Editor's note: please note that this article was updated 12 July, 2018, with current exchange rates.
Living in Luxury for Cheap
Looking to get away for awhile on the cheap? Scanning the world for countries where the Canadian dollar is strong?
Today, it isn’t just a gap in employment, a year off from school or the freedom of retirement that allows Canadians to live abroad. Even those with full-time work can often work remotely and relish the opportunity to do so in a more agreeable climate, in a place that they can pursue other interests, or simply a place that’s actually more affordable to live in momentarily.
Whatever your reason is, here is our list of countries and regions where the Canadian Dollar is worth the most, giving you the best bang for your buck.
In What Countries Is the Canadian Dollar Worth More?
Well, there’s embargoed Cuba, still rebuilding Haiti, and sadly, too many countries in Africa, but there are also parts of the world where a good exchange rate doesn’t mean living amongst extreme poverty. Today, we look at six regions where it’s cheap for a frugal Canadian to spend a month or two, or even longer.
Poland, Czech Republic & Hungary (Eastern/Central Europe)
$1CAD = 210.81 Hungarian Forint (HUF)
$1CAD = 2.81 Polish Zloty (PLN)
$1CAD = 16.87 Czech Koruna (CZK)
The trick to finding an affordable European holiday is to look at countries that are part of the European Union but haven't (yet?) adopted EU’s off-putting currency – the pricey Euro. Eastern Europe has a few of these gems, where you’ll hardly believe you’re in Europe with how little you can get by on.
Fly into Warsaw, Prague or Budapest. Summers offer cheap direct charter flights but know that summer is also Europe’s high season, making things more expensive (and busier) once you’re there. Spring and fall travel is best overall, with affordable airfares and less expensive accommodations and restaurants. Remember, most European hotels include breakfast in a nightly rate, too!
Like everywhere, staying in Europe’s main cities will be more expensive than heading out to smaller ones. In Poland, try Krakow and Wroclaw instead of staying in Warsaw. In the Czech Republic, opt for Cesky Krumlov instead of Prague, and in Hungary, trade Budapest for Eger or Szeged.
Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic
To get around, it’s hard to beat Europe’s efficient rail service, especially if you’ve got the time. For visitors, it’s best to book a Eurail Select Pass, which allows for travel in 4 bordering countries for the number of days selected, and can run as low as $155CAD* for 5 days of travel in all of the above countries (including Slovakia, to make it between Czech Rep and Hungary).
*rate reflects a 5-day, 4-country pass for a Youth traveller (under 26) in 2nd class. Passes are sold to visitors only and cannot be booked in Europe.
Thailand, Vietnam & Cambodia (Southeast Asia)
$1CAD = 25.22 Thai Baht (THB)
$1CAD = 17,505.40 Vietnamese Dong (VND)
$1CAD = 3,070.05 Cambodian Riel (KHR)
Take your pick, or, better yet, do yourself a favour and see them all. Geographically, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia are clustered perfectly, allowing for easy overland travel without having to hop on planes to get between them, if you want to keep costs down.
The first point of entry for most will be Bangkok, a relatively inexpensive city, but the most expensive on this trip. The further you move away from the Thai capital the cheaper things get (except for some high-end beach resorts in Koh Samui, Phuket or the Phi Phi Islands).
If beaches are your thing, prepare to be spoiled. Access hundreds of miles of pristine beach along the South China Sea from Vietnam, the Gulf of Thailand from Cambodia (and Thailand), and the Andaman Sea from Thailand’s picturesque west coast. Looking to get PADI scuba certified? Thailand is one of the cheapest places on earth to make it happen.
Throughout the region, grabbing a bite, a drink or finding inexpensive lodging is easy. Street food is plentiful, fantastic and affordable, beers are $1 - $3CAD and simple beach guesthouses can run as low as $30CAD p/night.
India & Sri Lanka (Indian Subcontinent)
$1CAD = 51.99 Indian Rupees (INR)
$1CAD = 120.93 Sri Lankan Rupees (LKR)
India, and to a lesser degree Sri Lanka, have become mainstays in affordable living abroad for those looking to get away from the grind of the western world. Spiritual journeys, yoga retreats and volunteering opportunities have drawn droves of soul-searching travellers from all over for decades, all basking in the subcontinent’s low cost of living and more than favourable exchange rate.
Take your time, there’s a lot to see. India is extremely diverse in both culture and scenery and varies greatly from north to south. India is also not the most efficient country in the world and if you are planning on traversing this beautiful land, expect delays.
Although local travel can sometimes be difficult, it is also described as rewarding, opening the hearts of visitors who’ve never experienced anything close to the region’s hustle and bustle before.
After hitting all the musts in the Golden Triangle, head south. India’s west coast is dotted with welcoming beach towns where it’s easy to stretch the loonie. Goa, Kochi and Kerala are the most popular, all offering plenty of cheap hostels, houseboat rentals, lots of yoga and tasty eats.
And while you’re down there, you’d be remiss not to explore one of the hottest new destinations just a short, cheap flight away, Sri Lanka.
For a relatively small island nation, Sri Lanka boasts eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Two thousand year-old temples rub shoulders with protected national parks and their abundant wildlife, including leopards and herds of elephants in Minneriya. Tensions in the northern part of the country have subsided and Sri Lanka is finally getting the attention it deserves from travellers looking for the next big thing. So, pull up a hammock and stay a while.
Costa Rica (Central America)
$1CAD = 430.87 Costa Rican Colon (CRC)
Not all low-cost destinations require you to cross an ocean though. Central America is easy to get to, visually stunning and offers plenty to do on the cheap. Currently, Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador are experiencing some unrest, but head a little further south and Costa Rica is more than prime for a lengthy, cost-effective visit.
For Canadians, Central America’s dry season coincides with our brutal winter months, making it an ideal destination to escape to. Seasonal (Nov - Apr), direct and non-stop, charter flights can be found to the capital, San Jose, and even to Liberia in the north, as well as year-round connecting service with a choice of scheduled airlines.
In the dry season, Costa Rica is in a seemingly perpetual state of bloom, top to bottom. It is a true nature lovers paradise, perfect for hikers, wildlife lovers, and anyone into pristine natural gardens and raw beaches. Its biodiversity is second to none and the country’s biggest draw.
Between the volcanoes (including 5 that are active) and the cloud forest, tropical jungles, beaches and reefs, it’s impossible to get bored here. Adventure sports, from surfing to zip-lining rule, and your time in Costa Rica will quickly be summed up by the country’s fitting slogan, ‘pura vida’.
Find what you were looking for? Of course, there are many others destinations that can make this list, and our expert travellers can price your slice of paradise with a call or a visit to your nearest Flight Centre store.