Tsaverets, Veliko Tarnovo

Bulgaria: The Best Value Destination On The Planet?

Derek Bulgaria, Everything Else 127 Comments

Best Value Destination - Tsarevets, Veliko Tarnovo
In a somewhat hazy state of mind this morning, I began to write this post. My haziness is a result of flying from Istanbul to New York City yesterday, a 10-hour flight that, despite being as comfortable as possible for a 10-hour flight, has left me quite exhausted.

Anyway, I shall push forward with this post because, as I fell in and out of sleep during that lengthy flight yesterday, I couldn’t stop thinking about Bulgaria. And I decided that I must write a post about this interesting country nestled at the bottom of Southeastern Europe.

More specifically, I wanted to write about how, after my recent visit to Veliko Tarnovo, a small town in the center of the country, I became convinced that Bulgaria is possibly the best value destination on the planet.

It’s certainly at the top of my list at least.

During the five nights/six days that I stayed in Bulgaria, I spent a total of $210 USD. That’s about $35 USD per day, including all accommodation, food, activities, transportation and any other expenses I encountered.

And while there are plenty of countries where you could spend a lot less money per day, let’s take a quick look at what that $210 got me in the end…

I spent two nights at a very nice boutique hotel in the center of Veliko Tarnovo’s Old City, with a perfect view of the Yantra River from my room and a huge breakfast included in the price, followed by three nights at the highly-rated Hostel Mostel, where dorm rooms cost $12/night and include breakfast, a light dinner and evening beer.

I ate all of my other meals at the most popular local restaurants in the city (the restaurant Shtastliveca was so good I ate there four times), paid the entrance fee for the Tsarevets Castle, had coffee and cake most afternoons at Cafe Stratilat, took taxis across the city, made some random purchases in a few shops and even went out to the pub at night a couple of times.

Best Value Destination - Bulgarian leva

Best Value Destination - Cafe Stratilat, Veliko Tarnovo

Basically, I didn’t hold back at all in terms of spending money. And every time I handed over some cash, I couldn’t believe what I was receiving in return. This was especially true when it came to meals as Bulgarian food surprised me with it’s endless variety of fresh salads and wonderful Balkan-style main dishes that could be enjoyed for just a few dollars.

In addition, the fact that the Bulgarian people are extremely warm and welcoming towards foreigners just increases its attractiveness as a best value destination (speaking of attractiveness, Bulgarians have to be some of the most attractive people on the planet!). Everywhere I went I found it so remarkably easy to strike up a conversation with locals, whether it was the waitress at the restaurant, a taxi driver, the staff inside of a shop or strangers I encountered while wandering the streets.

And this was only a tiny part of the country I visited. Still left to be explored is Sofia, Plovdiv, Pleven, Varna, Burgas and many other towns, which can be found scattered among the mountains, national parks, historical sights and the Black Sea coastline that make up this country.

Luckily, I’ll be headed back to the region once my current month of hectic traveling is over and I’ll therefore have a chance to explore more of Bulgaria soon enough.

Best Value Destination - Tsarevets Castle, Veliko Tarnovo

Best Value Destination - Old City, Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria

WHAT COUNTRY IS THE BEST VALUE DESTINATION?

Of course, as I mentioned before, this is not the only country on the planet that offers such good value for your money. Bulgaria just happens to be near the top of my list (maybe even at the very top) after my recent experiences.

So, in order to help each other out, I thought it would be useful for all of us to share the country/region that we each think offers a great value for travelers.

Please share your thoughts in the comments below and let’s see what we end up with!

I’m actually quite curious myself as I’m always looking for new places to visit and I’m confident you’ll have a few good ideas…

Since 1999 I've been traveling and living around the world nonstop. Sign up below for personal stories, real advice and useful updates from my adventures. Only good stuff, no nonsense.

Are you ready to earn money and travel?

How to Work on a Cruise Ship and Travel eBooksClick above and get started!

Comments 127

  1. James

    I’ve been to Sozopol a couple of times. It’s pretty cheap, especially in the new town – you can get a decent meal and a beer for around 10 lv. A very nice hotel will set you back 40-50 lv, but you could find something for around 20, there are loads of private rooms.

    Try to travel south to some of the beaches. The beaches at Arkutino and Sinemorets are excellent.

    In general Sozopol is lovely, especially the old town at night.

