Most people working a traditional job are entitled to a few weeks holiday. In some countries, you might even be entitled to a paid holiday. Uscually, a person can enjoy 2-4 weeks off from work which allows them to travel and go on a long vacation.
If you are the kind of person who prefers to save up your time off and use it in one go, you probably have landed in this list of the best affordable destinations for a 3-week vacation because you are looking to where to spend your well-deserved holiday.
Lucky for you, this list is just the right one. Below, you will find a compilation of the best places where you can enjoy up to 20 days of work-free trips without breaking the bank. This is a list where your hard-earn money can go a long way.
QUALITIES OF AN AFFORDABLE TRIP DESTINATION
Before we hop on the list, let’s first talk about what “affordable” actually means when it comes to a holiday. Depending on your budget and location, the word “cheap” might be different for everyone. Spending $30 on a hotel room for one night is a great price for people who earn in Europe, North America, or Oceania.
But this price tag might be on the steep side for a person who works and live in Southeast, Africa, and even in Latin America.
Distance from your location
When looking for a place to spend your annual vacation, the first thing you should look at is its distance from your location. If you are living in the US, affordable flights often head towards Europe, Canada, and Mexico. For those living in Europe, go to East Europe or Africa where your money can afford you a nice hotel for the entirety of your vacation.
For those travelling from India, you probably want to look for a destination situated in South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Central Asia. Travellers from Latin America should consider neighbouring countries such as Colombia, Ecuador, and Brazil.
You want to look for a place that is not too far from your location so the flight tickets won’t cost a fortune. If it’s close enough, you can probably even consider driving there or taking the bus versus flying. Choosing a destination nearby also means you can maximise your time and not waste it waiting around the airport.
A big chunk of your budget when you go on a trip goes to accommodation. Wherever you go, the hotel is always one that comes up the most costly. An average hotel room in North America is $100, $80 in Europe, and $120 in Oceania.
However, in Southeast Asia, accommodation is affordable. In Vietnam, a double room costs about $20, in the Philippines that will fall under $30, while a hostel dorm room can even be as cheap as $10. Latin America’s accommodation is higher than in Asia but a lot cheaper than in Europe.
Food, transportation, and tour cost can easily be kept under a certain budget. If you’re not a foody, you can source your food from street stalls and grocery shops. You will save money by taking the bus, or train, renting a push bike, and walking while exploring the city centre.
On-a-budget travel tips
I started my passion to travel the world as a backpacker. For nearly 5 years, I make sure that I get to see as many places as possible without spending more than I can. I stayed in hostels, hitchhiked, and even volunteered in businesses in exchange, I receive food and a bed.
Apart from that, I also only use travel services that cater to backpackers and offer affordable options. I also look at travel sites that will allow me to cancel my reservation in case my plans change without paying any cancellation fees. Here’s a list of travel tools that I have been using since I started travelling:
BEST AFFORDABLE DESTINATIONS FOR A 3-WEEK VACATION
Now that you have some ideas of the places you want to go to, let’s see if those locations are on the list below. Remember, don’t scratch off the spot on your list yet. Check the flights and hotel costs to see if they are within your budget.
You should also look at flights 4-6 months in advance and avoid travelling during the peak season of your destination (summer/Christmas). If you’re ready, here’s a list of amazing 3-week vacation ideas:
Vietnam is located in Southeast Asia, sharing a land border with Cambodia and Laos. Its culture, beaches, food, floating markets, rice terraces, motorbikes, and friendly people are well-known. It is also where the world-famous dish pho originated. A couple of tourist spots you could visit in Vietnam include Halong Bay, a UNESCO world heritage site, Ho Chi Minh City, and Pho Nha-Ke Bang National Park.
There are tons of activities that you could do here in Vietnam, including hiking, visiting the world’s largest cave, cycling, and sailing past rice fields. If this sounds good to you, look at our itinerary for 3 weeks in Vietnam where you will see the average cost as well.
