Laos on budget
--- the ultimate backpacking travel guide ---
Laos is relatively cheap destination in Southeast Asia. It is not Thailand in terms of prices, but definitely an affordable country for backpackers with low budget. There are so many fun acctivities to do here that it can be difficult make compromises with your budget. If you are planning to go to Laos soon, read our article, so you know the prices for most of the things in advance.
Average cost per person: 25 USD per day
including accommodation, food, transport, entrance fees, souvenirs
excluding visa and flight tickets
Check also top things to see in Laos in our photo journey.
In Laos they pay with Laotian Kip (LAK). The exchange rate in 2017 is 1 USD = 8,100 LAK. You may use Thai baht or US dollars too at some of the places. The funny thing is that while it is common in many countries to have different people on each bank note, there is just one guy on almost all of the notes in Laos.
The main thing you can save money on are the flight tickets. Read our tips how to find cheap flights.
If you are in the big city, take public transport if possible. It is more difficult to find the right bus, sure, but you can save money. Otherwise and most common is to take a tuk-tuk. Bargain, bargain, bargain. That's the rule. The long distance buses have a range of prices and services. Check the tickets with different companies first. If you go with the cheapest as we tried to do, expect lower standard comparing to other countries around.
Prices example per person (2016)
- short ride with tuk-tuk - 15,000 LAK (2 USD)
- a bike rental - 10,000 - 15,000 LAK (1-2 USD)
- a motorbike rental - 50,000 LAK (6 USD)
- Huay Xai - Luang Prabang, two day boat - 240,000 LAK (30 USD)
- Luang Prabang - Vang Vieng by bus - 130,000 LAK (16 USD)
- Vang Vieng - Vientiane by bus - 50,000 LAK (6 USD)
- Vientiane - Buddha Park by public transport (25km) - 12,000 LAK (1.5 USD)
- Vientiane - Thakhek by bus - 100,000 LAK (12 USD)
- Thakhek - Savannakhet by bus - 30,000 LAK (3.5 USD)
- Savannakhet - Tad Lo by bus - 70,000 LAK (8.5 USD)
- Champasak - 4,000 islands by bus - 60,000 LAK (7.5 USD)
Laos can offer a wide range of accommodation possibilities. We travel as a couple, so we stay usually in cheap double rooms. The price range per person in 2016 was 25,000 LAK (3 USD) per night for the cheapest places up to 55,000 LAK (7 USD) per night for more touristy places. That means an average of 5 USD per person per night. Not bad, right?
Food in Laos is cheap. Eating small meals and snacks on the street is great and it will save your budget. You will find baguettes literally everywhere for less than a dollar.
And also the thai pancakes if you are addicted to them, as we are :). Otherwise if you are not sure what to eat at some places, go for pho soup with fresh herbs.
We have never eaten a bad pho in Laos. A meal at cheaper restaurants costs about 20,000 - 30,000 LAK (2.5 - 3.5 USD) per person. The most expensive food we ate in Laos was for 60,000 LAK (7.5 USD).
We never drink much while traveling, but we must say that Lao beer is one of the best beers in Asia and it is quite cheap, so we drank couple of them quite often. No wonder, czech people learned them how to make a good beer :) If you want to try traditional alcohol called Lao Lao, we recommend not to do it :) Well, it is officially the cheapest alcohol in the world, made from rice. We were interested how it tasted and we can say it is just very strong, not good and you will probably have a very bad hangover day after.
The prices of attractions in Laos are quite affordable, but there are many activities you can do here and that can higher up your budget. It doesn't mean you shouldn't try anything, but be smart.
Hot air baloon ride is maybe not the smartest thing to do if you have a tight budget. For that price you can afford many other fun things to do. We were thinking about ziplining in the jungle, very expensive btw.
But we started to read more about it and discovered many people who weren't really satisfied in terms of safety and the behaviour of the staff after serious accidents. We had still two months in Asia ahead of us, so we basicaly chickened out and didn't do that :)
Prices example per person (2016)
- Tat Kuang- Si Waterfalls - 20,000 LAK (2.5 USD)
- Buddha Park - Xieng Khuan - 7,000 LAK (1 USD)
- Wat Phu Champasak temple - 55,000 LAK (7.5 USD)
- A kayak day tour at 4,000 islands, food+transport - 165,000 LAK (20 USD)
- Herbal sauna - 15,000 LAK (2 USD)
More tips for traveling cheap here