Things That Matter

13 Super Affordable Cities In Latin America To Travel On A Budget

Traveling through Latin America might be more affordable than you think. Check out these 13 destinations — in these places, you’ll find plenty of things to see and do without putting a huge dent in your budget.

1. Quito, Ecuador

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Quito, Ecuador is a city that’s often overlooked because its altitude, which is 2,850 meters above sea level, can make it difficult to get to. But if you do travel to Quito, you’ll find a city that mixes the old and new beautifully, cheap taxi rides and even cheaper meals — that’s right, you can find a decent sized meal in this city for between $1.50 and $2.50 if you aren’t looking for gourmet cuisine.

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In 1978, Quito became the first city declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to the city’s historic district. Old town, as it’s called locally, covers 800 acres and is the largest historic center in the Americas. There you’ll find a plethora of ancient colonial building complete with thick walls and tiled roofs and abundance of museums to explore, but Old town’s charm really shines through at the gold-gilded La Compania de Jesus Church and the Basilica del Voto Nacional, which is adorned with native Ecuadorian animals instead of gargoyles.

2. Granada, Nicaragua

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Granada is a colonial town that’s easily one of Central America’s most budget-friendly locale. In fact, the tourist destination is popular with backpackers and has a sizeable expat community because it’s a place where you’ll get a lot for your money. In fact, the Price of Travel website estimates backpackers in Granada spend about $22.14 per day for meals, transportation, and accommodations.

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The heart of Granada is the city’s main drag, Calle la Calzada. This pedestrian-only street is lined with restaurants, cafes, and shops. It’s a great play to get a feel for the city, browse the open-air market, and check out some street performers.

3. Cusco, Peru

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The start of every trip to Machu Picchu begins in Cusco, Peru. And because the cost of the train from Cusco to Machu Picchu and admission to the Machu Picchu site are fairly costly, it would be easy to assume that Cusco is an expensive destination — but it’s not. In Cusco, you can easily find a hostel for $15 per night, so it’s simple to get by in Cusco for less than $30 per day.

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The Plaza da Armas is the historic city center. It’s cobbled, pedestrian-only streets extend away from the town center to some of the area’s more popular attractions. Nearby the Cusco Cathedral, the city’s oldest church, displays massive collections of colonial art from the Cusco School of Art.

4. San Jose, Costa Rica

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Visiting San Jose, Costa Rica gives you direct access to volcanic views and amazing beaches. Spend the day soaking up the sun before touring the city.

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You’ll find the National Theater right in the heart of San Jose. It’s one of Costa Rica’s most visited sites. While the outside building is amazing on its own, the inside is lavishly decorated and adorned with breathtaking murals.

5. Mexico City, Mexico

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Mexico City, Mexico is an exciting metropolis with walkable neighborhoods and old-world architecture. Getting around the city is simple. The metro system will get you anywhere for about 5 pesos — about $0.27. You can even tighten your budget a bit more by staying in a cheap AirBnB and eating street food. There are plenty of hostels throughout Mexico City too.

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While Mexico City has a lot of beautiful buildings to admire, the Palacio de Bellas Artes may be one of the best. You can visit on your own, or take a walking tour through the city. Walking tours are a big deal here, and you can find some tours for as little as $30 admission.

6. La Paz, Bolivia

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La Paz, Bolivia is the highest capital city in the world. It rests along the Andes’ Altiplano plateau, which is more than 3,500 meters above seas level. The best part the city’s elevation is that you can travel the area by cable car. The Mi Teleferico gets you around the city and provides you with some amazing views along the way.

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While La Paz is a great city to explore, it has plenty of outdoorsy areas to peruse as well. Spend your days hiking, because heading back into town for dinner. The average one-week trip to La Paz for one adult costs about $171, according to Budget Your Trip.

7. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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Christ the Redeemer overlooks Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and it’s one of the city’s most popular sites. While Rio de Janeiro might not be as cheap as Quito, Ecuador, or La Paz, Bolivia, it doesn’t have to be an expensive destination. According to Budget Your Trip, you should expect to pay about $11 per day for food, $70 per night for accommodations, and a little more than $6 per day for transportation.

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When you’re done exploring the city, take some time to visit the Rio’s “fake forest.” A portion of the Amazon rainforest was transferred to the middle of Rio de Janeiro. It was designed in 1808 and includes more than 8,000 plant species.

8. Santa Ana, El Salvador

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If you enjoy exploring the great outdoors, Santa Ana, El Salvador, makes a great budget-friendly trip. While hiking around Lago de Coatepeque, you can enjoy some breathtaking views of the area. Before heading back into the city for food, drinks, and relaxation.

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The Montecristo National Park in Santa Ana is another great place to visit. Spend the day following the trails through the jungle, which take you across suspended bridges that offer the best views of the area.

9. Antigua, Guatemala

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Antigua, Guatemala, is essentially a time capsule filled with so restored and ruined colonial architecture that you could spend days exploring every nook and cranny of the small city. The city is flanked by three volcanos, and has some of the cheapest language school in Latin American, making it ideal for those who want to improve their Spanish.

