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The Top 10 Value Travel Destinations Of 2011 (PHOTOS)

First Posted: 01/03/11 06:20 PM ET   Updated: 09/20/11 07:21 PM ET

Every year,'s ever-value-conscious and relentlessly globe-trotting editors pile into a room to mull over their collective travel mileage, gush about their favorite dollar-stretching destinations, and forecast where their readers should go in the year ahead to get the best travel bang for their buck.

Their picks for the top 10 value travel destinations in 2011 go well beyond a simple list of under-the-radar hot spots, since many of those tend to be remote and not particularly wallet-friendly - in fact, the only destinations they've included that require far-flung travels are ones where the dollar travels even further once you touch down. Enticing exchange rates, increased accessibility at decreased costs, special event promotions, and extraordinary comparative value were just some of the factors that helped us narrow the lens. And in the end, all of these budget-friendly locales offer a high degree of affordability, in addition to distinctive and memorable travel experiences. Just be sure to get to these great-value vacation destinations now, before the crowds - and costs - catch up to them . . . in 2012.

Text, photos & captions courtesy of, adapted from "Top 10 Value Travel Destinations in 2011"

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Southeast Asia used to be a remote paradise for backpackers (dirt cheap, unknown to the American masses, and promising unscripted adventure), but growing popularity has led to over 15.5 million travelers to Thailand and close to 5 million visitors to Vietnam in 2010 (the region’s two most popular destinations). Cambodia, on the other hand, is both less trammeled (averaging about 2 million vacationers a year, though up from under half a million a decade ago) and less expensive than its heavily touristed neighbors. Sandwiched between Thailand and Laos to the north and Vietnam to the south, and fronting the Gulf of Thailand, Cambodia these days attracts value travel-minded visitors in droves to its arresting Angkor compound near Siem Reap, with its crumbling 9th- and 15th-century sandstone temples. While Angkor may be the singular attraction in Cambodia for most visitors, Phnom Penh, further south, entices with its cluster of affordable guesthouses and upscale hotels like Quay Hotel (from $85/night) and the new Sofitel Phnom Penh (opening December 18, 2010; from $135/night), offbeat designer shops, museums, and restaurants, namely along Sisowath Quay. Cambodia’s low-key coast – far less crowded than near-identical shores in Thailand – is sprinkled with secluded Gulf of Thailand beaches and a few resort areas like Ochheuteal Beach on the southern Sihanoukville peninsula.
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