10 Places Where the U.S. Dollar Is Really Strong Right Now


If you’ve spent any time on a cruise ship within the past decade or so, then you probably know that times have changed. It wasn’t so long ago when the only dining options on board were the buffet and the dining room, and amenities were largely limited to the pool, the gym, the theater and the shops. But nowadays cruise ships are destinations unto themselves, going above and beyond in what they can offer to their customers, and as you’ll see, they’ve really outdone themselves.The competition is fierce among cruise lines, and as they pursue building larger and larger ships; buying up private islands and turning them into all-inclusive paradises; and standardizing once-premium perks like Wi-Fi, balcony rooms and beverage packages, they’ve also been thinking outside the box in terms of the amenities that they can offer on board.From supersized water slides to Scandinavian snow grottoes, from submarine rides to Michelin-level meals, you’ll be blown away by the opportunities for fun, luxury, exhilaration and relaxation provided aboard new, top-of-the-line cruise ships. And if you still think that cruising isn’t for you, learning about these outrageous amenities might just make you change your mind.
Slide 1 of 10: 1 USD = 14.06 ZAR
The value of the South African rand has fluctuated a lot over the past few years, reaching a record high in January 2016. Stretch those bucks on the Test Kitchen's 21-course tasting menu in Cape Town, then head into the wilderness at Singita Castleton Lodge in the Sabi Sand game reserve. And keep your eyes peeled for flight deals, as we're expecting a fare war after United announced it's launching the only non-stop flight from the U.S. to Cape Town in December.
Slide 2 of 10: 1 USD = 3.89 BRL
Like much of South America, Brazil is a good place to visit if you don't want to break the bank. But the fact that a dollar gets you 3.89 Brazilian reais (compared to 2.64 in 2015) means you can get even better value than usual—not to mention the fact that Americans no longer need to pay for a visa to visit. Rio de Janeiro is the most obvious place to spend time and money, with incredible new hotels—like The Emiliano, a 2018 Hot List winner—just steps away from some of the world's best beaches. But don't forget to visit São Paulo, too, where a younger generation has introduced hip galleries, museums, and bars to several long-neglected neighborhoods.
Slide 3 of 10: 1 USD = 17.31 EGP
We've already made the case for visiting Egypt this year, and the dollar-to-pound exchange rate—which has remained steadily strong since doubling in late 2016—only sweetens the deal. With the opening of the much-anticipated Grand Egyptian Museum looming on the horizon, the country has launched new hotels and cruises that already have wait lists. Some of the best include luxury travel outfitter Sanctuary Retreats's weekly sailings on the Nile, where you can see the temples of Luxor from leather deck chairs; and the St. Regis Cairo, which will open this summer right along the river.
Slide 4 of 10: 1 USD = 42.25 ARS
No, that is not a typo: The Argentine peso reached an all-time high in April 2019, and the country currently offers some of the most savings for U.S. dollar-carriers. Some added benefits for American travelers to the country? In 2016, the Argentine government removed the $160 "reciprocity fee" for U.S. citizens and announced that foreigners would be able to get a refund for the 21 percent value added tax on hotel stays (which happens automatically at the time of billing). Buenos Aires should be your starting point. Insanely affordable wine and steak amid an increasingly outward-looking culinary scene, polo tournaments, and a first-hand education in the turbulent history of tango? Count us in.
Slide 5 of 10: 1 USD = 283.41 HUF
Despite a brief dip in 2018, Hungary's conversion rates have been quite favorable since 2015. That's great news for anyone planning a trip to Budapest, where a growing scene of Michelin-starred restaurants and high-tech spas are calling to us from across the globe. Budapest has tons of five-star hotels with three-star prices; but for something indulgent, splurge for The Writer's Villa (formerly Bródy Villa), an entire 19th-century aristocratic villa with seven exquisite rooms and one of the most scenic private gardens of the city. This is Europe's capital of hedonism, after all—you might as well lean into it.
Slide 6 of 10: 1 USD = 23,202.50 VND
Plenty of countries in Southeast Asia are great deals for dollar-carriers right now, but we recommend a trip to Vietnam—in part because of the steadily increasing exchange rate (in April 2015, the dollar was hovering closer to around 21,564 dong), but mostly for the country's mind-blowing beauty. Hanoi is arguably the most romantic city in the region, with timeless (and delicious) cuisine, incense-shrouded temples, and elegant French Quarter villas providing a dreamy respite for travelers. But don't be afraid to venture off the beaten track during your next visit: Places like Ninh Van Bay and Phú Quốc island have pristine beaches and intimate resorts you won't find in the more touristed areas.
Slide 7 of 10: 1 USD = 18.91 MXN
Take the fact that the a dollar used to get you close to 17.5 pesos a year ago and now gets you 18.91 pesos as extra incentive to visit Mexico now. In Mexico City, with a street food culture rivaled only by its forward-looking restaurant scene, you'll be spending most of your money on eats. But make sure to leave some bucks to sample all the cultural wonders the city has to offer, starting with the iconic Museo Jumex. If you're looking to go a little farther afield, head to Jalisco to see tequila being made at the source, or Isla Holbox for a sleepy beach scene.
Slide 8 of 10: 1 USD = 1.48 NZD
Just five years ago, the U.S. dollar and the New Zealand dollar were almost at parity (1 USD got you 1.13 NZD in July 2014). The gap has grown since (with a few fluctuations) and there's never been a better time to finally take that trip to the other side of the world. The South Island is an Instagrammer's paradise and a great place to satisfy your nerd-dream of trekking through Middle-earth. But New Zealand isn't all about being wowed by nature—Auckland is rated one of the world's most livable cities, and Queenstown, which serves as a great launching point for outdoor adventure, also has a food scene that will make you never want to leave.
Slide 9 of 10: 1 USD = 1.34 CAD
Canada might not be quite as inexpensive as it was in 2016 when 1 USD equalled 1.4 CAD, but the exchange rate is still much higher than it was between 2010 and 2015. The country still isn't exactly cheap though, so make sure you choose where to spend those hard-earned U.S. dollars wisely. A Toronto food crawl is always a good idea, where you'll be spoiled for choice with a combination of international restaurants and hyper-local eateries. Or for a Canadian glamping experience like no other, head to Clayoquot Wilderness Resort on the tip of Vancouver Island, where you go on an ocean safari and help the chef forage for dinner ingredients.
Slide 10 of 10: 1 USD = 598.75 CRC
The Costa Rican colon reached an all-time high in November 2018, and has remained favorable since then. The country is one of the best in the world for outdoor adventure, from trekking through the tropical cloud forests in the mountains of Alajuela to surfing off the coast of Peninsula Papagayo. Check out our Readers' Choice Awards picks for some of the best places to stay. For something a tad (okay, a lot) over-the-top, spend a week at Zephyr Palace along the Pacific coast—a cool $65,000 will get you private access to the entire mansion for a week, including seven thematic suites, infinity pool, and sprawling spa.

