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33 Countries to Visit in 2020 On a Budget

In 2020, my travel bucket list is long. So long, in fact, that most of you reading this won’t believe I’ll make it to all of them. It is my goal in 2020 to visit all the countries below, and become a true full-time traveler.

Come along for the ride of travel stories and itineraries! Oh, and an explanation of how I’ll be affording all this…

Where will you go in 2020?

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase any of the products from the links below, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products I love!

Thailand

I’ve wanted to visit Thailand forever. For-E-Ver. This year is the year. On my list are Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Koh Tao, and, of course, Phuket.

If you’re going to Thailand in 2020, check out cities like Bangkok along with at least one coastal smaller town. Who doesn’t love a balanced itinerary?

Phi Phi Islands, Phuket, Thailand

Cambodia

Who doesn’t want to see the magnificence of Angkor Wat? From Thailand, overland into Siem Reap to visit Angkor Wat, then take a bus to Phnom Penh. That way, you can see cities as well as the beauty of the countryside.

Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Vietnam

Vietnam is on the list for a number of reasons, but one of them is the geography of the country. Start in Ho Chi Minh City, then take the train north to the center of the country and visit Da Nang.

From there, take another overnight train to the northern city of Hanoi, and visit the gorgeous HaLong Bay. There are bay cruises available for every budget!

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Laos

Laos wasn’t as high on my list until I learned about the Gibbon Experience and saw the beauty of their capital city through other travel blogs. Now, I can’t wait to go!

countryside in Laos

Malaysia

Malaysia will be a wonderful country to visit for its out-of-this-world beaches and ultra cosmopolitan capital, Kuala Lumpur. If you’re interested in getting PADI certified, check out options in Tioman Island. The prices are hard to beat, even when compared to Thailand’s diver courses!

Patronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Indonesia

If Bali isn’t on your bucket list, have you even seen Eat, Pray, Love? I would also love to see a nature preserve with Komodo dragons, but we’ll see if time and money allow for that.

rice terraces in Ubud, Bali

Philippines

My time in the Philippines will be all about the beaches. I’m thinking Cebu, Bohol, and El Nido. Any recommendations?

beach in the Philippines

Taiwan

On my Taiwan visit list is Taipei, waterfalls, and hot springs. I’ve also heard great things from people who visit a national park here, so that sounds lovely. If you’re planning to go to the U.S. from Southeast Asia, Xiamen Airlines offers great deals to Los Angeles that depart from Kaohsiung City!

Taipei, Taiwan

Estonia

From Southeast Asia, I plan to make the trek to Eastern Europe for summer! From the rich history and beautiful architecture to the affordable prices, Eastern Europe should be considered by any thrifty traveler.

Every person I know that’s visited Estonia has nothing but incredible things to say about it, so this will be an exciting way to begin the next leg of my journey in 2020.

Tallinn, Estonia

Latvia

From Estonia, overland into Latvia on a train. Riga seems like such a beautiful city, so I plan on (and recommend) spending at least a few days in Latvia’s capital before moving on!

Riga, Latvia

Lithuania

I’ve made two friends from Lithuania through my travels over the years. One of my favorite aspects about meeting new people from places I’ve never been is to get recommendations for my future visit.

So far, on my list are Vilnius, the western coast of the country, and the hill of crosses. We’ll see what else is added as I get closer to my time in Lithuania!

Kaunas, Lithuania

Belarus

All it took was one photo to convince me to visit Belarus. Well, that and learning about the Bielski partisans. That photo, my friends, is of the National Library of Belarus. (You can see the library’s architecture peeking through this arch.)

I can’t wait to visit Minsk and see the amazing architecture of this library in person! I recommend giving yourself at least a long train layover in Minsk to try local foods and see the architecture for yourself.

National Library of Belarus in Minsk, Belarus

Poland

There are so many beautiful things to see in Poland. I look most forward to emotionally challenging myself to visit and reflect upon Auschwitz-Birkenau. I also plan to visit Kraków.

