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Laos forum

Laos budget

Posted by achoo on 22/3/2012 at 23:02


All I find on this subject is lists of how much a beer, bowl of noodles, a night's sleep is in different currencies. I need a total budget. Let's say my budget is $40/day (I hear that's a good budget).

My question is: How many kip, baht and USD should I take with me and/or exchange at the bank in Huay Xai? Basically how should I divide my budget in different currencies?

Is 2 million kip, 5000 baht and 100 dollars enough for 2-3 weeks? Is this too much, too little?

It's really confusing me and I'm really stressed out at the moment. I'd really appreciate it if someone could help me prepare a budget. I'm currently in Chiang Mai.


#1 achoo has been a member since 5/3/2012. Posts: 12

Posted by Rufus on 23/3/2012 at 00:23

I really find this impossible to answer, as it depends on what you want to do. $40 would not be enough for me as I like to have a beer, stay in decent places and be able to afford a nice meal.
It depends on where you are travelling as well - Luang Prabang, for example is quite expensive.
A budget traveller can get by on $10.00 for accommodation, $15.00 for meals and $5.00 for drinks - beer etc. Then factor in travel costs.
As far as what currencies you should take, again this depends where you are and what you already have. When in Lao, use Kip. You can exchange foreign currencies at money changers or banks.

#2 Rufus has been a member since 22/4/2007. Location: Laos. Posts: 973

Posted by achoo on 23/3/2012 at 04:43

Alright. Let's say $50/day which I guess is about 400'000 Kip. That's 4 million Kip in 10 days. Is that right? Sounds quite expensive.

So then, I should enter Laos with a lot of foreign currency such as baht. Then exchange it at the banks to Kip as I go along. Right? I am currently in Thailand so baht is easy to acquire. Should I also get some dollars?

I stay at guest houses, dorms etc. Will probably do some rock climbing, rent a motorbike sometime, drink some beer. Nothing too fancy. Might do the loop motorbike trip.

#3 achoo has been a member since 5/3/2012. Posts: 12

Posted by captainbkk on 23/3/2012 at 08:59

oh, what problems can people make in their minds...If you stress with this-forget that trip.
You only need US$ cash for the visum-and only if you want to avoid paying more for it in THB-the factual price depends on your unnamed nationality.
For the rest just rely on that ATM or take a stack of THB. Most payments in the LOWbudget sector are in LAK=kip and any place is obliged to take KIP. You follow a well-worn trail without any hidden surprises or outoftheway places-1000s have gone before you.

#4 captainbkk has been a member since 16/2/2012. Posts: 472

Posted by achoo on 23/3/2012 at 10:25

It's not so much the money or the trip that is stressful. I would probably have figured it out anyway but I'm stressed out because of my travel situation right now and needed to get this thing right before I move on. The money-part is kind of important and different from the other countries.

Thanks for the help!

#5 achoo has been a member since 5/3/2012. Posts: 12

Posted by busylizzy on 23/3/2012 at 10:59

Whilst there is no use in 'stressing' - it is useful to have a budget. The last thing you want to find out half way into your trip that you are running out of money.

I spent 4 weeks in Laos last year. I'm more a 'flashpacker' than a true 'backpacker' which means I'm happy to spend more on accom, and on a shorter, limited trip (as this was), I would rather fork out for flights rather than buses. Because I was sharing accom, they prices were halved, but then because of that, I sometimes stayed in better places than I would have on my own. I don't drink when travelling as I don't like beer, and other alcoholic drinks are ridiculously priced. I'm not in the partying scene. And in terms of eating, I'd mix it up: sometimes roadside dining, and other times in small restaurants (local or aimed for tourists, depending on where I was.

So.. having declared all of this.... my actual averaged costs over this 3 week period was NZ$41 - you can work out the exchange..., broken down into:

- Food - $15/day
- Accom - $12/day (incl a ridiculously priced splashout one night)
- 'Doing stuff' - $5/day (tours, entry fees, local taxis, bits and pieces)
- Transport - $9/day - (incl boats, motorbike hire on Loop, 1/2 of private driver from Phonsavan to LP)
- Other misc purchases- $5 day (laundry, massages, incidental and souvenir purchases, etc)

On top of this I had 2 internal flights in Laos which were a bit pricey (VTE - Phonsavan, LP - Pakse) plus international flights to/from Laos.

Costs were cheapest in Nong Khiaow, Muang Ngoi and Bolaven Plateau, and most expensive in the bigger towns (LP, VTE, Phonsavan) where we splashed out a bit more on accom.

I carried enough cash with me to see me through Laos, so never visited a money machine. Just took lots of USD and converted it as I went.

Hope that helps.

#6 busylizzy has been a member since 31/12/2007. Location: New Zealand. Posts: 2,155
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Posted by Rufus on 23/3/2012 at 20:15

If you like to stay in dorms, (yuck!), then your costs will be lower. Take USD for the visa as the baht exchange rate is poor.

#7 Rufus has been a member since 22/4/2007. Location: Laos. Posts: 973

Posted by busylizzy on 24/3/2012 at 00:39

Agree - dorms are yuck! I'm way past that now (actually, always have been!). Minimum requirements for me is private room with bathroom. Fan, no aircon. Hot water is nice but I can go without. Reasonably clean - and an OK bed. Most people find the beds too hard in Laos but I didn't mind that. I had only one bed that I detested- in Nong Khaiow as I could feel the springs in the mattress digging into my back! Worst night's sleep of my life.

My philosophy is that I would rather spend a bit more on my accom to gain privacy and small comfort - and sacrifice the alcohol and partying.

PS - I noticed a typo and inconsistency in my earlier post. I was in Laos for 3 weeks, not 4. Not that it really matters.

#8 busylizzy has been a member since 31/12/2007. Location: New Zealand. Posts: 2,155
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