Laos Cost of Travel – What is a typical Backpacker Budget?

This post details the estimated cost of travel in Laos. We have outlined two daily travel budgets – one for shoestring travellers and one for those on a slightly more comfortable backpacking budget. Further down there is details on the Lao currency and sample prices for travellers in the country.

Laos backpacking budget
Map of Laos from wikitravel, can be re-used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Laos Cost of Travel in 2023

Shoestring Backpacker Budget

  • US$20/day | 330,000 Laotian Kip

For anyone backpacking Laos on a low budget, plan on spending roughly $20 per day. This shoestring budget should cover all your daily travel expenses including accommodation (hostel dorm bed), transport and meals. You’ll have a bit of room for daytime and evening activities and entertainment but won’t be able to go too crazy without spending more than this.

Laos has always been very good value and that is still the case. Prices have increased slightly in recent years but its lazy backpacker vibe makes travelling generally cheaper when compared to the cost of travel in Thailand with fewer distractions and budget blowing options north of the border.

Travelling around Laos on a shoestring budget is mostly slow and not always entirely comfortable. However it is usually worth the hassle when you reach your next destination and you’ll do so having spent very little to get from A to B. Accommodation and eating out is also great value although a few more expensive places are cropping up so you do have to be a bit selective in that sense now to avoid the places that are clearly not geared towards budget travellers or locals.

More Comfortable Laos Backpacking Budget

  • US$30/day | 500,000 Laotian Kip

The daily shoestring budget of $20 is very possible but when you are in a cheap country, the tendency is to not really keep tabs on your spending and daily costs can quickly mount up. In recent years the Lao government appears to be making an effort to attract wealthier tourists, particularly from nearby China and that has pushed the price of tours and trips up for everyone else so if you are planning to do a lot of that then $30/day would probably be more realistic.

Increasing to $30/day would also enable you to skip the painfully slow buses in favour of the recently built Boten-Viantiane express train line. Opened in December 2021, this Chinese funded project has radically cut down travel times in Laos. It runs from Vientiane (situated on the Thai border) to Boten on the Chinese border in the north with stops in Luang Prabang and Vang Vieng, two of the biggest backpacker destinations in Laos. The fastest trains take just 3 hours 35 minutes to do the whole route which would take more like 14 hours by road.

Laos travelling

How much do things cost in Laos?

Approximate Price in USD
Express Train from Luang Prabang to Vientiane (2 hours)From $18
Bus from Vientiane to Vang Vieng (4-5 hours)$5-6
Meal in a local restaurant$2.50-4
Local beer in bar/restaurant$1-1.50
Dorm bed in a hostelFrom $4
Budget private roomFrom $8
Tubing in Vang Vieng$7
Travel insurance for backpacking LaosDepends on age, length of trip & other factors – Get a quote from Heymondo in less than a minute!

This represents pretty good value, even by the low standards of typical backpacking costs in Southeast Asia. A Myanmar backpacking budget for example will see you generally fork out more for most of these things with Lao prices more in line with Vietnam or Cambodia, although there are subtle differences.

Money – Laotian Kip

£1 = 21,000 Kip

€1 = 18,000 Kip

US$1 = 17,000 Kip

These exchange rates are accurate as of January 2023. Unlike neighbouring Cambodia, US Dollars aren’t used all over the country with the local currency preferred in most circumstances away from the big cities. In Vientiane, dollars or even Thai Baht are often accepted though.

These estimates for the cost of travel in Laos were last updated in January 2023.

Laos Cost of Travel – What is a typical Backpacker Budget?

One thought on “Laos Cost of Travel – What is a typical Backpacker Budget?

  1. This budget is nearly impossible in Luang Prabang and the far north unless you are willing to buy nothing, sleep in a dormitory and eat noodle soup for every meal. That means no entrance fees, no activities and certainly no bus tickets. Luang Prabang is a bit of a tourist trap and everything in the far north is imported so it all costs more. Even in the south where food and accommodation is cheaper motor biking the Bolaven or Tha Khek loops will wipe out this budget immediately, once again you could probably just afford to admire the crumbling colonial buildings of Savannakhet.

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