Laos is an inexpensive country to visit and travel in by most standards. On the low budget end by eating at road side noodle stalls and cheap restaurants, using public transport and staying in a basic room with shared bathroom it is possible to get by on US$ 20 per day or less. Basic budget accommodation can be as little as US$2.5 in provincial towns and around US$8 per night in Vientiane. Basic meals cheap restaurants can usually be had for less than $5, while plain local dishes such as fried rice can be had for around $1-2.
A mid level budget of around $25 to $50 per day, not including transport, would allow you to stay in comfortable accommodation with air conditioning and private bathroom ($16 – $40) and eat in foreign food restaurants and bakeries. A high end budget of $50+ would allow you to stay in the up market hotels and resorts ($50+), and eat in the best restaurants.
Average Room Prices
Low: $2.50 – $16
Mid: $16 – $50
Average Meal Prices
Low: $1.50 – $2.50
Mid: $2.50 – $5
Laos like the rest of the world has experienced dramatic inflation in 2008 especially the price of rice, and other food products which has close to doubled in the last year.
The local currency is the Lao Kip, which as of Aug 2008 was 8700 kip to the US$.
Double pricing does exist in Laos, with foreigners paying more than locals for some services. The dual price system applies for such things as plane tickets, museum and attraction entry frees, and speed boat tickets. You will usually have Tuk Tuk, taxi drivers and other transport providers also trying to levy their own foreigner surge charge. Restaurants usually have fixed prices while shops and markets usually lack a fixed pricing system so bargaining is the name of the game. Bargaining is a normal part of life in Laos, so anything other than fixed prices in restaurants and some shops can always be negotiated. It is even worth trying to negotiate a better price in hotels and guesthouses particularly in the low season.