Thailand is an amazing country and one of the most popular backpacker destinations worldwide. It’s known as the land of smiles for a reason. With its paradise-like beaches and natural outstanding natural beauty one might think it was an extraordinary expensive country to travel to. But that is wrong!
Thailand can be absolutely affordable if you keep some things in mind while booking and traveling. That’s why you can learn here how to travel Thailand on a budget. But first, let me show you how much we spent in our 49 days that we traveled through this beautiful country.
Since the prices can differ a lot whether you are traveling in the North or in the South of Thailand, I differentiate between the expenses for each of them.
What to find out in this post
What does a trip to Thailand cost? – Expenses in Thailand (49 days)
All the given prices below have been paid in the main currency of the given country (Thai-Baht). The prices only have been converted into Euro and US-Dollar for better understanding. Any discrepancies may result from rounding and converting. State of the exchange rate Thai-Baht to Euro: July/ August 2017 and September/October 2017; Euro to US-Dollar: November 2017.
Total: 750,37€/ $869,43 per person
In the North (30 days)
In the South (19 days)
Expenses in the North of Thailand in 30 days
Transport: 199,34€/ $230,97
Breakfast: 32,40€/ $37,54
Lunch: 33,01€/ $38,25
Dinner: 43,68€/ $50,61
Water: 5,43€/ $6,29
Entries & Activity: 79,38€/ $91,38
Random: 42,02€/ $48,69
Accommodation: 111,17€/ $128,81
Expenses in the South of Thailand in 19 Days
Transport: 64,04€/ $74,20
Breakfast: 20,75€/ $24,04
Lunch: 25,24€/ $29,24
Dinner: 27,42€/ $31,77
Water: 2,27€/ $2,63
Entries & Activity 23,47€/ $27,19
Random: 17,27€/ $20,01
Accommodation: 98,22€/ $113,80
Expenses in the North of Thailand per Day (30 days)
Total: 15,57€/ $18,04
Transport: 3,98€/ $4,61
Breakfast: 1,08€ / $1,25
Lunch: 1,10€/ $1,27
Dinner: 1,46€/ $1,69
Water: 0,18€/ $0,21
Entries & Activity: 2,65€/ $3,07
Random: 1,40€/ $1,62
Accommodation: 3,71€/ $4,30
Expenses in the South of Thailand per day (19 days)
Transport*: 3,37€/ $3,90
Breakfast: 1,10€/ $1,27
Lunch: 1,33€/ $1,54
Dinner: 1,44€/ $1,67
Water: 0,12€/ $0,14
Entries & Activity: 1,24€/ $1,47
Random: 0,91€/ $1,05
Accommodation: 5,17€/ $5,99
*Transport in the South of Thailand is actually more expensive than in the North as you often move by boat. We spent less, simply for the fact that we haven’t been moving a lot.
How to save a lot of money during your Thailand travel?
As always, our most important rule is, we want to save money but don’t miss any experiences. That may sound ambiguous, but let me tell you, actually it is not even that difficult. In the following lines, you can get to know how we did it and how you can do it as well.
Your first time in Thailand?
Everything you need to know before visiting the land of smile you can find here.
Probably the easiest and fastest way to travel around Thailand is the bus. You can usually choose between different companies, that often differ regarding standards and prices. If you want to save some money you might wanna think twice whether you really need the VIP Bus or maybe the 2nd class will do it as well.
For long trips (e.g. Bangkok/Ayutthaya to Chiang Mai) it is worth it spending a couple dollars more for the VIP bus or any other that offers more space per person. This way you can sleep better.
Just make sure to catch the night bus as you will also save money for not having to pay accommodation for that night.
Tuk Tuk and Taxi
If you want to spend less money on your Tuk-Tuk-ride, make sure to bargain before your trip. It might also be helpful to check in your accommodation beforehand what the usual fare for this route is.
Bargain is not that hard if you understand how it works.
Start with a price that is less than what you are actually willing to pay for the service/product.
Ideally, the driver agrees immediately. (If it is that easy though, usually there is something wrong with that price).
Most probably though, he will give you another price that is way higher than the one you just mentioned. And also most probably, it is also higher than what he will actually expect you to pay.
So keep on going like that until you meet in the middle. Hopefully, at a rate that you are both happy with.
The most important rule when taking a taxi in Thailand: No Taximeter – No ride! If the taxi driver is refusing to use the taximeter the chances are high that he will completely overcharge you. Overcharging tourists, especially right after arriving in the country is one of the most common scams in Thailand.
So, if the driver doesn’t put the taximeter just keep walking to the next taxi. There will definitely be a driver to agree with you on using the taximeter. (Because actually, they have to use it by law)
By the way, the most common excuse is “Sorry, the taximeter is broken”. Don’t trust it!
The easiest way to avoid getting scammed or overcharged on your taxi ride is using Grab. As the prices are fixed, you cannot get overcharged.
Also, usually there are many discount codes which can save you some $. In Chiang Mai, we even had a ride for free. The only drawback while using Grab is that you need a working internet connection.
Taking the train in Thailand
Some train rides in Thailand are even cheaper than taking the bus. Train rides can even get you nearer to Thailand’s locals.
However, you should keep in mind that the trains in Thailand usually don’t meet Western standards and can be extremely slow. Therefore, often it might be faster to take a bus anyway.
Taking an airplane in Thailand
If you want to go from the North to the South of Thailand, the buses can take ages. If you don’t have much time, you can take an airplane from A to B.
