Once a year, around this time, I like to explore where in the world provides the best bang for your travel buck looking ahead to 2019. US based explorers have been blessed by a strong home currency for a few years now, and this has helped fuel the boom of international travel, and of course helped our business grow considerably. Now whilst the Iranian Rial has had a dreadful year, I'm not about to suggest you book a trip to Tehran (although it's on my list for one day). I will however bang the drum for several SE Asian countries...the value is extraordinary in a few countries right now. Bear in mind currencies fluctuate every day, so any strong run the other way can quickly negate the benefits, but for now the countries below are all phenomenal value.
PS. Airfare to Asia from many US gateways is almost half the price of flights to Europe during the summer.
TOP 5 - Value for your $ in 2019
US$1 bought you just over 17 Argentine pesos a year ago. Today it gets you over 38! As we discovered back in August on our Mendoza wine country discovery (above), the value is amazing. With wineries and gorgeous boutique hotels comparable to Napa Valley, it is literally a quarter of the price down here currently. The same is true in Buenos Aires, a simply beautiful city, where you'll find Latin passion amongst classical French and Italian grandeur, and the best steakhouses in the world.
The Vietnamese Dong made the list last year and it's fortune has not improved in 2018. Vietnam is one of the most exciting countries in the world, and is sure to give you a culture shock, especially if you have not visited Asia before. Mountains, beaches, and a stunning coastline, combined with the two extraordinary and very different major cities of Hanoi (below) and Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), make for a very varied and interesting itinerary if you can spare at least 10 days. The InterContinental Danang (left), was one of the best beach resorts we have ever stayed at anywhere, and it's a fraction of the price of equivalents in the western world.
The Indonesian rupiah is at a 20 year low against the US$.
The volcano eruption last year on Bali and the devastating earthquake this year on the island of Lombok have put a brake on tourism, and the economy has suffered. This means that NOW is the time to go! Almost certainly, this huge country that spans over 6,000 inhabited islands is probably best known for Bali (above), but there are many islands and destinations, all varied geologically and culturally. See orangutans in Borneo, marvel at Komodo National Park's "dragons" or like us visit the stunning Borobudur (below) northwest of Yogyakarta on the island of Java.
I did warn you that SE Asia was about to be heavily featured. Whilst the Cambodian riel has been relatively steady this year, it's long term trend makes everything here seem like a bargain to those used to US pricing. The joy here is that US$ is widely accepted as currency and is even dispensed by ATMs, so you don't have to worry about an exchange rate, but you still receive the value. Whether it's the must see temples of Angkor Wat (above), or a visit to the friendliest local market we have ever encountered (below), Cambodia can be visited in luxury for amazing value, maybe good enough to take the plunge and fly business class to get there!
5. United Kingdom (above)
Much as it pains me to write it, the UK is in a mess right now. Brexit arguments, potential deals and then more arguments are a perpetual feature currently and the British pound is suffering with the constant uncertainty. Whilst the euro is also quite weak vs US$, the real value for travelers is to head for Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Make it 2 weeks and after London head to the west country and then the Lake District or take the train to Edinburgh and then push on in to the Highlands. Don't forget to shop til you drop in Harrods first.(below)
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