The 10 affordable backpacking destinations to visit this summer

Last Updated:

There’s something about backpacking in the summer. The extended daylight and warm breeze invokes an almost intoxicating sense of possibility. The feeling that any adventure is just a thought, and a buck, away. The sheer joy it brings – from pushing your boundaries to tackling last-minute changes – truly allows you to go off the grid, immerse yourself in the outdoors, and connect with yourself. Whether you're a seasoned trekker or a newbie eager to break free, an urban backpacker, or a fan of the wilderness, we've rounded up insider tips and tricks and curated a list of 10 of the most budget-friendly destinations to ensure your backpacking adventure in the summer is nothing short of legendary. So, grab your backpack and let’s get going!

Why even should you go backpacking?

  • It’s cheaper than your regular vacations
  • You’ll learn precisely how less is more
  • You’ll soon transform into a pro packer
  • You get the freedom to explore a place without any time constraints
  • You get a chance to introspect, battle stress and feelings of low self-esteem
  • You’ll gain new perspectives and grow more self-reliant
  • It’ll help you meet new people and hopefully even forge lasting friendships

The backpacking destinations you’ve been waiting for

1. Trondheim, Norway

Average daily cost: $212 or kr2,320
Budget-friendly hostels: Trondheim Vandrerhjem

The Scandinavian city of Trondheim combines food and fun, and is a biking haven, boasting the world's first bicycle lift, Trampe! You can explore the colorful cobblestoned streets of Bakklandet, pedal around on a bike to get to galleries and boutiques that dot the area, or indulge in locally sourced delicacies at cozy cafes. And don't miss the breathtaking views of the Nidelva river's 18th-century wharves! With Gothic cathedrals begging to be explored, and a history stretching back over a millennium, Trondheim offers endless possibilities for adventure. Plus, as Norway's knowledge capital, you can bet there’s always something fun going on – festivals, concerts, cultural events, you name it. Whether you prefer elegant bars or hip cocktail ones, microbreweries or local coffee roasters, all you’ve got to do is pack your backpack and plan your trip!

Trondheim, Norway

2. Copenhagen, Denmark

Average daily cost: $208 or kr1,456
Budget-friendly hostels: Urban House Copenhagen by MEININGER

The capital of Denmark is the nicer, cleaner, and more affordable cousin of mainland EU. So it’s no wonder that another drastically underrated Scandinavian city found its way to this list! With train travel, cheap buses, and great hostel options available, nobody should be able to fool you into believing that Copenhagen is too expensive for backpackers! The city offers plenty of activities that will keep you entertained for days – seeing the art in Christiania, strolling the streets and harbor of Nyhavn, climbing up the Round Tower for views over the city, eating delectable food (we recommend some delicious Danish pastries or Bertels Salon Kompagnistæde's famous cheesecake!), and drinking craft cocktails – do you see where we’re going with this?


3. Hà Giang, Vietnam

Average daily cost: $60 or d1,506,691
Budget-friendly hostels: Hong Hao Hostel and Motorbikes

Vietnam, frenetic and fun, is the perfect contender for your next, or first, backpacking trip. Here, you’ll find endless opportunities to explore the country’s complex past and check out mouthwatering snacks hidden down colonial backstreets. Vietnam’s most northern province, Hà Giang, is one of the most jaw-droppingly stunning (and super affordable!) areas of the country, but is often overlooked because of its distance from the usual hotspots. This means a big bonus – no one gets to spoil your Instagram shots! You could begin your backpacking adventure in the provincial capital of the same name, and rent a bike to journey through picturesque winding roads. Encounter rural communities and small towns, all set against the rolling green mountains that make Hà Giang so unforgettable. For an even more epic road trip, venture further and hit the expansive Ho Chi Minh highway. Or you could hop on a boat cruise through the Ha Long Bay. Add offbeat beaches and beautiful countryside into this mix and you’ll see why Vietnam is a backpacker’s paradise!

Ha Giang, Vietnam

4. Gijón, Spain

Average daily cost: $129 or €119
Budget-friendly hostels: Gijon Surf Hostel

Once upon a time, Gijón was just a sleepy fishing spot. But then it transformed into THE place for surf, grub, and epic parties! If you're a solo backpacker, get ready to feel like you've found your tribe here. The vibe? Always buzzing, thanks to Centro district's outdoor hangouts and, of course, inexpensive hostels. And let's talk cider — the northern Asturia region’s famous drink! But before you dive into that cider, hit Playa de San Lorenzo's golden shores for some beach yoga and gnarly waves. Trust us, you won't be able to resist the chill vibes! If you're all about riding those waves, the surf hostels around have got your back with cheap boards, lessons, and great locations by the beach. It's like a big, chill house party, with garden beers, free breakfast buffets, and yoga sessions every night! By the time you leave, you'll be totally in sync with Gijón's laid-back spirit.

Gijon, Spain

5. Laos

Average daily cost: $15 or ₭315,300
Budget-friendly hostels: Vang Vieng Rock Backpackers Hostel

There’s a new kid on the backpacking block and it’s a Southeast Asian gem — Laos! This small country, bordered by Vietnam and Thailand, could be the perfect addition to your epic backpacking journey. Everywhere you turn, there's thrill and culture waiting to be discovered. And guess what? One of Laos' biggest backpacker draws is none other than tipsy river tubing in Vang Vieng — talk about a wild ride! But the real treasure of Laos is undeniably its people. Picture yourself drifting down the serene Mekong River, surrounded by lush greenery, or savoring a cup of freshly brewed coffee in a bustling local market. Laos is a world of its own, ready to captivate you at every twist and turn.


