Clever currencies: 5 countries weak against the sterling

Richard Mellor

While exchange rates against the dollar and euro are famously bad, the sterling still offers value against other currencies around the world.

1. Argentina

The science: The pound has nearly doubled in value against Argentina’s ailing peso in just two years. Having never been cheap, South America’s second-largest country has hardly become a bargain—but now’s the time to travel if ever there was one.

Reasons to capitalise: Buenos Aires is famous for its steaks and tango clubs, for its street art and street parties.

Away from the capital, fly-drive country tours could incorporate Mendoza’s vineyards, the Iguacu Falls, gaucho country and, at the southern wilds, Patagonia’s empty spaces and massive glaciers.

 

2. China

The science: The People’s Bank of China initiated a small depreciation of its yuan in 2015 in an effort to stimulate the country’s economy—and now finance specialists are predicting an imminent “maxi-devaluation”.

Reasons to capitalise: China’s most famous sites are the Terracotta Army sculptures at Xian and its not-actually-visible-from-space Great Wall. Chengdu enjoys a similar international profile thanks to its giant panda research base.

Most visits incorporate one of the mighty metropolises of Shanghai and Beijing; the latter with its Forbidden City palace. But consider also Shenzhen and its just-opened V&A Museum outpost, or Hainan’s sandy beaches.

 

3. Turkey

The science: Already struggling courtesy of its state of emergency, Turkey’s lira nosedived further against the pound and dollar recently following Donald Trump’s decision to revoke US travel visas for Turkish citizens.

This in addition to the extraordinary value on offer as hoteliers try and entice travellers back following the country’s political unrest. Five-star resort hotels are jaw-droppingly cheap at present.

Reasons to capitalise: While some of Turkey remains off-limits according to the Foreign Office’s travel advice, the famous Lycian coastline is perfectly safe—including resort towns like Bodrum and Oludeniz.

Surreal Cappadocia is also not considered a risk. Capital Istanbul has famously suffered some terrorism, but then so have London and Paris; its Grand Bazaar and Blue Mosque are hard to ignore.

 

4. Ethiopia

The science: The National Bank of Ethiopia officially devalued its birr after a shortage of foreign currency in the East African country.

Immediately, the birr plunged around 15 per cent against all major currencies, including our sterling. Bad news for Ethiopia, yes, but a bonus for any would-be visitors to the country put off by costs.

Reasons to capitalise: It’s in Ethiopia that some of our earliest ancestors have been discovered, including the Australopithecus skeleton known as Lucy.

Even older are the Simien and Bale mountains, where wolves prowl around,  or the Danakil Depression and its volcanoes. Amid the two come lush deserts, savannah, vast lakes and even the Blue Nile’s source, plus monkeys, elephants and hyenas.

 

5. Australia

The science: Undergoing a long-term slump, Australia’s dollar has shown signs of recovery lately. Still, much better exchange rates than in recent years are available for anyone swapping GBPs—and many strategists foresee that continuing.

Reasons to capitalise: England’s cricketers travel Down Under to contest the Ashes this winter, and travel tickets haven’t been so cheap in years; if only Joe Root and co’s prospects were similarly encouraging.

Sydney and Melbourne need no introduction, while Perth’s growing allure will be confirmed in March when Qantas begins a direct flight from Heathrow.

Natural wonders? Try Uluru, the Great Barrier Reef, the idyllic Whitsunday isles or that massive, eerie Outback. Consider spending time with indigenous Aboriginals, or visiting the isle Tasmania for outdoor adventures. 

 

More travel tips from Richard Mellor

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