  2. Mitchell

    Hi, I am going to sozopol in a few weeks. If you have been there, could you please tell me approximate,y how much it is over there in terms of drinks, food and activities?
    Kind regards, Mitchell

  3. Raya Gancheva

    Hello Earl 🙂
    My name is Raya and I am from Bulgaria! I am a newbie traveler with passion for food and unpredictable experiences. I am so happy that you enjoyed your stay in Bulgaria and also I wish to congratulate you for visiting one of the oldest cities in the country instead of shooting for the tourist resort Sunny Beach like so many other people!! Sunny Beach has got to be the WORST part of Bulgaria! Yet it seems like everybody are convinced that it is the only place to visit …
    Anyway please take this comment as a official invitation for you in my hometown in Bulgaria – Varna, the Sea “capital” of BG 🙂
    I know that you are always on the road and to be honest so am I (yay!)but next time you decide to visit Bulgaria please send me a message on Facebook or yahoo and if I am in BG, you can stay with my family and I will make sure to show you around! Keep in mind that since we are both all over the place (hah joke…) this invitation will be permanent! Even if you decide to come after a few years It will still last 🙂
    Good luck on your travels !
    With admiration,
    Fellow traveler
    Raya Gancheva 🙂

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Raya – Thank you so much for the comment and I definitely plan to visit Bulgaria again! I shall let you know when I do and look forward to meeting up with you 🙂

  4. brandy bell

    what an amazing wealth of info on Bulgaria! having heard nothing but the best about bulgaria, it’s certainly on my radar now. Thanks for the awesome article Earl– these comments also rock!

      1. lorraine thomson

        Yes! Just go, just been in Veliko Tarnovo (at our house) for 10 days – it was fantastic. Our family were visiting and we had a ball! Long walks and longer lunches (the food is amazing), found a cosy restaurant this time, in Arbanassi, fireplace and lovely food! A white Christmas and blue skies! BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY!
        Love it more every time we come.

  5. nicola

    I have just recently booked a holiday to Bulgaria, Sunny Beach. I am so excited and cannot wait to visit. This is such a fantastic site. I will have a child with me who is 10 so any suggestions or ideas of places to visit would be greatly appreciated :).
    We are for 10 days in B&B accommodation, how much spending money do u think we would need?

    1. Earl

      Hey Nicola – That sounds like a great vacation to me, although I’ve never been to Sunny Beach so I don’t have many places to recommend. As for spending money, it all depends on your travel style of course but in general, I spent about $20 USD per day during my stay in Bulgaria, apart from accommodation.

  6. Alina

    I’ve never been to Bulgaria, but I work with Bulgarians on a project, over the internet. They are very lovely people, and I’m sure so it’s the country, can’t wait to visit!

  7. James

    Hey, Earl.

    I’m living in Bulgaria and I love the country. The nature is beautiful, the history fascinating and , as you say , the people very warm. The more you explore the more you find – there are some wonderful hidden villages that have hardly changed in two-hundred years, and some of the most amazing mountain scenery ever. Some of the coast is magic – especially in the South near Turkey, the beaches are long, clean and beautiful.

    I’m so glad you enjoyed your stay and give the country a positive write-up.

    we hope you return!

    James

  8. Mileni

    Hi, Earl! Completely agree about Bulgaria! With the EU inclusion, the prices are getting higher, but the nature is so diverse and beautiful, and there still are unspoiled authentic places (e.g. beaches, wont’ mention names here).

    As a New York (Staten Island) resident now, I agree with Andrew’s comment above, esp. if we speak about urban destinations.

    Nature-wise, Bulgaria is on the top of my list, followed by Thailand.

  9. joost pleit

    Hi earl,
    new to your site, and i’m lovin it.
    I’m in Bulgaria right now, (V.T) and indeed it’s an amazing country, not only buck wise.

    I would like to mention morocco has a very affordable country to travel.
    daily expences are maybe a little bit higher then Bulgaria, while accomodation is much cheaper. I loved morocco and probably always will.

    btw, if you need a bed in Veliko Tarnovo, i have a spare bedroom, for about 4 months. After i still don’t know where i will be going.

    Cheers!

    1. Earl

      Hey Joost – Thanks for the comment and glad to hear you’re enjoying Bulgaria and V.T.! There’s a chance I’ll be passing through that town again in July so I’ll let you know if it happens. And thanks for mentioning Morocco…I’ve never been so am not too sure about the costs but that’s useful to know that it’s such a cheap country to visit overall!

