Ecuador can be an extremely economical country to travel through. It’s also easy to spend lots of money quickly, depending on your travel style and tastes.
A budget traveler who is camping or doing accommodation exchanges, eating set lunch menus, and preparing meals can get by on as little as $10 a day.
A backpacker staying in hostel dorms, eating out, and going out regularly will likely spend $20 to $30 a day.
Someone with money to blow who enjoys staying in nice hotels, eating out, and going on tours and excursions can budget at least $40 to $50 a day.
As Ecuador has a highly developed tourism infrastructure, the majority of popular tourist spots offer upscale hotels. A private room in a nice hotel will cost $30 or more.
If you’re looking to pinch pennies, there are options to camp, both inside of hotels/hostels, on their grounds, and on the beach at a minimal cost.
A private room at the most basic budget hotel, normally including television and a private bathroom, will cost you about $5 per person for a couple. However, quality varies greatly and rooms of this type might not be for everyone.
Hostels are a bit more expensive, though come with a kitchen to use and other backpacker amenities like wifi and tourism information. A dorm room will run you about $7 to $10. Of course, if you’re doing accommodation exchanges throughout the country, you can stay for free.
Those who stick to fruit and preparing meals will be able to eat for as little as $3 a day or less. Bananas are plentiful and extremely cheap, costing about 5 cents each. Apples are on the more expensive end at about 25 cents each as they’re exported from Chile. An avocado will cost you between 20 cents to 50 cents depending on where in the country you are.
As in most places in Latin America, Ecuador offers set menus called almuerzos that are economical. For vegetarians, ask them to make you a plate with beans (menestra), rice, and a salad and/or platanos. I’ve never paid more than $2 for a meal like this, but normally it’s just $1.50.
Places like Guayaquil, Montañita, Quito, Baños, and Cuenca offer lots of international food choices, so if you’re missing food from home you might want to splurge a bit. These plates are generally more expensive, starting at $3 and up.
For coffee fanatics, you’ll be greatly disappointed in Ecuador. In the majority of restaurants, the coffee advertised on menus is actually Nescafe or an instant equivalent. Worst of all, they charge anywhere from 50 cents to a $1 for it.
Ecuador’s cheap and abundant fruit choices make fresh juices popular throughout the country. Expect to pay $1 or more depending on where you are and how many types of fruit you choose.
A small bottle of water costs about 30 cents, though to be more environmentally conscious, opt for a three-liter bottle for $1 or refill your plastic water bottle at restaurants and hotels.
Those traveling south from Colombia are in for a pleasant surprise. Since gas is cheap ($1.50 to $2 a gallon), buses costs about $1 an hour – sometimes more on the coast. Intercity buses are 25 cents per ride. Taxis are also economical, though fares should be negotiated before arriving as most taxi drivers don’t use their meter (if they have one at all).
Total Cost of 3 Months in Ecuador
Ecuador proved to be an extremely economical country for me to travel in. Roughly half of the three months I was there, I participated in accommodation exchanges for my site, the South America Tourist. When I was paying, we chose to stick to budget hotels as opposed to more expensive hostels.
Food-wise, I normally ate fruit in the morning, a set vegetarian lunch, and a homemade dinner with the occasional splurge on pizza or a vegetarian hamburger. I also crisscrossed the country, traveling from absolute north to absolute south, and beach on the west side to jungle on the east side. My total also includes 4 days in Peru.
My total cost of 3 months traveling in Ecuador: $1187.50 or $395.83 per month.
Have you been to Ecuador? How much did you spend? Leave your comments here.