Top 5 Hidden Gems for Budget-Friendly Holiday Destinations

Travel can be a lot more expensive than other types of holiday, but with careful forward thinking you can make use of the best deals and avoid spending your lifetime’s earnings.

Visit Bali and experience their magnificent sunset, accompanied by their wonderful ambiance. Go to Franschhoek Vineyards of South Africa for an exceptional wine-tasting experience: some of the best wines in the world can be found there.


As a place where the intrepid traveller can live well on just a few dollars a day, Bali’s beaches, terraced rice fields and tumbling waterfalls are an Effell Tower of natural (and man-made) beauty. You could also get up close and personal with the succession of waterfalls and virgin forests in this part of Indonesia.

Being almost Bali’s best kept secret, way off the beaten path is the amazingly abandoned and overgrown Ghost Palace hotel, where the cellar is open to explore. If you are brave enough, enter the building by all means!

Surrounded in luscious tropical vegetation and a home of refreshing swimming holes, Banyumala Twin Waterfalls is my experience at the point of nature – a place you would definitely go to be one with nature. The easiest way to get to Banyumala Twin Waterfalls would be via a rental car. Or if you’re arriving via a car, a private van or any four-wheel drive vehicle from the city of Denpasar or even from Kuta or Seminyak is highly recommended. As an alternative mode of transport, you can also hire a driver and rent his car or scooter out of the capital, if you wish to spend less on a luxury experience. From Banyumala Twin Waterfalls, you can also visit Green Village, ranked as the number-one eco-living and organic farm community planned by various groups in Ubud. When I first discovered this place, I never intended on spending some time there.


Incredible though it may seem, this small archipelago forms one of the most concentrated world – filled with prehistoric temples, fossil-strewn cliffs, sublime beaches and no shortage of adventures.

The honeyed limestone alleys and painted balconies of Valletta, the gracious capital of Malta, make it look like it could be cast in bronze. Still, there’s no shortage of provenance here, from the 16th-century fortifications of the city to the palaces and porticos of the Baroque 17th century, as demonstrated in the museum-like surroundings of the Upper Barrakka Gardens, which command views across Grand Harbour, and the staggering baroque interiors of St John’s Co-Cathedral, lined with paintings by Caravaggio.

The big draw is the island’s beaches; don’t miss the Blue Lagoon on the island of Comino, where (because the sea is more sheltered) you can actually go for a swim. For a truly nauseating adventure, jump on one of those painted Luzzus (the island’s big wooden traditional galleons) and grab a joyride — a 20-minute thrill-ride over to the Blue Grotto cave whose blue pools were, in ancient mythology, supposedly populated by sea nymphs.


Known as the ‘land of smiles’, tourist-filled Thailand offers a vast abundance of travel experiences. While most tourists aim to have a good time and head for the beaches or sensational nightlife, those who wish to expand their cultural horizons and experience it ‘like a Thai’ can have a life-changing experiences.

Pai Canyon is a paradise for nature-lovers, with shimmering streams and tranquil waterfalls, not to mention numerous coffee shops where it’s possible to settle in and escape from the buzz of the city.

Visit Sukhothai Historical Park and marvel at the carvings of temples that adorn its ruins: one of Thailand’s most visually arresting hidden gems and another testament to the country’s heritage. Nearby in the same region is Wat Rong Khun (White Temple); one of the country’s most remarkable architectural pieces – that should be better known.


On the Albanian Riviera, Saranda (or Sarande in Albanian) has impossibly beautiful beaches which form part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A lively and vibrant harbour town with music pumping out of beach clubs and boats taking you for a spin to nearby islands.

Saranda’s best spot is Pasqyra Bay, too, which has the advantage of being busy even at high season and is ideal for both swimming or simply sitting by the sea, while also boasting loungers and offering excellent food from a beach restaurant.

Shopping along the main boulevard in Saranda, from clothes and souvenirs to freshly caught seafood and local specialities, fills most of your needs, but if you hunger for a fix of something more archaeologically authentic, it takes only half an hour to drive to Phoenice Archaeological Park in Phoenicia – ancient Pànion.


With many beautiful, Old World charms to entertain you – and a budget that won’t break like in other tourist traps around Europe – the Czech capital Prague is a perfect location for a group getaway on a modest budget.

Switch crowds for courtyards, queues for cute cafes and icons for up-and-coming art, and you’ll find an altogether different experience – and uncover something far richer about the city beyond the camera-clicking spectators. You’ll delve into mysteries and unravel tales, from enchanting history to dark deeds. Then just look at its landmarks …

You will also find that using trams, buses and metros is a good way of getting around – not only are they more comfortable than walking, the wear and tear on your feet and wallet will be considerably lessened and, with a travel card, you can ride to your heart’s content for the duration of your trip; have some cash with you because you might need it for smaller purchases as well as some of the vendors on the streets.

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