Japan comes at a premium. According to a study released Wednesday by the research firm Employment Conditions Abroad, four of the most expensive cities in the world are Japanese and Tokyo has defended its title of “Least Affordable Place on Earth.”
Three Swiss cities and two Norwegian cities also broke the top ten, with Oslo placing second and the surprisingly costly Luanda, Angola coming in seventh.
The presence of Luanda, a port city crippled by poverty, among the top ten illustrates the hidden price tag that can comes with visiting the developing world: Goods retail for outrageous amounts due to unmet demand. Luanda leads the sorrowful pack of places that are expensive to visit for many of the same reasons that few people want to visit: Caracas, Venezuela, Libreville, Gabon, and Kinshasha, Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Poorly supplied areas aside, the top twenty is dominated by the blonde-haired blue-eyed usual suspects, northern European cities like Copenhagen, Helsinki, and Stockholm, where strong economies give the Euro muscle.
The Telegraph reports that the ECA study brings at least some good news for travelers: Popular destinations on the continent, including Paris, Berlin and Rome, have slipped down the list and some of the least expensive cities actually have a great deal to offer. Mumbai, Chennai, Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi – all increasingly accessible tourist-friendly towns with a lot to offer – remain among the cheapest major cities.
Because accommodation and utilities were not factored into the survey, the results are likely most relevant to budget travelers. A stay in one of the nicest hotels in a cheaper, more dangerous city – let’s say the Avari Towers in Karachi, Pakistan – will still run visitors close to $300.
Of course staying in a rougher neighborhood of Karachi might have a hidden cost as well.