- Affordability: Super budget-friendly, 3 weeks here could run you for as low as $700
- Visa: easy, apply for an e-visa online
- Known for: motorbiking adventure, rice fields, and cuisine
Among all the countries previously mentioned, Egypt might be the most popular because it is frequently mentioned in movies, mainly historical or even the movie’s setting. We are familiar with the Pyramids, pharaohs, crypts, and scrolls.
Still, aside from those, Egypt is also famous for its deserts and rivers, mainly the Sahara desert and Nile River. If you want to see the stunning Pyramid of Giza, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, go to Egypt.
The most popular activities in Egypt include cruising the Nile River, diving on the red sea and hiking at Mount Sinai. You could even get Egyptian history lessons at the Egyptian Museum.
- Affordability: Budget for a minimum of $800 for backpackers
- Visa: easy, visa on arrival for up to 90 days
- Known for: the Pyramids, sand dunes, and cruise on the Nile River
Thailand is also a country in Southeast Asia, which is located on the Indochinese Peninsula. The only Southeast Asian country that wasn’t colonized by a European power. This country is well-known for its mangoes, pad Thai, culture, and strict monarchy conservation, and it is also called the land of smiles.
Some of the country’s tourist spots include Maya Bay, where Leonardo DiCaprio’s famous escapist movie The Beach was filmed, The Grand Palace, Sunday Walking Street, and more. Watch out for this one because 3 weeks in Thailand can easily cost around $700 or skyrocket up to $2,000 if you don’t plan accordingly.
Here’s a list of activities that you could do while in Thailand: Rock climbing, diving, Visit the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, watching a ping pong show, joining a water fight during Songkran, which is a traditional Thai New Year, joining a lantern festival, and more.
- Affordability: good, around $800 budget is great
- Visa: easy, most travellers can enjoy visa-free for 30 days
- Known for: the beaches, food, diving, temples
Situated in South Asia is the landlocked country of Nepal. Its subalpine forested hills, fertile plains, and eight of the world’s ten tallest mountains are well-known. In fact, Mt. Everest can be found here. This is also Buddha’s home country. With that being said, mountaineering is a very favourite activity here, as well as paragliding, bungee jumping, trekking, canyoning, and mountain biking, among others.
Some of Nepal’s tourist spots aside from Mt Everest include Boudhanath Stupa, Pokhara, the gateway to the Himalayas, Chitwan National Park, and more. If you are going to Nepal for 3 weeks, you should definitely look at hiking Everest Base Camp or the less popular Annapurna Base Camp hike.
- Affordability: very affordable, you can survive at $600 since accommodation and food is very cheap
- Visa: visa on arrival for 15, 30, 60, or 90 days, but it’s best to apply online to avoid a long queue
- Known for: the Himalayas range, Everest Mountain hike
Kenya is among the most affordable destinations for a 3-week vacation in Africa. It is the 48th largest country by area and the 29th most populous country in the world. Kenya is well-known for having the world’s largest desert lake, for coffee, and known as the birthplace to some of the world’s greatest long-distance runners.
You could witness the great migration in Maasai Mara National Reserve, observe the pink flamingos in Lake Nakuru National Park, or sightsee in Lamu Old Town, a UNESCO world heritage site.
- Affordability: decent, $900 will make your trip to Kenya comfortable
- Visa: apply online, which allows you to stay for 90 days
- Known for: best wild safari and tea
You will find Morocco northwest of North Africa. This country is famous for its cuisine, lost beaches, and deserts. Of course, since there are deserts, camel rides and seeing sand dunes up close are also common. It is also one of the most interesting historical destinations in South Africa.
Some tourist attractions include Ait Ben Haddou, a fortified village, and Essaouira, a seaside town that was the country’s central hippie hangout during the 70s. There are still traces of the bohemian past in this area.
Lastly is the Dades Valley, where there are orange-hued cliffs and snowcapped peaks of the High Atlas in the distance. Other activities that you could do here include hiking, trekking, bird watching, and surfing.
