You might wonder how anyone can list with precision the world’s 10 best destinations for backpackers. In truth, there could be dozens of these lists: best outdoor locations for backpackers, best big cities for backpackers, most relaxing destinations for backpackers, places that keep backpackers busiest, and so on.
This collection represents some solid choices from all of those groups, and perhaps a few more. To make this list, a destination must have an ample supply of hostels and other low-budget accommodations. In addition, it helps to have university sections where affordable dining is available, natural beauty worthy of a big airfare tab, and sunsets that stay in the memory for decades to come.
What follows, in no particular order, are 10 top backpacking destinations throughout the world.
1. Goa, India
The State of Goa, on India’s west coast, is among the most popular backpacking destinations in the country and perhaps in all of Asia. It’s easy to see why.
Goa offers 60 miles of tropical beaches, tree-shaded streets, and what often is described as a never-ending party. The inventory of hostel rooms is among India’s largest. Vagator Beach often becomes a stayover spot in which new arrivals plan to spend three days and wind up staying for three weeks or three months. Hostel overnight rates come in at under $5 USD in many spots.
There’s a beach here for just about every taste. Some are secluded and peaceful. Others project a hippie vibe.
Several caveats: monsoon season is from May-September. Accommodations will be easier to find, but the weather will affect your plans every day. December is peak season, and that $5/night hostel might charge $15.
Getting to Goa is a bit of a challenge, since a major air hub does not serve the area. The nearest big airport is Mumbai, from which you’ll need either a connecting flight or a train ticket. The flight takes about an hour. The train ride is a nine-hour jaunt.