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The world's cheapest and priciest big cities — based on a sandwich and a night out
In Geneva, a club sandwich will cost you about $30
The classic, bacon-accented, three-tiered sandwich may be a great gauge of how expensive a big city is.
The classic, bacon-accented, three-tiered sandwich may be a great gauge of how expensive a big city is. Cerri, Lara/ZUMA Press/Corbis
W

hen it comes to dining and partying in a foreign country, it can be deceptively easy for even the most meticulously planned budgets to get out of hand. Between exchange rates, hidden fees, and gratuities, budgeting for an international trip can be confusing. Thankfully, two recent surveys that average a handful of costs associated with popular travel destinations could help tourists better anticipate their spending, particularly when it comes to food and nights out.

THE SURVEYS:

The Club Sandwich Index (CSI) was recently released for the second year in a row by Hotels.com. The CSI, which is proposed as a cost barometer for tourists, is based on the calculated average price of a chicken, bacon, egg, lettuce, and mayonnaise sandwich in 30 three- to five-star hotels in a particular metropolis, with 28 cities ranked in total.

The TripAdvisor UK TripIndex provides a fuller — as in an entire night's worth — look at estimated costs. It ranks cities around the world based on average costs for a vacationing couple's night out on the town, including one night's stay in a four-star hotel, a two-course dinner with a bottle of wine, cocktails, and taxi fare.

Taking into account the results of both those rankings, here are some of the most expensive and cheapest cities in the world. As the evaluations show, traveling in European countries can sap you of money quickly, while vacationing in Asia is comparatively cheap.


MOST EXPENSIVE:

1. Geneva, Switzerland
With an average price of $30.45 (yes, that's in dollars) for a club sandwich, this Swiss city tops the Club Sandwich Index. The TripIndex skipped over Geneva, but regardless of where you are in Switzerland, you'll want to head out with padded pockets: The estimated cost for a night out in the country's most populous city, Zurich, took third place for most expensive.

2. Oslo, Norway
Those vacationing in Norway's capital city better have full coffers, because the CSI and the TripIndex both rank Oslo as the second most expensive city in the world. According to the TripIndex, a dinner out ($186.89) can cost almost as much as one night's lodging at a four-star hotel. Meanwhile, staying in and ordering a club sandwich will run you $27.45.

3. Paris, France
Unsurprisingly, the City of Light is one of the most expensive in the world for just about everything, including club sandwiches and a night on the town. Paris is the second costliest city according to the CSI — though last year it came in first — and the fourth most expensive according to the TripIndex.

LEAST EXPENSIVE:

1. Taipei, Taiwan
Taiwan's capital is one of the cheapest according to the CSI, with a sandwich averaging $11.37. While the TripIndex also ranks it as one of its affordable cities, nights out elsewhere in Asia, such as Beijing and Bangkok, come even cheaper.

2. Beijing, China
One of the world's most populous cities is also one of the most affordable — the CSI ranked Beijing as the sixth cheapest city, while the TripIndex ranks it as the second-cheapest. According to the TripIndex, $26.68 can get you a two-course dinner for two with a bottle of wine.

3. Bangkok, Thailand
Lured by the promise of pristine beaches, partying, and affordability, it seems that just about everyone has backpacked in Thailand or intends to. Thailand's capital is one of the cheapest cities of those cities ranked in the CSI (fifth cheapest) and the TripIndex (third cheapest). At $11.81, even those on a shoestring budget likely can splurge for club sandwich at a respectable hotel.

Karina Martinez-Carter
Karina Martinez-Carter is a freelance journalist based in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She contributes regularly to BBC Travel and Forbes Travel Guide. Her work also has appeared with Bloomberg Businessweek, Travel + Leisure, and Mental Floss, among other publications.

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