Cheap holiday destinations - 09/02/2011

The phrase ‘cheap holiday destination’ can be misleading – you might bag yourself a great deal only to spend a month’s wages while you’re there – and even historically cheap holidays like Turkey have had their value knocked by the weak pound. But there are still places where you can stick to your budget without breaking the bank (our Murcia-Golf rental apartment is one!)

The Post Office Worldwide Holiday Costs Barometer (which takes into account currency trends and the prices of popular tourist purchases such as food and drink and sunscreen) have published their list of 10 cheap holiday destinations & you can view their findings below

Spain
Currency: Euro 
Spain has been trying to retrieve its good-value-holiday-destination status by reducing costs of products and services, including restaurants and bars, with their prices now at a record three-year low. Plus, while it’s a far cry from its previous performance, the pound is slowly creeping back up against the Euro. Prices vary across the country though – e.g your pocket money will go much further in Benidorm (or even La Torre Golf Resort!) than it will in Marbella.

Portugal

Given how much the pound has been struggling against the Euro, it seems strange that a country in the eurozone would feature in the list, but because of unfavourable exchange rates, many Brits have been giving Portugal a miss as a holiday destination. The result? They’ve been slashing their prices left, right and centre in order to compete for tourists and prices have fallen a whopping 49% over the last twelve months.

Czech Republic
Currency: Czech koruna 
Although the popularity of the bigger towns like Prague meant that the once ridiculously-low prices crept up, you can still have a super-cheap break in the smaller towns and cities, where you’ll find quality restaurants, picturesque scenery and beers the right side of a pound. This is largely due to them retaining their currency though, and they plan to adopt the Euro in 2012 so take advantage now.

Bulgaria
Currency: Lev 
You can wine and dine out every night and still stay within budget, especially if you avoid the typical tourist restaurants. Bulgaria’s inclusion in the list is supported by International Currency Exchange (ICE), who compared the cost of an ice cream in key holiday hotspots around the globe and found that the Bulgarian cities of Burgas and Varna offer the best price. 59p per ice cream, in case you’re wondering.

Sri Lanka
Currency: Rupee 
Sri Lanka has taken over from Thailand as the cheapest long haul destination, because of their consistent low prices. You can get a meal for less than a pound there, and even if you want to treat yourself to the top end eateries it won’t set you back more than about £7. And the exchange rate in Sri Lanka isn't as much affected by the fluctuating pound as it is in Thailand and Malaysia, compared to previous years.

Hungary
Currency: Forint
Hungary is another destination that’s not quite the bargain it once was. You'll find that prices in the rest of the country haven’t increased as much as they have in Budapest. That said, your money will do you much better in Budapest than it will in other Western European capitals – especially if you head into the side streets and the suburbs for restaurants and pubs.

Thailand
Currency: Baht 
Thai Baht is amongst the currencies the pound had fallen the most against over the last year, so it’s not as dirt cheap as it was, but it’s still up there – especially after visitor numbers dropped after riots in Bangkok in 2009. It’s possible to spend a lot if you’re drawn to expensive restaurants and the best hotels in the most touristy areas, but if you take advantage of good quality street food and bargain guest houses, and are prepared to barter in the markets, you can easily do Thailand on a shoestring.

Mexico
Currency: Peso 
Mexico became less popular as a holiday spot after the swine flu outbreak in spring 2009 and the value of the Peso fell. Low costs on the ground for meals and drinks make Mexican resorts a one of the best buys for Brits at the moment. As well as in the restaurants and bars, you’ll find some great bargains for snacks and souvenirs at roadside stalls and indoor market – especially if you haggle.

Kenya
Currency: Shilling 
The cost of living has always been low compared with other countries, and tourism has never fully recovered after the industry was devastated by post-election riots in 2008, so the even cheaper prices imposed by Kenyan businesses trying to win back the tourists have lasted.

Malaysia
Currency: Ringgit 
Another destination that’s lost some of its value due to the state of the pound, but general low ground prices mean it’s just scraped into the top ten, and there are not many places where you’ll pay such low prices to stay at a tropical paradise comparable to the Perhentian Islands, with its clear water and white sandy beaches. There are also not many cities as big a Kuala Lumpur where you can go out for a three-course meal for a fiver.