  10. Pingback: The others about us – Wanderingearl.com: “Bulgaria: The Best Value Destination On The Planet?” « indiabulgariabusiness

  11. Pingback: Six Weeks Left in the Isperih « From Here to Bulgaria

  12. Alonso Abed

    In Leon, in the north of Spain if you ask for a corto de cerveza (a medium sized beer) they give you the tapas included, and what you do there is entering into different bars its interesting because each bar has its own specialty. So instead of having dinner you just drink beers in every bar possible! great value also, the beer im saying costs 1.50€

    1. Earl

      Hey Alonso – I’ve heard many people talk about these cerveza y tapas deals and I must admit, it all sounds quite appealing to me. I’ll need to make it there at some point to give it a try!

  13. Lucy

    Yay! Good news for me! I’m hoping to go skiing in Bulgaria next year with a big group so hope it will work out as cheap for me as it was for you! Cheers for the tips 🙂

    1. Earl

      Hey Lucy – I’m sure it will still be quite cheap for your skiing trip! Of course, it’s easy to end up paying a lot more money but if you do some good research, then you can still have all the comfort you need for very reasonable prices.

  14. Meleah Reardon

    I have found Budapest to offer a great bang for your buck. We stayed in a charming bed and breakfast for 3 nights and only paid 90 Euro. Also, the food was delicious and reasonably priced! It provided a noticeable contrast to Ireland, which I visited a few weeks prior. Ireland is so expensive.

    Thanks for your amazing blog Earl. You’re such an inspiration.

    1. Earl

      Hey Meleah – Thanks for sharing that info about Budapest. I was there once but stayed with a friend so I didn’t get a good idea of how much things really cost.

  15. Pingback: News in Bulgaria. Sound & Light Show Tsarevets Castle, Veliko Tarnovo « LadyClayton

  16. Lorraine

    Hi Earl
    What a friendly and inspiring guy you are! So happy to hear your comments about Bulgaria. My husband and I visited Bulgaria in 2006, we loved VT so much we bought an old house in the old part of town (up a steep cobbled street with a view straight out to Tsaravets. We had to demolish the old house, but built a beautiful new house. We love it there SO much. We do not live there permanently but hope to one day.We’d like to build a ’boutique’ B&B – charging a fair bit more than hostel prices – do you think there would be a market for this or do you think that Bulgaria is known as a cheap destination therefore people would not be prepared to pay more for something special and attentive service? Would be interested to hear your thoughts. Ijust think that Europe is so expensive (everwhere) and Bulgaria is so beautiful, and the food and wines is so fab, that surely, it will be ‘discovered’ when everyone has a bit more money (after the recession) to travel and see it! Would be interested to hear your thoughts! Best Regards

    1. Dave

      Hi Lorraine

      Just chipping in here. I think there is always a market for upscale accommodation, because there are always people prepared to pay for luxury or even to stay in a place others can’t afford (even during a recession).

      Best wishes

      Dave

    2. Earl

      Hey Lorraine – Thanks for the comment and I see no reason why there wouldn’t be a market for your idea. As with most things, the issue is not what you offer but how you market it. If you are able to get your B&B some attention and are able to market it to the right audience, then the people will come!

    3. nikolay

      Hi Lorraine,

      I live in Bulgaria, so if you need some research on places to stay/prices in VT, may be I can help. I am always interested in good ideas, especially when talking about my home country. I think there is room for what you plan, but depends on lots of things. You must think of something very nice and cosy so that you make the difference – have in mind that guest houses/rooms became very popular in virtually every settlement throughout the country so people now have a great choice.
      If you decide, feel free to contact me – reply and we will exchange contact details.

    1. Earl

      Hey Gary – Bulgaria would be a great option in terms of the cost of living for a long-term stay. I know there are opportunities to teach English there as well. The only thing is that often times, in Eastern Europe, you are required to have a TEFL certificate, while in other regions of the world, you just need to be a native English speaker to get a teaching job somewhere.

  17. Akila

    Earl, I’m with you. We took out about $800 USD (about 1200 leva) at the beginning of the month for food, gas, entertainment, and sundries (excluding lodging because we had already paid for that) — we assumed that we would use all of it and more considering that there was two of us plus we had to fill up our car. By the end of the month, we still had 200 leva left — and that was after we had tried hard to get rid of the cash by filling our gas tank! It’s an extremely budget friendly country. We loved Bulgaria, too! A wonderful place to spend time in.

    1. Earl

      Great information Akila as that is a bargain for one month in a car! Perhaps I should rent a vehicle the next time I go there myself. It doesn’t get any cheaper than $600 per month!

  18. Sam

    I am glad you loved Bulgaria so much. We lived in the Rhodopes mountains for a month over winter, and even having to dig our way out in the deep snow each morning and the water was freezing for several days could not dampen my enthusiasm for the place. Not only was accommodation, food and transport so cheap but everyone we meet was so welcoming and friendly. The only place that strays away from this is Bankso, we went there for a few days as they were having a bumper snow season, but as it is mass marketed at English ski tour groups and is very overpriced and everyone is very pushy.

