Budget for South America for 5 Months

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Everybody is talking about low budget while travelling. But what is low can be high for somebody else, right?! So what do you say about budget of 23,70 euro a day as an average per South America? Including accommodation, transportation, food, drinks, day trips and entrances to famous places such as Machu Picchu or Iguazu waterfalls?

In the last article I was focusing on itinerary for South America but in this article I would like to provide you with information how much I spent during my 5 month solo backpacking through South America dividing everything into specific countries & specific price articles and wanna give you some practical tips on how to save some money while travelling through this amazing continent.

So now let´s have a look at my budget. The following budget will be for each country travelled and does not include any pre travel arrangements like vaccinations, visa fees (to Colombia as an intern), travel insurance nor flight tickets from or to Europe.

EXPLANATIONS of specific price articles:

*Transportation – transportation through the whole country mainly by buses (I only took 1 flight)

*Accommodation – if not couchsurfing then hostels or very cheap hotels

*Day trips & entrances – day trips realised by travel agencies, entrance fees, sport activities

*Food & the rest – food, drinks, parties, alcohol, gifts, shopping, tips to guides, and anything that comes to your mind when mentioning “money spending” 🙂


COLOMBIA / 34 days:

Transportation from point A to point B: 117 euro (362, 700 COP, mainly buses + 1 flight through VIVACOLOMBIA – it is like RYANAIR version in Colombia :))

Accommodation: 18 euro (55, 800 COP – 3 nights in Playa Costeno in hammock, rest COUCHSURFING)

Day trips & entrances: 305 euro (942, 500 COP including island of Rosario & trekking to Ciudad Perdida & paragliding)

Food & the rest: 380 euro (1, 181, 000 COP)

TOTAL: 820 euro (2, 542, 000 COP)

Average per day: 24,10 euro

Views while trekking to Ciudad Perdida (“Lost City”)

ECUADOR / 41 days:

Transportation from point A to point B: 90 euro ($ 100 – only buses, average is $1,5 per hour in bus )

Accommodation: 77euro ($ 85 – mainly hostels at Ruta del Sol where I travelled in couple)

Day trips & entrances: 137 euro ($ 150 including Amazonia, Ingapirca, Isla de la Plata, extreme sports activities such as bridge jumping, canyoning, … )

Food & the rest: 586 euro ($ 645 including private course of Spanish)

TOTAL: 890 euro ($ 980)

Average per day: 21,70 euro

Casa del Arbol (TreeHouse) in Banos de Agua Santa – place where I volunteered for 15 days 🙂

PERU / 21 days:

Transportation from point A to point B: 87 euro (310 soles, only buses – very comfortable)

Accommodation: 55 euro (195 soles – hostels in Cusco & Puno & Aguas Calientes)

Day trips & entrances: 35 euro (122 soles including Sandboarding in Ica, Machu Picchu and Floating Islands in Puno – unbelievable cheap!)

Food & the rest: 313 euro (1111 soles)

TOTAL: 490 euro (1738 soles)

Average per day: 23,30 euro

Floating Islands, lake Titicaca, part of Peru

BOLIVIA / 15 days:

Transportation from point A to point B: 28 euro (215 bolivianos, only buses – not very comfortable but very cheap)

Accommodation: 52 euro (400 bolivianos – couchsurfing only once in whole Bolivia – difficult to find CS hosts – cheapest hostel was for 3 euro a night J)

Day trips & entrances: 150 euro (1150 bolivianos including Death Road & Salt Flats)

Food & the rest: 160 euro (1228 bolivianos including shopping of warmer clothes)

TOTAL: 390 euro (2,993 pesos bolivianos)

Average per day: 26 euro (without touristic attractions it would be 16 euro a day!!!)

Isla del Sol, lake Titicaca, part of Bolivia

ARGENTINA + CHILE / 27 days / 22 days in Argentina + 5 days in Chile:

Transportation from point A to point B: 245 euro (3640 pesos argentines + 17500 pesos chilenos)

Accommodation: 48 euro (780 pesos argentines, only hostels in the north of Argentina)

Day trips & entrances: 40 euro (615 pesos argentines including Waterfalls Iguazu & Cafayate biking)

Food & the rest: 317 euro (3600 pesos argentines & 73 720 pesos chilenos)

TOTAL: 650 euro (91,220 pesos chilenos + 8,635 pesos argentinos)

Average per day: 24, 10 euro

Santiago de Chile – a beautiful city

BRAZIL / 16 days:

Transportation from point A to point B: 119 euro (469 real, only buses)

Accommodation: 0 euro (only COUCHSURFING 🙂 )

Day trips & entrances: 50 euro (201 real, including waterfalls Iguazu & Pao de Azucar in Rio & boat trip in Paraty)

Food & the rest: 236 euro (950 real)

TOTAL: 405 euro (1, 620 real)

Average per day: 25,30 euro

Views over Rio de Janeiro from Pao de Azucar 🙂

154 days, 7 countries, more than 370 hours on buses with total cost of 3,645 euro!!!


The most expensive country taking into account my budget and my travel experience was surprisingly BOLIVIA (but this was only because of touristic attractions which were overpriced) and the least expensive country was ECUADOR (taking into account my volunteering and free accommodation and food for 15 days).

Surely, it all depends on what you do in each country, what your expectations, plans are but for general living (transportation, food, rent) to more expensive countries of South America belong Chile, Argentina & Brazil while Bolivia and Peru belong to the cheapest one. Colombia and Ecuador stay somewhere in the middle regarding its costs of living.

The most expensive way of transportation was definitely in ARGENTINA!! Then Brazil and surprisingly in Colombia. The cheapest was in BOLIVIA!! Most money spent on touristic “attractions” was in COLOMBIA & BOLIVIA and few was in PERU & ARGENTINA!!

