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Old Jun 27, 09, 12:39 am   #1
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Cheapest country in the world?

After reading the previous thread I was wondering what would be the cheapest country in the world to travel and visit? India, Cambodia, Indonesia...or somewhere in Africa would be even cheaper?
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Old Jun 27, 09, 3:13 am   #2
  
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http://www.economist.com/markets/ind...ry_id=13055650

According to the Big mac Index, it would be Malaysia. When you think of it, Malaysia has Air Asia and cheap Hiltons.
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Old Jun 27, 09, 4:27 am   #3
  
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According to that, Britain is cheaper than the United States, which is complete tosh for pretty much everything other than a Big Mac.
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Old Jun 27, 09, 4:55 am   #4
  
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If you don't gamble, LV is the cheapest place on Earth.
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Old Jun 27, 09, 5:19 am   #5
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The Big Mac Index is an interesting comparison tool...if used for the right comparisons. In this case, I don't think it is, since the price of a Big Mac in any given country doesn't always correspond to the actual cost of goods and services in that country.

In other words, a Big Mac in the U.S. costs about the same as a gallon of milk, 3 20-oz bottles of soda, maybe 1/2 of what a decent burger at a hamburger stand goes for or 15-20% of what a decent full meal at a regular restaurant goes for, 10% of a cheap motel in a small town in flyover country, 1-2% of a mid-range business hotel on a weekday, and 1/2 to 1/3 of what a haircut costs. A Big Mac in Thailand may sell for half of what one costs in the U.S., but it's incredibly expensive for food in Thailand: you can also get a filling meal from a street vendor for 40% of the cost of a Big Mac, and a Big Mac is maybe 20-30% of the cost to stay in a decent guest house (private room with twin beds and ensuite shower and toilet). That is, in the U.S., 10 Big Macs pays for a stay at the Galaxy Motel in Brigham City, UT, whereas a stay at the Rendezvous Guest House in Chiang Mai, Thailand, costs the same as 6 Big Macs, meaning that the Big Mac is a third more expensive relative to the cost of a night's stay in Thailand than it is in the U.S.

To simplify that a bit (sorry if I may not have been all that clear--I'm kinda tired and should be sleeping): a Big Mac is more of a "splurge" in Thailand relative to the cost of local goods and services than it is in the U.S. Factor in the average wage of a Thai, and the cost of a Big Mac is really the equivalent of a mid-range steakhouse (say, Lone Star or Outback) to an American (or maybe worse)--whereas a Big Mac represents about half of the current U.S. minimum wage, it probably represents several hours of work to a Thai person. The Economist's Big Mac Index really doesn't allow you to see that side of the equation.

FWIW, I found Chiang Mai, Thailand, and Hanoi, Vietnam to be far cheaper than anything in Malaysia. Then again, I didn't get a chance to spend time in Malaysia outside of KL and Langkawi, which aren't exactly cheap places.

A brief analysis and list of criticisms (and uses) of the Big Mac Index is available in the Wikipedia article on the subject:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Mac_Index
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Old Jun 27, 09, 6:12 am   #6
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Originally Posted by ramfunes View Post
...or somewhere in Africa would be even cheaper?
Haiti would most likely be the cheapest place to visit in the Americas, and many countries in Africa would be even cheaper than that.

The question would be, is this a country you would want to visit, and would you be safe there.

Or did you mean a country you would actually WANT to visit

Haiti is supposed to be very lovely, but of course somewhat volatile.

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Old Jun 27, 09, 8:16 am   #7
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Originally Posted by ramfunes View Post
After reading the previous thread I was wondering what would be the cheapest country in the world to travel and visit? India, Cambodia, Indonesia...or somewhere in Africa would be even cheaper?
Which "previous thread" are you talking about? "The previous thread" can change a few times a minute. Big Mac index is useful only for those who eat Big Mac. If you are going to eat Big MAc, why travel to other countries? As has been pointed out, there are cheaper and better meals to be had in many places besides Big Mac.
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Old Jun 27, 09, 2:36 pm   #8
  
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Originally Posted by davistev View Post
http://www.economist.com/markets/ind...ry_id=13055650

According to the Big mac Index, it would be Malaysia. When you think of it, Malaysia has Air Asia and cheap Hiltons.
While Malaysia is fairly inexpensive compared to N. America and W. Europe, I have certainly been to places that were far cheaper. Granted, I did get a suite in the Le Meridien in KK for $85USD per night, and we stayed in a little motel near Mt. Kinabalu for $20 inclusing brekkie.

