Backpacking Route for the Balkans (Croatia, Serbia, Albania & More)

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Balkans Backpacking Route – Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania & Kosovo

Backpacking in the Balkans is getting slightly more popular with budget travellers in Europe but it remains something of a hidden gem for the most part. To some, the mere mention of the word ‘Balkans’ immediately evokes the image of war and while the scars of the 1990’s conflicts which saw Yugoslavia divided up into several smaller states remain, things have changed massively in this region since.

Croatia has the most developed travel industry and attracts big numbers during the summer months. It’s where our backpacking route for the Balkans starts but once you leave charming Dubrovnik behind and head to Montenegro, slowly but surely you steer away from the crowds and find yourself on a real adventure in a beautiful and very budget-friendly part of the world. Our route then takes in Kosovo and Albania, which have a very different feel to the other countries before moving onto Macedonia and Serbia, finishing off in the lively cities of Belgrade and Novi Sad.


TIME NEEDED – 7 weeks to 2 Months

This is a rough guide and it depends a bit on the season and obviously your personal preferences. In the summer you may wish to spend more time in coastal places like Budva, Sarandë and the Croatian islands and 2 months plus might be good. At other times of the year you could probably skip them altogether and get it down to 6 weeks.

There are a lot of small towns that can be seen easily in a day and the distances between them aren’t massive so there will be few if any times where you spend most of the day travelling from A to B. Therefore don’t be put off by the number of stops on our route. By allowing 2 months, you are averaging just over 2 days in each destination, which is plenty. If you have a limited period of time to travel, you can easily just pick and choose part of the route.


POSSIBLE BUDGET – £1250 | €1500 | US$1600

The Balkans is one of the cheapest parts of Europe overall. Croatia is the most expensive country with costs increasing and not far off what you find in Western Europe but you can get extremely good value for money elsewhere where roughly 25 Euros/day should be sufficient for a budget traveller. Costs may be slightly higher in the busier summer months and these figures don’t include the cost of flights to the region or travel insurance.

More on the cost of travel in Europe including individual country budgets


VISA REQUIREMENTS FOR THE BALKANS

Of the countries in this route, only Croatia is in the European Union. However EU citizens won’t need visas to visit any of the other countries. If you’re from elsewhere in the world you may do but most of these countries are busy trying to promote tourism so many nationalities can enter visa-free. You can use our visa-check tool to see if you will require a visa for anywhere on our route.

Also note that going from Kosovo directly to Serbia is only possible if you initially entered Kosovo from Serbia. There is more info on this topic at the bottom of the page and a possible way around the issue for some nationalities. Our route does not see you enter Serbia via Kosovo so you’ll have no problems if you follow it.


TRAVEL INSURANCE

As always, we advise you to get travel insurance and are happy to recommend World Nomads, who specialise in providing cover for budget travellers.


Backpacking route for the Balkans

Note the route is one big loop so you can start at any point and just follow it around until you are back where you started. We’ve opted to begin in the Croatian capital Zagreb but Split, Dubrovnik, Tirana, Skopje or Belgrade could be other good options depending on where you’re coming from as they have international airports with decent connections.


 CROATIA

Time Needed – 10 days to 2 weeks

Croatia backpacking route

Zagreb

(2 days)

Zagreb is Croatia’s capital and largest city and a good place to start off. It’s not as big a travel destination as some of the coastal towns but is a lively place with plenty going for it. It boasts a medieval old town while the newer parts are reminiscent of many of the central European capitals so it doesn’t have such a strong Balkans vibe but there’s enough to keep you occupied for a day or two.


Plitvice National Park

(1-2 days)

This is one of the most beautiful natural areas in the Balkans and indeed all of Europe. It is like a natural water-world with large waterfalls and 16 interlinked turquoise lakes surrounded by lush forests. You do need a permit to enter the park though which costs 110 KN (15 Euros) for one day or 180 KN (24 Euros) for two. In terms of accommodation, some local apartment owners rent out rooms for as cheap as 10 Euros/night while there is also a camping site with some bungalows and tents for rent in the nearby town of Korana.

Zadar

(1-3 days)

Zadar is an important historical city on the coast. It has a small old town which is easily explored on foot while there are plenty of beaches nearby to relax on. In the summer it gets busy and some of the beaches are big nightlife destinations so its many hostels fill up and there is a big party vibe during the middle of the year although it’s still worth a visit at other times although perhaps only for a day or two.

Split & Croatian Islands

(3-5 days)

The ancient port city of Split is another essential stop on any backpacking route for Croatia. The town itself has  Roman walls, squares, and temples and will occupy you for a day or so. You can also kick back on Bačvice beach, which has lots of bars and clubs that come alive at night. Split is also the best place to get to some of the most popular Croatian islands such as Hvar and Brač while there are day trips you can do on the mainland too so it’s easy to spend several days in this part of Croatia, particularly during the summer months.

Dubrovnik

(2 days)

Dubrovnik is perhaps the most beautiful of all the Croatian towns with stunning bays and clear water as well as a most impressive old city which is circled by large medieval walls on all sides, which can be climbed and walked along. It gets very busy with numerous cruise ships coming in every day and tourist numbers and prices are high as a result but it’s certainly somewhere not be missed.


MFT RECOMMENDS – Cocoon Hostel, Dubrovnik 

This hostel is a great option for budget travellers in an otherwise expensive city. It’s not in the touristy Old Town, which is why it’s so cheap but you’re only a 30 minute walk away from it and the nearest beach is just 500 metres.


Possible Extension – Bosnia-Herzegovina

To get from Split to Dubrovnik, you have to briefly pass through Bosnia-Herzegovina so technically you will visit it anyway. However if you want to really spend some time there consider heading to Mostar, which is easily accessible from either Split or Dubrovnik and potentially on to the capital Sarajevo. If you do that you could rejoin the route at Durmitor National Park to avoid going back on yourself although it would be a shame to miss the Bay of Kotor, which is one of the real highlights of this Balkans travel itinerary. If you end up in Sarajevo, check out the War Hostel, which lets you experience a night or two in a city under siege (which Sarajevo was during the Bosnian conflict for almost four years) complete with bomb sounds!


MONTENEGRO

Time Needed – 10 days

Backpacking route for Montenegro

Kotor

(2-3 days)

Certainly one of the highlights of the trip and the jewel in Montenegro’s crown. The ancient walled city of Kotor is a nice place to spend a day and an evening but you’ll need another day or two to explore the stunning bay which is dotted around with friendly little villages that are worth a visit. You could opt to spend one night staying in the town and then perhaps another couple somewhere further along the bay where you can really appreciate its beauty.

Budva

(2-3 days)

If you’re travelling in one of the cooler months you can skip Budva but in the summer it comes alive as one of the most raucous party-towns in the Balkans. The beaches are nothing to get carried away about in truth and there are more chilled out places further down the coast towards Albania, but Budva is Montenegro’s shameless party capital and attracts visitors from around the region so it’s a good place to let your hair down.