  The average budget per day in whole South America during my travels was 23,70 euro.


  • Main way of accommodation was COUCHSURFING which is almost for free (surely you wanna appreciate your stay at your CS host so you invite him/her for dinner or do some shopping). It is an amazing social network but you have to be careful while choosing your CS host.
  • I usually didn´t go to expensive restaurants & bars & clubs and instead had lunch or dinner on the local markets or in the streets with local people
  • I negotiated prices wherever possible. I was able to set the lower price of my bus tickets directly at bus station in almost each place visited. Each article bought on the market was bargained to the lowest price possible. Without good negotiating skills in South America and basic Spanish skills, you are screwed 😉
  • I almost didn´t take any trips through any travel agency. I preferred finding my own way which was sometimes more difficult with many obstacles but always more exciting and with some level of adrenaline. And always cheaper! 😉 Good example is my trip to Machu Picchu.
  • I listened to the advice of local people and my couchsurfing hosts. They always know more than you and their help may be of great value!

Hopefully you find this piece of information useful. If yes, please share it with your friends and let me help you and the others!

Any questions?? Don´t hesitate and ask. I will try to help you with your itinerary and/or budget for South America as much as I can. 🙂

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21 Responses

  • Ahoj, diky za super clanek 🙂 ja zanedluho letim do kolumbie s kamosem na mesic. S CS moc zkusenosti nemam, navic nevim jak jednoduche je neco najit pro dva kluky..myslis ze je to realne? preca len holka ma vzdycky vetsi sancu, aspon tak mi to u CS prislo 🙂 druhy dotaz, nemela bys nejake tipy jak smlouvat? zda hrat na city, ze penize nemas nebo jsi student, co je v tom ina finta? 🙂
    diky, Peto

    • Ahoj Peto, dakujem za komentar. Co sa CS pre dvoch chalanov tyka, ano, moze to byt obtiaznejsie, ale ak natrafis na spravneho CS hostujuceho, tak tomu bude jedno ci si chalan, ci baba, ci par… Viac nez polovica mojich hostujucich z Kolumbie predo mnou hostovali ako pary, tak aj partiu kamaratov. 🙂 Co sa zjednavania cien tyka, je to individualne a bude zavisiet od jednotlivej situacie, ale ja som bola nekompromisna, vzdy som si vyzistila cenu od miestnych ludi a drzala sa danej ceny (samozrejme pomoze,ak vies po spanielsky) No a niekedy hodit take tie psie oci tiez nie je na skodu 🙂 Urcite nevahaj sa pytat dalej 🙂

  • I cannot thank you enough for just enough information that makes it feel as if this could be possible for my husband and I but not too much information to digest. We have yet to try couchsurfing but I’ve heard many people say good things about it. Would you recommend it over other types of accommodations if cost weren’t an issue?

    • Honestly, I didn´t do couchsurfing from financial reasons (though it may look so). I simply LOVE how CS works! It´s not about free accommodation but it´s about meeting local people from different perspective. I truly recommend you to try it at least once in lifetime. 🙂 But surely, keep an eye on chossing a right CS host 😉

  • Ahh so much info but I love it! It really gives you a good grasp on how inexpensive places are. I’ve been wanting to go to South America, but have been a little hesitant being a single female. Thanks for sharing this, I’m going to pin it and save it for later!

  • I’m so glad that I stopped by so I could get some recommendations about budget travel. Actually, last year I took my first trip alone and it was around SAmerica and, of course, I did it on a budget.
    I did also used some of your tips, but I saved more on food and day trips and expend a bit more on accommodation, since I was not using Couchsurfing that often, so I could keep myself approximately on your average spendings.

    Nice article, and hoped you enjoy the trip as much as I did.

    • Honestly, I didn´t try to do South America on tight budget, though I didn´t spend money on expensive Inca Trails, etc. I travelled, enjoyed the moments and where I could save something, I did it, but not that strictly. And I am planning Central America next year – so if you have similar article about SA, dont hesitate to share it here with me 🙂

  • I’m in Brazil at the moment and I have free housing from family and friends. We’re going to tour South America in a few months and this article was helpful! Thank you!

  • I’ve never tried Couchsurfing only AirBnb (which obviously adds to the cost). There are always ways of saving money while still enjoying your trip – you just need to be savvy (like you were)!

  • This is very helpful when planning a trip to South America! Thank you for providing such detailed information. Though I’m not much of a backpacker, the majority of this info will help me as well! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Thank you for such a detailed account! I think it will be very helpful for those planning a trip to S.America, so I’m bookmarking this page 🙂

    • Well, as I mentioned in the article, couchsurfing is completely FREE while in AirB&B you pay (not much but still pay). Only in case of CS, you always want to appreciate help of your host for giving you place to stay so you can spend some money on dinner, shopping, etc … But it´s very subjective and depends on you, your host, situation, etc … 🙂

  • Such a useful post, thank you a lot! I’ve been considering moving to South America for longer (but I will finally end up in South-Eastern Asia I think), so I was making a reasearch on costs of living there recently – I didn’t expect the costs to be so low, comparing to the costs of living in Europe. Postivie surprise.

  • Wow, you did very well on budgetwise. I have not been in South America, so I don’t know how expensive it is there, but the amount of you used money seems not too much to me. I’m glad because I plan to visit there someday.

  • Thanks for the marvelous posting! I truly enjoyed reading it, you’re
    a great author.I will make sure to bookmark your blog and will often come back from now on.
    I want to encourage yourself to continue your great work, have a nice morning!

    • Thank you so much! I try to work on my articles as often as possible but right now I am working on cruise ships so my free time is a bit limited 🙂

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