How much does a Trip to Laos cost?
We put ourselves in your place and decided to write this detailed article which will enlighten you on the costs of your trip. Take the time to read through to the ended as we strive to be as transparent as possible with our travelers.
A Few Notions about Prices in Laos
Reports are often far from the reality of a country. Regarding Laos, we imagine traveling for 1 USD and paying the meals 1 USD too. Whilst this may have been possible 20 years ago, it is not today. Laos has evolved enormously since the year 2000, the year when our creators began to recognize the country from all angles. The cost of living in Laos has become more expensive than in other South-East Asian countries like Vietnam and Thailand. None the less, Laos remains as a cheaper destination than Burma and Bhutan.
Laos is a landlocked country, isolated in the mountains and without any access to the sea. Laos is thus a "buyer country", 90% of the products sold in Laos come from neighboring countries. It is therefore necessary to add to the original price the transport costs and the margin of the dealer, rendering goods more expensive.
By analogy, there are also price differences between European countries. A trip to Switzerland, Denmark or Norway costs more than a trip to France, Spain, Greece or Portugal.
Since 2022 and the global economic crisis, Laos has been hit hard, with an inflation rate of 40.8% between January 2022 and March 2023. (Laotian Times 21 April 2023). Many of the costs involved in organising our tours have therefore increased, which has a direct impact on the final price of your trip.
Here are few examples
1. The cost of your vehicle: the minivan
90% of the minivans in Laos are made in Thailand. Their original price is about 25 000 USD. The crossing of the border, the import taxes, the margin of the Lao dealer make that final price increases to 42 000 USD. The same process applies to spare parts in case of repair. This price increase therefore affects the cost of hiring a minivan per day.
2. The cost of the guide
Depending on the task of the day, in town or for a trekking day, the guide will be paid between 50 and 75 USD per day. (And yes, we know that the documentary did not mention that)
3. Your accommodation
With 450,000 visitors a year, Luang Prabang is in great demand. Often, in high season the more than 350 hotels and guesthouses in the city are fully booked. Their prices may vary from 35 USD to 1,800 USD per night depending on your budget and needs. The average price for staying in a small charming hotel with a swimming pool is around 100 to 200 USD per night.
4. The cost of common protein, chicken
Laotian chickens are quite thin, so most restaurants in Lao towns choose to import this meat from Thailand. Originally, the chicken costed around only 5 USD, but once it's imported from Thailand its value increases to 8 or 10 USD.
During a night at a local homestay, we logically thought it would be cheaper. But that's not the case as it costs around 12 to 15 USD. Local people raise the chickens themselves to feed their family and the animals are not numerous (there is no big economy allowing for a lower price). Moreover, since they live far from the cities, the food there is more rare therefore more expensive.
IN SUMMARY, HOW MUCH WILL MY CUSTOM TRIP TO LAOS COST ME WITH A LEGAL AGENCY?
To sum up, a tour for a small group of 4 people costs an average of €160 to €200 per person per day. That's €1,120 to €1,400 for the week, depending on the options and, above all, the number of participants.
For a couple, it's more like €220 to €260 per day per person for a tour from northern to southern Laos. Less if the tour stays in the north without internal flights. Also, the Mekong cruise is usually expensive because you'll be on a private boat meant exclusively for two, so we have a few tips for reducing the overall price if we cover the same area and avoid the Mekong cruise.
If you're travelling alone through a local agency (which we don't often organise because it's very expensive), then you'll have to pay all the fixed costs yourself, and by the same token, the more people who take part in the trip, the more you'll have to share. Take for example a private minivan, which costs around €170 per day. If you're on your own, it will cost 170€ (*+ fixed agency fees + taxes) per day just for the minivan (without your guide, nights, activities, boats, visits, etc.), if there are 2 of you, it will represent 85€* of your budget for the day, and if there are 4 of you, it will only represent 42.5€* of the budget for the day per person.
Fixed costs include the services of the guide and driver, their food and accommodation, the minivan, petrol, boats, agency charges and government taxes.
ALL TAXES INCLUDED
As you will have understood, travelling to Laos with a serious and legal travel agency has its costs but guarantees you an unforgettable stay (visit our agency's TripAdvisor page) full of great adventures and eye opening scenery in complete serenity. The risk you take in looking for the cheapest deal is that of mass tourism-oriented trips which, once on the ground, won't offer anything original.
ORLA Tours Laos has its offices right in the center of Luang Prabang, on the main axis running through the city. Representing the country at various national and international events, we are known by the local authorities as an exemplary agency with a good international and local reputation.
Before each tour departs, the tourist office and the tourist police must validate and stamp all the documents relating to your group. This is a bit like the iceberg of your trip, these things you don't have to see, but by travelling with us, we guarantee you a safe and well supervised holiday.
QUALITY MAKES US DIFFERENT
OUR VALUES, PRICE AND QUALITY
WE IMPOSE rigorous quality control in everything we do, and we monitor it constantly.
WE SELECT the most advantageous commercial conditions for all our local partners. Lowering the cost of a trip may lead to the exploitation of our local partners and the loss of control over the over all quality of our tours.
WE RESPECT their laws, customs, traditions and cultural traditions.
WE ENCOURAGE the participation of the local population in all areas of our activity. Our travelers always feel at one with the local population.
WE CONTRIBUTE to raising awareness of collective responsibility for environmentally aware and socially responsible tourism.