09 Mar Laos Travel Costs for Six Weeks
So far, Laos has been our cheapest country to travel in, costing nearly £5 less per day than its closest rival Indonesia. We spent 44 days travelling in Laos altogether; about four weeks during November in the north of the country and another two weeks during February in the south. Overall, we had quite a chilled out and relaxed time in Laid-Back Laos, visiting plenty of waterfalls and temples and although the country is land-locked, we still managed to find time to see some islands! Here’s what we spent during our six-week stay in Laos.
Activity Costs in Laos
Activites were fairly cheap in Laos and included lots of waterfall, museum and temple entrance fees. We saw a lot of waterfalls in Laos and they were some of the most impressive we’ve seen on our trip, especially in the Bolaven Plateau where we discovered seven in two days while motoring around. More expensive activities in the north of the country included our tubing in Laos experience in Vang Vieng and an interesting tour of the caves in Vieng Xai, where thousands of people lived for years during the secret war in Laos.
Entry to Nam Dee Waterfall, Luang Namtha
£0.30 (one person)
Entry to That Luang Namtha Stupa
£0.30 (one person)
Entry to Phousy Hill, Luang Prabang
Entry to Luang Prabang National Museum
£2.40 (one person)
Entry to Vat Xieng Thong, Luang Prabang
Massages in luang Prabang
Kuang Si Waterfall Entrance fee
Tubing in Vang Vieng (Including Tuk Tuk)
Massages in Vang Vieng
Plain of Jars Site One Entrance Fee
That Foun Stupa Entrance Fee
Vieng Xai Caves Tour
Don Khon Waterfalls Entry Fee
Tad Itou Waterfall Entry (Including parking)
Tad Yeuang Waterfall Entry (Including parking)
Tad Champi Waterfall Entry (Including parking)
Tad Fane Waterfall Entry (Including parking)
Pha Souam Waterfall (Including parking)
Cost of Laos Hotels
We found our cheapest accommodation so far while travelling in Laos, at £7.58 per day this was quite a bargain with the cheapest room costing just £5.54 per night. All of our rooms included hot water, if the weather was hot enough then we had air con in the room (except on Don Det where the prices were a little higher). About half of our rooms had a TV and fridge and we were able to find clean rooms upon arrival pretty much wherever we went. We stayed in guesthouses and budget hotels; the majority of owners could speak English and were able to help with any problems we may have had. In Xam Neua and Don Khong it was a little bit more difficult to communicate since there are fewer tourists in these areas.
Laos Food Costs
Our food costs in Laos were quite average for our trip so far. However, we both found the food in Laos pretty unappealing and experienced food-related illnesses more than once while we were there. Local food is pretty typical of Asia and consists of rice, soups and noodles with vegetables and meat; the main difference from other countries seems to be food hygiene standards (hence the stomach problems) and the fact that locals eat any kind of animals, dogs, cats, bats and rats included. In Vientiane and Luang Prabang it was easier to find some decent food as there were a lot of more western-style cafes; we also ate a lot of Indian food. Xam Neua and Pakse were probably the worst places for fussy eaters or vegetarians.
Cost of Transportation in Laos
Transport in Laos leaves a lot to be desired; the roads are bumpy, windy and narrow for a start. There aren’t any trains so you’ll end up on local buses which are cramped and in disrepair and the drivers seem to be the only people in the whole country who are in a rush – and still they end up hours late! We had some of the worst journeys of our trip to date in Laos, including a 13-hour ride from Xam Neua to Luang Prabang on an old and packed local bus. When we travelled somewhere by local bus we usually had to pay a standard 10,000LAK (Laos Kip) (£0.80) each to get a tuk-tuk from the bus station to the town, whereas if we travelled by tourist minibus we would be picked up from and dropped off at our guesthouses.
Huay Xai to Luang Namtha: £9.50
Luang Namtha to Luang Prabang: £18.60
Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng: £16.60
Minibus Vang Vieng to Vientiane: £9.50
Vientiane to Phonsavanh: £25.30
Phonsavanh to Mueng Kham: £3.90
Minibus Mueng Kham to Phonsavanh: £3.90
Minibus Phonsavanh to Xam Neua: £12.60
Xam Neua to Luang Prabang: £20.50
Minibus and boat Cambodia (Kratie) to Don Det: £19.30
Boat and minibus Don Det to Pakse: £7.50
Bus and Boat Pakse to Don Khong: £9.00
Boat and minibus Don Khong to Pakse: £10.50
One taxi for the day: £13.80
11 Tuk-tuks in total: £25.50
12 hour rental in Phonsavanh for £5.50, Fuel for £1.60
48 hour rental in Pakse for £7.50, Fuel for £4.10
Six bikes in total: £6.20
Our miscellaneous costs were pretty high for Laos due to visas and bribes. Since we entered Laos in the north and went on to travel through Vietnam and Cambodia before crossing overland back into southern Laos, we doubled our visa costs. In addition to this, while crossing the border from Thailand to Laos was completely stress-free and above board, the border crossings between Cambodia and Laos and Laos to Thailand involved paying extra ‘bribes’ to the corrupt Cambodian and Laos officials in order to be stamped in and out. We don’t mind giving a bit more money to the locals but this is clearly corruption, none of those ‘overtime fees’ (as they are often called) go anywhere but the officials’ back pockets.
We also had our usual laundry and toiletry costs and had to pick up a few bits of clothing in Laos; while visiting the COPE Centre in Vientiane and MAG and UXO Survivors in Phonsavanh we made some small donations too. One annoying thing about Laos is that you have to pay to use the ATMs and unlike in Thailand, where you can draw money directly from the bank to avoid fees, there’s no way of doing this in Laos. So, whenever we used an ATM in Laos we were charged about £3. I would recommend taking US Dollars or Thai Baht with you and changing it once you enter Laos to avoid paying constant ATM fees.
