4 Great Destinations for First-Time Backpackers

Ayutthaya Thailand Tourist Spots

Backpacking is something a lot of people hope to do when they leave school or college, or even at a later stage in their life. It gives you the opportunity to see as much of the world as you wish to on a budget. You will meet people from all walks of life and learn about different cultures and cuisines along the way. Some of the places you end up in will truly be breath-taking, and the memories will last you a lifetime. However, knowing where to start your journey can be a hard task. If you have never traveled before, here is a short guide to the best destinations for first-time backpackers.

Cheap and Free Things To Do in Sydney Australia


Australia is hugely popular with backpackers from all across the globe, and for good reason. If you are just starting out, Australia may seem a long way to go, but the fact that there will be no language barrier can make it that much easier for you to settle in and move on to other countries later on. The only difficult part about traveling to Australia is knowing where to start. The country is so vast, and each state is unique in its own way. Your best bet would be to narrow it down to either the East Coast or the West Coast, with the east catering to those looking for vibrant cities and sandy surfer towns and the west home to astonishing landscapes.

If budget is a concern you should head for a state such as Perth in Western Australia. This is much cheaper to live than somewhere like Sydney, for example. There are a lot of opportunities in Perth to earn some money to help you travel, although you should be aware that if you want to work in Australia while you are moving around, the visa you need has an age limit of 35. Remember too that there are many foreigners that have emigrated to Australia so do not be surprised to meet people from the same area you originate from.

More than 620,000 backpackers chose Australia as a destination in 2018 with New South Wales and Queensland being the most popular places to head, but all states were visited throughout the year.


New Zealand

If you do choose Australia as your first destination, be sure to make a stop in New Zealand while you are there. Just a short flight away, New Zealand offers something completely different to the Australian Outback, however, it is just as mind-blowing. Made famous by the movie ‘Lord of the Rings’, New Zealand has gorgeous landscapes to explore, with mountains to climb and dramatic waves to surf. Like Australia, there are plenty of hostels to choose from, so all you will need is your backpack and a flight ticket!

In New Zealand, you will find no shortage of stunning scenery and outdoor activities, but at the same time, you will come across cultured cities such as Auckland and Wellington. It is said that nowhere else in the world can match the contrasts of scenery and landscapes you will see and adding New Zealand to your backpacking itinerary is definitely worthwhile.

Ayutthaya Thailand Day Tours from Bangkok


Thailand is another popular destination for first-time backpackers and is the perfect place to begin your travels. Again, people from all over the world visit Thailand as part of their gap year or their global trip, so you will never feel alone. One of the biggest things that draw people to Thailand is the low cost of living, and you can probably get by with as little as $10-20 per day. Hostels are cheap and easy to come by, so drop off your bag and start discovering the stunning beaches, huge jungles, impressive temples, and delicious cuisine.

The people of Thailand are said to be some of the friendliest in the world and you will soon find out this is true as they welcome all visitors with open arms. Head for the areas that are not full of tourist attractions to find the best prices for accommodation and food. Street food vendors are highly regulated as far as hygiene is concerned, which means you can safely eat their very cheap food, which is often as much as you want for around $2.

One of the simplest ways to get around is on a motor scooter, which is not expensive to hire. Then you can head into the countryside and see what Thai culture is like first-hand. Thailand has such a diversity of things to see and do that many people find visiting once is not enough. That is the beauty of backpacking in Thailand rather than taking a vacation there. You will have the time to see and do much more than the average holidaymaker, perhaps including a stay in a Buddhist meditation retreat as part of your travels.

Island Hopping Tours in El Nido, Palawan

The Philippines

The Philippines is comprised of over 7,000 islands, of which only about 2,000 are inhabited and 5,000 of them have not been named, but they certainly give you plenty to explore. The tropical island oasis provides you with forests, white sandy beaches, and crystal-clear oceans for diving in. Known as one of the world’s most adrenaline-charged destinations, you are sure to never forget your time here. Of course, if you are going to trek the tropical forests, you will need a pair of reliable hiking boots and plenty of supplies to keep you energized. Spend what you can on quality equipment before you leave because you won’t need much to live on once there. Hostels can be as cheap as $10 a night, and 5-star hotels can be as little as $80! Great for treating yourself after a long week of exploring.

Backpacking in any part of Asia will make even the most hard-up of people feel like millionaires, and the Philippines is no exception to this. Cheap food, cheap accommodation, cheap drinks, and beautiful beaches will make you feel like you have spent a fortune to reach paradise.

The Philippines are perfect for water sports of all kinds. If you want to try scuba diving, snorkeling, surfing or just swimming in waters so clear you can see the coral and sea life around you, you will not be disappointed when you visit here. Add this to the sandy beaches, tranquil waterfalls, and amazing caves you can explore, and the Philippines make the ideal location for backpackers of all tastes. Head to Sagada for the party capital of the country if you want to dance the night away.

Most backers in the Philippines will visit Manilla at some point, and this is a stark contrast to the peace and quiet of most other places. It is a bustling city with shopping malls, trendy bars, and fancy restaurants. There is plenty to do in Manila, and although it will also cost you more than being on one of the islands or on the coast, most people spend a few days there at least.

Backpacking is a once in a lifetime experience, and one you should definitely find the time for. You don’t even have to make it a round the world trip; just simply pick one destination to get started. But who knows, you may just catch the travel bug!

This is a contribution from one of our contributing writers.


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