Top Ten Backpacking Countries for 2010

It goes without saying that backpacking is one of the most incredible, challenging and rewarding forms of traveling. Freedom, the scent of adventure, the sense of achievement – it all comes in a package, or, actually, a backpack. Whether you follow typical tourist routes or choose to stay off the beaten track, backpacking is a life changing experience for every independent traveler. Have a look at our selection of the best backpacking destinations for 2010 and choose your option for the days to come.

 

10. India

Ladakh in the Himalayas. India. By Magda & Maciek

India. Some love it, others hate it. It is the country of contrasts and many dimensions. The marvels of the Himalayan peaks, steppes, exotic beaches and magical tea plantations blend with over-populated, dirty, and far too noisy cities. Still, this huge country located in the Southern Asia is a magnet for hundreds of backpackers. Adventurous travelers will not be disappointed. India is simply fascinating and addictive. And yes – it’s also super inexpensive. Backpacker lodgings are a bargain, food is extremely cheap, and even cheaper in the local restaurants and eateries.

Among main attractions are the Taj Mahal mausoleum, beaches of Goa, Darjeeling hill station, Varanasi holy city of Shiva, and the Himalaya regions such as Ladakh and Leh. Although these are popular tourist tracks, the vibe, beauty and charm of these places is well worth experiencing.

The country has a great rail service, which is quite inexpensive, but the huge distances between the cities and major attractions make the journeys very long and tiring. There are also plenty of public and private buses that run very frequently. Planes are also an option; if you book in advance you can get a good price.

Khajuraho Temple. India. By [email protected]

 

9. Georgia

Ananuri Church. Georgia. By onbangladesh

Georgia seems to be a forgotten land. This tiny Caucasian country inhabited by only 4.4 million people is one of the most spectacular and worth-visiting spots in Eastern Europe. It is a paradise for backpackers as most of Georgia still remains unspoiled and untrodden.

Most travelers start their Georgian adventure in Tbilisi, the country’s capital, where the main international airport is located. The city is one of the oldest European capitals with history dating back to the 5th century. Among other amazing sites are Kazbegi village, the most accessible mountain destination in Georgia and a home to the symbol of the country – the Tsminda Sameba church. Among other Georgian highlights are Gori, the town where Joseph Stalin was born, and Uplistsikhe – a huge cave town founded around 1,000 BC and one of the oldest settlements in the Caucasus.

Above all, Georgia is famed for its good humored, hospitable and high spirited people. Georgians are considered to be one of the friendliest nations in the world.

The best, the cheapest and sometimes the only option to travel around Georgia is Marshrutkas, minibuses that run even to the remote mountain towns. The main routes are also covered by a train service (that runs West/East) and buses, which are a bit more pricey than Marshrutkas.

A view of Tsminda Sameba Church (Church of the Holy Trinity) in Kazbegi, Georgia. By GoGap

 

8. Uganda

Lake Mutanda. Uganda. By JulioGonzalez1

Uganda is Africa’s best kept secret. The natural sights of this amazing country are one of the most stunning highlights in Africa: the Mountains of Moon- the highest mountain range in Africa, Murchison Falls, or Rwenzori National Park. Backpacking in Uganda is not as cheap as in Asia or South America, but still, an ultra-budget traveler can get by on US$ 20 per day. Visiting Uganda’s cities is inexpensive, but being an active tourist raises the costs. By the way of example, seeing Murchison Falls costs around US$100 per day, while rafting the Nile is at least US$120 per day.

Among the country’s main attractions is Gorilla trekking in the Bwindi National Park. The rich jungle of the park is inhabited by half of the world’s population of the endangered Mountain Gorillas. The popular gorilla trekking activity involves walking in the forest in search for these amazing animals. Unfortunately, the cost of the trip is at least US$ 500.

Buses cover all main routes in Uganda, they are inexpensive, though quite crowded and slow. Getting to the country’s national parks tends to be more expensive as you have to hire a private car or jeep.

Murchison Falls National Park – Uganda. By God is all over

 

7. Poland

Old Town in Torun. Poland. By janusz l

While backpacking the old continent, you cannot miss Poland, one of the most fascinating countries in Central and Eastern Europe. It is a country of intriguing history, amazing cultural treasures, medieval towns, hundreds of castles, spectacular mountain vistas and strings of sandy beaches.

