Although Thailand, the Philippines, and Vietnam are the most popular destinations in Southeast Asia, Laos is quickly catching up to its neighbors.
This stunning country — which is nicknamed Land of a Thousand Elephants thanks to its nature — is sure to inspire and enchant any tourist.
From stunning natural waterfalls to colorful towns, unique flavors and cuisines, friendly locals, and more, this country will make you want to apply for a Laos visa from the moment you start researching.
However, before any serious trip, it’s always important to check the cost and prepare a carefully-curated budget. Here is how much you can expect to pay for a trip to Laos:
Perhaps the most important aspect of the trip is getting there and back!
Since Laos is fairly close to India, the flight will not be a big strain on a traveler’s budget. For example, there are plenty of budget airlines that fly between India and Laos, including Thai Smile, Lao Airlines, and AirAsia.
Likewise, the most popular connections are to the capital, Vientiane, as well as Luang Prabang, Pakse, and Savannakhet airports.
Typically, flight prices start around $150 for a one-way ticket, although during the high season it can go up exponentially. To get the most out of your trip, it is recommended to buy your flights in advance to secure the best prices.
Most locals travel around Laos by bus, which makes it an excellent option for tourists as well. Intercity buses are generally of good quality, although the roads can be poor, so expect a bumpy ride from time to time. Travelers can expect to pay between $5 to $15 for long distance trips, including the 10-hour night bus from Vientiane to Luang Prabang ($15) or the 5-hour trip from Pakse to Savannakhet for $5.
For something fun and a little unusual, water transport is the way to go. Laos has more than 4,500 kilometers of navigable waterways (primarily through the Mekong River) which means that it’s an excellent alternative to getting stuck in traffic jams or bad roads.
Last but certainly not least, tuk-tuks are a great way to get around any city in Laos. A trip on a tuk-tuk is very budget friendly, as prices typically start around $1 for a short ride. However, there are some nuances to keep in mind: typically, drivers will deliberately inflate prices when they see a tourist who wants to take a ride. With this in mind, always keep typical fares in mind and try to bargain to get as close to that number as possible.
From hostels to hotels, guesthouses, and even luxury resorts, there are many options for accommodation in Laos for different budgets and travel types.
The most economical choice is the hostel. Thanks to Laos’ reputation as a budget-friendly destination, there are plenty of hostels in every major city. Travelers can expect to spend around $5 to 10 a night for a bed in a shared dorm, or throw in a few dollars more to upgrade to a private room.
On the other hand, hotels offer all the comforts of home and are an ideal choice for families, couples, and those looking for privacy. Hotels usually start around $25 per night for an average accommodation and go up to as much as $100+ per night for a 5-star resort.
Last but certainly not least, guest houses and apartment rentals are quickly gaining ground in Laos. This option is ideal for those who want maximum comfort without compromise. Apartment rentals with sought-after amenities such as a washing machine, air conditioning, and fully-stocked kitchen can be found for as little as $30 per night.
Although prices in Laos can vary from place to place, travelers can typically expect to spend $10 to 20 per day on food and drinks.
Similar to its neighbors, Laos has an excellent street food scene — both in flavor and price! Popular street food dishes like green papaya salad or sticky rice will typically set travelers back around $1 or $2 per dish.
Eating at sit-down restaurants is slightly more expensive, although still very doable. For example, a full meal, including a drink, appetizer, main course, and dessert will cost around $10.
One important thing to note is the drinks. Laos’ tap water is not drinkable, which is why it is recommended to buy bottled water for drinking and brushing teeth. Thankfully, a 1.5 liter of bottled water is less than $1, so be sure to stock up!
From mysterious temples to lush tropical forests, natural caves, and scenic mountains, Laos offers the perfect mix of natural and cultural attractions.
Perhaps one of the most interesting attractions in Laos is the Buddha Park (also known as Xieng Khuan). Located some 25 kilometers from Vientiane, this area contains over 200 Buddhist and Hindu statues that were all handmade by monk Luang Pu Bunleua Sulilat, who studied both religions. The entrance fee is $2.
On a similar note, one of the most revered shrines in the country are the Pak Ou Caves. This group of two caves contains more than 4,000 Buddha icons, with more being added each day by local devotees. The fee is also $2.
In terms of nature, entrance fees to waterfalls and natural parks will typically cost between $2 to 5, such as the Kuang Si Falls ($2.50 for entry).
Travelers who prefer the expertise of a tour guide can expect to pay anywhere from $20 to $50 for a group tour, or $100 and up for a private tour.
By researching travel costs and having an estimated budget in mind, travelers can enjoy a fun and stress-free vacation to Laos.