If you’re interested in a southern Poland trip, the attractions above could be a good fit for your itinerary. If you’re interested in seeing more of the country, check out Warsaw and Białowieża Forest!

view of a street in Kraków, Poland

Czechia

When I was a study abroad student in Spain, it felt like everyone in my program was visiting Prague. I wanted to go so badly, but ran out of time before I needed to go home.

Visiting Prague will be such a long-anticipated trip. I can’t wait!

When you go, be sure to check out the astronomical clock, local architecture, and the John Lennon wall.

view of Prague, Czechia

Slovakia

Since I read The Tattooist of Auschwitz and Cilka’s Journey, I’ve wanted to visit the hometowns of Lali, Gita, and Cilka. All three of them were Slovakian Jews that survived the atrocities of Auschwitz-Birkenau during the Holocaust.

In addition, I would love to see the winding streets of Bratislava on the Danube. If you want to see multiple cities in Eastern Europe, a Danube river cruise could be a great option for your summer vacation!

winding side street in Bratislava, Slovakia

Hungary

Like Prague, Budapest is a city that attracts droves of visitors that come to see Western Europe and realize later how amazing Eastern Europe is. While in this city, I plan to reflect on the Shoes on the Danube Bank memorial from the Holocaust and relax in a thermal bath.

Budapest on the river, Hungary

Slovenia

I have two words: Lake Bled. It’s famous for a reason! Now, it’s time to see if the real thing lives up to the hype from photos. I get the feeling it’ll be magical…

Lake Bled, Slovenia

Croatia

I’d never heard of Croatia until a girl I went to college with recommended it when I studied abroad. I didn’t have time to make it there three years ago, but now is the time and 2020 is the year! Since that conversation, I’ve done tons of research about visiting Croatia. It sounds better by the minute!

Start in Zagreb, and overland your way to Split down the coast. Views like the photo below await us!

Landscapes and homes on the sea in Croatia

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina is known more for its civil war than everything it has to offer visitors. When I think of this country, I think of a brave, resilient group of people that have a nation worth sharing with the world.

I would love to see the capital and any interesting cultural sites. Got recommendations? I’d love to hear them!

Bridge in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Serbia

I have yet to learn much about Serbia, and now’s my chance. While I’m in Eastern Europe, I want to visit this country and see at least one museum to learn more about its history and cultures. Likewise, I can’t wait to visit some of its HappyCow listings to satisfy my vegan wanderlust!

If you’re outdoorsy, consider Serbia for a visit to enjoy hiking and camping in nature. I may very well do the same considering views like this one:

Hills, mountains, and a lake in Serbia

Montenegro

Honestly, I know very little about Montenegro. I just know I want to see this country for myself from photos like the one below. I look forward to seeing beautiful landscapes and trying local vegan restaurants!

If you’re interested in seeing the Amalfi Coast or the French Riviera, but lack the funds to make it there this year, then consider Montenegro!

Houses and boats on the sea in Montenegro, with mountains in the distance

Kosovo

A former co-worker from college is now a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kosovo. After seeing more about her experience, Kosovo has an even higher spot on my must-visit list.

Like Serbia, Kosovo can be a great destination for nature lovers like me. Also, if you follow a plant-based diet, it’s easier than you may think to find cruelty-free alternatives in Kosovo. Lentils are a staple in traditional diets here, so you can stay on a budget and enjoy vegetarian food!

Meadow and forest in Kosovo

North Macedonia

The land of Mother Teresa, a gorgeous lake, and a cheap bus ride to Thessaloniki. North Macedonia was almost my Peace Corps country of choice! Now, it’s time to see it for myself and allow the adventure to come my way.

When you go, I recommend seeing Lake Ohrid, shown in the photo below. That view is stunning!

Lake Ohrid, North Macedonia

Albania

Have you heard of the Albanian Riviera? I’ll just let the photo speak for itself. I mean, there’s obviously a reason so many people retire here.

Birds-eye view of the Albanian riviera

Greece

Hear me now: in 2020, I am going to Greece. I’m not putting it off any longer.