Durmitor National Park

(2-3 days)

This mountainous area is another major stop on any Montenegro backpacking route and nature lovers won’t want to miss it. Hiking is a popular activity while it contains the deepest canyon in all of Europe, which is great for rafting.

Biogradska Gora National Park

(2-3 days)

This is the smallest of Montenegro’s four national parks but arguably the most beautiful and is hugely diverse. It contains one of only 3 remaining rainforests in Europe as well as mountain ridges and glacial lakes.


KOSOVO

Time Needed – 1 week

Backpacking route for Kosovo

Peja

(2-3 days)

For a small city, there is quite a lot to see and do in and around Peja, which is of Ottoman and Serbian Orthodox heritage. The monastery known as the Patriarchate of Peć is its most famous site and there’s also a lot of natural beauty around with caves, waterfalls and natural springs in the surrounding countryside. Hiking, rock-climbing, caving and skiing are popular activities and at bargain prices compared to other parts of Europe.

Mitrovica

(1 day)

For those of you interested in the complex politics and ethnic divisions in the Balkans and particularly Kosovo, Mitrovica is one place you definitely should visit. It perhaps sums up the Kosovan conflict better than any other city as the town is divided between Serbs, who live North of the river and Albanians, who live on the South. There’s not a great deal to see in truth but it’s just an interesting place to spend a day in although be wary of the current political climate as trouble does sometimes flare up given the divided nature of the city.

Pristina

(1-2 days)

The capital of Kosovo, Europe’s newest and poorest state is changing at quite a rate. It’s small enough that you can visit everywhere that’s really worth visiting in a day and as of December 2016 many of the museums are still being renovated/worked on. It has some unusual sights such as a curiously shaped library and a statue of Bill Clinton, which is not far from the bus station. There are certainly more beautiful cities in the Balkans but Pristina is not without its charms and English is widely spoken which makes it easier to get a feel for the place. People in Kosovo are generally more welcoming to foreigners than other parts of the former Yugoslavia.

Prizren

(1 day)

Prizren is much more attractive than Pristina and a must-visit for anyone backpacking in Kosovo. It is much smaller though and it’d be hard to justify much more than a day here. The main thing to do is walk up to the crumbling fortress which towers over the town and provides a stunning view of Prizren, its charming riverside centre the dozens of mosques, which really give it a unique identity and feel.


ALBANIA

Time Needed – 1 week to 10 days

Backpacking route for Albania

Tirana

(2 days)

You’re now outside of what was Yugoslavia for the first time and Tirana is the best place to learn about Albanian culture and history. There are lots of interesting museums and sights but most are in or near to the giant Skanderbeg Square, which is the best location to base yourself. You could easily spend several hours in the extensive National Historic Museum, which offers a real insight into a country that has gone through some really dark times.

For more insight into Tirana – Check out this guest post on Europe’s least visited capital!

Berat

(1-2 days)

Albania is a really quirky country in many ways and decades of isolation have given it a unique feel that is distinct from even its neighbouring countries. Berat is a good example of that and it is known as the ‘town of a thousand windows’. It’s certainly one of the most beautiful in Albania but you’ll only really need an afternoon to see the town itself although a day trip out to Corovode and the Osumi Gorge is well worth doing.

Gjirokastër

(1-2 days)

This is another historic Ottoman city and one of the 3 UNESCO World Heritage sites in the country along with Berat and the Butrint National Park, which form some of the main stops for anyone backpacking in Albania. It’s known as the city of stone with an expertly preserved old town and castle the highlights. There is also the old bazaar which still acts as the social and commercial hub of the town.

Sarandë

(2-3 days)

Albania’s best coastal destination is a great place to hang around in the summer. It has a few lively hostels and a bit of a backpacker vibe with the Mediterranean climate, sandy beaches and warm waters the main draw not to mention prices that are far lower than you get almost anywhere else in the Med. The best beaches are further along the coast but this is the most logical place to base yourself and it’s even possible to hop across the water on a ferry to the Greek island of Corfu which takes only about 2 hours.


Possible Extension – Greece

Sarandë is very close to the Greek border & the island of Corfu so it’s easy to visit Greece from here. The trip from Sarandë to Ohrid is a long one too so it could even be quicker to dip into Greece and head to Macedonia that way as the roads are better South of the border. The lakeside Greek town of Ioannina would be a possible stop.


MACEDONIA

Time Needed – 1 week

Macedonia Backpacking Route

Ohrid

(2-3 days)

Ohrid is the real travel highlight of Macedonia, which is a country that might just surprise you. The town looks out onto the giant lake of the same name and it’s a place of both historical significance and natural beauty. It is supposedly one of the oldest human settlements in all of Europe and you can certainly spend a few days here exploring the town and surrounding area.

Bitola

(1-2 days)

Bitola is Macedonia’s Second City but it still has a population of under 100,000 so it’s not an enormous place. It’s known for its European vibe with colourful streets and monuments, as well as the most beautiful old bazaar in Macedonia. It’s also famed for its lively nightlife and is a good place to party and meet some locals.

Skopje

(2-3 days)

Skopje is a real surprise and in parts it feels more like London or Paris than a formerly provincial city nestled deep in the Balkans. Like London, it has a river that runs right through its heart with several stylish bridges that connect the two sides of town. It boasts an enormous number of statues and monuments and the Macedonian capital seems to be on an all-out mission to have the largest statues in the world. The one presumed to be of Alexander the Great in the central Macedonia Square is quite a sight and towers over the others. There is really quite a lot to see and do in Skopje, which is one of the biggest cities on this Balkans backpacking route so at least 2 days and perhaps more are needed.


SERBIA

Time Needed – 10 days

Backpacking Route for Serbia

image via Exit Festival under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Niš

(1-2 days)

Serbia is now a landlocked country followed Montenegro’s marginal vote in favour of splitting from Serbia in 2006. Visitor numbers are low compared to neighbouring Croatia but it has some great cities to visit and Niš is one of them. It has always been an important strategic location and has a long and varied history. It is perhaps best known as the birthplace of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great and is full of old fortresses and churches. It is also the site of one of the few Nazi concentration camps that remain intact and that makes for a harrowing visit.

Užice & Around

(3-4 days)

Užice is a relatively small city nestled between hills on the river Đetinja. You won’t need more than a day to check out the town but there are several of Serbia’s best travel destinations nearby so it’s a good place to base yourself for a few days. Highlights include the Tara National Park, which is home to plenty of species including brown bears and is a good place to go hiking or rafting. Around Užice there also are a few monasteries that make for an interesting visit, caves and several mountains where you can ski. The Bosnian town of Višegrad is also very nearby and worth checking out not least for its iconic bridge across the Drina River.

