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Thailand – Managing Your Budget Using Our Experiences

This post was last updated on February 17th, 2020 at 01:32 pm


You can make your trip or vacation in Thailand as luxurious or sober as you want. Because everyone has different wishes, it is difficult to mention a fixed amount as a target for your Thailand budget. Like so many countries in Asia, life in Thailand is very cheap. With US$35-40 a day, you can live well in Thailand.

 

This includes; an overnight stay in ho(s)tels (private room), eating outside in normal restaurants, visiting a highlight of Thailand, and some groceries. If you want to know what you are going to spend in Thailand and what kind of budget suits you best then keep reading this page. Here we will tell you everything about managing your budget in Thailand.

 

Managing Your Budget in Thailand

There is quite a bit of information on the internet about how much people spend. It also depends on what kind of traveler you are. A backpacker can live for US$25 a day, but if you want a little more luxury on the road you can get that for US$45 a day. Also keep in mind that popular destinations such as Bangkok, Phuket, and Phi Phi are more expensive than lesser-known destinations.

 

TIP – Count on a minimum of US$30 to US$45 per day as a budget.

 

US$30 per day is mainly for the (low budget) backpackers, meaning you will mainly sleep in hostels (dorms) and you don’t do too many crazy things. In addition, not everyone is a backpacker. If you choose hotels and occasionally travel and eat more luxuriously, you can easily spend up to US$45 a day.

 

Image of: Island near Krabi in Thailand

Views like this make everything seem worth it!

 

What did we spend?

The first time we were in Thailand was in 2010. As true backpackers, we traveled through Thailand for $25 a day. In recent years we no longer travel low-budget backpack style. We do sleep in hostels, but in private rooms and we occasionally travel by minivans instead of the local bus. In fact, as 90% of all travelers do. The last time we were here we spent about $40 per person per day. Based on our experiences we’ve put some example budgets in the table below (low, medium, and high budget).

 

Cost per person per day (in US dollars)

Image of: Thailand Budget Examples

*You can leave the costs for highlights out of consideration if you’re not planning on visiting highlights every day (think of admission fees for temples etc.)

 

Thailand Travel Costs

Thailand can be a very cheap place to travel to. If you do not have too many requirements you can travel around for about 800 baht (US$25) per day. Keep in mind that with a low budget, you will be forced to choose simple accommodations, food, drinks, and travel like the locals do. And you won’t be able to experience expensive resorts in Phuket, Koh Samui, and Koh Phi Phi. Below you can get an idea of ​​what you will spend.

 

Accommodation Costs

You will spend the most money on your accommodations. That can be very much, or very little. The costs of spending the night vary between US$7 (200 baht) and US$32 (1,000 baht) per night. Sleeping in a dorm, a shared bedroom in a hostel is already possible for 200 baht per night. Are you looking for a private room in a hostel? Then you will quickly spend 800 to 1,000 baht per night.

 

Accommodations of all shapes and sizes are available in Thailand. The “you get what you pay for” rule applies here, so don’t expect Hilton-like rooms and views for US$7 per night.

 

Our accommodation costs when we stayed in Thailand:

 

Cost for Accommodations per Day

The costs per day for accommodation came at an average of $18.50 per night. That is for a double room, but you could share those costs. Then the price will drop to around $9.25 per person per night. Again, sleeping can be cheaper if you settle for low-budget hostels or dorms. Are you planning to sleep in dorms? Then you can count on $7 per person per day. The costs for accommodation determine your budget for Thailand.

 

Image of: Drone view of luxury resort on Samui Island
Staying in luxury resorts, like this one on Koh Samui, will drain your budget quickly!

 

Cost for Food and Drinks

Thai food is not only very tasty, it is also cheap. For 200 baht (US$6.40) you can get three meals a day. The night markets and food stalls (street food) are particularly cheap. And the food you can get here is also very tasty!

 

Would you rather eat in restaurants? That is also possible but it will be slightly more expensive. Count on around 400 baht (US$12.80) for a meal and a beer in a tourist-heavy spot. We have eaten in Thailand almost every day for less than US$11. That’s almost nothing when you consider how delicious the food is here.