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It’s important to note that some parts of Antiqua can get pricey. But if you avoid visiting during lint, stay in a hostel, eat street food, and avoid drinking too much alcohol, you can get by in Antigua for between $20-$25 per day This should be easy to accomplish if you spend most of your days strolling through the amazing city admiring its architecture and parks.

10. Lima, Peru

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Lima, Peru, may be known as The City of Kings, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend like one. According to Budget Your Trip, one adult spends about $60 per day traveling in Lima. But you can spend less if you know where and when to eat. Stay away from touristy hot spots — the prices there are a lot higher, than at places where locals dine. Also, eat your biggest meal at lunch. During lunchtime, big meals are readily available at much lower prices.

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When traveling through Lima, agree on a price for the ride because you get into the taxi — and don’t be afraid to haggle. Taxis in Lima don’t have meters. So what you pay is what’s agreed upon before the ride. If you think the taxi driver is charging too much, simply go to another taxi to get a better rate.

11. Santiago, Chile

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Imagine waking up in Santiago, Chile to amazing mountainous views. Well, you can, and you don’t have a pay a small fortune to do it. According to Budget your trip, meals in Santiago for one day, for one person, are about $12 and daily transportation will cost you about $5.30. Area Accommodation can be a bit pricey though, so you might want to book a hostel or Airbnb in advance.

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You’ll find a lot of interesting places to explore in Santiago, including the Stately office of Chile’s President, the Plaza de Arms, and St, Lucia Hill. While you’re there, hike up San Cristobal Hill for some amazing panoramic views of the city.

12. Montevideo, Uruguay

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If you’re looking for a relaxing, affordable beach vacation, Montevideo is a great destination. It’s a place where you can enjoy city life and the beach without spending a small fortune.

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When touring Montevideo, Uruguay, keep an eye out for street art. Street murals are common in this city, and during your trip, you’re bound to discover gem after gem.

13. Buenos Aires, Argentina

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While it may not be the cheapest place in Latin America to visit, Buenos Aires, is still an affordable vacation destination. According to Budget Your Trip, you should expect to pay about $53 per night for accommodations, $3.41 for a day’s worth of food, and $0.84 per day for transportation. When you consider that Buenos Aires is a vast metropolis that’s a melting pot of cultures, these prices seem like a steal.

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If you visit Buenos Aires in the spring, you’ll find breathtaking views of jacaranda trees. The light purple blooms make the already vibrant city even more colorful.

The U.S. Passport Was Once The World’s Strongest, It’s Fallen To 25th Place Thanks To Failed Leadership Amid Coronavirus

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The U.S. Passport Was Once The World’s Strongest, It’s Fallen To 25th Place Thanks To Failed Leadership Amid Coronavirus

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Not that we should be traveling right now, as the country’s Coronavirus pandemic continues to spiral out of control – but it’s worth noting that our international options are fewer than they were just months ago.

Historically, the U.S. passport has been seen as the golden ticket to travel with ease across the international community as it was once regarded as one of the strongest passports in the world. But that’s changing.

You can blame the drop in standing of the U.S. passport on our elected leaders who have massively failed to gain an upper hand on this health crisis. As other countries have demonstrated an ability to control Coronavirus within their borders, the U.S. has failed miserably. And that failure – in addition to more than 3 million infections and 130,000 deaths – has resulted in Americans simply being turned away from international destinations.

The U.S. passport dropped in visa-free access from 7th to 25th place as a result of our Coronavirus failures.

In what is a double whammy for the United States, the country recently crossed the three-million mark in terms of the number of registered COVID-19 cases, and more than 132,000 people have died from the disease. Now, its handling of the pandemic has drastically diminished power of its passport. 

Before the pandemic, the U.S. was regularly listed in the Top 10 on the Henley Passport Index, an annual ranking of the number of countries a passport gets you into without a visa. The ranking is based on data from the International Air Transport Association. The US usually comes in sixth or seventh and topped the list as recently as 2014. Before the coronavirus pandemic, a US passport would get you into 185 destinations around the world without the need for a visa at all or a visa on arrival.

According to the latest Henley Passport Index, U.S. passports now have access to only 158 countries, putting it on par with a Mexican passport, a significant decline from its previous top 10 ranking in 2014.

“We see an emergence of a new global hierarchy in terms of mobility, with countries that have effectively managed the pandemic taking the lead, and countries that have handled it poorly falling behind,” says Christian Kaelin, chairman of Henley & Partners, according to Forbes.

The biggest drop came as a result of the European Union banning entry to U.S. citizens.

Many countries across the globe are beginning to open back up as they get their Coronavirus outbreaks under control, and they are limiting or banning travel with countries where the virus is running rampant — including the United States. 

In fact, as Europe has slowly started to reopen its borders to international tourists, it’s specifically left off the U.S. Europe’s decision is responsible for the largest drop in the power of the U.S. passport.

