15 Destinations For First-Time Backpackers

15 Destinations For First-Time Backpackers

Going off the typical traveling road for the first time isn’t easy—when you choose travel destinations, there’s a tendency to factor in cozy, more highly-priced hotels, very rigid itineraries and traveling with a tour group. Backpacking can be rewarding in its own way by allowing you more freedom to go see the local sights on a much lower budget. Here are some popular places that every first-timer should consider visiting!


  • Thailand

    Known for its great food, rich culture and for being a well-traveled place, Thailand is pretty safe and has plenty of hostels for affordable backpacking. Party on the beaches or visit a Buddhist temple while you’re there.

  • Greece

    It’s become more affordable to backpack here because of the economic situation. Greece is especially student-friendly, so if you’re young and ready to absorb some culture, enjoy the tzatziki and go island-hopping!

  • Peru

    Arguably the most popular country for backpackers in South America, visit the ruins of Macchu Picchu or trek the Inca Trail, enjoy the cheap and delicious—and spicy!—cuisine, and even extend your trip from there to Bolivia.

  • Mexico

    It’s actually pretty safe to backpack here—so go to the heavenly beaches of the Yucatan region, eat some authentic quesadillas, and ask any local for what’s great to visit, as there are plenty of English speakers in this country.

  • Australia

    The backpacking crowd here is a bit young, but there are plenty of hostels and great things to do, from outback trekking, to seeing Ayers Rock, to surfing and hitting the beach. Many Australians have gone traveling as well, so they tend to be very helpful and friendly to first-timers. The party scene is also worth looking into.

  • Malaysia

    The art, nature, and the world-famous Penang night market are all worth a visit for first-time backpackers. Some travelers combine this trip with a trip to Thailand—it’s easily accessed thanks to a strongly-linked boat and bus system between the two countries.

  • Vietnam

    There’s a strong buddy system amongst backpackers who go to Vietnam, and hostels aplenty for those worried about where to stay. The fresh and delicious street food, Ha Long Bay’s limestone karsts, the rice paddies, and seeing the beautiful mélange of its French colonial days with the crazy hustle and bustle of modern Vietnam makes it worth the trip.

  • Nepal

    Easily one of the cheapest destinations to go to, Nepal is extra-friendly to backpackers. Check out the Himalayas, chat up the locals and try an ox steak. Nepal’s relatively unspoiled natural sights are also breathtaking.

  • Guatemala

    Visit the gorgeous Mayan ruins of Tikal, go to a street party, or take one of their colorful buses to Mexico for a quick trip to the playas before you come back for a cheese gordita. Guatemala is tourist-friendly and has great transportation connections.

  • New Zealand

    Jokingly referred to on traveling blogs as “an idiot-proof backpacking destination”, the otherworldly beauty of New Zealand’s forests and valleys has made it a popular site to go to. Combined with the fact that everyone speaks English, and it has a good number of hostels, the long flight for some travelers will be worth it.

  • Indonesia

    Time to have your own Eat, Pray, Love experience here—the beaches of Bali are pretty cheap to stay in, the surfing is great and you can go temple-hopping or catch a boat to see a beautiful Indonesian sunset over its various islands.

  • Morocco

    Stroll through the streets of Marrakesh, marvel at their unique architecture, and sip a glass of mint tea before you tuck into a tagine—the great food, the mix of cultures and the wild landscapes outside the city make it an amazing destination for first-time backpackers.

  • Cambodia

    See Angkor Wat, have an affordable steak dinner, go dolphin watching or laze on the exotic beaches. Cambodia is one of the cheapest and most beautiful destinations you can go to in Southeast Asia—meaning it’s perfect for first-timers.

  • Turkey

    Popular with student backpackers, Turkey is the perfect mix of East and West. Admire the Hagia Sophia, go to the Grand Bazaar food market, and check out the Byzantine art and architecture. It’s a great mix of culture and affordability.

  • Sri Lanka

    With friendly people, plenty of fellow backpackers and beautiful spots everywhere you turn, check out Colombo—the most popular city in Sri Lanka for travel—and visit the Galle Face Green Promenade. You can also hit some lovely beaches or hike up the nearby mountain ranges.


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