Photo: Classic scenery surrounds Vang Vieng.

Laos forum

How much should a guide cost?

Posted by jesseroth on 16/12/2007 at 06:40

If I were to hire a guide on my own, to take just me & my bf on a 3-day walk through the tribal villages of Sekong, with overnight village stays, how much might I expect to pay?

#1 jesseroth has been a member since 25/11/2007. Posts: 10

Posted by somtam2000 on 16/12/2007 at 09:16 admin

I addressed some difficulties of this in your other thread, but regarding the cost, I couldn't begin to guess as there would be so many variables, including:

Distance covered per day
Need to carry food/water
Fees paid to villages
Ease of finding a guide

Ball park somewhere between US$50 to $100 per day, but that is a wild guess - could be less or perhaps a little more.

Please report back on how you go!

#2 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,644
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Posted by somsai on 17/12/2007 at 00:47

I did something very similar to what you describe in Northern Laos, but I went through the local tourism authority. I believe only licensed guides are allowed to take tourists into villages overnight. One schoolteacher who offered to guide me in Phongsali told me he would have to go pay a small license fee before he could take me overnight. (He was offering to take me around to villages on a day trip). I declined his offer and went with a very experienced guide from the tourism authority.

I guess my first choice is usually private through a company that specializes in treks, second choice through tourism authority, third a licensed but private guide. I’ve gotten some excellent guides through the tourism authority, and some very inexperienced ones, it’s hit or miss. If there are very few independent tourists around you should be prepared to wait a day or two until they can find someone.

You should also be aware that if you were to just show up at a town or village that doesn’t have a guest house for foreigners to stay at or prior arrangements with a guide, the village headman is responsible for you and probably has to report your presence to someone else. Under different circumstances I’ve stayed in small towns, the first thing I do is give a photocopy of my passport including visa page to the headman for his records.

I can speak some Laotian and can usually get along ok, but I sure do appreciate having a guide who is much more fluent in English than my halting Lao, and also speaks some of the local language too.

Another reason I like to go into the uplands with a real guide is because sometimes villages are closed to all people not of that village. By inadvertently entering you might be breaking some sort of taboo that would take lots of work and sacrificed buffalos to fix.

Lastly something to consider when staying at remote villages. If you are sleeping under their blankets someone else must give up that blanket. If you are eating food it is part of the food supply for that village. I ask the guide to be generous in paying for our board and room for just those reasons.

I think I usually paid about thirty dollars a day and tipped one days pay, more from private companies but the quality was also better. With guides I tend to spare no expense, even though in other circumstances I’m very frugal.

#3 somsai has been a member since 1/3/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 568
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Posted by jesseroth on 17/12/2007 at 01:25

Thank you, this is very helpful!!!

#4 jesseroth has been a member since 25/11/2007. Posts: 10

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