Of course, most backpackers end up in Kraków, one of the most amazing towns in Europe that can easily rival Prague, Budapest or Vienna in terms of charm, cultural offer and prices. Due to its growing popularity, the prices in Krakow have gone up significantly, but it is still much cheaper than other European cities – a pint stands at US$ 2.5, while accommodation in a hostel ranges between PLN 40 and PLN 60 per night (US$ 14 and US$ 20). Another superb Polish city is Wroclaw, the capital of Lower Silesia region, which sits on 12 islands of the Odra River connected by over 130 bridges.

The country’s nature is as stunning as its cities – if you want to escape crowds head for Słowiński National Park filled with lakes, peat bogs and shifting sand dunes, or Bieszczady, the largely forgotten region of the country, dominated by mountains and wild forests.

The best way to move around Poland is by rail. The train system covers the entire country and it is reasonably priced. However, the Polish trains are definitely not fastest in the world, so keep so
me extra time in reserve for getting from one place to another.

Niedzica and Czorsztn Castles, Poland. By janusz l

 

6. Argentina

Backpaking in Patagonia. Argentina. By andysternberg

With its mountains, glaciers, steppes, lakes, cosmopolitan cities andaffordable prices, Argentina is a heaven for backpackers. This hugecountry, almost the size of India, is a glorious destination forindependent travelers. It has it all: superb landscapes, truly untouchedregions and amazing food.
Incomparison to nearby Brazil and Chile, the country is a bargain. Afterthe economic crisis in 2001/2002 Argentina became super cheap fortravelers. At present the prices have increased, but you can easily getby on ARS 70 (US$ 20) per day, if sleeping in hostels and eating inlocal inexpensive restaurants. While in Argentina, you just cannot miss thesteaks. Not only are they best in the world but also reasonably priced.

Among the most amazing places in Argentina is Patagonia, a wild, vastand beautiful region, where you can easily escape crowds. For crazynightlife, head for Buenos Aires, the country’s bustling andvibrant capital, filled with great clubs, bars and restaurants.

While backpacking Argentina the major cost is, of course, transportation. It gets more expensive when you have to pay for flights, but if you are not short on time, try buses, which are rather inexpensive and the quality of service is quite high.

Perito Moreno. Patagonia. Argentina. By Mel Toledo

 

5. Australia

Melbourne. By Linh rOm

Australia is filled with backpackers. It is smooth and easy to travel around this amazing continent, though huge distances make the trip a bit more costly. Australia does not belong to cheap destinations as the prices of food, transport and accommodation are high in comparison to the countries of Eastern Europe or South America. Still, visiting Australia is a great experience. From bustling cities of Sydney and Melbourne, filled with superb clubs, restaurants and cultural highlights, to the remote outback, magnificent Great Ocean Road, magical Uluru, and the famed Great Barrier Reef, the country is a must for every traveler.

Moving around Australia is super easy. The rail, buses and mini buses cover the entire country; there are also several budget airlines such as Jetstar or Virgin Blue. If you stay longer and travel with several people you can split the costs and buy an old car or campervan.

Australian Coast. By Andrew Hux

 

4. Morocco

The Erg Chebbi Dunes, Morocco. By Robbie’s Photo Art

The country of scents and colors, wild desert, superb coast, fabulous mountain vistas and of course excellent food, Morocco is a paradise for an independent traveler. The vibe of the country comes from a unique blend of Europe, Africa and the Middle East cultures. In contrast to other African states where backpacking can be more challenging and expensive, Morocco is a perfect destination for independent voyagers. A budget traveler can get by on between US$ 20 and US$ 30 per day, the cities brim with hostels, and a convenient train network links the country’s main cities: Marrakesh and Tangier via Casablanca and Rabat.

While in Morocco, try one of the best African cuisines: couscous that comes in hundreds of varieties, pastille (meat pie), and a vast array of Moroccan pastries. The best time to visit Morocco is spring (mid-March to May), and autumn (September to November).

Chefchaouene. Morocco. By rytc

3. Ireland

North Ireland’s coast. By sgirolimetto

Backpacking Ireland is one of the most rewarding experiences you can get as a traveler. The republic that occupies about five-sixths of the island of Ireland is home to the world’s most spectacular vistas, super nice people and a great travel infrastructure. From the breathtaking coast to the bustling pubs of Dublin, Ireland will not disappoint any independent traveler. Its vastness, wildness and unspoiled natural sights combine with hospitable locals, rich history, well-guarded tradition, and a pint of Guinness to guarantee loads of fun and relaxation. 

