10 Cheapest Cities in South America (for hostel prices)

Choosing where you travel in the world can make a big difference as to how long you can travel too. If a country or city is cheaper to live in then you can last much longer there than you can somewhere more expensive on your travel cash. With that in mind I thought it would be useful to compile a list of the 10 cheapest cities for hostel prices in South America, having returned recently from a 5 month venture in the continent.

Please note; All prices listed here are averages except for those individual hostels I mention as the cheapest in their destination. In the case of the latter, please be aware this is not necessarily my recommendation of where to stay, I’m simply telling you the cheapest prices I found in each destination and where to find them. It’s up to you to determine whether those places also have the great quality to match those great prices!

Over 100 cities were included in this private study, taking into account all of the major backpacker destinations in South America. There are destinations from every country in the continent included. All prices were taken from hostels currently listed on HostelWorld.com.

1. Copacabana, Bolivia

Not to be confused with the famous Rio de Janeiro beach of the same name, the Bolivian town of Copacabana, sitting on the edge of Lake Titicaca near the Peruvian border, is the cheapest city in South America for hostel prices. In fact, when I was there a private hotel room was so cheap that I ended up upgrading rather than staying in a hostel like I usually do! Nevertheless, if you are purely after the cheapest priced accommodation then you’ll find the average price of a hostel bed here (in a large mixed hostel dorm room) is around £3.46 (€4.15 / $5.76) per person per night. The cheapest hostel I found here (advertised online) was the HI-Inka Pacha hostel at £3.46 (€4.15 / $5.76) per person per night in a large hostel dorm.

2. Rurrenabaque, Bolivia

Yet another Bolivian destination (they don’t call this the cheapest country in South America for nothing), Rurrenabaque comes 2nd in this list of the 10 cheapest cities in South America for hostel prices!

Most people visit Rurrenabaque because of its position close to Madidi National Park in the Bolivian rainforest. The average price of a hostel bed here (in a large mixed hostel dorm room) is around £4.18 (€5.01 / $6.95) per person per night. The cheapest hostel I found (advertised online) was the Tuki Backpackers Hostel at £3.72 (€4.46 / $6.19) per person per night.

3. Tupiza, Bolivia

If you’re entering Bolivia from Argentina and/or are wanting to the experience Bolivia’s extraordinarily beautiful salt flats then it’s possible you may pass through Tupiza at some point, the start of the slightly longer tours of the area that go to Uyuni.

The average price of a hostel bed here (in a large mixed hostel dorm room) is around £4.45 (€5.13 / $7.12) per person per night. The cheapest hostel I found here (advertised online) was the HI-Valle Hermosa at £4.27 (€5.12 / $7.10)  per person per night.

4. Sucre, Bolivia

Yet another Bolivian destination making it into our top 5, Sucre is the first city to make it! I stayed in Sucre for around a week and a half when I was in Bolivia as it was an extremely cheap place to learn Spanish at just $6 an hour for 1 to 1 private lessons at the Sucre Spanish School. The price of a hostel follows suit in terms of extreme affordability. The average price of a hostel bed (in a large mixed hostel dorm room) in Sucre is around £4.47 (€5.36 / $7.44) per person per night. The cheapest hostel I found in Sucre (advertised online) was 7 Patas Hostel at £3.53 (€4.23 / $5.87) per night.

5. Potosi, Bolivia

If you’re on your way to/from Uyuni from Sucre, and you’d like to do something different, then I recommend a trip to the Bolivian city of Potosi where you can take a tour of the mines. It’s a heart wrenching activity when you see the conditions in which these miners work and also the age of some of the children who work here, but it’s definitely a worth while experience in educating yourself more about this country.

The average price of a hostel bed (in a large mixed hostel dorm room) in Potosi is around £5.11 (€6.13 / $8.50). The cheapest hostel I found in Potosi (advertised online) was the Casona Potosi Hostel at £4.93 (€5.91 / $8.19) per bed per night.

6. Nazca, Peru

The first South American city to make the list outside of Bolivia is Nazca, Peru! Most people visit Nazca to visit the nearby Nazca Lines located in the Nazca Desert. The lines are shallow designs made in the ground and depict everything from hummingbirds, monkeys and spiders.

