This year, the Canadian dollar has been steadily declining in value in comparison to the American dollar. In some ways, it can feel like our loonie doesn’t stretch as far as it once did.
But there are many countries where the Canadian dollar is doing comparatively well and simply goes farther due to a lower cost of living or a favourable exchange rate. So, to help you out, we’ve rounded them up. These countries will make your travels just a little easier on your wallet, and, don’t fear – they’re all bucket list destinations in their own right!
Here are 7 of the best destinations for the Canadian dollar in 2018:
Argentina is known for being the jumping off point for Antarctic adventures and for trekking in awe-inspiring Patagonia (neither of which scream savings). But you’ll be happy to know that the Argentine peso is trading at a pretty favourable rate for Canadians right now, so once you’re there, you’ll be get lots for your loonie. In 2012, $1 CAD would only get you 4.40 ARS, but nowadays you’ll get almost 21 ARS.
Although Argentina is not quite as cheap as some of its South American neighbours, the quality you get for your money is outstanding. You’ll pay reasonable prices for pretty much all food and drink, but you’ll be eating succulent steaks and sipping top-tier wine. From the culture in Buenos Aires to the beauty of Iguazu Falls, Argentina offers the perfect blend of sophistication and natural wonders on a budget. And don’t forget, some famous Argentinian activities, like hiking or tangoing the night away, are totally free.
Average costs in Argentina:
- Meal at an inexpensive restaurant: 200 ARS/$10 CAD
- Meal for two at a mid-range restaurant: 705 ARS/$34 CAD
- Domestic beer: 60 ARS/$3 CAD, although a bottle of decent Malbec is about 100 ARS/$5 CAD, so you may want to stick to wine!
How to visit: Adventure from cosmopolitan Buenos Aires to the spectacular wilderness of Patagonia on our Patagonia Wilderness trip.
The Tanzanian shilling hasn’t been doing well in the past few years, and although it’s on the upswing, the good news is there is still great value to be had for the Canadian dollar. The even better news is this East African gem has a little something for everyone.
Tanzania is one of the best countries in the world for a safari. It’s home to both the Ngorongoro Crater, a volcanic caldera that is now home to almost every species of wildlife, and Serengeti National Park, famous for the annual wildebeest migration.
If you’re feeling up to some trekking, Tanzania also boasts the highest peak in Africa, the mighty Mount Kilimanjaro. The climb isn’t technical, but anyone attempting it should be fit, have trained and go slowly – altitude sickness can strike anyone! Or if you’re looking for less mountain climbing and more lounging aboard a catamaran, a visit to Zanzibar is in order. The archipelago off the coast of Tanzania is an idyllic islands oasis where you can snorkel through crystal waters, indulge in fresh seafood and enjoy a local beer (that’ll only cost you about $1.50 CAD).
Average costs in Tanzania:
- Meal at an inexpensive restaurant: 8,000 TSh/$5 CAD
- Meal for two at a mid-range restaurant: 60,000 TSh/$35 CAD
- Domestic beer: 2,500 TSh/$1.50 CAD
How to visit: Combine two of Tanzania’s most iconic activities on our Serengeti & Kilimanjaro trip.
At nearly 25,000 Iranian rials to one Canadian dollar, your money goes a long way in Iran. And, increasingly, the country is proving an alluring choice for travellers who want to explore somewhere unique in the Middle East. Since tourism is steadily growing, the prices are essentially as low as they will ever be, and the bustling bazaars, ancient Persian ruins and Tehran tea houses are not yet crowded with tourists.
There are all kinds of great bargains to be had in Iran. The bazaars are full of handcrafted pottery and carpets, spices, and all kinds of goods that you can get amazing deals on (if you don’t mind a little haggling). And a meal for two at a mid-range restaurant will only cost you about 700,000 IRR ($22 CAD). However, to truly experience Iran’s food scene, you must try a meal in a local home. Unlike in North America, where people go out to eat a good meal, Iran has a culture of home cooking, where meals take hours to prepare and are enjoyed at home. Iranians are extremely welcoming, so don’t be surprised if the locals you meet invite you in for a meal – just prepare to be stuffed!
Average costs in Iran:
- Meal at an inexpensive restaurant: 200,000 IRR/$6 CAD
- Meal for two at a mid-range restaurant: 700,000 IRR/$22 CAD
- Drinks: Alcohol is strictly forbidden in Iran, but a cappuccino will run you about 95,000 IRR/$3 CAD
How to visit: Explore everything Iran has to offer from compelling capital to ancient ruins on our Iran Adventure trip.
Mexico has always been a favourite destination for sun-seeking Canadians. With cheap charter flights to and from the major cities in both countries and all the Mayan ruins, dreamy beaches and otherworldly cenotes you can handle, Mexico is a tried and true favourite. And when a dinner for two only costs about 400 MXN ($26 CAD) – and with streets eats costing much less – Mexico offers Canadians excellent value for the loonie.