Belgrade

(2-3 days)

As the biggest city on the Balkans backpacker trail, Belgrade will take a bit more time to explore than most cities on this route which are easily explored on foot in a day. The enormous Kalemegdan – Belgrade Fortress is its main attraction but its a cosmopolitan city with a large number of museums and cultural sights. The nightlife here is also famous while it’s a good shopping destination with everything from major shopping malls to independent stores selling original products as well as a dirt cheap Chinese market with imported goods from China of questionable quality.


MFT RECOMMENDS – Belgrade Modern Hostel 

This ticks all the boxes when it comes to being a good hostel. Central location, cheap beds and excellent staff.


Novi Sad

(2 days)

Novi Sad is only 80km from Belgrade and is the country’s Second City. Like the capital, it has an imposing fortress, which has never been taken by any enemy. It now holds the Novi Sad City Museum and the town also has many art galleries and a student vibe which contributes to its lively nightlife scene. During July, it hosts EXIT Festival, the biggest music festival in the Balkans. If you’re ending your trip here, it’s probably easiest to head back to Belgrade to catch a flight as the city doesn’t have its own airport.


Getting from Novi Sad back to Zagreb

As we said at the start, this route is designed as a loop so you can start and end at any point or just do a small section of it, if you’re pushed for time. To get from Novi Sad back to Zagreb, our first destination you have various options, with a 5-6 hour train which can be taken from the nearby town of Sremska Mitrovica one possibility. You could though break up the trip by stopping over-night or just for an afternoon in the Croatian city of Slavonski Brod, which is roughly half way between the two. From there you have fast train and bus connections to Zagreb.



Budget Accommodation in the Balkans

There isn’t a massive backpacker vibe in this part of the world but most towns on this route have at least one or two hostels where you can meet other travellers and generally they are really good value. Croatia is noticeably more expensive than the other countries but does have more choice in terms of accommodation with many hostels in some of the cities. Booking online in advance is a good idea during the busier summer months. At other times of year they can be very empty so you don’t really need to. That said many of the hostels are small so it’s not a bad idea to let them know you’re coming to ensure there’ll be someone there to check you in on arrival.

Eastern Europe enthusiasts may also want to check out our Backpacking Route for the Baltic States.


Crossing Borders in the Balkans

Apart from Albania, this was all one country just 25 years ago so getting from one country to another is still pretty straight-forward and bus connections are quite regular although there are now border checks to contend with which slows things down a bit. In most cases at the border, you won’t need to get off the bus at all. The driver may collect everyone’s passports and they will be checked by the border guards, although most likely not that thoroughly. During busy times there can be pretty big traffic queues at the borders though so it can add some time to your journey although rarely more than 30 minutes to an hour.


IMPORTANT – Rules for going from Kosovo to Serbia

The one thing that every traveller in the Balkans should be aware of, regardless of where they are from involves Kosovo and more specifically travelling to Serbia from Kosovo. Since Serbia along with many other countries, doesn’t officially recognise Kosovo as an independent state, there are a few complications at the borders between the two.

You CAN enter Kosovo via any of the four countries it borders (Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia or Serbia) and will have no issues. You CAN also leave Kosovo for Montenegro, Albania or Macedonia with no problems. However if you want to travel directly from Kosovo to Serbia, this will only be possible, if you initially entered Kosovo from Serbia.

For example if you travel from Albania to Kosovo and then try to enter to Serbia you WILL NOT be allowed in. However if you are in Serbia, take a trip to Kosovo and then return to Serbia, it’s fine. So this is really important to be aware of when planning your trip and we’ve taken it into account with our route above.

If you are Serbian, Kosovar, Bosnian, Macedonian, Montenegrin, Swiss or from the EU and have a national ID card, there is a way around the rule by showing your ID card rather than passport at the border.

This is all true as of November 2016. If you’re reading this in the future and have new information on changes then please use the comments section below to let us and other travellers know or contact us and we’ll update it.


This article was published in December 2016.


China Backpacking Budget

backpacking budget China

(Map of China from wikitravel, can be re-used under CC BY-SA 3.0)


Daily Travel Costs in China on a Shoestring Budget

US$30 | 200 Chinese Yuan Renminbi

China may have risen to the status of global super power over the past 15 years thanks to enormous economic growth but the country is still on the whole very good value and prices haven’t risen as much as you might think. There is a great deal of regional variation of course with Shanghai for example considerably more expensive than the predominantly rural West of the country but even the big cities are still really quite affordable if you steer clear of the bars and restaurants that are clearly geared towards the wealthy.

A one-way ticket on the Beijing subway will set you back just 4 Yuan for example (the equivalent of US$0.60). More local geared restaurants are also great value but menus aren’t all that easy to read and English isn’t widely spoken even in the big cities. Street stalls and BBQs offer a good alternative and are found all over the country. It’s much easier to know what you are getting with them and you can often stack up on tasty snacks that won’t set you back much cash. Going out can also be good value and if you know where to go you can find amazingly cheap bars and clubs which sometimes have ‘all you can drink’ deals for under $20.

The cost of travelling between destinations can add up though if you are looking to see large areas of the country in a relatively short space of time. In that case $30 might be an unrealistic budget but if you are spending a lot of time in more rural areas you can certainly get by on that sort of amount and do a large amount of travelling around.

Our China backpacking budget of $30/day isn’t impossible on a day-to-day basis in Beijing but might be a bit tougher to stick to in Shanghai where accommodation tends to be a bit more expensive. In general though you should probably allow a bit more if you are sticking to the Eastern route between Shanghai and Beijing with perhaps a couple of other stops. Even that would be dependent on you not taking any internal flights and settling for the slower but cheaper trains rather than the fancy high-speed ones.

See where China ranks on our World Budget Travel Table.


More Comfortable China Backpacker Budget

US$45 | 300 Chinese Yuan Renminbi

Coming up with a general budget for China in an article like this is pretty tough as it really does depend quite a lot on what part of the country you are in and how you choose to travel. By upping your budget to $45/day you won’t need to stress out as much and might be able to afford the odd high speed train or flight if you are in the country for more than a couple of weeks. It should also be enough to cover your daily expenses in any city in mainland China or even Hong Kong.


Sample Prices in China

Flight from Shanghai to Kunming (3 hours 25 mins) – 450¥  ($70)

Beijing to Shanghai by High-Speed train in 2nd class (5-6 hours) – 450-555¥ ($70-85)

Cheapest berth on Beijing to Shanghai slow sleeper train (15 hours) – 327¥ ($50)

 Meal at an inexpensive restaurant – 25¥ ($4)

Large local beer in a bar or restaurant – 5¥ ($0.75)

Dorm bed in Beijing – from 35¥/night ($5)

Budget private double or twin room – 75-150¥/night (large amount of variation between cities) ($11-22)

Entrance to the Forbidden City, Beijing – 40-60¥ ($6-9)

Compare this with the cost of travel in Japan.


