We analyzed a year's worth of news, trends, and statistics to identify the world's best value destinations for 2011. From Shanghai (pictured) to our own backyard, here are 10 places that you can't afford to miss.
Shanghai is flush with bargains right now; hotel rates, for example, fell as much as 47 percent from October to November 2010, and five-star hotels slashed prices to a wallet-friendly $197 per night. Pictured: Shanghai's Old Town.
Shanghai is one of China's easiest cities to navigate for non-Chinese speakers, thanks to a $45 billion facelift that outfitted the city with new roads and subway lines for last year's World Expo.
Lisbon is the third city in the world (after Warsaw and Marrakech) where luxury comes cheapest: on average, a five-star hotel room rings up at a mere $153 per night.
Despite Portugal's money woes, the country has beefed up infrastructure in recent years, spending millions of dollars to improve highways and Lisbon's public transportation system.
Beautiful, sunny Jamaica is already one of the most affordable Caribbean destinations, and the island is on track to become even more accessible thanks to 3,000 new hotel rooms and an influx of new flights.
Six new direct flights to Jamaica were added in 2010, connecting the country to 16 U.S. cities (more than any other Caribbean Island). In Ochos Rios, pictured, a new airport opened in December 2010.
Cruise arrivals will also get a bump with the launch of Historic Falmouth Jamaica, a new port of call on the island's north coast, which opened in December 2010.
Sri Lanka—a lush, pear-shaped island off the southern tip of India, doesn't have to work hard to be attractive—it's known for its coconut trees, wild elephants, and daydream-worthy beaches.
(Courtesy Aidan Jones/Wikimedia)
The U.S. dollar is mighty in Sri Lanka: $1 equals about 113 rupees (translation: you can buy fish curry, a classic Sri Lankan lunch, for under a buck). Pictured here: a Buddha statue in the town of Pelmadulla.
As you can see here, Sri Lanka's Tangalla Beach is beautiful in the morning. The best time to visit the country is December to March, but for the best deals, plan a trip in April, the tail end of dry season.
(Courtesy Colby Otero/Wikimedia)
Ireland's banks are struggling—the country recently accepted a $112 billion bailout from the European Union—but the economic turmoil has an upshot for tourists: kind prices. Pictured here: a street view in Dublin.
(Courtesy Rosemary Debiak/MyBudgetTravel)
Ha'penny Bridge makes for an attractive stroll in Dublin. Scoring a bed in this Irish city costs 7 percent less now than it did in 2009.
(Courtesy Thorsten Pohl/Wikimedia Commons)
Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada spans over 2,500 square miles and is credited with some of North America's best slopes, not to mention hot springs, bike trails, and golf courses.
Mountain goats take in the view at Banff. In an effort to draw visitors, all Banff resorts have promised not to raise the budget-friendly entry fee of $10.
Two decades ago, Estonia was a struggling part of the Soviet Union; now it's fast becoming one of Eastern Europe's vacation hotspots. Tallinn, featured here, is known for its stunning architecture, funky restaurants, and raging nightlife.
On January 1, Tallinn kicked off a yearlong schedule of 7,000+ events—concerts, dance festivals, museum exhibits and more—to celebrate being crowned the 2011 European Capital of Culture.
Tallinn's Old Town is shown here during sunset. It will be easier than ever to get to this capital city in 2011 thanks to increasing flights from London on carriers like Estonian Air, EasyJet, and RyanAir.
The oil spill scared many tourists away, but these Gulf waters are sparkling in a January 2011 photo of Panama City Beach.
(Walter Bibikow/JAI/Aurora Photos)
Deals abound along the Gulf Coast's 1,680 miles of shoreline (including Santa Rosa beach, shown here). Plus, the average daily rate at regional hotels is down between 12 to 43 percent since 2009, depending on the location.
(Richard T. Nowitz/Corbis)
Colombia's bad reputation is a thing of the past. The country is not only safe, it has mass tourist appeal, thanks to attractions ranging from gorgeous colonial cities like Bogotá (pictured) to Caribbean beaches to Amazonian jungles.
(John Coletti/Getty Images)
A view down a street in Bogotá. Airfare decreased by 16 percent in 2010 thanks to the fact that Colombia opened its runways to low-cost carriers like JetBlue and Spirit.
Houston is home to Texas's biggest shopping mall—at 2.2 million square feet—and the third most Fortune 500 companies in the country, but when it comes to prices, the U.S.'s fourth-largest city is all about scaling down.
Hotel rates have dropped 5 percent since 2009 in Houston, and four-star rooms are going for $96 per night, according to a recent Hotwire report. Pictured here is a view of Sam Houston Park.