Highly sought after for its rich and diverse cultures, breathtaking scenery, an abundance of wildlife, and irresistible charm, South America truly has it all. Whether enjoying a salsa dance on the streets of Cartagena, Colombia, or trekking through the immense Amazon rainforest, you will not run out of adventurous activities while at one of the cheap countries in South America.
Perhaps the best part about South America is all the attractions and accommodations you can visit on a travel budget! Many of these areas are cheap countries. Travel may seem like a luxury, but that does not mean it has to hurt your bank. If you know the ins and out of an area, you will truly be able to experience everything you have ever dreamed of for a great deal. Visit one of the cheap countries in South America to experience all the thrills at a fraction of the cost by traveling the world for cheap.
In general, South America is a super cheap continent to visit, but to save even more money, you may want to focus on some of the cheap countries in South America. While Uruguay, Argentina, and Brazil typically hold a hefty price tag to visit, you will be happy to know that the majority of areas offer affordable travel options.
To help budget for and during your vacations, I suggest checking out our free, printable travel planner which includes a budget planner, expense tracker, and much more! In this article, we will go through the cheap countries in South America.
Boasting the world-renowned Machu Picchu attraction and home to the most impressive architecture in its capital city of Lima, this first country may shock you as one of the cheap countries in South America.
Peru is definitely where you want to visit if you are looking for one of the cheap countries in South America to visit one of the New 7 Wonders of the World. Known as the standout attraction of South America, Machu Picchu is where you can uncover and discover the ancient mysteries from the Incan Empire. Afterward, head over to nearby Cusco a spend a couple days exploring the neighborhood in one of the cheapest destinations in the southern hemisphere. From here you will be able to hike up Machu Picchu or you can opt-out for cheaper, affordable treks such as the Salkantay trek which is typically offered at half the price of the famous Inca Trail.
Either way, you will enjoy your stay at a destination most people only dream about visiting. If you are looking for a more relaxed stay in South America, check out the bustling capital city of Lima. While you may not get to see Macchu Picchu, you will be immersed in exquisite architecture and a lively night scene. As one of the most underrated capital cities in South America, you will be able to truly experience South America at a fraction of the cost compared to countries like adjacent Brazil.
You are now probably wondering what exactly you will be paying during your stay in breathtaking Peru. Let me break it down for you. Peruvians boast the Peruvian sol for their currency, so you will want to make sure to head to your bank and convert some of your cash before your trip.
Accommodations in Peru typically run between $25-$128 USD at a decent hotel with a standard double room. Your meals will typically be around $8 for a three-course meal at a decent restaurant. Some of the major attractions including the museums are free, however, you will run across some that have a $10 entry fee. To visit Machu Picchu you will have to fork over $50 per person. If you are planning on seeing both Lima and Macchu Picchu, you can catch a bus ride from Lima to Cusco for between $50-$100. However, shorter journeys from Lima are considerably cheaper.
Known as a popular gateway to the Galapagos Islands, Quito, Ecuador’s capital, is the cheapest capital city to visit in South America and is definitely one of the cheapest places you can visit in general in South America. If visiting the Galapagos Islands is not on your ideal vacation itinerary, do not worry. There are plenty of other popular tourist attractions that you can experience at a low cost as Ecuador is one of the cheap countries in South America.
If you were hoping to visit the Amazon Rainforest, you are in luck! Ecuador encompasses part of the vast rainforest that attracts tourists and scientists from around the world. To discover more of what Ecuador’s natural world has to offer, head over to the impressive Avenue of the Volcanoes. Later, check out the Quilotoa Loop to finish out your amazing adventure in one of the cheapest countries to visit in South America.
If you are traveling from the United States, you will be pleasantly surprised that Ecuadorians use the US dollar throughout their country. Therefore, you will not have to fork over money to your bank for conversion fees. For accommodations, you will easily be able to find safe places to stay for $20 and up. Meals, on average, run at $13, but that includes a three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant. A local beer will cost you $2 and a bottle of water on average is $0.57.
Most natural attractions are free to explore, but if you are more a history-buff seeking out museums, expect to pay an entry fee of $5-10. If you are looking for a guided trip to the Cotopaxi volcano, you can expect to pay around $30. A one-way ticket on a local bus will only be around $0.30 but longer bus journeys will run you $2. If you are looking to travel between Quito and Guayaquil, you can expect to pay between $10-14 for a bus ride.
While when hearing the country “Chile” you may think of a hefty price tag, Chile is actually one of the cheap countries in South America with a huge reputation for being expensive.
You may be surprised to see Chile on this list, but Chile is actually considerably cheaper than it is made out to be. As one of the cheaper destinations in South America, you may be shocked to learn that Chile is also cheaper than most North American and European destinations as well! You will definitely want to visit Torres Del Paine National Park while in the area. As shown in the picture above, this national park is remarkable as it encompasses mountains, lakes, and glaciers alike.
