Traveling in and exploring Laos was an uplifting and rewarding experience. However, being a backpacker and a traveler on a budget, I was shocked by how expensive Laos is compared to the neighboring countries. I expected exact opposite – Laos is generally deemed to be one of the poorer countries in South East Asia which usually means that traveling through there should be comparably cheaper. It doesn’t happen to be the case. Visiting Laos ends up being far more expensive than visiting Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia or many other countries of the region.
On my travels so far, I have stuck with cheap, backpacker accommodation options, traveled using local bus or train transport and explored destinations reached on foot instead of using taxis (or tuk tuks) but after arriving in Laos, I had to significantly lower my standards of living yet it still ended up costing more. Gone were the days of having a room with attached bathroom. Gone were the days of having a room with a window facing outside so the air in the room doesn’t make me gag. Yet even though I significantly lowered my standards of living, gone were the days when my total expenses, including accommodation, food, water and transportation stayed at a level not exceeding $10 per day. While still cheap by western standards, compared to similar countries of the South East Asian region, Laos was shockingly expensive.
In a nutshell, if you’re a backpacker visiting Laos, expect to either have to pay more for what you are used to getting in other countries, or lower your standards if you wish to keep the expenses in line with those you previously had. I’ve covered the cost of traveling in Laos in separate articles, each targeting a particular topic: