Travel Prices in Ecuador – Latest Update

cheap traveling ecuador

I did a post on travel prices in Ecuador a few years back and for a whole range of items, prices haven’t really changed much. One of the main reasons Ecuador converted to a US dollar-based economy a decade and a half ago is to tame inflation. It has worked, bigtime. “We don’t even know what inflation looks like anymore,” said one hotel owner to me on my visit there this month. “The only things that go up are imports and whatever the government decides to raise taxes on.”

I have commented on the most prominent of the items that go in that last category: alcoholic beverages in Ecuador. Basically anything alcoholic that is imported has a massive tax now that effectively doubles its retail price over what it would be in the USA, so only domestic items like beer and cheap rum are priced at a point where even middle class people can afford them. Everything else costs more than you would pay in Dubai.

locro potatoes and cheeseBut that’s the odd category out in a country that is competes with Bolivia as the cheapest place to travel in South America (and edges that country out because of far lower visa fees). And it’s not cheap in a Paraguay kind of way. It’s a fantastic bargain because there is so much to see and do here. Thanks to climates that can go from beachfront tropical to snowy mountaintops to the Amazon jungle, changing your weather is as easy as getting on a bus.

Here’s what it’ll cost you these days to travel in Ecuador, as of late 2013.

Food and Drink Prices in Ecuador

I don’t often tweet my lunch, but I did when I got a three-course lunch for with pineapple juice for $2 in Cuenca, two blocks from the main plaza. They had free Wi-fi, so I couldn’t resist. This was a great deal, but you don’t have to walk very far in Ecuador to find a big lunch for $3 or less and street snacks are super-cheap.

Street snacks (corn pancakes, empanadas, nuts, humitas) – 20 – 50 cents
Set meal of the day: $2 – $6 (the latter a cloth napkin kind of place)
2-liter soda: $1
Soda/coffee in restaurant: 50 cents to $1.50
Beer in restaurant: $1 – $2.50
6-pack of domestic beer in store: $4 – $5
Glass of wine in restaurant: $5 – $12
Ice cream in shop: $1 – $1.50
Ice cream novelty from store: 40 cents – $1.25
Juice at juice stand: 40 – 75 cents
Pizza slice with a soda $1.50
Giant helping of french fries with a hot dog on top – $1-$1.50
Rolls from a bakery: 10-15 for $1
Seasonal fruit/vegetables: 50 cents to $1.25 a kilo

taxi prices in Ecuador

Transportation Costs in Ecuador

Gasoline is around $2 a gallon here, while diesel is barely half that, so transportation is cheap. Check out that photo above for the prices from the airport in Cuenca!

Taxi in cities: $1.75 – $6
Hour+ taxi ride from Quito airport to center: $22 – $33
Local bus ride: 25 cents
Overnight intercity bus ride $8 – $12 (around a dollar an hour)
Short intercity bus ride: $1.50 – $5
One-way flight from Quito to Cuenca: $77

candy apples at a street stall

Hostel and Hotel Prices in Ecuador:

Hostel bed in Quito or Cuenca – $7 – $15 per person
Basic double hotel room with private bath, maid service, bkfst., hot water – $10 to $40
3-star equivalent hotel double – $24 to $75 (cheaper outside the cities)
National park cabin – $5 per person

25 cent roses for sale

Other traveler prices in Ecuador:

Internet access: 40 – 60 cents/hour
International phone calls: 5 – 35 cents/hour
Claro or Movistar Sim card: $4 – $5
B&W/color copies – 2 cents/7 cents
Roses – 25 cents each
Flower bouquets – $1.50 – $5
Haircut in a barbershop or salon – $2 – $3.50
One hour massage in a salon – $10-$15
Half-hour “health massage” in a health food store: $2 – $4
Admission to most museums and sites – $1 to $3.50
Hand-woven wool or alpaca scarf that took days to make: $15 – $20
Full day at water park: $10

  1. Gerald

    I think Ecuador is a lot better deal than Bolivia, besides just the up-front visa costs. The food is better, the country is a lot less polluted, people are friendlier to foreigners. And it feels like Ecuador that people who run hotels, restaurants, and tours actually understand business and want to make their customers happy. Bolivia is comically bad on that front sometimes.

  2. Brian

    Ecuador sounds great. I’m thinking of teaching English and although Ecuador may not pay much, you don’t need much.

    Do you know much about the ESL market in Ecuador, or how about Mexico? Thanks Tim. Love the blog.

    • Tim Leffel

      Most any sizable city will have teaching jobs or you can create one on your own, but in Cuenca you’ve got loads of competition because of all the foreigners. You’re better off in Quito, or second Guayaquil, where people need it for business. Mexico is a different story as there are so many large enough cities to support a school. Basically any place of half a million will have at least one English school, plus the resort areas. You won’t make a lot of money like you can in Asia though. If you string together enough work, enough to live on though.

  3. Jim

    Hi Tim,

    Very informative, as usual.

    How did the internet speed compare to Telmex in Ecuador and Nicaragua?
    Did you like Ecuador about as much as you like Mexico?

  4. Naved

    Hey Tim,

    Lov what you’ve done with the info provided. Is it easy to find work or open a small business in Ecuador??? I want to leave the u.s. permanently so looking for a new destinations…your website really helped but still a lil lost in how and where to go.

  5. Pauline Brophy

    Train travel in Ecuador

    Is it possible to take trips across the country in one direction. But no on the expensive cruise train

    • Tim Leffel

      Not that I know of. This was set up as a money maker, so as far as I know there’s no cheap and regular train service. You have to take a bus to get around on a budget.

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