There you go, our 3 months in Ecuador have come to an end. As usual, we take stock of the numbers: let’s dive into the travel budget of this Ecuador backpacking trip to give you a better idea of the cost of living!
We took this trip in 2014, but the article was completely revised and updated in December 2023. If you have additional information that could be relevant, feel free to leave us a comment!
Budget for a stay in Ecuador
Ecuador is one of the cheapest countries in South America. But beware, prices tend to rise quickly. A few years ago, it was still possible to get by on 15-20 dollars per day per person. Today, it’s not really the case anymore unless you tighten your belt!
Our stay in Ecuador
For once, our budget article won’t be exactly like the previous ones. Usually, we give you the averages of our expenses for each country we visit, but for Ecuador, it’s a bit different.
In fact, we initially settled in Quito to take intensive Spanish classes. These 2 months of break were truly a breath of fresh air, or rather a complete recharge of our batteries! Moreover, this short break allowed us to learn good basics of Spanish and explore Quito thoroughly! Then, after this language immersion, we traveled for 1 month in the rest of Ecuador.
Budget for 3 months in Ecuador
In total, we spent $54.6/day for 2 people. However, this average doesn’t really reflect the costs associated with a trip to Ecuador (nor inflation). Today, it would be more around $31 per day per person, almost 14% more than at the time…
With a daily budget of $31, you can travel comfortably throughout Ecuador, excluding the Galápagos Islands, of course. You stay in double rooms and cook some of your meals yourself. All without depriving yourself or limiting yourself on transportation and museum entrances and activities. And, promised, there will even be a few extra dollars for a nice cold beer from time to time!
To plan your budget for a trip to Ecuador, let’s break down the different expense items and the cost of living, whether it’s in Quito or the rest of Ecuador.
Note: we have separated the Galapagos, as the budget will not be the same even though these islands are part of Ecuador. Check the end of the article for details!
Accommodation/Hotel budget in Ecuador
This is the most significant expense item, representing about 32% of the total budget of our stay in Ecuador.
Living in Quito: renting an apartment in Quito
For short stays, there are many hostels and small hotels in the historic center of Quito as well as in the tourist district of La Mariscal. Budget-wise, expect about $10 per person for a dorm bed and between $20 and $30 for a private double room in a backpacker hostel.
As we were staying longer, we opted for a room in a house in the north of Quito, at St. Gallen Haus. For less than $500 per month, we had a private double room, kitchen and living room available, wifi, a cleaning lady, and a nice but quiet atmosphere. You’ll also find entire apartments in the city center for $450-500 a month.
Hotels in Ecuador
To find cheap hotels in Ecuador, we recommend checking the Booking website. Here is the list of our accommodations during our Ecuadorian journey.
- Baños: we stayed at the friendly hostal Nomada. The owner was lovely, the rooms were simple but clean. Price per night: $16 for the double room. Kitchen available and wifi.
- The Quilotoa Loop: we stayed:
- Latacunga: the hostal Café Tiana Latacunga is a good base for discovering the laguna de Quilotoa or climbing Cotopaxi volcano.
- In the Amazon, we chose the beautiful Huasquila Amazon Lodge.
- In Riobamba, we couchsurfed. It was our first experience in South America, and it only reinforced our idea that we should do it more often! Memorable memories! For those registered on the site, Paul M. from Riobamba is an exceptional host.
- In Cuenca, we stayed at the hostal Yakumama, a hostel run by 2 Swiss brothers and sisters. Great atmosphere, a very nice garden, and minimalist but clean rooms. Bed in a dormitory for 8 dollars and a double room with shared bathroom for $25.
Ecuadorian food cost
Ecuador is not an expensive country in Latin America, and eating there is very affordable. Most restaurants offer lunch deals between 1 and 3 dollars. To find them, just look for signs indicating the word “Almuerzo,” a lunch menu. It usually consists of soup, a main course with rice and chicken, and fruit juice.
In general, these menus are very good, but unfortunately not very varied or the healthiest version! Since we had a kitchen in Quito, we almost always cooked for ourselves. To give you an idea, our weekly grocery budget was approximately $75 per week for 2 people, including all meals.
With this budget, we really treated ourselves! We didn’t do any incredible extras, but we did our shopping without thinking too much. If you decide to follow a diet based only on rice, pasta, and market vegetables, it is easy to reduce this budget to around fifty dollars per week for 2.
Transportation budget in Ecuador
Living in Quito: transportation
Public transportation in Quito works very well! It is also extremely cheap. Regardless of the distance traveled, a bus ticket costs $0.25!
