5 places that are still cheap to visit on the Aussie dollar
The Aussie dollar may be taking a battering, but you can still afford an overseas holiday.
How low can it go? For the past year, the Aussie dollar has hovered between 70-80 cents against the greenback, and for anyone planning an overseas trip that can affect your holiday budget.
However, the news is not all grim. There are still plenty of destinations where you can drive your Aussie dollar further. Whether you're after an island escape or a dose of European culture, we've found five great holiday options that won’t blow your budget.
Indonesia: island hopping
One of the reasons Aussie travellers love Bali is that you get serious bang for your buck. The same applies right across Indonesia, and with 17,000 islands to choose from, there's much to explore:
- Wildlife encounters with orangutans on Sumatra
- Java’s ancient Hindu and Buddhist temples, including Prambanam and Borobodur
- Some of the world’s best diving in West Papua and Flores
- Fascinating tribes such as the Toraja of Sulawesi, who build houses with boat-shaped roofs and bury their dead in cliff graves
And, with the Australian dollar buying so much more in Indonesia than back home, you can afford to upgrade your holiday experience. Don’t forget to look for local warungs, or restaurants, where locals eat cheap and delicious meals such as fried noodles, fried chicken and satay.
Need to know: Qantas and Garuda offer direct flights to Jakarta.
New Zealand: the great outdoors
Just a few hours away, New Zealand's a great choice for those who love the fresh air without wanting to pay a fortune to experience it. Whether you are:
- Hiking the dense forests of the Milford Track
- Kayaking the pristine waters of the Abel Tasman National Park, or
- Hitting Wanaka’s ski slopes, the spectacular scenery will blow you away but not your budget.
If you prefer creature comforts, head for:
- Wellington’s buzzing cafés and restaurants
- Auckland’s serene Waiheke Island, or
- One of the country’s many superb wine regions, from Marlborough to Hawke’s Bay
For those who want to see a lot of the country, a coach tour with a company such as Trafalgar Tours is a particularly good-value option.
Need to know: Qantas, Virgin, Jetstar and Air New Zealand all fly to various New Zealand destinations.
Fiji: tropical retreat
Sometimes, all you need is a sun-drenched beach, and few places offer as many perfect stretches of sand as Fiji. Many of its 300-plus islands are fringed with golden beaches; plenty of them also boast coral reefs that draw snorkelers and divers from around the world.
Most Fijian resorts offer great value all-inclusive rates, and Fiji is also a terrific family destination, with resorts being famous for their kids’ clubs, keeping the littlies occupied all day long. Throw in a warm Fiji greeting – where else are you met with a welcome song every time you arrive? Plus, you have a destination that's a real winner.
Some resorts and tourist infrastructure may have been damaged in the February cyclone so make sure you check for any updates before you travel.
Need to know: Virgin Airlines, Qantas, Jetstar, and Fiji Airways all fly to Fiji.
Poland: A European classic
There are plenty of good-value destinations beyond the big European centres but few are as enticing as Poland, with its medieval towns, mighty castles, lush forests and soaring mountains. You might start your trip on the Baltic coast, in the beautiful port city of Gdansk. From here, it’s an easy day trip to explore Europe’s largest brick castle at Malbork. Alternatively, explore the:
- Elegant former royal capital of Krakow
- Lovely Carpathian Mountains
- Darker side of history at the Auschwitz concentration camp
Other highlights include the charming medieval towns of Wroclaw and Torun, and of course the capital, Warsaw. To make your holiday budget go further, bed and breakfasts are a good value alternative to hotels. To find a deal, you can try a site like Bedandbreakfast.eu
Need to know: Emirates offers one-stop flights from most capital cities to Warsaw.
South Africa: dazzling diversity
In a country that's the size of France and Spain combined and has 11 official languages, it's no surprise that globetrotters have started to take South Africa more seriously as a destination. Plus, the South African Rand’s slide against the Australian dollar means you’ll get almost 20 percent more value than a year ago. The country also has plenty of activities to choose from. In Cape Town, you can:
- Go penguin spotting on Boulders Beach
- Visit Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned
- Hike up Table Mountain, or
- Explore the charming Bo-Kaap district
Prices drop once you leave Cape Town, which makes the charming towns of the Garden Route, such as George and Oudtshoorn, particularly good value. Elsewhere in the Western Cape region, you'll find colonial towns and extensive winelands. Safari lovers will head straight for the country’s many national parks and private game reserves, where you can spot big game including rhinos and elephants, lions and leopards.
Need to know: Qantas offers a non-stop flight from Sydney to Johannesburg; alternatively South African Airways flies via Perth.