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What We Spent In Ecuador


by Conchita Beaudoin



Welcome to Ecuador, a vibrant and diverse country in South America that offers a myriad of experiences for travelers. From the majestic peaks of the Andes to the lush Amazon rainforest and the stunning Galapagos Islands, Ecuador is a treasure trove of natural wonders and cultural gems. But before you embark on your adventure, it’s essential to have a good understanding of the expenses you can expect during your stay.


In this article, we will provide a comprehensive breakdown of the different expenses you are likely to encounter in Ecuador. From accommodation and transportation to food and dining, sightseeing and activities, shopping, and miscellaneous expenses, we’ll cover it all to help you plan your budget effectively.


Ecuador offers a wide range of accommodation options, catering to different budgets and preferences. Whether you prefer luxury hotels, cozy bed and breakfasts, or budget-friendly hostels, you’ll find something to suit your needs. Accommodation expenses can vary depending on the location and type of accommodation you choose. For example, hotels in touristy areas or major cities tend to be more expensive compared to rural or off-the-beaten-path locations.


Transportation in Ecuador is affordable and efficient, with various options to choose from. Public buses are the most common mode of transportation, and they are reasonably priced for both short and long distances. Taxis are also readily available, but it’s important to negotiate the fare upfront or insist on using the meter to avoid any surprises. If you’re planning to explore multiple destinations, consider booking domestic flights, which are relatively affordable and can save you time.


Ecuador is renowned for its diverse and delicious cuisine, with an array of options to tantalize your taste buds. From traditional dishes like ceviche and locro de papas to street food favorites like empanadas and llapingachos, you can indulge in a gastronomic adventure without breaking the bank. Eating at local markets and small eateries is often more affordable than dining at upscale restaurants.


When it comes to sightseeing and activities, Ecuador offers a wealth of experiences. Whether you want to explore the historic centers of Quito and Cuenca, hike the picturesque trails of Cotopaxi National Park, or venture into the Amazon rainforest, there are endless opportunities for adventure. Entrance fees for tourist attractions and guided tours can vary, so it’s essential to factor these expenses into your budget.


Shopping enthusiasts will enjoy browsing the colorful markets and artisanal shops in Ecuador. Whether it’s locally made crafts, textiles, or traditional souvenirs, there’s something for everyone. Bargaining is a common practice in markets, so don’t hesitate to negotiate prices to get the best deal.


Lastly, miscellaneous expenses can include things like SIM cards for your phone, laundry services, travel insurance, and tips for guides and service staff. It’s crucial to allocate a portion of your budget to these miscellaneous expenses to ensure a smooth and hassle-free trip.


Now that we’ve given you a brief overview of the different expenses you can expect in Ecuador, it’s time to delve deeper into each category and provide you with more specific information. Let’s explore the enchanting world of Ecuador and equip ourselves with the knowledge to have an unforgettable journey.


Accommodation Expenses

Accommodation expenses in Ecuador can vary greatly depending on your preferred style of lodging and the region you are staying in. Whether you’re looking for luxury hotels, mid-range options, or budget-friendly accommodations, Ecuador has something to suit every traveler’s needs and budget.


In major cities like Quito, Guayaquil, and Cuenca, you’ll find a range of international hotel chains and upscale boutique hotels. These accommodations offer luxurious amenities, attentive service, and convenient locations. Prices for luxury hotels can range from $100 to $400 per night, depending on the hotel’s star rating and location.


For those seeking mid-range accommodations, there are numerous options available. These include comfortable three to four-star hotels, guesthouses, and hostels. Prices for mid-range accommodations typically range from $40 to $100 per night, depending on the location and the facilities offered.


If you’re on a tight budget or looking for a more immersive experience, consider staying in budget-friendly accommodations such as hostels or guesthouses. These establishments often provide shared dormitory-style rooms or private rooms at affordable prices. Hostels are particularly popular among backpackers and solo travelers, offering a social atmosphere and the opportunity to meet fellow adventurers. Prices for budget accommodations can range from $10 to $40 per night, depending on the location and the type of room.


In rural areas and smaller towns, accommodations can be more limited but charming. You’ll find eco-lodges, guesthouses, and haciendas that provide a unique and authentic experience. Prices in these areas tend to be slightly lower compared to the major cities.


When booking accommodations in Ecuador, it’s advisable to compare prices online and read reviews from previous guests to get a sense of the quality and value for money. Websites such as Booking.com, Airbnb, and TripAdvisor are excellent resources for finding and booking accommodations that suit your preferences and budget.


It’s also worth noting that some accommodations offer discounted rates during the low season, which typically runs from May to November. If you have flexibility in your travel dates, consider visiting during this time to take advantage of lower accommodation prices.


Keep in mind that additional expenses such as taxes, service charges, and breakfast may not always be included in the advertised room rate. It’s essential to factor these extra costs into your budget when planning your accommodation expenses.


