21 Best Countries for Backpacking in 2024

Looking for the best countries for backpacking?

You’ve come to the right article as I’m a full-time backpacker and I’ve travelled on a budget across three continents.

If you ask me, backpacking is the best form of budget travel, but unless you’ve spent hours researching, it can be hard to know where to start.

So I’ve done all of the hard work for you and put together this list of the best countries for backpacking.

Best Countries for Backpacking

There are lots of great routes for backpacking, which take you through multiple countries at once. I think it’s great to experience more than one destination in one trip, but you can also use these countries to create your own custom route. So let’s get into it!

1. Thailand

Average daily backpacking budget: $50 USD

Thailand is often considered the best country for backpacking, and I’m inclined to agree.

It’s got everything you could ever want from a backpacking trip: a strong culture, stunning natural landscapes, good weather, a network of hostels, street food, and most importantly, it’s affordable.

Backpacking in Thailand is one of the easiest places to start, and many people choose it for their first trip. It leads to priceless memories and you could easily spend a lifetime exploring it.

In fact, I’m heading back in January 2024 to go and check out some more of what Thailand has to offer!

A picture of a boat sitting on a beach in Thailand in front of a green jungle.

2. Vietnam

Average daily backpacking budget: $30 USD

Vietnam is also a super easy country to visit on a budget. Lots of people will visit Thailand and Vietnam at the same time as part of the Banana Pancake Route.

In fact, Vietnam was named one of the cheapest countries to visit in the world. Just like with Thailand, it has everything a backpacker could want from a trip.

From the mountains in the north to the beaches in the south, it’s such a complete country and I can honestly use the cliche of “it’s got a bit of everything” because it’s true. I loved my time travelling on a budget in Vietnam.

As someone who studied history in school, I really enjoyed learning more about the Vietnam War, or the “American War” as it’s called in Vietnam. Visiting the Chu Chi Tunnels was surreal.

A picture of a lake in Vietnam surrounded by gren hills covered in jungle.

3. Indonesia

Average daily backpacking budget: $35 USD

Backpacking Indonesia is such a unique experience. Because there are so many islands, and each island is slightly different from the other, it’s like backpacking a load of countries within one country.

Indonesia is very affordable to visit and is a great place to learn how to travel on a budget, which is a craft that takes some time to perfect.

Bali is obviously the most famous Indonesian destination, and while yes, Bali is incredible, there is an endless list of other islands to visit. My personal favourite is Flores- as an animal lover, seeing wild Komodo dragons was amazing to me.

A picture of a komodo dragon with its mouth open beside a tree.

4. Australia

Average daily backpacking budget: $70 USD

Australia has one of the strongest backpacking cultures in the world. The surf culture in Australia fits in perfectly with the mindsets of the backpacking community, and the two combine seamlessly.

There’s a reason why nearly 200,000 people get their Working Holiday Visas each year, and that’s because the country is designed perfectly for backpackers. Australia has so many hostels, and loads of free and cheap things to do.

For example, when you picture Sydney, one of the first things you picture is the Opera House, right? It’s free to sightsee. Next, Bondi Beach? Free to visit. Australia is a backpacker’s dream come true.

A picture of the famous Sydney Opera House taken from the water on a boat.

5. Laos

Average daily backpacking budget: $35 USD

Laos is another popular country to backpack in Southeast Asia- if you haven’t realised already, Southeast Asia is arguably the best region in the world for budget travel.

In my opinion, Laos is one of the most underrated countries in the area, as most people won’t spend as long here as they do in Thailand and Vietnam.

The natural beauty in Laos is unbelievable. Especially the waterfalls, they’re some of the best in the world, and so many people will skip over them. Take a look…

Stunning Kuang Si Falls cascading through the tropical forest in Laos, a hidden gem in one of the best countries for backpacking.

6. Nicaragua

Average daily backpacking budget: $30 USD

Heading over to Central America, Nicaragua is the best country in my opinion. It’s got the perfect balance of natural beauty, rich history, and vibrant culture.