- Affordability: on the higher side, but can be done on a budget, around $1,200
- Visa: visa-free for most nationalities for up to 90 days, evisa for some
- Known for:
The Philippines is a country made of 7,641 islands, wherein 2,000 of which are inhabited and situated in Southeast Asia. It is famously visited for its excellent beaches, delicious fruits, and food.
Spending 3 weeks in the Philippines can be tricky due to taking flights a few times throughout your trip. Just make sure that the domestic flights are direct to avoid wasting your time.
A couple of the most recommended tourist spots in this country are Boracay, Cebu, and Palawan if you prefer beaches. For those who are fond of places with higher altitudes, Baguio, Rizal, and Tagaytay are must-visits. Some activities you could do here are jet skiing, banana boat riding, parasailing, helmet diving, ATV riding, canyoneering, mountain climbing, ziplining, swimming, or simply sightseeing.
- Affordability: affordable, but on the higher side, accommodation here is higher than in Thailand or Vietnam, $850 is a reasonable budget
- Visa: free visa for most nationalities for 30 days, extendable
- Known for: beaches, diving
Turkey is mainly located in Western Asia and is known as a transcontinental country with a small portion in Southeast Europe. It is one of the world’s earliest settled regions, and since it’s nestled between two continents, it is a melting pot of cultures.
Turkey is known for its high-quality carpets, hammam, bazaars, sweet treats like baklava, and Turkish delights, which were mentioned in the movie Narnia. Go plan a 3-week trip in Turkey where you can spend around $800 minimum for one person or $1,200 for two if you are on a budget (this excludes flights).
Turkey has many tourist attractions, including the Hagia Sophia Mosque, Cappadocia, and Topkapi Palace. Some activities you could do here are a hot air balloon ride, enjoying a Turkish bath, hiking, and collecting artefacts.
- Affordability: decent, $900 to make sure you see everything you want and stay in mid-range accommodation
- Visa: depends on your passport, some can enjoy a free visa, others must get an evisa – find more info here
- Known for: historical sites, hot air balloon over the caves, food and coffee
Indonesia is a country in Oceania and Southeast Asia that has more than 17,000 islands. It is the largest archipelagic state all over the world and is the fourth most populous country. It is also the most populous Muslim-majority country. It is well-known for its cultural diversity and biodiversity. In fact, over 3,000 species of fish can be found in the Coral Triangle.
Among the most famous tourist destinations in Bali, where you can find numerous renowned beaches, Borobudur, one of the top UNESCO world heritage sites, and one of the greatest Buddhist sites, Komodo National Park, and more. Most backpackers spend three weeks in Indonesia where they can visit the islands and hike active volcanoes.
- Affordability: $750 is a decent budget for Indonesia
- Visa: most nationalities can receive a visa-free upon arrival
- Known for: surfing, beaches, and wildlife
India is the seventh-largest country by land area and is located in South Asia and the second most populous and democratic country in the world. It is loved for its natural landscapes, classical dances, food, and Bollywood industry. It is also the birthplace of yoga.
Some of India’s most famous tourist attractions are the Taj Mahal, a UNESCO world heritage site, the Darjeeling landscapes, and Amritsar, the jewel of Punjab. While in India, you could go trekking, climb the Great Wall of India, have a hot air balloon ride, go on safaris, stay in a houseboat, paraglide, skydive, or quad bike.
You’ll also find something here if you’re a more laid-back person who wants to unwind and explore. There are a lot of people that go to India to join silent retreats where the participants are not allowed to speak for multiple days even weeks.
If you have 20 days in India, you might want to check how big this country is, or else you might find yourself rushing from one place to another.
