At least comparatively.
Laos seems way more expensive than Thailand. I'm in Vientiane, went to the big indoor market today and the scarves, even with bargaining, were all at least 60,000 kip, most of the ones with natural dyes were at least 100,000, almost $12. I'm not saying its outrageous, but for SE Asia it seems high. I was in Thailand last and everything seemed much cheaper there. Tuk tuk rides here in VTE have all been at least $2 a piece, while in Chiang Mai they were usually never more than $1. The larger bedspread-like weavings were going for at least $50, the wood carved bowls and platters were at least $15, etc. Food in resteraunts near the tourist center here are pretty much the same as in America. I know, I know - tourist centers are always higher, but in Chiang Mai I found LOTS of cheap local food, but that doesn't seem to be as available here.
Is this anyone else's experience or am I crazy?
#1 TheNewGuy8 has been a member since 8/9/2010. Posts: 35
Not at all.
For some reason despite it being 'more advanced' Thailand is cheaper for most things (including street food which at least is edible which you couldn't say about Laos or Cambodia.) accomodation, travel and a host of other things.
But Vietnam has the cheapest beer
#3 sayadian has been a member since 15/1/2008. Posts: 1,557
i remember this topic came up a while back too, with a different person saying pretty much the same thing. my own experience is the same as sayadian's above; that Thailand is cheaper for a lot of things ranging from accommodation to street food to motor scooter or bicycle rental. i think it has to do with development too, meaning that if you want to live at the same comfort level in Laos that you did in Thailand, it will likely cost more. if you are ready and willing to go local standards, i suspect Laos will have lower prices on most day-to-day stuff.
that the price difference doesn't seem to be as much as it used to be. on my last trip to Pakse, i'd say the rooms and the food and the transport costs were really close to what i'd been paying on the other side of the river the week before. great deals and excellent quality too.
anyway, vietnam may have the cheapest beer but Beer Lao is the best! cheers.
"Food in resteraunts near the tourist center here are pretty much the same as in America"
Newguy this is nonsense. Food here is about half or less what you woould pay in the States. Are you telling me that you can get a large pizza in a restaurant for $5.00? When my wife and I go out and splurge, and spend about $30 for a meal including a bottle of wine. Where in the States can you get that?
Cheap local food? Have you been to Tat Luang market? My wife, sister in Law, friend and I ate splendidly last Sunday. $10 for the four of us including 2 bottles of Beer Laos
"Scarves, even with bargaining, were all at least 60,000" Well I pay about 40K kip when I buy them.
"the wood carved bowls and platters were at least $15" That is dirt cheap. Rosewood is a quality wood and you would pay well over $100 in the US or Oz.
However, yes, a number of things are dearer than Thailand as a lot of things are imported. Western food is a LOT cheaper than in Thailand and alcohol is cheaper again.
Sayadian, I don't understand your comment about street food at all. Street food is cheap and delicious in Laos. I frequently get it to take home.
You are right about that.Laos beer is the best but i was just mentioning the cheapest which of course is beer hoi in Vietnam.Sometimes I wish it hadn't been so cheap
You're opinion is about Laos street food in Vientiane?
If so I haven't got a clue-found plenty of good cheap restaurants in Vientiane.Going out in 'the sticks' however was another matter.For years I've eaten street food all over Thailand.I find,in general,the food is usually well prepared and fresh and the Thais seem to know about food hygiene.This was not the case in Laos but I would conceed it's not as bad as Cambodia where you are taking your life in your hands eating it.
#6 sayadian has been a member since 15/1/2008. Posts: 1,557
man are you defensive and high strung
#7 villanovajunction has been a member since 4/11/2010. Posts: 8
I got sick of hearing that "Laos is cheaper than Thailand" a long time ago. OK it depends on what part of Thailand you're comparing it to, but if you look at northen Thailand, Chiang Mai , etc. quite a few things get more expensive when you cross the border and continue to follow the tourist trail in Laos. Motorbike rentals, laundry service, the "more-virgin" treks, imported goods at markets (except wine ;-( and even a bowl of noodles (guay dtio in Chiang Mai 20-30 baht, Feu in tourist spots in Laos at least double). Room prices in Vientiane are going nuts! No, northern Thailand is still the best bang for buck in SE Asia.
Cap, I agree that Thailand is cheaper. However I pay 7000-8000kip for Khao Piak and for Pho. That is about the same as you pay. You can still get a backpackers room in Vientiane for $7-10. Also you can't get a decent western meal anywhere nearly as cheap as I can.
Imported goods are, of course, dearer. We go shopping in Nong Khai for things like baby formula.
I got to say that I think street food in Cambodia (except for the bugs) is cheap and delicious. I want some Amok now! Are you kidding me that Thailand is better. Good but not better. Vietnam very disappointing in comparison
swatral-this has got to be a troll, right?
