The cost of traveling in Ecuador

by Kim on October 9, 2012 · 62 comments

When we were planning our trip around the world, I found it helpful when other travelers were open about what they were spending on the road. So, in an effort to be transparent (and to help get you out the door!) I’ll be posting about our expenses in each country we visit.

Brian and I spent six weeks traveling through Ecuador. We stayed one week in Quito, eight days in the Galapagos Islands, three days in Mindo, three and a half weeks in Baños and four days in Cuenca.

A bit about Ecuador and how we traveled

Overall, Ecuador is an inexpensive country to travel through. You’ll see below that our per day cost looks high, but that is primarily because of the expense of traveling to the Galapagos. We also took two weeks of private Spanish lessons which increased our overall daily expenses slightly. All costs of our six-week travel is explained in detail below.

Brian with our Spanish teacher at our Spanish school

Brian and I are mindful of our budget but we are not budget backpackers. We try to stick to a budget of $80 per day for the both of us, a fairly easy thing to do in Ecuador. We generally stay in hostels and rent private rooms with a double bed and a shared bathroom. We eat out often and we drink when we want too. We buy too much ice cream. We don’t shop much but we do spend money on city tours and fun adventures like this:

Brian willingly jumps off of a bridge. What’s terrifying is he only paid $10 to do it. 

In general, we watch what we spend but we also have a lot of fun.

The cost of traveling in Ecuador

First, let’s get to our grand total. In all, we spent a total of $6,580.17 dollars while traveling six weeks through Ecuador.

I know, I know, that seems like a huge number. But bear in mind that our Galapagos trip was a gigantic expense (see below). If I remove the total cost of our Galapagos trip, our grand total spent was only $2,584.64. That equals an average of $68 per day (for two people!) on the days that we were not in the Galapagos. We also spent $400 on private Spanish lessons. If I remove that expense, our daily average drops to only $57.50 per day for two people, or $28.75 per person. As you can see, you can travel quite well on a budget of about $30 per person per day in Ecuador.

Cost of six-weeks travel in Ecuador 
TYPE OF EXPENSE                          COST
Lodging $547
Food/Alcohol (eating out) $931.96
Grocery $198.96
Souvenirs/Gifts $99
Entertainment $109.50
Transportation $174.70
Flights $0
Misc. $74.21
Spanish classes $400.00
TOTAL (2 people) $2,535.33

Some notes about our expenses: 

You’ll see that I did not account for our flights to Ecuador. This is because we bought our tickets a long time ago, back when we had jobs and paychecks and stuff like that. Since the money came out of our bank account way back when, I chose to leave that expense in the past. 

Transportation is cheap in Ecuador. In general, even long-haul buses cost about $1 per hour. Local buses cost about $0.25 cents. Taxis can always be negotiated and a price should be agreed upon before hopping in. 

The miscellaneous category includes things like laundry, donations and tips (we gave our Spanish teacher a tip).

For the record, I’m ashamed to reveal the amount of money we spent on alcohol and eating out. I told you we eat a lot of ice cream. 

Cost of traveling to the Galapagos

Visiting the Galapagos is an expensive once-in-a-lifetime experience. We’d not originally planned to go due to the cost, but eventually decided to spring for it because everyone and their dog told us we should. We’re glad we did, it was worth every penny, but it also cost a lot of pennies.

Galapagos: Worth the expense

In total our trip to the Galapagos cost us $3,995.53. This is the grand total for every single cent we spent on that trip (2 people). The costs are explained below:

Cost of an eight-day cruise of the Galapagos Islands
TYPE OF EXPENSE                                       COST
Galapagos all-inclusive tour and flights $3,410.53
Galapagos card (mandatory fee at airport) $20
Galapagos National Park entrance fee $200
Tips for crew and guide $201
Souvenirs, postcards, etc. $18
Snorkel gear and wetsuit rental $112
Bar tab $34
TOTAL (2 people) $3,995.53

It’s important to note that Brian and I actually booked a last minute deal to the Galapagos Islands, saving us at least a thousand dollars (probably more). We booked our trip through a travel agency in Quito on Monday and we left for the Galapagos on Wednesday. 

We were on a first-class yacht that held sixteen passengers plus crew. First-class is considered mid-range as far as price is concerned. There are luxury boats as well as tourist class (cheaper) boats. Tourist class gets mixed reviews, but I’ve heard from plenty of people who had a great time on a tourist class boat. One additional note: The food on our yacht was delicious, the best food I’ve had in years. I’m a vegetarian, and the chef provided me my very own vegetarian meal three times a day.

Overall notes about Ecuador

Before we left home we were frequently asked which country we’d be visiting first. When we said Ecuador we generally got this response: Ohhh, why Ecuador? To which Brian and I would sort of stutter and shrug our shoulders because we didn’t really know why we’d picked Ecuador

But we fell in love. 

