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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.

Puerto Vallarta Has Long Been An LGBTQ-Friendly Travel Destination And Here’s Why

Culture

Puerto Vallarta Has Long Been An LGBTQ-Friendly Travel Destination And Here’s Why

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Puerto Vallarta is one of the favorite Mexican tourist destinations of the LGBT community. There are hotels, bars, nightclubs, beaches, and even drinks specifically for LGBT travelers, and due to the safety and welcoming environment for these guests, it is the first city in Mexico to receive the Gay Travel Approved distinction by GayTravel.com.

But why PV? What made Vallarta Mexico’s top gay destination?

Let’s start back at the beginning.

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In the south of Puerto Vallarta you will find the “Old Town,” also called “The Romantic Zone,” the tourist area favored by expats and foreigners who want to soak up local traditions. The Old Puerto Vallarta is also considered the gay neighborhood since 1980, when the gay community and retired Canadians and Americans bought land and properties in order to create gay-friendly businesses. Today there’s a wide variety of attractions with this focus, including bars, restaurants, stores, nightclubs, and both budget and boutique hotels.

In this zone is nestled the popular beach Playa de los Muertos, which, although not exclusively gay, for the last 20 years has been known as a gay-friendly beach (also called Blue Chairs, because of the many blue chairs placed by a gay resort which bears the same name), mainly in the high season, from November to March.

Why is this pristine beach the LBGT meeting point? Because the gay-friendly beachfront hotels in the area causes—and guarantees—a concentration of LGBT tourists, bringing a multicultural ambience where members of this community will be respected without discrimination. In the morning they can socialize and enjoy the party atmosphere, and in the afternoon walk holding hands under the dazzling sunset, in a romantic atmosphere free of hostility. Such is the high demand for LGBT-friendly vacation spots that the area has been extended to include the green chairs and as far as the north coast, in the elegant Oceano Sapphire Beach Club, owned by gays.

But it’s about more than just the beach.

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Unlike certain countries, laws against homosexuality never existed in Mexico. There is, however, a strong macho culture and religious influence which disapproves it—nonetheless the locals show respect. Under these circumstances, the growing community has led LGBT organizations to work to promote a change of culture in the pursuit of equality. Their work has gotten results: they have achieved recognition of gay rights, and implemented laws against the provocation and incitement of hate or violence against LGBTs, and also to guarantee equality in employment and public accomodation and services. Even more, in 2013 Puerto Vallarta legalized civil union between LGBT couples, followed by same-sex marriage in 2016.

This city organized its first Gay Pride March, and has hosted the Pink & Proud Women’s Party—the equivalent lesbian celebration—for the last four years, with assistance from the local Canadian and American communities. The multiple events in support of the LGBT community have marked out Puerto Vallarta as the “Mexican San Francisco.”

Now, there’s a giant and flourishing LGBTQ tourism industry that welcomes people from around the world.

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For the last 10 years, the number of LGBT visitors has increased in Puerto Vallarta and Jalisco, and in order to meet demand, the number of LGBT-friendly resorts and touristic attractions has also increased. Now three of every 10 hotels in Puerto Vallarta are LGBT-friendly, and most also offer weddings and other symbolic ceremonies.

Bars, nightclubs and other amenities are already focused on this market, and there are also tours—like the Gay VIP Bars Tour—and even drinks—like the Gay Tequila and the Gay Energy Drink—to make these guests feel extra welcome. As a result, Puerto Vallarta now hosts International LGBT Business Expos, with important conferences and events, including fashions shows, beach parties and music festivals to celebrate this booming market.

Puerto Vallarta remains the gateway to Mexico for many LGBTQ travelers.

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Some other cities have recognized the demand, and are now attempting to attract LGBT tourism to their destinations. Puerto Vallarta is not letting it happen: diverse businesses—no matter the sexual preference—are joining forces to create organizations to promote this targeted brand of tourism. The market gives consumers what they want, and they have identified this growing target and will not let it go.

Beyond the marketing, Puerto Vallarta became a platform to support gay rights, and the LGBT community knows it and feels welcome here. What really keeps the LGBT community hitting Puerto Vallarta is the activism, respect, and freedom they find in this beautiful paradise.

