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Can You Travel Thailand on a Budget? (Tips for Cheap Travel in Thailand)

Thailand is one of the most budget-friendly countries where you can find cheap $3 rooms to stay in. If you steer clear of the fancy resorts, you can travel to Thailand on a budget of $70 per day. Backpacking is cheaper if that is what you are looking to do, with average costs ranging from $30 to $35 per day. 

 

Now what exactly you mean by a budget will depend from person to person. Some find themselves on a shoestring $20 a day budget, while some can afford closer to $100 per day. This also depends on the length of your stay and what you actually choose to do in the country during your visit. I’m sure you would like to see some of the nice destinations and sights Thailand has to offer and taste some of the amazing food. Thailand is a paradise for shoppers with bargain street markets, hence a shopping allowance may also be helpful when you are planning your trip. 

 

You can choose between cheap accommodation or expensive resorts; which is why Thailand is so budget-friendly, for there is quite a selection of inexpensive accommodation options. You can choose to enjoy the amazing street food instead of spending your pennies on gourmet dinners at high-end restaurants. 

 

Costs of Traveling Thailand

Thailand is a very budget-friendly country to travel and visit. On average, travellers have reported having spent very little money travelling in Thailand. However, the costs involved will depend on your choices and the number of people with whom you plan to travel with. Usually as a rule of thumb, the larger the number of people travelling, the greater of a cost you will have to plan for. There are also some great ways to save money as you travel to the country. 

 

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Here is a list of costs of backpacking in Thailand

 

  • Cost of Destination Buses: $1-$3 per hour on the bus
  • Cost of Tuk Tuk Ride: $2 -$5 
  • Cost of Private Room: $7-$20 per night
  • Cost of Hostel Bed: $3-$7 per night
  • Cost of Scooter Hire: $5-$50 per day
  • Cost of Beer: $2-$6
  • Cost of Water: 20-50 cents for 1.5 litres
  • Cost of Western Food: $5 per dish
  • Cost of Local Food: $2.50 per dish
  • Cost of Street Food: $1-$3 per meal

 

If you are a backpacker and are looking to backpack Thailand, then you should be budgeting roughly $25 to $35 per day. On this budget, you could get yourself a small room, which usually has a fan and a shared bathroom. Or you may even consider living in a dorm room, which would be on the lower end of the spectrum. If you look to stay within the city limits, then the recommended budget is sufficient to cover your stay, which will include food from street stalls, a few drinks here and there, local transportation and a few sightseeing tours. 

 

The costs involved when travelling the islands of Thailand are considered to be on the higher side of the budget, where you may find yourself spending $5 to $10 more per day. If you can stretch your budget to $50 per day, you will be able to eat some amazing food including some international cuisine and fly between destinations in the country. You will also be able to afford an air-conditioned room. The higher budget also makes room for more drinking. 

 

If you are looking to stay at an expensive resort or hotel and eat only western food, then chances are you would see yourself spending $100 to $150 per day. This also depends on the number of tours you want to visit and how much you want to drink while in Thailand. To be fair, if you are in the mood for spending, there really isn’t an upper limit to a budget for Thailand. You can see yourself spending even closer to $1000 per day, that is if you can afford it. 

 

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When it comes to shopping, you should always budget separately. There is a lot of shopping to be had in Thailand. From busy street markets to lit up malls, there is plenty to buy. Hence having a shopping budget for yourself is a very good idea; something that is quite important in understanding the costs of travel involved. Shopping is part of the fun in travelling Thailand and you don’t want to miss out on the great opportunity to buy yourself some amazing stuff. You should budget around $50 for shopping per day, which would give you a good amount of local currency (bahts) to work with. 

 

On a budget of around $35, you would be able to afford

 

  • A few tours and sights
  • Budget accommodation at cheap guesthouses
  • Delicious meals; street food and seafood dinners
  • A few drinks
  • Flights to destinations within the country
  • Some spending money
Flying to destinations is optional and will very much depend on the amount of time you have during your visit to Thailand. If you are short on time, then chances are you would not want to be stuck on a bus or train for many hours. However, if you are travelling at a slower pace, and would enjoy the experience of taking the train or bus, these could be really inexpensive alternatives to flying. 
 
 

Tips for Cheap Travel in Thailand

 

Bargain, Bargain and Bargain Some More

When you are shopping in the markets of Thailand, it is a rule of thumb that you will have to bargain and you will have to bargain hard. The first price that the shop keepers usually give to foreigners and westerners are usually exuberantly overpriced. Simply ask for a better price, even if it is half the value of the quoted price. Half the value of the quoted price would be a good place to start. Don’t just take the first price which is offered and get ripped off; never be afraid to walk away from a sale. When they see you walking away, they tend to reduce prices or even agree to your offer. However don’t be a jerk, just bargain hard.
 
