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Looking for low-cost destinations south of the border? We've compiled a list of some of our favorite budget destinations in South America. Regardless of what type of travel experience you're seeking, these cities offer a fantastic combination of culture and affordability, no matter how much you're looking to spend.
Find cheap flights to Peru and visit Machu Picchu with your family. Be the first to hear about a rare price drop on flights to the stunning and mountainous region of Patagonia and embark on a hiking adventure. There are diverse landscapes, great cuisines, and many different cultures to experience in South America.
With a US passport you can easily travel to South America. However, this should be valid for at least another six months. It is also advisable that the ID document has enough space for stamps, after all you will be crossing several borders during your stay.
The magnificent landscapes and the megacities on the continent will cast a spell over you. A road trip by long-distance bus and plane is recommended.
Due to the size of the continent, a recommended travel time can hardly be given - the climate differences between the countries are also too great. Basically you can say: In winter the south is recommended, you should travel to the north in early summer .
Tropical hot and humid conditions predominate. The mountain ranges of the Andes keep the humid air out of the Amazon region, so that the dry deserts are to the north of the mountains.
Don't let the visitor visa cost (currently $160 USD) scare you off, Bolivia as a whole is a fantastic and affordable destination. The climate is mild and consistent year-round — just be sure to give yourself a few days to get used to the high altitude.
The local food is delicious and offers plenty of variety. Head to Mercado Camacho or Mercado Lanzo for empanadas, meats and pastries for just a few dollars. If you're looking for 4-star accommodations, prices start at about $40 per night.
Another high-altitude city with low prices, Quito was also the first city to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With charming architecture, easy access to the Galapagos Islands, and a pleasant spring-like climate year-round, this capital city is well worth a visit for budget travelers.
Four-star accommodations starting at approximately $35 a night, with street food meals starting from just $3 to a meal at a trendy restaurant costing as little as $6. Check out our Ecuador page for the best deals.
Also known as the "Gateway to Machu Picchu", this beautiful city is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site with high elevation and bargain prices. Prices are slightly more competitive between November and April as it's the wet season, but don't a little rain ruin your Peruvian parade.
Budget dinners will start at about $4 and there are plenty of options for carnivores (try the guinea pig — it's a local delicacy) and vegetarians alike. 4-star accommodations start at approximately $45 per night, with room for some fantastic deals in the low season. Here you can read more about vacation in Peru.
Cartagena has blossomed into a wonderful and super-affordable tourist destination. Filled with stunning colonial architecture, an interesting walled city, beautiful beaches and cheap flights from many U.S. cities, we expect this Colombian gem to continue rising in popularity.
You can find delicious budget dinners from as little as $5, and 4-star accommodations starting from $50 per night. Cartagena is a great value destination for travelers looking to experience a South American-Caribbean-infused vacation. Check out our Colombia page for the best deals.
The beautiful town of Mendoza in Argentina is just an inexpensive bus ride from Buenos Aires or nearby Santiago, Chile. Famous for its wines — Malbec, in particular — Mendoza is also at the foot of the Andes Mountains, which allows for pleasant weather year-round, as well as a variety of outdoor activities such as some amazing hiking trips.
4-star hotels will start at about $70 per night, and budget dinners will run about $10. Keep in mind that many restaurants operate under European hours, meaning doors may not open for dinner service until 8:00pm.
Another capital city with plenty to offer at an affordable price, Santiago is a fantastic destination for those looking to spend less and experience Chilean life like the locals. There are many activities to keep any traveler occupied, ranging from wine tours to hiking, and there is easy access from the city to other parts of the country if you're itching for some time on a beach.
The low season runs between May and August when weather is a little cooler, and 4-star hotels will cost approximately $40/night. Hearty local food is delicious and affordable, with meals at budget sit-down restaurants costing less than $7. Did we mention Chile is an excellent destination for wine lovers?
Machu Picchu (Peru)
Iguazu Falls (Argentina and Brazil)
Salar de Uyuni (Bolivia)
Rio de Janeiro's sights such as Copacabana, the Sugar Loaf or the Christ Statue (Brazil)
Galapagos Islands (Ecuador)
Cartagena de Indias (Colombia)
Atacama Desert (Chile)
Perito Moreno Glacier (Argentina)
Angel Falls (Venezuela)
Torres del Paine National Park (Chile)
Los Glaciares National Park (Argentina)