The Cost of Travel in Laos: Everything You Need to Know

Charlie Stamp Author's Bio Pic

Laos is somewhat of a ‘hidden gem’ when it comes to South East Asia. We were genuinely surprised by this lush, heavily forested country sitting quietly at the heart of the region just waiting to be discovered.

Unfortunately, we were equally surprised by how expensive we found Laos to be, particularly in comparison to the hugely affordable countries of Thailand to the west and Vietnam to the east.

Laos is a relatively poor country which relies heavily on imports and therefore things can appear more expensive than you might expect for South East Asia.

So to help you get planning for travel in Laos we have compiled a rough guide to the daily costs you’ll encounter. We hope this gives you a few pointers of what to expect so you can plan your trip better and get great value from your visit.

Related: How Much Will Southeast Asia Cost?

Laos uses the Laotian Kip or LAK. You’ll get around 8,000 to $1 US Dollar so you can easily become a millionaire at the ATM. All prices listed below are in US Dollars for an easy comparison.

laos village family

Cost of Accommodation in Laos

As Laos is still very much in the early stages of embracing visitors, the range of accommodation can be quite limited outside of the larger towns and cities.

For a double room with air conditioning in a guest house or hotel we paid between $15 and $32 / night across our two-week trip in Laos. You can find private rooms for closer to $5 (possibly less) if you go for a fan option instead of air conditioning.

Dorm rooms will be even cheaper depending on the number of beds and location of the hostel, starting at around $2-3 and up.

If you want to go for something a bit more high-end, then look for hotels in picturesque Luang Prabang or Vientiane. If you crave a bit of luxury you’ll find rooms for $200+ per night in a private resort.

If you are venturing out into the countryside then consider investigating a homestay with locals to get the true Laotian experience. This is a great way of contributing directly to the economy of the village or ethnic tribe.

If you can book yourself in directly with the homestay then it can be as little as $10 per night for food, drink and accommodation depending on location. Don’t forget to also factor in transport to reach your homestay.

If you organise a homestay through an agent or tour company then the price will start from $20 per night depending on the activities and locations visited.

accommodation in laos

Cost of Transport in Laos

There are no railways in Laos, so buses and minivans are used to get between villages and towns. Over longer distances you can get night buses as well as daytime journeys, which helps to save on accommodation costs.

As an example, the bus from Luang Prabang to Vientiane takes around 10 hours and ranges from $10 to $20 depending on the company you use. The government-run bus service can be cheaper but is best avoided due to regular breakdowns and delays.

Many of the towns in Laos are small enough to walk around but there’s a trend for placing the bus station a few kilometers outside of town so you’ll need to take a Tuk tuk or taxi in.

If you meet fellow travellers on the bus journey make sure you share a Tuk tuk and haggle the cost down as a group to get the best deal – and always agree the price before you get in. The first price quoted is usually twice what it should be so smile and stand firm.

transportation in laos how much does it cost
You’ll never go hungry on a bus journey in Laos!

In the capital, Vientiane, there’s always a Jumbo (think slightly larger version of a Tuk tuk) or similar on hand to save your legs if you’re travelling further. They should cost no more than $2-3 per journey, and again, agree that price before you hop in.

However the streets are fairly quiet compared to many cities and it’s nice to hire a bicycle to go exploring.

There are international airports in Luang Prabang and Vientiane with regular flights to neighbouring countries from the budget carriers AirAsia and Lao Airlines.

cafe luang pabang laos

Cost of Food and Drink in Laos

Great street food can be harder to come by than in neighbouring countries and comparatively costs more with full meals starting at around $3 and up. Due to the French influence, you’ll find many bakeries offering filled baguettes and pastries from around $2-3.

