Laos's most expensive cities

Hello everyone,

What are the most expensive cities to live in Laos? What are the costs of things such as rent, utilities, weekly groceries, dining out, etc.?

What is the lifestyle like in these cities, for expats and locals?

What are the different neighbourhoods like? Are there more affordable areas?

Do you have any experience living in any of Laos's most expensive cities? What was it like?

Which cities in Laos would you recommend? Are there any that offer particularly good value for money when it comes to cost of living?

Thank you for sharing your experience.


Without a doubt Vientiane is the most expensive city in Laos. Overseas and local companies tend to have their offices there along with NGOs etc.
The lifestyle suits expats who have the money, with great restaurants, bars and nightlife.
There are some very rich locals too not just expats.
Housing is a little cheaper the further away from the city centre but on the whole, for expats who look for a house with all the usual western trimmings it is expensive. Companies tend to provide expat housing as part of the salary package.
Again, shopping is  cheap or expensive according to ones tastes in food. Local markets are great for food shopping.
Vientiane has the most international schools and a university which attracts expats who have family.
Traffic flow can be frustrating in Vientiane.

Pakse in southern Lao is more laid back but does not have the educational facilities that Vientiane has. Good shopping, less traffic with good cafes and restaurants.

I have to disagree with Stumpy here - first time for everything. Luang Prabang is the most expensive city in Lao in terms of food, housing and essentials. This is not surprising when one considers that LP is a town based on tourism.
Pakse, the second biggest city after Vientiane is more relaxed, but even there rent and land prices have increased greatly over the years.

Have to agree with VB regarding Luang Prabang as I considered it just a tourist town.
Having lived in Pakse and Vientiane I still consider Vientiane to be expensive.

Before I offer any comment, it might be a good idea to let people know what I base my comment on. I have lived and worked in 10 countries around the world (Greece, England, Venezuela, Spain, Argentina, South Africa, Portugal, Singapore, Hong Kong, Perth) and have travelled very extensively to 135 countries over the last 47 years. Some I have visited many times over......India 49 times, China 55 times, Brazil 47 times etc.I spent 30 years travelling 9 months of each year (all due to work).  I also am fluent in 6 foreign languages and get by well in a further 14, so I have a better "connection"with people wherever I live or travel than most.
Before coming to Laos, I had a stint in South Africa.....and anything after that is super cheap!!! Based on earning power. I found Luang Prabang very affordable after South Africa. Yes Vientiane is expensive, but for most expats it is are most places in Laos. The fact that a few things are perhaps a little more costly like imported cheeses etc., is no train smash........try Tokyo, Almaty, Moscow, etc. When one thinks that so much comes by air, never mind by boat, it is no wonder it costs more. Like Americans living on Guam (one of my favourite islands in the Pacific) they moan terribly that something like a lettuce costs US$1.99 instead of US$0.99c ......well doll it comes by air from the Mainland! Seriously????? Get with the program! And when in Rome, DO as the Roman's do!!! STOP transplanting your past life-style to a different country!!!!! Then stay home and do not travel! Travel and living in a foreign country is about adapting, changing, learning and growing..........not living in a time warp and wanting locals to adapt to your ways.......! Laos is really wonderful......and a pleasure to live in.

Nice rant there travelbuff.

Agreed, Laos is a wonderful country and a pleasure to live in. Having lived here off and on for over 40 years it is getting expensive for locals as expat companies and NGO's arrive,set up shop, bring in expat staff and so prices rise.

Getting back on subject, Priscilla was asking relevant questions about the most or least expensive places to live, along with costs.

I stick by my comments as I am sure Vientiane Boy will too as we are long term residents in Laos.

Actually some things are cheaper in Vientiane than in other countries - try beer and wine for example. Depending on where you shop, you can get western items at not too expensive prices as well. Try Phonsilli supermarket.

All boils down to the need to undertake a little research before purchasing anything in Laos, be it food, beer, wine, cars, real estate or whatever.

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