Corn Islands
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Countries where the dollar goes a long way

Corn Islands
Nicaragua

Though tourism is increasing in Nicaragua, it doesn’t attract as many tourists as its more popular neighbors in Central America, such as Costa Rica. The civil war ended nearly two decades ago, and “Nicaragua has become a safer destination than it was 10 years ago,” says Alicia Zablocki, director of Latin American programs at Mountain Travel Sobek.

Travelers will find the country peaceful and affordable. You can get a meal of tamales or empanadas from street vendors for a buck or two, though higher-end and more expensive international fare is available in larger cities. Budget lodging goes for about $5 a night on the low end, but expect to pay more if you want features such as a private bathroom. Luxury hotels in major cities charge a fraction of the price in more popular Central American destinations.

Nicaragua’s natural features are its chief assets. Large tracts of rain forest and accessible volcanoes make for breathtaking wilderness excursions. (Beatrice de Gea / Los Angeles Times)
Vietnam
Vietnam

Access to many of Vietnam’s most alluring locales, such as its pristine beaches and Halong Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is free.

Though Vietnam remains a poor country, it is fairly safe and its people are friendly. Taxi drivers and shopkeepers may overcharge you, but those are the chief nuisances you’ll encounter. (Rosemary McClure / Los Angeles Times)
Cambodia
Cambodia

After decades of unrest, stability gradually has returned to Cambodia after democratic elections in 1993. Though still a poor country, it is largely peaceful like its Southeast Asian neighbor, Vietnam. Underdeveloped Cambodia -- 66% of its land is forests and woodland -- attracts adventurers. The prices are similar to those you’ll find in Vietnam, even a little cheaper.

Modest meals cost about $2 to $3. Fancier meals are about $10. Expect to pay around $10 a night for a decent room, though cheaper accommodations are available. Upscale hotels cost about $50 a night. (Riels are the official currency of Cambodia, but dollars are readily accepted, so you won’t have to worry about doing long division in your head.)

Its intricate temples are awe-inspiring. The most famous are the Angkor ruins, the pinnacle of Khmer architecture. (William W. Morse)
Albania
Albania

Albania, in southeast Europe, is one of the Continent’s poorest countries. Isolated and communist into the 1990s, Albania is on its way to becoming a free market economy. The State Department classifies Albania as a “high” crime country, but it notes that crime against foreigners is “rare as it is viewed as too risky.” Albanians generally have a favorable view of Americans, so there’s no need to wear your “I Love New York” shirts inside out.

Albania is not yet a member of the European Union, and its currency, the lek, is low against the dollar. You can find meals for less than $5, fancier fare for less than $20. Stay in dormitory-style hostels for about $20 a night.

Ruled by empires including the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman, Albania is rich in archaeological sites. Ruins from each of the civilizations can still be found in cities across the country, particularly in Apollonia, an important settlement of the Greeks. Berat, a well-preserved ancient city, boasts a medieval fortress and beautiful churches. (Wikipedia.org)
Morocco
Morocco

Bordering the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea in northern Africa, Morocco has an eclectic identity that has been shaped by its location and long history. This Arab nation has many European influences because it’s so close to the Continent. Arabic is the official language, but French is spoken widely. Though it’s a developing nation, Morocco has easily accessible transportation and a range of lodging and eating options to fit many budgets. With a dollar worth almost 8 Moroccan dirhams, you can easily buy meals for less than $5. Many cafes offer breakfast for about a buck.

While in Morocco, visit one of the omnipresent markets or bazaars that often serve as hubs for everyday life. Morocco’s rugged yet scenic landscape has made it an increasingly popular destination for adventurer travelers. You can hike the High Atlas Mountains or tour the starkly beautiful dunes at the start of the Sahara. (Abdelhak Senna / AFP / Getty Images)
Bolivia
Bolivia

Landlocked with many areas at high altitudes, Bolivia is often called the Tibet of the Americas, and like its counterpart in Asia, it’s one of the poorest countries in South America. But Bolivia is relatively peaceful and offers basic facilities for travelers, such as lodging and transportation.

Largely undiscovered by tourists outside of South America, Bolivia is a feast for the adventurous spirit as well as a respite for the embattled wallet. In the last 10 years, the dollar has increased in value almost 45% against the boliviano. (EPA / STR)
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