Don’t leave without seeing Connemara, a spectacular remote coast, magical Aran Islands, and the misty mountains of Killarney National Park.

Relatively short distances are a big advantage of traveling around Ireland. Still, the public transportation services are quite expensive when compared to other backpack destinations. There is a good network of roads so hiring a car can be a good option, especially if you travel in a group.

A hostel in Glencolumbcille, Ireland. By bertishki

 

 2. Turkey

Butterfly Valley. Turkey. By Jason Tabarias

Turkey’s uniqueness is a magnet for many backpackers and adventure lovers. This giant country, a melting pot of European and Asian cultures is extremely fascinating, culturally rich and jaw-droopingly beautiful. The list of Turkey’s highlights seems never-ending: from the stunning scenery of Nemrut Dağı Milli National Park, ancient ruins, historical towns such as Ani or Ephesus, to hip Istanbul, the array of Turkish attractions is unbeatable.

Turkey is also good value for money. It is becoming more expensive as more tourists visit the country and the value of the Turkish curr
ency has been gradually increasing over the last years. Still, the country is a bargain in comparison to other Mediterranean destinations such as Greece or Italy. The most expensive areas are Istanbul and the coastal tourist cities, while in the eastern part of the country and in less visited areas you can travel on as little as US$ 35 per day.

Turkey has a great bus system which covers the entire country and is much cheaper and faster than trains. Ferries to Greece and Italy are quite expensive (about US$ 500 to Italy).

A mosque in Istanbul. By Minamie’s Photo

 

 1. Bolivia

Altiplano. Bolivia. By Andras Jancsik

Bolivia has everything a backpacker could wish for. It is the cheapest country in the region (unfortunately the poorest), but also one of the world’s richest destinations in terms of spectacular vistas. Truly, Bolivian landscapes are considered to be the most stunning on the entire continent, if not in the world. The country’s jewels such as Bolivian Altiplano, Salar de Uyuni (the world’s largest salt flat), amazing old towns such as Sucre or La Paz, and many Inca Trails are magnets for independent travelers from around the globe.

You can easily live on less than US$ 20 a day, especially if you eat like locals. Hostels cost around US$ 10 per night or less. Again, transportation is the biggest cost – especially getting to Bolivia. Traveling by buses is cheap and faster than trains.

Backpacking Bolivia. By dckf_$ê[email protected]!nX’

Are you an experienced backpacker and want to share your opinion with others? Go ahead! Or perhaps you’re just dreaming of getting away from it all and preparing for the trip of your lifetime. Let us know where you go and why…



Comments

  1. Hola. I am Argentine. Buenos Aires is amazing and you should definitely visit. The cemetary in La Recoleta is my favorite place. There are also smaller cities that are as pretty. I recommend LA Plata. It has a beautiful gothic cathedral. I also recommend taking the one hour flight to Iguazu. They are the most beautiful waterfalls. Also, it is not worth it to go to the Brazil side. The Argentina side is more beautiful and bigger. It is not worth paying for a visa.

  2. Hi I just got back from Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. Stayed for a month and half. Those that questioning where to go I would strongly recommend Vietnam and Cambodia. Thailand is great and all however, I found that it is not as cheap as ppl claim. Not that you can’t find a good deals but you really gotta bargain for it. I think it’s become a little bit of a tourist trap at this point. The locals know what they can get away with charging you and will take advantage of your wallet anyway they can. Example: Taxi drivers in Bangkok are absolutely ridiculous. They’ll refuse to use a meter 75% of the time and will try and charge you 10$ to go 2km. Always ask for Thai menu… the ones they print in English are significantly higher. When going to the train station avoid the local that takes you aside and walks you up to the scam travel agency they will charge you triple the price of a ticket and there literally buying them downstairs. I think if I were European these prices might seem cheap to me however as an American everything was about 30-40% higher than I would have liked to have paid. Coincidentally that lines up with the dollar to euro exchange rate. Vietnam and Cambodia on the other hand are just as beautiful and a lot cheaper and the locals don’t try to scam you out of seeing sights or your money. Had the best time of life in all three country’s I just think Thailand has finally stepped off the extremely cheap radar.