Money

Currency – Chinese Yuan Renminbi

£1 = 9.46 CNY

€1 = 7.45 CNY

US$1 =  6.56 CNY

(All exchange rates are correct as of June 2016)


MFT Recommends

We suggest staying at Beijing Sunrise Youth Hostel Beihai Branch on your visit to the capital. The Forbidden city is within walking distance and it boasts some of the best value beds in town.


street art in China

street art in Shanghai, China (via Marc GarnautCC BY-NC 2.0)


Share your Travel Costs!

If you’ve been to China recently, please let everyone know your typical daily costs by commenting below 😉


This article was published in June 2016.


Indonesia Backpacking Budget

backpacking budget Indonesia

(Map of Indonesia from wikitravel, can be re-used under CC BY-SA 3.0)


Daily Travel Costs in Indonesia on a Shoestring Budget

US$25 | 330,000 Rupiah

Like many large countries, there is a fair bit of regional variation in prices in Indonesia that you should consider so how much you spend will largely depend on where you go. We have received comments from many travellers suggesting we always place Indonesia too high in our budget travel table and that it is in fact as cheap or cheaper than most of mainland Southeast Asia. However we suspect they have spent a lot of time away from the islands of Bali and Java, which are a bit pricier. The other islands are considerably cheaper places to visit.

It is true that typical costs are cheap almost everywhere but getting from one island to another although relatively inexpensive can still quickly eat into your budget if you are moving around and entrance fees to major sites of interest can be high so we believe US$25 is a realistic overall Indonesia backpacking budget. If you try to pack a lot in and are moving around every couple of days including visits to multiple islands in a relatively short space of time, you might want to allow for a bit more. If you stick predominantly to one of the cheaper islands such as Sumatra, then it’s possible you can get by on US$20 or less.

See where Indonesia ranks on our World Budget Travel Table.

Backpacking costs in all Southeast Asian countries


More Comfortable Indonesia Backpacker Budget

US$35 | 470,000 Rupiah

Adding an extra US$10 to your daily travel budget in Indonesia will allow you to do quite a bit more no matter what kind of trip you want to have. If you are planning to spend a lot of time in Bali then it will allow you to really get into the party culture whilst perhaps doing the odd daytime activity like surfing. In Java it will allow you to take a few more organised trips up volcanoes and suchlike which are difficult to do independently. While on the cheaper islands you can probably fork out on some pretty good accommodation on this budget that would fall closer into the realm of luxury travel than budget.


Sample Prices in Indonesia

Flight from Jakarta to Bali (1 hour 45 mins) when booked 1-2 weeks in advance – 530,000 Rp (US$40) + baggage

Public ferry from Padang Bai, Bali to Lembar, Lombok (4-5 hours) – 40,000 Rp (US$3)

Meal at an inexpensive restaurant – 20,000-30,000 Rp (around US$2)

Large local beer in a bar or restaurant – 25,000 Rp (US$2)

Dorm Bed at Kuta, Bali – from 75,000 Rp (US$5.50)

Private Double or Twin room in Bali – from 120,000 Rp (US$9)

Private room in Sumatra – from 50,000 Rp (US$4)

Entrance fee for Borobudur Temple Complex near Yogyakarta – 280,000 Rp (US$21)

Compare Indonesian prices with the cost of travel in the Philippines.


Money

Currency – Indonesian Rupiah

£1 = 19266 Rupiah

€1 = 15180 Rupiah

US$1 = 13376 Rupiah

(All exchange rates are correct as of June 2016)


MFT Recommends

If you head to Bali, which most travellers do then we suggest staying at CX Hostel Kuta Raya at Kuta Beach. It’s well located close to the beach and nightlife and is of a much higher standard than most of the budget accommodation in Kuta.


street art in Indonesia

street art in Yogyakarta, Indonesia (via pwbakerCC BY-NC 2.0)


Share your Travel Costs!

If you’ve been to Indonesia recently, please let everyone know your typical daily costs by commenting below 😉


This article was published in June 2016


Canada Backpacking Budget

Canada Backpacking Budget

(Map of Canada regions from wikitravel, can be re-used under CC BY-SA 2.5)


Daily Travel Costs in Canada on a Shoestring Budget

US$60 | 80 Canadian Dollars

Canada is one of the hardest places to give an accurate budget for mostly because it is enormous. Our other budgets are generally based on trying to visit all the main destinations in the country and a few things in-between but in Canada that will either involve covering in excess of 5,000km by land or taking a domestic flight that is as long and expensive as a cross-continental one. Montreal is roughly the same distance away from Vancouver as it is from London for example.

So our Canada backpacking budget of 80 Canadian Dollars is primarily based on picking one area of the country (for example Southern Ontario & Quebec) and sticking too it. If you want to visit another part of the country, treat the cost of a flight as extra. In terms of daily expenses Canada is not cheap by any means and is pretty much in line with what you might expect in Western Europe although you should find it slightly cheaper than the UK or France.

Although it is so big, there isn’t a huge amount of regional variation in terms of prices although Vancouver is generally considered to be slightly more expensive than the cities in the East such as Montreal or Toronto.

See where Canada ranks on our World Budget Travel Table.


More Comfortable Canada Backpacker Budget

US$75 | 100 Canadian Dollars

Again it’s tough to give an accurate figure as people tend to come to Canada for specific reasons rather than just to travel around and take each day as it comes. If you are planning on doing a lot of winter sports then you can certainly expect to spend considerably more than this but there do tend to be quite a lot of ways to work in Canada that will help fund all that. If you want to spend a long time in the country but don’t have enormous funds, consider applying for a job at one of the ski resorts during the ski-season and using it as a base to travel.


Sample Prices in Canada

Toronto to Montreal bus (7 hours) – from 35 CAD

Vancouver to Toronto flight (4 hours 30 mins) – 300+ CAD

Dorm bed in Vancouver – from 25 CAD/night

Dorm bed in Montreal – from 20 CAD/night

Budget private double/twin room in Montreal or Toronto – from 45 CAD/night

Meal in a cheap restaurant – 15 CAD

Large local beer in bar/restaurant – 6 CAD

Entrance to Canadian Museum of History – 15 CAD (11 for students)

Compare Canada prices with the cost of travel in USA.


Money

Currency – Canadian Dollars

£1 = 1.91 CAD

€1 = 1.45 CAD

US$1 = 1.30 CAD

(All exchange rates are correct as of June 2016)


MFT Recommends

Go to Montreal and stay at the Auberge Saint Paul. Excellent hostel with best value beds in town.


street art in Montreal

street art in Montreal, Quebec (via AV DezignCC BY-NC-ND 2.0)


Share your Travel Costs!

If you’ve been to Canada recently, please let everyone know your typical daily costs by commenting below 😉


This article was published in June 2016.


Australia Backpacking Budget

Australia Backpacking Budget

(Map of Australia from wikitravel, can be re-used under CC BY-SA 3.0)


Daily Travel Costs in Australia on a Shoestring Budget

US$70 | 100 Australian Dollars

Although a very popular destination with young budget travellers, Australia is certainly not a budget travel destination. It’s at least as expensive and perhaps more costly than almost all of Europe and North America and our suggested Australia backpacking budget of 100 Dollars per day certainly reflects that. Certainly if you intend to cover large distances, which you will have to do if you want to see a large portion of the country, then transport costs are going to be high while food, drink and accommodation is in line with what you’d expect in any expensive developed country.

