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Placencia, Belize

Belize Travel Budget: Show Me The Money

Belize Money

Oh, Belize: you were beautiful, you were home to one of our favorite tours to date, and you were very expensive for your region.

We intentionally planned a shorter stay in Belize than in neighboring Mexico and Guatemala, because we knew that our travel budget for Belize would stretch our spending goals. Even with forewarning, however, the high prices in Belize came as a bit of a shock after a little over six weeks in Mexico–and as a result, we severely limited our excursions there.

Travel Budget for Belize

Trip length: 12 full days

Total cost: $1085.29, $90.44/day, $45.22/person/day

All prices are in USD.

Lodging: $534.48 for 12 nights, average of $44.54/night

We stayed one private room in a hostel in Placencia for $54.50/night and a room at a budget hotel with air conditioning and an ensuite bathroom in San Ignacio for $34.58/night. 

Where We Stayed in Belize:

Placencia: Sailfish Resort — Our opinion of the Sailfish Resort is one of extremes. The good: the property was well-kept, the staff very nice, the wifi excellent, and the resident puppy (Einstein) was adorable. The bad: No a/c, the smallest room we’ve ever stayed in (and that’s saying something!), and shared bathrooms that required us to walk outside, down a flight of stairs and to the back of the property to access them–not a lot of fun in the middle of the night, especially if it’s raining like during three of our nights there.

Our verdict? Just like Placencia, the Sailfish Resort was nice enough in some areas, but too expensive ($54.50/night USD for a private room) for what it was.

San Ignacio: Acropolis Maya Hotel — For the most part, The Acropolis Maya Hotel was exactly what we would expect of a budget hotel: clean but not luxurious and in a decent location. The owner was friendly, and cleaning happened about once every other day.

The major downside? A/C is NOT included in the price, despite being listed that way on Booking.com. We were able to negotiate the cost down some due to the confusion, but it left a very bad taste in our mouth when we left.

Travel Budget for Belize

Transportation: $37.00

We only used two rounds of transportation while in Belize: a bus from Belize City (where we arrived from Mexico) to Placencia, and one from Placencia to San Ignacio.

We were able to walk everywhere that we needed to go in both destinations, which was a bit of a relief for our Belize travel budget.

Restaurant Food: $197.08

Food was very pricey in both Placencia and San Ignacio, though slightly more so in Placencia–we usually spent $15-20 for the two of us to eat a meal.

We did find some delicious street food near the outdoor market in San Ignacio, which offered much better value than traditional restaurants.

Travel Budget for Belize

Groceries: $69.68

Our grocery costs were mostly confined to Placencia, where the sticker shock drove us to try to avoid the restaurants. Food was much more expensive than in the USA–think 2-3x the price for many items.

Being such a small country, Belize imports much of its food, which I imagine contributes to the higher prices.

Including restaurant meals, $11.12/person/day of our travel budget for Belize went to food.

Tours & Excursions: $205.55

Due to watching our travel budget for Belize carefully, we limited how many activities we took part in while in Belize. We took exactly three tours/excursions in Belize: $10 to visit Calah Pech, $18 to tour the Green Iguana Sanctuary in San Ignacio, and a whopping $177.55 for the ATM Cave tour.

The ATM tour was incredible and worth the price tag, but it also ranks as the most expensive single day excursion we’ve done since starting our travels in May 2016–even more than our day spent with elephants in Thailand, and almost the exact same price as the full cost of our 3 day/2 night tour of the Sahara Desert in Morocco.

Travel Budget for Belize

Miscellaneous: $41.50

Luckily, a 12-day trip didn’t lead to many miscellaneous expenses–$1.50 on Krazy Glue to repair my cell phone case and $40 on Belize exit taxes is all that fell into this category.

Travel Budget for Belize

One of the things that we try to keep in mind while writing budgets is not only numbers but value–I wrote recently that one of my favorite things about our recent trip to Mexico was that it was not only affordable, but that we got so much for our money.

On a similar note, places like Paris may be more expensive than places like Bangkok, but the value Paris provides still makes it worth visiting (which is not to say Bangkok doesn’t also offer value of its own!).

At this point in our lives, Belize didn’t strike the right balance of cost and value for us. On a long-term trip like what we are on, we couldn’t bring ourselves to, for example, experience Belize’s diving, when Honduras’ much more affordable diving is just ahead in our future and our incredible experiences diving on Koh Tao are not very far in our past.

Outside of the diving (which is admittedly supposed to be legendary), we couldn’t find much that made Belize distinct enough to warrant spending oodles of time in one of Central America’s most expensive countries.

Travel Budget for Belize

It’s worth noting that current exchange rates also impacted our Belize travel budget: the Belizean dollar is pegged to the USD at a 2:1 ratio. While the USD currently being very strong is obviously something that we generally benefit from, it made the price contrast with Mexico (whose peso is at one of its lowest points against the USD in the last few years) very obvious.

Based on what we’ve seen tour companies advertising and people we have met on the road, it seems popular to visit Tikal in Guatemala as a 1-2 day trip from Belize–but I feel the opposite. For a long-term traveler or someone who is on a budget, I’d argue that it’s better to focus your travels on eastern Guatemala and take a 1-2 day trip to Belize to see the ATM cave!

Read Next: Beaches, Caves & Chicken Buses: Our Best Experiences in Belize

Travel Budget for Belize

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8 Comments Write a comment

Kate has been traveling full-time with her husband Jeremy (the other half of Our Escape Clause) for more than 2 years. She tries to keep a balance between going on new adventures and exploring favorite destinations (like Italy!) in depth, and is always on the lookout for the next beautiful overlook and delicious meal.

8 Comments

  • Wesley February 28, 2017

    Thanks for the post (along with your other One’s about your time in Belize). I’m trying to decide where to take a trip in September, and Belize has always fascinated me. But your posts about it make me think maybe we will try somewhere else.

    • Kate Storm February 28, 2017

      Man, that’s a tough call! I have a hard time saying not to go anywhere, but it definitely wasn’t our favorite place. We found Mexico’s beaches to be a much better value in the region–and we’re working on checking out Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama for comparisons as well! 😉

      • Kim December 10, 2017

        Panama is good but Costa Rica is amazing.

  • ROBERT March 18, 2017

    Enjoyed reading about your trip to Belize. Please, what tour company did you use for the ATM Cave Tour? Thank you!

    • Kate Storm March 18, 2017

      Hey Robert! I didn’t save the name of the company, but they were located next door to the Ko Ox Han-ah restaurant in San Ignacio, near the center of town but not on the pedestrian street reserved for tourists. We paid about 5 USD per person less there than the companies located in the pedestrian area.

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  • Ashlyn August 10, 2017

    How on earth did you only spend $37 on transport?

    • Kate Storm August 11, 2017

      Hey Ashlyn! It was pretty easy: we hardly used any transportation! We took chicken buses from Belize City to Placencia, and Placencia to San Ignacio. That was it! We walked everywhere else. As a rule, we don’t include our transportation into or out of a country in these budgets, because those expenses can vary so dramatically depending on where you’re coming from.

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