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A month in Laos | Travel Budget Breakdown

I spent 28 days traveling in Laos from October 4-28, 2023. Because that’s basically a whole month, I thought it’d be interesting to see what I spent while backpacking there.

Laos Travel Budget

I was on a medium-budget style backpacking trip in Laos, partly because I got sick halfway through and wanted private rooms to recuperate. Also, after 8 months of traveling in Asia, I’d started to crave Western food a lot. Both those things increased my spending!

In general, my budget for 2023 was $1,500/month. I barely squeaked under in Laos, but I would’ve had a bit more wiggle room if I stuck to hostel dorm rooms and eating local food. That said, I did spend quite a bit on tourism experiences, but they were totally worth it so I don’t regret doing it.

All prices are in USD.

Total: $1,435 or $51/day

Accommodation: $550

My stays were split between hostel dorms and private rooms/hotel rooms. For a complete list of where I stayed in Laos, check out this post here: Where to stay: Laos hostels & hotel for solo female travelers

The cheapest stay was Tony Central Hostel in Luang Prabang for a mere $3/night WITH free breakfast. It wasn’t very comfortable, but the breakfast was good.

The most expensive stay was Phongsavath Boutique Hotel in Vientiane for $35/night with fresh cooked-to-order breakfast. I really liked this hotel and neighborhood it was in.

The place with the best coffee was definitely Barn 1920s Hostel in Vientiane. Every guest got to choose a made-to-order coffee from the attached cafe as part of their included breakfast, including the fancy stuff. Delicious!

Groceries: $0

Laos is one of those places where you can eat out every day and not spend too much money, so it’s basically cheaper just to do that rather than buy groceries. Also, while many of the hostels had a kitchen for guests, it was usually tiny and un-airconditioned, so cooking in them would be a somewhat uncomfortable experience.

Food/eating out: $352

It seems like a lot, but actually it’s only about $9.30/day! For three meals including alcohol! Not bad, huh? I think ALL of my hostels/hotels provided some kind of breakfast, which helped.

Here’s some of my favorite restaurants I ate at in Laos:

Luang Prabang

  • Bamboo Tree Restaurant — excellent local food made slightly fancy.
  • Joma Bakery Café — bagel sandwiches! I liked this place so much that I ate at every branch I could find, including the one in Hanoi.
  • Phonheuang Cafe — local place near Garavak Storytelling, good basic food at better prices than some tourist places nearby.
  • Popolo Restaurant — good pizza, great decor and nice staff.
  • Yuni Yupoun — fun fusion place with nice decor; they have drink specials for an excellent price as well.
  • Zurich Bread Factory & Cafe — another pizza place, with imported flour.

Phonsavan

  • Nisha Restaurant — Indian restaurant, family owned. Very good food and located right next to the MAG UXO Visitor Center.
  • Xiengloei Cafe — local place with good food at great prices!

Vientiane

  • Bacan Cafe Vientiane — a Chilean restaurant run by a Chilean expat and his Laotian family! Truly excellent food, highly recommended.
  • Sailomyen Cafe — I actually stayed in the attached hostel, but the food is good, too!

As for beer: I discovered Beerlao while floating down the Mekong River and fell in love with its gentle hops taste. At only about $1/can (or less), it’s a great deal for those who enjoy alcohol.

Tourism: $314

Most of this was spent on one specific excursion, which technically also covered my accommodation and food costs for the days I was there. I had a lot of fun doing tourist stuff in Laos and I’d love to go back and do some more– I really only explored the northern part of the country, after all!

Here’s some of what I did in Laos:

If you’re interested in ecotourism, Laos is on the cusp of a booming tourist industry. There’s lots of wonderful things to do, and it’s not as well-visited as its neighbors Vietnam and Thailand yet. I recommend getting over there and seeing what’s available ASAP!

Transit, including domestic flights: $88

Most ground transit is cheap, but uncomfortable. For instance, I took a bus from Luang Prabang to Phonsavan for $13 and it wasn’t that great of an experience. The local airline is cheap and reliable, and the major cities are well-connected. I ended up flying from Phonsavan to Vientiane rather than chance the roads again.

That said, the roads between Vientiane and Vang Vieng are new and well-maintained, and the tourist vans between the two cities are comfortable.

Shopping: $52

I bought a few souvenirs, mostly local-made things like silk scarves from the Mulberries farm and some handmade items from the TAEC Boutique in Luang Prabang. I also bought some clothes, but tbh they felt cheaply made and slightly expensive for what they were.

Medical: $52

I have a monthly insurance policy with SafetyWing. I haven’t had to actually use them so I can’t vouch for anything other than affordability, but I prefer having it just in case I need it.

Other spend this month was on cough medicine and throat lozenges, plus bug spray.

Other (laundry, postage, visa, etc.): $94

A 30 day visa for an American passport holder cost $40 USD; I did a visa on arrival and all was well, though we had an iffy moment where one of my $20 bills wasn’t accepted due to a mark on it. They’re VERY picky about that, so make sure they’re in as good a condition as you can.

All my hostels and hotels had laundry service, which was very cheap at basically $5/load or less.

Laos Photo Gallery

Here’s some of my favorite photos from my month in Laos. Click to enlarge them:

Laos Travel Diary

I kept a journal of where I went and what I did while in Laos. Here’s the complete overview, also linked at my Where I’ve Been (2023) page.


Thanks for reading! You might also be interested in these other posts about travel budgets:

Anastasia is a former librarian turned digital nomad. She's been traveling the world full time for two years and has visited 18 countries so far! Just Gone Wandering is a travel resource for solo female travelers on a backpacker's budget-- or slightly more-- and highlights amazing places to visit as well as providing tips and tricks for traveling smart and frugal. Read more...

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