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Our Laos Budget. We’re spending $40/day, sort of..

I keep quoting this figure of $41/day as our budget, that’s actually a lie, our budget for Laos is working out at a lot more than that, everything considered. We’re cheating rather too much on cake, beer and coffee but Laos is indisputably cheap, cheaper than Thailand, and low accommodation costs are a big part of that. So a blog post on Laos budget, costs and prices is in order. Of course you can spend as much as you like, a backpacker budget looks very different to a luxury holiday budget, but here are some examples and experiences of budgeting in and for Laos. It’s one of our favourite countries and one of the cheapest, last time we stayed 6 weeks and we’ll be back to see more.

Laos budget.over budget for laos

We’re cheating and we suck at budgeting!

 

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Laos Budget. What you can buy on a $40 daily budget.

We spend around $40 every day for a family of four, that covers all food, drinks and accommodation, it would be hard to spend more. It isn’t enough to cover all the extras, day trips, visa extensions, bus journeys and so on.

Accommodation is easy on the budget in Laos and the standard is great. Guest houses at our price point are pretty new and incredibly clean. Little Boo vomited all over the bed recently. Stripping the bed in the middle of the night revealed new, unstained everything, that was great to see.

vang vieng guest house A

This room, for 3, with private bathroom and aircon cost us $12 per night. Prices seem very similar everywhere in Vang Vieng. Luang Prabang is more expensive and calls for a higher budget even for backpackers.

We apayed 90,000 kip ( about $12 AU) for this room with air con, en suite, fan, TV and free wi-fi , the guest house is right on the river and was perfect for us in Vang Vieng. In Luang Prabang and Vientiane we payed more.

Food costs in Laos

Food is more expensive than Thailand or Vietnam.  In Thailand you can get a meal for a dollar, likewise Vietnam, you won’t get anything for a dollar in Laos. The starting point is 10,000 Kip, but the portions are much bigger ( 7,000Kip = $1Au). For 10, 000  you can buy a cheese roti, a beer or a bowl of noodle soup, if you shop around. Vietnam and Thailand are cheaper for food and beer but portions are small. Hungry boys preferred Laos portions and we happily split a meal between my younger son and I.

Laos budget street food backpacker budget

Laos street food includes pancakes ( roti), baguettes and noodle soup. Prices start at around 10,000 kip, over a dollar.

Luang Prabang is a lot more expensive than Vang Vieng, but prices still start at 10,000.

You’re more likely to spend 15 to 35,000 on a main course. We’re finding that the portions are so big we can split them, so something like two Laos style green curry chicken soup, which comes with rice and is full of vegetables and chicken, feeds all four of us for 50,000 Kip ( $7 AU).

We’ve been splurging on breakfast, it’s our favourite meal of the day, something substantial like this Shakshuka is 20,000Kip (under $3 AU). Two eggs, tomatoes, onions, garlic and fresh green chili served with a baguette, butter and jam. It’s huge, if I put one of those away I don’t need lunch, so we save by only having two meals a day. Everything seems to come with a baguette in Vang Vieng, in Luang Prabang they charge you extra.

Saksuka Vang Vieng Laos

A big, substantial breakfast like this shakshuka will cost you over $2 in Laos, but it should see you through to dinner.

 

An Asian dish will cost you around the same, I had tofu with ginger cashews and vegetables for breakfast this morning, delicious and the same price.

The kids are happy with fried eggs, pancakes or muesli with fruit salad and yoghurt ($2-3)

A coffee or a fruit shake is a dollar or under (5-7,000), a large beer is 10,000, a glass of wine starts at 20,000Kip.

Finding the Best Deals and Prices on Accommodation, Hotels, Hostels, Resorts and Guest Houses

A backpacker budget can buy you great accommodation in Laos, with some of the lowest prices in Asia. Likewise, at the luxury end, prices are good. To find the prices online check Hotels Combined  , they compare  the main online booking sites to find you the best price for your dates. Agoda are the Asian specialists operators for hotels, guest houses, hostels and resorts and often have a wider selection and the best deals. Hotels Combined don’t compare Agoda’s prices on their database, so always check this site separately. If you’re after a refundable reservation, far in advance, try  Booking.com . We can vouch for customer service for both Booking and Agoda and we regularly use Hotels Combined with no issues.

Extra Costs in Laos. What our budget for Laos doesn’t cover

Transportation is Expensive

Transport is disproportionately expensive here.

The bus from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng was 420,000 Kip ($60 AU ). The children payed full price.

The bus from Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang was 285,000Kip ($40 AU). We got away with booking three seats instead of four.

Visa Costs and Visa Extensions

The 30 day visa for Laos was $30 US each for the Australian passports and $35 US for the British passport.

To extend our visas for 2 weeks we payed $2/day each.

Daytrips and Tours Costs in Laos

Daytrips were horribly expensive from Luang Prabang and negotiating with overly pushy tuk tuk drivers wasn’t easy, we seemed to haemorrhage money. $20 to get to the Buddha cave, extra to get the ferry, another admission to get into the cave, it added up really quickly.