Cambodian street food consists of various babequed meats(ang) which would probably follow you if you whistled.You can also get the most delicious bones and rice I've ever had and the sausage you would(will, more like it) die for. Now if you are talking about restaurants, and that is what I think you mean, there are some great Khmer places which sell chicken or beef with a bowl of prahok and a salad to dip in it with a jug of fresh draught beer- should cost you around $4-5.
#11 sayadian has been a member since 15/1/2008. Posts: 1,557
"Street food is cheap and delicious in Laos"
Street food isn't delicious anywhere on the planet. If you are lucky it's edible. Delicious is a Schweinebraten mit spaetzle from a German guesthouse or a Filet Minion with baked pattato and sour cream, ceasars salad on the side. That's delicious. Pad Thai or some such is OK, but let's not get carried away.
I found accomodation in Savankhet as cheap as anywhere I've ever been, at 150 baht a night with a hot shower. That was a good deal. Food? Perhaps Vientiane is cheaper here, but yes, Rufus, Dao Cafe in Savankhet charges prices MORE expensive than in the states (well, not more expensive than New York City, but more expensive than Newton Mass). A burger and a beer there will set you back about 15 bucks. It's good, and it's a classy place, but it ain't cheap.
#12 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
Sayadian mine is not a troll post. I do love a good BBQ! You are right though the cheap cafes offer fabulous food. One of the reasons I think I like Cambodian food so much is because I am a little Thai'd out. Love the delicate flavours of Cambodia which are new for me.
I just want to know why you would go to Laos and want a burger in the first place? Same goes for Newton Massa - surely they have some local cuisine and it is not just about burgers and pizza. Clam chowder? I agree Rufus Australia is outrageously expensive for food dining out, drinks and accommodation
"but more expensive than Newton Mass"
I don't think I would ever go to Newton Mass.
Mac, can you get a 700gr imported rib roast for two plus a bottle of wine for $30 in the States? I can get that here. You certainly can't in Oz. Mind you, Oz is ridiculously expensive now.
The problem with a post like Cap Bob's is that he may well know places to go in Chiang Mai. However as I stated, I can get the same prices in Vte. I am surprised about the price he says he paid for Pho and I wonder where this place is? Perhaps he will tell us? However, the best Pho I ever had was in Lyon, France at a Cambo/Thai/Lao restaurant. It cost $11.00, but gee it was good!
Now if Bob were speaking about Luang Prabang, he would have a strong argument, as prices there have escalated drastically. Again, though, compare it with popular tourist destinations in Thailand like Phuket, and it looks cheap. Phuket is ridiculous now.
As I said though, for things like cosmetics, (for the missus not me), formula, and other imported stuff, Thailand is cheaper. Quality clothes are better, a little cheaper and you have a bigger choice. We head over to Nong Khai about once a month to shop. Mind you, by the time you pay the fare from the Fr. Bridge to NK and back, you are back to square one again.
One last comment: Mac, street food can be delicious. I had a superb pork rib washed down by a couple of bottles of Beer Laos the other day at Tat Luang night market. The pork here in Laos is superb, the beef is crap.
Well, the beef here isn't any better.
I'm not a street food fan (although I eat it often because it's cheap), and have never had anything I would call "Delicious". There's a guy who does smoked chicken at the night market and it tastes just like German fest chicken. It's pretty good, but again, Filet Minion it's not.
"I just want to know why you would go to Laos and want a burger in the first place?"
Because I get sick and tired of eating asian food all the time. Pickings where I live are mighty slim. We have asian food, and asian food, and then there's asian food. Aside from the Pizza place and KFC... well, my wife is a good cook and she cooks German thank God.
"Same goes for Newton Massa - surely they have some local cuisine and it is not just about burgers and pizza. Clam chowder?"
I don't particularly like clam chowder and it's expensive. Tom's Pizza in Newton can't be beat. Fantastic pizza. It's not just about local cuisine. I grew up in Newton, so "local cuisine" doesn't harbor some sort of mythological greatness for me. And I live on the Lao border in Thailand, so local food here doesn't have any hold either. Local doesn't mean good. Some things have a world wide rep for being good for a reason - pizza and burgers are in that select group.
#16 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
Jakaten burgers mm there's a thought.could be the way to make a killing in Issan Madmac.
#17 sayadian has been a member since 15/1/2008. Posts: 1,557
Ahhhhhh maybe not.
#18 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
For tourists it certainly is more expensive in Laos, or should I say for typical tourists. For savy backpackers on a budget they know that in smaller towns it's certainly possible to get very good rooms with attached for three of four dollars tops. Lao people aren't going to pay $2 to eat a meal, what about you?