    We have also just arrived in South Korea and so far it seems everything is really cheap here, buses, food (take away/restaurants) as well as groceries. We also took a couple of taxis (which we would never normally do because of the cost) but they are only a couple of dollars. Coincidentally, 2012 is “Visit Korea” year, so if you do end up here, make sure you check out this website as there are buses that are free for foreigners to some of the major destinations, which would normally be expensive by train. http://english.visitkoreayear.com/english/main.asp

    1. Earl

      Hey Sam – You must really love Bulgaria if you’re willing to visit during winter! And thanks for the “Visit Korea” info. I’m sure a lot of people would want to know about those free buses and anything else they’ve organized for foreigners. I might have to take advantage of it myself 🙂

  19. Johan

    Hey Earl,
    Stumbled across your blog whilst trying to kill some time. Read a few posts; very enjoyable and light-hearted reading. I am Slovenian and as such might be slightly biased but I think Slovenia provides good value. Value not necessarily in terms of $$$ but in terms of quality and what you can do with the time you have. If anybody is visiting Slovenia please feel free to contact me and if I am around and have time I will be more than happy to show you around.

    1. Earl

      Hey Johan – Ahhh….Slovenia! Definitely a great value destination overall and as you may have read in my posts about Slovenia, it is one of my favorite countries that I have ever visited! And I appreciate you offering your assistance to anyone who may be heading to your country. I always talk very highly about Slovenia so I have a feeling some people might be in touch with you 🙂

  20. Daniel B

    Hey Earl, I am from Varna, Bulgaria. Great website and it certainly makes my mind wander 🙂 If you come once again in Bulgaria, I will be more than happy to show you around and to give you accomodation!
    You are inspiring
    Greetings!

    1. Earl

      Hey Daniel – I will definitely be in Bulgaria again and I shall look forward to meeting you! I really appreciate the offer 🙂 Have a great weekend over there in Varna!

  21. Noel

    I have never been to Bulgaria but it is on my list. I was however in Vietnam and Cambodia last month and found Saigon very cheap. Reasonable meal for 2 people including drinks cost $8 – $10 total. Beer 60c and local tours also very cheap.

    1. Earl

      Hey Noel – That is of course cheap as well and Vietnam, most of Southeast Asia for that matter, sure does offer incredible value, even for those traveling on a tight budget. I tend to use beer as well to compare prices around the world 🙂

  22. Dave

    Earl, if you’re going to Bulgaria again I can recommend the Southern Black Sea coast and Strandja Nature Park. This area is at the border of Turkey and there’s some fantastic scenery there. May and June are especially good months with lots of green, wildlife and nice warm weather, but without the tourists.

    If you’re on a budget these months are good too, as in July and August everything is usually a bit more expensive (though still very affordable).

    That part of Bulgaria is close to Istanbul as well. There are daily buses from the city of Burgas (where you can fly to) to Istanbul. Takes only a morning to get there.

    1. Earl

      Hey Dave – Those seem like good suggestions to me and Burgas is definitely at the top of my list for my next Bulgaria visit. The Nature Parks sounds perfect as well and it’s the first I’ve heard of it. So thank you for letting me know!

    1. Earl

      Hey Ayelet – It’s definitely worth a trip from Israel…and I think people will start hearing more and more about Bulgaria in the next couple of years as more and more travelers start to ‘discover’ this great destination!

  23. T.W. Anderson

    If you spend time in Sofia, be sure to take the hiking trail up to Milonva (it’s a bit of a train trek out of the city, but it’s a great day hike), spend a few nights at one of the lodges up at Seven Rila Lakes and hike the trail/check out the monastary…go up and spend a weekend in the Bansko area if you want to check out a more touristy-vibe. It’s a ski resort, but it doubles as a summer vacation home destination. And you can’t go wrong with anything in the Rhodopes if you like hiking.

    If you have the time, Nessebar is always a relaxing, nice vacation spot. If you can get a reasonably priced room on the island, it’s a nice way to spend a couple of days in a historic place with great views out over the Black Sea. And I still find Burgas to be one of my favorite coastal cities in the world. Plus, the train ride from Sofia to Burgas goes straight through the wine country that is the secret treasure of Bulgaria…hundreds of different vintages and vineyards stretching out across the length of the country on the Thracian plains.

    Not to mention the Byazantine, Roman and Ottaman empires have all left their marks and ruins are scattered across the countryside in all sorts of places.