Two years ago, $1 CAD would translate to about 12 pesos, but nowadays – due partially to the US President’s anti-Mexico rhetoric and a few isolated incidents of crime – you’ll get 14.5 pesos per dollar. Though that’s not to say that Mexico isn’t safe. Experts agree that as long as you keep an eye on the government’s travel advisories and use common sense when you travel, Mexico is safe for travellers. Want a firsthand account from a solo female for proof? Check out this blog from one Intrepid traveller.
Average costs in Mexico:
- Meal at an inexpensive restaurant: 90 MXN/ $6 CAD
- Meal for two at a mid-range restaurant: 400 MXN/ $26 CAD
- Domestic beer: 27 MXN/ $2 CAD
How to visit: Travel through the best of Mexico on a two-week journey spanning ruins, pueblos and beaches on our Mexico Unplugged trip.
Central and Eastern Europe might be Europe’s best kept secret. Many countries in this region have not yet adopted the Euro, making them less pricey than their Euro-adopting neighbours (at least for now!). Hungary is one of these gems that still has its own currency – the Forint – which is valued at about 211 HUF to 1 CAD.
Considering its size, Hungary has a lot to offer. This whole country is full of rich history, Baroque architecture and hip cafes and restaurants (featuring the best goulash around) – all at a fraction of the cost of other European destinations. The capital, Budapest, has the allure of big city but comes with a smaller price tag. Be sure to walk along or kayak down the Danube, soak in the thermal baths and enjoy the vibrant nightlife. For even better value for your money, pair your adventure in Hungary with a few other countries in Central or Eastern Europe. You can’t go wrong with Poland, Bulgaria or Romania!
Average costs in Hungary:
- Meal at an inexpensive restaurant: 1,500 HUF/$7 CAD
- Meal for two at a mid-range restaurant: 8,000 HUF/$37 CAD
- Domestic beer: 400 HUF/ $2 CAD
How to visit: Explore the best of Hungary and Romania on our Budapest to Bucharest trip.
India has long been known as a great budget travel destination. With cheap meals like a thali starting at about 60 rupees (about $1 CAD), cross-country sleeper trains that cost about 400 rupees (about $7.50 CAD) and basic hostel beds starting from 300 rupees ($6 CAD), the only cost barrier was flights. Until now. Low cost carrier WOW Air has started flying to New Delhi, so lucky Canucks in Toronto and Montreal will be able to get there on the cheap (and perhaps add in a stopover in Iceland).
India is a vast country filled with a huge range of landscapes, cultures and people – so much so it’s hardly worth trying to sum up. But if you’re trying to, the Golden Triangle (Delhi, Agra and Jaipur) is a great place to start. Oh, and the food. People flock here for delicious food (especially if you’re a vegan or vegetarian), spiritual journeys and yoga retreats.
India truly is a feast for all the senses that has to be experienced to be understood. Oh, and did we mention the Taj Mahal?!
Average costs in India:
- Meal at an inexpensive restaurant: 150 INR/$3 CAD
- Meal for two at a mid-range restaurant: 700 INR/$14 CAD
- Domestic beer: 120 INR/$2.50 CAD
How to visit: Visit all of India’s most popular destinations on our Golden Triangle trip.
From the romantic blue city of Chefchaouen to the vast red dunes of the Sahara desert to the labyrinthine medina of Fes, Morocco is quite the spectacular destination. What’s more, $1 CAD will net you about 7 Moroccan dirhams. For some perspective, a meal for two at a restaurant costs no more than 150 MAD ($21 CAD). Just like in any destination, prices can vary based on your desired level of luxury (and, of course, your bargaining abilities), but Morocco can definitely be budget-friendly.
Things that would be expensive back home, like leather bags or handwoven rugs can be found for reasonable prices among the souks of Marrakech. And other splurges, like entry to a public hammam spa will only cost you about 10-15 MAD ($1.50-2 CAD) and a scrub and a massage there will only set you back another 50-100 MAD ($7-14 CAD). Morocco is one of those destinations that is easy on the eyes and easy on the wallet.
Average costs in Morocco:
- Meal at an inexpensive restaurant: 30 MAD/$4 CAD
- Meal for two at a mid-range restaurant: 150 MAD/$21 CAD
- Domestic beer: 25 MAD/$3.50 CAD
How to visit: Discover Morocco in style, on an adventure from Casablanca to Marrakech, on our Morocco Uncovered trip.
Ready to embark on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure? Check out Intrepid’s top trips around the globe.
(Image & video credits from top to bottom: Intrepid Travel x4, Nir Nussbaum, Stefan Mihaylov, Intrepid Travel x2.)