Food isn't bought like in Thailand, Laos isn't Thailand, people coming from Thailand using the same language and way of buying food are going to pay a price. Lao people can't afford to go out to eat the way Thai people can, except rich Lao maybe. There aren't as many tourists in Laos. In the big towns you are at the mercy of what the last pilgrims paid, that's why 2000 kip tuk tuks cost 2$ instead.
Up top of this thread was a comment by username Christay. As I remember he spent a few weeks in Laos, went treking including a town seen by probably less than 20 foreigners in the past 50 years and got lost finding a water fall no foreigners had yet been to, hit the main big towns, spoke very little of the language if at all when he went there, all for a very few hundred dollars.
Some backpackers doing gap year round the world tours are actually a lot better travelers than people who live somewhere for years. Not skinflint cheapskates, just careful how they spend. Locals understand and appreciate thoughtful spending.
"Lao people aren't going to pay $2 to eat a meal, what about you?"
Laos people aren't going to get a cheeseburger either, but I sure am. I do not have the remotest desire to live as a Lao person does - be that dietary or otherwise. So while I am sure it is possible to travel cheaply in Laos, it wouldn't surprise me if it sucked to do so.
"For savy backpackers on a budget they know that in smaller towns it's certainly possible to get very good rooms with attached for three of four dollars tops."
The problem is that I wouldn't be in a smaller town in the first place (although, as I said, I got a decent room in Savankhet for 150 Thai Baht). Small rural towns are far too boring for the tastes of a lot of people (whether they be in Laos, Germany, the US or wherever). This is precisely why those kinds of places are cheap. It's a supply and demand issue.
#20 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
"Lao people aren't going to pay $2 to eat a meal, what about you?"
You sure about that Somsai? How long is it since you have been here? If it is 2 years or more, you will be in for a shock the next time you arrive.
Example: The wife and I had dinner in La Terrasse last week; the place was packed. Apart from me, EVERY one in the restaurant was Lao. There were a few westerners sitting outside. 70% of the clientielle in the Jazzy Brick, the hippest, (and dearest)< cocktai bar in Vientiane is Laos. A hamburger place has opened up. Guess who orders hamburgers? The most frequent visitors to that ghastly "Pizza Company", are young Laos.
As Bob Dylan says, "The times, they are a changing."
I was in Thailand (2 months) and then Laos (1 month) in mid 2009 on a very tight budget and I spent less per week in Laos than Thailand. Vientiane and Luang Prabang are more expensive, but once you get into the rural areas prices drop. I seem to remember there was a nice night market along the river in Vientiane that had pretty cheap food? If that helps at all. Although I think there was some kind of construction going on to expand it or make it permenant when I was there so maybe it's more expensive now. I do remember the room I stayed in when I was in Vientiane was the most expensive room I stayed in while I was in Laos.
#24 _gabriella has been a member since 6/11/2010. Posts: 7
If you compare rural Laos to urban Thailand, of course Laos will appear cheaper. How much time did you spend in rural Thailand (you didn't mention it)? I went to the Mukdahan night market last night to buy dinner for my family. I paid 100 baht (a touch over three bucks) to feed me, my wife, my daughter and my sister in law. I bought sweet and sour chicken, corn on the cob, some slimy stuff my sister in law and wife ate, and fresh milk for my daughter and I (we love that stuff). When I feed myself alone from the night market I can usually do so for less than a buck. If I eat food from indigenous sources, it's very cheap here.I don't doubt that Laos is reasonably inexpensive, but remmember, Laos is a net food importer and Thailand is a net food exporter, and that effects prices (although it's not clear to me why this is given their similar climates and Laos low population density).
#25 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
Yeah, you know that fresh milk stuff that's sweet with a yogurt like substance in it? I love that crap.
#27 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
"Is it really worth it??? I think not..... Save it for when you get home, give the locals back their beautiful town and don't be another number on their death list"
If this had been parachuting accident or a football accident would he have had this "Is it really worth it" thing going? It's obvious from the "Give the locals back their beautiful town" nonsense (as if the backpackers invaded and stole it) that he had a target in mind drowning or no drowning.
People who do this know the risks - and if they don't then they are candidates for the Darwin Awards. You can't protect people from being morons. The Laos created the attractions, the Laos created the bars, the Laos built the guesthouses and the restaraunts. Outsiders didn't build any of these things.
#28 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
I was in Isaan for 2 weeks and Laos for 4. I can't remember much difference in terms of price of street food. To me, it was all cheap - what is a dollar or two difference? I am not going to deny I am careful with money but all of the time - at home too. Infact, discussing the "expense" of Laos/Thailand seems abit odd really if you are from a Western nation...unless you live there of course. You do see people arguing down 35,000kip to 30,000kip though.