The Top 12 Salsas From Across Latin America, Ranked

Culture

The Top 12 Salsas From Across Latin America, Ranked

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Hot sauce has been a kitchen table staple for Latinos for thousands of years. The Aztecs pretty much invented it. We put it on eggs, on snacks, on meat….you probably have that person in your life who would put it on their finest cardboard and eat it up, the stuff is so popular. Anything that brings vegans and carnivores together at the dinner table deserves to be celebrated. Enjoy this roundup of hot sauces from all over Latin America to try out with your next meal.

1. Mexico: Cholula

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Made in Chapala, Jalisco, the sauce is made with a blend of piquín and arbol chiles. It’s often put up against Tapatio on American restaurant tables in a Coke vs. Pepsi level battle of the condiments. But we know there’s room for both. However, if you’re really dedicated, you might be able to join the Order of Cholula for exclusive offers.

2. Belize: Marie Sharp

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Made in Stann Creek, Belize, Marie Sharp started her line of hot sauces in her kitchen where she experimented with blends of Habanero peppers and jams and jellies made from fruits and vegetables picked from her farm. The brand has long outgrown the kitchen and went international. We stan an entrepeneurial queen.

3. Costa Rica: Banquete Chilero

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This thicker sauce from Costa Rica gets its flavor from habanero peppers and carrots. Some might compare it to an asian sweet and sour sauce.

4. Guatemala: Picama’s Salsa Brava

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This mild, green sauce has a ketchup-like consistency and is made with serrano peppers. The color is straight up neon, but some people swear by it, stocking up on bottles when they visit Guatemala. Also, don’t you love when an abuela comes through like this?

5. Honduras: D’Olanchano

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This hot sauce uses Tabasco peppers grown in the Olancho valley and later aged in wooden barrels to acquire its taste.

6. Nicaragua: Chilango

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Chilango Chile sources their ingredients from all over the world to create unique flavors in their line of hot sauces. The Cabro Consteño is made with the Nicaraguan yellow “goat” pepper grown on the Atlantic coast. The Habanero Chocolate gets its name from the dark, brown pepper it uses for flavor. It doesn’t actually have chocolate in it – whether that relieves or distresses you.

7. Panama: D’Elidas

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This yellow is made with Habanero peppers, mustard, and vinegar. Hot sauce lovers report getting a lot of that mustard taste in the sauce, so adjust expectations accordingly. People are known to fill up their suitcases with bottles before leaving Panama.

8. Brazil: Mendez Hot Sauce

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Mendez Hot Sauce is a brand out of Central Brazil where creator, Rafael Mendez strives for sustainable business practices that help his community. The sauce uses the locally sourced Malagueta pepper which creates work for local farming families, lifting many of them out of poverty.

9. Chile: Diaguitas

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Diaguitas is the most popular hot sauce in Chile, coming in a few flavors. It’s light on ingredients, letting the peppers speak for themselves. It’s salty, so handle with care to balance that taste out on your food.

10. Colombia: Amazon Pepper Sauce

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This brand uses a variety of Amazon peppers that grow at the edge of the rainforest in the Andes Cauca Valley. They blend the chilis with other tropical ingredients. They have a mild flavor that stands out made with guava. 

11. Ecuador: Ole

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Ole carries a few different flavors, but it always goes back to the ingredients to make a hot sauce unique to the region it comes from. Ole uses the tena pepper which only grows in Ecuador. They have it on its own where you get the fruit taste with a lash of heat. They also put it in their Tamarillo sauce which couples the tena with the fruit from the pepper tomato tree.

12. Peru: Salsa de Aji Amarillo

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What’s actually the most popular thing to do in Peru is to just make your own hot sauces. However, sometimes you can find bottled sauces that will satisfy the craving. The Peru Chef makes one with the aji amarillo pepper which has a subtle sweetness to it and is a cornerstone of Peruvian cuisine.

Of course, there are many hot sauces from all over Latin America that you’ll simply have to travel for if you want the best like Llajwa sauce from Bolivia. You could also probably stay home and get some bomb green sauce from King Taco.

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