Recently, five Americans who flew to Sardinia on a private jet were turned away and governors in Mexico are advocating for tighter border measures to prevent Americans from going into the country and spreading the virus. 

The U.S. passport is now equal in strength to that of Mexico and Uruguay.

It’s no secret that citizenship is the main factor behind preserving global inequalities today and that simply holding a U.S. passport can grant you access to so many more destinations. But now, Americans are getting to swee just how your government’s actions – or failures – can result in you being treated differently on the global level.

Thanks to America’s failure at combating the virus, U.S. citizens now hold passports that have around the same level of travel freedom as citizens of Mexico (#25 on Henley Passport Index, with a score of 159) and Uruguay (#28, with a score of 153).

Coronavirus continues to rage out of control across the U.S., so it should go without saying that an international trip is not a good idea right now.

Countries are closing their doors to Americans, as the outbreak in the US — the worst in the world — nears 3 million infections with over 131,000 deaths.

The US last week surpassed 50,000 new daily coronavirus cases, and that trend has been maintained this week with multiple states and cities recording record-high new infections, hospitalizations, or deaths. 

Another factor playing into travel restrictions – beyond the surging of cases in the U.S., is that America’s health care system is decentralized, unpredictable and unequal.

Tourism is essential for the economies of many destinations—and the livelihoods of individuals and families—and plays a role in reducing poverty. But right now is not the time for Americans to be traveling.

Mexico Plans To Reopen Cancun To International Tourists But It’s Not At All Prepared For Visitors

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Mexico Plans To Reopen Cancun To International Tourists But It’s Not At All Prepared For Visitors

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There are millions of people just itching for a vacation right now, and Cancun wants to welcome visitors with open arms. However, there’s a huge problem with their plan. Most of the country is still in a severe phase of the pandemic – with all 32 states reporting daily increases in confirmed Covid-19 cases.

In cities such as Guadalajara and Mexico City, even locals aren’t allowed to venture far from their homes and restrictions on shopping, dining, and exercising are still in full force.

However, the country’s president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO), has resumed his cross-country travels and is trying to portray a ‘new normal’ – the problem is little has changed to prevent further outbreaks.

Cancun is aiming to open its doors to tourists from June 10 – but it makes zero sense given the actual situation on the ground.

Quintana Roo, home to the famed beaches of Cancun and Tulum, will resume activities next week – according to the governor, Carlos Joaquin Gonzalez. The state, which depends heavily on tourism, has lost over 83,000 jobs in the last few months due to the pandemic, and with reopening the state could see an economic rebound. However, that entirely depends on the success and implementation of safety measures.

In a press conference, the governor said that tourists could start arriving in the Caribbean destination as soon as June 8th. He added that tourism is an essential activity and that there is no other of greater importance in Quintana Roo “and we are going to fight for it to be considered that way.”

He stressed during the public address that for the opening to happen by June 10th, protocols and hygiene measures must be followed to protect workers and tourists from Covid-19.

And he has good reason to reopen. According to a new survey by Expedia, ‘Cancun flights’ is one of the top 5 searches on the platform. In the same survey, Playa del Carmen, Cancun and Isla Mujeres (all located in Quintana Roo) were announced as three of the most internationally sought after destinations.

Meanwhile, AMLO has launched a cross-country tour touting the lifting of Coronavirus restrictions.

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President AMLO also held his daily press conference from the state of Quintana Roo to mark the beginning of Mexico’s economic reopening and resume his tours across the country.

But this too makes zero sense. Yes, the government has mandated that states can begin lifting restrictions – if they’re no longer declared ‘red zones.’ However, every state in the country is still in the red, with many seeing peak infection numbers.

It’s just the most recent example of confusing messaging from the president.

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While AMLO is eager to get the country reopened and put Mexicans back to work, Coronavirus cases continue to rise across the country. Mexico has now recorded the seventh-highest number of Covid-19 deaths in the world, according to the Johns Hopkins tracker, with nearly 10,000 virus-related fatalities and almost 100,000 confirmed cases. Testing in the country is low and health officials acknowledge that the numbers are likely much higher.

The federal government unveiled a red-light/green-light system to implement reopening procedures state by state. But currently every state is still in ‘red-light’ phase – meaning stay-at-home orders are still in full effect – making AMLO’s messaging extremely confusing.

Time and time again, the president has downplayed the virus outbreak and has criticized stay-at-home orders for harming the economy.

Keep in mind, however, that non-essential travel between the U.S. and Mexico is still largely banned.

Since March, all non-essential travel has been banned between the U.S. and Mexico. However, that ban is currently set to expire on June 22. It’s possible both sides could extend the travel ban, but given AMLO’s rhetoric it isn’t likely he’ll keep the country closed to tourists for much longer.

However, it’s important to point that out even if you technically can travel – right now you really shouldn’t. In much of Mexico, confirmed Covid-19 cases are on the rise with many cities across the country just now entering it’s worst phase.