Besides the normal “stick to the local food/transportation” common sense travel wisdom, one of the most effective ways to save money, though, is to book all your activities and transportation on your own. Don’t go through your hostel or a tour company. Most attractions are near cities and don’t require you to go with an organized group. You can either rent a motorbike or hire any number of tuk-tuk drivers.
For example, when we went to Kuang Si waterfall in Luang Prabang, most hostels wanted 60-80,000 kip for the trip. You can simply join one of the taxis from the center of town for 30,000 kip, get more time at the waterfalls, and be on your own schedule.
On the opposite side of that, my friends and I got a bus to Vientiane from the company our hostel used – one of those cater-to-tourists outfits. It was $5 more than the public bus but it was more convenient. However, we left an hour later and there were numerous stops. We would have saved time and money if we organized transportation right from the bus station.
Lastly, there is a lot of cheap accommodation to be found on the website Agoda. You’ll even find cheap guesthouses under $10 and hostel dormitory rooms listed on the website. While you can definitely wander around and find accommodation on your own, Agoda has a lot of options if you want to pre-book.
I wish I could tell you some amazing ninja ways to save money in Laos, but honestly, just stick to the local food and transportation, don’t overdo it on drinks, avoid tour operators, and use some common sense. You can’t overspend here.
Laos may not be as inexpensive as its neighbors but it is still a value country, and the prices and tips here can help you budget on your next trip there.