However Oz does have a few saving graces as far as the budget traveller is concerned. For one the relative ease of getting a short-term work visa and abundance of seasonal or short-term jobs makes it one of the few places where travellers can easily and legally make some money to support their travels. There are also a lot of places where you can get student/youth discounts and there are plenty of special deals on bus travel designed to help out those exploring the country but it’s still overall an expensive place to visit.

By staying in one place or one part of the country for a longer period of time and perhaps doing a bit of couchsurfing, whilst not going wild on the partying or activities then you can maybe get by on closer to US$50/day but it won’t be easy as there is a lot of cool stuff to do that will eat into your budget.

See where Australia ranks on our World Budget Travel Table.


More Comfortable Australia Backpacker Budget

US$90 | 125 Australian Dollars

125 Australian Dollars is quite a lot of money to be spending every single day but if you want to really take advantage of the extreme sports and adventures that Australia has in store whilst also doing a far bit of socialising then it’s not an unrealistic budget particularly if you are doing a lot travelling around. If that’s you then consider ride-sharing to get from A to B by either using an app or checking noticeboards in hostels. It can often work out much cheaper than public transport.

Compare this to the cost of travel in New Zealand!


Sample Prices in Australia

Melbourne to Cairns (Hop-on Hop-off bus pass) – 550 Australian Dollars

Flight from Melbourne to Sydney (1 hour 20 mins) – 50 AUD with Jetstar + 35AUD for backpack

Dorm bed in basic hostel in Melbourne/Sydney – 20 AUD/night

Dorm bed at Byron Bay – 30 AUD/night

Cheap private twin/double room in a city  – 50 AUD/night

Meal in a relatively cheap restaurant – 18 AUD

Large local beer in a bar/restauarant – 7 AUD

Surfing lesson – around 60 AUD


Money

Currency – Australian Dollars

£1 = 2.03 AUD

€1 = 1.55 AUD

US$1 = 1.39 AUD

(All exchange rates are correct as of June 2016)


MFT Recommends

Long-term travel in Australia is very difficult unless you have huge savings so consider getting a working holiday visa and doing some work whilst you are there to help fund your travels.


street art in australia

street art in Melbourne, Victoria (via Fernando de SousaCC BY-SA 2.0)


Share your Travel Costs!

If you’ve been to Australia recently, please let everyone know your typical daily costs by commenting below 😉


This article was published in June 2016.


India Backpacking Budget

India backpacking budget

(Map of India from wikitravel, can be re-used under CC BY-SA 3.0)


Daily Travel Costs in India on a Shoestring Budget

US$20 | 1350 Rupees

India is undeniably a cheap country to travel in and if you are really prepared to rough it out on the lower classes of trains and eat questionable food then $15 might be a more realistic shoestring budget. It’s worth baring in mind that many Indians live on just a few dollars a day but in the bigger cities, there are also plenty of things that cater for the burgeoning middle class, who have plenty of Rupees to spend.

$20 might be a more realistic India backpacking budget and will allow you to travel in one of the better classes on the country’s extensive rail network and eat in pretty good restaurants each night. Accommodation is very good value as a rule so there’s not much danger of you going over that budget if you’re sensible.

That said one or two of the major attractions can be relatively pricey, with foreigners charged as much as 20 times more than Indians in some cases so the costs can add up a little.

See where India ranks on our World Budget Travel Table.


More Comfortable India Backpacker Budget

US$30 | 2000 Rupees

On $30 per day you can travel very comfortably indeed and if you have some cash saved up, you are likely to have a much more enjoyable trip on this kind of budget. You would find yourself suddenly able to stay in decent 2 or 3 star hotels, eat all your meals in good restaurants and be able to afford the odd flight to save time on the longer journeys.

You won’t have to worry so much about the cost of entering temples or forts eating into your budget and the fact you are eating in better places, should increase your chances of avoiding the dreaded Delhi belly but don’t count on it!


Sample Prices in India

Flight from Mumbai to Goa (1 hour) – $40

Train from Delhi to Agra (2 hours) – 412 Rupees in AC chair (roughly $6)

Train from Delhi to Mumbai (16 hours) – 2227 Rupees in AC 1st class ($33), 1537 Rupees in AC 2nd class ($23)

Meal in a budget restaurant – $2

3 course meal in a decent restaurant (mid-range) – $5

Large local beer in a bar/restaurant – $1.50

Dorm bed – from $2.50

Cheap private double or twin room – from $5

Admission to the Taj Mahal for foreigners – 1000 Rupees ($15)

Compare prices with some of India’s neighbours by checking out the cost of travel in Sri Lanka and the cost of travel in Nepal.


Money

Currency – Indian Rupee

£1 = 98 Rupees

€1 = 75 Rupees

US$1 = 67 Rupees

(All exchange rates are correct as of June 2016)


MFT Recommends

Kick back at the funky and very cheap Bonfire Hostel in Agra, home of the Taj Mahal.


street art in Delhi

street art in Delhi, India (via Meena KadriCC BY-NC-ND 2.0)


Share your Travel Costs!

If you’ve been to India recently, please let everyone know your typical daily costs by commenting below 😉


This article was published in June 2016.


Vietnam Backpacking Budget

Vietnam backpacking budget

(Map of Vietnam from wikitravel, can be re-used under CC BY-SA 3.0)


Daily Travel Costs in Vietnam on a Shoestring Budget

US$20 | 450,000 Vietnamese Dong

Vietnam remains very budget friendly despite an enormous rise in visitor numbers over the past decade. Costs are pretty typical by Southeast Asian standards and you are likely to find it slightly cheaper than Thailand or Laos but a fraction pricier than Cambodia although it is likely to get more expensive over the coming years. $20 is a realistic Vietnam backpacking budget but doesn’t allow much lee-way for extra excursions and activities. If you eat in ‘local’ restaurants and street stalls all the time, you can probably get by on even less, certainly if you aren’t doing much partying.

See where Vietnam ranks on our World Budget Travel Table.

Backpacking costs in all Southeast Asian countries


More Comfortable Vietnam Backpacker Budget

US$25 | 560,000 Vietnamese Dong

You travel pretty comfortably on US$20 in truth and doubling that doesn’t really provide an enormous upgrade. The temptation to waste your money on partying and alcohol isn’t quite as great here as in Thailand as the backpacker scene is slightly calmer and bars and clubs are less plentiful and shut earlier. Allowing for $25-30 will allow you to fork out on the odd extra excursion/activity every now and then, such as a more extensive boat trip around Halong Bay or kite-surfing lessons at Mui Ne.


