For the Egyptian wanderluster the thrill of discovering new territories, trotting off the beaten track, and finding friends in unlikely places is an unparalleled experience.
However, with Egypt’s recent economic setbacks, travelling almost seems like a distant dream. The Egyptian pound has undergone three rounds of devaluation since February 2022 with the national currency standing at USD 30.95 on 6 June.
For those hoping to travel this summer, there is a silver lining. The world is freckled with countries that can be explored on a budget.
Here are the four destinations for those looking to travel without breaking the bank.
With the shores of the Caspian sea lining it to the east, Azerbaijan is bordered by several countries including Georgia, Iran, Armenia, and Russia. To its north are the Caucasus mountains. The country is nestled between Asia and Europe.
Azerbaijan is a country brimming with history and picturesque sights. While the capital is more expensive in comparison to the neighbouring spots, there are a few cities in the country which are particularly budget-friendly.
Ganja is the second largest city in Azerbaijan after the capital, Baku. Located on trade routes, namely the historical silk road — which was a web of passages linking merchants and traders over great distances from east to west — the city is the birthplace of one of the country’s most revered poets from the 12th century, Nizami Ganjavi.
While rich in history, Ganja was also voted the European Youth Capital in 2016. The city has a flourishing art scene for the creatives and a myriad of sight-seeing spots and landmarks for the history buffs.
A quirky attraction to visit is The Bottle House, which is said to have been built by a Ganja resident in memory of his brother who disappeared during the Second World War. The two-storey structure is decorated with thousands of bottles in a kaleidoscope of colours.
The price for a meal in Azerbaijan starts at USD 5.
For mid-range hotels, prices vary between USD 29 and USD 78 per night.
Ticket prices to Baku start at USD 500 as of August, 2023.
Home to mountainous swathes of land and scenery worthy of your Instagram grid, Albania witnessed a particularly popular period among Egyptians last year, when it had waived the requirement for visa for Egypt’s nationals in 2022.
However, this convenient rule is not the sole reason for its popularity as the country is an affordable tourist destination.
Albania is located on Europe’s Balkan peninsula with access to the Adriatic Sea and Ionian Sea, with the bordering countries being Greece, Montenegro, Kosovo, and Macedonia.
Influences from the Romans, Greeks, Turks and Italians are imprinted on Albanian culture with the first occupants of the country being Indo-Europeans referred to as the Illyrian tribes.
Tirana, the capital of the Balkan country, boasts a vibrant nightlife. With a smattering of bars and clubs open until late at night, the capital sees a range of activities that caters to all tastes from the cosy pubs to the rowdy clubs.
The Blloku is considered the party centre with a slew of restaurants, cafes, and shopping venues lining its streets. The history of the area is equally interesting as it used to be a district that secret agents during Albania’s communist era had cordoned off. At the time, only elites and their families were privy to partying in the area.
Sights and landmarks abound in the capital. The Bunk’Art 1 is a converted space, which was once one of the many bunkers built by Albania’s communist leader, Enver Hoxha. Fuelled by growing paranoia of nuclear war and foreign enemies, Hoxha built the massive bunker-turned-museum as a shelter for the “political elite.”
This is not for the faint of heart, however. It has been described as an eerie experience. Prices of visits start at around USD 4.33.
Restaurant prices range from USD 4 to USD 20, depending on whether travellers are looking for an upscale venue or a medium to lower range establishment.
For mid-range hotels, prices start at USD 50 per night
Ticket prices for Tirana start at USD 330 as of August, 2023.
Uzbekistan, which shares a border with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan, is known for its intricately designed mosques and charming minarets — a tower characteristic to Islamic architecture, which is generally part of the mosque’s structure.
The capital Tashkent is home to the Hazrati Imam Complex, which is located in the old town and houses an ensemble of ornate mausoleums, madrasas (Islamic schools), and mosques. The complex has also been recently renovated.
Uzbek food is inspired by a medley of different cuisines as a result of being an integral route on the famous Silk Road. As such, its dishes find influences from both east and west with Turkey, Iran, and Morocco having left their imprint. Similarly China, Nepal and India, among other countries, have impacted the country’s national food.
One of the staples of the cuisine and a must-try dish is the Uzbek samsas or somsas, which are similar to the Indian samosas. The Uzbek iteration of the South Asian dish uses pumpkin squash and seasoned minced meat, and is usually eaten for breakfast.
While the ticket prices for a flight from Cairo to Uzbekistan are relatively expensive, the sojourn itself is affordable.
Dinner prices vary depending on whether the traveller chooses to eat at a local restaurant or at a touristic location. Generally, average prices start at USD 5.
For mid-range hotels, prices start at USD 60 per night
Ticket prices to Tashkent start at USD 760 as of August, 2023.
Long hailed as the destination for festival-goers and beach lovers, Thailand is known for the paradise-like islands lining its coast.
In the pulsing heart of Southeast Asia, Thailand neighbours Cambodia, Myanmar, Malaysia and Laos with the Andaman sea and the Gulf of Thailand — also dubbed the Gulf of Siam — on its shores.
While the capital Bangkok is definitely worth a visit, it is the idyllic islands — each of which boasts a personality of its own — that lure visitors.
Koh Phangan, famous for its full moon and half moon parties, is a Thai island that grants its guests views of formidable green mountains lying side by side to crystal-blue waters.
The markets and bazaars on the island are an ideal spot to shop for a range of goods at affordable prices.
For sight-seeing, Koh Phangan, is home to a number of temples with intricate designs and unique colour schemes representing the traditions they were built in. One of these is the Chinese Temple Goddess of Mercy which sits atop a hill. It is one of the best-known temples on the island with a panoramic view that perfectly echoes the essence of Koh Phangan.
Meals cost between USD 3 to USD 6.
Depending on the season, hotel prices vary immensely. High and low seasons are usually dictated by the weather. The country has a tropical climate and is divided into three main seasons: Hot, rainy and dry. From November to April, when the weather is in dry season, the country sees its busiest time of the year.
For mid-range hotels, prices start at USD 20 per night but can easily go up to USD 100 depending on the traveller’s choice of accommodation.
Ticket prices to Bangkok start at USD 415 as of August, 2023.