How Much Does it Cost to Travel in Belize?


In case you hadn't realised, yes, I do only have three photos of Placencia.

I have a confession to make, and I know it’s not going to make me popular.

I didn’t love Belize. 

I’m in the minority here. Every person I know who’s been to Belize has returned singing its praises. Many of my friends count it among their favourite countries. As I’ve been writing posts about my travels in the country, so many of you have commented to tell me how much you love Belize. That it’s amazing. That you’d love to live there one day.

It’s not that I didn’t like it.

Belize is a beautiful country, filled with jungles and ruins, tons of wildlife, pretty beaches, and friendly locals.

But it was expensive.

Expensive in a way that felt like I was receiving poor value for my money.

Belize is a small country that imports the vast majority of its goods, which obviously results in higher prices. This is then coupled with basic infrastructure, which makes it hard to get excited about what you’re spending your money on. Now, I’m fine with places being more expensive than I’m used to, but in Belize, it felt as though I was spending so much money on things I could get for far cheaper in neighbouring Mexico and Guatemala. In some places, I was spending what I’d expect to in the U.S.!

Mexico was cheaper than Belize and had better infrastructure and food, in my opinion. Guatemala had a similar level of development, but was much more affordable.

Whenever I hit the road, I’m thinking about finances. Mostly because I’m dedicated to recording every penny I spend. But as I explore a new place, I’m always weighing up whether it’s offering up good value for money. Sometimes I’ll be averaging $100 a day and feeling like it’s more than worth it; other times I’ll be spending a quarter of that and thinking, nope, no way.

Belize was a struggle for me because of that.

Views from our guesthouse in Placencia
Views from our guesthouse balcony in Placencia

As an aside, I love looking back and noticing how my priorities and style of travel have transformed over the years.

For a long time now, I’ve had this idea in my head that Belize was over-the-top-expensive, but when I sat down to put this post together, I realised the prices no longer sounded so dramatic. These days, while I’d still notice I was receiving less for my money than in neighbouring countries, I don’t think it would be as much of an issue.

But still, if you’re a budget traveller, Belize will be more expensive than its neighbouring countries, and you won’t receive as much for your dollars.

Let’s get on with my budget breakdown for Belize! All prices listed are in U.S. dollars, as always, because most of my readers are based there.

My Guesthouse room in San Ignacio
My Guesthouse room in San Ignacio

The Cost of Accommodation in Belize

Accommodation in pricey in Belize, and we struggled to find a basic guesthouse room anywhere for less than $50 a night. We stayed in lovely guesthouses in San Ignacio and Placencia, and an Airbnb apartment in Caye Caulker. Prices for accommodation were slightly more than we were paying in Mexico, but the quality was only about half as good.

I update this post with prices every three months and check the reviews to make sure I’m still recommending the very best options for you.

River Park Inn, San Ignacio: $50/night
        I couldn’t get enough of the guesthouse I stayed at in San Ignacio, and I highly recommend checking it out if you’re in Belize. The owner was unbelievably welcoming (we gave him our laundry and he secretly repaired all of our hole-riddden items for free!), and I loved hanging out in the hammocks while surrounded by colourful butterflies. It was like staying in paradise! There was A/C and Wi-Fi in the rooms. Search for the cheapest rates on HotelsCombined | Read reviews on TripAdvisor

Seaspray Hotel, Placencia: $55/night
Placencia is an expensive part of Belize, but Seaspray Hotel is one of the best budget options in town. For $55 a night, we had access to a beachside room (they have economy rooms for $33 a night) on the best stretch of sand in town. With beautiful views of the ocean and sunloungers to relax on during the day, this was an excellent choice, and well worth splurging on. They aren’t listed on any of the online booking websites, so you’ll need to book through their website. Read reviews on TripAdvisor.

I’d probably go for a stay in Lydia’s Guesthouse in the future for my next visit to Placencia. They’re ranked first on TripAdvisor for best value B&B, are cheaper than Seaspray Hotel at $29/night, and still receive excellent reviews.