I did find the price of fruit to be much more expensive in Thailand but maybe I was just being ripped off. A kilo of bananas in Laos was around 8000kip and Apples about the same [maybe 10,000]. Infact, i think i was being ripped off but as i never really thought about until now it obviously didn't break the bank. I usually bought food in Markets/stalls. Just see where the locals are going mostly > like the pots in Vang Vieng or even that market outside town that no tourists i spoke to had heard of > or the big market in Nang Rong etc etc
Accomodation was all cheap everywhere. I don't see how you can complain about prices in Vientiane too much; it is a capital city (even if it is in Laos). There are still good deals to be found; 30,000kip inc. breakfast at Mixay (dorm). Luang Prabang was more expensive but even then, 60,000kip for a double room - is that so bad? I think I was paying around 150baht in Thailand. Some had onsuite cold showers, some had shared hot.
Somsai is right though. I spent very little for what i got out of Laos. I did everything i wanted to do. Then again, i spent very little in Thailand too. This is abit of a ramble so i don't mind just stopping anywh
Hi there! I agree that the price level in Laos seems to be higher than in Thailand. We have arrived in Laos from Thailand 8 days ago and came to wonder about the cost of living as soon as we arrived in Luang Prabang . Already accommodation was more expensive if booked in advance (probably due to the fact that most hotels and guest houses are not yet represented on the usual booking sites, but have their own websites that might not come up during a browser search).
However, Luang Prabang has a large choice of eateries and restaurants - quite a few of them also for low budget travellers. Shopping at the night market can be slightly less expensive (for the same kind of product) than in Thailand if you negotiate well.
One thing that might make travelling more expensive than in Thailand is that they started to charge entry fees even for places where they want to sell something (as at the Ethnic product center). Average admission fee for strangers is now about 20000 KIP (maximum in LP 50000 KIP for the audio tour of the Royal Palace Museum).
In Vientiane finding a reasonable priced hotel or restaurant seems to more less evident, especially since the city area is larger and makes a search more difficult. We ended up at the Sengtawan River View Hotel - which is at some distance (a 30000 KIP tuktuk ride for two) from the center at a price where you could have a much nicer hotel anywhere in Thailand). Fortunately there are some small river facing restaurants with acceptable prices just some steps away...
Guess we will do most our shopping back in Bangkok also because on top of the higher prices there seems to be a sparsity of ATMs providing cash for users of foreign credit and bank cards and with one million KIP maximum retreat (generating about 8 Euro total costs at the local and home bank) you cannot get too far.
#30 penthesilea has been a member since 23/8/2009. Posts: 4
"a sparsity of ATMs providing cash for users of foreign credit and bank cards and with one million KIP"
This is incorrect! There are a lot of ATMs in Vientiane. Had you read other posts here, you would also know that the ANZV allows withdrawals of 2million Kip. Admitedly they do charge 50,000 Kip for the privilege.
"n Vientiane finding a reasonable priced hotel or restaurant seems to more less evident, especially since the city area is larger and makes a search more difficult."
I would have thought this makes finding a hotel/guesthouse easier.
"Sengtawan River View Hotel" I hope you don't regard this as a budget hotel. The costs are very high. You could have got a nice room in the middle of town for $25 pn. The cheapest double on their web site is $50.00. A 30,000 Kip ride, - 60k there and back, would mean that you have added $8.00 more to your room cost. The Lao Orchid, also in the centre of town, is a great little hotel and only costs $45.00 pn. There are many others that are cheaper and also very nice.
This seems a bit weird to me, I've not been to Laos yet but for buying items like clothing I found Cambodia to be cheaper than Thailand and good luck finding a guesthouse in BKK wtih A/C, TV and your own bathroom for $15 like you can easily do in PP or Siem Reap where you could get that for $10. Of course there are things that go the other way.
Oh and $12 does seem outrageous for a scarf, I paid that much for 6 of them in SR last year, of course we can't compare quality though.
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#38 lebabinh85 has been a member since 17/11/2010. Posts: 4
Sounds like you had a good experience. I'm glad for you. But the reason it was cheap for you is because you did serious work arounds to make it cheap. You can do that in the US too. Roadside camping in the desert or deep wooded regions (I've done this), buying fresh foods from markets and cooking it yourself (cheap), and so forth. You can also do this in Thailand or wherever. But for basic comparison purposes, food in Laos (even for the locals) is more expensive than Thailand because, as I explained, Laos doesn't grow sufficient food so it has to import food. Laos is landlocked, so importing most goods costs more. So even though Laos is poor, it's not cheap.
#39 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
A little tout fishing once in a blue moon is OK. You know the saying, if you ain't cheatin', you ain't tryin'. The Vietnamese are always cheatin'. But you got to love 'em anyway. Well, maybe not if your Laos, since the Vietnamese have been screwing with the Laotians for eons. Funny how a people with such a warlike history, dating back for millenium, have managed to successfully paint themselves as victims.
#41 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
Well, I'm not surprised. Vietnam is to Laos what Germany is to Poland.
#43 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957