People still get squeamish about Colombia because of its checkered past, but this city is seriously beautiful and has so much to offer. We rented a gorgeous three-story private apartment on Airbnb for $40/night, took taxis across the city for $.75, rode the metro for $.50 and ate meals out for less than $4/person.
Railay Beach, Thailand
If you're into rock climbing and stunning beaches, this is the place for you. We found accommodations for $20/night in a private hostel room in Ao Nang (a 10 minute long-tail boat ride from Railay Beach) and regularly had meals for $4/person. A full day of climbing right off the beach plus repelling out of a cave set us back just $50/person, and it included lunch.
Everyone traveling to Peru is heading to Cuzco to see Machu Picchu, and lots of people warned us not to spend much time in Lima. They said it was big and dirty and we should just treat it like an entry point to Peru. Wrong. We stayed in Miraflores in a private hostel room that included breakfast for $28/night, ate fresh ceviche for less than $10/person, took taxis to other neighborhoods for $4/ride and went to a surf camp which included accommodation, instruction and all food for $70/day.
Phong Nha, Vietnam
This part of rural Vietnam has only entered the tourist scene in the last few years after Son Doong, the largest cave in the world, was discovered hidden in the hills just outside of town. Now cave trekkers, hikers and motorcycle enthusiasts from all over the world want to visit. This was one of our cheapest destinations all year. We splurged on a comfortable hotel that included a full breakfast for $35/night, ate meals out for $2/person and rented motorbikes for $7/day.
Stellenbosch, South Africa
If you like wine, this is the spot for you. Located about an hour outside of Cape Town, Stellenbosch feels like Napa Valley at a fraction of the price. The views of local vineyards and mountains are stunning, and you can get a fantastic bottle of South African wine at a restaurant for $8-$10.
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Everyone traveling to Cambodia has Siem Reap on their list because it's the entrance to Angkor Wat, but we ended up loving Phnom Penh. A bigger city and not without its challenges (just crossing the street is pretty harrowing with the number of motorbikes, tuk tuks and cars), Phnom Penh is also home to some interesting museums, important historical sites (like the Killing Fields and S-21 Prison) and fantastic street food. We stayed in a private hostel room for $29/night, visited historical sites for $12/person and ate meals out for $6/person.
This little mountain town has a quiet, relaxed feel and a lot to offer. We stayed in Cuenca for a full month renting a private apartment with a kitchen for just $13/night and eating meals out for $4-$6/person. We also took private Spanish classes, which really helped us improve and gave us a better understanding of Ecuador's culture. Those cost us about $15/hour but also included access to cultural events and parties with fellow students and teachers. Cuenca is also close to Parque Cajas, where we enjoyed one of our favorite hikes of our trip.