Ecuador is a beautiful country. The mountains are stunning, the cities have a crumbling colonial charm, and the people are incredibly warm and kind. In Ecuador, life spills out into the streets. Women roast chicken on a spit on the sidewalk, children and dogs wander from house to restaurant to market. Life happens, outside, for everyone to see and because of that there is a kind of energy that I’ve never experienced anywhere else. The energy comes from the act of really participating in the lives of the people around you. It’s fabulous.

Busy streets of Ecuador

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{ 60 comments… read them below or add one }

Skott and Shawna - Get Up & Globe October 9, 2012 at 4:56 pm

I think that is some good budgeting, but when I read it, it does sound a little like you are apologizing for going over budget or spending ‘so much’ money. For goodness sake, it is your money that you rworked your ass off for… do not EVER apologize to anyone for how you spend it on this journey of yours.

All in all, it sounds like you guys are travelling similar to us… you want to be wary of what you are spending, but you don’t want to prevent yourself from doing once in a lifetime things , because “it was too expensive”… I suspect you will find that you will probably ‘grow into your budget’. We set ours at $100/day and surprise surprise, we finished 15-months of travelling at $101/day… if we would have said that our budget was $80 or $150, I have a sneaky suspicion we would have made either of those work as well….

All that being said, congrats on blowing your budget out of the water in Ecuador! :) You will never regret it….

Travel safe!

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Kim October 9, 2012 at 5:04 pm

Really? It sounds like I’m apologizing? I’m definitely not apologizing! My only concern was not turning anyone off of Ecuador by the initial outrageous cost- Ecuador is so affordable, but the Galapagos are expensive.

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Gillian @OneGiantStep October 9, 2012 at 5:09 pm

I’m SO glad you are sharing your budget and expenses. It is only through sharing our real costs that people can follow behind us confidently. I think you guys have struck a great balance between ‘budget’ and ‘once in a lifetime’ and you know that I think that ‘ice cream’ is always worth the pennies!!

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Kim October 15, 2012 at 7:42 pm

When we were planning I found it so helpful when others shared their budget. Thanks Gillian! And, I obviously agree with you about the ice cream.

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Jordan October 9, 2012 at 5:48 pm

Great post, your budget and thoughts on Ecuador are very similar to ours. I briefly considered breaking ice cream into its own category for our budget, but it would probably be too embarrassing! I am pretty sure our lunch today was cheaper than our ice cream was! Glad to hear that we are not alone ;)

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Kim October 15, 2012 at 7:42 pm

Haha, I’m sort of glad I didn’t do it as well (I’m curious to see how much we spent, though). There were definitely times that lunch was cheaper than ice cream!

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Brendon October 9, 2012 at 6:03 pm

Really interesting article, I’m planning on being in Ecuador at some stage on my trip so found this article very helpful thanks for sharing your expenses :D

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Kim October 15, 2012 at 7:42 pm

Great, so glad it helped you.

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Lauren October 9, 2012 at 6:06 pm

I need to know what this icecream is all about…is it different and more delicious than what I am used to? Details, please!

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Kim October 15, 2012 at 7:43 pm

Haha, I think it’s because ice cream is literally sold on EVERY CORNER. You can only resist for so long.

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Arnaud October 9, 2012 at 7:33 pm

Nice, we will be in Ecuador in a couple of months and we was thinking about going in Galapagos. Now I know that it’s out of our budget :( Maybe later !

Thanks for these informations

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Kim October 15, 2012 at 7:43 pm

You might still want to check once you get to Ecuador, you might be able to score a better deal. Good luck!

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Wendy October 9, 2012 at 10:13 pm

Great post! I’ve learned so much by reading your book and watching you. Thanks for the detail. Ps – went out with A&B on Saturday night. Both of them of them individually came up and talked toe about how much they miss you.

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Kim October 15, 2012 at 7:43 pm

Awww, tell them both we say hello. Miss them and MISS YOU lady.

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Carmel October 10, 2012 at 7:14 am

I know you told me not to worry about money, but we want to eat out and drink beer and we won’t have nearly as much money as you saved! Ok, I’m calming down.

It does scare me that Brian’s jump was only $10. I don’t know why.

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Kim October 15, 2012 at 7:44 pm

That jump should cost more!

You will find a happy medium once you are on the road, I know it.

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Bama October 10, 2012 at 9:05 am

Thanks for the detailed budget breakdown, Kim! It really helps (and encourages) me to plan for my future longer travel.

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Kim October 15, 2012 at 7:44 pm

Glad it helped you Bama!