One of the reasons to go backpacking is the cultural immersion and the authentic travel experiences, and Nicaragua offers exactly that.

With its lush rainforests, beautiful beaches, and vibrant cities, Nicaragua provides a diverse and enriching experience for any backpacker who wishes to visit. Plus, it’s affordable which is always a big selling point.

But it really is a beautiful country, it looks like something straight out of a dream.

A peaceful morning view of a lush green islet in Nicaragua, with calm seas.

7. Peru

Average daily backpacking budget: $40 USD

Peru is another backpacker’s favourite in the Americas, and it’s a staple country in the popular backpacking Gringo Route. It’s one of the best countries for backpacking in both definitions of the word.

For backpacking travel, Peru offers an abundance of priceless experiences, and it’s affordable too. Some of the best places to visit in Peru are genuinely unreal. Huacachina seems completely made up, but I assure you it’s real!

And for backpacking hiking, Peru has so many stunning hiking trails and paths. The best is, of course, the Inca Trail leading to Machu Picchu. You simply can’t visit Peru without hiking to the wonder of the world.

Alpacas grazing with the iconic ruins of Machu Picchu in the background, a must-visit spot in Peru, known as one of the best countries for backpacking.

8. Philippines

Average daily backpacking budget: $35 USD

The Philippines offers a similar backpacking experience to Indonesia- because there are so many islands, it’s like visiting lots of small countries.

The most popular are probably Coron and Boracay, and they do not disappoint. The Philippines is the definition of “paradise”. It’s a dream come true.

And it’s really easy to visit on a budget too. As with many of these countries, lots of the best things to do are free such as relaxing by the beach, snorkelling, hiking, etc.

Aerial view of the lush, green islands surrounded by the deep blue sea in the Philippines.

9. Guatemala

Average daily backpacking budget: $30 USD

Guatemala, often considered as a hidden gem in Central America, is an exceptional destination for backpackers seeking an adventure without breaking the bank.

There’s something that all of these countries have in common and that is they have a wide range of things to offer, and they’re affordable.

Guatemala is another perfect example of a rich blend of Mayan culture, stunning landscapes, and a strong backpacking community. It’s an ideal place for a budget trip.

Most of the best things to do in Guatemala involve getting physically active, so if you love the outdoors, you’ll love Guatemala. It’s a volcano hike haven!

A panoramic view of Volcán de Agua as seen from Acatenango, Guatemala, showcasing the natural beauty ideal for backpacking enthusiasts.

10. Cambodia

Average daily backpacking budget: $30 USD

One of the best things about travelling on a budget is the new cultures you get to experience. Since you don’t want to spend lots of money, you often get more authentic experiences.

And Cambodia is the perfect place for culture. Angkor Wat is one of the most incredible things you will ever see in your life, and walking through it is indescribable. You have to be able to experience it to understand. In my opinion, it even beats Pompeii.

If you ask me, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia are an unbeatable combo. Backpacking these four countries at once is the single best backpacking trip you can take, if you ask me.

The ancient gate of Angkor Wat temple framed by tropical trees, symbolizing the rich history of Cambodia, one of the best countries for backpacking.

11. Nepal

Average daily backpacking budget: $25 USD

Nepal is another of the best countries for backpacking which applies to both meanings of the word.

Backpacking Kathmandu and other places in Nepal is incredible, and it’s really easy to get by on a budget, but it would be impossible to visit Nepal without seeing Everest.

Whether this is by climbing it, hiking the Base Camp or maybe even taking a helicopter tour, seeing Everest is a must.

But aside from Everest, there are so many hiking opportunities such as the famous hike to Monkey Temple just outside Kathmandu.

Awe-inspiring view of Ama Dablam mountain from the Everest Base Camp trek route in Nepal.