Sit down meals and restaurants range greatly with some great French and Indian options available in the tourist hotspots of Luang Prabang and Vientiane. Prices start at around $6 per dish with drinks starting at $1-2 in more touristy places.

the cost of travel in laos food

Beer Lao is the national beer and a large bottle can start from just $1! Also don’t forget to try some home-brewed Whisky Lao. Although technically illegal to sell, you’ll find it everywhere and we purchased a whole bottle for just $1.50.

It’s an acquired taste but certainly hits the mark.

Cost of Excursions and Adventures in Laos

We took the posh ‘slow boat’ option for a 2 day trip on the Mekong River and loved it. It set us back $150 per person and included all food, drink and accommodation.

You can take the ‘public’ slow boat for 1,2, or 3 days which starts at around $30 per person.

The much-praised Gibbon Experience in the north of Laos starts from around $100 per day depending on the season.

Entrance to parks, waterfalls and temples ranges from $4 to $8.

the cost of travel in laos

Visa Costs for Laos

The cost of a visa on arrival starts at $30 depending on your passport. Some countries are charged more, for example Canada, which tops the list at $42 per visa. Sorry Goats!

Like this post? Pin it!


The Cost of Travel in Laos- Everything You Need to Know

Charlie Stamp Author's Bio Pic

Written by

Charlie Stamp

Charlie and Kristina love to travel. They love travel so much that they started their travel blog Van Life Tribe to help others to work less and travel more with tips, advice and inspiration. During a 2 week trip to Cuba in 2015 they had an honest chat on the beach one night and decided to change their lifestyle to one of travel. They soon realised it wasn’t just the rum talking and made a plan to quit the 9 to 5 and are now location independent. They love to inspire others to get out there and explore our amazing planet.

Related Posts

Countries With The Best Food To Travel To in 2020

10 Best Countries for Food in 2023: A Travel Guide for Foodies

As foodies, finding the best countries for food has been our mission for the past 12 years. Ever since we landed in Bangkok and had our first spicy Thai curry and pad Thai on the street, we were hooked. Since then, we’ve spent our time travelling searching for the countries with the best food. We’ve ...
15 Things You Didn't Know About Goats

15 Things You Didn’t Know About Goats

Aren’t goats the best? If you’re wondering can goats swim, do they like water, or if they sleep, you’ve come to the right place. Learn all this and more about goats in this article.  We call ourselves Goats On The Road for three reasons. Table of Contents15 Things You Didn’t Know About Goats1. Goats Are ...
travel costs

Hidden Travel Costs Index: Unexpected Expenses to Watch Out for on Your Next Vacation

When you spot a cheap flight online, it’s very easy to get caught up in a whirlwind. You‘re fixated on thinking that you’re going to bag an absolute bargain vacation and end up overlooking just how expensive it could be once things add up. We don’t mean the cost of accommodation, dining out, or general ...

8 thoughts on “The Cost of Travel in Laos: Everything You Need to Know”

  1. Hi! Your blog is very cool! Just thought I’d comment because I found Laos to be pretty comparable budget-wise to other SE Asian countries if not cheaper – I didn’t think you outlined many costs that sounded more than others, so which expenses did you find to be ‘surprisingly expensive’? Just curious!

  2. Ya, it’s definitely of good value and affordable. We found the accommodation to be much higher than the neighbouring countries, but when you’er on a budget, every dollar really makes a difference – especially in countries where that dollar is a meal! haha. Thanks for commenting Tim 🙂

  3. I so much love this loas that i just saw now ,, am so happy to come over and work and also make some good friends ,but the problem is i don’t have all the money that will take me from Nigeria down to loas

  4. Laos is the only landlocked country in SEA, so it has many difficulties in trading. Although the expense of a trip to Laos is much expensive than Thailand or Vietnam, it still deserved to be explored more. I love jungle forests of Laos.

  5. Thank you for the article, very nice!

    To change cash, there is a new mobile application Fairswap.
    Broadly, we can exchange & convert cash currency in real-time by meeting with each other at a pre-agreed location.

    I will try it to find some kip before travelling or get rid of some leftover after holidays.

Comments are closed.