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Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) October 10, 2012 at 5:46 pm

These numbers are really impressive guys, even including your week-long Galapagos splurge! I’m downright envious of the low cost of living in your part of the world, since our time in Japan, Hong Kong, and yes, even China, were not really what I would consider cheap! It seems like, once again, we have similar travel styles, as while Tony and I are happy to rough it every so often and there are parts in our budget where we are happy to cut corners, we really aren’t up for scraping by on the bare minimum all the time. We didn’t save for years so that we could be miserly with our dreams!

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Kim October 15, 2012 at 7:46 pm

Oh man, no, those are not cheap parts of the world! But think about how wonderful it will feel when you finally are traveling through an inexpensive place!

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Charlie October 10, 2012 at 6:21 pm

So I was having a freak out yesterday about the shear amount of cash our travels are likely going to cost us. Posts like this are saving my sanity! Knowing what people are spending on the road is so helpful for us lot still in the planning stage. Guess the Galapagos are of the list tho *sigh*. Thanks for sharing girl!!

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Kim October 15, 2012 at 7:47 pm

Ha, I know those freak-outs well, I used to have them all the time! I’m glad that sharing our expenses helps you to prepare!

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Miel October 11, 2012 at 7:24 am

Totally helpful to travelers and dreamers to look at the real costs.

My how a decade changes things though, and a backpacker budget. In 1998 my friend and I did 4 weeks in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia (including 5 days hiking Macchu Pichu as a splurge) for $178. I think the hike was around $55 of it. Looking back, those prices look crazy!

Nowadays I don’t even want to consider the total cost of traveling to the places I do!

Miel

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Kim October 15, 2012 at 7:47 pm

That is insane! Yeah, it’s nothing like that today- not even close.

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Lauren October 11, 2012 at 11:57 am

I’ve always wanted to visit Ecuador. It looks like taking a trip to Ecuador isn’t to expensive which is great.

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Kim October 15, 2012 at 7:47 pm

Yes, it is very affordable. You should go!

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Rhonda October 11, 2012 at 12:18 pm

Thanks for sharing. I must admit I was curious about the last minute Galapagos “special” … I know less expensive than normal but damn, that is a spendy destination. We found that sometimes you do just need to splurge on these once in a lifetime opportunites. Overall, sounds like you’re right on track.

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Kim October 15, 2012 at 7:48 pm

Yes, very spendy but I AM glad we did it. Looks like we’ll be cutting Easter Island off of the itinerary though. Oh well.

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Patti October 11, 2012 at 3:08 pm

One can never have too much ice cream.

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Kim October 15, 2012 at 7:48 pm

I agree!

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Jason @ Travel Junkies October 11, 2012 at 7:54 pm

Thanks for posting your budget. It is always interesting to see what it costs people to travel. Our budget for our RTW trip is $100 a day total for the 3 of us, which is $33 a day each. This also includes airfare, which I am surprised you omitted. We purchased our airfare while working, yet, we are still counting it as part of our RTW fund. We are starting in Western Europe, which is a wee bit more expensive than Ecuador, but we figure it will set us straight for budgeting. By starting in an expensive area, we will quickly learn to budget, whereas, if we started in a cheap country, it would be really easy to overspend.

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Kim October 15, 2012 at 7:49 pm

Good luck, I’m sure you will figure it out eventually- I think there is an adjustment period.

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Savvy Scot October 12, 2012 at 5:37 am

Amazing pictures!! You have sealed the deal with me now in terms of visiting the Galapagos! Looks unreal!!

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Kim October 15, 2012 at 7:50 pm

You won’t regret a visit to the Galapagos!

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Amy October 12, 2012 at 5:44 am

I love budget break-downs! Like you said, these kinds of posts are invaluable for wannabe travellers and those just about to hit the road (like me!) Keep them coming!

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Kim October 15, 2012 at 7:50 pm

I promise to keep them coming!

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Tracy October 12, 2012 at 12:46 pm

Thank you for posting this! I have never heard anyone say they regretted the Galapagos for any reason, even though it’s crazy expensive.

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Kim October 15, 2012 at 7:53 pm

It is insanely expensive but I’m so glad we went.

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Arianwen October 16, 2012 at 4:02 pm

Yes, the Galapagos really does hike up the price doesn’t it?! But it’s so great I probably would have paid more. I’d recommend everyone to splash out when they’re in Ecuador. You can get even cheaper deals from the islands themselves. I don’t know a single person who’s regretted it.

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Kim October 17, 2012 at 5:27 am

I think I would have paid more too. Without a doubt I think the experience was worth it.

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Ayngelina October 18, 2012 at 3:25 pm

Ecuador is actually really cheap for private rooms. In Cuenca I ended up getting a private room at a hostel for $5 a night and stayed a month, my total costs were $400 for the month.

