The saying "you get what you pay for" doesn't always apply when it comes to traveling the globe. Sure, many bucket list destinations are worth their eye-popping price tags, but there are plenty of affordable - and arguably cooler - alternatives to these well-trodden, budget-busting destinations. Below, we listed the most expensive countries in the world and offered an alternative where you can save or stretch your dollars.
1. SKIP SWITZERLAND AND VISIT SLOVENIA
Famous for its alpine skiing and storybook villages, Switzerland is a far cry from a budget-friendly destination. Midrange and upscale hotel rooms cost between $200 and $500, with cities like Zurich and Geneva on the higher end. Lift day passes hover between $40 and $70, depending on location, and apres-ski activities and dinner are often much steeper.
Instead, hop over northeastern Italy to Slovenia, where hotels, ski passes and delectable cuisine can be had for a fraction of the cost. Slovenia's capital, Ljubljana, is home to a vibrant array of cultural attractions. Come summer, bustling cafes overflow into the cobblestoned streets, while Christmas market stalls line the riverside during winter. Ljubljana is one of central Europe's most affordable capitals, with plenty of midrange options well under $100.
To the northwest, Lake Bled rivals the tranquility of Switzerland's Lake Lucerne. Stunning views over the emerald water can be had from Bled Castle. The short, but steep, hike is well worth the effort to admire the nearby Julian Alps and explore the castle walls, museum, and medieval frescos. Just to the west, Triglav National Park encompasses much of Slovenia's alpine terrain, including extensive hiking trails and the country's premier ski resorts. Day passes for the chairlift can usually be had for under $30 at the current exchange rate. Though these mountains can be easily reached in two to three hours from Ljubljana, consider hitting the slopes at Krvavec, if you're short on time. The mountain includes 18 miles of ski runs and is a mere six miles from the capital.
Slovenia hotel pick: City Hotel Ljubljana
2. SKIP SINGAPORE AND VISIT MALAYSIA
Singapore offers a dynamic mix of cultures in an extraordinarily modern setting. Unless you're booking a hostel or an out-of-the-way guesthouse, expect to dish out between $150 and $300 for midrange and boutique properties. A lively street food scene keeps dining costs down, but a night on the town can be costly compared to nearby cities, such as Bangkok or Ho Chi Minh.
Separated by the narrow Johore Strait, neighboring Malaysia is an often-overlooked destination with a capital that rivals Singapore's multiculturalism and modernity without the hefty price tag. Comfortable accommodations can be had for $50 to $75, while $100 or more will fetch a plush room with a view of the Petronas Towers. Kuala Lumpur has emerged from its humble origins as a remote tin-mining community. Today, mosque minarets and colonial buildings mix with skyscrapers and monorail tracks. The city maintains its blend of Malay, Chinese, and Indian influences, which is very apparent in its assortment of street-side cuisine, architecture and art museums. Outside the city, Malaysia's landscape unfolds into hillside tea plantations, lush jungle and beautiful beaches. To the north, the temperate Cameron Highlands make for a perfect escape from the city, if you wish to rejuvenate on locally grown tea and leisurely hikes. Off the western coast, George Town on Penang island boasts vibrant street art and cozy cafes housed in a labyrinth of colonial-era buildings. Wildlife and nature enthusiasts should head to Malaysian Borneo to spot wild orangutans and elephants, go scuba diving, and trek through dense rainforest. Malaysia's tallest mountain - Mount Kinabalu - is located here and can be summited in a demanding two days.
Malaysia hotel pick: Traders Hotel, Kuala Lumpur