Laos was the third country I visited on my Southeast Asia trip and one of my favorites (however bad the internet might be). After the dirt cheap prices of Northern Thailand, daily expenses were slightly higher than I was accustomed too, or would have liked, and many other backpackers agreed, but having said that, Laos is still an extremely inexpensive country as a whole and a perfect stop, a must, on any backpacker agenda.
As usual, I used up my 30 day Visa in full and ended up spending a total of $660.78. That comes to $22 per day. Check my Asian Currency Converter to get that value in Lao kip. I was deep in backpacker mode at that point in time and, therefore, feel confident that my spending is indicative for a backpacker budget, but then again, each person has their own spending habits. A few things to keep in mind in regards to my personal spending:
- I traveled with a buddy throughout the entire month and at points, our group swelled even larger. This allowed me to split many costs such as rooms and tuk tuk rides.
- In total, we visited 6 separate locations: Luang Namtha, Nong Khiaw/Muong Ngoi, Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng, Vientiene and Don Det. Give or take a location or two, this is a pretty standard itinerary for those spending a month in Laos.
- I mentioned it before and I’ll mention it again, I don’t buy souvenirs since I don’t want to carry anything around for months. Although I did buy my friend a plastic red bobble-head horse as a gag gift.
Besides Luang Prabang, we didn’t stay in any dorm rooms. Usually, there weren’t any available so a solo traveler should plan accordingly. Splitting room costs helped out considerably. Private rooms or bungalows usually hovered more around 50,000 or 60,000 kip, but did run as low as 30,000 kip (dirt cheap and extremely minimal) in Muong Ngoi. Predictably, the cities were the most expensive. A dorm in Luang Prabang was 35,000 kip, but Vientiene took the cake. We were able to find a triple for 90,000 kip out of the blue, which was way lower than anywhere else we got a quote. I hope you have the same luck.
The prices of food varied greatly from place to place, depending on the options available. We ate at street food stalls, small establishments and night markets frequently. Just as frequently, we took a peak at a menu and ruled it too expensive, moving on. A normal plate ran around 20,000 kip and a bowl of soup 10,000 kip while a sandwich or pancake from a stall was usually 10,000 kip. Having said that, a few locations stood out. All you can eat buffets in Muong Ngoi for 20,000 kip (seriously amazing) and Luang Prabang for 10-15,000 kip (Sort of sketchy and not nearly as good). One last note, I usually pass on a drink, opting for my water. The sacrifices all add up for a backpacker.
Beerlao and more Beerlao. 10,000 kip for a big bottle just about everywhere during my stay until right at the very end. Prices, supposedly, went up to 12k across the entire country. Sorry guys.
Transportation costs were the initial indicator that we had left the prices of Thailand behind. For some reason bus and minibus prices were a third higher than Thailand and eventually, Cambodia. It is a much more mountainous country, especially in the north, and the roads are of much poorer quality, which both could play a part in this, but to that end, road construction was commonplace during my entire stay, so improvements are on the way.
Actual Prices Paid in Nong Khiaw
Boat to Muong Ngoi – 25,000 kip
Bus to Luang Prabang – 55,000 kip
Actual Prices Paid in Muong Ngoi
Entrance to Cave – 10,000 kip
Actual Prices Paid in Luang Prabang
Tuk tuk to city center from bus station – 15,000 kip
Full day bike rental – 35,000 kip
Bus from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng – 125,000 kip
Actual Prices Paid in Vang Vieng
Tuk tuk to tubing – 10,000 kip (per person)
Full day bike rental – 20,000 kip
Entrance to Blue Lagoon – 10,000 kip
Bus from Vang Vieng to Vientiene – 50,000 kip
Actual Prices Paid in Vientiene
COPE Museum – Free or Donation
Sleeper bus from Vientiene to Pakse – 155,000 kip
Actual Prices Paid in Don Det
Inner tube Rental – 8,000 kip
Bike Rental – 10,000 kip