Galapagos is expensive but oh so worth it!

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Kim October 19, 2012 at 6:38 am

Dang, that’s good. We paid much more for that in a private room. Ayngelina, I tried to stay at our Cuenca Hostel recommendation but ended up at La Casa Cuencana. I wasn’t sure if that was the same place as Casa Cuenca, or different. Casa Cuencana was nice nonetheless.

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Mario January 16, 2013 at 3:04 pm

Hey there, an Ecuadorian here. Just wanted to thank you for the kind words about the country and making us sound so good. You have a great blog, keep at it. :)

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Kim January 20, 2013 at 2:16 am

Thank you Mario. I really loved Ecuador, it is one of my favorite countries.

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Mauricio April 26, 2013 at 3:13 pm

Hi,im also an Ecuadorian.Im going back after 14 years.I live in London and have back packed now im looking forward to use my experience in my own country.i shall try to write my travels for future reference to others.Thank you for the beautiful massages.

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Kim April 28, 2013 at 7:48 pm

Ah, enjoy it. I loved Ecuador so much. One year into the trip and it is still one of my favorite places.

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chirag ahir July 1, 2013 at 1:55 pm

i am looking to trip from india to eucador i am from india sooo can you please tell me how much it will cost????

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Kim July 1, 2013 at 2:43 pm

Hi. I don’t know about airfare but the costs of traveling in Ecuador should be pretty similar to what i have laid out in this post.

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Deb July 21, 2013 at 6:28 am

Hi! My friend and I plan to visit Ecuador for 10 days. We would like to go Galapagos too. Any recommendation for tour agencies in Quito? Trustworthy agency.

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Kim July 21, 2013 at 8:19 am

Hi Deb. There are dozens of agencies in Quito. Do you have a Lonely Planet?? If you look at the Lonely Planet guide they will have some reputable agencies listed. I can’t remember which agency we used. We literally just walked around and got quotes and then chose the tour we thought fit us best. You should be able to find multiple good places without any problems.

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Gaby September 18, 2013 at 11:35 am

Hi Kim,

Sweet website! My fiance and I are thinking about hitting Ecuador in December. We would love to spend some time on the beach. Can you recommend any beach towns we should definitely check out?

Thanks.

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Kim September 20, 2013 at 2:31 am

Gaby, I didn’t even make it to the beach!!! I’m more of a mountain girl and the mountains are wonderful. I’m sorry I can’t help.

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Homer November 4, 2013 at 10:05 am

Very nice of you 4 helping everyone…do you know how much is a train ticket from quito to guayaquil,cuase i live in iran and i dont have good available internet..thanx again.

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Kim November 7, 2013 at 12:27 am

Hi Homer, I don’t know the answer to that or even if a train runs from Quito to Guayaquil but I do know that you could take a bus and that it would be pretty inexpensive- less than $20 USD.

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Wesley Steiner November 9, 2013 at 8:58 am

Great Post about Ecuador. We currently live right outside of Cuenca and the cost of living is very affordable. Yes, Ecuador is beautiful country, here is what we found about the cost of living http://www.eatsleepliveecuador.com/cost-living-ecuador/

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April June 3, 2014 at 10:20 pm

We will fly out of ATL two weeks from Thursday!!! Thanks for the flip flop tip (previous post) We are getting the ‘Why Ecuador?’ question a lot. We are traveling 20 days (taking advantage of a school employee summer) and we chose Ecuador over many other places. I really think the question from most of the people translates as ‘why would you go to Ecuador when there are perfectly good, safe places to go here.’ I am wide open with very low expectations (about creature comforts) and a sense of no control, literally a control freak handing 20 days over to fate and the unknown.
April recently posted..Ecuador Post #1- pre-trip, the itinerary

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Kim June 4, 2014 at 6:51 am

Oh, ENJOY ECUADOR. We loved it there, especially Banos. If you go to Mindo we stayed at Yellow House and it was wonderful. So peaceful. Rooms are about $40 per night so more pricy than most in town but worth the expense. Are you going to go to the Galapagos?

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Hanna October 8, 2014 at 3:34 pm

I did a jump from a bridge too in Banos together with my husband ! What a nice experience and we only payed 25$ video included :D
Hanna recently posted..Living in a Multilingual Family

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melanie October 9, 2014 at 7:38 pm

Hey Kim,

I was wondering if it would be cheaper to make hostel accommodations beforehand or when I arrive.

thanks!

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Kim October 10, 2014 at 12:03 pm

Hi Melanie,

I don’t think it will be any cheaper. It may be cheaper to make hostel accommodations when you arrive because then you can negotiate in person. We usually book for two nights so that we have a place to land when we arrive and then we search around for better/ cheaper digs.

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