Travel deals: A guide to world’s cheapest and most expensive cities

Hanoi is a cool city to visit, and very reasonably priced.

Hanoi is a cool city to visit, and very reasonably priced.

Looking for a travel deal this summer? Look south. And way, way east. But not to the west coast of the U.S.

A useful study from the folks at Trip Advisor finds that a three-day visit for two people to any of several great cities in the U.S. south is your best financial bet. If you’re looking overseas, you’re better off to consider the Far East. If you’ve got money to burn, on the other hand, try Seattle, Cancun or Zurich.

The Trip Advisor study looked at the price of a four-star hotel (personally I’d study 3-star hotels if I was doing this study as they’re more typical for most travellers) plus taxis, food and entertainment. Their “Trip Index” study looked at 59 cities around the world.

The winner on the U.S. side of the ledger was Dallas, where a trip would cost $1,171 (all figures U.S. dollars). Next, possibly because of the summer heat, was New Orleans at $1,248 and then Miami (also perhaps a heat issue) at $1,262.

The Dallas Art Museum.

The Dallas Art Museum.

I was at a Dallas tourism event the other day and came away impressed with the museums and arts scene. I’m sure the food is good in a city that size with that kind of corporate wealth, but I didn’t realize the cultural side of the ledger was that strong. Yeah, it’s warm this time of year. But there’s no shortage of air conditioning and I’ve personally enjoyed some of the water parks in the area; a great place to cool off.

On the other side of the coin, as it were, the study found that same three-day trip to Seattle would set you back a whopping $2,080. Which means it’s almost twice as expensive as Dallas. Next in line was Honolulu, no surprise, at $2,046 and then Boston at $1,931.

On the world side of things, I was surprised to see Cancun at the top of the most expensive list. The Trip Advisor folks said a three-day visit to the Riviera Maya would cost a very solid $2,019. Next on the international (non U.S.) charts was Zurich at $1,946.

Toronto came in 8th on the most expensive international destination list at $1,545 (again, that’s USD). The Trip Advisor folks figured a lunch for two would cost $30.79 US, while dinner was set at $94.70. A two-mile round-trip taxi ride was $23.99, while a tour or activity in Toronto was priced at $82.32. A four-star hotel was listed at $283.17 per night.
(I find that hotel figure misleading. I went on Expedia this morning and found a room at the Omni King Edward Hotel, a great downtown property, for just $162.15 USD per night in July.)

Still, it’s an interesting study that also shows what I’ve told people for years, which is that Asia is a great bet if you want to save money. The Trip Advisor study found that four of the 10 most affordable cities worldwide are in Southeast Asia: #1 Hanoi ($732) #4 Bangkok ($822), #7 Kuala Lumpur ($914) and Manila ($925). Europe lovers take note: Warsaw rolled in at number two on the list: just $739 for the three-day visit.

Trip Advisor also found that Southeast Asia destinations are 28%, or approximately $320 US, less than expensive than Dallas, the most affordable U.S. city in the study.

Thailand is a cheap and wonderful destination in Asia.

Thailand is a cheap and wonderful destination in Asia.

I loved Hanoi when I visited a few years ago and also had a great time in Bangkok. It’s more expensive to fly there than it is to Europe, and it takes longer for most North Americans. But a three-night stay in Bangkok is more than $1,200 a night less than Seattle or Cancun. Stretch that out over six nights and you’ve more than made up for the extra air fare.

Like I said, a very good – and very useful – study.

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