Lonely Planet’s 10 Best Value Destinations for 2016

It’s that time of year again, when world renowned guidebook publisher and travel advocate Lonely Planet publishes their predictions and recommendations for the coming year of travel in what’s know as the “Best in Travel 2016” The entire guidebook is filled with top 10 lists with varying themes from Best Animal Adventures to Most Accessible Destinations. In this article however, we will take a look at Best Value. Lonely Planet knows that no matter how deep your pockets are, every traveler loves a deal, and for some, traveling on a strict budget isn’t just a lifestyle; it’s an art form. So without further delay, let’s take a look at the 10 best value destinations for 2016:

10. Western Australia

Typically Australia has been a place that for many, seemed out of reach if not for its geographic location than for its high costs due to a strong Australia dollar. But recently, the AUD has taken a dive, especially in comparison to the US dollar, while that means many Australians might be forced to limit their overseas travel plans, it also means that for many North Americans, a trip to Australia is cheaper than its ever been. Western Australia in particular offers better value than other parts of the country but with all the Australian culture and scenery one could want.

the pinnacles western australia

9. Timor-Leste

Not straying too far from the number #10 destination, the Southeast Asian nation of Timor-Leste occupies half of the island of Timor north of Australia in the Timor sea. This beautiful, lesser-known country is surrounded by coral reefs teaming with marine life of all shapes and sizes. Lonely Planet suggests venturing outside of the country’s capital of Dili and all its pricey international hotels and checking out the bargain beach shacks that can be found on the islands pristine beaches. If you’re not afraid to blaze your own trail and mix with the locals, Timor-Leste might be just the deal you were looking for.

Timor-Leste

8. Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast

While the west side of Costa Rica has been sufficiently explored by tourists, expats and Americans looking for their next vacation home, the east side of the country is still left mostly to the locals. Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast has plenty to offer in comparison to the well known towns of the east but with a much less touristy vibe, which also translates to better deals as well. The town of Tortuguero is famous for nesting sea turtles and the reefs of Manzanillo make for an excellent dive spot, but one of the biggest draws is the famous Costa Rica Sloth Sanctuary located south of Limón.

Sloth Costa Rica

7. Québec City, Canada

If a trip to Europe has been on your wish list but you lack the time and funds to make this a reality, Lonely Planet suggests North Americans head to Québec City. No, it’s definitely not Europe but they suggest it has enough of a foreign francophone vibe and old world charm to make you feel like you’re a long way from home. The city’s Old Town is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and with the cobblestone streets, historic buildings and little French bistros, you might just get that taste of Europe for less than you thought.

Chateau Québec City, Canada

6. Galicia, Spain

Being a well visited country by many tourists, you wouldn’t think Spain would have a lot of deals left to be had, but head to the country’s northwest region of Galicia and you’ll find rocky coastline and villages relatively unexplored by tourists. Lonely Planet says that the value of this region comes not only from being a place relatively unexplored by tourists but also from the quality of meat, cheese and seafood that can be found in the many tapas bars throughout the Galicia region. They also suggest booking self-catering accommodations to save money even further.

Redes Galicia, Spain

5. Bosnia and Hercegovina

It is no secret that Europe has a bit of a reputation with travelers as being a pricey place to explore. While that is definitely true of the more major cities like Rome, Venice, London and Paris, it’s the lesser known cities and countries that offer the best value.  Hence, the #5 entry on this list: Bosnia and Hercegovina. The Balkan country encompasses all the major values you look for in budget travel including inexpensive accommodations and cheap eats and its historic cities of Sarajevo and Mostar offer the kind of history and charm you’d expect to pay a price for.

Mostar Bosnia and Hercegovina

4. New Mexico

Even with travel to America looking rather expensive to everyone except those who live there, Lonely Planet stresses the value that can still be found in the state of New Mexico. Cheap eats, affordable accommodations and free activities and attractions abound in this outdoor lovers paradise. With dry sunny conditions almost guaranteed, there are few better states where you can cram in as much time in the great outdoors (an activity that’s essentially free of charge.) Take a Breaking Bad tour in Albuquerque, hike the Apline forest or explore a free wild hot spring. The possibilities for value are endless in this state.

Bisti Badlands New Mexico

3. East Africa

Thanks to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, many tourists are sufficiently scared of the continent as a whole, and thus bookings for 2016 are on the low side. You can probably guess that means good deals are readily available for travel to the continents safer half; East Africa. Lonely Planet advises that the cities of London, Paris and Madrid are hundreds of miles closer to the outbreak region geographically than East Africa’s prime tourist spots are, and reminds travelers just how large a continent this is. So if you’ve ever felt compelled to have an African animal encounter, or explore Africa’s spectacular scenery, the time to head to places like Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania is now.

Blue Nile Falls Ethopia Africa

2. Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, Vietnam

Backpackers have known for years that Vietnam is a budget travelers best friend and a recent study by priceoftravel.com confirms the fact placing Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi third and second in a list of the cheapest destinations in Asia. Lonely Planet says that in both cities, $20 USD or less per day will get you food, lodging and sights but the guidebook publishers say at that rate you’ll be living like a local (which we say isn’t a bad thing!) But if you want an experience that’s a sight step up, your authentic Vietnamese experience still won’t cost an arm and a leg.

