The allure of some of the world's top destinations is unparalleled. Spellbinding and energy packed, there's no other New York City than New York City, or Dubai than Dubai itself. Yet a few nights in these bucket list cities can easily leave our wallets noticeable lighter. Luckily there are a number of alternate destinations around the world that offer similar experiences to these pricy counterparts at a lower cost.
San Francisco vs. Portland
Portlandia fans need no introduction to Oregon's largest city, where its quirkiness precedes its reputation. Two beloved American cities, both San Francisco and Portland embody a laid back and hippy dippy vibe. The largest difference between a getaway to the two metropolises exists in accommodation expenses, where one night at a five-star hotel in downtown San Francisco calls for $300, while one night at a similar hotel in the center of Portland will set you back $150. Nature abounds in Portland, where kayaking on the Columbia River Gorge, hiking the rugged trails of Mount Hood, and cycling across the city are favorite pastime activities. Indulge in some tax free shopping, fill your belly with gourmet burger sliders from a selection of street food trucks and wash it all down at the coffee roasters and craft breweries that line the city's blocks. Then end the night by grooving to the live music at one of Portland's iconic dive bars. The one golden rule as a visitor to the city is to keep Portland weird.
Paris vs. Montreal
Paris exudes the sort of romance and sophistication that captures the hearts of both honeymooners and seasoned travelers. But the cost of a trip to the City of Lights adds, with a stay at a good hotel priced at $350 per night. Alternatively, the French speaking cultural capital of Canada offers a famously European experience with a more affordable price tag. Old Montreal's 18th-century facades, mesmerizing stained glass windows of Basilique Notre Dame and elegant patisseries are reminiscent of Paris. And like the French capital, Montreal is passionately devoted to the arts, but in the likes of jazz, comedy and world cinema, celebrating each realm with festivals that occur annually.
Hawaii vs. Bali
Hawaii's silky soft sands, swaying palms and year-round sun attracts visitors chasing the island life. But a fun-in-the-sun adventure doesn't quite qualify as budget friendly. For budget travelers looking to fulfill their dreams of a tropical paradise adventure, Bali offers a competitive experience that's relatively easy on the wallet. Blessed with a sensuous landscape of lush valleys and silver waterfalls, the real geological treasure in Bali is the dramatic Mount Agung, where the towering peaks of the volcano dominate the horizon. The island's varied natural make up invites its visitors to linger — in Kuta for its vibrant nightlife, in Bingin for its perfect surf waves, and in Ubud to witness its emerald rice terraces. Seek respite in warungs across the island, local eateries where you can satiate your appetite with satay skewers for as little as 70 cents.
Hong Kong vs. Bangkok
Dynamic, cosmopolitan, and moving at a breakneck pace, both these Asian metropolises offer visitors a culturally intoxicating and exhilarating experience. While Hong Kong is known for its commercial persona and steel clad business towers that populate its iconic skyline, the scarcity of residential land is the culprit of skyrocketing prices in accommodation. An equally enthralling experience in Thailand's most urban destination of Bangkok is relatively inexpensive, and though modern and racing towards the future, it's rooted in tradition. Gold spired temples reflect off the glass panels of towering skyscrapers, and a day of shopping at the city's mega malls can conclude with a meal of pad thai at a street stall. The quintessentials of Thai daily life are evident in their street activities — bargaining for fresh fruit at a market and indulging in a plate of rice noodles on plastic stools on the side of the road. Stay in the city for as little as $8 per night at a hostel.
Plitvice Lakes National Park vs. Semuc Champey
Croatia's naturally stunning Plitvice Lakes National Park is renowned for its 16 lakes that amalgamate into a succession of tumbling waterfalls. Nestled in the depths of a thick wooded forest, admission to this serenity will set you back $38 in the peak season. Alternatively, Semuc Champey in the remote jungles of Guatemala offers an equally idyllic experience. Its stepped series of emerald green pools entice visitors for a cool dip on a warm afternoon. Though only reachable via a rough and slow road, Semuc Champey has deservedly earned its place on the backpacker route. Delight in a day of wallowing in the pools for $6.50.