The cost of travel in Laos

I had originally planned on spending a month in Laos but in the end I was pretty much ready to get to Vietnam. The possibilities of exploring further north of Luang Prabang was on the cards but I spent most of the time recovering from a cold and just wanted some familiarity in terms of food and language.

In total I spent 17 days in Laos, only spending time in Vientiane, Vang Vieng, Phonsavan and Luang Prabang spending an average of $60 per day. It’s quite a lot mainly due to the transportation cost. Back in Australia when I was checking into the airport I had to book a flight from Cambodia to Vientiane as the requirements for entering is showing an onward ticket out of the country. I’ve since found out that this is bogus and in the end proved to be $380AUD lesson. If you take out the cost of the flight then my cost of travel in Laos comes down to significantly to $38.

As you know I’m a budget conscious traveller but it’s not really my priority. I spent my time in Vang Vieng, Phonsavan and Luang Prabang in a private room which cost $10 per night. With my constant coughing, I didn’t want to be”that guy” keeping everybody up. It could be done cheaper by staying in hostels at around $4-6 a night.

vang vieng river

Room with a view in Vang Vieng

Food I found was a lot more expensive than I expected. Everything seemed to be in the $2-4 mark. The hostels there didn’t have kitchens so it’s not possible to cook any meals for yourself or buy food to be refrigerated. Apart from Phonsavan, there wasn’t a market within walking distance where you could buy super cheap meals or snacks. Sandwich stalls are quite common with simple filling combinations coming in at around $2-3 and a normal rice or noodle dish was around $3-5. Of course you can get cheaper hamburgers for less but why come to Laos to eat mystery meat hamburgers? Beers everywhere seem to be the standard $1-$1.50 everywhere. Fruit shakes were around $1.50.

Most of the tourism cost was the hot air balloon flight which was $78 but worth it. Most places around the world you’d expect to pay around $350+ for an hour flight. The other main contributing tourism cost is the cooking class at $27.

Ballooning in Vang Vieng.

Hot air ballooning over Vang Vieng

LAOS Spend ($US) Avg spend per day Percentage
Drinks $38 $2 4%
Electronics $3 $0.18 0%
Food $191 $11 19%
Accommodation $171 $10 17%
Utilities & Misc $38 $2 4%
Personal $7 $0 1%
Transportation $418 $25 41%
Tourism $152 $9 15%
Total $1,018 $60 100%
Total days 17
Avg cost per day 60
Avg Without Flight $38



Have you been to Laos and were your costs similar?


The cost of travel in Laos — 6 Comments

  1. We found Laos to be more expensive than Vietnam and Thailand in certain ways as well, which we initially found confusing, but ultimately made sense once we learned more about the country. Even though the average Laotian lives on very little, most of these people are living out in rural communities where they catch/grow/make whatever they need. In bigger cities that are attempting to cater to tourists, there simply aren’t enough natural resources and infrastructure to use local products and so much of what you consume in Laos is actually imported in from Thailand which is why food costs, motorbike rentals, and the like are oddly high. It’s still not an expensive destination by any means, but compared to its neighbors, it can sometimes feel that way. I haven’t finished crunching our numbers, but I think we probably averaged about $50/day for the two of us.

    Also, I can’t believe they made you buy an exit ticket for Cambodia! That is definitely not an entry requirement, and even if it were, it is certainly never enforced in Cambodia. It is times like this when Air Asia is your friend—just buy a cheap $25 ticket and throw it away!
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  2. Mate, impressed with the financial diligence as always! Keep going like this and you will never need to return to the ‘real world’, I think your version is better.

  3. I am planning to visit Laos next month. I am glad that it is very budget friendly. I am looking to spend 15 days in Laos and after that moving to Thailand for a month.

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