Aleksandar Todorovic / Shutterstock.com
Aleksandar Todorovic / Shutterstock.com

1. Estonia

Lonely Planet says this year’s #1 best value destination will almost seem like the promised land compared to other popular European destinations. That’s because your Euros go a little farther in Estonia, a Northern European country where Nordic meets old-world Eastern European. If you’ve been getting around Europe by sleeping in hostel dorm rooms, you’ll be happy to know that upgrading to a hotel room of your own will seem quite affordable here, as will the food, drinks and nightlife. It’s not like there’s nothing to see either; the preserved Old Town in the capital of Tallinn has history and museums galore while the enchanting forests of Lahemaa National Park will amaze any traveler.

Lahemaa National Park Estonia

The 10 Most Beautiful Views in Australia

Australia is a vast country/continent rich with scenic grandeur on a magnificent scale. From Queensland to Western Australia, Tasmania to the Northern Territory, splendor is always on display. Although this is only a small sample of what the country has to offer, here are arguably the 10 most beautiful views in Australia:

10. Mount Wellington Peak, Tasmania

The gorgeous state of Tasmania has many magnificent views to take in but one of the most rewarding is the view from the top of Mount Wellington. At its peak, Mount Wellington stands over 4,000 feet above sea level and provides spectacular views over the capital city of Hobart, the Derwent River and the World Heritage Protected Mount Faulkner Conservation Area to the west.

Mount Wellington Peak, Tasmania

9. Devils Marbles, Northern Territory

These gravity-defying rock formations are located in Karlu Karlu/Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve, between the towns of Tennant Creek and Alice Springs in Australia’s Northern Territory. These large granite boulders have been shaped by weather and erosion and many are naturally precariously balanced on top of one another, forming larger rock formations. Some have even been split clean in half by natural forces. The Karlu Karlu site has great cultural and spiritual significance to the Aboriginal owners of this land, making the view even more special.

Devils Marbles, Northern Territory

8. Sunset at Mindil Beach, Darwin

Some of the most spectacular Australian sunsets can be witnessed from Darwin’s Mindil Beach as the sun dips below the Arafura Sea. Beautiful hues of pink, orange, blue and purple paint the sky each night while the beach setting of sandy shores and palm trees swaying in the breeze set the ultimate tropical tone. From April to October you can enjoy the festive nightlife of the famous Mindil Beach Sunset Markets which celebrate the gorgeous view each night.

Mindil Beach, Darwin

7. Sydney Harbour and Circular Quay, Sydney

It’s a view known the world round as one of the most popular and iconic shots of Australia. The famous Sydney Harbour and Circular Quay can be best experienced from a birds eye view, one you can experience yourself if you have the nerve to climb 143 meters above sea level to the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It may be a nerve racking climb for some but it’s guaranteed to be an amazing view that you’ll remember for a lifetime.

Sydney Harbour

6. Uluru at Sunrise, Ayer’s Rock

There’s something magical about witnessing the first beam of sun hitting the big red rock as dawn breaks in the Australian outback. Uluru is a deeply spiritual place for the Aboriginal people of the area and it’s well worth a visit to see the colors of this monolith change over the course of the day depending on the light conditions. Personally we think sunrise is the most impressive when the whole rock is glowing red.

Uluru at Sunrise

5. The Pinnacles, Western Australia

This is one Australian view that’s eerily beautiful. These limestone formations are known as The Pinnacles and can be found in Western Australia’s Nambung National Park. One theory of how they formed is that long ago they were formed from seashells which were broken down into limestone sand which blew inland forming the dunes that can be seen today.

The Pinnacles, Western Australia

4. McLaren Vale, South Australia

This impressive wine region of Australia lies just 35 kilometers south of the city of Adelaide in South Australia. This internationally renowned wine region was first planted with vines in 1838 and has some vines over 100 years old that are still producing today. The lush rolling hills of vibrant greenery provide a picture perfect setting to rival the most beautiful views in the country.

McLaren Vale, South Australia

3. Cape Byron Lighthouse, Byron Bay

This next view is not only beautiful but significant; the Cape Byron Lighthouse is the most easterly point in the entire country. Each year more than 500,000 people visit the lighthouse which rises up above Byron Bay offering spectacular views of the bay, the beach and even an opportunity for whale watching when the season is right.

Lighthouse, Byron Bay

2. The 12 Apostles, Victoria

Who knew limestone could be so beautiful? The golden sand and rolling turquoise water probably helps out this magnificent view but the star… or should we say stars of this scene are the giant limestone stacks known as the 12 Apostles. Located near Port Campbell in Victoria, just off the Great Ocean Road, the apostles were formed by erosion. Over the years some of the stacks have fallen, with the most recent collapse in 2005. Today eight Apostles still stand on the shores providing a most breathtaking view.

12 Apostles

1. Whitehaven Beach, Whitsundays

For many, the typical Australian image is of a beautiful beach with soft sand and blue waters all around. The 7 kilometer stretch of sand known as Whitehaven Beach on Whitsunday Island is about as beautiful of a beach view as one can get anywhere in the country. The beach is known for it’s powder white sands which are 98% pure silica giving it the signature bright white color. The sand at Whitehaven also doesn’t retain heat meaning that walking barefoot on the beach is comfortable even at the hottest points of the day. Whitehaven can only be accessed by boat making this a pristine picture worthy of any postcard.

Nadezda Zavitaeva / Shutterstock.com
Nadezda Zavitaeva / Shutterstock.com