Sample Prices in Vietnam

Hue to Hanoi by Train (13-14 hours) – $25-35 (air-con berth on sleeper train)

0.5 litre domestic beer in Ho Chi Minh City bar/restaurant – $1

Meal at a cheap restaurant – $2-3

Cheap dorm bed in a big city – from $3

Budget double/twin private room – from $8

Full day kayaking trip around Halong Bay – $25-30


Money

Currency – Vietnamese Dong

£1 = 32,700 VND

€1 = 25,000 VND

US$1 = 22,400 VND

(Exchange rates correct as of June 2016)

US Dollars are accepted in many places and are frequently used for larger transactions such as paying for excursions or accommodation in places geared towards foreigners. Therefore it is useful to carry a stash of both currencies.


MFT Recommends

If you find yourself in the Vietnamese capital then we suggest staying at the Hanoi Traveller Hostel, in the charismatic old town, Hanoi’s backpacker hub close to Hoan Kiem Lake. Beds start at around $5/night.


street art in Vietnam

street art in Hanoi, Vietnam (via Mike HauserCC BY 2.0)


Share your Travel Costs!

If you’ve been to Vietnam recently, please let everyone know your typical daily costs by commenting below 😉


This article was published in June 2016


Backpacking Budget for Central America

Central America Backpacking Budget

This page suggests typical shoestring travel costs and recommends a possible backpacking budget for Central America.

backpackers map of central america

(Map of Central America from wikitravel, can be re-used under CC BY-SA 3.0)

Daily Travel Costs in Central America

$20/day : Nicaragua

$25/day : Guatemala, El Salvador

$30/day : Honduras

$35/day : Costa Rica, Panama, Cuba*, Mexico*

$45/day : Belize

*Not technically part of Central America but popular stops with travellers in the region.

This is based on travelling on the cheap by staying in hostel dorms or basic rooms where it’s cheaper to do so and by using local chicken buses which are a fun if slow way to get around the region. It allows for the odd activity each day but nothing like expensive diving courses or multi-day treks which will add to the cost of your trip. If you have travelled in the region recently and have a different idea of what typical expenses might be then please use the comments section below to let us and more importantly other travellers know. The budget allows for a bit of partying and but you will struggle to stick to this if you are looking to drink and go out every night.

Some travellers combine Central America with a few days or weeks in the United States, which is considerably more expensive. Read our USA backpacking budget for more.

Monthly Backpacking budget for Central America

Based on these costs, a typical total backpacking budget for a trip around Central America might be something like this:

1 month – £740, €850, $900

2 months – £1480, €1700, $1800

3 months – £2220, €2550, $2700

All figures are based on exchange rates correct as of January 2017. If you’re unsure, use dollars as a base and convert it to your currency at current exchange rates.

Touristy areas of Mexico or places such as the Bay Islands in Honduras are more expensive so avoid them if you are worried about funds running out. If you decide to visit Cuba, then the cost of getting there can also add quite a bit to your overall expenses so this budget is primarily based on travel in mainland Central America only.

Please note this does NOT include the cost of flights to/from the region, any visas/vaccinations or travel insurance. These things are impossible factor in as they are dependent on your nationality and where you are coming from but can quite easily double your total budget for the trip.

Read our Central America budget travel overview.


The Cost of Travel in Other Regions

South America | Southeast Asia | Europe


How much did travel in Central America cost you?

If you have travelled recently in the region then please use the comments section below to share with us your experiences of backpacking costs in Central America. Everyone travels differently so there will never be a definitive right budget for each country but the more people who comment, the easier it is for us to keep this page as accurate as possible. Thanks!


 This page was last updated in January 2017.


Backpacking Route for Morocco

Backpacking Route for Morocco

We’ve not featured Africa much on MFT yet but hope to change that in the coming months and years. This is our first route for the continent and also acts as a mini backpackers guide for Morocco with info on getting in, getting around and the cost of travel in the country.

Why Morocco?

Although Morocco does receive a decent amount of foreign visitors these days, it has never really taken off as a massive backpacking destination which given its proximity to Europe and all that it has to offer is a bit strange. People instead have tended to opt for short breaks most typically to Marrakech, sometimes fitting in an overnight trip into the Sahara Desert.

However Morocco has all the stunning natural sights and cultural thrills and surprises that anyone could ask for and to make matters better it is only a 2-3 hour flight from most Western and Central European cities. It’s cheap to get there and cheap to travel in and although there are a few hassles, it’s an incredible country to spend a few weeks travelling around and if you happen to be European, it is right on your doorstep.

Getting to/from Morocco

The most common way to get to/from Morocco from Europe is via budget airlines like Ryanair and Easyjet that have an abundance of cheap flights from right across the continent to cities in Morocco including Fez, Marrakech, Nador, Agadir and Tangier.

If you’re coming from further afield then Casablanca Mohammed V International Airport is you’re most likely arrival and departure point and it is the biggest airport in the country and one of the busiest in Africa. As the hub of Royal Air Maroc, the country’s national carrier, there are flights to cities all over the world. You may though still find it cheaper and more convenient to fly to a major European city like Madrid, Paris, Amsterdam, Frankfurt or London and then take a budget flight to one of the more popular travel destinations like Fez or Marrakech. Casablanca isn’t quite the romantic wonder that you might think of given the film and although it’s still an interesting visit, it doesn’t make many travel itineraries for Morocco.

One final option and highly recommended is to make your way to Southern Spain and either Algeciras, Tarifa or even Gibraltar and then take a ferry over to Tangier in Morocco, where our backpacking route starts. You could easily combine this with our backpacking route for Spain and Portugal. From Tarifa it is only a 30 minute ferry to Tangier and you get to experience the dramatic instant change between Europe and Africa much better than you would by flying in. Ferry tickets are about 30-40 Euros one-way with FRS.


TIME NEEDED – 3 weeks

3 weeks is a sufficient amount of time for a backpacking trip in Morocco unless you have any specific aim other than travelling around and visiting the most interesting places. Most of the destinations on this route can be seen in a day or two. Your biggest decision may be choosing how long you want to stay in the Sahara Desert and there are two points on the route where you can get out and spend several nights in it if you so wished.


POSSIBLE BUDGET – £530 | €610 | US$650

These figures are based on January 2017 prices and exchange rates. It is not an expensive country to travel in by any means and US$30/day is considered a safe benchmark figure for budget travel in Morocco but it’s possible to get by on less if you’re savvy. The figures above are based on that but don’t include the cost of travel in/out of Morocco. Your costs will also depend on how many organised trips you take with the Sahara trip likely to be your biggest single expense.


VISA REQUIREMENTS FOR MOROCCO

69 nationalities can enter Morocco visa-free for up to 90 days. This includes all EU countries, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea. If you’re from elsewhere use our visa check tool to find out whether you will need one.


TRAVEL INSURANCE

Find out more about our recommend travel insurance package for backpackers.


