Answer by Ciaran Redmond:
Go to Nepal my friend, it will be good for your soul, your mind, and your wallet!
Nepal is one of the, if not the cheapest places on this earth to travel right now! With that being said, that is not why you should go! Nepal is still vastly unexplored and full of some of the most wonderful people I have ever encountered, the culture, and geography are simply astonishing!
I spent six months living there and probably paid a total of $1600 USD (excluding my flight and Visa) mostly for big ticket tourist items like treks such as Everest Base Camp. Albeit I spent much of that time volunteering and lived in a village in exchange for room and board, if you stay in guestshouses ($3-$10usd/night), and eat off the beaten path ($1-3usd, travel locally, volunteer and WWOOF, etc you will save loads of money. Not to mention the longer you stay in one place the more you inevitably save.
Perhaps my biggest tip on saving money no matter where you travel to is to
Learn a bit of the language!!
Many countries in Asia and various other parts of the world, have a bartering system to purchase goods and services, including your accommodation! When the local people see that you can speak some of their language, they will;
1) Have higher lever of respect for you, and appreciate your attempt to learn their culture.
2) the will be very cautious when negotiating items because they will think you know the system, and the prices, and will be less likely to give you a terrible charge. A good rule is to start the negotiations at %50 percent of their given asking price and go up from there. Their markup on toursits is about %50 -100 percent if not more. Remember to be respectful, and to know that you are a wealthy tourist despite how you feel, try to make sure they get a good deal out of it as well and you both leave happy!
3) Have a hilarious look on their face when they see that tourist speaking their native tongue! It’s so much fun to speak with them! They will often befriend you. I have had people I spoke Nepali too, instantly drop my price more than half with out asking for a discount, in Nepal they said “I am giving you Sati price” or “Friend” price because you “Speak like Nepalese”, and then invite me to stay with them! Amazing!
Nepal is absolutely one of the most incredible places on earth! The highest mountains in the world, the antiquity, the deep rooted culture, the colors, the sounds, the smells, the food! I treked mountains, paraglided, searched for tigers and rhinos in Chitwan national forest, lived in a monastery for two weeks in Lumbini, the birthplace if Gautama Siddhartha (The Buddha) It’s the people that will capture your heart though, I have experienced acts of kindness from some of the most genuine soft natured individuals, which have forever touched my life. They light up your spirit like the sun!
I do suggest going there SOON before it changes drastically! Right now the ancient culture is still somewhat preserved, but Globalization and outside influence are quickly moving into these once cut-off civilizations. I fear that they will never be what they used to and all that wonder and joy will be lost to the ages.
I will also recommend India as well, but Nepal is a good place to start before going to India, specially if you are a less experienced traveler. Places like Varanasi will change you forever, but they will also test and challenge you in ways that you will have never known had you otherwise gone elsewhere. You definitely need to ease into India.
Both places offer cheap travel and the most life changing experiences, as well as the most spectacular breathtaking scenery the world has to offer. and did I mention the food? Oh the food. Simply the best!
Places like South East Asia are also awesome, however, they are extremely congested with tourists. you will often find yourself standing in queues for hours just to see a temple, or get through a border. Many people are there to party, and have ruined the native culture to a point where sometimes you may be surrounded by all tourists and think to yourself “did I even leave my country? ” With that being said there are still outstanding places to see in SEA just try to do more research and venture to the least travelled bits, however rare they may be, it will enrich your experience.
To conclude, every country has something unique to offer so ultimately your choice is dependent on the level of adventure you want, and your budget of course~ Hope that helps!
*View from my village house I lived in. Annapurnas 9000m or 29,000ft peaks!
another view from the village
Paragliding in Sarangkot, Nepal. $35usd
*holding a Cobra: 100npr tip!
*Dubar Square Kathmandu, Nepal Beautiful Sari’s, and wood carved buildings. *Free if walking * 150-300 npr for Taxi
Monkey Temple, View Pricesless, sometimes you will be stopped to pay, but I got in for free, because they did not ask. I made donation at the top though. Great views of the Kathmandu Valley, Lots of monkeys to laugh at, peaceful buddhist monks to meditate with.
Volunteering= Priceless experience! Loved these dudes!
and so many more I could post!