  3. am 20 year old from the uk and this first time chooseing were to backpack ive got 3 weeks of in july i know its not long but i want a taste of somthing new somthing ill remember for a lifetime see thing i wouldnt normally see meet people id never think about meeting and feeling alive at the same time……..if any expericenced backpackers out there get my drift and know were would suit me for my first time and have routes they know could yous please help me out ….

  4. WTF where’s Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, China, Russia!!! Turkey, Ireland, Georgia, Poland aren’t really great backpacking countries.. They are more for the city hoppers, going from city to city in hotels or road trippers.

  5. Ladakh in India is amazing. A must visit! People in Ladakh are not of indian ethnicity. They are more central asian and Mongolians. Ladakh is one of the highest, dryest and coldest inhabited places on earth

  6. i think Nepal is most beautyful land in the world..8 among the 10 highest mountian in the world are in Nepal..its 2nd richest in rivers i n the wrld for white water sport and land where peace abuddha was born..and its very cheap also..average 20$ per day.

  7. Sorry guys, but I hated Indonesia. It was filthy and the people constantly pestered us and make really ignorant comments. I have pictures upon pictures of garbage on the beaches (especially in Bali & Lombok) and floating in the water. You can’t step outside of your hotel without someone following you down the street and trying to sell you something. Any hostel that was mentioned in the Lonely Planet upped the price by 400% and you cannot find a bed with clean sheets for under $50/night. It sucked there! Sorry to say, I was super disappointed too. On the other hand, Taiwan, Thailand, Philippines, Cambodia and Vietnam are all wonderful places to visit…

  8. Yes, I have to agree with mademoisellevoyage, I thought the Poles(Polish) were very rascist too, very moody also and both the girls and guys were really arrogant; if you askes a girl for directions for example, in her mind so thought you were chatting her up and so just said “sorry, I’m too busy” and this happend several times on the weekend. Forget Poland, too many moody, rascist people who have a strange arrogance.

  9. I just came back from an amazing backpacking trip in Poland. Definitely you can find good deals there, and the food is absolutely delicious – the country still relies on traditional farming, so simple products like potatos or tomatos are so rich in flavours you simply do not need any dressing,etc. I hiked from Szklarska Poreba, over to the top of the moutain at 1300 meters above the sea. Stayed for two nights at Szrenica mountain hostel, and was surprised with dirt cheap prices for good quality and clean rooms and toilets. From your room you see miles out, as Szrenica is one of the tollest moutains there, and the place is right on the top. Very unique place.

  10. Malaysia & Indonesia are nice and cheap bp travel destination, wild life, rainforest, amazing islands, stunning cities like KL and Jakarta and nice local people.

  11. Nice.. 🙂 This post is one my favorite blog..

    Keep it up ..and keep posting 🙂 I am loking forward to see more interesting content like this..

  12. Poland??? I did not found it nor nice neither interesting and the people were just rude, uneducated and rasist. The food was good I have to say.
    I totally give my vote for Turkey, which is amazing and I would give no 1 to peru which is the most exuisite land one can experience.
    Portugal deserves to get in this top as everything in there is genuine, especially the north and the west..
    If ireland is in the top, is taking france’s right, just as aussieland is not even close to the kiwis new zeeland beauty.
    I do recommend travellings in eastern europe as its beautifull, safe and people speak foreign languages. I always had amazing time backpacking in bosnia, in muntenegro, and the romanians carpathians in transilvania.
    Truly I think this top needs way more entries explnations and work on. It.
    And if u wanna find paradise outside of yourself and in the others and their land… Go to COSTA RICA! There is nothin in the world like that to mee!!!

  13. ive been all over the world and my favs are

    Indonesia – Gili T may be the coolest place on earth

    Guatemala and Nicaragua – both just amazing

    Turkey is massive and mindblowing

    The Balkan Countries (Romania, Serbia, Croatia, Bulgaria) are also some really good backpacking areas

  14. Sasha: wouldn’t go to india, don’t want daily food poisoning and see dead animals and faeces in the streets

    Your silly you def do not get daily food poisoning and you do not really see that many dead animals on the street. It is the most amazing place that you will never get to experience because your to small minded. shame.

  15. I would definitely add to this list Guatemala. Have you ever been there?-. Is very cheap, people is nice with you and there is a lot of things to.

    I loved The mayan city Tikal and the Antigua Guatemala.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.