Overall, Ecuador offers a range of accommodation options to suit different budgets and preferences. Whether you’re looking for luxury, comfort, or a more economical stay, you’ll find plenty of choices throughout the country.


Transportation Expenses

Getting around Ecuador is relatively affordable and convenient, with various transportation options available to suit different preferences and budgets. Whether you’re exploring the cities or venturing into the countryside, here are the key factors to consider when budgeting for transportation expenses in Ecuador.


Public buses are the most common mode of transportation for both short and long distances in Ecuador. They are a budget-friendly option that allows you to travel between cities, towns, and even remote areas. The cost of bus tickets varies depending on the distance traveled, with shorter routes typically costing around $1 to $5, while longer journeys can range from $5 to $20. Keep in mind that prices may vary slightly depending on the bus company and the class of service.


Taxis are also readily available in Ecuador’s cities and towns. Taxis are generally inexpensive, but it’s important to negotiate the fare upfront or insist on using the meter to avoid any surprises. In most cities, taxis are required to use meters, so make sure it is turned on when you start your journey. On average, taxi fares within city limits range from $1.50 to $5, depending on the distance traveled and the time of day.


If you’re planning to explore multiple destinations or cover long distances efficiently, consider taking domestic flights. Ecuador has several domestic airlines that offer regular flights between major cities and popular tourist destinations. Domestic flight prices vary depending on the distance and demand, but they are generally affordable. A one-way domestic flight within Ecuador can cost anywhere from $50 to $200, depending on the route and airline.


For those who prefer more flexibility and independence, renting a car can be a great option. Rental car prices vary depending on the vehicle type, rental duration, and the rental company. On average, daily rental rates for a standard car range from $40 to $80. Keep in mind that additional expenses such as fuel, tolls, and parking fees should be factored into your budget when considering renting a car.


In major cities like Quito and Guayaquil, there are also options for public transportation such as the metro, tram, and trolleybus, which offer affordable and efficient travel within the city limits. The cost of using public transportation in cities is relatively low, with ticket prices ranging from 25 cents to $1.25, depending on the mode of transport and the distance traveled.


When planning your transportation expenses in Ecuador, it’s important to consider the specific destinations you’ll be visiting and the mode of transport that best suits your needs. Additionally, it’s recommended to leave some flexibility in your budget for unexpected transportation costs, such as hiring a local guide or taking a taxi for short trips.


By considering these factors and budgeting accordingly, you can navigate Ecuador’s transportation system with ease and make the most of your time exploring the country’s wonders.


Food and Dining Expenses

Ecuador offers a rich culinary experience with a diverse range of flavors and dishes influenced by its indigenous heritage, Spanish colonization, and regional specialties. Exploring the local cuisine is not only a delicious adventure but also an opportunity to sample traditional dishes at affordable prices.


When it comes to dining out in Ecuador, you have a variety of options. In major cities like Quito and Guayaquil, you’ll find a wide range of restaurants catering to different tastes and budgets. From fine dining establishments to casual eateries, there’s something for everyone. Prices for a meal at a mid-range restaurant in a city center typically range from $7 to $20 per person, including a main dish and a non-alcoholic beverage.


However, if you want to savor the authentic flavors of Ecuadorian cuisine without breaking the bank, consider exploring local markets and street food stalls. Mercados (markets) are popular gathering places where you can find fresh produce, meat, and seafood, as well as food stalls serving delicious and affordable meals. In the markets, you can find hearty dishes like ceviche, empanadas, llapingachos (potato patties), and fritada (fried pork), usually for under $5 per plate.


Another budget-friendly option is the almuerzo (lunch menu) offered at many small restaurants and cafes. Almuerzos typically include a soup, a main dish with meat or seafood, rice, beans, and a small dessert or fruit juice. Prices for almuerzos range from $2.50 to $6 per person, depending on the location and the level of sophistication of the meal.


Street food is also plentiful in Ecuador, offering a variety of delicious and affordable options. From the famous Ecuadorian grilled meat skewers called “llapingachos” to crispy empanadas filled with cheese or meat, you can indulge in a gastronomic adventure on the go. Prices for street food range from $0.50 to $2 per item, making it an excellent choice for budget-conscious travelers.


If you prefer to cook your meals, there are plenty of grocery stores and markets where you can purchase fresh ingredients. Prices for groceries in Ecuador are generally affordable, allowing you to prepare your own meals at a fraction of the cost of dining out.


It’s also essential to budget for beverages when considering food expenses. Ecuador is known for its delicious fruits, so don’t miss the opportunity to try local juices and smoothies. A glass of freshly squeezed juice or a tropical fruit smoothie can range from $1 to $3, depending on the location.