12. Ecuador

Average daily backpacking budget: $35 USD

Ecuador is a pretty small yet incredibly diverse country which is divided by the equator (cool, right?).

One of the best things about backpacking in Ecuador is, of course, the Amazon Rainforest. Taking a multi-day trek through the rainforest guarantees to produce life-long memories.

And who could forget the Galápagos Islands? They’re some of the most beautiful islands in the world and they’re famous for the Giant Tortoises which live there. The wildlife in Ecuador is second to none, that’s for sure.

A giant tortoise plodding through a bed of wood chips in Ecuador.

13. Costa Rica

Average daily backpacking budget: $50 USD

Costa Rica is one of the more expensive countries in Central America, but it’s so worth it. And even though it’s more expensive, it’s still cheaper than the cost of backpacking countries in Europe.

Just like with Ecuador, it’s an amazing country for spending time outdoors. Particularly if you’re a thrill seeker. Adventure activities are abundant, like zip-lining through the rainforest canopy or white-water rafting on the Pacuare River.

It’s actually very similar to Ecuador because another main drawing point is the wildlife. From watching sea turtles nest on the beaches of Tortuguero to spotting sloths and monkeys in the wild, the opportunities to connect with nature are endless.

There’s a reason it’s such a popular country to visit amongst both backpackers and “normal” travellers, and that’s because Costa Rica provides an extraordinary experience.

Crystal clear waters kissing rocky shorelines with a towering mountain backdrop in Costa Rica.

14. Sri Lanka

Average daily backpacking budget: $35 USD

Sri Lanka is another country which I consider very underrated. It’s one of those countries where unless you hear how good it is, you probably would have never considered going.

I’d even go as far as saying the whole of Sri Lanka is a hidden gem to the mainstream Western world. How many people do you hear of going to the country? Unless you’re already “in the know” with the backpacking community, probably not very many people.

Sri Lanka has so many insane opportunities. The hiking is outstanding, the landscapes are spectacular, and the culture is so strong. It’s affordable too. Plus, animals.

Yala National Park alone offers the chance to see leopards, elephants, and a variety of bird species. But the country as a whole is filled with opportunities.

And on top of this, the people are so friendly. Since tourism isn’t as large as in other countries, they’re very appreciative of backpackers visiting their country.

A majestic elephant walking along a dusty road in Yala National Park, Sri Lanka, highlighting the wildlife encounters in one of the best countries for backpacking.

15. Mexico

Average daily backpacking budget: $40 USD

Mexico is a country that seems like it was designed with backpackers in mind– everything about Mexico suits the backpacking way of life.

Affordable? Check ✅. Natural beauty? Check ✅. Street food? Check ✅. Strong community of solo travellers? Check ✅. Easy transportation between destinations? Check ✅.

Everything about the country makes Mexico backpacking super easy, and super enjoyable too. From Chichen Itza to cenotes, or Lucha Libres to street food, Mexico is one of the best places for backpacking, no doubt about it.

A picture of Chichen Itza, the famous Mayan pyramid in Mexico.

Best Places for Backpacking: Special Mentions

If that list of the best countries for backpacking wasn’t enough for you, don’t worry, I’ve added some special mentions. I believe it’s possible to “backpack” every country on a budget, but naturally, there are some better-suited places for backpacking, and these are some more of my favourites.

16. Bolivia

Average daily backpacking budget: $25 USD

Highlights:

  • Stunning Natural Landscapes: Includes diverse terrains from the Andes Mountains to the Amazon basin, offering breathtaking scenery and outdoor adventures.
  • Rich Indigenous Cultures: A country with a strong presence of indigenous peoples, Bolivia offers vibrant cultural experiences through its traditions, festivals, and crafts.
  • Unique Geological Features: Home to unique natural phenomena like the Uyuni Salt Flats and colourful lagoons, providing surreal and unforgettable landscapes.