    Plovdiv is also a good day or two trip just outside of Sofia, and it has the Roman ampitheater.

    Sofia is…well, it’s another capital city. It has its trendy spots (downtown, Vitosha Boulevard), it’s parks and rivers and national park up at Vitosha itself…but it also has its slums and it’s dirty hovels and the gypsy subdivisions of brick-and-plywood shanties on the outskirts of town. But there’s a certain charm that comes from over 4,000 years of history, and if you get into a bottle of Rakia with the locals it can turn into a weeks-long discussion on the greatness of Bulgarians and how all cultures are inferior to the Bulgarians 🙂

    Great memories coming back 🙂 Absolutely amazing place in the world.

    1. Earl

      Hey T.W. – I appreciate all of that useful information about Bulgaria! I’ll certainly use your comment as a general guide during my next visit 🙂

  24. T.W. Anderson

    I commented recently about Bulgaria….I traveled there for 6 years or so and lived in Sofia for over two and a half…and aside from Mexico I find it to be one of the most affordable and comfortable places to live. I’m actually debating about heading back in another year or so after I wrap up some business stuff in Mexico, depending on a few things. Really enjoyed my time and I find myself missing it the longer I’m away.

    I actually lived for much cheaper than what you describe, but it was also the difference between traveling and living there. You can rent a fully furnished apartment for 400-500 Euro per month (all utilities/Internet included) and food is only about 100 Euro per month….so if you are just covering rent/basics you can live there easily on 600ish Euro p/month…makes it very value-friendly when you can live for that cheap and yet still maintain a upper middle-class lifestyle. It’s the whole selling point of my “Live Like a Local in Sofia, Bulgaria” immersion guide, how you can live and enjoy an early retirement there for as little as 600 USD per month.

    It’s also a great country for medicine and healthcare, as well as having functioning apothecaries and a medical community that is very much into natural healing and plants/herbs. And there’s plenty of hiking as well as camping in the Rhodopes and around the Black Sea…which also has the resorts if you are into them 🙂

    All in all, I still rank Bulgaria as one of my top three destinations in the world.

  25. jake

    I will always refer to my favorite country in the world as the best value. That would be Cambodia. You can get a four-star hotel in Siem Reap.. though I have never stayed at one myself. Spacious single rooms at hostels will run less than $5USD. Snorkle tour including lunch for $10. Even found free lodging staying right next to Bay of Thailand. Bus travel may be slow.. but equally inexpensive. Cambodia offers anything you want.. and price is very agreeable. People are some of the nicest you will find.

    1. Earl

      Hey Jake – Cambodia is definitely a cheap place to travel. I think in Bulgaria you would receive goods/services that are of higher quality than what you find in Southeast Asia but in terms of keeping the costs low, Cambodia is right up there for sure. And being in a country with warm, friendly people certainly does make a difference!

  26. Kiril

    Hi Earl,
    I can see that Bulgaria and Veliko Trnovo have impressed you. I suggest that you visit Macedonia too, especially Ohrid. I’m sure you will like what you can get for small amount of money

    1. Earl

      Hey Kiril – It’s part of my plan for the next few months! I’ll definitely make it over to Macedonia as well 🙂

  27. Erin

    I have to agree with Rocket on South Korea.

    I had never in my life thought I would go there, but a university exchange presented the opportunity. I am so glad I went!

    Korea is a highly developed country but still very cheap. The highest fare I paid on the Seoul metro was $1 (usually only 90 cents) for an hour long ride, and is quite possibly the nicest metro I have ever ridden. Taxis are very cheap (all have GPS and are CLEAN).

    Food is inexpensive, I always ate out. Eating at a Korean restaurant sets you back $3.50 to $6 (always come with free side dishes), loads of awesome street food can be had for even less. Shopping is cheap, everywhere, and available 24/7. A lot of museums and cultural attractions are FREE or cheap.

    Hostels were a bit more expensive, but the love motels are indeed a good bargain. If you want to travel ultra-cheap, you can spend the night in a ‘jjimjilbang’ (traditional Korean sauna and bathouse) for $8-$11. Very relaxing!

    Drinks are not as cheap as S.E.A., but a shot of ‘Soju’ can be had for as little as 90 cents at a Korean BBQ joint. Most mixed drinks I saw were about $3.50-$4.50, a pitcher of beer (about 5-6 pints) was about $11 in pubs.

    Not many tourists in Korea (they all flock to Japan/China), so even in Seoul you are sometimes looked at with curiosity (which suprised me). Koreans are the friendliest people I’ve encountered while travelling.

