Planning your next South American adventure? Come to Ecuador! Budget travelers are sometimes turned off by the high prices of Galapagos Island trips, touristy restaurants, and imported goods, but the reality is that travel expenses can be very affordable. We have compiled a short list of average monetary comparisons in South America- Take a look!
The official currency of Ecuador is the United States Dollar (USD) which is good news for those traveling from the US. Many times travelers are distracted by good exchange rates with specific countries currency’s, but when they take into consideration the value of what they are receiving for their money, Ecuador’s prices are some of the most stable and competitive in South America.
2) Hostel Lodging
With plenty of options for lodging throughout the country, Ecuador is also home to some of the best hostel pricing in South America. You can find beds in private rooms averaging at $11 USD and dorm beds averaging at $8 USD. Some countries that have more expensive beds include Argentina averaging at $16 USD private/$12 USD dorm and Columbia averaging at $13 USD private/$10 USD public. Though the difference between these prices isn’t large for just one night, hostel savings from a three month trip could pay for an entire jungle tour.
3) Distance and Cost of travel
Within a relatively small geographic footprint, Ecuador offers a short distance to travel between its four distinctly different regions. In addition to the benefit of short travel distances, travel costs in the country are low. Long-distance buses typically cost $1-2 USD per hour. Inside the city, a local bus ticket is $0.25 USD and taxi’s generally cost $2-$7 USD. A basic taxi ride in Chile will cost $6-$10 USD, a city bus ride more than $1 USD and long distance buses $3 USD/hour. Ecuador’s travel expenses can be compared more closely Peru, where the cost of a long distance bus ride is $2-3 USD per hour and the cost of a basic taxi ride in the city is $6-$8 USD.
4) Cost of Lunch
The custom of “almuerzo” lunches providing the biggest meal of the day in Ecuador, bodes well for budget travelers. For just $2-$4 USD, you will receive a glass of fresh juice, a big bowl of soup, a main dish including vegetables, meat and rice, and a small dessert. This style of lunch doesn’t really exist outside of Ecuador and to buy similar amount of food may be around the same price in countries like Columbia and Peru, you will pay up to $10 USD in Argentina.
Many fun and inexpensive activities exist in Ecuador. A couple of great examples are bike rentals to the route of waterfalls in Banos for $5 USD and a cable car ride up to the top of Rucu Pinchincha to see the entire city of Quito for $8.50 USD. The same type of cable car trip up to Sugarloaf Mountain to see the bay of Rio de Janeiro, Argentina costs $30 USD and mountain biking the so-called ‘Death Road’ near La Paz Bolivia costs $50-$70 USD.
6) Cost of Beer
Though the quality of a local beer may be a good example of “you get what you pay for” in flavor, a .75l bottle of beer in Ecuador can be purchase for just $1.00-$1.50 USD. While Peru and Bolivia have comparable prices to Ecuador, Columbia’s average comes in a little higher at $2.00 USD and Argentina and Chile even higher at $2.50-3.00 USD. In Ecuador, you can think of your beer consumption as 2 x 1 happy hour every time you have a drink!
7) Jungle Tour
Travelers can enjoy a 4-day, all-inclusive Amazon experience just 10 hours from Quito accessible by public bus for just $280 USD. Similar tours of the Amazon in Peru cost something more like $350 USD for just 3 days. In Bolivia you will pay an average of $100 USD per night and have to sit through a 20 hour bus ride from La Paz or take a flight that can cost about $150 USD. In addition to the best prices, Ecuador’s Amazon boasts the best wild life spotting and biological diversity in South America.
8) Personal services
Though you may not think of personal services when planning, basic needs and comfort are important when you are far away from home. In Ecuador you can get a decent haircut for $5 USD, a pound of your dirty laundry cleaned for just $0.50 USD and a great hour long massage for just $20 USD. In Peru you will find nearly the same averages, with laundry costing just a little more at $0.60 USD. In Argentina you will pay as much as $1-$2 USD per pound for your laundry, $50 for an hour long massage and $14 for a basic haircut.
Please keep in mind that we know each traveler has different experiences and can find special deals. This article is meant to provide an idea of general pricing and show how cheap it is to travel in Ecuador. Happy Trails!
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Written by Betsy Maria D.