9 Ultimate List of Most Expensive Countries To Visit In The World

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The Oslo Operahuset (Opera House) one of Oslo‘s tourist attractions and home of the Norwegian Ballet. The building is situated at the head of the Oslo fjord.




There are places in the world that are budget-friendly for travelers, but then there are also the most expensive countries like Japan, Norway or Singapore that will definitely break your wallet. Throughout the years working as a seafarer, I had the opportunity to travel to 90 nations around the globe for free but there were times when we’re at pricey destinations. In those instances I really have to tighten my belt to get by during brief shore leaves.

Yes, it’s true that choosing the cheapest destination is a practical way to get the most out of your resources but on the other side, there’s also a stunning world out there where steep prices can’t be avoided. Just because a country is expensive doesn’t mean to say it’s not worth to go and explore, all it takes is good planning and research about the area, because its natural landscape, very efficient transportation system and highly-developed tourists sites are certainly worth the experience. Based on the places I’ve seen (except one), here is a list of some of the most expensive travel destinations around the world that will make you realize the value of your money.

Switzerland

My grand-niece Coleen and her husband at the waterfront of Lake Lugano in Lugano, Southern Switzerland near Italy‘s Lombardy region. Lugano is the ninth largest city and one of the most important financial centers of Switzerland.

I’ve not been to Switzerland yet but based on research, it ranks high on the most expensive countries to visit in the world. Everything is a budget destroyer so it is advised to stay away as far as you can from city centers to keep your savings from going down the drain. The captivating sights of the Swiss Alps, its enchanting lakes like Lake Lugano or Lake Zurich, its green fields, the small but subtle things such as its chocolates (Lindt), best cheeses (fondue), watches (Rolex et.al.)…are what makes Switzerland an interesting place to visit at least once-in-a-lifetime.

In a country where it is isolated by mountains and needs to import most of its food supply from places where these products grow naturally they cost more, combined with a high GDP plus amazing views, luxury resorts, high transportation costs and food. But Switzerland comes big on free hikes that you can go which is the best way this country has to offer with hardly any bucks to spend. Try couchsurfing (a service that lets travelers stay with the local residents in a certain place for free) as hotel accommodation can consume a huge chunk of your budget. Don’t drink as alcohol is very expensive here and to save money on food, buy your supply of bread, deli meats and fruits from the supermarket.

Zurich Old Town, a walkable area and a free thing to do in Zurich, Switzerland.




Norway

Beautiful Norway, a Filipino vlogger based in Norway stands under the Monolith at Vigeland’s Park, a budget-friendly attraction in Oslo.

Famous for its Viking heritage, the fjords, midnight sun, polar night, northern lights, stunning nature..Norway is one of the Scandinavian countries that has so much to offer but comes with a beefy price tag affixed to it. It is not inflation or high GDP that makes it one of world’s most expensive travel destinations but due to its high standard of living.

When you say high standard of living, people here have high taxes that come from their high salaries but free health care system and free education paid for by the taxes excluding the revenue from their jet fuel oil, thus tourists are affected by some services that are expensive. Norway is not a good choice if your aim is to shop or dine in restaurants, instead you have to leave Oslo and explore the countryside where the real attraction of this country lies. A hike along the fjords won’t cost you a penny, you can stay in tents or cabins at campsites as long as you clear up your rubbish and respect nature. Buy ready-to-eat foods at low-cost supermarkets like Rema1000, drink tap water it’s clean and safe in Norway instead of buying bottled drinks.

Hike Mount Flooyen for a magnificent view over the City of Bergen and its surrounding area, one of the free things to do in Norway.

Sweden

Admire the colorful buildings of historic Stortorget Square in Gamla Stan Old Town of Stockholm, Sweden.

Just like its next door neighbor of Norway, Sweden is costly due to its strong economy and a high standard of living, prices of goods and services including hotel accommodations and food are overpriced here. The home of pop music (ABBA, Ace of Base, etc), great designs (IKEA, Volvo, H&M) and so much more, this country is also known for its lush forests and scenic lakes. Whether you’re a culture buff or looking for an adventure, there is always something for everyone in Sweden.

It can rip a good gap in your pocket but if you know how to allocate your money, you can get by at a low-cost budget than you think in this Nordic country. To experience Sweden without spending a fortune, go there during the “shoulder season” (travel period between peak and off or low season, April-May and September-October) when prices are lower. Cities like Stockholm and Gothenburg are packed with historical and cultural attractions that you can explore by walking, most are free guided walking tours. Sample the classic Swedish meatballs with mashed potatoes at the “gatukok” or food kiosks instead at restaurants.

Gothenburg Botanical Garden in Gothenburg Sweden, one of Europe‘s largest gardens where you can explore for free.

Denmark

Statue of The Little Mermaid, iconic attraction at Copenhagen Harbor, a must-see spot and free to access in Denmark.

Both blissful and funky, Denmark is every travelers’ high list of places to explore but it’s also one of the most expensive travel destinations due to high cost of goods and services as well as high salaries and soaring taxes of its people. Here comes the question, can you explore Denmark on a budget? Yes, of course.