Morocco Backpacking Route

Tangier

(1/2 days)

Tangier is Morocco’s main coastal gateway to Europe and the Mediterranean and has an international flavour but if you’re someone who likes a culture shock, it still represents a sudden, in-your-face introduction to Morocco and everything it represents. Its steep central streets are bustling with life, teeming with touts and full of decaying yet charming buildings that give it a really authentic feel. In short it is a microcosm of Morocco but in terms of genuine sights the Kasbah and ancient medina are the main things to see and are located right next to each other so can easily be done in one day.

Getting from Tangier to Chefchaouen: Frequent buses serve the route and take around 3 hours to cover the 100km or so between the two cities with most buses stopping in the city of Tetouan en-route.

Chefchaouen

backpackers in Chefchaouen and Rif mountains

(2/3 days)

Chefchaouen is a beautiful small city in North-Western Morocco just beneath the dramatic backdrop of the Rif Mountains. It is really popular with backpackers and other nomads, some of whom are unquestionably attracted to the town for its proximity to the numerous nearby marijuana plantations. Although there are plenty of touts trying to sell hashish, which can be highly annoying it is still a very relaxed place and known as the ‘Blue Pearl’ for the colour of its buildings. It’s worth staying a few days here and getting out to explore the Rif Mountains and nearby national park.

Getting from Chefchaouen to Meknes: Buses take about 4 hours to get to Meknes from Chefchaouen.

Meknes

(1/2 days)

Meknes is free from the hassles of some of the more popular tourist destinations as most travellers tend to overlook it in favour of nearby Fes. However this imperial city is full of interesting historical sites with plenty of palaces and mosques while at the same time it is also a good example of a flourishing modern Moroccan city and if you’re looking to shop in Morocco, the medina in Meknes is perhaps the most reasonably priced of all the cities on this route and it’s a great place to land a few bargains.

Getting from Meknes to Fes: Very close and very well connected cities with at least one train leaving per hour. It costs just 22 Dirhams (roughly US$2) for a 2nd class ticket and the journey takes about 30 minutes.

Fez

(2/3 days)

Fez is one of the real travel highlights of Morocco. This ancient walled city is a giant maze of souks, shrines, tanneries and tombs and the only certainty when exploring the enormous medina of Fez is that you will get lost! It was the medieval capital of Morocco and is widely regarded as the most well-preserved old city in all of the Arab world today so it is well worth spending a few days here.

Getting from Fes to Merzouga: It takes about 10 hours by overnight bus and is almost certainly the longest journey you’ll need to take in Morocco. The Supratours buses do the route in full and can be booked easily once in the country and you shouldn’t have any problems getting seats if you book a couple of days in advance. Alternatively you can take a bus from Fez to Rissani with CTM (165 Dirhams) and then take a taxi to Merzouga.

Merzouga, Sahara Desert

Merzouga & Sahara desert

(2-4 days depending on length of trip in Sahara)

A trip into the wilderness of the Sahara Desert is a must for anyone backpacking in Morocco. While trips are easily arranged from Marrakech or any of the main cities, heading all the way to Merzouga yourself is the most rewarding way to do it. The village is much deeper into the desert than a typical short trip from Marrakech will reach and given you are based in the Sahara, you have much more flexibility to do the things you want to do rather than the typical tours which you basically have to do everything as a tour group. Options here include camel treks with the possibility of spending several nights in the desert, off-road 4 x 4 or motorbike trips around the dunes or you can simply get out and explore them on foot from Merzouga, which is a very small settlement.

Getting from Merzouga to Tinghir: There is one Supratours bus that leaves Merzouga in the direction of Marrakech at 8:00am each day and takes the tourist route, stopping close to the Todra Gorge. Alternatively you can take a Grand Taxi (shared taxi) to nearby Rissani for 10 Dirhams and from there you should be able to reach Tinghir by taking a local bus. Best to ask in Merzouga for advice on this leg as most visitors do it as part of a tour group and it’s not a route locals would regularly take so options are limited.

Tinghir & Todra Gorge

(1/2 days)

Tinghir is a small and fairly unremarkable place in the stunning High Atlas region of Morocco and it is a good base for exploring the nearby spectacular Todra Gorge, which is a popular stop en-route between the Sahara and Marrakech. From Tinghir, you can take a taxi up to the gorge, which has a well marked 2-3 hour hiking trail and is also a good place for rock climbing and you can also take trips to the surrounding oasis, which is wedged between the High Atlas and Little Atlas Mountain ranges.

Getting from Tinghir to Ouarzazate: Direct Buses leave at 5:30am and 1:00pm and take 3 hours costing 55 Dirhams (about US$5.50). Other departure times may be available.

Ouarzazate

(1/2 days – more if you skipped Merzouga)

Situated at 1,135 metres above sea level but just inside the Saharan region of Morocco, Ouarzazate is another popular stop. The town is far bigger and more developed than Merzouga and there is a bigger tourism industry so there are more options for tours into the Sahara and a wider variety of types and lengths of trip to take. If you feel you’ve had your fill of the Sahara Desert in the more remote Merzouga though, you could perhaps skip it as there isn’t an enormous amount to do in town.

Getting from Ouarzazate to Aït-Benhaddou: Only 30km between the towns so it doesn’t take long but there are no direct buses. Instead take a bus from Ouarzazate Bus Station towards Marrakech and tell the driver you want to go to Aït-Benhaddou. He will drop you off at a crossing (around 9km from Aït-Benhaddou) from where there are plenty of taxis waiting to take you up to the town. The whole journey should only be about 20 Dirhams if you wait for a shared taxi to fill up rather than getting your own.

Aït-Benhaddou

Backpacking Route for Morocco

(1/2 days)

Ait Benhaddou has one of the best preserved Kasbahs in the country and is frequently visited as part of a day trip from either Marrakech or Ouarzazate but it is well worth staying overnight as this Mud Brick city on the edge of the High Atlas Mountains is beautiful when lit up at night. Be sure to climb up the hill to the Granary for spectacular views of the town and surroundings. Most of the appeal here is the town itself which has featured in numerous movies including Lawrence of Arabia and Gladiator but again you will only really need a day or so to see it. Budget accommodation is pretty limited in town so you’ll need to either fork out for something a bit more expensive or stay a bit further out.

Getting from Aït-Benhaddou to Marrakech: Either return to the crossing via taxi and try to flag down a local bus to Marrakech (this can be tricky as most signs are in Arabic) or return to Ouarzazate and get a bus from there. There is one leaving Ouarzazate at 4:00pm and arriving in Marrakech at 8:30pm costing 80 Dirhams.

Marrakech

Marrakech backpacking route

(2-4 days)

Marrakech is perhaps the most famous city in Morocco these days with travellers at least and it has become a popular place to visit for Europeans with the number of cheap flights going in and out of it on a daily basis. As such it is more touristy than a lot of the other cities on this backpacking route for Morocco but it’s still a unique and special place.

It’s a bit like two completely different cities in one with the ancient medina still a mysterious maze of narrow passageways and colourful stalls and shops. There is an array of souks, squares, museums, mosques and palaces to visit so you’ll need a few days in town for sure. Visits to one of the many hammams for traditional massages and spa treatments are popular while accommodation choices include stays in typical Moroccan Riads, which can be a wonderful experience in their own right.

For a complete contrast head to modern Gueliz district which feels more like Europe with excellent restaurants and larger department stores. Another nice option is to take a day trip to Amizmiz, a nearby town in the High Atlas Mountains with a large Berber Souk every Tuesday.

Getting from Marrakech to Essaouira: This is a popular route with visitors to Morocco so buses are quite frequent and take roughly 3 hours usually costing 70 Dirhams (US$7).


MFT RECOMMENDS – Young and Happy Hostel, Marrakech

Great staff in this sociable hostel located in the heart of Marrakech just 200m from El Badi Palace.


Essaouira

(2/3 days)

Morocco has tried to develop a few coastal resorts in recent years with varying success but by far the most charming remains Essaouira. As an 18th Century fortified town it has plenty of interesting history and its unique coastal location gives it a different climate and feel to the other destinations on this route. The beach dominates life here although high Atlantic winds mean kitesurfing, windsurfing and other water sports are more popular than swimming and relaxing.

You may need to return to Marrakech to leave Morocco although there is a small airport in Essaouira with flights to London (Luton), Paris (Orly) and Marseille.


 


Budget Accommodation in Morocco

You may be able to find accommodation just by rocking up but some of the cities are immensely complicated to get around so it can be easier to book online and get a cab there when you arrive.


Is Morocco Dangerous?

Unlike fellow North African countries and popular travel destinations Tunisia and Egypt it hasn’t yet been the victim of any major ISIS-linked terrorist attacks although the terrorist threat is listed as ‘high’ by the UK Foreign Office. Whether you choose to take any notice of such warnings is obviously a personal decision but it is worth noting that the Foreign Office lists a similar threat for a huge number of countries around the world, while the threat level in the UK itself remains ‘severe’.

While trips to Morocco are very rarely dangerous these days neither are they completely hassle-free. There are many scams and irritations which can be avoided if you’re assertive and have your head vaguely switched on. You are likely to be approached by many people, particularly in the main tourist centres trying to offer you unofficial tours, take you to restaurants (probably with the aim of extorting money from you) or sell you some ‘flower power’. The regularity of these approaches particularly if you’re travelling alone can get irritating and although it may seem rude, you will have to be assertive or just outright ignore such people. Don’t let these incidents put you of Morocco or Moroccans as a whole as they are naturally sociable people and typically very friendly and welcoming to visitors.

Many girls are put off travelling alone or visiting Morocco full stop but provided you are respectful of the local culture, you shouldn’t have any issues although again it is not without irritations. Although there are those with more traditional views, Morocco is not the most conservative of countries in the Arab World by any means but you should still dress moderately.


Getting Around Morocco

Getting around Morocco is cheap and easy with one of the most extensive train networks in Africa and plenty of regular bus and rail connections, many of which are surprisingly fast. You can book train and some bus tickets online by the ONCF website (in French but translates well into English) or easily on the day at stations.

The main bus companies that travellers tend to use are Supratours (website doesn’t seem to work well) and CTM and they also have extensive connections in the country.

More Local geared buses also run many of the connections on this route but info is hard to find and almost always in Arabic so it’s difficult for foreigners to use unless you speak the language. In cities, shared taxis are the cheapest way to get around although you may be the victim of minor overcharging as a foreigner.

 


This article was published in January 2016.

The budget at the top was updated in January 2017.


Backpackers Guide to Cambodia: Lakeside, Phnom Penh

Cambodia: Trippy Times in Phnom Penh’s Lakeside

Country Guide | Temples of Angkor Wat | Cambodian Genocide | Phnom Penh’s Lakeside

Introducing the Craziest Place in the World?

lakeside in phnom penh

NOTE – This article is over 5 years old & the info may no longer be reliable.

The lakeside (Boeung Kak) in Phnom Penh is an area a fair walk or short tuk-tuk ride from the centre and is one of the craziest place that you will ever visit. This bizarre wasteland is home to all sorts of freaks from all over the world. The Stone Roses and Bob Marley blare out from the bars and guesthouses 24 hours a day as 80’s Madchester meets Jamaica in a psychedelic heaven even if it looks more like hell.

It’s called the Lakeside because you guessed it there is a lake and a favourite backpacker pass-time in these parts is watching the sunset from the outrageously comfy chairs in one of the guesthouses while drinking cool Angkor beer and smoking high quality marijuana. In the middle of all this sweet local kids as young as 4 or 5 wander the main street and head into the bars trying to sell knock-off books and playing games on the phones of foreigners. In short this place is weird yet strangely charming and one way or another alot of fun. It’s a great place to stay when visiting Phnom Penh although it is constantly rumoured to be getting demolished so go there while you still can.

Drugs

Whatever your opinion on the subject, drugs are a major reason why many backpackers come to Cambodia. In Phnom Penh’s Lakeside district all the guesthouses sell marijuana and it is generally fine to smoke anywhere in them, check with the reception although they will probably try to sell you a huge amount when you check in.

The bars and guesthouses in the lakeside pay a small monthly bribe to the police every month so they don’t get any hassle. $10 gets an enormous amount of weed in Cambodia, so much so that you might never want to leave. The bars all sell spliffs and at closing time things can get a little bit crazy if somebody appears with mushrooms or cocaine.

The street is full of Cambodians and Africans selling every drug you care to think of. This can be intimidating at first but these people are friendly enough but desperate for money and often meth addicts, so it is obviously riskier buying from them and occasionally the police will come in and bust one of them. Head into any of the bars or guesthouses and you will see people smoking joints.

People who spend too long in Cambodia often go a little bit bonkers so if you are someone who enjoys taking drugs, some serious self-discipline is needed to prevent this from happening. If you are that way inclined then arriving in Cambodia and the lakeside especially you may feel as though all your birthdays and Christmas’s have come at once.

Eating, Sleeping & Drinking

Happy Pizza MarijuanaA lot of the guesthouses on the banks of the lake (on the right side of the main street when coming in) double up as 24 hour bars and restaurants so you could happily spend all day on the comfy seats looking over the lake with cheap and tasty food and drink brought to you. Most of the guesthouses are pretty much the same with rooms as cheap as $2 a night, so wander into a few, they will happily show you the rooms and pick one you fancy. The Number 9 Guesthouse is highly recommended!

There’s several curry places which are great if you’ve got the munchies doing 3 dish specials for $2 or thereabouts. There’s a few cool bars with pool tables and live sports and a few ‘happy’ pizza joints (non happy pizza’s are available but when in Rome….).

 

Country Guide|Temples of Angkor Wat|Cambodian Genocide|Phnom Penh’s Lakeside


This article was published in November 2011.

Word has it that the Lakeside area has since been demolished. Please comment below if you have more up-to-date info.