Ecuador is one of the least expensive countries to visit in South America.
Despite its tiny size, there are enough activities to keep any visitor busy for several months.
The United States Dollar (USD) which is good news for those traveling from the US.
Ecuador is a cash-based economy. Even high ticket items like cruises to the Galapagos Islands are best paid in cash, even if it requires a few trips to the ATM.
If tour companies or restaurants do take plastic, it's likely to be with a hefty surcharge.
Most ATMs accept international debit and credit cards, though the maximum withdrawal will vary.
Cost of Accommodation
Hostels in Ecuador are cheap, and aside from Quito, you can comfortably spring for private rooms in most cities and pueblos without breaking the bank.
Breakfast is often included, though what's offered varies widely. Generally, the more you pay for a room per night, the nicer your breakfast.
- Hostel dorm beds: $4 – $8
- Hostel private rooms: $10 – $20
- Budget hotel rooms: $20+
Hostels catering to foreign travelers and backpackers have broadband internet access and Wi-Fi.
The effectiveness of Wi-Fi can vary greatly depending on the quality and quantity of routers and their placement.
Ecuador is not especially well-connected to the Internet and therefore is not an ideal place to base one's location independent business.
Cost of Food
Typical Ecuadorian food is a bargain when bought from street vendors or regular restaurants (outside a city's Zona Rosa or a pueblo's central plaza, where prices are higher due to tourism).
- Empanadas, skewers of chicken or carne, slices of pizza: $1 – $2 each
- Full meals including meat (chicken or carne) with a small side (potatoes, rice, french fries), hot dogs, hamburgers: $2 – $3
- Typical set lunch (soup, meat, side of potatoes, rice or beans) with fresh fruit juice: $2 – $3
- Dinner (appetizer, entrée) at a restaurant in a touristy area (or Zona Rosa): $5 – $10+
Cost of Drinking / Going Out
The cheapest way to enjoy Ecuador's nightlife is to purchase beer, rum, or Aguardiente from convenience stores.
Drink prices for bars and discotecas in the trendy neighborhoods of Quito and Guayaquil can run a few dollars more than what's listed below.
- Domestic beer: $1
Bar or Discoteca
- Domestic beer: $2 – $3
- Mojitos (and other cocktails): $2.50 – $5
Cost of Transportation
Ecuador's cities, pueblos, and significant points of interest are connected by an extensive network of bus routes.
The cost of travel in Ecuador is amongst the lowest in all of Latin America. Within the cities, taxis and buses can take you everywhere.
- City buses: $0.25
- City taxi (metered in Quito, unmetered elsewhere): $3 – $4
- Regional (inter-city) buses: $1 per hour of travel time
For example, Quito's Southern Terminal bus to Banos costs $4 and takes about 4 hours.
A more comfortable express bus from Guayaquil to Montanita costs $6.
Ecuador's small size means there's little demand for domestic flights.
If tourists do fly domestically, it's usually between Quito or Guayaquil and the Galapagos Islands.
Roundtrip airfare runs $380 in the low season and about $400 in the high season.
Quito and Guayaquil are well-connected internationally, with flights arriving daily from the major cities in the United States (New York, Miami) and countries in Latin America (Colombia, Peru).
Guayaquil boasts a new, modern international airport. Two of the leading airlines that operate in Ecuador are LAN and Aerolineas Galapagos (AeroGal).
Cost of Activities & Attractions
There's a broad range of things to do in Ecuador, and most Westerners will appreciate the low prices, from historic churches to adventure sports.
The one exception is an organized trip to the Galapagos Islands. Even if you book last-minute in Quito or from the islands themselves, the base cost of an 8-day trip will still cost at least $800.
The good news is these are all-inclusive. Therefore you're covered for a week's accommodation, and food, as well as a guide.
- Entrance fee to Ciudad Mitad del Mundo (Equator monument): $2
- Entrance fee to Basilica del Volto Nacional (Quito): $3
- Ride on the Quito Teleferico: $8
- Half-day canyoning (Banos): $35
- Mountain Biking Cotopaxi Volcano: $45
- The base cost of an 8-day Galapagos Cruise: $1,550
- The total price of an 8-day Galapagos Cruise (including airfare, park fee, wetsuit): $2,300
Overall Cost of Travel in Ecuador
The cost of travel in Ecuador is the lowest in South America, except Bolivia.
The only way to surely break a budget is to include a trip to the Galapagos Islands. Otherwise, this is one of the most budget-friendly countries on the continent.
Daily Travel Budget: $20 – $30
Monthly Living Budget: $900+
Last Updated on September 25, 2021 by Dave Lee
Dave is the Founder and Editor in Chief of Go Backpacking and Feastio. He's been to 66 countries and lived in Colombia and Peru. Read the full story of how he became a travel blogger.
Wednesday 1st of February 2017
Whats the cheapest way of visiting galapagos islands & the mainland of Ecuador together?
Saturday 4th of February 2017
To travel there independently (as a backpacker staying in hostels) and booking a last minute trip to the Galapagos from either Quito or Guayaquil. Or you can fly to the islands themselves, and book from there. You just need to have flexibility with your time.
Wednesday 25th of January 2017
I honestly didn't like Ecuador at all. I got sick eating empanadas I don't know if the place was dirty or the filling was rotten. I easily spent $100 a day on food, drinks, hotel and taxis. A taxi from the bus station to outside quito was $25. We stayed in a dump hostel for $30 each a night. The food was really gross, I didn't eat a good meal in the two weeks there. The hills were pretty but the 2 story houses were really depressing it reminded me of Mexico. Drinking cost the same as US nightlife prices. I will never go back.
Sunday 30th of April 2017
Ecuador is great but I have to admit, you need to have a local friend so he or she can show you around and can tell you what to do and what not. On the Other hand yes Ecuador is very expensive not only because of the "price" but because for the same price in other countries you get better quality and if you want to eat nice you have to pay a lot or know the right places and therefore I say you need to know somebody down there. Ecuador suck at tourism so people are going to take advantage of every person who doesnt look local.
Edson Geraldo Reginato
Wednesday 27th of January 2016
What's the bet time to travel to equator considering the weather and the prices. what time of he year s considered low season?
Wednesday 6th of January 2016
Travelling to Ecuador mid February. Would like any information you can provide. Thank you Gerry
Saturday 22nd of August 2015
Want to see what it would be like to live in Ecuador