Axios Sun Apartments, Caye Caulker: $52/night
        Caye Caulker is the party hotspot of Belize, so you can expect to shell out extortionate amounts for a stay on the island. I’m talking $30 for a 6-bed dorm expensive here! The apartment we chose wasn’t anything amazing, so I’d recommend shopping around to find somewhere slightly better for the same price. I’d look to book Sea N Sun Guesthouse for $71 a night next time, or Blue Wave Guesthouse ($31 a night) if I was on a tight budget, as both receive excellent reviews.

Bus in Placencia
A typical bus in Placencia: you’ll be using these a lot if traveling on a budget in Belize!

The Cost of Transportation in Belize

Public transportation was inexpensive in Belize, and I recommend taking the local buses over hiring a scooter or car, both for safety reasons and to save money. I saw somebody get killed on a scooter during my first day in the country.

Distances are short, as the country is so small, but bear in mind that that doesn’t necessarily mean your travel days won’t be long and sweaty. A particularly memorable (read: awful) travel day saw us taking a full nine hours to get from San Ignacio to Placencia, a distance of 120 miles. It was a public holiday on that day and it turned out most of the country was trying to travel on that route, too! Thankfully, days like that were a rarity.

Here’s what I spent on transportation in the country:

Bus from Cancun to Belize City: $41.70
Bus from Belize City to San Ignacio: $4.50
Return bus trip from San Ignacio to Xunantunich: $1.50
Taxi from San Ignacio to the Guatemalan border: $3.22
Taxi from the Guatemala border to San Ignacio: $3.22
Bus from San Ignacio to Belmopan: $7.50
Bus from Belmopan to Placencia: $7.50
Bus from Placencia to Belize City: $15.00
Return ferry ticket from Belize City to Caye Caulker: $17.50

The Cost of Food in Belize

The price of food in Belize was fairly steep and more in line with what you’d pay in the U.S., rather than neighbouring Mexico or Guatemala. Hunting down street stalls would get you a meal for around $5, but if you want a sit-down meal for dinner, you’ll looking in the region of $15-20 per person.

I spent $417 on food for my 13 days in the country, which worked out at $32 a day. 

Exploring Cahal Pech
Exploring Cahal Pech

The Cost of Activities in Belize

I was all about the ruins in Belize! One of the cheapest activities in the country is clambering all over the ruins, so we made sure to do exactly that while we were based in San Ignacio. In Placencia and Caye Caulker, I opted to spend my time sunbathing and exploring on foot to save money. Here’s how much I spent on activities and entrance fees while I was in Belize:

Entrance fee for Xunantunich: $5
Entrance fee for Cahal Pech: $5

Not much, hey? One of my greatest regrets about my time in Belize was not feeling as though I could justify spending money on some of the pricier activities in the country.

One of the big-ticket items that everybody insists you have to do while in Belize is take a tour of the ATM caves ($110). This full-day experience takes you through the jungle, where you’ll swim through caves, ford a river, and learn about the Mayan civilisation. I regret not taking the tour because as the reviews show, practically every single person says it ended up being one of the highlights of their trip.

If you’re not on a budget, you may want to work in a trip to Belize’s barrier reef, whether it’s snorkelling the Belize Barrier Reef ($75) or taking a helicopter over the Great Blue Hole ($420). If you’re not going to be venturing into Guatemala on your trip, it also might be worth opting for a day trip from San Ignacio to the magnificent Tikal ruins ($150). I absolutely adored my day spent exploring Tikal, so highly recommend taking the day to see as much of it as possible from Belize, especially as that tour receives fantastic reviews.

Tobacco Caye in Belize
Tobacco Caye looks pretty close to perfect!

Don’t Forget About Travel Insurance for Belize

Now, I’m always urging you guys to get travel insurance for every single trip for one specific reason: to be covered during medical emergencies. I’ve seen enough injured backpackers begging for money on GoFundMe because they weren’t insured and need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to cover medical treatment to know it’s a risk that’s never worth taking.

Travel insurance is a travel essential, and given that I witnessed somebody dying in Belize, I definitely want to encourage you guys to ensure you have it. Travel insurance will cover you if somebody steals your laptop, if your flight gets cancelled, or if you suddenly come down with appendicitis. I’ve been using and recommending World Nomads insurance for travellers for six years and counting, and they’ve always been a pleasure to deal with.