Laos Visas (twice)
Laundry (Five times)
Postage costs (Packaging, stamps, cards)
Clothing (Flip flops, hoodie, bracelets)
Total Laos Travel Costs for Six Weeks
So there you have it, Laos is our cheapest country yet to travel in. Although we were sick at times and had some horrid journeys we still enjoyed our time in Laos; the friendly and laid-back people are so welcoming and the countryside is beautiful, just be careful with the food! Here are our total Laos Travel costs for 44 days:
As always, we use Trail Wallet to track all of our spending; you can see all of our cost break-downs by country here.
Steph (@ 20 Years Hence)Posted at 14:39h, 09 March
Super helpful budget breakdown, guys (especially as we’ll be heading to Laos in a week!). Great to have an idea of what we can expect to pay—it’s not quite as cheap as I would have expected/hope Laos to be, but then again, for 2 people traveling together, it’s really not out of line or unreasonable.
AndrewPosted at 02:25h, 10 March
Thanks Steph, glad you found it useful. It was our cheapest country so far for travelling in – we could probably have eaten even cheaper and spent less on accommodation too if we weren’t so fussy so it is possible to cut costs even more. 🙂
RobPosted at 21:54h, 09 March
I love your budget breakdowns! Very thorough. Maybe you should become a nomadic accountant, it’s what we all dream of 😉
Seems like you can travel very cheaply too… Thanks for sharing 🙂
AndrewPosted at 02:28h, 10 March
Hah thanks Rob. I’ll think about that career move… Laos is a great country for cheap travel that’s for sure 🙂
KerriPosted at 04:30h, 11 March
Great budget breakdown and is very helpful in giving us an idea of costs. It looks like you guys are doing excellent with keeping costs down!
AmyPosted at 05:41h, 12 March
We’re not doing too badly cost-wise Kerri; we are finding things a bit more expensive here in Burma at the moment though.
ElisabethPosted at 16:14h, 23 June
Hi. I was just wondering how long the trip with minibus and boat from Cambodia (Kratie) to Don Det took. Maybe you’ve written it somewhere else, but I couldn’t find it. Oh, and I was also wondering if you thought the trip to Kratie was worth it in terms of seeing the dolphins.
Other than that I have to say how much I love your blog. Especially your budget breakdown, you are my role-models. Hopefully we’ll be able to do something similar when we go traveling, but I’m not sure we’ll manage to keep as good track of our expenses as you have.
When are you planning on hitting the road again? And where is your next destination?
AndrewPosted at 17:06h, 23 June
Hi Elisabeth, thanks for your great comment! We love it when people take the time to say things like that! 🙂 If you haven’t already done so and you have an iPhone then it’s really worth getting the Trail Wallet App – it has been so helpful to track all of our expenses along the way.
Firstly, the minibus from Kratie to Don Det took about six hours in total but this did include about two hours of waiting around at the border and while we changed buses. We have another post coming soon about how to get around Cambodia and I think there’s more detailed info on that journey on our border crossings and bribes post. We really enjoyed our trip to Kratie to see the dolphins, there’s little else to do there except for mountain biking and perhaps kayaking. It’s nice to stop off and see these amazing endangered creatures – and you see a lot more of them than was shown in the video too!
Our next trip is actually to Scotland in August with Amy’s parents, then we fly to Vietnam later that month to try and get some teaching work.
Thanks again! 🙂
ElisabethPosted at 22:20h, 23 June
Hi. Yeah I saw you where using the Trail Wallet App, but we are operating with one iPhone and one android, so we might want something that works on both. Steffen is the tech-guy so that’s his area of expertise. It’s so helpful that you post so much about transport, will be great to read the one about Cambodia too. Kayaking in Kratie sounds interesting, too. We’ll have to make some tough choices though, we haven’t got much time in Cambodia and Laos. We are planning to split November between the two. What would you guys recommend? We are thinking 15 days each, but have no idea whether that’s a good idea or not.
Teaching in Vietnam sounds exciting! Where in Vietnam did you have in mind?
Are you going to Edi for the festival? My mom lives there and she says it’s great. I would bring warm clothes and an umbrella (we haven’t been lucky with the weather when in Scotland).
Looking forward to hear about your next travel plans. =)
AndrewPosted at 18:05h, 24 June
Thanks again Elisabeth! 🙂 When researching how to get from one place to another in South East Asia we found it hard to find much info so we thought it’d be a good idea to do a few posts on how to get around the different countries.
Both Cambodia and Laos have loads to offer but Laos takes a lot longer to get around if you’re travelling by bus. Depending on how interested you are on history and architecture you could see everything you need within two weeks or you could spend a month or more in each country. Our favourite places in Cambodia were Siem Reap and Battambang and in Laos it was Luang Prabang. Check out our other posts on those countries and see what you think.
We are planning on teaching in Hanoi, we really liked it there so we thought why not try and get some work there. We are spending a week near Fort William and then we’ll be in Edinburgh for the weekend while the Fringe festival is on I think. Thanks for the tip; we’ll prepare for wet weather!
RhiannonPosted at 16:57h, 26 March
This is so helpful! Thank you so much!
As someone who is planning a 6 month RTW trip – it’s so great to have help with what to expect in a lot of the countries we are going!
Makes my budgeting and saving from home way more manageable!
AndrewPosted at 03:51h, 27 March
No problem Rhiannon, glad you find it useful. Although it’s about 18 months since we were there most of the costs shouldn’t have changed much. Enjoy your RTW trip!