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Belize on a Budget: Affordable Travel Tips and Destinations

7 min read

According to most travelers, Belize is one of the most expensive countries to visit in Central America. But the great news is, you can still visit Belize on a budget! 

The country is home to stunning cayes, world-class dive sites, lush forests and jungles, ancient Mayan ruins and powder soft sands lapped by clear turquoise waters. The people are friendly, the food is delicious and there are tons of fun things to see and do for both first timers and seasoned travelers. 

In this article, we’ll share affordable tips and destinations in Belize that are easy on your pocket, and show you how to elevate your vacation, regardless of your bank balance. Read on for inspiration! 

Getting to Belize on a Budget

Flying to Belize from the U.S. or Canada can be expensive, especially if traveling during peak season - December to April.  Flight prices vary but usually cost between $350-$900 for an economy flight.

Fortunately, there are other options to consider. Many budget travelers book flights to Cancun in neighboring Mexico instead. Cancun is a major tourist destination, accessible from all over the world and flight prices are often much cheaper. 

So, how do you get from Cancun to Belize?

There used to be a direct ADO bus to Belize City, however according to their website, as of March 2024, the service is no longer operating.

The alternative is to board the bus from downtown Cancun to Chetumal on the Mexican/Belizean border. Tickets cost around $40 with a journey time of six hours. Upon reaching Chetumal, you can pay the exit fee (around $30) and walk into Belize (remember your passport and any required visa). Taxis and buses can be taken to your onward destination from here.

Alternatively, jump aboard a Belize water taxi in Chetumal. The services operate to Caye Caulker, San Pedro (Ambergris Caye), and Belize City. Prices start from $71 and there’s usually one water taxi to each destination daily or at least every other day. 

Budget Accommodations in Belize

There are plenty of budget accommodations in Belize if you know where to look. They range from charming guest houses and fun hostels where you can meet like-minded travelers, to mid-range boutique hotels surrounded by palm trees and sparkling swimming pools. 

You’ll find budget-friendly hostels in San Pedro Town, Caye Caulker, Placencia, Hopkins, and San Ignacio. Many offer mixed dorm accommodations from around $12-15 per person per night + tax, and private rooms for couples and families are available in some from $35-40 per night.

A few backpacker favorites include: 

If you’ve a little extra budget saved for accommodation, there are also great mid-range hotels and studios with prices from $120-220 per room per night – ideal for couples or groups sharing. 

Many of these rooms come with fully equipped kitchenettes, ensuite bathrooms, complimentary Wi-Fi, and air-conditioning. Amenities can include anything from private beach use to free bike hire, pools, and on-site dining facilities.

Some top-rated hotels include: 

Budget-Friendly Destinations in Belize

Ambergris Caye may be the best-known and most popular resort in Belize, however it’s also the most expensive. Instead, we recommend that you base yourself in Caye Caulker, Placencia, San Ignacio – or a mix of all three to make the most of your stay in Belize.

Caye Caulker

Slow-paced Caye Caulker is a popular spot with backpackers, thanks to its stunning beaches and cheap accommodations. Spend your days hanging out at The Split with friends, enjoying a spot of swimming and a few cheeky cocktails at The Lazy Lizard. Swim with gentle nurse sharks and stingrays at Shark Ray Alley or dive to see tropical fish and colorful corals at Belize Barrier Reef.  

If you prefer to remain on dry land, explore Caye Caulker via bicycle or on foot, discovering local arts, crafts and produce markets, before heading for lively bars and clubs playing reggae music to dance the night away. 


Placencia has some of the finest beaches in Belize, many of which are free to visit. Municipal Pier is a popular place to sunbathe, shop and dine. Dive into clear blue waters to snorkel with marine life or go kayaking or paddle boarding to nearby cayes. 

You can take a day trip to ancient Mayan ruins from here, spend a day at Laughing Bird Caye or even go hiking at Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary – a protected area for jaguars. 

Placencia is also a great place to try Belizean cuisine like Fry Jacks and coconut shrimp, before heading to Tipsy Strip for rum cocktails at sunset.

San Ignacio

San Ignacio is the perfect base in western Belize for those interested in local culture and ancient history. You can visit Xunantunich Mayan ruins (30 mins away), shop at the legendary market or visit the mysterious ATM- Actun Tunichil Muknal caves. 

Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve is also nearby – home to hundreds of exotic bird and wildlife species. Discover Thousand Foot Falls – the highest falls in Central America or swim in refreshing pools beneath Big Rock Falls between hiking the trails.

Affordable Activities and Attractions

Wherever you decide to stay in Belize, there are free or cheap attractions to enjoy. Here are a few of the best that won’t break your budget.

Spend the Day on a Free Beach

Many beaches in Belize are private, owned by individual hotels, however, there are several you can relax on for free. A few favorites include The Split on Caye Caulker, Secret Beach at Ambergris Caye, Placencia Beach by Municipal Pier and all the beaches are free for public use in Hopkins.

Visit a Local Market

Visiting a local market is a great way to experience life as a local. The country’s largest farmers market is in San Ignacio, where vendors speak a mix of Creole, Mayan, English and Spanish. The liveliest day to visit is Saturday - although it’s open daily. Vendors sell everything from medicinal herbs and local produce to handmade crafts and street food. Don’t forget your camera!

Take a Wildlife Hike

Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary costs just $5 to enter. It’s home to jaguars, armadillos, deer, ocelots and pumas along with monkeys and hundreds of species of birdlife. There are over 20 miles of hiking trails – including the popular Wari Loop and Tiger Fern Trail with a stunning double waterfall at the end. 

See Ancient Mayan Sites

The ancient Maya site of Lamanai is a great place to visit if you’re saying in Belize City. This place also costs just $5 to enter and is the second largest archaeological site in Belize with history spanning three millennia. Surrounded by dense jungle and a river lagoon, the trip here is also an adventure, with Howler monkey’s to spot on route. 

Our Favorite Budget-Friendly Tours and Excursions

If you want to see more of this magical country but prefer not to navigate public transport, here are a few affordable excursions to book.

Belize Howler Monkey Excursion

On this fun adventure, you’ll depart from Belize City and hike rainforest trails with a guide to see magnificent howler monkeys in their natural habitat. It’s a popular and interesting guided tour, plus, the excursion helps to promote habitat conservation and fight against endangerment of the black howler monkey. 

Altun Ha Mayan Ruins & Belize River Wildlife Combo With Lunch

This trip is for adventurers who want to pack as much into a short time as possible. On this excursion, sail along Belize River, learning about the waterways while spotting dolphins, manatees and monkeys. Afterwards discover Altun Ha Mayan ruins, a once mighty civilization covering five square miles. Climb the ancient pyramids for breathtaking rainforest views.

Shark Ray Alley Belize Snorkeling Excursion

This once-in-a-lifetime tour departs by boat from Belize City, taking in Caye Caulker and the colorful Coral Garden before stopping at Shark Ray Alley near Hol Chan Marine Reserve. In this protected area, hundreds of nurse sharks, reef sharks and rays reside. During the memorable experience, you’ll have the opportunity to get up-close to these majestic, gentle mammals. They’ll swim around you as you snorkel, giving you an idea of what life is like in their underwater domain.

Taste Bud EXPLOSION Food Tasting Tour

While taking this tasting tour around Belize City, you’ll be treated to every Belizean cuisine imaginable from jerk chicken and curry patties to coconut rice, fried plantain, tamales, oxtail and more. You’ll visit a local market, learn about Belize’s rich agricultural history and stop off at a rum factory for a few shots of the local brew!

Additional Money-Saving Tips

There are several ways to save money while visiting Belize, we’ve listed a few helpful tips below.

  • Traveling to Belize in low season or shoulder season can help you save money on flights and accommodations. Consider May and November when temperatures are warm, and accommodations are cheaper.
  • Buy food at produce and farmer’s markets, sample tasty and filling street food and find casual eateries where locals go to feast on cheap cuisine.
  • Travel on the chicken bus! The old American school buses may be busy and sweltering hot in summer, but they are also the cheapest way to get from A to B costing between 20 and 25 cents per hour of travel.
  • Switch accommodations. If you spend a few nights sleeping in a hostel dorm, you can put any money saved towards thrilling excursions or a luxury room as a treat. 
  • Drink the local tipple. Imported drinks are more expensive in Belize - sticking to beer and rum will ensure your budget remains relatively intact.
Written by: Angela

All of our content at Tourbase is written by experienced travel writers who have visited all of the locations we recommend. And our review board of local tourism experts ensure that all the information we provide is accurate, current and helpful

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