I paid just $15 for my two week trip to Belize, although it was part of a longer trip, which helps keep the insurance costs low.

Tobacco Caye in Belize from above

The Cost of Travel in Belize

Now that I’ve taken a look at how much I spent while in Belize, let’s add it all up to get to my total amount spent, as well as how much I averaged each day.

Accommodation: $329.50 each. 
Transportation: $101.64
Food: $417
Activities: $10

And all of that totalled $858.14 for a 13-day trip to the country. That works out at $66 per day.

 

Have you been to Belize? How did my travel expenses stack up against yours?

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Belize is a beautiful country, with kickass jungles and ruins, tons of wildlife, pretty beaches, and friendly locals. But it was expensive! Click through to learn how much it costs to travel in Belize.

 

Stock photos via: Duarte Dellarole/Shutterstock.

 

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37 Comments

  1. Kathleen
    November 22, 2016
    Reply

    I spent 3 months in Belize for my thesis research, and like you, it was not my favourite country. It is prohibitively expensive ($75USD for a half day snorkle trip, for example) and obscenely difficult to get around in (plus in the expensive vein, rental cars run $100+ per day!). But mostly it was the male-attention that ruined my trip. Not only did a pretty horrible thing happen to a girl I was with (a minor, no less, and by one of the tour operators) I felt unsafe the entire three months I spent there, and was harassed in one way or another every day I left my lodgings – which really limited how much I actually wanted to go out!

    That being said, I know people who LOVE Belize, some who decided to live there full-time, so I guess it really depends on what rubs you the wrong way or not.

    • Stephanie Craig
      November 23, 2016
      Reply

      I know I’m seriousy in the minority here, but I liked the cat-calling culture in Belize. Weirdly, I felt MORE safe there, despite the contstant cat-calling, then in other countries where there wasn’t any but there men seemed more repressed and standoff-ish. I don’t mind cat-calling when it’s non-threatening, even if it’s rude. When I was youger, I think it bothered me more, but now I kind of appreciate a culture that’s a little more open.

    • Natalie
      November 23, 2016
      Reply

      I’ve been wanting to visit Belize, but your comment is making me think twice about taking my children there. Yikes! That poor girl :(

      • Kathleen
        November 25, 2016
        Reply

        I should mention that the girl was unaccompanied and was a long-term visitor of one specific tour operator (I don’t want to be too specific, obviously) so the situation was definitely unique – and the operator of the tour company fired the person involved so it was dealt with. It was mostly catcalling that was the issue for me.

        Stephanie – I’ve travelled extensively, including to other parts of the world where catcalling was fairly common. I don’t know if I was more sensitive to it in Belize because I was alone or because I was there 3 months, but it felt more aggressive and serious than other countries. But I also dislike catcalling no matter how serious it feels, so I could be biased in that way as well.

  2. Stephanie Craig
    November 23, 2016
    Reply

    I really love Belize, but I agree it was pretty expensive for what you get. I attributed it to being on an island the whole time, and we stayed on Ambergris Caye, which is the more touristy of the island. My three girlfriends and I rented a hourse for 8 nights for about $900, so about $28 per person. Plus meals were pretty expensive for so-so food, thought we found a yoga place/taco place that was AMAZING and not that expensive.

    I think if I’d been on a budget vacation it would have been more of a struggle, but since it was a girlfriends’ getaway week, it all seemed worth it.

    One tip I got was go during the off season. I think you all were there in the off season too? The weather is basically the same there year-round, but it’s way slower in the summer. So we were able to negotiate things like a golf cart and deal with smaller crowds that made things feel like a better value.

    I haven’t been to the rest of Central America, but I’m looking forward to it!

  3. Dominique
    November 23, 2016
    Reply

    I don’t think it’s a lot of money, but for a budget traveller the cost would be quite steep. It’s good to know this breakdown, since I was planning to go there at the start of next year. Looking at my spendings at the end of this year though, I think I shouldn’t put Belize on the top of my list of places to go just yet. I’ll start saving now :)

  4. Kat Pullen
    December 1, 2016
    Reply

    Belize is the most expensive place in Central America, to be sure. But, as I don’t speak any other languages, I considered it my “(lack of) education tax”

    There are plenty of hostels out there, and I found a wonderful rental for $29 in San Ignacio, Camp sites for $10 in Belmopan, $30 for a “rustic” cabin in Hopkins right on the beach (they had hostel bunks cheaper), and $40 for a great place in Caye Caulker with HOT WATER, and only steps from the beach.

