Editor’s note: The following guest post was written by Robert Reid, the US travel editor for Lonely Planet.
The question Lonely Planet gets the most often — other than “How can I be a travel writer?” — is “Where can I go that’s new and interesting but won’t drain my bank account?” Luckily, each year we put out the book Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel, which includes a "Best Value Destinations" list for the year ahead. We define value as getting the most out of your dollar. We don’t necessarily suggest the cheapest destinations, but rather great value options for travelers who want rich experiences without a rich price.
Safari travelers have long booked trips to Kenya, Tanzania, and South Africa, with Botswana’s Okavango Delta being the more offtrack place for unparalleled access to wildlife. Safari price tags are counted by thousands, but it’s possible to do a DIY safari for a few hundred dollars in Namibia.
Read on for more.
In a $50-per-day rental car from the capital, Windhoek, you can drive yourself a few hours north to Etosha National Park, set up at nice safari lodges for $130, and drive to watering holes to see elephants, zebras, and lions. And splurge for a $60-a-night tour to see rhinos after dark.
Source: Flickr user coda
Afterward, head south to some of Africa’s finest beaches around; Swakopmund, a town from the German colonial period with plenty of brats and German beer; and nearby dunes to sandboard down.
Source: Flickr user vince42
Cambodia’s popularity has taken off in the past decade — yes, hotel suites at Angkor Wat can rise to $1,000 a night — but there are plenty of other choices and towns that are more affordable. Batambang — a fun town with a lively, restored French colonial district — has boutique hotels made from art deco French mansions for $80 a night, and free architectural self-guided walking tour maps to take to explore the city.
In the southwest, the Koh Kong is a mountainous jungle area with kayaking, waterfall swimming holes, and secluded beaches. There are floating eco-hotels to stay at for under $100, while overnighting in a traditional home in villages can run about $10. The best part of it is that currently only about 100 travelers go a month. Go now before that changes!
Source: Flickr user Aram V
Where have you visited that you thought had great value? What destinations do you suggest for those who want to make their dollar go the furthest?
Lonely Planet has published a full list of best-value destinations on its website, among other choices for where to go in 2013. For even more inspiration, check out the book, Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2013.