Lastly, don’t forget to factor in dining expenses when dining at higher-end restaurants. Prices at upscale establishments can vary greatly depending on the restaurant and the type of cuisine. It’s recommended to check menus and prices in advance to ensure they align with your budget.


Exploring Ecuadorian cuisine is not only a delightful culinary experience but also an opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture. By being mindful of your choices and budgeting accordingly, you can enjoy a variety of flavorful and affordable meals throughout your stay in Ecuador.


Sightseeing and Activities Expenses

Ecuador is a country rich in natural wonders, historical sites, and cultural experiences. From exploring the colonial streets of Quito to hiking the majestic Andes and visiting the incredible Galapagos Islands, there is no shortage of exciting and memorable activities to enjoy. However, it’s important to plan and budget for sightseeing and activities expenses to make the most of your time in Ecuador.


Entrance fees to tourist attractions and national parks vary depending on the location and the type of site. For example, entrance fees to popular attractions like the historical center of Quito, Cotopaxi National Park, and the Mindo Cloud Forest can range from $2 to $20 per person. Some sites offer discounted rates for students or groups, so it’s worth checking if any discounts are available.


If you’re planning to explore the Galapagos Islands, keep in mind that entry fees to the Galapagos National Park and the Transit Control Card are mandatory for visitors. The cost of these permits is $100 and $20 respectively, payable upon arrival in the islands. Additionally, guided tours, day trips, and activities in the Galapagos Islands can range from $50 to $200 per person, depending on the duration and the specific itinerary.


Adventure enthusiasts will be delighted by the wide range of outdoor activities available in Ecuador. Whether it’s trekking in the Andes, white-water rafting in the rivers, or zip-lining through the cloud forests, there’s something for every adrenaline seeker. Prices for adventure activities can range from $30 to $100 per person, depending on the activity and the level of expertise required.


For cultural experiences, attending traditional festivals and events can be a highlight of your trip. Many festivals in Ecuador are free to attend, allowing you to witness colorful parades, traditional dances, and music performances. However, some events may require purchasing tickets or making a donation, so it’s essential to do some research beforehand.


Guided tours are another popular option for exploring Ecuador’s attractions. Prices for guided tours vary depending on the duration, the number of people, and the specific itinerary. It’s advisable to compare prices and read reviews to ensure you choose a reputable tour operator that suits your budget and preferences.


It’s important to keep in mind that additional expenses may arise during your sightseeing and activities, such as transportation to and from the attractions, optional tour add-ons, and tips for guides or drivers. When budgeting for sightseeing and activities expenses, it’s recommended to allocate a portion of your budget for these additional costs.


Ecuador offers an incredible range of sightseeing and activity options that cater to different interests and budgets. Whether you’re a nature lover, history buff, adventure seeker, or culture enthusiast, there’s something for everyone. By planning ahead and budgeting properly, you can make the most of your time in Ecuador and create unforgettable memories.


Shopping Expenses

When it comes to shopping, Ecuador offers a vibrant and diverse market scene where you can find unique handicrafts, traditional textiles, artisanal products, and souvenirs to bring back home. Whether you’re exploring bustling markets or browsing through boutique shops, shopping in Ecuador can be an enjoyable and memorable experience.


One of the best places to shop for traditional crafts is at the artisan markets. These markets can be found in major cities like Quito, Cuenca, and Otavalo, as well as in smaller towns and villages. Here, you’ll find an array of handmade items such as colorful textiles, handwoven rugs, intricate wood carvings, and jewelry crafted by skilled artisans. Bargaining is a common practice in these markets, so don’t be afraid to negotiate prices to get the best deal.


In addition to artisan markets, Ecuador is known for its Panama hats, which are actually made in Ecuador. These finely woven straw hats are a popular souvenir item, and you can find them in many shops and markets throughout the country. Prices for Panama hats can range from $20 to several hundred dollars, depending on the quality of the hat and its craftsmanship.


Another unique shopping experience in Ecuador is browsing through the indigenous markets, where locals sell fresh produce, crafts, and handwoven textiles. These markets offer a glimpse into the traditional way of life and are excellent places to purchase authentic products directly from the producers. Prices at indigenous markets tend to be lower compared to tourist-oriented markets, making them a great option for budget-conscious shoppers.


If you’re interested in purchasing traditional textiles, be sure to look out for beautiful handwoven blankets, scarves, and ponchos made by indigenous communities. Each region in Ecuador has its own distinct weaving techniques and designs, making these textiles not only functional but also works of art. Prices for textiles can vary depending on the intricacy of the patterns and the quality of the materials used.


Ecuador is also home to a variety of specialty shops and boutiques where you can find high-quality products such as handmade chocolates, organic coffee, fine art, and contemporary crafts. These shops often feature locally sourced and sustainable products, providing a unique shopping experience. Prices for specialty items can be higher than those in traditional markets, but the quality and craftsmanship are often worth the investment.