    I was able to get street food pretty cheap, too. Breakfast/Lunch tacos from the vendors or shacks were $0.25 each, beer for $1-2 and in Caulker, $10 for a lobster dinner. In San Ignacio, I would pick up freshly made tortillas 5 for $0.50 (all prices US). It can be done cheaper, but not cheaply.

    If I were to retire, I could see myself in Belize. But I like cowfoot soup!

  5. Kate
    December 4, 2016
    Reply

    This is great information to have! I’m pretty concerned that I’m going to come away with the same impressions of Belize. I desperately want to see the gorgeous water and famous Blue Hole, along with the ATM cave, but we may rush through it a little.

    It doesn’t help that Belize will be sandwiched between Mexico (which I adore) and Guatemala (which I am incredibly excited for–I’m guessing I’ll think that the “value” of both of those is better.

  6. Travelman32
    July 24, 2017
    Reply

    I am pretty sure Panama (which I have been to) and costa rica (which I have not been to) are just as expensive, if not more so in the case of costa rica..and I felt like I got a pretty poor value for my money many times in panama. I also got robbed at gunpoint on a beach outside of Panama city, very close to Veracruz so it is not as safe as people claim either.

    • Lauren
      July 28, 2017
      Reply

      I’ve heard Costa Rica is especially expensive, but haven’t heard that about Panama before. I’ll have to go to check it out :-)

  7. Lyle Hamm
    August 6, 2017
    Reply

    All comments here are very interesting & informative… but travel , all travel is about the adventure it presents… too much planing, is too much thinking… The unknown is what draws us to foreign lands .. if all was known or could be figured out on a calculator.. we may as well be sitting home watching a program on Nation Geographic.

    • Lauren
      August 7, 2017
      Reply

      Right. So let’s just rock up to a fancy resort in the Maldives and not bother to research anything at all, and find ourselves with a $500 a night bill.

  8. seven
    October 10, 2017
    Reply

    maybe i’m in the minority but $53 a day isn’t expensive to me considering how much going to Europe or even visiting New York, Hawaii, or DC can be. That seems pretty reasonable for a trip. the prices you listed for transportation and lodging weren’t outrageous. You did spend a lot on food ($417? for 9 days!) but other than that, this wasn’t that bad tbh.

    • Lauren
      October 21, 2017
      Reply

      Yeah, it averages out to around $15 a meal, which does seem quite pricey. I think the prices on Caye Caulker definitely boosted that up, as it wasn’t uncommon to have dinner for $25 a person there. But do agree with you — it’s definitely not super expensive, but when you compare it to other countries in the region (excluding Costa Rica), it is a huge step up in cost.

  9. Hannes
    April 4, 2018
    Reply

    People commenting about Costa Rica being more expensive, I don’t agree. Belize costs way more.

  10. Liat Saban
    April 11, 2018
    Reply

    Hey, I loved reading what you had to say about your trip. It sounds like a great budget.
    Quick question, where did you search/book your hotels/where you stayed when going to each city? Those sound like really good rates.

    Thanks!

  11. Sarah
    August 29, 2018
    Reply

    Ive traveled to Costa Rica numeros times. Yes, it can be very expensive if you don’t shop around. I do, and go there for reasonable prices. Not cheap as it once was. I will be traveling to Belize next year for the first time. Been doing a lot of research and yes, it seems pretty pricey specially for first time travelers as myself. Plus will be traveling with children so want to make sure we are extra safe and will pay more to be extra safe. We’ll see how it goes. For now thank you for all the input

    • Jem
      December 8, 2018
      Reply

      Hi. I grinch at the prices i read as i am a local in belize and although certain places can be pricey there are some that can still b worth it .. If you still planning to come to belize there are some places and tips i can reccomnend while travelling. ?

