Sandwiched in between Cambodia and Vietnam, Laos is hard to pass up. It’s a laid back country with beautiful scenery and extremely friendly people. Laos is also where I started having a meltdown and decided I needed to fly back to Germany to see Andy. I didn’t do much that cost anything while I was there. Lots of relaxing, lots of admiring the landscape, and lots of thinking. So most of what I spent in Laos was just the bare essentials.
Laos spending breakdown
- $144.25: Lodging for 13 nights, average $11.10 per night
- $54.25: Overland transport
- $131.20: Flight from Pakse to Vientiane
- $7: Tubing in Vang Vieng
- $35: Visa
- $260: Food, alcohol and other miscellaneous purchases
The total comes to $631.70, so $48.59 per day. If you subtract the flight, the average comes to $38.50 per day.
Prices are listed in US dollars. I was traveling on my own at the beginning of my time in Laos, but I met a girl from Australia along the way, and we ended up sharing a room for 6 nights. I’m sure you could find cheaper places to stay and save a few dollars here and there, but it’s not going to get too much cheaper than $11 a night.
Overland transport includes tuk-tuk rides, a shuttle from Vientiane to Vang Vieng, a bus from Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang, and transport to and from the 4000 Islands. Tuk-tuks prices can be negotiated, but it’s harder to negotiate the price of buses and shuttles.
I was getting burnt out. I didn’t like the idea of a long overnight bus ride from Pakse up to Vientiane, so I splurged and bought a plane ticket. You can certainly save money here by taking the bus instead. I’m not sure how much that bus would have cost, but as a point of reference, the shuttle from Vientiane to Vang Vieng was $7.50 and the bus from Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang was $12.50.
Tubing in Vang Vieng (sober in case you were wondering) was the only activity I did that I had to pay for. If you do any waterfall trips, boat rides in the 4000 Islands looking for dolphins, museum visits, or a visit to the Plain of Jars, add to your activities budget.
As always, I wasn’t good at tracking my food, alcohol and miscellaneous expenses. I did have a few nice dinners here and there, and while they weren’t expensive, you can easily get away with spending less. My Australian friend and I also ended up eating lunch at JoMa Cafe most days for lunch in Luang Prabang, which is more in line with western prices. This category also includes restocking toiletries, so things like contact solution, sunscreen, etc.
As you can see, Laos is a very inexpensive country. Even if you aren’t trying to pinch pennies, you can still spend very little. This is definitely a country where your money will go a long way without having to make much effort. Make a few little changes to what I did, and your travel budget will be in even better shape, but I think it would be hard to get too much lower than how much I spent in Laos.
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I use the Trail Wallet – Travel Budget & Expense Tracker app on my iPhone to track our expenses, and I really love how helpful it is. I even use it to track my spending at home. I definitely recommend it if you’re looking for an easy way to track your travel expenses.