Wow! This is all I can say. It 'wowed' me with its enchanting pristine nature and the friendliest people we met on this South East Asian part of our journey so far. I knew I wanted us to go north to do some trekking to show to Tan the amazing panorama and for me to indulge in culture by visiting hill tribes. This is the most unspoiled piece of land we've seen so far, with some exceptions in Luang Prabang and Vang Vieng. We simply loved it. And for a country to have such a strong positive impression on us, even though in these three weeks we got runny-tummy four times combined, can give you a picture that it really had to be something special to us.
The first week we spent on 4000 islands trying to get better after our first hit of runny-tummy that followed us from Siem Reap. After that we rushed towards the north of the country. The rest of our time we tried to make sure to indulge in everything we could in such a short time.
It was high season and all the prices went up. On top of that I needed a bit more luxurious accommodation for my recovering days and that itself of course added some to our costs. I say luxurious, but in our case that meant upper middle range with private and very clean bathroom. You probably noticed in the past year that we do not budget accommodation as much anymore. No more hostels and mostly always a private bathroom. Maybe it is us getting older or maybe just our desire to exercise in peace. We are trying to keep fit (more accurate: trying not to get fatTER) and to do so, we like our space where no one is staring at us. We need to focus says our video coach.
We spent 26 days in Laos staying in guesthouses, eating local food (with exception of our weekly pizza date) or not eating food when sick. We saved some money by taking free bikes in Phonsavanh to the Plain Of Jars instead of going on a tour. To be honest I believe this was way better as we both had a feeling we would be disappointed by the sight if we would be just simply driven there. In Luang Prabang we joined a group to take us to the waterfalls and if I think back on it, I would love to do it on our own as a full day adventure. But at that time and place with my runny tummy, taking a shared ride was a good idea. In Nong Khiaw we decided to do a two day trek, which for me was a highlight of Laos. Such multiday treks we consider under extra cost just as we do with safaris so we excluded it in daily calculation (but kept it in our total spent sum). If we would manage to form a bigger group (4-8 people instead of 2), we probably would not exclude this cost from daily average.
Our estimated budget for Laos was 8.00 GBP per person per day and yes we know we know we underestimated the prices. But that is what we calculated quite few years back while still in prep mode for this two year travel saga, so this is what we are dealing with. Although Laos became quite expensive, I think the cost would be a tiny bit lower if we would visit it outside of high season (on average we noticed the prices were 30% higher than in low season). But we are happy with our end budget result even though it is over our estimate.
COST PER STAY
Sum per person including visa
Estimated total cost: 232.14 GBP
Actual cost: 419.07 GBP
Off budget: - 186.93 GBP
COST PER DAY (per person) excluding trekking
Estimated per day: 8.00 GBP (+ visa of 24.14 GBP for the whole stay; Tan's visa was $5 more and we unknowingly bribed an offical $5) BUDGET
Actual cost: 15.05 GBP (includes visa cost) MIDRANGE
COST PER DAY (per person) whilst trekking
Estimated per day: 00.00 GBP (we were not planning this activity)
Actual cost: 28.88 GBP