I hope to be able to add at least some of these places. -Roger

Ale Ramos says:

I like the article in general, but I´ve been in some of those places and you can travel there for a lot less. I remember traveling to Edinburgh for the weekend from London and we spent $100 pounds for person for the entire weekend. We visited the castle, did a few tours and had nice meals.

Overall I like your article, it´s helpful right now for me cause I´m planing a trip that is going to last months, what was also helpful for me was one book in specific, here´s the link of the website I think you can buy the book there too:

I would of like to see more from Asia as my trip would be mostly there 🙂



    The prices listed in this Backpacker Index aren’t the minimums needed for each city, but rather a more typical average. Did you include your hostel bed in the £100 for a whole weekend in Edinburgh? The Castle alone costs £16.50 and hostels in the central area start at around £25 per night. Anyway, the index prices here are for a full set of typical expenses for each city, and if you usually spend less in one city, you are likely to spend less in the others. This is just a way to compare so you’ll have an idea what to expect.

    I read an early edition of the book you mention about 12 years ago, and I now count its author – Tim Leffel – as a friend. I agree that he does a great job with those books and his websites.

    As for Asia, there are 36 cities listed in the list above, including nearly every popular city and country that travelers to Asia visit. If you are going to a place that isn’t listed above, please let me know and maybe I’ll add it in the next update. Thank you. -Roger

Leo says:

Great work. Thank you!

Amir Alam says:

Hello Roger
First thanks for your time and comment.I and Pakistan will be very pleased to host you.If you have not visited Pakistan then come and see the beauty of Pakistan.There was a time near 1960’s when northern areas of Pakistan were famous among tourists of the world.Now conditions have changed.Hope for better.Pak Army is working for good.
Secondly I want to be a professional tourist means earning with tourism can you help me in that.

Giles Wade says:

I doubt the value of this ranking for non-backpackers. There is relatively little variation in the lowest priced items you chart, across a city or country, or even across a whole region. In SE Asia, there are mostly only fairly negligible differences in the cost of things like hopping on a bus or a moto, rather than taking a taxi; sleeping in a shared dorm rather than a private room; eating from street stalls or small local restaurants rather than slightly fancier ‘Western’ bars or restaurants; making do with weak domestic draft beer rather than something half-way decent. But the range of prices for a private room, a Western meal, a proper beer (or spirits), etc. can be vast.

Saigon, for example, is actually a lot more expensive than Phnom Penh for most of the latter items.

And, as already noted in other comments, KL is off the charts for most everything – except dorm beds and street food.



    Thank you for your comments and it sounds like you know your stuff for the most part. Although I’m a bit puzzled as to why you’d bother to comment that the “Backpacker Index” might not have value for non-backpackers. That’s why it’s called the Backpacker Index.

    Also, you might be surprised at how the rankings are similar when calculated for a 3-star traveler. You might be interested in the sub-lists that this master list is based on. Since you mentioned Asia, here is the far more detailed Asia Backpacker Index.

    If you look at the order on that one, you can compare it to the order to our Asia 3-Star Traveler Index (soon to be updated).

    The rankings are very similar, although the cheapest ones are bunched up in price, just as you pointed out and you can see on the global version.

    Lastly, it’s true that KL is much more expensive than its neighbors in some ways (which is why it’s so far down the list), but it’s only alcohol and Western restaurants that are expensive. I was just there again about 2 months ago and I stayed in an excellent large room in a new 4-star hotel in the Bukit Bintang area for US$75 per night. In fact, I think KL is one of Asia’s best bargains for high-end hotels. And I was eating hearty bowls of laksa a few blocks away for about US$3. Taxis are very cheap there, as are museums and most other attractions. Aside from alcohol in bars, I’m curious what you find to be so expensive in KL? -Roger


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