South Africa

1 USD = 14.06 ZAR

The value of the South African rand has fluctuated a lot over the past few years, reaching a record high in January 2016. Stretch those bucks on the Test Kitchen’s 21-course tasting menu in Cape Town, then head into the wilderness at Singita Castleton Lodge in the Sabi Sand game reserve. And keep your eyes peeled for flight deals, as we’re expecting a fare war after United announced it’s launching the only non-stop flight from the U.S. to Cape Town in December.

Brazil

1 USD = 3.89 BRL

Like much of South America, Brazil is a good place to visit if you don’t want to break the bank. But the fact that a dollar gets you 3.89 Brazilian reais (compared to 2.64 in 2015) means you can get even better value than usual—not to mention the fact that Americans no longer need to pay for a visa to visit. Rio de Janeiro is the most obvious place to spend time and money, with incredible new hotels—like The Emiliano, a 2018 Hot List winner—just steps away from some of the world’s best beaches. But don’t forget to visit São Paulo, too, where a younger generation has introduced hip galleries, museums, and bars to several long-neglected neighborhoods.

Egypt

1 USD = 17.31 EGP

We’ve already made the case for visiting Egypt this year, and the dollar-to-pound exchange rate—which has remained steadily strong since doubling in late 2016—only sweetens the deal. With the opening of the much-anticipated Grand Egyptian Museum looming on the horizon, the country has launched new hotels and cruises that already have wait lists. Some of the best include luxury travel outfitter Sanctuary Retreats’s weekly sailings on the Nile, where you can see the temples of Luxor from leather deck chairs; and the St. Regis Cairo, which will open this summer right along the river.