- Affordability: Depends where you go, so around $800 is a reasonable minimum budget
- Visa: most visitors must get an evisa in advance
- Known for: Taj Mahal, fantastic cuisine, culture
Cambodia is located in Southeast Asia’s southern portion of the Indochinese Peninsula. Cambodia has a rich culture, delectable cuisine, and the largest religious monument in the world. It’s famous for the ancient ruins of Angkor Wat, the dark history during Khmer Rouge, and is one of the best affordable destinations for a 3-week vacation.
Cambodia has numerous tourist spots, including Angkor Wat, Phnom Penh, Koh Rong Samloem, and more. You could do activities here, including trekking the Cardamom Mountains, watching an Apsara dancing show, cruising the Mekong River, and watching the sunset. If you want to see both Cambodia and Vietnam for 3 weeks, that’s totally possible.
- Affordability: great, but since the country uses USD, it can be pricier, around $800
- Visa: you can get an evisa online or receive a visa on arrival
- Known for: Angkor Wat, genocide history
Rwanda is a landlocked country in Central Africa called the Land of the Thousand Hills. It is bordered by Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, and Uganda. Spending a 3-week vacation in Rwanda means you will get to see its stunning scenery, including volcanoes, rainforests, mountains, and hills.
One of the most exciting things this country does is gorilla trekking. You could also visit the King’s Palace Museum, where the royal cows are located, or have a canopy walk and have a bird’s eye view of Akagera National Park. You could also relax and unwind at Rwanda’s largest lake, Lake Kivu.
- Affordability: Around $900 is a reliable budget
- Visa: almost everyone can enter and travel in Rwanda using an evisa or get a visa on arrival
- Known for: history, mountain gorillas, volanoes
Malaysia is a country in Southeast Asia with three federal territories and thirteen states. It is famous for its street art, towering buildings, multiculturalism, food, and Batu Caves.
You wouldn’t run out of activities to do in Malaysia. For instance, you could mountain climb, sunbathe, trek, ride a cable car, dive, and more. For 3 weeks in Malaysia, you can actually hop to Singapore as well for just a few days.
- Affordability: varies since the cities can be more costly, around $1,000 is a comfortable budget
- Visa: visa-free for most foreign visitors
- Known for: shopping malls, wildlife scenery, food, history, beaches
Brazil is the world’s fifth-largest country and the seventh most populous country. It is also the largest country in Latin America and is the home of the great Amazon Rainforest. Other traveller visits because of the stunning beaches that deliver incredible sunset, tasty dishes, and passionate football fans.
It is the birthplace of many football stars and their national sport. Make sure to watch a live football match during your visit. Other things to do are diving, cliff trekking, snorkelling, clip-clopping, and more. Brazil’s most well-known tourist spots include Christ the Redeemer, Iguazu Falls, and Copacabana.
3 weeks in Brazil may not be a lot because this place is simply massive. But with this amount of time, you can visit Rio, Sao Paulo, and head over to the Amazon Rainforest.
- Visa: travellers holding a passport from most countries in Africa, South Asia, the Middle East and Central Asia, must get a visa from a Brazilian embassy, the rest can receive free visas for 90 days
- Known for: Amazon Rainforest, beaches, football culture, party
Romania is the world’s sixth most populous state and the twelfth largest European country. It is famous for its monasteries, salt mines, castles, and beautiful towns. In fact, one of the castles is even said to be Dracula’s home, the Bran Castle. So this place is definitely a must-visit. Other tourist attractions worth checking out are Transylvanian Alps and Salina Turda.
While staying in this enchanting place, you could go hiking, discover delicious wines, ride the steam train, try out their underground Ferris wheel, enjoy the nightlife scene, and visit this country’s diverse nature sceneries.
If you want to experience and explore Europe, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to do that. Plan a 3-week trip to Eastern Europe where you can maximise your budget and see a lot more places. You can even consider staying in luxury hotels for a few nights. We have a list of travel tips for East Europe.
