What is the cheapest country in South America to visit?
This is the most common question among backpackers and savvy travelers who are looking to explore South America on a budget.
It is important to have a solid plan or itinerary when traveling to South America so you can make the most of your time without breaking the bank.
This article will help with that since I have spent time rounding up a list of the cheapest countries to visit in South America.
Table of Contents
Cheapest Country in South America
Let’s be honest, cheap can imply much more than one thing, right?
However, in this case study, I was to show you the places in South America where you can get the biggest bang for your buck.
Let’s look at transport first, since, without it, we wouldn’t be able to reach many of the destinations we desire or be able to fully enjoy the continent.
Transport in South America
No matter which South American country you visit transportation is one of the things that can make a huge dent in your budget.
Luckily, traveling to South America by bus is the cheapest way to get around. Although the road conditions can change drastically between countries, you will find that bus travel is king in South America.
As a popular transport option for backpackers, it is relatively safe to use buses in South America. This is true, as long as you travel on the right buses at the right times.
You still have to follow basic travel safety tips, but traveling by bus is great. You don’t only get to save money, you get a more authentic experience.
You’ll be elbow to elbow with locals, take in the beautiful scenery along the way, and learn more about the culture and way of life.
Now let’s look at which places you can visit in South America on a budget.
Cheapest Countries in South America
Traveling to South America on a budget is perfectly okay because there are many cheap places to visit. Here’s a list of the top options starting with:
Bolivia is one of the cheapest places in South America. You can get by with $25 to $30 a day, which is great.
Most backpackers agree this is the cheapest country in South America and there’s plenty to see and do.
The food in Bolivia is filling and super inexpensive, depending on where you go. So is the beer, which is always good news.
One of the best things about Bolivia is that it’s home to some of the coolest places to visit in South America. There are so many tourist attractions you’ll have trouble choosing which ones to go to.
To give you an idea, you can visit the Amazon rainforest and take a tour of the Uyuni salt flats, two of the most unique places in the world.
Additionally, you can visit La Paz, go to Sucre, explore the Train Cemetery, visit a wide variety of National Parks, and more.
Colombia is one of the most popular destinations. It’s not only one of the cheap places to travel in South America, but it also provides some of the best sightseeing opportunities.
In and outside of the Colombian cities and towns you have a diverse, beautiful country full of friendly, vibrant people.
There’s a lot to see and do, even if you’re on a budget.
You can get by with $30 a day and still have an unforgettable experience in South America as a backpacker.
Colombian food is inexpensive and super yummy. That’s true of both street food and restaurant food, though there are fancy restaurants where the prices go up.
As one of the cheap places to learn Spanish in Latin America, lessons are affordable. Plus you’ll get to try some of the most delicious coffee.
When it comes to adventure, you won’t be disappointed. You can explore cities like Bogota and Medellin, walk the Cocora Valley, visit a wide variety of national parks, trek to the Lost City, and more.
Paraguay is quite underrated and it’s often overlooked by travelers. However, it is one of the cheapest places in South America.
There’s a lot you can do with a daily budget of $30 to $40. The main cities are more expensive, which is true for most countries both inside and outside of South America.
That means that you will be able to stretch your budget quite a bit if you stay within countryside areas.
The food in Paraguay is inexpensive, especially for vegetarians. Street food is super accessible and yummy, and it will allow you to stay within budget.
When it comes to sightseeing in South America, Paraguay offers access to a few hidden gems.
You can visit places such as the Itaipu Hydroelectric Dam, the Museo del Barrio, the Jesuit Ruins, San Jose Beach, and much more.
Peru is easily one of the best destinations for backpackers. It’s one of the top cheap places to travel in South America and you can have a good time with a daily budget of $30 to $40.
This is one of the most popular countries among travelers because it’s home to the Inca Ruins, which draw a lot of people in. Additionally, Peru is known for its great variety of landscapes and world-class hiking trails.
Peruvian cuisine is known around the world and you’ll find cheap, authentic meals to stay within budget. Especially in local eateries and street food stalls.
