Local draft: $1.25, with Guns N' Roses soundtrack
What you'll save on: A handmade bamboo river raft, just $15
Why here? Americans abroad are sometimes met by a level of wariness, but expect Laotians to welcome you warmly, despite America bombing the country profligately during the Vietnam War. Take a rat-race sabbatical to this Buddhist country, and you'll chill out, and probably learn to cook vegetables better than anyone you know. Once landing here, you'll soon start walking and talking much slower. The expat scene is equal parts industrious and whacko; look for Americans and Aussies in bars and restaurants in Vientiane, the capital city and party spot.
Affordable adventure: In Laos, currency exchange rate fluctuations usually remain on your side. Accessible only by boat, Muang Ngoi Neua is an idyllic village on an elevated riverside plain cradled by mountains. A refreshing departure from Southeast Asia's earsplitting transport madness, the little town remains blissfully devoid of motorized vehicles. Here, the vertical limestone cliff formations create a cathedral panorama, and a dramatic setting along the River Ou where unforgettable hiking and rafting excursions await. You'll also mingle with sexy backpackers from at least 10 different countries.