Bustling cities, colorful street markets, fun nightlife, pristine beaches, and breath-taking nature, Thailand has it all. Traveling in Thailand is very affordable, with activities and budgets catering to all sorts of travelers. This is why, how much it costs to travel in Thailand depends on the traveling style of the individual.
It can be expensive if you enjoy luxury, and it can be very cheap if you are a budget traveler. It is also one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world with 38-39 million tourists visiting the country each year. This shows the country’s ability to offer quality service in the tourism sector at an affordable price. So, let’s look at the budget required to travel in the land of smiles.
The cost of accommodation will vary depending on the amount of luxury you want. With a thriving tourist economy, you can find quality accommodation at very affordable prices. There is plenty of options as well, budget bunk beds shared rooms in hostels/ poshtels, budget hotels, and luxury hotels. You can find a bunk bed at a hostel for 300-600 Baht per day. At this price, you will get a clean room, a shared bathroom, and even AC. For 600-1000 Baht per day, you can rent a basic guesthouse room.
If you’re looking for a bit more luxury, 2500-3000 Baht per day will get you a 4-star hotel room. The accommodation prices can vary depending on the area, and it’s best to avoid western hotel chains. There is plenty of local boutique hotels, hostels that provide great service at a lower cost. One tip to find the best rates for hotels is to book well in advance.
If you have decided on the itinerary, it is advisable to book the accommodation 2 months before your vacation to get the best rates. Sites like Booking.com offers travelers a chance to cancel later for free, but make sure to keep a note of it or mark the last date of free cancellation on your calendar to avoid penalty fees.
Food and Drinks
One of the best things about Thailand is the food. A wonderful way to experience the country is to eat the amazing street food. There are plenty of street carts all over Thailand, as well as open-air local restaurants serving a large variety of delicious food at cheap prices. You can find a bowl of soup, pad thai, or a rice meal with chicken basil leaf stir fry in 60-120 Baht in local restaurants, street carts, or food courts in malls. A chilled fruit juice or thai bubble tea costs around 30-60 Baht. A fresh young coconut will cost around 50-60 Baht.
You can also find freshly cut, ready-to-eat fruits in plastic bags or cups for 30-60 Bahts in the streets. Western food or better dining experience will cost a little extra. Drinking tap water isn’t safe in Thailand, and as the weather is hot and humid, it’s essential to stay hydrated. You can buy a bottle of 1.5L water from the nearest 7/11 (which is everywhere in Thailand) in just 15 Bahts. There are free water refills in all hostels and some hotels.
Always ask for a free water refill to save some money. You can find a large bottle of Thai Chang beer in local restaurants for 90 Bahts, and in 7/11 a large bottle of beer will cost you around 60 Baht. Imported beers or Singah might cost a little extra, around 90 Baht or more. Overall, a total of 300 to 500 Baht is enough for food per day considering you’re eating at local restaurants, streets stalls, or food courts.
Thailand has great connectivity transportation wise. Hence, it’s easy to find a bus or train to reach your destination. Buses and trains are also quite affordable, which can range from 100-500 Baht per bus/ train journey. If you’re moving across Thailand, it’s a good idea to take overnight buses/ trains, as it will save you a day as well as the hotel rent for one night.
Without check-in baggage, flying with local airlines such as Nok Air can be cheap and fast. In terms of traveling within the city, Tuktuks and taxis are available everywhere. While riding a Tuktuk is an experience, it is not recommended to use Tuktuks regularly if you’re aiming to save money. Bangkok has an excellent transport network, BTS, and MRT, which can take you anywhere bypassing the traffic quickly. It is also very affordable, the fare can range between 15-55 Baht. Unless you’re going somewhere really far and off the track, a typical ride on the BTS or MRT will not cross 30 Baht.
There are also motorbike taxis, a ride on the motorbike taxi can range from 35-65 Baht. Moving around is made even easier because of Grab. Make sure to download this app. Here you will find both cars and taxis and in a metered price. If you’re hailing a taxi from the road, make sure the driver is using the meter. A simple tip to save money is using local transports such as Songthanews if available, a one-way ride will cost you around 20 Baht. If you know how to ride a motorbike, you can hire one for 150-250 Baht per day.
Activities & Guided Tours
You can find a lot of activities in all of Thailand. Those who are seeking excitement and culture, Bangkok will be the perfect destination. There are so many things to see and do in Bangkok. The Royal Grand Palace with the Emerald Buddha, Chinatown, Jim Thompson’s house museum, etc. are some popular destinations for sightseeing and soaking up the culture. If you’re looking for a change of pace, you can go to the floating Tha Kha market in the countryside.
Phuket and Krabi are some popular destinations if you’re in the mood for some vitamin sea. Surrounded by crystal clear turquoise waters, the Thai islands are a perfect place to get away. Chiang Mai is another popular destination, surrounded by scenic natural beauty and temples. Regardless of where you go in Thailand, you will find lots of guided/ arranged tours that you can join. Some hostels also provide some group activities and guided tours. Guided group tours are one of my favorite ways to see a new place, as it gives you a chance to meet new people, as well as cover a lot of spots in a relatively short amount of time.
