Thailand is cheap right? Well, yes and no. There’s no shortage of upscale restaurants in Bangkok or swanky resorts on the islands. However, Thailand is definitely a budget friendly country if you want it to be. Excluding flights I spent about $1000 in 2 weeks in Thailand. You could do it cheaper and you could defiantly do it more expensive, but I’ll breakdown the costs of my trip so you get an idea of what to budget for your own Thailand adventure.
Accommodations are a major factor in any travellers budget. There are many options to choose from, but my boyfriend and I ended up staying in basic hotels during our stay. Our cheapest hotel was in Bangkok. We stayed at the Pas Cher Hotel de Bangkok for around $32 CAD per night. I consider that a steal considering its the price we’re paying now per person for a dorm bed here in Australia. To be fair, I think the hotel is usually a bit more expensive but we got a deal booking through Expedia.
Accommodation becomes more expensive on the popular tourist islands. Our hotels in Ao Nang, Phi Phi, and Lanta were between $55-65 CAD per night. Keep in mind that most things will be more expensive in popular tourist areas, not just accommodations.
Of course if you are on a tighter budget hostels are going to be your best option. This is especially true if you’re travelling solo and don’t have someone to split the cost of a hotel room with. I’ve seen hostels go for as little as $9 CAD per night in Bangkok.
My best advice for booking accommodation is to start early. Compare prices on sites like Expedia or Booking.com and don’t wait too long to book. The more touristy islands will book up quickly, especially in high season. We made the mistake of waiting to book accommodations and ended up paying a bit more than expected because a lot of good budget options were full.
We used about every form of transport imaginable (aside from horseback or flying dragon) to get around Thailand. In fact, I’m going to write a entire post on how to get around. However for the purposes of this post, lets go into it a bit. Transport in Thailand is generally cheap under normal circumstances.
Metered cab fairs start at 35 THB or about $1.30 CAD for the first two kilometers. They will then go up by 6 THB or around 6 cents CAD per Kilometer. Extra surcharges apply during traffic jams, and you will be responsible for any highways tolls. Cab fair from Suvarnabhumi airport to Bangkok cost us 450 THB or around $16.75 CAD. Its about a 40 min drive for reference.
Tuk Tuks are another option but they are generally more expensive because they are not metered. We usually ended up paying between 300 to 400 THB or $11 to $15 CAD for a 10 minute journey. Long tail boats are another option to get around, for example from Ao Nang to Railay beach. These fairs will need to be negotiated before your journey, similar to a tuk tuk.
Another option, especially on the islands is to rent a scooter. Prices will depend on where you are renting from, but often times you can rent from your hotel. On Koh Lanta you could rent a scooter for around 250 TBH or $9.30 CAD per day.
Food, Water, and Alcohol
Food in Thailand is generally inexpensive. Your cheapest option will always be street food, but that’s not my thing personally. I would suggest eating at Thai restaurants as they are cheaper than eating at western style restaurants. My boyfriend and I could both eat for between 200 to 300 THB or $7 to $11 CAD at a decent Thai place. On the other hand the one night we went to a western style place our meals were about 300 THB each. We ate at a bit more upscale restaurant on New Years Eve and that came in at 1500 THB or around $55 CAD per person for a 5 course meal and one drink.
Water is usually free in your hotel room which is nice. If you do need to purchase a bottle however it is usually around 30 THB or $1.12 CAD for a large bottle.
Of course everyone wants to know about the price of booze. If your’re in Thailand you’re in luck because it’s pretty darn cheap! The cheapest of course is to purchase liquor at the grocerie store where a local beer will run you around 35 THB or about $1.30 CAD per bottle. At bars and restaurants it will obviously be a bit more. We usually found Chang beer to be around 80 THB or $3 CAD per bottle. If you are looking for something a bit stronger then you could always purchase one of the famous ‘buckets’ Thailand’s tourist islands are known for. If you’ve never seen them these are literally sandcastle style buckets filled with various alcohols and mixes. On Phi Phi these buckets were usually between 200 to 500 THB or $7.50 to $18 CAD. You get A LOT of alcohol in these so I would advise sharing with a buddy.
We spent most of our time hanging out on the beach while we were in Thailand, which is free (yay!) We did however check out some temples in Bangkok and we did a boat tour on Phi Phi. Entrance into Wat Pho is 100 THB or around $3.70 CAD each. Admission to the Grand Palace in Bangkok is 500 THB or around $18.60 CAD. For our boat tour on Phi Phi we paid 400 THB or $15 CAD each for a half day trip on that included Monkey Beach and Maya Bay.
Overall I think Thailand can be done very luxuriously or on a shoe string budget. I have not yet been to the rest of South East Asia but from what I’ve heard Thailand is more expensive than most other countries in SE Asia. The prices are likely to continue rising as Thailand becomes more and more popular with tourists. Right now the major kicker from a North American perspective is the price of flights, which can be well over $1000 return. However, if you get cheap airfare Thailand is a great budget destination.