6. Pisac and Inca Trail, Peru

Average daily cost: $61 or S/.224
Budget-friendly hostels: Wolf Totem Steam Punk Guesthouse

Peru is a backpacker's paradise, and there's no shortage of adventure to be found here. While more popular cities like Lima and Máncora have their appeal, the real highlight is trekking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu — an experience on every potential backpacker’s list and one you'll never forget! For a quieter escape, Pisac in the Sacred Valley offers a rustic charm and serene atmosphere. Here, you can immerse yourself in the local culture, explore ancient ruins, and unwind with yoga sessions and steamy saunas overlooking stunning landscapes. And if you're looking for the perfect place to stay, Pisac’s bounty of boho hostels and guesthouses that capture the essence of the valley, will not disappoint. With eco-friendly accommodation options, cozy communal areas that come with outdoor hammocks, and breathtaking views, Picas is an ideal backpacking retreat. Discover the true beauty of Peru—one adventure at a time!

Pisca and Inca Trail

7. Sendai, Japan

Average daily cost: $105 or ¥16,085
Budget-friendly hostels: Miyagi Guest House

Japan tops many travelers' bucket lists for its futuristic charm — bullet trains, quirky vending machines, and cutting-edge tech. Surprisingly, it's budget-friendly, welcoming all from backpackers to luxury seekers! Here you can indulge in sushi, soak in tradition, and gawk at the snow-capped Mount Fuji. While Tokyo is a regular hotspot, Sendai, the largest city in the Tohoku region, offers a refreshing alternative, especially during August's lively (and annual) Tanabata Matsuri festival. Even without the fest, Sendai's bustling markets, vibrant nightlife, rich culture, and serene temples render it a gem for solo travelers, backpackers, and digital nomads. The only downside — you might have to leave when your trip ends!

Sendai, Japan

8. Surat Thani and Koh Lanta, Thailand

Average daily cost: $48 or ฿1,754
Budget-friendly hostels: Aha Lanta Cozy Hostel

Thailand has always been a favorite among tourists, and it's easy to see why. But did you know that beyond the beaches is an offbeat path complete with dense jungles, traditional culture, hip enclaves in Bangkok, and a well-worn backpacking trail that makes it an easy and accessible destination for first-timers and travel veterans alike? With its fantastic weather, rich culture, and vibrant nightlife, Thailand is a paradise for budget travelers. Skip the crowded beaches of Koh Phi and Maya Bay and head to quieter spots like Koh Lanta or Railay Bay for an authentic Thai experience. Surat Thani may not be on your radar, but it's quickly becoming a top destination. Away from the tourist crowds, you can explore serene temples and mingle with locals at Ban Don Pier. Don't miss the chance to savor spicy papaya salad and crispy pork and a few Chang beers at the bustling night market. For a true taste of Thai hospitality, choose to stay at family-run hostels and cozy dorms offering free breakfast. Plus, your hosts could help you plan your next adventure to one of the nearby islands and much needed swimming spots to cool off!

Surat Thani, Thailand

9. Cambodia

Average daily cost: $63 or ៛253,338
Budget-friendly hostels: Onederz Phnom Penh

Cambodia holds a special place in the hearts of backpackers, offering a blend of stunning beaches, lush jungles, and rich culture. Ancient ruins of Angkor Wat, unique bat cave spectacles in Battambang, the Jungle of Otres, and bioluminescent plankton on Koh Rong Island — Cambodia should be on your radar if you want the best of urban and rural adventures. Whether you're seeking thrills in its remote regions or relaxation on its pristine beaches, this country has something for every kind of backpacker. With no dearth of budget-friendly accommodations, delicious food, and an intriguing mix of tradition and modernity, Cambodia is a definite winner. Oh, and be sure to stick to the beaches and islands in the South during the summer months!

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

10. Sri Lanka

Average daily cost: $28 or LKR8,271
Budget-friendly hostels: Jungle city Hostel

Sri Lanka may be overshadowed by its larger neighbor, India, but if you venture here, you’ll discover a hidden gem of natural beauty and backpacking delights. Traveling from lush mountains to pristine beaches is a breeze thanks to the scenic rail system, while the tantalizing local cuisine promises a taste of paradise for every foodie. While it's still flying under the radar in South Asia's backpacking circuit, Sri Lanka's untouched beaches, vibrant culture, and unforgettable experiences are bound to pull you in. Unawatuna and Galle are top picks among backpackers for its relaxed vibe and cozy beachfront accommodations. With its rich history and tight-knit community feel, backpacking through Sri Lanka will offer you a unique blend of adventure and familiarity. It's like a South Asia-lite experience, with the chaos dialed down and the cleanliness dialed up!
In Sri Lanka, you'll find everything a backpacking journey is meant to be — good food, good people, good vibes, and great views. It's a paradise waiting to be explored!

Sri Lanka

Things to keep in mind when planning your backpacking trip

  • Safety: Share your itinerary with someone you know, especially if you’re heading for the trails. And don’t just keep a first-aid kit handy, learn how to use its contents before you head out!
  • Planning: While not having a plan can sound thrilling to some, it’s not such a good idea when it comes to backpacking! Best to have a detailed plan ready along with a few backups and alternate routes. The path less traveled isn’t for everybody! It’s OK to choose a trail that isn’t in the deep woods or over sky-scraping mountains!
  • Packing: Travel light but don’t forget your essentials – batteries, the right shoes, ready-to-eat food, toiletries, sleeping bags, medical kit, hiking gear, and money. Oh, and, test all your gear!
  • Budgeting: Setting a realistic budget will not only help you keep your expenses on track but also keep you from cutting corners.
  • Leave no trace: Dispose of your waste, minimize your impact, respect the ecosystem you’re in, and be considerate of other visitors.

So, grab your passport and this guide, and your summer backpacking dreams may just come true!

The 10 most affordable backpacking destinations to visit this summer