Otherwise, the alternative to public transportation in Quito is to grab a taxi. There are plenty of them; they are very safe and inexpensive. The average price is $10 for half an hour. During the day, taxis are pretty honest and usually use the meter. If they don’t, don’t hesitate to insist because it’s illegal. If the driver refuses, change the taxi!
Backpacking in Ecuador is a breeze and will cost you almost nothing. Ecuadorian roads are in excellent condition (compared to any road in Asia at least). As a result, the trips are really comfortable!
To simplify, base yourself on $1-1.5 per hour of transport on Ecuadorian roads! Only buses going to the Amazon are a bit more expensive, about $2 per hour… Considering that Ecuador is only 650 km wide and 714 km long, you won’t bankrupt yourself crossing the country!
Extras budget: Spanish class prices
We had already talked about it in our article on Spanish lessons in Quito, but the Ecuadorian capital is truly an excellent city to improve your Spanish. Unlike countries further south, the Spanish spoken in Quito is very pure, people generally speak quite slowly, with a not very pronounced accent.
- In a language school
There are many language schools in Quito, and the budget for taking Spanish classes varies depending on the size of the groups and the reputation of the school. For private lessons, expect about $12 per hour and $9 for group lessons. This price often includes course materials, drinks, and free afternoon activities, such as cooking or dancing classes.
- Off the books
In the center of Quito, you will find many ads in hostels offering language courses starting from $4 or $5 per hour. These are usually individuals who teach the language with more or less professionalism. Probably a little less structured than in a school, but it can still be a solution if you just want to practice your conversation.
Sightseeing budget in Ecuador
- Climb the Basilica of Quito: $2 per person.
- The Botanical Garden in La Carolina Park: $4 per person.
- A cable car ride to the heights of Quito: $9 per person.
- Climb to the top of the Virgen del Panecillo: $1 per person.
In the rest of Ecuador
- Mitad del Mundo: $5 for the monument, the same price for the Intiñan museum (with guided tour).
- Cotopaxi National Park: a tour from Quito with a hike on the volcano costs about $80 per person. For the full ascent, expect about $250-300, still from the capital. This price includes transportation, all equipment, the guide, meals, and a night (well, a little bit). It is possible to do it from Latacunga for about $150.
- Mindo: the visit to the butterfly farm costs $7.5, $5 for access to the waterfalls, and a maximum of $10 for a visit + tasting of chocolate and coffee.
- Otavalo market: the day cost us $20 per person, including bus transportation to Otavalo, a small snack at noon, transportation to Cuicocha Lagoon, and a boat tour.
- The Amazon: depending on your budget and the time you have, prices vary quite a bit to explore the Amazon rainforest! If you stay in Tena or Puyo and go on a guided day tour, it will cost you less than several nights in a lodge in the heart of the Amazonian jungle (from about $100 per night per person, all-inclusive). But the immersion may be less complete…
Find all the information and our articles on the country, we’ll see you on our page dedicated to travel in Ecuador.
Budget for a trip to the Galápagos Islands
To choose is to forsake
The big heartbreak of our stay in Ecuador! The Galápagos Islands are probably one of the most sought-after destinations in South America, but also one of the most expensive! During our 2 months in Quito, we kept looking for a good last-minute deal… But the cheapest we found was at least $1400 per person for 5 days… Ouch!
Moreover, some of our Spanish learning companions went to the archipelago with all-inclusive agencies. Problem, they came back very disappointed! Catastrophic organization, hidden fees once there, insufficient food, and so on!
From what we can see, the best way to visit the Galápagos is to go there on your own or with a reputable agency and not fall for the lowest offers.
The cost of a trip to the Galápagos
In terms of budget for the Galápagos Islands, you should expect:
- About $300 for a round-trip flight from Quito or Guayaquil (2 hours of flight);
- $20 each for a transit card plus an entry fee of $100 per person to be paid in cash at the airport. As the Galápagos are part of a vast national park listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, these fees are used to preserve this fragile environment.
- A basic hotel on the main island of Santa Cruz, expect about $30-35 per night.
- Excursions! That’s where it hurts… Day activities cost at least $100 per person, and they are worth it! What’s the point of going to the Galápagos if you don’t even explore the small islands? Diving, snorkeling, climbing Sierra Negra, etc. There is a wide choice to discover the wonders of the archipelago!
In short, you end up costing over $2000 for a 5-day trip to the Galápagos Islands. But it simply wasn’t in our travel budget. Plus, as we somewhat changed our plans, we needed this money to extend our round-the-world trip.
3 months in Ecuador, the review
This 3-month stay in Ecuador was a very nice introduction to the rest of our journey in South America. With a good foundation in Spanish (thanks to immersive language stays) and a better understanding of South American culture, we continue our journey. Next country: Peru! And you, do you have a favorite Ecuadorian experience to share with us?