By Oliver Gaywood.
Skyscanner Australia has researched the cheapest places to go on holiday in 2018. Below each city you’ll find the average cost of a return flight from Sydney, as well as the average price for a night in a three-star hotel, a bottle of beer, a meal out (a three-course fancy meal and a cheap meal, both for two people) as well as the cost of one of the city’s most popular attractions.
1. Penang, Malaysia
The island of Penang is one of Malaysia’s most popular locations. With beaches, forest walks and one of the country’s biggest cities to explore, it’s easy to see the attraction.
The biggest city, George Town, is a fusion of British, Chinese, Indian and Malay cultures which brings about an eclectic mix of architecture and dining styles. Hidden among the narrow streets are some of Southeast Asia’s best street art.
Along the north coast of the island you’ll find the tranquil Batu Ferrenghi beaches and farther along you’ll find the Penang National Park, a paved walkway through green forest that leads to Monkey Beach, a name that comes from the frequent macaque monkeys that visit.
Flights: From $336
Accommodation: From $32
Price of beer: $4.13
Average cost of dinner for two: $20.63; $7.60
Cost of activities: $20 (adult entry to Entopia tropical sanctuary)
2. Xi An, China
Xi An, found in central China, is a historic city known for being the start of the fabled Silk Road. Its most famous attraction is the Terracotta Army, where you can see more than 8000 lifelike statues that date back to the third century BCE.
Being a hub for the Silk Road, Xi An has long welcomed visitors and new cultures, and these influences can be found across the city, however there’s plenty of Chinese history in its pagodas, museums and city walls too.
Flights: From $389
Accommodation: From $23
Price of beer: $0.99
Average cost of dinner for two: $17.74; $5.92
Cost of activities: $24-$30 (adult entry to see Terracotta Army)
3. Surabaya, Indonesia
If Bali doesn’t tickle your fancy (or you’ve already been half a dozen times), there’s plenty of other options for great holidays in Indonesia’s 6000 inhabited islands.
Another cheap holiday destination in Indonesia is Surabaya on nearby Java. Much more developed than Bali, Surabaya takes a bit of exploring to enjoy – from its rich Arab culture and integrated Dutch past to one of the country’s largest Chinatowns.
Like in Bali, beer, food and accommodation are all ludicrously cheap, making it a great way to start exploring the rest of Indonesia.
Flights: From $421
Accommodation: From $21
Price of beer: $2.01
Average cost of dinner for two: $14.33; $5.74
Cost of activities: 50-70 cents (adult entry to Suroboyo Carnival Park)
4. Kochi, India
Kochi, formerly known as Cochin, may only be the 75th biggest city in India, but its metro population is close to half of New Zealand’s national total.
Its coastal position has seen it take influences from the Brits, Dutch and Portuguese explorers of yesteryear, and it’s also heavily influenced by Chinese traders and fishermen, giving the city a different feel to much of the rest of India.
In amongst this you’ll find traditional Indian culture, art and, most importantly, food. And when you can get a delicious curry for $3, there’s little else that matters.
Flights: From $512
Accommodation: From $30
Price of beer: $1.82
Average cost of dinner for two: $10.10; $3
Cost of activities: 10 cents (entry to Mattancherry Palace)
5. Luang Prabang, Laos
Forget the tubing culture of Vang Vieng, Luang Prabang is the cultural capital of Laos and a much more scenic and low key way to enjoy the country. In 1995, the city became a UNESCO World Heritage Centre.
Enjoy local delicacies such as laab at one of the many riverside restaurants, climb the central Mount Phousi for spectacular city views (especially as the sun rises or sets) and wander along the markets for local handicrafts.
Be sure to explore the beautiful Royal Palace – its mirrored Throne Hall is one of the most stunning attractions in Southeast Asia.
Flights: From $564
Accommodation: From $38
Price of beer: $1.20
Average cost of dinner for two: $11.66; $5.20
Cost of activities: $4.60 (entry to Royal Palace)
6. Colombo, Sri Lanka
With colonial architecture, tree-shaded streets and beaches lapping beside the city, Colombo is a great place to begin a tour of Sri Lanka.
The food is the star of the show in Sri Lanka, from magnificent and fragrant street food to sit down restaurants with almost embarrassingly low prices. Cheap local beers wash down the curries well, almost too well, especially when you need to be sure to stay hydrated on your trip.
While in Colombo, enjoy the ancient temples, the British-inspired architecture and the nature that is evident over the city – especially at Galle Face Green.
Flights: From $588
Accommodation: From $22
Price of beer: $2.90
Average cost of dinner for two: $16.90; $5
Cost of activities: $10 (foreign adult entry into Colombo National Museum)
7. Prague, Czechia
Getting flights to Europe for under a grand is always going to be tempting, especially when it lands you in one of the continent’s cheaper and most picturesque cities.
The cobble-stone roads, palatial architecture and world-class galleries of Prague often draw comparisons to Paris, albeit on a much more economical scale.
The jewel in the Czech crown is its sublime beer, with plenty of bars and brewery tours for travellers to sample the local delicacy.
Flights: From $955
Accommodation: From $38
Price of beer: $2.09
Average cost of dinner for two: $35.81; $15.52
Cost of activities: $21 (entry to Prague Castle)
8. Tbilisi, Georgia
The Georgian capital Tbilisi has a vibrant mix of Asian, European and Russian culture thanks to its close proximity to these regions.
As with much of Eastern Europe, Christian cathedrals are large and imposing. They are still popular today among the religious population, but also double as beautiful stops on city tours, as do fortresses, monasteries and the botanical gardens.
Vegetarians, be warned: the local cuisine may not be to your liking, and you may find yourself eating a lot of potatoes.
Flights: From $1220
Accommodation: From $43
Price of beer: $1.25
Average cost of dinner for two: $25.52; $15.22
Cost of activities: $1 (entry to National Botanical Garden)
9. La Paz, Bolivia
Many travellers head to La Paz on their way to the otherworldly Bolivian salt plains, but the national capital is a destination in its own right.
Walk the bustling streets, enjoy the Spanish touches in the architecture and soak in the local atmosphere that exudes through the music, shops and general public.
Just outside the city there are some of the world’s most revered cycling routes, canyon tours and trips to see ancient history at Tiwanaku.
Flights: From $1240
Accommodation: From $32
Price of beer: $3.75
Average cost of dinner for two: $37.54; $9.58
Cost of activities: $4 (entry to National Museum)
10. Guatemala City, Guatemala
The most expensive flights on the list, but also one of the most exotic locations for Aussie travellers looking for something new.
The country of Guatemala has plenty to attract visitors, from its natural wonders to unique cities like Antigua. Guatemala City is the capital and the hub, home to the country’s best galleries and restaurants.
Day trips from Guatemala City can have you in the Tikal ruins one day and at Pacaya Volcano the next, before bringing you back to grand architecture, cheap beers and delicious guacemole.
Flights: From $1,397
Accommodation: From $62
Price of beer: $2.03
Average cost of dinner for two: $38.80; $14.20
Cost of activities: $5.50 (adult entry to La Aurora Zoo)