Unique and budget-friendly honeymoon destinations

Unique and budget-friendly honeymoon destinations

Tahiti, the Maldives, and the Bahamas are probably the first suggestions you’ll see when you start planning your honeymoon and, unsurprisingly, they’re also among the most expensive places to stay on Earth, even adjusting for the “wedding tax”. They’re all beautiful countries, undoubtedly, but the truth is there are amazing white sand beaches all over the world and these tropical islands don’t offer so much outside of the expensive all-inclusive resort experience.

So, we’ve butted heads to narrow down our choice of seven honeymoon-friendly destinations that you can visit on a budget, as well as some tips on the kinds of experiences that will stay in your memory long after your honeymoon is over. We’ve rated them on price from £- £££ for both airfare and spending costs, if you also manage to combine it with one of JFC’s great flight tips, then you’re already starting ahead ;)

Note: For our EU readers, the exchange rate of GBP to EUR is close enough that our price ranges should broadly look quite similar for you. While we have included a few links in this post to other websites, none are affiliated with us and we don’t receive anything if you click on them - we just found them useful!

But first things first; a successful trip starts with sound planning, so that’s where we’ll start!

Planning your trip

  • Figure out a budget and stick to it: It can be easy to get carried away planning a dream holiday and forget to budget for it alongside your partner. Before you start looking for your honeymoon, make sure you both agree on how to split your budget between it and the wedding. Check out this free holiday budget planner to see how much you should budget for countries and cities around the world.
  • Decide what kind of trip you want in advance: Honeymoons don’t have to be expensive. It’s a good idea for both of you to list what you want from your honeymoon first, and fit your destinations around the list and your budget. Leaving your honeymoon booking until the last minute will only make it pricier. Research is key here, find out what some of the best countries are for the “Honeymoon goals” list you’ve made. If you’re foodies then Southeast Asia will almost certainly be a good destination. If you’re both adventurers, the mountains and desert plains of Africa might be the way to go. Make a shortlist of countries that fit the bill and then check the best time to go, which leads us to our next point!
  • Seasonality: One of the biggest factors on how much you’ll end up paying is the season when you visit. Check the high season of the destinations on your shortlist in advance and, if your wedding is right in the middle of the most expensive time to go, expect that you’ll be paying a lot more for your trip overall. Generally, the best weather will be found in the high season but most countries have shoulder seasons where the weather is almost as good and things are much less crowded overall. This works especially well on longer honeymoons where one rainy day isn’t the end of the world.
  • “Mini-moons” are a popular alternative: This is another name for a short break after the wedding, followed by a bigger trip further down the line. This allows you to get married when you want but not get tied into a specific time frame for your honeymoon.
  • All-inclusive can be best: If the idea of having everything taken care of for you on your holiday (including meals and activities) sounds like honeymoon heaven, all-inclusive might be the best option for you – with all costs taken care of up-front, it’s much easier to holiday on a budget and is sometimes the best value
  • Tell people you’re newlyweds while away: You’ll be surprised how generous people are when they find out you’re on your honeymoon so don’t be afraid to shout about it. At worst, you go on with your holiday, at best, you get an upgrade!

1. Vietnam

Vietnam Bay Boats

Air ticket: ££

Spending while there: £

Good for: Nature, adventure and culture

Vietnam is one of those places where you can never really run out things to do, so if you’re looking for an adventurous honeymoon, it ticks the box! It’s the perfect country for a road trip with a lot of stops, or take one of the extensive rail routes for a scenic and hassle-free route.

Fun things to do: 

Hidden spots: Phu Quoc Island - a ferry-ride away from the mainland and known for it’s beautiful white sand beaches, is an island of which half is part of unspoiled Phú Quốc National Park. It features mountains, dense tropical jungle, hiking trails and wildlife.

Authentic food to try: White rose dumplings - a local Hoi An dish, these delicate dumplings look like the beautiful flowers they are known for, hence the name. They fill the translucent white dough with spicy mince shrimp or pork and gently steam the dumplings, topped with crispy shallot and a tangy dipping sauce!

2. Thailand (Krabi province and mainland)

Thailand Krabi Province 

Air ticket: ££

Spending while there: £

Good for: Beach and adventure

Thailand’s beaches are very popular but you can avoid the crowds by going in the shoulder season. It also has great nightlife, food (mango sticky rice!) and temples for your cultural fix.

Fun things to do: 

  • There’s an abundance of beautiful beaches to explore all over Thailand’s coasts, where you can enjoy water sports, snorkelling and scuba diving - so no shortage in that department!
  • Take a day-trip boat tour and island-hop the many small islands of the south-west of Thailand 
  • Take a trip to Krabi’s bustling night market
  • Rock climb in Krabi
  • Go on a scenic nature trek (for example Khao Ngon Nak Viewpoint)
  • Learn the art of a traditional Thai massage in a couples workshop

Hidden spots: If you’re in north Thailand, particularly Chiang Mai, zip-lining through the forest while spotting gibbon monkeys in their natural habitat on your way through is definitely worthwhile!

Authentic food to eat: Tom yung goong - A spicy and sour soup that is usually served with fresh shrimp for lunch.

3. Sri Lanka  

Sri Lanka beach

Air ticket: ££

Spending while there: £

Good for: Beaches and culture

Sri Lanka is the kind of country you’ll want to go back to, and with each half of the island country having its own climate you’ll get a different experience each time!

