THE cheapest holiday destination for 2018? The UK Post Office’s annual survey of on-the-ground costs has come up with the results.

After comparing prices in 42 destinations, for typical travel purchases such as drinks in local bars and restaurant meals, the Black Sea resort of Sunny Beach supplanted the Algarve as the top option for budget breaks.

The total cost of the items came to just under £38, on average, in the Bulgarian summer favourite, around £5 less than its nearest rival, Tokyo. The Algarve, where the bill came to a little over £44, slipped to third overall, while Prague and Cape Town completed the top five.

Propping up the table was Singapore, where the items were found to cost almost £154, on average, followed by Dubai, Oman, Barbados and Rio de Janeiro.

The Post Office’s Worldwide Holiday Costs Barometer, released every January, doesn’t take into account hotel and flight prices – and, of course, it is possible to find costly meals in Bulgaria and budget ones in Singapore. But it does offer some guidance to where British travellers will find their pound stretching furthest.

At a Glance/The cheapest and costliest destinations for 2018

Destination Cost of eight essential holiday purchases*
Bulgaria (Sunny Beach) £37.92
Japan (Tokyo) £43.14
Portugal (Algarve) £44.25
Czech Republic (Prague) £53.40
South Africa (Cape Town) £54.95
Spain (Costa del Sol) £55.20
Turkey (Marmaris) £55.65
Cyprus (Paphos) £57.72
Hungary (Budapest) £65.39
Vietnam (Hoi An) £65.85
Indonesia (Bali) £66.61
Kenya (Mombasa) £66.77
Dominican Republic (Punta Cana) £67.46
USA (Orlando) £71.82
Sri Lanka (Colombo) £72.12
Malaysia (Penang) £76.21
Greece (Corfu) £77.83
Malta (Sliema) £78.46
Mexico (Cancun) £80.70
Costa Rica (Tamarindo) £81.48
Thailand (Phuket) £86.27
Italy (Sorrento) £91.47
USA (New York) £95.88
Mauritius (Grand Baie) £96.03
St Lucia (Rodney Bay) £99.61
South Korea (Seoul) £103.11
New Zealand (Auckland) £104.80
Jamaica (Montego Bay) £105.53
France (Nice) £106.45
Canada (Vancouver) £106.46
Peru (Lima) £109.81
Tobago £111.54
Antigua (Jolly Beach) £114.18
Australia (Darwin) £120.30
China (Beijing) £126.38
Chile (Santiago) £137.28
Brazil (Rio de Janeiro) £138.59
Barbados (St Lawrence Gap) £139.29
Oman (Muscat) £141
Dubai (Jumeirah) £141.23
Singapore (China Town) £153.72

*Items are a coffee from a local cafe, a beer, a soft drink and a glass of wine from a local bar, a large bottle of mineral water, suncream and insect repellent from a local supermarket, and a three-course evening meal, including wine, at a local restaurant. Source: Post Office.

Overall, the picture is fairly positive for UK travellers in 2018 – compared with last year, at least. Sterling has strengthened against 70 per cent of the Post Office’s 40 best selling foreign currencies since January 2017, when it was still in the post-referendum doldrums, helping to decrease holiday costs in many destinations.

The biggest falls were found in long-haul locations such as Dubai, where prices are down 36 per cent, and New Zealand (down 27 per cent). The Caribbean is offering far better value too, with a drop in prices reported in St Lucia, Antigua (both down 31 per cent), Jamaica (down 27 per cent) and the Dominican Republic (down 26 per cent).

Hoi An in Vietnam (down 21 per cent) and Cape Town (down 16 per cent) are among the other places where the pound is going further in 2018.

While eight of the 10 cheapest destinations are found in Europe, budget travellers might consider steering clear of Italy, 23rd overall, and France, 30th overall. China, Chile and Australia also appear towards the lower end of the ranking.


How reliable is the study?

As mentioned above, there are drawbacks to the Post Office study. It does not take into account the cost of travel, only a handful of on-the-ground purchases, while cheap food is easy to find in just about any city on Earth (Singapore, for instance, the most expensive destination to feature, is renowned for its street food stalls, which will leave you satisfied for a few quid).