But don’t worry, many Low-Cost Airlines are operating within Thailand, so you don’t have to exceed your Budget for Thailand. And since you came here to learn how to travel Thailand on a budget I also have a simple option for you to find amazing flight deals: Momondo. With Momondo, you can compare flights of hundreds of companies to be sure to find the best flight for you.
If you keep the following two aspects in mind you can eat super cheap (and tasty!) in Thailand.
Avoid Tourist restaurants
If you walk around tourist areas, such as Khao San Road in Bangkok, you might realize that the prices are often much higher than in other areas.
Usually, it is already enough to walk one or two blocks away from the tourist area in order to find food with reasonable prices again.
Even if you are not a fan of street food, you can find restaurants that offer the same quality such as the ones made for tourists. (Sometimes even better!)
Usually, you can find the menus in front of the door, so you don’t even have to enter the restaurant if it doesn’t meet your price expectations.
If you want to save even more money and try authentic Thai dishes you should definitely give street food a try.
For everyone that is afraid of trying street food, I can just repeat myself: After more than 6 months in Asia, eating street food all the time, I have never been sick from it so far.
To find out whether the street food is good, just have a look at the place. Are many locals eating there? Because usually, that means that they have made a good experience with this place in the past. Therefore, probably it won’t do you any harm either.
Food on the islands simply costs more
While traveling through different parts of Thailand you will realize that the prices will differ from place to place. While on the mainland there is almost always a place with super cheap food, on the islands it gets harder and harder to find such.
Basically, there are two simple reasons for this.
1. Less competition
Since you cannot just look for a cheaper option outside of the tourist area (Because on many islands, the whole island basically is tourist area), you just have to stick with the higher prices.
2. Goods have to be important from the mainland
To be fair, not only you but also the restaurants have to pay more for the ingredients. You will find that even in the supermarkets the prices on Thailand’s islands are usually higher than on the mainland. Especially fresh goods, such as milk, eggs, and yoghurt are more pricey.
Staying hydrated is important, especially if you walk a lot during your Thailand trip. Unfortunately, there are not many ways to save money on water. (You cannot drink tap water in Thailand!).
Some accommodations let you refill your water bottle free of charge. That doesn’t only help your piggy bank but also the environment.
Usually, it is cheaper to buy big bottles (1,5 l) than small ones (0,5 l). Moreover, you can usually find offers for different water brands in 7/11. During our stay in North Thailand, we paid 20 Baht for 2 big bottles of water of one specific brand. (One bottle was 13 Baht)
Or how about not spending money on water at all?
Yes, you have read correctly. There is a way to travel through Thailand without spending money on water. And no, of course, I don’t want you to die of thirst.
The trick? Tap water! Now you might probably think that you are not supposed to drink tap water in Thailand. That is absolutely correct! But there is a way to make this tap water drinkable. The solution is called Lifestraw! This amazingly practical invention disinfects and filters the tap water in order to make it drinkable. This way, you can save a lot of money and help the environment by not producing more plastic waste. Great, right?
Entries & Activities
If you want to save money on entrance fees, there are not many options in Thailand.
Foreigners often pay double of what Thais are paying.
The only way to save money on entrance fees is to figure out beforehand, whether the entrance is really worth it.
Talk to other travelers, that have already been to this place, check this and other blogs, or check recommendations on TripAdvisor and Co.
Accommodations in Thailand can be usually super cheap if you don’t expect any luxury.
The prices in the north of the country are usually a little bit cheaper than in the South (on the islands).
Another thing, which can cause extreme price differences is the season that you are traveling in.During Raining Season rooms can cost less than half of what they cost during high season. Especially, on the islands, prices can vary a lot between the seasons. On one island, we even had a bungalow with fan, directly in the beach area, with access to the pool, for just around 10 Euro a night. (which is 5 Euro per Person)
Most of the time, it is cheaper per Person to take a private Doubleroom than sleeping in a dorm.
In Thailand, we had most of the time showers without access to hot water, as hot water showers, such as ACs usually cost more.
Should you book in advance?
Thailand is one of the backpacker’s favorite destinations. Therefore, there are many accommodations to choose from. You can check rooms and prices on-site to find the best deal. Usually, the prices are the same, whether you book online or walk by. (We even found places which were cheaper when booked with booking.com in advance.)
If you are not a big fan of No risk no fun, you might wanna book your accommodations with booking.com in advance. If you already have a room upon arrival, it can also save you a lot of time spent walking from accommodation to accommodation.
For finding the best deals click here.
(PS. I would appreciate a lot if you would use this link for your next booking. Booking will pay me a little part of their commission at no extra cost to you, which helps to keep this site online and provide more free information in the future. Thank you so much for your support! ♥)
The biggest enemy of our Thailand budget, are the fresh fruit juices, all the tasty fruits, ice cream and those super yummy coconut cookies, that you should absolutely try when you are in Thailand.
Especially, when we reached the South of Thailand after spending one month in Myanmar, we just couldn’t resist anymore. 😉
Another big expenditure was the sunscreen. It can get super expensive to pay sunscreen in Thailand, especially if you want one that doesn’t include any kind of bleach or whitener. So better make sure to bring enough with you from home.
Alcoholic drinks are usually pretty cheap in Thailand.
Especially, in Bangkok and the islands, often it’s even cheaper to buy one of the famous buckets full of alcohol (e.g. with vodka) than having beers or wine.
That’s how we end up celebrating our anniversary with a bucket of Rum in Koh Phi Phi. 🙂
In Thailand, it is not absolutely necessary to have a sim card. In general, every accommodation provides free wifi. Often, especially during the raining season, it happens that the connection breaks down for a while.
If you absolutely need to stay connected though, you can find cheap offers for sim cards.
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