      • Jennifer
        December 30, 2018
        Reply

        Hi, I”m traveling with my family to Belize next week; staying in San Ignacio at an Airbnb. We have a car rented M-F for touring from a local car rental co and have an ATM trip reserved. Plan on most meals in with the the occasional meal out as there will be 6 of us, ages 19-54. Any tips appreciated!

        • Lauren
          January 7, 2019
          Reply

          Ah, the chances of Jem heading back to this post and seeing your comment are super low, I’m afraid. I hope you have a wonderful time in Belize!

      • Lauren
        January 8, 2019
        Reply

        I’d love to hear them!

    • Danielle
      June 22, 2019
      Reply

      Curious to see how trip goes. I want to travel more, but as a woman, I am very concerned about safety. I don’t mind cat calla, etc and can handle a lot, but I don’t want to be stolen and sold! ??
      Also. Any input about safe places to travel that are beautiful and not over the top expensive is appreciated. Not too budget concerned, but not looking to pay outrageously.
      Thank you!

  12. Ricardo
    September 3, 2018
    Reply

    Accommodation at Tobacco Caye Paradise (on your pictures) is only $40 USD and $25 for those looking for a budget alternative.
    Meal plan is only $40 including 3 meals :) So its affordable in north american standards. You must take into account gas/transportation is expensive. If you are traveling to the cayes or a remote location, transportation and food can add extra costs.

    I think this will be quiet useful for your readers looking for an affordable alternative in Belize to checkout TobaccoCaye.com
    But always keep in mind, Belize is not cheap.

    Do your research, IslandExpeditions.com offers very good alternatives for those looking for Adventure travel at an excellent value for your money (including accommodation, meals and even guided activities )

  13. Aimee
    September 25, 2018
    Reply

    What a great informative article! I’m doing a solo backpacking trip of Central America at the beginning of next year & have a wedding in Belize but after reading your budgeting breakdown will be cutting my time there a bit shorter & spend more time in a cheaper place near by. I can definitely relate as I like to get my value for money being a backpacker.

    Thanks for the heads up!

  14. Matthew
    October 25, 2018
    Reply

    Thanks for laying it out straight. Going to Central America and paying North America prices doesn’t seem ideal. I have been looking at tours for our upcoming family trip and have been shocked at the high prices for the boat and tubing tours. We don’t want to miss these great experiences and are hoping that we can find better deals when arriving in country.

  15. Jen
    January 14, 2019
    Reply

    I agree Belize was overpriced and underdeveloped thus underwhelming. Also the food was not great and very expensive. My spouse and I spent roughly $3200 for 5 days and our accommodations were decent not beautiful. Excursions were expensive, taxes and fees are abundant in Belize, and getting around is difficult because the roads are so bad. The people were great however. We were really disappointed in the trip and know there are far better places to visit in the Caribbean.

    • Lauren
      January 15, 2019
      Reply

      Thanks so much for sharing your experience, Jen!

  16. Earlean West
    January 18, 2019
    Reply

    I am a Belizean living abroad. And I commend the people that had good reviews about my country. Wherever you are in this world there good and bad. Belize is no exception. Yes Belize is a poor country thriving for better. And the population is mostly black so a lot of people will not feel comfortable in a country where there is just mostly black folks. And black men doing their cattle call on them. I love my country. And I thank those that did not try to put it as the worst

  17. Cynthia
    January 20, 2019
    Reply

    My boyfriend and I took a three week road trip, starting in Ontario, Canada, down through Mexico to Placencia, Belize. It was epic and I will never forget it. Our experience in Belize was wonderful, although it was a year when there was a seaweed assault on all the beaches. We stayed a night in Hopkins and met some beautiful people who we hope to see again. Then we drove to Placencia and stayed three day. We made sure to take in some of the tourist attractions and even though it was a little pricey, we have memories to last a lifetime. It was a bit expensive, considering we stayed in so many cheaper and wonderful places in Mexico during our trip down. However, it is a trip we plan to do again now that we have had our feet on the ground.

  18. Sean
    January 28, 2019
    Reply

    Lauren where did you find bus route/times/cost information? My girlfriend and I will be traveling to Belize in April and are hoping to take the bus as you suggest.