For a complete change of scenery, head out to Valle de la Luna and the Atacama Desert which is situated at the north end of the country. This rugged landscape in the heart of the Atacama Desert attracts countless travelers with its eerie resemblance to the moon! Stay in the nearby pueblo town on your San Pedro de Atacama itinerary to fully explore northern Chile.
If you are looking to splurge, check out world-renowned Easter Island & Rapa Nui National Park. Here you can explore over 800 statues known as Moai-created by the island’s early Rapa Nui population.
When you visit, you will want to make sure to exchange your local currency for the Chilean peso. You can expect to pay around $40-$55 for a quality, safe room at a hotel in Chile. If you are willing to stay in a hostel, you will be happy to know that a spot in a dorm costs around $6 and a private room costs around $20.
For a three-course meal, you can expect to pay roughly $24 per person at a decent restaurant. You will also pay, on average, around $3.79 per local beer and around $1.04 per bottled water. While plenty of the natural scenery will be free to enjoy, you can expect to pay from $5-27 per tourist attraction. Most one-way tickets on Chilean local transportation services cost around $1. If you want to purchase a longer ride, you can expect to pay around $30.
To truly enjoy the affordable country of Bolivia, you must be careful in planning where and what you spend your money on. Known as the cheapest way to explore the mighty Amazon rainforest, Bolivia is where thousands of budgeting travelers flock to every year as one of the cheap countries in South America.
While you may notice that accommodations can be more expensive in Bolivia than in other countries, you will definitely see huge savings in your budget by opting for crazy cheap bus rides over expensive taxis, drinking the local wine over beer, and eating at the delicious local restaurants. Bolivia is a popular destination where you will find astonishingly low prices where you can score a bargain.
While in the country, you can participate in numerous amazing activities and attractions. Check out the amazing views from the hill Hirado Killi Killi– one of the top things to do in La Paz. Valle de la Luna is another popular spot known as one of the 10 out-of-this-world destinations. Later, hike the countryside found in Copacabana (not the Brazilian beach, silly, the Bolivian town!). Finally, explore the highly anticipated and sought after Amazon rainforest through a guided tour.
The currency popular in Bolivia is the Bolivian boliviano, so make sure to exchange your local currency before you leave. You will easily be able to find accommodations for around $25 where you will get a decent room in a mid-range hotel. Plus, a three-course meal will run you around $10 per person at a reputable restaurant. A local beer will be priced around $2 with wine being as cheap as $2.90 per bottle. Your bottled water will cost, on average, $0.73.
Thankfully, many of Bolivia’s popular attractions are free. Some of the attractions that you will end up paying for are fairly cheap. For example, a ticket to a popular Cholita wrestling match will only cost $7. For transportation, expect to pay around $0.29 for a one-way local ticket with upwards of $7 for a six-hour bus journey.
One of the best cheap countries in South America on our list will be your cheapest alternative to the expensive Caribbean islands. In Colombia, you can discover exquisite, white-sand beaches lining the Caribbean Sea at a fraction of the cost.
If you read our guide to Cartagena, you will know that Colombia’s top cruise port has plenty to do at a reasonable price. But what else does this South American country have to offer? In recent years, Colombia has started a modern transformation throughout the country. As people start to realize how safe the beautiful country has become, Colombia is finally receiving the praise and popularity it has long sought after.
Bogota, Colombia’s capital city, is located in the heart of the country. Check out the top-rated Gold Museum (Museo del Oro) to learn about the precious metal history in the region. Later, check out Mount Monserrate to see a noteworthy landmark. Bogota is also home to the National Museum of Colombia. If you love history in any sense, you will enjoy learning the historical and cultural aspects found throughout Colombia’s history.
When you head out for Colombia, do not forget to exchange your local currency for theirs, the Colombian peso. You can easily find accommodations in decent, reputable hotels from around $25-37 a night depending on the time of year. A three-course meal will run you around $10 per person while a local beer is around $1. Your bottled water comes at a small cost of around $0.60.
A lot of the attractions in Colombia, you will soon discover, are either free or very cheap. For those asking requesting money, you can expect to pay between $5-50 depending on the activity. A one-way ticket on a local bus runs around $0.70 while a bus from Bogota to Salento costs around $16. Finally, if you are looking to visit both Bogota and Cartegena, you can expect to pay around $40 for a bus ride between the two popular cities.
That completes our list of the top cheap countries in South America to visit if you looking for a bargain!
Whether looking for an exhilarating expedition into the immense Amazon rainforest or a rejuvenating, beachfront escape from everyday life, these top five countries will allow you to vacation your way. Plus, you will see all your travel-related purchases running at a very affordable cost!
Make sure to check out our free, downloadable Travel Planner to help you budget and save for your fantastic South American vacation.