When shopping in Ecuador, it’s important to keep in mind that some items may be subject to customs regulations and restrictions when bringing them back to your home country. It’s advisable to familiarize yourself with the rules and regulations regarding the importation of goods before making any purchases.


Overall, shopping in Ecuador is a delightful experience where you can find unique and culturally significant items. By exploring the local markets, interacting with artisans, and discovering hidden gems, you’ll be able to bring a piece of Ecuador’s vibrant culture and craftsmanship back home.


Miscellaneous Expenses

When planning your trip to Ecuador, it’s important to budget for miscellaneous expenses that may arise during your stay. These expenses can include various items and services that can enhance your travel experience and ensure your trip goes smoothly.


One of the first things to consider is the cost of obtaining a SIM card for your phone. Having a local SIM card can be beneficial for staying connected, accessing maps and transportation apps, and making local calls. SIM cards can be purchased from mobile providers and typically cost around $5 to $10, depending on the data and call packages you choose.


Another expense to consider is travel insurance. While it may seem like an additional cost, travel insurance is essential for protecting yourself against unforeseen circumstances such as medical emergencies, trip cancellations, or lost luggage. The cost of travel insurance depends on factors such as the duration of your trip, the level of coverage, and your age. It is recommended to obtain travel insurance that provides comprehensive coverage based on your specific needs.


Laundry services are also worth including in your miscellaneous expenses budget, especially if you’re traveling for an extended period. Many hotels and hostels offer laundry facilities or can arrange laundry services for you, usually at a reasonable cost per kilogram of clothing.


Tipping is an important aspect of Ecuadorian culture, especially in the service industry. It is customary to leave a gratuity of around 10% of the total bill in restaurants, cafes, and bars if a service charge is not already included. Additionally, it’s customary to tip tour guides, drivers, and hotel staff who provide exceptional service. Tipping is not obligatory but is appreciated for good service.


If you plan to partake in outdoor activities or spend a significant amount of time in nature, investing in appropriate gear and supplies may be necessary. This can include items such as comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen, insect repellent, a reusable water bottle, and a backpack. These miscellaneous expenses ensure that you are prepared for your adventures and can fully enjoy your outdoor experiences.


Lastly, it’s always a good idea to set aside some funds for unforeseen expenses or souvenirs that catch your eye. Whether it’s buying local crafts or supporting local initiatives, having a bit of extra money allows you to be spontaneous and make the most of unexpected opportunities that arise during your trip.


By budgeting for these miscellaneous expenses in advance and having a contingency fund, you can ensure that you have everything you need and are prepared for any situation that may arise during your time in Ecuador.



As you plan your trip to Ecuador, it’s important to consider the various expenses you may encounter during your stay. Understanding and budgeting for accommodation, transportation, food and dining, sightseeing and activities, shopping, and miscellaneous expenses will help you make the most of your time in this beautiful country.


Ecuador offers a range of accommodation options to suit different budgets and preferences, from luxury hotels to budget-friendly hostels and cozy guesthouses. By researching and comparing prices, you can find accommodations that align with your budget while providing comfort and convenience.


Transportation in Ecuador is relatively affordable, with options like public buses, taxis, domestic flights, and rental cars. Each mode of transport offers different benefits depending on your itinerary and needs. By choosing the most suitable option, you can explore Ecuador efficiently and cost-effectively.


When it comes to food and dining, Ecuadorian cuisine is a delight for the taste buds. From street food and local markets to mid-range and upscale restaurants, there are options to suit every budget. Exploring traditional dishes and dining at local markets can be a great way to experience the flavors of Ecuador without breaking the bank.


Sightseeing and activities in Ecuador are diverse and captivating. Whether you’re exploring historical sites, embarking on outdoor adventures, or immersing yourself in the culture, there are plenty of opportunities to create unforgettable memories. Planning for entrance fees, guided tours, and additional expenses will ensure you can make the most of these experiences.


Shopping in Ecuador is a treat for those seeking unique handicrafts, traditional textiles, and artisanal products. The country’s markets and specialty shops offer a wide selection of items that showcase Ecuador’s rich cultural heritage. Bargaining and comparing prices will allow you to find the perfect souvenirs while staying within your budget.


While planning for the main expenses, it’s also important to allocate funds for miscellaneous expenses such as SIM cards, travel insurance, laundry services, tipping, and unforeseen expenses. By preparing for these miscellaneous costs, you can have peace of mind and be ready for any situation that may arise during your trip.


With proper budgeting and planning, you can embark on an incredible journey through Ecuador, enjoying its natural wonders, cultural treasures, and warm hospitality. Take the time to explore the different aspects of the country, engage with the locals, and savor the unique experiences that Ecuador has to offer. Bon voyage!