There are more affordable luxury vacation destinations around the world than you might realise, and they range from dynamic capital cities to countries steeped in ancient history.
Whether you want to find affordable luxury hotels in London, pamper yourself with a spa getaway or stay in a private villa with its own amazing swimming pool, these destinations offer the opportunity to experience five-star luxury without the five-star price tag thanks to favourable exchange rates.
Savvy travelers will want to put these budget-friendly destinations at the top of their bucket list so they can get the best holiday deals and explore affordably in 2022.
THE BEST AFFORDABLE LUXURY VACATION DESTINATIONS TO BOOK IN 2022
1. CHIANG MAI, THAILAND
Average cost of a hotel room per night: $22/£17 Average cost of a three-course meal: $9/£7 Affordable luxury extra: A one-hour Thai massage goes for as little as $5.50/£4
As the seat of the mighty Lanna Kingdom until 1558, Chiang Mai’s historic core remains protected by parts of its ancient city wall and moats. Elsewhere in this northern Thai city, Chiang Mai’s Buddhist influences are apparent, as it’s home to hundreds of ornate Buddhist temples. Visit Wat Phra Singh, which dates back to the 14th century. Its distinct winged roofs and intricate wood carvings are a classic example of Lanna-style architecture. See Wat Doi Suthep, a temple that’s believed to house a piece of bone from Lord Buddha’s shoulder.
Chiang Mai is surrounded by pristine rainforests, gentle waterfalls, and photogenic rice fields, and is a sought-after destination for its old-world charm and blissfully calm vibes.
2. BALI, INDONESIA
Average cost of a hotel room per night: $36/£27 Average cost of a three-course meal: $15/£11 Affordable luxury extra: Book a yoga retreat for as little as $15/£11 per day
With stunning natural beauty and a landscape composed of volcanic peaks, emerald rice terraces, and dotted with tumbling waterfalls, the most popular activities in Bali take advantage of the island’s natural features.
Though it may seem like Bali has been overrun by tourists and digital nomads in recent years, the island remains surprisingly affordable when looking for luxury accommodation.
Head to the beachside city of Kuta for its energetic bars, the honeymoon destination of Seminyak for surfing opportunities, or uncover the Banyu Wana Amertha Waterfall after a short hike through a banana plantation on Northern Bali. Finally, make time for the art galleries and markets of Ubud, as the town remains strongly deep-rooted in its identity as Bali’s spiritual and cultural center.
3. SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA
Average cost of a hotel room per night: $40/£30 Average cost of a three-course meal: $10/£7 Affordable luxury extra: A three-hour cooking class starts at $24/£18
This resort town in northwestern Cambodia serves as the gateway to the grounds of Angkor Wat, which is believed to be the world’s largest religious monument. Built in the 12th century, the temple complex is emblazoned on the Cambodian flag as its national symbol. Strewn across 500 acres of land, explore the stone ruins on tuk-tuk or by bicycle, or uncover the mysteries of Angkor Wat on a guided tour.
If you’re feeling templed out, learn to make amok, a coconut milk curry, by participating in a cooking class, or learn about the devastating impact landmines has had on the people of the country at the Cambodia Landmine Museum.
Average cost of a hotel room per night: $35/£26 Average cost of a three-course meal: $6/£4.50 Affordable luxury extra: A traditional Turkish bath package, which includes body scrubbing, washing, and a massage costs around $45/£34
Stretching across the Bosphorus Strait, the ancient Byzantine ruins, soaring minarets, and the buzzing bazaars of Istanbul straddles two continents.
Many of Istanbul’s most popular sites are in the Sultanahmet District and the Hagia Sophia Mosque, the Blue Mosque, Topkapı Palace, and Grand Bazaar top every first timer’s list for an introduction to the city’s illustrious history.
Make time to shop the covered stalls of the Grand Bazaar, which takes up an entire city quarter. As one of the largest covered markets in the world, over 4,000 shops span a total area of 30,700 m², and you can haggle for colourful woven carpets, mosaic glass table lamps, and hand-painted ceramic ware.
If you want an affordable luxury vacation at an even better price, Turkey is still mildly hot in November but as it’s the end of the tourism season over there, you’ll get the best prices on hotels.
5. LIMA, PERU
Average cost of a hotel room per night: $50/£38 Average cost of a three-course meal: $11/£8 Affordable luxury extra: A 10-minute paragliding excursion from Miraflores is $65/£49
Not only is Lima a sprawling metropolis and the sophisticated capital of Peru, but the city’s also recognized as one of the world’s top culinary destinations. Its thriving gastronomic scene sees influences from African, European, and Arabic communities. And its Chifa cuisine tastefully blends Peruvian and Chinese flavours for delectable soups, fried rice, and stir-fries.
Base yourself in the upscale district of Miraflores, a neighbourhood south of downtown Lima comprised of restaurants, department stores, and lively nightclubs. Stroll (or jog, or bicycle) along El Malecón, Lima’s scenic cliff-top walkway dotted with parks, sculptures, and cozy cafes with pretty views over the Pacific Ocean.
Poland’s second-largest city is also a student city. Krakow boasts a lively atmosphere, and afternoons of exploring the towering Wawel Castle or picnicking on the city’s green spaces like Planty Park can easily transform into nights out at the boisterous bars.
Krakow’s well-preserved medieval core draws many to the city. Market Square is the lifeblood of Krakow’s Old Town, where you can sip on coffees at sun-shaded cafes, explore landmarks like Town Hall Tower and St. Mary’s Basilica, then in the evenings, frequent the bars hidden in the cellars of Medieval buildings.
Architecture buffs will be impressed by the city’s display of Baroque, Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, and art nouveau-influenced structures, which record over a thousand years of Krakow’s history.
Average cost of a hotel room per night: $25/£19 Average cost of a three-course meal: $11/£8 Affordable luxury extra: A traditional 75-minute spa experience at five star Palais Amani costs $78/£59
Founded in 789 A.D by Idriss I, Fez is one of Morocco’s oldest cities. Situated in the country’s northeast, it’s often recognised as Morocco’s cultural capital.
Spoil yourself with a stay in a riad, a lavish home with a courtyard garden that was originally built for society’s most wealthy individuals. Many of the riads have now been restored and converted into boutique hotel accommodations. Some come equipped with Instagram-worthy pools and a wealth of wellness facilities, making them the ultimate luxury stay.
Fez is best known for its buzzing souks selling pottery and leather goods, mosques, and artisan shops which can be found in the media, a crowded warren of 9000 narrow alleyways.
Vivian is a Vancouver-based freelance writer who has worked for Culture Trip and Fodor’s Travel as well as Woman&Home. She covers a wide range of topics, ranging from travel and outdoor adventure, to food and mental health and wellness. She’s a curious wanderer with a thirst for adventure, and when she’s not writing, can likely be found lazing by a lake, hiking the forested trails of beautiful British Columbia, or on a mission for the next best donut.
One part baked goods connoisseur, two parts all-around food snob, and too many parts spontaneous traveler with a penchant for booking one-way flights, she’s perpetually scheming her next getaway. See her work at byvivianchung.com or follow her on Instagram @byvivianchung.