- Affordability: affordable for Europe, around $1,100 is good
- Visa: implements the same visa policy as the Schengen State, which means, 90 days for 180-days for passport holders from North America, Europe, Oceania, and some parts of Asia and Latin America
- Known for: Transylvania’s history, the Black Sea, castles, the Carpathian Mountains and Danube Delta
Ecuador is located right on the equator in Latin America. It is considered one of the 17 megadiverse countries worldwide, with most endemic plants and animals found here, particularly in the Galapagos Islands. Other tourist spots include Quilotoa Lake and Quito, a UNESCO world heritage site.
Some activities you could do in this country are cruising, downhill mountain biking, trekking, surfing lessons, and jungle exploration.
- Affordability: it’s a bit costly in Ecuador, but still affordable. Around $1,100 budget for 3 weeks is fine
- Visa: many travellers can enter and stay in Ecuador for up to 90 days
- Known for: Galapagos, Amazon Rainforest, Ciudad Mitad del Mundo Quito
Tanzania is located in the central east of Africa and is the 13th largest country in that continent. It also has over 100 languages. It is well-known for its safaris, wildlife, national parks, and hominid fossils excavated and discovered in this area.
Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, Serengeti national park, and the Zanzibar beaches are some of the most famous tourist spots. The activities you could do here aside from sightseeing include scuba diving, mountain climbing, and balloon safari trip, among others.
Tanzania is an incredible place to visit. For 20 days, you can do a wild safari, visit the highest point of the continent, and enjoy the white sandy beaches matched with crystal clear water. You can do all these in just 3 weeks in Tanzania.
- Affordability: $1,000, wild safari and hiking Mount Kilimanjaro can be costly
- Visa: must apply for an evisa or receive visa upon arrival, allows to stay for 90 days
- Known for: Mount Kilimanjaro, Serengeti wild safari, Zanzibar beaches
First on our list of affordable destinations for a 3-week vacation in Latin America is Peru. This country is well-known for its alpacas, peppers, potatoes, and the dish ceviche. It also has tons of interesting historical locations and stunning sceneries, what with it being home to several cultures during the medieval era.
Some of the world-famous places that can be found in Peru are Machu Picchu. You’ll also find the Inca Trail and the Amazon rainforest here. Some well-known activities while in Peru include sandboarding, hiking, mountain climbing, water rafting, trekking, and more.
I spent 3 weeks in Peru and I hiked Machu Picchu, explored Cusco, and went around the capital city of Lima. I wish I had more time and get to visit Huaraz and Arequipa – well, that’s something for next time!
- Affordability: decent, $1,200 would be a good mid-range budget
- Visa: visa-free for 90 days for most visitors
- Known for: Machu Picchu, glacier lakes, Rainbow Mountain
Colombia is among the world’s seventeen megadiverse countries and is second in biodiversity. There are many reasons Colombia is well-visited. This includes its arepas and speciality coffee. Some of this country’s notable personalities include Shakira, Sofia Vergara, Maluma, J Balvin, and currently Falcao and James Rodriguez, football players, which is an immensely famous sport in the country.
Colombia’s top-rated tourist attractions include San Andres Island, Medellin, the birthplace of world-famous singers Maluma and J Balvin, and Cartagena’s Old Town. During my 3 weeks in Colombia, I visit Bogota, Medellin, and Cartagena spending 7 days in each city. You can also spend 3 weeks in Colombia and Ecuador if you want to cover two countries in one trip.
- Affordability: $1,200, Colombia is not super affordable, but it can be done with good planning
- Visa: many nationalities can enter and travel to Colombia without a visa for up to 90 days
- Known for: history, culture, salsa dance
Poland is the fifth most populous member of the European Union and is located in Central Europe. It is known for its great pierogi, Europe’s most ancient old-growth forest, and the former Pope John Paul II. This country has 14 places that are considered UNESCO world heritage sites.
The most exciting places you could visit while you’re here include Wieliczka Salt Mine, Auschwitz-Birkenau Camps, Malbork Castle, and more. Some things to do here are sailing, kayaking, hiking, dune climbing, and making bonfires by the beach, among others.
