5 Reasons Why This Cheap Latin American Country Is Trending | phillipspacc

5 Reasons Why This Cheap Latin American Country Is Trending For 2024

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Latin America is surging in popularity right now, and a growing number of Americans are letting go of old fears and taking more trips to the Global South, a region most knew nothing about previously, except that it may be underdeveloped and dangerous.

While there’s some truth to those old beliefs in some places, most of the subcontinent is quite tourist-friendly and has plenty to offer to adventurous U.S. keen on going off-path.

In fact, it’s the least-known destinations that are now experiencing a much-deserved popularity surge:

Woman overlooking San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua Beach

Following a couple of turbulent years, Nicaragua is expected to host between 1.2 to 1.3 million tourists in 2024 according to the Nicaraguan Institute of Tourism.

If that materializes, it will have grown 32% year over year by December and officially become one of the region’s top tourist hotspots.

What is it about Nicaragua that’s attracting so many new adventurers lately, and most importantly, do the Latin America stereotypes apply?

Here are 5 reasons why this unheard-of gem is trending for 2024:

Nature Is Abundant

Woman in a pool in Nicaragua

Nicaragua is a small nation located in the Central American isthmus, which connects South to North America. It’s best known for its impressive biodiversity and sprawling, sparsely populated jungles.

Naturally, we have to start with nature.

The main reason Americans travel to Central America, including Nicaragua, is to escape the hustle and bustle of their big cities, be surrounded by vast expanses of green, and realize their lifelong dream of exploring a tropical forest.

Needless to say, the country attracts, in its majority, nature and wildlife enthusiasts, who flock to Lake Nicaragua for the serene waters and picturesque islets, such as Ometepe, the Momotombo Park for views of towering volcanos, and the numerous Caribbean and Pacific beaches.

According to UN data, about 25.7% of Nicaragua is forested, and if the prospect of getting lost in the jungle – metaphorically, of course – in search of cascading waterfalls makes your heart beat faster, you definitely don’t want to skip it in 2024.

A Hotspot For Colonial Tourism

Granada Nicaragua Central Square

The second reason why U.S. tourists are starting to wake up to the wonders of Nicaragua is the rich culture, more specifically, its colonial background.

The country is jam-packed with Spanish-built cities modeled after the ones in Europe and just as beautiful.

While colonization is a controversial topic, with some arguing it contributed to the development of the New World on a level, despite the horrors perpetrated by colonizers and others fiercely denouncing it as an absolute tragedy, we can all agree that it is a fascinating topic.

Two of the best destinations for diving deep into the local History and admiring ornate architecture are Granada, named after Spain’s fortified Moorish city, and a postcard town full of cobbled lanes and pastel-colored, historic houses, and the stately León, which literally translates from Spanish as ‘Lion’.

The ‘Lion’ City is home to León Cathedral, with a striking Baroque facade, one of the finest examples of this architectural style in the Americas.

Minor churches date back to the settlement’s founding in the 16th century, and it’s a short half-hour drive to León Viejo.

Perhaps the most significant historical site in Nicaragua, this ruined fort was the city’s original location before settlers decided to move it to a more strategic spot away from the imminent danger of volcanic eruptions.

It’s now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

A Budget Costa Rica

Pony in La Santa Maria Resort in Nicaragua

Nicaragua is perfect for embarking on a natural world adventure with a little sprinkle of culture without paying a lot for it.

As we like to call it, it is a budget version of neighboring Costa Rica, where prices are becoming increasingly Americanized and you can easily spend over $118 per day.

According to Budget Your Trip, Nicaragua is one of the most affordable destinations in the Central American isthmus and Latin America as a whole.

Previous travelers have reported low prices for food, accommodation, transportation, and tourist attractions.

On average, you should plan on spending $54 per day when vacationing in Nicaragua, less than half of Costa Rica’s daily expenses, with meals costing roughly $15, and hotels averaging $33 per night.

A one night stay in a chalet in Ometepe, Nicaragua’s most famous freshwater island, costs only $38.

In Managua, the vibrant, modern capital of the country, you can find five-star listings, including a landmark Hilton, for as cheap as $130 per night for two adults, or around $65 each.

The depreciation of the local currency is bad news for locals, but Americans visiting can live like kings.

Cheap Nonstop Flights From The U.S.

Flying into Managua airport in Nicaragua

Nicaragua is a small destination, hosting just over 1 million tourists every year, most of whom will be taking cross-border trips from neighboring countries.

It does, however, have a main international airport that mostly offers flights to destinations in Mexico and the States other than domestic.

Americans can choose between American Airlines or Avianca El Salvador flying from Miami – on Google Flights, the cheapest round-trip is an almost-negligible $162 – low-cost Spirit Airlines, which serves Nicaragua from Fort Lauderdale in Florida, and United, operating from its Houston-Intercontinental hub.

The international airport is located near Managua, an exciting city combining modern and traditional architecture you should spend a couple of days in before moving on to the next stop on your trip, but if you’re only using it as a transit hub to reach other parts of Nicaragua, you can fly onward to:

Puerto Cabezas, an up-and-coming resort and leisure destination, Corn Island, a tropical island offering connections to other islets in Nicaragua’s Caribbean archipelago, fringed by turquoise waters and best known for its unique beachfront stays, among others.

Friendly Visa Policies

American Passport

Finally, Nicaragua is potentially becoming more popular as a result of the generous visa policy. It sits among the most open countries in the world, allowing nearly every foreign national to either enter visa-free or obtain a visa on arrival.

Americans do not need to fill out pre-arrival entry forms, pay entry fees, or apply for online authorizations before embarking.

All they need is their valid passport and proof of onward or return travel, and they are issued a 90-day visitor visa stamp on the spot.

Needless to say, Nicaragua has been on the radar of digital nomads lately, who have an absolute, total aversion to overly bureaucratic countries with complicated visa and entry regulations.

It’s cheap, it’s warm year-round, and they can stay for a whole three months uninterrupted.

Extending a tourist visa is also possible for an additional 30 days, though a fee must be paid.

You should be prepared to pay the equivalent of $25 in the local currency, and you may need to attend an interview at the Nicaraguan Immigration Office.

On Safety

back view of a young girl sitting on a swing overlooking the volcano concenpcion on ometepe island, Nicaragua

Now that we’ve established the five main reasons why Nicaragua is heading towards a historical 2024, it’s back to the Latin American stereotypes regarding safety and the targeting of American tourists we touched on at the start of this article.

Regrettably, some of these may apply to Nicaragua, which is considered less safe than other Latin American countries like Costa Rica, Argentina and Mexico, partly because of an ‘arbitrary’ enforcement of laws that may place U.S. nationals at a higher risk of being wrongfully detained.

Violence is also a common concern in large urban centers like Managua, and the country’s higher rates of underdevelopment have sparked a number of crises in recent decades.

Nonetheless, a majority of tourists are not affected by long-standing urban issues.

This does not mean you should let your guard down in Nicaragua, especially when the U.S. Government has placed it in the ‘Reconsider Travel’, Level 3 Travel Advisory. The most famous Latin American country on this list currently is Colombia, so we could infer safety risks are similar between both destinations.

You are of course not forbidden from traveling, but you’re best advised to maintain a high level of situation awareness, stick to well-lit areas at night, avoid wandering in peripheral, untouristy sites alone, and keep a low profile in crowded spaces.

On the bright side, Nicaragua has been safer since 2020.

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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com

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