Dollar-Friendly Destinations 2008
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The place: Tunisia
It's a poor man's: Morocco
The financial analysis: Tunisia has a reputation as a backpacker's beach destination (and yes, the desert filming location of the first Star Wars), but a recent influx of design hotels means better accommodations with prices still hanging on the low end.
Price of a beer: $4
What to do: Get yourself some culture. Walk around Tunis's Old City and stop by the Zitouna Mosque, which dates back to the 800s. Be sure to dress conservatively when you wander around the courtyard (non-Muslims are not allowed inside).
Hotel: Quick—what do you think of when you hear "ruins of Carthage"? Whatever it is, it's surely not Villa Didon. A sleek white box of a hotel surrounded by ancient ruins, it has ten suites, a spa, rooms with high-tech touches, and lots of right angles. The bar on the terrace overlooks the Mediterranean. You can afford to splurge here: A lavish suite costs around $300 a night.
Cheap eats: Located in the medina, Dar El Jeld specializes in local Tunisian cuisine, like couscous with fish, lamb stew with spinach, and syrupy desserts and pastries. The adjacent shop sells local art, jewelry, rugs, clothes, and other crafts, which somehow seem less touristy if you buy them after dinner.
How to get there: You can probably score a ticket for less than $800, though no U.S. airline flies nonstop. Many connect through Casablanca (try Royal Air Maroc) or London.
Tel: 216 71 73 3433
Dar El Jeld
Tel: 216 71 560 916