IS ECUADOR EXPENSIVE?
Ecuador is a cheap country to travel in for Europeans and North Americans.
The Galapagos Islands are the only expensive part of the country, but that doesn’t mean you should avoid them as a backpacker. We’ve outlined a couple of itineraries and budgets here to show you how to visit on the cheap.
As a backpacker, you should budget between $20-25 per day for food and accommodation in Ecuador.
Then just factor in any activities you wish to do on top of this. We won’t give a rough estimate of this as a lot of activities are free or vary widely in price. In our monthly breakdown below, we have outlined some exciting trips and excursions you may want to factor in when budgeting.
These estimates and budget only include mainland Ecuador. We have created a mini-separate budget for the Galapagos Islands at the end of the post if you are interested.
DAILY BACKPACKING BUDGET IN ECUADOR
|Average Daily Cost ($)|
Ecuador Average Accommodation Price (Per Day)
The average daily cost for a multi-bed dorm (usually 6-8 beds) is around $8-10 in Ecuador.
This price will get you a comfortable room in most of the popular backpacker hostels such as Secret Garden in Quito and Community Hostel in Banos. Lower prices are available too when staying in larger dorm rooms.
Community Hostel Baños
- 4-bed dorm – $10
- 6-bed dorm – $9
- 4-bed dorms – $7.48
- 6-bed dorm – $6.48
Most of the hostels in Ecuador include breakfast with the price as well which helps when sticking to a budget.
Check out the links below if you want more details on some of the best hostels in Ecuador.
Ecuador Average Food Price (Per Day)
Hostel breakfasts in Ecuador usually include eggs, bread, jams, fruits and coffee. As your first meal of the day is covered by the hostel, that means you only need to worry about lunch and dinner.
It’s easy to eat on a budget in Ecuador as there are local markets and food stalls everywhere.
The best thing to do is to eat lunch at a market where most stalls serve ‘Almuerzo’ (meaning lunch). Typical lunches include a soup, rice dish with fish or meat, and a drink costing $2-4.
They are tasty, cheap, and substantial enough to keep you going until dinner. These stalls often serve dinner too – lookout for signs saying ‘Cena’ (dinner) or ‘Menu del Dia’ (menu of the day).
Of course, the cheapest way to eat is by cooking for yourself. The markets will have fresh produce such as fruit and vegetables for a healthy home-cooked dinner.
If you choose to eat out then in restaurants, it’s unlikely you’ll blow your budget. Most meals are priced at $6-10 depending on what you order. Ecuador is one of the best places to treat yourself because it’s so cheap.
If you stick to eating at markets twice a day, your average daily spend shouldn’t exceed $10.
If you eat out at restaurants every now and then it won’t cost more than around $12-15.
- Market Lunch/Dinner – $2-3
- Restaurant Meal – $6-10
- Water – $1 per litre
You can’t drink tap water in Ecuador. Some hostels have their own water dispensers, but you may need to buy your own.
The low cost of living in Ecuador is one of our 12 great reasons for visiting and backpacking Ecuador in 2022. For more reasons to inspire you, check out the post below:
Ecuador Average Cost Of Transport
On our year long South America trip, Ecuador was the cheapest country for bus travel.
Most long bus journeys between towns won’t cost more than $5. In the big cities like Quito we took taxis and Ubers, which costs a bit more, whereas, in places like Baños, which is smaller, we rarely paid for a cab.
We estimate that most people take 5-7 bus journeys during their time in Ecuador, of course, depending on how many cities you visit. The total of these journeys combined with the odd cab journey here and there will cost you less than $50.
We think factoring in $5 a day here makes sense as it will be spread across days you do and don’t use transport.
Here are the rough costs of transport:
- City buses – $0.25
- Taxis – $3-4 (Ubers slightly more expensive)
- Regional Buses – $1 per hour of travel (so a bus from Quito to Banos costs $4)
ECUADOR ONE MONTH BACKPACKING BUDGET
|Average Daily Cost ($)||Monthly Spend ($)|
If you visit Ecuador, don’t eat out or party and stick only to free activities only, you could survive on $450-630 for a month. But that’s clearly no fun!
You want to fill your days with a mix of free and paid activities, but again, tours and activities are cheap in Ecuador, so you won’t break the bank.
Here’s a breakdown of activities you may wish to do in Quito:
- Middle of the World – $4
- Basillica Del Voto Nacional – $3
- Teleferico ride – $5
- Night out – $15
To read about these activities in more detail, check out the links below.
Nights out in Ecuador don’t cost much either (depending on how much you drink). Beers from a local store cost a dollar a pop, and you could even buy some harder liquor like rum if you want to pre-drink to save money.
In the bars and clubs, beers cost $1-2 and cocktails/doubles cost around $2-4.
If we add all these the activities mentioned above and take an average, we get $11 a day spent on activities.
We’ve added $15 a day as a max spend as you may wish to pay for an organised tour at some point on your journey.
Outside of the big cities that have a larger backpacker presence, tours, activities, accommodation etc. will be even cheaper.
Another great thing about Ecuador is the number of hikes you can do which cost next to nothing.
The 3-day Quilotoa Loop costs around \$95 total (which includes your accommodation and meals).
If you wish to visit Cotopaxi National Park, then you can stay at Secret Garden Cotopaxi which costs $95 for a 2 day/3 night stay with activities and meals all included. Another incredible experience at a bargain price. Or you can visit on your own for around $30.
We’ve outlined both of these options in the posts below:
HOW MUCH SHOULD I BUDGET FOR A MONTH IN ECUADOR?
With everything we’ve detailed above included – hostels, food and activities – you should budget for between $30-40 a day whilst backpacking Ecuador.
If you decide to do an entire month, then you can manage it on $900 at the low end, but we would suggest taking $1,200 just to be on the safe side.
There will always be a tour that takes your fancy at the last minute, or an extra night out, or meals out in excellent restaurants. No one wants to eat at markets twice a day for a whole month, no matter how excellent the food is.
Check out our 1-month backpacking itinerary and route for Ecuador to help you start planning.
CAN YOU VISIT THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS ON A BACKPACKER BUDGET?
The Galapagos is an expensive place. There are extra entry fees, and obviously, the flights cost more than buses.
Here are the three non-avoidable costs related to travelling to the islands:
- Return flights from Guayaquil – $320
- Transit Control Card – $20
- Eco payment on arrival – $100
Total – $440
|Mainland Ecuador (3 Week Budget)||$713-920|
|Galapagos Flights & Fees||$440|
|Galapagos (1 Week budget)||$371|
|Total||$1,524 – 1,731|
We broke down our spend and budget, which you can see here in more detail, but our average daily spend came to about $53 (food, accommodation and tours).
Most of the day to day activities like visiting the museums and beaches are actually free, so most of this $53 dollars goes towards food and accommodation.
So, if you wish to add the Galapagos to your itinerary, then you will add in $440 for flights and entrance fees + an extra £20-30 per day on top of the standard Ecuador budget.
For more guides on sticking to a backpacker budget when visiting the Galapagos Islands, check out the guides below:
COST OF SPANISH SCHOOLS IN ECUADOR
For many travellers learning Spanish is on their bucket list when visiting South America. Many people start their trips with a crash course in Spanish, especially if they have no prior experience.
Montañita is a great place to start the process. You can learn Spanish by the beach, meet great people and party to your heart’s content.
There are several Spanish schools in this unforgettable party town and a week typically sets you back $170 with accommodation included along with some surf classes and other activities.
We’d recommend Montañita Spanish School – we spent two weeks there and loved every minute.