  28. Richard

    Just came across your website tonight for the first time and I’ve read some really good stuff on here, thanks. My top tip for good value would be Vietnam. Accommodation is good and lots of cheap / clean places to stay and eat all over. People are great and the food is to die for. Hanoi in the North is less commercialised than Saigon. Travel is cheap whether by bus, train or plane. Best regards Richard.

  29. kandyce

    india is nice, but sometimes it’s hard to handle. you know, you’ve been there several times before.

    i’d say definitely egypt. and i would travel there now. in fact, i just did. and the only time i felt unsafe was walking past the riot police outside the american and canadian embassies, but that’s a topic for a different day. and cairo is great- i love it. but what’s even better is siwa, where you can go sandboarding, trek in the desert, eat camel for dinner (tastes like tender beef!), explore hidden oases and chase sunsets all over town and there are only a handful of tourists and no shebeb harassing you- just small children shouting hallo at every turn.

    if i haven’t sold you enough on it yet, i have some photos and a few posts on my blog from our trip there two weeks ago: http://chotapeeleeauto.blogspot.com/search/label/siwa

    (and if you go, we have a friend who’s in the tourism business and can arrange for desert safaris, etc- let me know!)

  30. Bama

    Holy Moly! I Surely need to learn some Cyrillic characters when I go to Bulgaria (judging from the receipt seen on one of your photos). Speaking of the country which offers the best value, I still think it’s Thailand. Everything seems to be a lot cheaper than in its neighboring countries and you can find almost everything in Thailand.

    1. Earl

      Hey Bama – You definitely need to practice your Cyrillic but luckily, it’s not that difficult to pick up after a day or two (in terms of reading it) in a place like Bulgaria. And Thailand is definitely one of the most consistent countries in terms of offering great value for travelers. Not only is it cheap but what you get in return for your money is well above most other developing countries.

  31. Rocket

    South Korea, believe it or not, is one of the best values for the money. Hotels aren’t too bad, and that is the highest expense. “Love Hotels” are great for a cheap sleep. All kinds of delicious street food can be had in every city for a dollar or two. Long taxi rides cost only a few dollars as well. You can take a bus from one side of the country to the other for $10. And it’s all comfortable, good quality, etc. The taxis are nice cars, the subways are extremely clean and efficient, the food is delicious!

    There are much cheaper places, but you will probably be sharing a bathroom and showering in cold water, eating rice and beans, and plucking bed bugs and ticks off of your thighs.

    1. Earl

      Hey Rocket – That’s the thing…while there are cheaper places to travel, it doesn’t always mean those places offer a comfortable travel experience. Seems like South Korea does offer a good value for the money though and I must admit, I always assumed that South Korea would be more expensive than that. But after reading your description, I was clearly wrong! Thank you for adding your input!

  32. Derek

    Interesting how everyone says Chang Mai, never been only heard. But given my experiences traveling in the south of Thailand I wouldn’t even consider it to be a cheap destination and the value you get is sometimes questionable. I could be wrong here but it seems to me going to Thailand in say the 1970s would have been far better than today. Apologies all around for the “it was better back then” cliche.

    1. Earl

      Hey Derek – Chiang Mai is much, much different from the south of Thailand. You can really live very well in Chiang Mai for very little money. Nice studio apartments are $300/month (in the center of the city), food markets serve up dishes for 30 Baht ($1 USD), free wi-fi everywhere, transportation is cheap, drinks are cheap…and on and on. For around $600 USD per month, you can enjoy a standard of living that would cost well over $1500 per month in many other parts of the world.

  33. Someday I'll Be There - Mina

    as an Egyptian, getting paid in Egyptian Pounds, I can tell you the best value for my money is Egypt, wherever I go I’m paying more and getting less than what I would be getting in Egypt. But well I’ve only been to Europe…

    When I compare prices of SE Asia though, through what I read, it seems pretty reasonable, almost like prices here in Egypt, some things more and some are less but I think for staying there long term it would cost almost as much as it costs in Egypt (Or a little but more, but that little bit is coz in Egypt I know how to get the cheapest prices of whatever…wouldn’t be that easy when I don’t speak the language and know the insides of the country)

    1. Earl

      Hey Mina – That does make a difference and it always helps when you know exactly how/where to get the best prices. But I think if you travel slowly you will eventually discover how to get those cheap prices as well…it just takes some time when you’re in a foreign land. And I agree that Egypt is another place that offers a great value and in my experience it is very similar to the cost of traveling in Asia, just like you mentioned. You’re making me want to go back to Egypt for another visit!