Because the tours are arranged, and due to the number of participants, the cost is usually optimized. Such a tour can cost around 600-100 Baht. You can book tours online beforehand. You can also book directly from your hotel/ hostel lobby. You will find tourist booths/ travel agents in all popular tourist destinations in Thailand. Tour booking can be done from these booths as well.
Apart from the above-mentioned expenses, you may incur some other expenses. Stops at 7/11 for some snacks, sim card cost, shopping, laundry service, ATM card fees are some general expenses. Sim cards are cheap in Thailand, spending around 500-600 Baht will be enough for one month. Shopping is very cheap. You can do a great deal of shopping with around 2000-3000 baht if you’re shopping from the street markets. You will have to pay a steep ATM fee for each transaction in Thailand. So it’s best to avoid it. Laundry services are cheap, and coin-laundry can be found in the cities.
As cost varies depending on the type of traveler you are, here’s a quick summary of the total daily cost per day for different types of travelers. If you’re a backpacker/ budget traveler, it’s possible to travel within $25-35 or 830 to 1170 Baht per day. In this budget, you can get a non-AC single room with a shared toilet in a budget hotel, or a shared dorm bed in a hostel, street food or food from local restaurants, local transport, and few tours.
If you’re spending around 1650 Baht or 50 USD per day, you can take some domestic flights, make a few more tours, and eat some more delicious food. At around 3000 to 5000 Baht a day, you can expect to travel in quite the luxury, fly to most destinations, and stay in a western chain/ beautiful resort. Overall, 55 USD or 1800 Baht per day is a very good budget for traveling in Thailand, keeping both budget and comfort in mind.
Some notes and tips for your next trip to Thailand
- Eat local street food and avoid western food
Thailand is known for its street food, and it would be a waste if you don’t take the chance to eat your heart out when you’re in Thailand. The best, most local food can be found on the street sides, and whenever you find a flock of local people around a food cart, you know its really good. You can have your comfort, western food when you’re back home. But when in Thailand, eat as the Thais do.
- Bargain with Tuktuk drivers
Tuktuk doesn’t come with meters, and as Tuktuks are perhaps a sort of Tourist transportation, the drivers usually take advantage of it. You have to agree on a price before getting in a Tuktuk. Although tuk-tuk drivers are friendly and welcoming, they might ask for an unusually high price. And it’s always best to bargain to avoid getting ripped off.
- Take local transportation
This means taking the BTS, MRT in Bangkok. Songthaews in destinations outside in Bangkok. Local transportations will always be cheaper than the ones designed for tourists.
- Ask your hotel/ hostel for any suggestions
Thais are very friendly, warm, and helpful. Don’t be shy to talk to and ask for recommendations/ suggestions from the hostel/ hotel staff. Whenever I have asked for recommendations, I was greeted in a friendly manner and received really helpful local advice.
- Location Matters
When it comes to cost, locations matter. Islands are usually more expensive. But it’s worth the extra cost, as you get to relax by the beach and truly getaway. Another reason for the costs being higher in the islands is the accessibility. As everything needs to be brought from the mainland, transportation costs get added. On the other hand, Chiang Mai and Northern Thailand are a little less heavy on the budget.
- Time of travel
During major holidays such as Songkran and Chinese New Year, traveling will be more expensive. You can save up some money by traveling during the off-season (June to October). This is the time when you will find more discounts. It is monsoon season in Thailand. Hence, you might be greeted with some rain and a thunderstorm.
- Tipping is not expected
Unless you’re dining in a fine dining restaurant, tipping is not expected.
- Drinking within limits
Alcohol in Thailand can be a little expensive. Hence, it’s best to limit your alcohol consumption to keep your costs low. It’s best to opt for beers than cocktails. And don’t miss the happy hour deals to save some money. You can cut down costs even further from buying beers from 7/11. But keep in mind, that the sale of alcohol in Thailand is banned between 2 pm and 5 pm and again between midnight and 11 am seven days a week. This rule applies to supermarkets and chain shops like 7/11.
- Book accommodation in Advance
It’s a general rule to book your accommodation well in advance. As the closer you get to your traveling date, the more chances of paying a higher price for the same room. You can use booking.com or hostelworld.com, both of which offer free cancellation later. So there’s no risk of losing money even if you’re changing the itinerary or canceling the trip.
- Go off the beaten track
Thailand is a beautiful country, where each place has something amazing to offer. All too often, we fall into the trap of visiting only the popular tourist places. However, the real gems can sometimes be found somewhere else. Don’t forget to explore such places. Thailand also has a lot of interesting things to offer. It has something for every taste. Hence, do your research and search for activities that you would really enjoy, cause chances are you will find something catering perfectly to your individual choice.