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Cost of Travel in Kenya (Updated for 2019)

Nairobi, Kenya

Nairobi, Kenya

As with many countries in Africa, sometimes things can be done on the cheap, but the quality has a very real correlation to price.

In SE Asia for instance, one can strive to go pretty cheap and have a safe and good time.

In Africa, one must take safety, sanitary conditions and comfort into account when thinking about a budget.

Up until recently, Kenya was a country that focused most of its attention on luxury safari tour packages.

Nowadays, there are more and more facilities that accommodate lower budget backpackers.

Upper Hill Backpackers in Nairobi

Upper Hill Backpackers in Nairobi

Currency in Kenya

In Kenya, the currency is the Kenyan Shilling. As of July 2019, 1 USD is roughly equivalent to 103 KES.

Cost of Accommodation

Note that accommodation can be very cheap, in the $1 – $2 (100-200 KES) range, but the conditions aren't recommendable.

Dorm Beds: In the various hostels, guest houses, and camps that exist in Kenya expect to pay around $6 – $12 (618-1,250 KES) for a dorm bed depending on where you are in the country.

Double or Twin private room: Cheapest double rooms run from about $15 – $30. (1,550 – 3,100 KES)

Nice hotel room: If you take another step up, you'll get a very nice hotel room for $50 – $80 (5,100-8,200 KES).

Indian Food in Kenya

Indian Food in Kenya

Cost of Food

If you want to eat Kenyan food in the Kenyan way, eating can be very cheap.

However, most travelers and foreigners will find that they will want to eat at international restaurants or cleaner sit down restaurants.

Street Food

For a meal on the street that consists of ugali (cornmeal starch), beans, sukuma wiki (vegetables) and maybe a bit of grizzly beef stew, you'll pay around $0.75 – $1 (80 – 100 KES). Just starch and veg might cost around half of this.

Nyama Choma roasted meat on the street should cost $3 – $4 (300 – 400 KES) per kilo of goat or beef.

A cob of roasted maize makes a good snack for around $0.25 (25 KES).

Sit Down Restaurants

Cities like Nairobi and Mombasa have lots of sit down restaurants that serve top-quality international cuisine. Indian food is one of the most popular and delicious. Meals can cost around $4 – $9 (400 – 900 KES).

An outstanding Ethiopian feast at the Smart Village Nairobi cost me $7 (700 KES) last time I was in Nairobi.

For Japanese food, you'll pay around 1,100 – 3,300 KES ($11 – $33).

1 L bottle of water – $0.50 (50 KES)

Cost of Drinking / Going Out

You can buy cheap bottles of local liqueur at supermarkets, kiosks or small stores throughout Kenya. It's cheapest to buy alcohol in little plastic bags called sachets.

500 ml bottle of Kenyan beer at a local bar or club: $1 – $2 (100 – 200 KES)

Drinks at more trendy nightlife destinations: $2 – $4 (200 – 400 KES)

Some clubs do charge cover of a few hundred Shillings per person. If they do, it often will come with a complimentary drink.

Matatus in Kenya

Matatus in Kenya

Cost of Transportation


Taxis: Taxis aren't too cheap in Nairobi and you need to negotiate the rate prior to getting in. You'll probably need to pay $4 – $11 (400 – 1,100 KES) for a ride.

Matatu: The local way to get around Nairobi is by matatu mini-bus. Rides normally cost $0.25 (25 KES) or more depending on route, time of day and local fuel prices.

Out of Nairobi

Bus: You can ride buses around the country of Kenya for around $1 (100 KES) per hour. Nairobi to Mombasa routes usually cost $8 – $13 (800 – 1,300 KES).

Train: The most traveled train route is from Nairobi to Mombasa which costs $55 – $65 (5,500 – 6,500 KES) in a sleeper car.

Plane: Recently a number of budget airlines have started in Kenya. I took a flight from Nairobi to Mombasa for about $70 (7,000 KES) on Fly 540.

Kenya National Archives

Kenya National Archives

Sample Cost of Attractions in Kenya

  • Nairobi National Park: $40 (4,000 KES) per day
  • Maasai Mara Game Reserve: $60 (6,000 KES) per day
  • Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage: $6 (600 KES)
  • Ride an Ostrich: $2 (200 KES)
  • Go to the top of the Kenyatta Conference Center: $4 (400 KES)
  • Nairobi National Museum: $9 (900 KES)
  • Kenya Railway Museum: $4 (400 KES)

Overall Cost of Travel in Kenya

It really depends on what or how many tourist activities you do in a day.

If you avoid most attractions, you can get away with $15 per day, but if you do some of the tourist-oriented activities you'll likely spend $30 – $40.

Add a safari at a national park to the agenda and your budget will go way up from there, possibly in the $80 – $100 per day range.

Last Updated on August 23, 2019 by Dave Lee


Thursday 15th of February 2018

Very useful article! This is also exactly the problem I notice that travelers have. How to get around for cheap, where to sleep etc. As I live in Kenya I decided to create a post about how to get and stay at various places across Kenya on a budget. If interested, have a look at Keep up these great blog articles!


Saturday 6th of May 2017

Hello! I would like to travel to Kenya this summer. I have been in Senegal last year and i fall in love with África. I know that in Senegal you can travel local and backpacking for very cheap. For what i see in blogs in Kenya prices are also ok but i can not find prices for 3-4 days safari, also i dont know if i should book ahead... I never book ahead while travelling but i wonder if forma safaris in august is different...! If you can help me i would apreciate! Thanks!


Friday 17th of June 2016


Thanks for writing this article and for the very insightful information.

I am travelling to Nairobi next week and need to book some hotel which is close to the city center, the airport and possibly the national park/Elephant orphanage. Any specific area I should be looking at? Name of hotels would be much appreciated ( Budget- $70-100 per night for bred and breakfast).

Cassandra Surette

Saturday 7th of November 2015

Better start saving.. Do you think it would be possible to do on a smaller budget for 6 months? Also, is East Africa easy to travel on a whim? That’s my favourite way, going with the flow.


Monday 21st of September 2015

Thanks Susan for all the valuable information. We want to go from Nairobi to Narok, which you have explained perfectly, and then we want to get to Sekenani Gate at Masai Mara. Does anyone know how to go from Narok to Sekenani the cheapest way? And how do matatus work? Are there any timetables or stations? Thanks in advance!