The average price of a hostel bed in Nazca (in a large mixed hostel dorm room) is around £5.35 (€6.41 / $8.90) per bed per night. The cheapest hostel I found in Nazca (advertised online) was the Hospedaje Brabant hostel at £3.84 (€4.60 / $6.38) per person per night.

7. Baños, Ecuador

Our only entry from Ecuador on this ‘cheapest hostels’ list is Baños, the country’s adventure capital. Despite its small geographic size, Baños has a huge array of things to do (particularly on the adventure sports side of things), because of the surrounding scenery and landscape that surrounds it. It’s also very close to the jungle and is a popular spot to take a tour of the Amazon from, like I did just before Christmas.

The average price of a hostel bed in Baños (in a large mixed hostel dorm room) is around £5.42 (€6.50 / $9.01) per bed per night. The cheapest hostel I found in Baños (advertised online) was the Santa Cruz Backpackers Hostel at £4.41 (€5.29 / $7.33) per person per night.

8. La Paz, Bolivia

Even some of Bolivia’s bigger and more popular cities such as La Paz make it onto this list because the country is just so incredibly cheap! The average price of a hostel bed in La Paz (in a large mixed hostel dorm room) is around £5.81 (€6.96 / $9.66) per person per night. However, because there are literally so many hostels in La Paz making up that average it was possible to find hostels very cheap, such as the Bash and Crash Hostel which finished cheapest in La Paz at £3.63 (€4.35 / $6.03) per person per night!

9. Cochabamba, Bolivia

The 7th and final Bolivian city to make it onto our list of the 10 Cheapest Cities in South America is Cochabamba! Cochabamba is a city that a lot of backpackers use as a place to stop for a day or two in order to break up a long bus journey from either Santa Cruz or Sucre to La Paz, as it is almost exactly half way between both cities and La Paz.

The average price of a hostel bed in Cochabamba (in a large mixed hostel dorm room) is around £5.81 (€6.96 / $9.66) per person per night. Its average was the exact same as the average price in La Paz (at the time of my calculations), however, the cheapest hostel in La Paz was cheaper than the cheapest hostel in Cochabamba, and so Cochabamba finished 9th on this list instead of 8th.

The cheapest hostel here was Cabana Las Lilas at £5.11 (€6.13 / $8.49) per person per night.

10. Puno, Peru

And last but not least is Puno, in Peru! Puno lies next to the Peruvian border with Bolivia and is on the opposite side of Lake Titicaca from Copacabana (mentioned above.) However, in my personal opinion it’s not a particularly pretty city, and in all honestly the Bolivian side to Lake Titicaca is much nicer. Just my opinion though! Nevertheless, the average price of a hostel bed in Puno (in a large mixed hostel dorm room) is around £5.88 (€7.05 / $9.77) per person per night. So it’s still somewhere you could live very much on the cheap! The cheapest hostel I found there was the Puma Backpackers Hostel at £4.53 (€5.43 / $7.53) per person per night.

– So there! These are the top 10 cheapest cities in South America for hostel prices! Clearly if you are planning on staying in South America for the longest amount of time possible, and trying to make your money stretch, then Bolivia is the place to be. Peru and Ecuador should also be up there too! Hopefully this list has provided you with some useful insight that will help you choose the destinations you travel to wisely in South America if you are travelling on a shoe string budget!

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7 Responses to “10 Cheapest Cities in South America (for hostel prices)”

  1. John McCarty says:

    I guess I better add Bolivia to my South American itinerary then!

  2. How about Colombia? Popayán, Santa Marta, San Gil and Bucaramanga are also fairly cheap.

  3. Mel says:

    Oh man, I wish I’d known how cheap Bolivia was when I was in Peru! I totally would’ve planned a side trip to check it out.

  4. Sharon says:

    I also found Copacabana to be my cheapest stop in South America, so it’s not just the accommodation that is cheap. Sucre is quite a bargain I think as it is so lovely as well.

  5. There are a lot of cheap cities here in Colombia too 🙂 I’ve even made a home out of Medellin!

    • Jane Meighan says:

      Hi Marcello, Colombia is definitely cheap too – that is for sure! However, many of its cities (Medellin included) were only just outside of the Top 10 in this case. I think with Bolivia being so incredibly cheap it kind of took over most of the list! 😀

  6. James demidoff says:

    And today at Cusco with breakfast you can get hostel dorms for 15sol (5$).

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