17. Croatia

Average daily backpacking budget: $60 USD

Highlights:

  • Beautiful Coastline and Islands: Known for its stunning Adriatic coastline, dotted with charming islands, picturesque beaches, and crystal-clear waters.
  • Rich Historical Sites: A wealth of historical and cultural heritage, including well-preserved medieval towns, ancient Roman ruins, and UNESCO World Heritage sites.
  • Diverse Natural Landscapes: Offers a range of natural wonders from cascading waterfalls and lush national parks to mountainous regions, ideal for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.
A picture of me in front of a waterfall in Krka National Park, Croatia.

18. Argentina

Average daily backpacking budget: $45 USD

Highlights:

  • Diverse Landscapes: From the glaciers and rugged mountains of Patagonia to the lush wine regions and the vast Pampas, Argentina boasts a wide variety of natural wonders.
  • Vibrant Culture and Tango: Known for its rich cultural heritage, especially in music and dance, with tango being a significant part of its identity.
  • Culinary Delights: Offers a rich culinary scene, famous for its quality beef, wines, and a fusion of European and indigenous cuisines.

19. Colombia

Average daily backpacking budget: $35 USD

Highlights:

  • Breathtaking Natural Beauty: Features diverse ecosystems, including the Amazon rainforest, Andean mountains, and pristine Caribbean beaches.
  • Rich Coffee Culture: World-renowned for its coffee, offering visitors the chance to explore coffee plantations and experience the coffee-making process.
  • Vibrant Festivals and Music: Known for its lively festivals, colourful traditions, and a variety of music styles, reflecting its rich cultural diversity.

20. El Salvador

Average daily backpacking budget: $40 USD

Highlights:

  • Surfing and Beaches: Offers some of Central America’s best surfing spots and beautiful Pacific coastlines, attracting beach lovers and surf enthusiasts.
  • Volcanic Landscapes: Known for its striking volcanic landscapes, with several active volcanoes, providing unique hiking and sightseeing opportunities.
  • Rich Cultural Heritage: A blend of indigenous and Spanish influences, visible in its archaeological sites, artisan crafts, and traditional festivals.
A sunset over a volcano in El Salvador, another of the best countries for backpacking.

21. Morocco

Average daily backpacking budget: $30 USD

  • Vibrant Markets and Medinas: Famous for its bustling souks and medinas, offering a sensory overload of sights, sounds, and smells, and a glimpse into traditional life.
  • Desert Experiences: The opportunity to explore the vast Sahara Desert, offering unique experiences like camel treks and overnight stays in Berber tents.
  • Diverse Landscapes: From the majestic Atlas Mountains to ancient cities and long coastlines, Morocco offers a rich tapestry of natural and cultural landscapes.

Best Countries for Budget Travel: FAQ

Below are some questions related to the best countries for backpacking along with my answers to each question.

What is the best country for first time backpackers?

Thailand is the best country for first time backpackers. It’s very easy to visit on a budget, there is an extensive network of backpackers throughout the country, and it’s got a little bit of everything to guarantee lifelong memories.

Where do people backpack to?

Lots of people backpack in Southeast Asia and Latin America as the regions are affordable, suiting them to budget travel. Thanks to their popularity, there is a network of backpackers in each region, with hostels throughout every country.

Where is backpacking popular?

Backpacking is popular in Southeast Asia where there are thousands of travellers on a budget at any given time. Thailand and Vietnam are two of the most popular countries to backpack.

Where is the safest place to go backpacking?

Australia is one of the safest places to go backpacking. The backpacking community in Australia is one of the strongest in the world, and it’s incredibly safe to visit too. The only downside is it’s one of the more expensive countries to visit on a budget.

Final Thoughts: Best Countries for Backpacking

And there you have it, a complete list of the best countries for backpacking.

Remember, my favourites are Thailand and Vietnam. They offer a wealth of experiences, and they’re so easy to visit on a budget.

Now that you’ve decided where to go, make sure to use my backpacking budget calculator to figure out how much you need to save for your trip.

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