From the history in Athens to the Cycladic homes of the Greek islands, Greece is on just about everyone’s must-visit list. It’s been on mine forever, and 2020 is the year!

If you’re going to Greece in 2020, I encourage you to check out at least one island that is lesser known. I plan to spend a few days on a less crowded island to really unwind.

Cycladic house in Oia, Greece, with pink flowers

Morocco

Morocco was another of the destinations from my study abroad wish list that I still have yet to visit. Here’s my recommended route: start in the captial, Marrakesh, explore the Sahara, travel Fes, Chefchaouen, and Tangiers in the north, and leave by the Strait of Gibraltar.

The sights, the sounds, the scents, the spices–I can taste it now! Can you?

Blue city of Chefchaouen, Morocco

Panamá

As a Spanish major in college, I read several accounts of Latin American authors about Central America. Central America is also the first region of the world I visited outside of the United States.

For those of you that are staying on a tight travel budget in 2020, Panamá is worth your time and money.

I recommend spending at least a day or two in Ciudad de Panamá, the capital, and checking out a free walking tour. Next, hit up the San Blas Islands for a view of Panamá’s Caribbean side. If you’re into nature, reserve a night or two at Kalu Yala, a sustainable community in the Panamanian rainforest.

Last but not least, why not check out the world-famous Panama Canal? There are tons of day trips available from Ciudad de Panamá for interested visitors!

San Blas Islands, Panamá

Nicaragua

Nicaragua has stunning landscapes to see, including volcanoes like the one pictured below. Set aside some time when traveling in Central America to see views like this one, and smaller towns with a relaxed feel.

Volcano in Nicaragua

Honduras

Isla Roatán is a huge tourism destination for a reason. I mean, look at this marine life! If you’re open water certified and love diving, Isla Roatán is the place to be. Even if you’re budget-conscious, diving is worth the splurge.

Aside from the obvious beauty of the sea, there are indigenous ruins in Honduras that are certainly worth visiting.

Marine life in Isla Roatán, Honduras

El Salvador

Remember what I said about Central American volcanoes? El Salvador’s are no exception. Picture yourself sitting with a view like this one, watching sunrise (or sunset–no judgement to those of us that aren’t morning people!) and the magnificence of a volcano high in the sky.

Volcano in El Salvador

Guatemala

Guatemala has so much to offer travelers. You can see Mayan ruins in Tikal, Atitlán Volcano, Antigua, and the beautiful town of Flores. I’d recommend slow, backpacker-style travel in this country. You don’t want to miss everything it has to see!

Volcano and small town in Guatemala

Belize

Crystal blue waters. Lazy beach towns. Rainforest oases. Rest and relaxation. I can see it now.

If you’re into diving, check out the Great Blue Hole. Other options for beach life are Caye Caulker and San Pedro. If you want to see some rainforest wildlife, there are tons of options inland to learn more about the plants and animals that inhabit the country!

Beach in Belize

México

When overlanding from Belize, you end up right in the Yucatán Peninsula, home to Chichén Itzá, Cancún, Playa del Cármen, Isla Mujeres, Cozumel, and Tulum.

This region of México has a wealth of indigenous history, gorgeous beaches, beautiful landscapes, and amazing food, to boot.

If you’re venturing west into the country, check out Oaxaca, Guadalajara, Pueblo, and Ciudad de México. For all the art lovers out there, the Frida Kahlo museum in the country’s capital should be on your list!

Chichán Itzá in Yucatán Peninsula, México

. . .

33 countries to visit, on 4 continents, with countless memories to make. I’ll make my way to each of these as life takes me.

Where will you go in 2020?

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4 Comments

  1. So many beautiful places around the world! So little time to visit them all!!!

    1. This is my exact dilemma in life!

  2. What an amazing list of places. I actually just visited Estonia and Latvia. Loved Riga. And I would suggest looking at Lux Express bus instead of train as a more direct route from Tallinn to Riga if that’s the route you’re going. It’s faster and no changes unlike the train

    1. Wow; thanks for the tip, and thanks for reading!

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