Although it may not compare to the likes of South East Asia, South America is still a solid budget travel destination. Yet some regions are distinctly more pricey than others, so it really pays to know where to go when trying to traverse the continent on a shoestring. Thankfully, we bring you a list of the 10 cheap destinations and places to visit in South America.

You can even be backpacking to South America for an amazing experience! The advantage is it can be super cheap to travel in this way.

Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

The town of Uyuni is situated at an altitude of 3 670 m and lies at the junction of an extensive plateau to the west and the mountainous territories of the Cordillera to the east.

The salar de Uyuni is the biggest salt area in the world. This deserted and arid Landscape is wonderful.

Although a jeep tour of the surreal Uyuni salt flats and its otherworldly nearby natural attractions may be the single biggest expenditure backpackers face in Bolivia, this bucket list destination still only sets you back US$150 or so. Unbeatable value, really.

São Paulo, Brazil

Sao Paulo surprisingly is a fairly expensive city to visit from the food venues, hotels and entertainment in all of the cities of Latin America. To make your tourist dollars last longer, there are many places and attractions that are free or very inexpensive to do around the city that won’t break the bank. Following are some suggestions on what to see in Sao Paulo for free or inexpensive without hitting your pocket-book too hard.

You can visit the Sao Paulo’s Cathedral with an imposing gothic style building located in an impressive palm-lined square: This one of Sao Paulo’s top tourist attractions.

You could visit too Banespa Building in São Paulo: Modeled after the Empire state building, this mini Empire State was the largest building built of its time in Latin America. Located in the commercial business center the building is impressive to walk through in the interior and the views from above are magnificent. There is a modest entry fee to go up to the top of the Banespa building.

Cusco, Peru

Once the most important city of the Inca and the Spanish, modern-day Cusco may seem a little pricey by Peruvian standards. Nevertheless, it still offers excellent value for money for travelers wishing to indulge in a little ancient history, cultural immersion, or the buzzing all-night party scene.

And you could go as far as Machu Picchu near the city of Cusco. This an emblematic thing to do in Peru but it can be quite expensive according to your organization and the transports.

Mendoza, Argentina

Argentina is not an especially cheap country. Mendoza is the heart of Argentina wine region, famous for its malbecs and red wine. Thankfully, however, its vino is inexpensive and delicious, while a bicycle tour of the finest Mendoza vineyards can be done for next to nothing. Better yet, a bottle of the locally produced good stuff can be picked up for peanuts.

Baños, Ecuador

For a budget-friendly opportunity to get some bucket list adventure sports out of the way, the subtropical Ecuadorian town of Baños ticks all the boxes. Mountain biking, hiking, climbing and rafting are just a few of the options available in this stunning backpacker mecca.

Montañita, Ecuador

After a well-deserved beach break? Admittedly, the best stretches of sand in South America are in Brazil, but who really has that kind of money? Instead, opt for the up-and-coming beachside town of Montañita, where solid breaks, a bohemian vibe and a low cost of living keep travelers hanging around much longer than expected.

Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico

Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula has something for everyone. White sand beaches, ancient Mayan ruins, deep jungle wilderness, excellent food, and fabulous scuba diving make it a great vacation destination. You couldn’t believe how cheap it was! You can stay in hostels and travel by bus. Nowhere we stayed cost more than $13, and most included a light breakfast. We met so many incredible people there — residents, fellow trekkers, and local Mayans — and everyone was amazing.”

Patagonia, Argentina

“Patagonia is the most expensive place in South America”. While this might be true, outdoor enthusiasts can spend a pittance by camping every day and hitching a ride with friendly locals between jaw-dropping destinations. Just be sure to visit in summer when it’s actually warm enough to survive.

Cartagena, Colombia

Roundtrip airfare from the Northeast was $250. You can easily get a hostel for $7–15, although you can stay in an amazing hotel for $70 a night. Food, drinks, and fun are all completely reasonable; it’s an absolutely amazing place to visit.

Cartagena owes much its status to “El Centro Historico”, the magnificently preserved colonial heart of the city, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. Filled with eye-catching colonial architecture, a full and vibrant color palate, and scores of bars and restaurants Cartagena’s center thrums with a savory salsa infused vibe.

Guanacaste, Costa Rica

A visit to Guanacaste automatically equals a visit to the beach and it’s a great cheap activity in Costa Rica. If you research the best beaches in Guanacaste, you’ll find mostly these on the list: Samara, Tamarindo, Playas del Coco… Some of the well-known beaches such as Coco and Hermosa are actually the “ugliest” with their black sand and dark waters.

Though Arenal and Monteverde take the spotlight for the longest zipline in Costa Rica, Guanacaste boasts excellent adventure zip lines. And with the newly open Diamante Adventure Park that has the longest ocean view zip line in the country, Guanacaste is giving Monteverde a good run for its money when it comes to best canopy tours.

As for natural landmarks, Guanacaste is home to some of the most magical places in Costa Rica. Besides the dreamy white sand beaches, there are charming waterfalls, sky blue rivers, active volcanoes and numerous sea caves to explore. Additionally, most of them are cheap or free things to do in Guanacaste.


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