If you want to visit Poland, you can actually plan to explore and spend 3 weeks in Central Europe. This itinerary includes a visit to Poland, Czechia, and Germany. This will allow you to travel on a budget, while you can switch from Germany to Switzerland or Austria.
- Affordability: great, $900 should be possible
- Visa: a member of the Schengen State, 90 days out of 180 days
- Known for: culture, history,
Croatia is a country that you can find in Central and Southeast Europe that shares a coastline along the Adriatic Sea. This country is well-known for its scenic pebbled beaches, is home to the world’s enormous truffle, has the richest collection of Neanderthal remains, and has the highest number of UNESCO intangible goods throughout Europe.
With that in mind, there are tons of places to explore here. These include Dubrovnik Old Town Walls, Plitvice Lakes National Park, and Pula’s Roman Arena, among others. You could go sailing, mountain biking, kayaking, and more.
If you really want to visit Europe, we have a guide for about 3 weeks in Europe on a budget. It’s a compilation of itineraries on how you can explore this wonderful continent if you don’t have a lot of money to spend.
- Affordability: flexible, more expensive during the summer season, $1,000 to $1,200
- Visa: Schengen State member, 90 days within 180 days
- Known for: beaches, history, Game Of Thrones filming locations
The Baltics consist of three countries: Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. All three countries are EU, NATO, OECD, and Eurozone members. The Baltic states are prominent in producing wood products, textiles, electronics, food, beverages, and metal fabricating.
Some places to visit in this region include The Hill of the Crosses in Lithuania, a pilgrimage site, Narva Castle in Estonia, and Jurmala in Latvia. For adventurous people, here are some things you could do: parachute jumping, kayaking, bobsleighing, yachting, windsurfing, hunting, cycling, and more.
- Affordability: great for Europe, $1,200 is a reliable budget
- Visa: 90 days out of 180 days, part of the Schengen State
- Known for: history, cider culture, castles and historical churches
Greece is a country in Southeast Europe that is considered the birthplace of Western civilization, being the cradle of democracy, theatre, and the Olympics, among many other advancements. Aside from that, Greece is also well-known for Greek mythology and some of the world’s most famous philosophers.
Aside from these achievements, Greece harbours many scenic spots, including Santorini, Mykonos, and Acropolis. As the pioneer of the Olympics, one could do many activities while staying in Greece, including climbing Mount Olympus, canoeing, rafting, hiking, horse riding, trekking, spelunking, and more.
- Affordability: Good, but higher during peak season, budget range is $900 to $1,300
- Visa: 90 days in a 180-day calendar since it’s part of the Schengen State
- Known for: food, history, and beaches
Mexico shares a border with the in the north and Guatemala and Belize in the south. It is the 13th largest country by area and the 10 most populous country. If you are looking for magnificent beaches, fascinating ancient ruins, and fantastic food – Mexico is a good destination. Go try out tacos, nachos, and enchiladas should be included in your bucket lists when going here.
Some of Mexico’s tourist spots include Cancun and the Mayan Riviera, Puerto Vallarta, Copper Canyon, Mexico’s own version of the Grand Canyon, and more. 3 weeks in Mexico is a popular amount of time for backpackers visiting this country. During this time, you can visit Mexico City, the Merida region, and the magnificent Yucatan region for a beach trip.
- Affordability: possible, Mexico is becoming more expensive, but it’s still manageable, around $1,200 for a 20-day trip can be done
- Visa: not the easiest visa unless your passport is from North America, some parts of Latin America, Europe, East Asia, and Oceania, can stay up to 30 to 180 days. Russia, Turkey, and Ukraine must apply for an evisa
- Known for: Chichen Itza, beaches, food
SUMMARY OF AFFORDABLE DESTINATIONS FOR A 3-WEEK TRIP
As you can see, countries located in Asia, Latin America, Africa, and some parts in East Europe are one of the best places to go if you are on a budget and have around 20 days to spend.