Published on December 28th, 2017 | by Bridget Kapinus
6 ridiculously tasty destinations for cheap eats
Read time: a bit over 4 minutes
Flights, accommodation, transportation, activities… it can all add up when you’re planning the trip of a lifetime. One can easily find themselves hard-pressed to stay within a budget.
But, fear not! The trick? Head to places where you can save on food.
The good news is that opting for cheap eats doesn’t mean a compromise on flavor or experience. Actually, food that won’t empty your pockets is likely closer to the delicious authentic food that locals enjoy on the daily.
So, as to ease your money-stress (and wallets), here are six of the best places to travel to for cheap eats.
Within Vietnam, most of the major cities and towns are cheap by Western standards. A filling lunch can run as little as $2 per person when sticking to staples like rice and noodle-based dishes. Even a local beer will only set you back a dollar.
Another advantage here though, is that after years of colonial influence, Vietnam has developed a rather refined French cuisine. You can dine at a 3 Michelin starred French restaurant (La Maison 1888) and pay about $45 for your main course—easily less than half of the cost of the same meal were you to eat it in Paris.
So, for those of you who dream of eating like discerning foodie but have more of a chain-restaurant budget, Vietnam just might be the perfect middle ground.
Even I would not have guessed this one until a friend enlightened me after a summer trip to Transylvania. However, thanks to various wars and the fall of communism, Romania‘s more developing nature has meant cheaper prices. For eager visitors this means expensive meals in major cities, like Brasov and Bucharest, running for about $10 per person.
Even better, because of its fairly close proximity to other cities such as Budapest or even Istanbul, a trip to Romania can easily be incorporated into a longer trip that might not otherwise be possible with a small budget. If you are worrying you might not like the cuisine though, just stop there. Romanian delicacies include smoked bacon, sausage, and fried dough with sweet cheese… Yummm!
Sometimes the obvious just needs to be stated: India is pretty much an inexpensive country all around. That being said, Southern India offers some especially fantastic perks. First off, it’s more or less a lush garden filled with plantations and surrounded by stunning coastline. As such, the region is abundant in fresh produce and seafood.
For visitors not looking to splurge, this means getting delicious local meals for less than 20 rupees a plate (30 cents!) And if spicy food is not your cup of tea, don’t worry. South Indian cuisine tends to focus more on subtle stews and cooked vegetables… perfect for any appetite.
Like everything else in mainland Ecuador, food is cheap. And one of the most appealing parts of dining in Ecuador is that everything is priced in USD… no counting coins or converting anything to make sure you are getting a good deal. Stay away from American chains or brands as these tend to charge a high markup largely aimed at tourists looking for a familiar sign or label (e.g. Domino’s or Coca Cola).
Instead, try out the local mom and pop restaurants or shops. Shawarma shops are hugely popular here, and delicious. A massive plate can cost as little as $4. To add to the budget-friendliness, local brands of snacks like Manicho and 220V can also cost less than half their better-known counterparts.
There is a general rule in Nepal regarding food prices…the higher the altitude, the higher the cost. Definitely something to keep in mind if you plan on doing an Everest trek. For those of us just looking to explore Kathmandu or perhaps Pokhara, this is good news. Our best advice: stick with the local food.
Similar to Indian food, Nepalese cuisine tends to rely largely on rice as well as sides of meat and mild spices. In Kathmandu, some of the local restaurants even offer all you can eat with the pricing easily falling under $5 per person. Of course more Western-style options are available, but be prepared to pay a premium.
Everyone should be aware that Istanbul is the land of street food. If you don’t believe me, take a stroll through the Grand Bazaar and tell me how many delicious smells waft by. In just a five-minute walk I have run into everything from roasted corn to kebab to hands-down the best pistachio ice cream I have ever had. Even better, most of this costs five lira or less (under 1.50 USD).
If you want something a bit more than a snack, the locals are more than happy to welcome you into their family-run bistros and restaurants. The Old Town tends to be less expensive so stick to that area if you are looking to stay on budget. Otherwise you can easily (and happily) get by on street food and local pastries from breakfast through lunch.
Take your pick of the delicious destinations. Book a small group adventure with Geckos Adventures.
(All images c/o Geckos Adventures.)