Inside the Cheapest City in the World

Asuncion is Paraguay’s capital and five times winner of the ‘least expensive city on earth’ title. But can cheap really mean cheerful?

Cathedral de Asuncion

With a bundle of decrepit banknotes in my pocket, I stroll the narrow boulevard of Palma, a mix of 60′s-style financial buildings and Spanish colonial relics that stretches for miles across downtown Asuncion. The harsh heat and the dizzying array of bargains on offer from somnambulant street vendors is making me thirsty. I stumble across a darkened cafe where two waiters with moustaches the size of cactus branches sit asleep on the porch. I nudge them from their slumber and order a glass of wine.

Not yet au fait with the currency of Paraguay, I place the smallest denomination I have on the table. The moustaches wiggle in surprise. Within minutes, four whole bottles of very decent Chilean wine land on my table. ‘Friends come soon?’ one moustache enquires. I thought I knew what a bargain was, but it seems Asuncion was going to make me seriously reassess the concept. (READ MORE)

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