Fun things to do: 

  • Go on a hot air balloon ride in Dambulla, Kandalama
  • Go dolphin and whale spotting 
  • Catch a break on the beautiful golden beaches and enjoy snorkelling and scuba diving
  • Take a cheap and scenic train ride from Kandy to Ella
  • Hike up the World’s End viewpoint for some spectacular views
  • Visit Abhayagiri Dagoba, a top choice for Buddhist temples to see

Hidden spots: A day trip to Delft Island in Jaffna is definitely worth the time and, with only a few boats travelling there per day, it won’t be full of tourists. Visit the peaceful island to see animals such as wild horses and cows, ruins from the old Portuguese colonial era, and some rare sights in nature such as the baobab and large banyan trees.

Authentic food to eat: Sri Lanka is known for its tea, so remember to stop somewhere for a taste. Also, kottu roti could be described by some as the ultimate street food - chopped roti (think flatbread) mixed and mashed together with chicken and vegetables and lots of aromatic spices.

4. Croatia 

Croatia boat beach

Air ticket: £

Spending while there: ££

Good for: Culture/sightseeing and nature

Croatia is covered in national parks, 7 to be exact, which is great if you like being outdoors and in nature all year round!

Fun things to do: 

  • Visit Plitvice Lakes National Park
  • See the Blue Cave of Bisevo Island
  • Visit Zagreb’s Museum of Broken Relationships (test the relationship early!)
  • Take a trip down to Visovac Monastery, also called the Mother of God Island
  • Visit the Croatian Museum of Native Art 
  • Visit the Sebastian Art Gallery, where only Croatian artists are displayed

Hidden spots: Stiniva Bay - a beach that you can only get to by boat - combines clearwater beach fronts with dramatic rock cliffs for the perfect picturesque holiday photo to make your friends wish they were there.

Authentic food to eat: Croatian food can be compared to the likes of Mediterranean cuisine, try a black risotto dish while you’re out there - a seafood dish made with an addition of squid ink which brings a twist!

5. The Azores 

Azores Sao Miguel

Air ticket: £

Spending while there: ££

Good for: Nature and outdoor activity

This volcanic island has been described by some as a cross between Europe and Hawaii, and if you’re a nature, food or wine lover then you’ll love these scenic islands.

Fun things to do: 

  • With beautiful black beaches in abundance, water sports and diving are a given
  • Go on a whale and dolphin watching expedition
  • Set your eyes on the Sete Cidades Caldera crater lake views
  • Climb Montanha do Pico, the highest mountain in Portugal (but not too high)
  • Tour the Algar do Carvão lava tunnel 
  • Take a dip in the Poça da Dona Beija hot springs 
  • Go for a horse-drawn carriage ride

Hidden spots: Visit Caldeira Velha - a stunning landscape with a natural hot spring connected to a waterfall which is a paradise on Earth - once you’ve walked the trail to get there!

Authentic food to eat: It may sound pretty basic, but Azores is well known for its cheese. Get a taste of the São Jorge cheese which is matured for up to 60 days and has a strong smell and spicy flavour!

6. Cape Verde 

Cape Verde beach

Air ticket: ££

Spending while there: £

Good for: Beach, culture and scenic views

This location is one of the cheapest destinations on this list, although air fares will set you back initially. Whichever island you choose, expect that it will be a melting pot of culture which you can see in the music, food and even fashion!

Fun things to do: 

  • Visit the beautiful beaches while island hopping 
  • Go diving or snorkelling
  • Visit the Crater Lakes, a series of salt-water lakes
  • Schedule your trip to attend one of the beach or street music festivals
  • Go whale and turtle spotting - loggerheads are known to lay eggs during the summer!
  • Have a romantic (and fresh!) seafood meal at restaurants on the coast

Hidden spots: Desert Viana in Boa Vista is a seemingly barren desert which, in actual fact, is the perfect landscape for quad biking and sand skiing without the crowds!

Authentic food to eat: Pastel d'atum - a quick and tasty snack that could be compared to an empanada, usually made with a seasoned tuna and vegetable centre.

7. Dominican Republic  

Dominican Republic Overview

Air ticket: ££

Spending while there: ££

Good for: Beach and tropical scenes & sunsets

A bit of a budget stretch for this list, but you can make your own way across the Dominican Republic rather than just sticking to Punta Cana’s resorts and save money. It’s well worth it too, as the Dominican Republic is littered with quiet beaches in small towns and also throws in rainforests, mountains and sand dunes to explore.

Fun things to do: 

  • Laze on the many tropical beaches or enjoy watersports and snorkelling
  • Visit The Three Eyes National Park or National Park of the East 
  • Take a cable car tour to take in some of the views from above 
  • Do the El Limon nature trek and experience the waterfalls on the way
  • Take a boat tour and explore the Hoyo Azul natural caves

Hidden spots: Catuano Beach Flea Market - with a very traditional vibe, is a great place to find the holiday souvenirs and local hand-crafted gifts for people back home.

Authentic food to eat: Chivo guisado - a spicy and saucy braised goat stew cooked with garlic and bitter orange that’s usually served with a side of rice.

We wrote this post because we were tired of seeing all the same places suggested for honeymoons - we hope our unique and budget-friendly suggestions have inspired you to consider new places you hadn’t before :)  

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