There is a lot to see and do in Peru. For one, you can visit Lima, the capital, or Cusco, a gorgeous colonial city that serves as the gateway to the Machu Picchu, Sacred Valley, and Inca Trail. Arequipa, Nazca, Ica, and Paracas are also worth visiting.
Ecuador is well-known for the biodiverse Galapagos Islands, so it’s quite a popular destination among travelers and backpackers.
It’s one of the cheapest places in South America and you’ll only need around $30 a day on the mainland.The country is known for its biodiversity, exotic wildlife, breathtaking beaches, and incredible volcanoes.
The best way to take in most of Ecuador and also save money is to book group tours, which are a lot cheaper than private tours.
You can always explore the country on your own. Consider visiting the city of Quito, hiking Iliniza, visiting the Cotopaxi National Park, going to Guayaquil, seeing the monument Mitad del Mundo, and much more.
Cheap Places to Travel in South America
Now that we’ve discovered some of the cheapest countries in South America, let’s look at some of the places you can visit for a well-rounded experience on the continent.
South America has a lot to offer when it comes to landmarks, activities, nightlife, and more. So, it can be difficult to narrow down the options.
Especially when you’re on a budget. To help with that, I have also compiled a list of the coolest, cheapest places I could find.
Cheapest Places in South America
This continent is bursting with opportunities for fun, adventure, and authentic cultural experiences. Here are some of the cheapest places in South America for a memorable trip!
For travelers looking to connect with a more exhuberant lifestyle, Medellin is one of the most popular destinations in Colombia.
It used to have a bad reputation back when Pablo Escobar was wreaking havoc, but it has since rehabilitated its image.
The city’s transformation is astounding and travelers from all over the world enjoy what it has to offer.
Even if you’re on a budget, you will find many incredible things to do.
For one, you can visit the Laguna de Guatape and enjoy the views, go to Parque Explora, visit El Castillo and other museums, and plenty more.
Whenever you’re ready for a beach break during your South America travels, Montanita is the right destination.
This beachside town is defined by an authentic bohemian vibe and it offers amazing breaks. The low cost of living suits backpackers really well.
If you enjoy surfing or you want to learn how to do it, Montanita offers the best opportunities.
Additionally, you can head to the boardwalk and buy from street vendors. Visiting the Mirador Santuario de Olon is a must as well, so add it to the list!
After the capital, Lima, Arequipa is the second-largest city in Peru.
The historical center offers amazing sightseeing in South America, but there’s many more things to see in Arequipa. Known as the “White City”, there’s a lot you can do here.
You can start at the Plaza de Armas, which is the main city square, and there’s a lot to see.
Taking a free walking tour of the city is worthwhile because you’ll get to see the highlights, such as the Alpaca Museum, views of the nearby volcanoes, and more.
Cochabamba is full of life and it’s right in the center of Bolivia.
It’s one of the cheap places to travel in South America and there’s a lot to do there. For one, you can visit El Cristo de La Concordio, which is the highest Cristo on the continent and provides the best views.
You should also visit La Cancha, an open-air market bursting with a variety of stalls. You can get food, souvenirs, and take stock of the locals. If you enjoy hiking, the Cerro Turani is also a must-visit!
This is the capital of Paraguay and it’s one of the cheapest places in South America. Paraguay is one of the most mysterious and less visited South American countries.
The city was founded by Spanish colonialists and it has a rich story, as well as a combination of colonial and modern architecture.
If you love art, one of your first stops should be the Museo del Barro, which is free to visit.
The National Pantheon of the Heroes is also worth visiting. It’s a popular attraction and a symbol of hope and determination.
There’s also a Zoo and a Botanical Garden, and plenty of parks, such as the Parque de la Salud.
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Cheapest Country in South America
As you can see, you don’t need a big budget to experience South America at its best. Not to mention, when cutting back on certain luxuries, you allow yourself to have a more authentic experience.
It’s not easy to choose the cheapest country in South America because there are many options and usually very little time!
I really hope this guide can help you plan an affordable and super fun trip without breaking the bank too much.
You have made it this far… Why not read my epic post on backpacking South America for even more travel inspiration for visiting the continent?
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