 
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Stay With Locals

If you are backpacking and don’t mind staying with the local people, this could be a really good method to save some money on your accommodation. Platforms like Couchsurfing and BeWelcome lets you stay with local people for free. This gives you the added tangent of experiencing some of the local life. Ranging from locals to ex-pats, there are a lot of hosts who are looking to accommodate travellers. So if you are willing or are on a below shoestring budget, be sure to check these platforms. 
 
 
 

Drink Less Alcohol

If you are on a budget, then remember that water costs less than beer in Thailand. Choose to grab a bottle of water instead of alcohol. This will enable you to save a lot of money. Alcohol in Thailand is rather expensive, so if you are looking to drink, hit the bars on happy hour and stick to beer. It could be even cheaper to buy your beer at a convenience store rather than a bar. The costs of alcohol in convenience stores run lower than at bars in Thailand. 
 
 
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Talk to the Tuk Tuk Driver

When it comes to Thailand, tuk-tuks are one of the most popular means of transport. Tuk Tuks usually don’t have meters and they travel at a set price offered by the tuk-tuk driver. It is advisable that you agree on a price before you set off on your trip on the tuk-tuk. Just like the street market vendors, tuk-tuk drivers will try to rip you off unless you talk to them and agree on a price. These drivers are always friendly however that being the case, they make most of their money from tourists. Tuk-tuks are great for short-distance travel and when it comes to them, remember to fix a price and haggle in the process. 
 
 
 

Skip the Western Food

Western food in Thailand is almost always more expensive than local food. This is because, with western food, some of the ingredients have to be imported into the country. Either way, why would you want to visit a foreign country and eat food that you are accustomed to. Taste some of the amazing local Thai cuisines. It’s a good idea to simply skip the western food during your visit and try tasting some of the amazing Thai selections of curries and mixes. 
 
 
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Eat at Street Stalls

It goes without saying, that the food in some of these food stalls in the street is hands down the best food in the country. What more, the food at these stalls are amazingly cheap. These street stalls offer great taste and value with noodles and soups usually costing no upwards of $1. You can find street food stalls almost everywhere in the cities of Thailand. You can even find them in more popular island destinations like Pattaya or Phuket. 
 

 

Avoid Peak Season

Peak season travel anywhere in the world is more expensive than off-peak travel. So when is the off-peak season in Thailand? Anytime between April and September is off-peak season. You will find lower rates on accommodation and airfares. The food is even cheaper during these times of the year.

 

If you are looking to haggle, be it with a tuk-tuk driver, for your hostel or hotel room, or even goods in the market, haggling comes easier during off-peak season. With fewer people visiting the country during off-peak season, you will be able to enjoy fewer crowds, while saving some money in the process. 

 

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Visit Northern Thailand

You will find that travelling the northern part of the country is much cheaper than travelling Bangkok. So if you are on a budget, plan your trip to include cities like Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. Night buses from Bangkok run very cheap and once arrived, you will be able to book yourself a service apartment for as low as $40 a month. 

 

You will experience more of what Thailand has to offer. The Northern part of Thailand is considered less of a tourist spot, which makes it ideal if you are looking to experience some of the local culture and people. 

 

Avoid ATMs

When it comes to money, it’s always easier to simply put your card into an ATM and get your money out. That being the case, you will be charged for every withdrawal. It is best to carry some foreign currency for exchange or travellers’ cheques. Make sure to carry enough foreign currency to last your trip. Frequent visits to the ATM could rob you of a good saving you could make in Thailand. 

 

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Book Accommodation Online

You can always find some great deals for accommodation in Thailand when you book online. You can use services like Agoda, booking.com or hostelworld where you can find some great places to stay at affordable prices. 

 

When you book online, you may even be able to find a hotel that is cheaper than a hostel. You can even find cheap private bedrooms or B’n’Bs, which are both comfortable and affordable.

 

Currency in Thailand

The main currency in Thailand is the Thai Baht and it is very unlikely that they would accept western currencies in markets in exchange for goods. Hence when you arrive, make sure to exchange some money at the money-changing counters at the airport. That way, you should have a pocket full of local currency to spend on everything. Regardless of where you exchange your money, it is important to check the exchange rate first to ensure that you are getting a good deal. 

 

The exchange rate for Thai Baht at the time of writing this article is as follow. 

 

  • 1 USD = 30.73 THB
  • 1 GBP = 42.61 THB
  • 1 EUR = 36.65 THB
 
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Can You Travel Thailand on a Budget?

Thailand is a great country to visit if you are travelling on a budget. The sights, food and accommodation are affordable and there is a great variety to fit the needs of every traveller. If you are backpacking, you could travel around Thailand for a longer duration on a smaller budget; with a three-week vacation costing the same as a one-month backpacking trip. 
 
 
There are so many outlets to spend your money that you should be very sincere about where you spend your money and keep an eye on your spending and budget. If you do this, you will have a marvellous time enjoying everything that Thailand has to offer. It is really a country that is affordable to visit, which is what makes it so appealing for travellers around the world. 
 
 
Happy Travels!

 

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