  19. Jeff
    March 28, 2019
    Reply

    I tend to agree that your money doesn’t seem to go as far in Belize as other nearby options. I’ve been to Costa Rica twice in the past three years and found my money went much further for comparable food and lodging and activities. A rental car in Costa Rica was also about half the cost of Belize as well. I found the Yucatán peninsula in Mexico to be even less expensive. The people in Belize are incredibly friendly and they do have some beautiful areas to explore, but I’d likely return to Costa Rica or Mexico before heading back to Belize just due to the prices being relatively close to prices back in the US in many instances.

  20. JS
    March 31, 2019
    Reply

    I’ve been to Belize, the Yucatan, and Costa Rica. While enjoying all three, Belize is definitely last place.

    Belize has two strengths: the reef and the ruins. While the Yucatan has Chichen Itza and Tulum, mass market tourism doesn’t allow you to feel lost in either of them, unless a tour group of 50 people gets in front of you. I still recommend visiting both, but don’t feel like you can get something unique. Belize has fewer tourists, giving the ruins a more intimate experience.

    Belize has another strength, but is a greater weakness at the same time: its uniqueness. Heavy regulation and high tariffs keep out 7-11, McDonald’s and Wal-Mart, but it means the local restaurants cost more than in Mexico or Costa Rica for the same food. Belize has no good grocery stores. The ones that exist are all owned by immigrants who won’t employ locals. I won’t start on fuel prices that rival Western Europe.

    Caye Caulker would be a total waste of time without the reef. No nature or beaches, no culture. Just drinking and mediocre tourist trap restaurants. If you don’t want to the reef, then give overlooked Caribbean Costa Rica a look.

  21. Jennifer Armstrong
    September 9, 2019
    Reply

    Completely agree in 2019, Belize is much more expensive than anywhere else we have been during our year long South/ Central America trip. It doesn’t feel like value for money when you can do some similar activities in other countries for cheaper. We usually live off 40 dollars for 2 people per day and it was impossible in Belize. Obviously if you’re on holiday or a shorter trip, it isn’t actually that expensive. Orange Tree and San Ignacio have the lowest cost places we could find (note we didn’t head to the beaches or islands)

  22. Jim
    September 17, 2019
    Reply

    Thank you for so much great information. I’ve always thought about visiting, after hearing comments from friends. I’ve never seen such an amazing break down of the costs and heard or read such descriptive explanations of your personal experiences while visiting.

    How long have you been blogging?! Great work!

    • Lauren
      May 25, 2020
      Reply

      About 10 years now :-) Thank you for the kind words about my article!

  23. AscottDancer
    March 7, 2020
    Reply

    We’re going to San Ignacio and Hopkins in 2 weeks for the first time. I was/am also surprised at the prices, far more than Guatemala and Mexico!! Having said that, we’re absolutely doing the ATM cave since I don’t know of other places tourists have that kind of access to a sacred cave. It’s $95pp, which I’m actually ok with. We’re passing on other activities like zip lining, tubing, waterfalls – feels like we can do those things elsewhere. I’m also very keen to explore the Garifuna culture and secretly hoping to find locals who will teach us to drum. I feel like every country offers something uniquely theirs. And I’m ok paying for the experience. Will have to think over the transportation part for sure. Guess we accept the cost as part of it country. I have a feeling we’re going to say: we love Belize and the people!! But we don’t love the prices.

  24. Dave Watson
    December 26, 2020
    Reply

    I’m a UK guy living here for 20 years .I would say Belize is a very safe place to visit. probably more safer than Mexico and Guatemala and Honduras by far. Belize is a very open Friendly ,safe Society .catcalling is a very ingraied past time .being firm but friendly is all that’s needed. Food is cheap if you don’t eat on the beach. Travelling is cheap but inconveniently long. Best to hire the cheapest small car. your trip will be be much better you will see much more. Blue Lagoon in placencia Village have apartments with cooking facilities for $35us pn.shop around. Belize is an expensive country to visit but food can be made very much cheaper by eating where the locals eat. Coming from America or Europe, if you like that Caribbean feeling, I think you will be very happy here in Belize .it’s cool and friendly like none of the others around it.

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