We were in Laos for 22 days. Here is the route we took, what it cost, and some information on the country.
We would have liked a lot more time, as there is loads to see in Laos. The problem is the length of the country and the very slow buses. We’d go back without a doubt.
Laos is another visa on arrival country so no need to arrange anything in advance, as long as you have US Dollars on you, you’re good. Ours was $35 each and the crossing is described in detail here.
Laos uses Laotian Kip, which is difficult/impossible to get outside of the country so your best bet is to bring some dollars if you want cash. They are exchangeable everywhere at 8000 kip to $1.
ATMs are plentiful in towns but not everywhere, so check before you head somewhere. A good example is Don Dhet, a popular backpacker destination but still quite small and remote so no ATM – if you head there without cash you will be at best relying on the few restaurants with debit/credit card machines doing advances for you at an obscene rate.
All ATMs are supposed to charge 20,000 kip per withdrawal but in practice we found some did not.
What Did We Spend?
These costs are over 22 days/21 nights
Eating Out – £276.60
Accommodation – £225.64 – average of £13.17 per night – surprisingly high!
Transport – £171.95
Groceries – £78.15
Misc – £46.70
Coffee/Drinks/Snacks – £28.54
Alcohol – £22.34
Attractions – £21.17
Laundry – £6.21
Shopping – £5.84
Total – £883.14
Per Day – £40.14
$1 US = 8000 kip, £1 = 13,500 kip
Basic Room – 40,000 – 80,000 kip
Good room – 100,000 – 250,000 kip
Average dish in a restaurant – 20,000 – 30,000 kip
Average street food – 8,000 – 15,000 kip
Large Beer Lao (from a shop or bar) – 8,000 – 15,000 kip
Bottle of Lao-Lao rice whiskey – 10,000 – 20,000 kip
Short Tuk Tuk ride – 30,000 – 60,000 kip for a private tuk-tuk, if shared then 10,000 per person.
Hiring a Tuk Tuk and driver for a day – We didn’t do this but would expect 150,000 – 200,000 kip
Long distance bus – 70,000 – 150,000 kip
While we did better in Laos than we did in Cambodia, I don’t think the prices are hugely different between countries. I’d say accommodation is slightly cheaper in Laos, and also food to an extent. In general it is a very cheap country and you could survive on a lot less than us.
Transport around towns was an issue in Laos. Because even Tuk-Tuk’s are usually used as shared transport, drivers would quote extremely high prices for private trips – as much as $5-10 for something that would cost $2 in Cambodia (and to think I moaned about the prices there!)
We loved the food in Laos. It is similar to northern Thai food, with larb/laab (minced meat with mint, chilli, lime juice, fish sauce and onion) being the national dish and found everywhere. There is an abundance of sticky rice, papaya salad and some amazing spicy sausages.