ADVENTURERS, FAMILY FRIENDLY TRAVEL, FOOD & WINE, NATURE, ROMANTIC
Even the well-off amongst us may have noticed an increase in general costs in the last year or so. Because of this many may be reconsidering their budgets when pricing in leisure and travel plans. With that in mind here are some destinations where your dollars, pounds and euros might go a little further than in certain other locations and still afford you a memorable experience.
Recent declines in the value of the Japanese Yen mean exchange rates are favourable for US dollar holders. This fact combined with Japan’s efficient bullet-train network make the country ideal for a multi-stop trip. As a holiday destination Japan represents the perfect fusion between ultra-modern urban bustle and the beautiful natural tranquillity of its various ornate gardens, temple complexes and natural wonders. Tokyo is the largest metropolis on earth and a mecca for videogames, electronics, and manga enthusiasts. The Akihabara District has a particular concentration of speciality stores and multi-floor arcades serving this market. Elsewhere the 15-acre Nishinomaru garden in Osaka is known throughout the country for its stunning cherry and plum blossom and lies adjacent to magnificent Osaka Castle Tower. Osaka is also known for the Shinsaibashi-suji shopping street – take advantage of the favourable exchange rate and pick up some bargains. For nature lovers the sacred Mount Fiji is a must, with the nearby town and hot springs resort of Hakone a
useful base camp for excursions up the mountain.
Cherry blossoms in Osaka
Like Japan, Argentina’s recent economic downturn also make it a more affordable prospect. Buenos Aires alone is a uniquely vibrant city, abundant in eye-catching architecture from various eras and ornate palaces and plazas. An active art scene also make it one of the most culturally rich cities in the Americas. Aside from the sights Argentina may currently be one of the cheapest places in the world to get a high-quality steak – skewered slabs of beef cooked over open fires in the traditional
gaucho-style are a national speciality. And what’s a steak without a decent glass of red? Argentina is known as one of the best producers of Malbec reds in the world – Mendoza, La Rioja and San Juan are just three prominent wine-producing regions. Indeed, much of the north-western quarter of the country produces notable varieties. The sheer size of Argentina means it’s also an ideal place for adventuring and nature, from arctic glaciers to tropical rainforest. One notable highlight is the Iguazú Falls, a series of towering waterfalls on the Argentine/Brazilian border.
Despite its distance for many Western travellers the relatively cheap accommodation and food and drink prices means South Africa remains an affordable travel option. This should leave enough of your budget intact for expenditure on South Africa’s principal attractions, wildlife and wine. Kruger National Park is the third largest of its kind in the world, and home to Africa’s ‘Big Five’ game animals – lions, leopards, black rhinos, African elephants, and African buffalo. Near Gqeberha (formerly Port
Elizabeth) lies Addo Elephant National Park. Available activities include game drives, marine eco tours, hiking and 4×4 trails. To see the famous elephants which populate the area playing go to Hapoor Drinking Hole Lookout. Whales, sharks, manta rays and dolphins can be spotted in Hermanus, a small coastal town not far from Cape Town. In terms of wine The Western Cape is the most notable region, itself divided into distinctive areas, including the Coastal Region, of which Cape Town is a part; Cape South Coast, home to the famous Walker Bay; and the Breede River Valley to
name just three.
Turkey has always been cheap relative to its almost year-round good weather, stunning landscapes, immaculate beaches, and fascinating historical landmarks. In Antalya a three course mid-range meal for two costs the equivalent of about $19. The Turkish Riviera, or the Turquoise Coast as it’s also known, in tribute to the gorgeous Mediterranean hues that lap its shores, is a particular highlight of the country. Mark Anthony himself is said to have chosen the area as a wedding present when marrying Cleopatra. Two of the seven wonders of the ancient world are located here; the ruins of the Maussollos in Halicarnassus and the temple of Artemis in Ephesus, a town that at its peak was second only to Rome in terms of international power. Other highlights include Alanya Castle, the old town of which is particularly picturesque; the Roman ruins at Perge; the quaint fishing villages and marinas of Bodrum Peninsula; Mount Olympus in Beydaglari Coastal National Park; and the well-preserved Roman theatre at Aspendos. It’s an incredibly historically rich stretch of coastline. Ample opportunities exist along the Riviera for swimming, snorkelling and other beach pursuits.
Beach in Antalya
Emerging from a turbulent twentieth century the modern Balkan states have stabilised, modernised, and are becoming increasingly popular holiday destinations. One major attraction is that they remain affordable for holders of major currencies. A mid-range three-course meal for two in Croatia for instance will cost about $42, while a half litre of beer is roughly $2.50. This country has become popular thanks to the beauty of locations such as Dubrovnik on the Mediterranean coast, and the stunning nearby Plitvice Lakes National Park. Romania has some of the most dramatic castles on the continent, including Peleș Castle and Bran (aka Dracula’s) castle, both reachable on daytrips from Bucharest and set in stunning mountain locations. Slovenia meanwhile is known for its natural scenery, in particular Bled lake and Bohinj lake. Bosnia and Herezgovina and Montenegro also have ample worthwhile places to visit. But why choose? With prices this affordable a multi-stop tour through the whole region is a more than realistic prospect.
These are four countries where travellers will see a decent return on their dollar or euro investments, but are still rich in enough culture, cuisine, and nature to satisfy any type of traveller. Browse possible routes and book a memorable holiday without breaking the bank.
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