  34. Colleen

    India, pretty much all of SE Asia, Philippines, Egypt (wouln’t travel there at the moment.) Mexico. There are many more, especially in central and S. America. For me , the less developed countries are more interesting, have more delicious cuisines and are, of course, more economical.

    1. Earl

      Hey Colleen – Those are all good value places as well. They are definitely cheap destinations but I think what made Bulgaria stand out was the quality of services/goods that you receive for such little money. In many other cheap destinations, you might find accommodation for just a few dollars but it probably won’t be such a good room or you might only pay $1 for a bus ride but you sit on an uncomfortable bench. In Bulgaria, everything was super-comfortable despite costing so little!

  35. Gemma

    I took a ski trip in Bulgaria a few years ago and loved it. Although in regards to skiing, the resorts and food aren’t really a scratch on the French or Swiss Alps, it was about half the price. Definitely worth it!

    p.s. That cake looks amazing.

    1. Earl

      Hey Gemma – That cake was amazing! And I don’t know, I’d almost prefer Bulgarian food over French food…the variety in Bulgarian food was incredible and every meal I ate was excellent. Perhaps that’s just a Veliko Tarnovo thing. I guess I’ll have to sample the food in other towns/cities before reaching a conclusion.

  36. ken stan

    I think Kota Kinabalu Malaysia.15.00 a night for a hotel inside the biggest mall in Sabah.30 minutes from the best Mt. climbing river rafting and jungles of Sabah.

  37. Earthdrifter

    Definitely agree with Chiang Mai had a room w/ most amenities including desk, direct internet connection, daily cleaning, TV/cable ‘n’ hot water. About $13, and the street food and Sunday market. YUM!
    India definitely has to be right up there.
    I’m now in Ecuador which isn’t bad at all. The best I’ve found is at the Hostal Erupción in Baños. I paid $8 a night for a private room, queen size bed, w/ bath and it had the strongest wifi connection and hottest water I’ve had here yet. Even drinking water was included. Otherwise water’s dirt-cheap in supermarkets. Visiting world class hot springs are $2 to $4. They don’t jack prices up for tourists for most things not the Galapagos included. You can get a huge, tasty, healthy almuerzo for $2 at most markets. Comfortable bus rides cost between $1 and $2 per hour. Ecuador can provide top-notch value.

    1. Earl

      @Earthdrifter – That is much cheaper than I would have imagined for Ecuador, especially for the accommodation. And that’s good to know as I think of some future destinations 🙂

  38. Lane Cook

    Great to hear about Bulgaria! I knew you would like it. It’s been quite some time since I went to Tsarevets- do they still charge more for foreigners? You went to a pub. Was it an Irish one owned by an Irishman and his Bulgarka wife? I read and saw on your smetka that you had Zagorka beer; it’s from my wife’s hometown of Stara Zagora and I like it as well. If you haven’t had Kamenitza yet give it a try next time you’re there. Anytime you want to talk about Bulgaria send me an email. Looking forward to your next post! Take care.

    1. Earl

      Hey Lane – I did try the Kamenitza as well…very good stuff too. That whole region of the world is quite impressive when it comes to beer! I think I went to a different pub as it was more of a Bulgarian style place and not an Irish pub. As for Tsarevets, I don’t know if there was a price difference. The price for me was 6 leva.

      And I will be in touch the next time I head to Bulgaria so that you can perhaps give me a few extra tips!

      1. Mariya Todorova

        Because EU regulations make price discrimination based on national origin illegal, the sights no longer charge different fees for foreigners.

  39. David in Norway

    Hey Earl, you’ve read my mind. I’m currently living in Norway, right at the other end of the value scale! (unless you’re earning here in Kroner of course, then everything becomes reasonable, but that’s another story…)

    Anyway I’m planning the start of some serious traveling and am torn between southern Spain (surprisingly cheap to live rather than holiday) and Bulgaria/Romania. This post is helping tip the balance, especially as I’m looking at towns outside of Sofia and Bucharesti – great to see some real life example of costs. Thanks!

    1. Earl

      Hey David – I think no matter where you end up it will be a lot easier on the wallet than Norway! And if you do head towards Bulgaria/Romania, let me know as I’ll be based out of Bucharest for a while.

    1. Earl

      Hey Theodora – Those are great choices as well…Egypt is quite a cheap country and I think in the Sinai region you can really get a lot more for your money. Glad you found Bulgaria to be a good value destination as well!

  40. Adventurous Kate

    It’s far for undiscovered, but in terms of what you get for the money, I don’t think you can beat Chiang Mai, Thailand. Not my favorite place in Thailand by far, but it’s SO cheap and the amenities are SO good. There’s a reason why it’s travel blogger land!

