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Best Affordable Vacations in Central and South America

While planning a budget-friendly trip, it's easy to cross Central and South America off your list due to generally high airfare and pricey accommodations. But, with advantageous exchange rates and a variety of free first-class attractions awaiting exploration, you shouldn't consider this part of the world out of reach. According to experts and U.S. News readers, these locales are where travelers can get the best bang for their buck.

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Why go: Opulent temples, soaring cathedrals and heavenly Machu Picchu — Cusco provides access to premier sites all for relatively low travel costs. Visit in spring or fall for the best hotel rates, fewer crowds and pleasant temperatures. Read More»

Read On: Top Things to Do in Cusco

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Machu Picchu

Why go: Since 1911, culture hounds from far and wide have made the pilgrimage to see Machu Picchu's mystical temples. Exploring the grounds will cost you (as will the train from Cusco); however, a visit between September and November will yield affordable accommodations.

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Why go: This cosmopolitan city has European charms without the high price tags. Start your day with a stroll along La Boca's Caminito. Then, sashay your way over to San Telmo for a tango performance. For the best deals, arrive in fall or spring. Read More»

Read On: Top Things to Do in Buenos Aires

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Why go: If you book early enough, you're bound to find a deal in this tropical hot spot. Those looking for a place in the sun should head to Nicoya Peninsula's cream-colored sands. Or lay your head in Jacó, a relaxed surfing town with easy access to the country's inland rainforests. Read More»

Read On: Top Things to Do in Costa Rica

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Why go: With emerald lakes bound by wild forests and jagged mountains, Chilean Patagonia's greatest (and entirely free) draw is its natural beauty. Although Patagonia's increasing popularity has begun to inflate hotel rates, you can still nab great deals during the shoulder seasons. Read More»

Read On: Top Things to Do in Chilean Patagonia

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Bogota

Why go: Colombia's capital is an up-and-coming destination with several key assets: gorgeous architecture, delectable food and a raging nightlife. With all this going for it, Bogotá may not be cheap for very long. You'll also find yourself free to splurge here thanks to low exchange rates.

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Why go: Those that plan ahead should have no problem finding affordable digs in Argentine Patagonia. You'll have to share the frontier with tuxedoed residents and sea lions, but you won't be fighting (with humans anyway) for a glimpse of the area's spectacular natural wonders. Read More»

Read On: Top Things to Do in Argentine Patagonia

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Panama City

Why go: With its gorgeous skyline and exquisite architecture, Panama City garners much admiration. Plus, you'll find a flourishing international food scene that caters to budget-friendly travelers. If you would rather spend your vacation away from the metropolis, head north to San Blas.

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