In my recent travels, I found Uruguay to be very inexpensive, and Argentina (Outside of BA, which is still fairly cheap for such a great city...) wasn't too far behind. A big fat steak and a bottle of good Malbec for $15 suits my tastes just fine.
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Old Jun 27, 09, 2:50 pm   #9
  
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Actually most of Africa is pretty expensive-wise.. west Africa is on the CFA which is tied to the Euro. However Ethiopia was very cheap. Two of us ate meals including water/beer and the most expensive came to $13 for two.

The cheapest places I have been are Central America (Honduras, Nicaragua) and the Caucasus countries.
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Old Jun 27, 09, 3:18 pm   #10
  
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I think you guys are missing the point of the Economist article. What I learned in economics was PPP (purchasing price parity) which held that something which did not spoil and was cheaply transportable (i.e. diamonds, gold) should cost the same everywhere. This is 100% true, and an ounce of gold bullion costs the same everywhere on earth. A hamburger doesn't really fit, but should roughly cost the same everywhere and it does. The Economist article looks to show that PPP doesn't really hold for hamburgers, which we already know. It has nothing to do with cost of living in an area as most locals do not eat Big Macs.

Now things like hotel rooms are not transportable. Nor is labor. While climbing Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, we had porters carry our heavy gear up the mountain for $5 a day. Try getting someone to do that in California.

If one is truly interested in cheap countries, look at cost of lodging and local food. I would guess sub-Saharan Africa and Central America are pretty cheap - if you want to live like a local! One can get a hotel room in DAR for 24,000 TSH or about $20 US.
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Old Jun 27, 09, 3:59 pm   #11
  
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I think Laos and Indonesia are the cheapest places I've travelled, and well worth every dime.
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Old Jun 27, 09, 4:55 pm   #12
  
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Many countries are inexpensive for locals, but as soon as they see a tourist, the prices skyrocket. Sometimes I really wonder what's going on in their heads, do they really think just because I'm from abroad I'm going to pay for car rental more than in JFK?

Of course I can play the haggling game and get the price closer to real levels but that's too tiring and just not worth my time. If they want me to spend the same as in US or Europe, then I'll better go to US or Europe, thankyouverymuch. I don't know how many tourists they lose due to these practices (sleazy people dominating honest ones), but I've certainly ruled out most of Asia for future leisure travel. I've had even high-end hotels there (Westin, Marriott) trying to subtly scam me.

To summarize, look for the countries where the prices are low AND they are easily available for foreigners, too.
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Old Jun 27, 09, 10:50 pm   #13
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Originally Posted by Yaatri View Post
Which "previous thread" are you talking about? "The previous thread" can change a few times a minute. Big Mac index is useful only for those who eat Big Mac. If you are going to eat Big MAc, why travel to other countries? As has been pointed out, there are cheaper and better meals to be had in many places besides Big Mac.
Sorry Yaatri. When I said the previous thread I was talking about the one that gooseman13 started: "Any recomendations for a cheap travel spot?"
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Old Jun 28, 09, 1:13 am   #14
  
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I don't know how many tourists they lose due to these practices (sleazy people dominating honest ones), but I've certainly ruled out most of Asia for future leisure travel.
Whilst I share your frustration at being seen as a walking ATM, don't you think that's quite an overreaction? Make an effort to get off the beaten tourist path and the problem diminishes remarkably. "Most of Asia" easily fits in this category.
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Old Jun 28, 09, 8:14 pm   #15
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It's hard to say because there are places like Nepal or Vietnam (circa 10 years ago) or Laos where what you can buy is very limited at any price. Would imagine that parts of Africa also fall into this category. You can't do a Big Mac index because McD's still doesn't operate in most of those places.

Generally you need a range of choices at the level of an Indonesia or the Philippines before it starts getting interesting. The Philippines is one of very few places where McDonald's is NOT #1 in burgers, so they're in a bruising price war with Jollibee.

The time to have been traveling around was in late 1997 and early 1998, in the wake of the global currency crash. In a very short time the dollar doubled in purchasing power against the baht and tripled against the rupiah. There was a short period where everything at the high end was cheap, if you had dollars. Even airline tickets (if originating in those countries). A combination of currency appreciation and inflation has eroded away most of those gains by now.
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