Vang Vieng isn’t so bad, tubing and kayaking cost a bit ( $15 each and $50/4 of us respectively), but mostly we’ve been walking and cycling, no expensive day trips here and the drivers are far more laid back.

These are big expenses, an under spend of a few buck on our daily budget isn’t going to cover them even though we spend days and days happily doing “nothing”. We’re not really being honest with ourselves or with you.

The thing is, we’re not very good at budgeting.  If we’re under, or think we’re under, we buy an extra beer or three or splurge on cake, we’re not keeping a running total or accurate records.

Insurance Costs for Laos

We never factor insurance costs into our daily budget because we buy our insurance in long blocks and it’s a pre-travel cost. You should take out good insurance for Laos, hospitals aren’t so great and you could be in a very isolated area with a long journey to medical care, possibly in Thailand. This is the insurance company we use and recommend.

For You, For Pinterest

Laos Budget

 

Sorry if we’re misleading anybody. Our Laos budget is incredibly low, but it’s meant as a daily living cost budget, something to aim for and we have extra cash tucked away if we need it. Please don’t come to this part of the world as a family with a $40 budget for Laos and expect it to be easy, you’d struggle. It’s cheap, but not THAT cheap. We’ve been on the road a very long time now 9 over 4 years) and we generally find that a daily budget of $100 is a great level in Asia, year 1 was our big experiment in ultra-budget travel and we tend not to travel that way any more. We’re still backpackers at heart, but backpackers with more cash and bigger kids.

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Sunny Kumar

Monday 30th of March 2015

wow thats a bit expensive in LP but I think it would be bearable for me as i'll be traveling solo. Thanks for good info.

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Monday 30th of March 2015

Yes, that budget is for 4 people Sunny!

Jess with2kidsintow

Sunday 25th of August 2013

we spent 12 mo backpacking with our 2 pre-schoolers around SEA in 2011 and we too had a figure in our head that we tried to stick to--in our case, we aimed for $50USD per day for accommodation, food, and pretty much everything else. of course, some days we went over to be made up by other days where we did not much. while we thought we were keeping to that pretty well, in fact after we got home and crunched the figures, we realised were averaging more like $69 USD per day when overland transport was factored in and as revealed by our 'actual' figures (we inputed pretty much everything on our iPod on an app). In our opinion, SEA has gotten more expensive (especially Laos--WOW--your costs are high. we didn't go in 2011 but was there in 2003), although there are still 'bargains' out there. and when you factor in the flights that we had pre-booked, as well as things like travel insurance, vaccinations, and other costs like home insurance, etc, the figure was even higher. we did a post on our site about this after we got back.

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Sunday 25th of August 2013

Yep, it's gone up a lot, we did Laos in 2000 or 2001. The transport is ridiculously expensive. Last time we used " local" buses, we just havemn't been able to get one, my husband went to the bus station and asked, nothing! Either they're not running because it's wet season, or they just don't want us to use them. Luang Prabang was the shocker, everything was expensive there since tourist started flying in on 2 week holidays. I never include money we spent before we left in budgeting, big flights, travel insurance, because our budget is about what we can spend each day. Last time we RTW'd I was so anal about it, I wrote EVERYTHING down. I can't be bothered now, if we have to, or want to, spend it, we do, while at the same time keeping everything as low as possible.

Marni Shaw

Thursday 22nd of August 2013

I reckon you are doing really well to be around the $40-ish mark per day. And it great to see you are allowing yourself the budget flexibility to do the day trips, see the sights, have the experiences. That's what you are there for, right? It will all even out in the long run : )

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Thursday 22nd of August 2013

You're right Marni, but I like having a budget, it's kind of a challenge, trying to stick to it and do this trip super-cheap. We're having a great time, no worries there, we don't feel we're missing out at all by not going to the big tourist draws, if we did, we'd go!

Amy

Wednesday 21st of August 2013

That's really quite cheap for four people Alyson. Overall it seems cheaper there than it is in Thailand which we're finding pretty pricey although we are splurging as we have people visiting at the moment.

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Wednesday 21st of August 2013

Yep, for sure, it's cheap by anybody's standards Amy. Kanchanaburi was a little cheaper, Bangkok was a lot more. Transport costs are much lower in Thailand. We'll be back there in a couple of weeks, finding out how some other destinations match up to our crazy-low budget!

Kym

Wednesday 21st of August 2013

Another thoroughly detailed blog Alyson. Good on you. Honest and real. Looking forward to the next write-up Enjoy x Kym

nomadic family life

Alyson is the creator of World Travel Family travel blog and is a full-time traveller, blogger and travel writer. A lifetime of wanderlust and now over 7 years on the road, 50+ countries allowed the creation of this website, for you. She has a BSc and worked in pathology before entering the travel arena and creating this website. World Travel Family Travel Blog has been helping you travel more, better and further since 2012, when Alyson and James first had this life changing idea. On this site you can find endless travel information, tips and guides plus how to travel, how to fund travel and how to start your own travel blog.

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