Argentina

1 USD = 42.25 ARS

No, that is not a typo: The Argentine peso reached an all-time high in April 2019, and the country currently offers some of the most savings for U.S. dollar-carriers. Some added benefits for American travelers to the country? In 2016, the Argentine government removed the $160 “reciprocity fee” for U.S. citizens and announced that foreigners would be able to get a refund for the 21 percent value added tax on hotel stays (which happens automatically at the time of billing). Buenos Aires should be your starting point. Insanely affordable wine and steak amid an increasingly outward-looking culinary scene, polo tournaments, and a first-hand education in the turbulent history of tango? Count us in.

Hungary

1 USD = 283.41 HUF

Despite a brief dip in 2018, Hungary’s conversion rates have been quite favorable since 2015. That’s great news for anyone planning a trip to Budapest, where a growing scene of Michelin-starred restaurants and high-tech spas are calling to us from across the globe. Budapest has tons of five-star hotels with three-star prices; but for something indulgent, splurge for The Writer’s Villa (formerly Bródy Villa), an entire 19th-century aristocratic villa with seven exquisite rooms and one of the most scenic private gardens of the city. This is Europe’s capital of hedonism, after all—you might as well lean into it.

Vietnam

1 USD = 23,202.50 VND

Plenty of countries in Southeast Asia are great deals for dollar-carriers right now, but we recommend a trip to Vietnam—in part because of the steadily increasing exchange rate (in April 2015, the dollar was hovering closer to around 21,564 dong), but mostly for the country’s mind-blowing beauty. Hanoi is arguably the most romantic city in the region, with timeless (and delicious) cuisine, incense-shrouded temples, and elegant French Quarter villas providing a dreamy respite for travelers. But don’t be afraid to venture off the beaten track during your next visit: Places like Ninh Van Bay and Phú Quốc island have pristine beaches and intimate resorts you won’t find in the more touristed areas.

Mexico

1 USD = 18.91 MXN

Take the fact that the a dollar used to get you close to 17.5 pesos a year ago and now gets you 18.91 pesos as extra incentive to visit Mexico now. In Mexico City, with a street food culture rivaled only by its forward-looking restaurant scene, you’ll be spending most of your money on eats. But make sure to leave some bucks to sample all the cultural wonders the city has to offer, starting with the iconic Museo Jumex. If you’re looking to go a little farther afield, head to Jalisco to see tequila being made at the source, or Isla Holbox for a sleepy beach scene.

New Zealand

1 USD = 1.48 NZD

Just five years ago, the U.S. dollar and the New Zealand dollar were almost at parity (1 USD got you 1.13 NZD in July 2014). The gap has grown since (with a few fluctuations) and there’s never been a better time to finally take that trip to the other side of the world. The South Island is an Instagrammer’s paradise and a great place to satisfy your nerd-dream of trekking through Middle-earth. But New Zealand isn’t all about being wowed by nature—Auckland is rated one of the world’s most livable cities, and Queenstown, which serves as a great launching point for outdoor adventure, also has a food scene that will make you never want to leave.

Canada

1 USD = 1.34 CAD

Canada might not be quite as inexpensive as it was in 2016 when 1 USD equalled 1.4 CAD, but the exchange rate is still much higher than it was between 2010 and 2015. The country still isn’t exactly cheap though, so make sure you choose where to spend those hard-earned U.S. dollars wisely. A Toronto food crawl is always a good idea, where you’ll be spoiled for choice with a combination of international restaurants and hyper-local eateries. Or for a Canadian glamping experience like no other, head to Clayoquot Wilderness Resort on the tip of Vancouver Island, where you go on an ocean safari and help the chef forage for dinner ingredients.

Costa Rica

1 USD = 598.75 CRC

The Costa Rican colon reached an all-time high in November 2018, and has remained favorable since then. The country is one of the best in the world for outdoor adventure, from trekking through the tropical cloud forests in the mountains of Alajuela to surfing off the coast of Peninsula Papagayo. Check out our Readers’ Choice Awards picks for some of the best places to stay. For something a tad (okay, a lot) over-the-top, spend a week at Zephyr Palace along the Pacific coast—a cool $65,000 will get you private access to the entire mansion for a week, including seven thematic suites, infinity pool, and sprawling spa.

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