    I would also add Spain to the list, particularly in terms of food, and especially if you go for long-term lodging. Barcelona was quite expensive, but Valencia, Granada and Sevilla were great value cities. Especially Granada with the free tapas!

    1. Earl

      Hey Kate – That is true…Chiang Mai is about as cheap as it gets for those wanting a very good standard of living. And I keep hearing about the free tapas in Granada from several people…it’s about time I get there myself and check it out!

  41. Ellen

    I loved visiting Bulgaria, especially Neseber and the beautiful Black Sea. But Turkey also still offers excellent travel value. For example, you can stay in a double room in Olympos (actually a cabin) for 15 euros, including breakfast and dinner.xa

    1. Earl

      Hey Ellen – I agree that Turkey is a good value as well, although Istanbul is incredibly expensive for the region!

  42. Shane

    We found Bulgarians a little more closed than you seem to have done (though less so in VT) but otherwise agree that Bulgaria is a very attractive country. I won’t judge Bulgarians too harshly though as – looking at the country with a view to living there – we were deliberately being more critical than we normally would be. Bulgaria also had the bad luck to be visited straight after our favourite country, Egypt.

    VT though is a beautiful old city and I do miss those Stratilat cakes, and a glass of rakija with my shopska salad. As for value, if you are ever thinking of settling down or buying a base between travels, the two bed new build apartment we came ‘this’ close to buying (six years ago), close to the centre (though up a very steep hill) would have cost around £24,000 (plus an extra few thousand to finish the internal fittings to our specs).

    Another good value place well worth exploring is Ohrid which is a little like a combo of VT and Plovdiv beside a lake: similar architechture, a Roman amphitheatre surrounded by housing, a fortress and a lively cafe culture.

    1. Earl

      Hey Shane – Thanks for the recommendation as I had not heard of Ohrid before. And that’s quite a good deal for an apartment…I was actually looking at some of the offers in the real estate agency windows. I found a nice 3 BR house in one of the villages on the outskirts of VT (20 minute walk into town) for 15,000 Euros.

      1. Shane

        Tweet me if you do go to Ohrid. We stayed in a room rented out by a family who were the nicest people we’ve ever met on our travels. We had to sneak past their door if we wanted to eat at my favourite restaurant in the town. If they caught us they would give us food and rakija and we’d be too full to go out that night. They even waved us off at the bus station – our own families don’t do that.

          1. Earl

            Hey Mariya – I think Shane was just pointing out another good option in the general Southeastern European region. I know that he’s aware it’s not in Bulgaria 🙂

  43. Amanda

    This is awesome to hear about Bulgaria! I’m traveling through Eastern Europe this summer, and Bulgaria is one of the countries I’m most looking forward to!

    1. Earl

      Hey Amanda – Be sure to let me know when you’re in the area as I’ll be based out of Romania for another few months!

    2. Biser Radev

      Hey, hello to everybody 🙂 I’m from Bulgaria, Pleven city. If anyone travels across Pleven can write an email. I’ll show him the city and everything, it’s not a problem at all. My name is Biser(in EN maaaaby means Dimond 😀 ) and I’m 21 yo 🙂 I’ll help anybody 🙂 Waiting here 🙂

      1. Earl

        Hey Biser – Thank you for the comment and the offer of assistance to anyone traveling to Pleven! I’m sure I’ll get there myself at some point and when I do, I shall be in touch 🙂

  44. Steve C

    My vote goes to India with a close second to Thailand. This not only takes into account the cost of traveling / living but the huge value of the cultures you experience by the minute 24/7. Not that Eastern is better than Western cultures, it’s just way-different.

    1. Earl

      Hey Steve – Those are of course two great value countries, both in terms of money and cultural experiences. It just takes a little effort sometimes to find good accommodation when you’re traveling there on a budget. What surprised me about Bulgaria was that even at the budget end, the accommodation/restaurants seemed to be almost always of the highest quality (based on my experiences and the experiences of other travelers).

  45. Andrew

    Could I be so bold as to say I’m finding NYC to be great value? The $29 for a week on the subway, heaps of free stuff on offer, some museums free on the first weekend of each month, the Statten Island ferry, countless free guided city walks and accomodation via Air BnB.

    Did I mention all the amazing fruit carts & $1 slices of pizza?!

    1. Earl

      Hey Andrew – NYC definitely can be a great value…I like that mentioned it on here. It’s one of those places that people automatically think is prohibitively expensive but in reality, can be quite cheap once you figure things out a bit.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *