As fast as you could say easy credit we've gone from frivolous to frugal, deluxe to downsized. When it comes to travel, it's not hard to get more for less - if you pick the right destination.
The dollar may have rebounded a little lately in relation to the euro and pound sterling, but a trip to one of Western Europe's capitals still feels like a shopping trip to Tiffany's. If $100 taxi rides and $50 lunches aren't your thing, head to a country where your dollars will go a long way. Here are some of the best deals on the planet right now, places that are easy for travelers and easy on the wallet.
Sample deals: a three-course lunch at a market stand in Guanajuato for $4; Hotel Maison Lafitte (maisonlafitte.com.mx/ing/ml_ eng.htm, Calle 60 No. 472, 011-52-999-928-1243), an evocative hotel in the center of Mérida, charges $63 a night for a double with breakfast and Wi-Fi; a round of Negra Modelos for five at nearly any bar, including gratis snacks, for $10.
Sample deals: a half day of white-water rafting on the Cangrejal River for $35 through Jungle Lodge (www.jungleriverlodge.com/rafting.html, 011-504-440-1268), including transportation; a weeklong learn-to-dive package with room, breakfast, and transfers for $535 per person at Bananarama (www.bananaramadive.com, West Bay Beach, 504-445-5005); a cold coconut with a straw for 40 cents; and admission to the Copán archeological park for $10.
Sample deals: a taxi ride across Antigua for $4; a double room with a panoramic view at Casa del Mundo (www.lacasadelmundo.com, El Jaibalito, 011-502-5218-5332) on Lake Atitlán for $61; a week of private Spanish lessons including homestay starting at $175 at Centro Linguistico in Antigua (www.spanishcontact.com, Avenida del Espiritu Santo No. 6, 011-502-7832-1039); a zipline canopy tour near Tikal (www.canopytikal.com/inicio.html, 011-502-5819-7766) for $30.
Sample deals: a flight from Lima to Cuzco for $77 on Taca (www.taca.com, 800-400-8222); a big traditional lunch and a beer at La Quinta Eulalia in Cuzco (Choquechaca 384, 011-084-224-951) for $7; entrance to the Inca Museum in Cuzco (103 Cuesta del Almirante, 011-084-237-380) for $1.50; the "matrimonial suite" for two at KB Hotel in Ollantaytambo (011-518-420-4091, www.kbperu.com/kbhotel.html) for $40 with breakfast.
Sample deals: a first-class train ticket from Cairo to Luxor (www.egyptrail.gov.eg/docs/index.html) for $16; a Nile-view deluxe double at the 4-star Iberotel Luxor (www.iberotelegypt.com/luxor/index.htm, 011-20-95-238-0925) for $60 with breakfast; entrance to the Nubia Museum in Aswan (www.numibia.net/nubia/intro.htm, El Fanadek Street, 011-20-97-31-9333) for $3.61; a falafel sandwich at a Cairo street stall for 40 cents.
Sample deals: a double room at Metro Guest House in Yogyakarta, Java (www.yogyes.com/metro, Jl. Prawirotaman 2 No. 71, 011-62-274-37-2364), with pool and breakfast for $16; a five-day small ship cruise between Lombok and Flores islands via
Sample deals: a standard double at one of the best hotels in the world, The Peninsula in Bangkok (www.peninsula.com/bangkok/en/default.aspx, 333 Charoennakorn Road, Klongsan, 011-66-2-861-2888), for $303 or less per night; admission to the main ruins in Sukothai (www.tourismthailand.org/attraction/sukhothai-64-3835-1.html) for under $1.20; a first-class sleeper accommodation from Bangkok to Chiang Mai (www.railway.co.th/english/index.asp, 011-022-22-0175, email@example.com) for about $36; a one-day scuba diving trip with Phi Phi diving (www.phiphidiving.com/daytrips.htm, 269/24 Patak Road, Karon Beach, Phuket, 011-66-076-398-040) for around $63 including gear rental.
Sample deals: an $89 double with breakfast at Mikulov's best inn, Hotel Templ (www.templ.cz/index.php, Husova 50, 011-420-519-323-095); fully equipped hybrid bike rental from Top Bicycle (www.topbicycle.com, 011-420-519-513-745) for $25 a day; sommelier guided 12-bottle tasting at the Wine Salon of the Czech Republic in Valtice (www.vinarskecentrum.cz/index.php, Národní vinarske centrum, o.p.s. Zámek 1, 011-420-519-352-072) for $19; a train ticket from Prague to anywhere in the country for $12 or less.
Sample deals: deluxe double with breakfast at the four-star Reykjavík Hotel Centrum (www.reykjavikhotels.is/reykjavikhotels/centrum, Adalstraeti 16, 011-354-514-6000) for $127; an all-day soak at the geothermal Blue Lagoon (www.bluelagoon.com, 240 Grindavík, 011-354-420-8800) for $22; a 48-hour welcome card (www.visitreykjavik.is/desktopdefault.aspx/tabid-10/12_view-85/, Adalstraeti 2, 011-354-590-1550) for $13 that provides free admission to attractions and public transportation.
Tim Leffel, author of "The World's Cheapest Destinations" (Booklocker.com, 2006) and co-author of "Traveler's Tool Kit: Mexico and Central America" (Menasha Ridge Press, 2008), can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.