Denmark doesn’t have to be that expensive because most of its attractions are free to explore like the Little Mermaid at the harbor then take a walk along colorful Nyhavn area, another iconic spot in Copenhagen. Stay in hostels, they are the best value accommodation. Do as the locals do – bike, and as much as possible avoid restaurants, go for Copenhagen street foods instead.

Finland

Aleksanterinkatu or Alexander Street, main street that runs through famous buildings such as Helsinki Cathedral and other important structures in Helsinki, Finland.




Home of the happiest people in the world and with the cleanest air, best known for its saunas, reindeer, Nokia, Santa Claus Village, aurora borealis, thousand lakes, awesome natural landscape – Finland is an incredible wonderland. But unless you’re from Norway or Sweden, this country is “costing an arm and a leg” as most travelers say. There are some ways however that you can explore it without tearing up your wallet.

Travel with a group during the shoulder season if you want to explore Finland, this could save your finances and stay at dorm beds or maybe go for wild camping, the Finnish way of jokamiehen (right to roam). Take the omnibus which is the most cheapest and practical way to go around and if you want to travel further from Helsinki rent a bicycle while enjoying the scenery along the cycle routes. Most galleries and museums offer free entry for tourists on certain days a week while supermarkets are the best places where you can find affordable foods to eat while you’re in Finland.

France

Half-timbered houses in the old town area of Rouen, France.

A top-rated tourist destination particularly in Paris and the South of France, this country covers medieval cities, alpine villages, Mediterranean beaches, Eiffel Tower, wine and refined cuisine. It is everything that people would love to see but then going to France can be expensive and travelers on a budget may find it hard to experience all that it has to offer.

Well, there are cheaper ways to explore France, go there during the off-season to save money. No need for you the eat at a Michelin Star (with culinary excellence) restaurant but get quality foods at delis and supermarkets. Some beautiful gardens and museums are free or join a free walking tour in major cities like Paris, Marseille or Lyon.

The Maldives

One of the attractions in Maldives is the bioluminescent beach on Vaadho Island, a paradise in Raa Atoll, well known for its glow-in-the-dark waves.

A unique destination – perfect white powdery sands, crystal blue waters, romantic over-water huts- this group of islands in South Asia is indeed a traveler’s dream. But visiting The Maldives doesn’t come at a cut-rate, it is so remote and getting there definitely costs a huge chunk of cash. And because it is an archipelago, almost everything is imported and the government add taxes. But there are possible ways to explore this paradise-island cheaper.

When you’re in The Maldives, stay in a guesthouse rather than resorts and during the southwest monsoon from May to October, prices are cheaper so it is the best time to go. Choose an island where it’s frequented by backpackers like Maafushi or Male, stay at one island only and if you’re tempted to do an island-hopping, take the public ferry. Avoid high taxes on alcohol and try the local food at markets outside your guesthouse.

Japan

Sakura flowers at Nagoya Castle in Nagoya. Viewing the cherry blossoms during the hanami season is one of the free things to do in Japan.

Exploring Japan will bring you to its stunning sights and its friendly people but it is costly than you expect. From hotel accommodation and Shinkansen (bullet train) rail pass to day tours and food prices, your budget will cost you more than what you had planned. It is one of the most highly developed countries in Asia that is why it’s not a budget-friendly place to visit. However, this fact doesn’t need to stop you from exploring Japan because there are ways to save a few cash and stay within your means.

All it takes is careful planning of your budget such as hotel accommodation where you will pay a lot during the sakura season, it’s better to stay in a minshuko (guesthouse) which will cost you less and at the same time experience a homey vibe. Walking is still the best way to explore Japan’s cities, its picturesque shrines and temples are free to visit. Take the local trains for lesser fares and a bento is an inexpensive option to a meal rather than at a restaurant.

Singapore

Sheree Lyn from the Philippines, (a friend of my wife)overlooking at Changi Airport‘s Shisheido Forest Valley, a national attraction itself in Singapore.

A flourishing financial center famous for its superlative airport, safety, amazing modern architecture and conservatism, the city-state of Singapore offers unending excitement to its visitors. From Marina Sands and Gardens By The Bay to Sentosa Island and Universal Studios there really are numerous reasons to explore this highly-spirited nation. The mix of locals and expatriates create a lively integration of cultures, food and adventures but one thing’s for sure, Singapore ranks as one of the most expensive countries to visit in the world.

Exploring this island-nation will surely tear every traveler’s wallet but there are some tips of how to travel Singapore on a budget. Book at hostels where they are concentrated in Chinatown or at Little India. While this country is notoriously famous as a pricey destination, food is cheap especially at street stalls and food halls. Purchase at flea and farmers’ markets, by doing so, your cash will go a long way while you shop till you drop.

Any trip that you will venture out from this list of most expensive countries will really knock your budget out. However, with a thorough planning as well as frugal saving, they’re not too bad. Not all places are equal and there are destinations that come a bit pricey. Don’t let the possible high cost of traveling to these places scare you, for you can still visit them on a budget.

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