Guide to Visiting Quito and Ecuador on a Budget

Would you like to travel to South America on a budget? Don’t overlook Ecuador.

This guide for visiting Quito and Ecuador on a budget will show the way for an affordable South American adventure. Just four hours by plane from Miami, discounted fares to Quito or Guayaquil are much easier to find than affordable fares to Brazil, Argentina or Peru.

Quito and Ecuador are courting more travelers. A new airport is open in Quito that can accommodate more passengers and could attract more international visitors. You’ll pay less here for a nice meal, resort stay and scenic tour than in most parts of the world.

Take a look at some budget travel tips for visiting Quito, along with excursions from the capital, information on food and lodging and even a few travel myths.

Quito on a Budget

Quito is Ecuador's capital and second-largest city.

This introductory article is packed with suggestions for a budget stay in the capital of Ecuador. In addition to some information about getting around the city, where to eat and where to stay, you’ll find links to other sites within a short distance of the city, and a suggestion for an open market featuring handmade arts and crafts if you can’t make it to Otavalo.

What to do in Quito

Gothic Quito

No one can sum up the most worthwhile attractions of any city in one short list, but Quito does afford visitors a number of places that can be seen for less than $8/person. From the plazas of the old city to majestic overlooks, Quito offers days filled with interesting sights at affordable prices.

Quito Food

Potato Soup is a favorite dish in Quito.

Food in Quito and Ecuador is hearty but not particularly famous. Still, there are dishes you definitely should sample while in the country, and the good news is that most are offered at inexpensive prices. One favorite, for example, is a cheese-based potato soup that is both filling and delicious. The key is to order what locals eat and pay local prices. There also are recommendations here for those who might feel the need to splurge once or twice.

Quito Hotels

Luxury hotel stays in Quito cost a fraction of what is paid in other world capitals.

Quito investors have built improved accommodations near major tourist sites in the city, but some won’t fit your budget. Nonetheless, there is great value in the lodgings of Quito. Room rates are reasonable. If you’re willing to venture beyond the standard hotel rooms and visit some renovated private homes, the experience can be memorable as well as economical.

Cost of Travel in Ecuador

$10/night private room at Hostal Erupcion in Banos

$10/night private room at Hostal Erupcion in Banos

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.

Currency

The United States Dollar (USD) which is good news for those traveling from the US.

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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.

Nightly Rates

  • Hostel dorm beds: $4 – $8
  • Hostel private rooms: $10 – $20
  • Budget hotel rooms: $20+

Internet

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.

Argentine-style empanadas are

Argentine-style empanadas are $1 each on the streets of Montanita

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).

Street Food

  • 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

Restaurants

  • 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+

Salsa dancing on a Saturday night in Cuenca

Salsa dancing on a Saturday night in Cuenca

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.

Convenience Store

  • Domestic beer: $1

Bar or Discoteca

  • Domestic beer: $2 – $3
  • Mojitos (and other cocktails): $2.50 – $5

Quito

Quito’s Southern bus terminal

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.

Domestic Flights

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.

International Flights

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).

Mountain biking down Cotopaxi Volcano

Mountain biking down Cotopaxi Volcano

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.

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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.

Cost of Travel in Ecuador

$10/night private room at Hostal Erupcion in Banos

$10/night private room at Hostal Erupcion in Banos

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.

Currency

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.

Nightly Rates

  • Hostel dorm beds: $4 – $8
  • Hostel private rooms: $10 – $20
  • Budget hotel rooms: $20+

Internet

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.

Argentine-style empanadas are

Argentine-style empanadas are $1 each on the streets of Montanita

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).

Street Food

  • 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

Restaurants

  • 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+
Read Post  12 Best Places to Visit in Argentina

Salsa dancing on a Saturday night in Cuenca

Salsa dancing on a Saturday night in Cuenca

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.

Convenience Store

  • Domestic beer: $1

Bar or Discoteca

  • Domestic beer: $2 – $3
  • Mojitos (and other cocktails): $2.50 – $5

Quito

Quito’s Southern bus terminal

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.

Domestic Flights

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.

International Flights

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).

Mountain biking down Cotopaxi Volcano

Mountain biking down Cotopaxi Volcano

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.

Source https://www.tripsavvy.com/visiting-quito-and-ecuador-460042

Source https://gobackpacking.com/travel-guides/ecuador/money-costs/

Source https://gobackpacking.com/travel-guides/ecuador/money-costs/

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