Traveling Laos: How Much Does It Cost? [For A Couple]
Want to travel Laos on a budget? This is a detailed breakdown of how much we spent in Laos staying in double rooms with private bathrooms and air conditioning. Using public transport and most of the time a motorbike.
We arrived in Luang Prabang after two months of traveling India and honestly, it was a relief. Don't get me wrong; India was awesome but the crowds, the heat and the distances make traveling on a budget exhausting. For India we set a daily average of €40 or $50 and we pretty much nailed it. For Laos (and the rest of SE Asia) we decided to go with the same daily average.
Laos is supposed to be a little bit more expensive than Thailand and thus, definitely more expensive than India but because we don't mind cheap food from street stalls and local restaurants, we thought it would be possible to spend a similar amount. To stick to the budget, we also try to avoid tours where we can and visit sights and attractions independently by motorbike, public transport or our own feet (we've lost a few pounds since we set off).
The cost of traveling Laos on a budget
Food was definitely more expensive than India but not in a way that killed our budget. The thing we liked most is that we could rent a motorbike to explore and visit the things we wanted to see. That really cuts down the cost of transport and tours when visiting waterfalls, temples or museums.
So, did we go over our daily budget of €40 or $48? Here are the amounts per category and the total cost for 19 days of backpacking in Laos in 2018. All the numbers are for two people and don't include flights to and from Laos.
Total: €244 or $285
Average: €12,8 or $15 / night
While the average cost of a room in Laos was pretty similar to India, the quality of the accommodations was definitely better. Not so much in terms of cleanliness or comfort but where in India it was just a room and nothing more, in Laos there where also nice common cozy areas to spend some time outside of the bedroom. Most guesthouses and budget hotels in Laos feel homy and that's really important when traveling long term. You don't want to be locked up in your room all the time.
Total: €220 or $257
Daily average: €11,5 or $15.5
Ah food. We love food but we don't feel like eating fried rice or noodles every day. We love to try new things but when traveling on a budget you need to find out where to get the same dish cheaper. Local restaurants and food stalls are the way to go and if you do your research you'll have no problem finding cheap and delicious Lao food. No need to eat rice or noodles every day.
We felt like food was indeed more expensive than in India and also Thailand for example but not exaggerated. The portions in Laos were always slightly smaller for the same price. But hey, we did just fine with our budget!
€139 or $163
Buses average around €8 ($9) and tuk tuk rides from $2 to $3
Getting around in Laos means mainly taking buses from one place to another or taking a tuk tuk once in a while. The thing with buses here is that you have to do your research. The level of comfort ranges from sitting crushed between chickens and a guy with and AK-47 to spacious air-conditioned buses. You don't know what you're going to get when you book a bus randomly in Laos, so do some research before you do.
€71 or $83
Going to Laos meant being able to rent a motorbike again without fearing for your life. It's a really nice option to explore the country on a budget and it definitely keeps the daily average cost down when visiting sites and exploring the surroundings. No need for tours or expensive transportation. But don't be naive. You're riding a motorbike in a foreign country so you need some experience. Even in a smaller city the streets can get crowded during rush hour and you always need to be careful with unexpected curves and other things you might encounter on the road.
The entry fee for our favorite temple Vat Phou is €5 ($6) and a motorbike for a day €6 ($7).
Other important costs
VISA: €57,50 or $67. The price of a visa depends on the country you're from. Check the list here.
The total cost of backpacking in Laos for a couple
If to all this you add some miscellaneous things like laundry, toothpaste or some batteries then the grand total and daily average for backpacking in Laos for two people traveling on a budget is...