Cotopaxi volcano, Ecuador
Ecuador is a budget traveler’s paradise and still one of the cheapest countries to visit in South America. It has islands, the Andes and the Amazon rainforest; colonial towns, lively markets, and a strong indigenous culture; hot springs, wild rivers, and unique wildlife.
There is an incredible variety of things you can do. The capital, Quito, it the most expensive city, but even there, you can easily get a budget breakfast for $1.50-$3, lunch for $2-$5 and dinner in a budget restaurant for $3.50-$8. A bus in Quito costs $0.25-$0.35 and taxis are only a couple of dollars around the center of town. A dorm bed in a hostel will set you back $10-$15 and you can get a double room in a budget hotel for less than $40 per night easily.
A typical daily expenditure for a budget traveler would be about $30-$50 (more if you do more, of course).
One of my favorite activities is cycling down the Andes from Banos, and bike rental is $10 for the whole day, so this is a cheap activity. There are also markets in many of the Andean towns where you can get local handicrafts for very reasonable prices (though you do need to bargain to get a bargain!). It’s even possible to travel around the Galapagos islands (notoriously expensive) for about $120/ day if you do land-based budget travel.
DAILY BUDGET: $30-$50 per person
Small Hut in Northern Colombia
Like most countries in South America, Colombia is an absolutely amazing country and a great budget destination too! You get to see the world’s largest palm trees, tropical beaches, charming colonial towns, glorious mountains, ancient cultures and we can go on and on!
We are a 2 mums and 1 daughter family and our budget is situated somewhere between backpackers and mid-range (with an occasional splurge). Our average daily budget for Colombia for 3 of us was 200.000 COP ($62).
When we are talking lodging, we want our ho(s)tel rooms as cheap as possible, but with good hygiene, a private bathroom and – if possible – with breakfast included. In Colombia, you can expect to pay around $35 for a double room like that. As our breakfast is normally included, we usually eat out at lunch and grab something small in the supermarket or at a food stall for dinner. We spent about $15 a day on food.
Because we are traveling with a small child, we like to stay put in one place for 5-7 days and with nap times sightseeing is done in a very chill way. We also love to find cheap or free activities. This means we spent about $3 a day on transport and $6 on activities and sightseeing.
DAILY BUDGET: $20-$30 per person
Argentina is a large country with a great deal of diversity – from the gorgeous lake district; to wine country; the bustling and vibrant Buenos Aires; and down to the spectacular scenery in Patagonia, Argentina has it all. The currency in Argentina fluctuates wildly at times, making a big difference in how cheap it is for travel, but right now is a good time to go; after a recent currency devaluation, it is dirt cheap. You can get a nice glass of Argentinean Malbec wine for as little as $2!
Tours can be expensive, but you can also travel very cheaply. You can get a bed in a hostel dorm in Buenos Aires for as little as $9.50/ night ($12-$20/ night in El Chalten). The Glaciers National Park has an entry fee in El Calafate and the Perito Moreno Glacier (approx. $12.50 pp) but is completely free for spectacular hiking in El Chalten.
A steak dinner in a regular parrilla (steak house) in Buenos Aires, with a glass of wine, cost less than $15 each. You can eat more cheaply than this, of course, and prices decease outside the capital. Tango shows in Buenos Aires can set you back about $70 pp (skip the dinner and get just the show to save money), but you can also see great tango completely free in the street.
Public transportation in Buenos Aires costs only about 35c. So book a ticket and head down to Argentina right now!
Note: 2019 a great time to travel to Argentina cheaply. But the Argentinian peso fluctuates all the time. Be sure to check the latest situation as things can change quite quickly.
DAILY BUDGET: $45-$50 per person
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