 

An example of our food costs:

  • Thai Street Food $1 – $2
  • Pad Thai (tasty!) $1.25
  • A meal in a local restaurant $4.50
  • A complete meal with fresh fish on Koh Phangan $7
  • Pizza in a “luxury” restaurant $9.50
  • Local breakfast $3.30

 

Drinking costs:

  • 1 liter of water $1
  • Fresh fruit smoothie $3.30
  • Beer on a terrace $2.20
  • Beer from the supermarket $1

 

Cost for Food and Drinks per Day

For some accommodations, breakfast is included in the room rate, so you don’t have to pay those costs every day. On average, we spent around $19 per day, around $9.50 per person on food and drinks. That is if you are not crazy and eat a lot locally.

 

Image of: Pad Thai in a restaurant
We highly recommend trying one of the most famous dishes in Thailand; Pad Thai

 

Transportation Costs

You can make transportation in Thailand as cheap or as expensive as you want. You can visit the most important highlights by going there by minivan, train, bus, or tuk-tuk. Travelers usually go by bus from city to city. A tour bus, with air conditioning and more luxurious seats, from Bangkok to Phuket quickly costs around 500 baht (US$16). A local bus is about half the price, but it’s also slower.

 

If you are in the city or on the islands you can take a tuk-tuk. Tuk-tuks can already drive you from A to B for just a few baht, depending on the distance and the place where you are. Renting a scooter in Thailand will cost you around 150 to 250 baht (US$4.80 to US$8) per day.

 

Domestic flights are getting cheaper, but it depends on your budget whether you want to consider that. We often find it to be more relaxed to fly for an hour for US$55 instead of spending the whole day on a bus and boat for US$20.

 

Example of our transport costs:

  • Bus Bangkok to Chiang Mai $15
  • Minivan Chiang Mai to Pai $4.15
  • Flight Chiang Mai to Surat Thani $52
  • Boat Surat Thani to Koh Phangan $19
  • Bus from Krabi to Bangkok $16

 

12GoAsia

For a while now you can also plan your entire trip online via 12GoAsia. A super handy website where you can easily check all prices and possible routes online. Super easy if you are in Vietnam (or at home) and want to reserve the tickets for buses.

 

Transportation Costs per Day

Transport is not very expensive, but you can make it as crazy as you want. Costs for transport will, in addition to accommodations, have the largest impact on your budget for Thailand. On average we spent around $12 p.p. per day, but that includes a domestic flight and we regularly traveled with the minivan instead of local buses. You can manage to travel around for cheaper (or more expensive).

 

Image of: A traditional tuk-tuk that you can find almost anywhere in Thailand
A traditional tuk-tuk that you can find almost anywhere in Thailand

 

Cost for Activities

If there’s one country where you can do a lot of fun activities, it is in Thailand. It is the mecca for travelers and that is noticeable by the number of tour operators, (free) tours and crazy activities that you can undertake here.

 

Whether you want to scuba dive, snorkel, hike, visit rice fields, surf, parasail, kayak, take cooking classes, become Zen during a yoga class or want to cruise through Bangkok with a bicycle, it is all possible here, for little money. How many paid activities you want/can do depends on your own budget.

 

Example of our costs for activities:

  • Tour to the Bangkok floating market from $22
  • Cooking course in Bangkok from $28
  • Grand Palace Bangkok entrance fee from $13
  • Kayaking in Khao Sok from $27
  • Doi Suthep entrance fee in Chiang Mai from $0.75
  • Entrance fee for the Yun Lai Viewpoint in Pai from $0.50
  • 3 to 4 day PADI course in Koh Phi Phi from $380
  • Rent a kayak on Koh Tao from $9

 

Cost for Activities per Day

You can make your activities as crazy as you want. One person prefers to do something fun every day while the other settles for a tour a week and the rest wants to sit on the beach. That is why a budget for Thailand is difficult to determine. We spent an average of $10 per person per day on activities, but this is really different per person.

 

Image of: Wooden Temple in Thailand
Try visiting the beautiful temples in Thailand!

 

Thai Baht

In Thailand, they pay with the Thai baht (THB). At the moment 100 baht is around $3.20. There are bills of 20B, 50B, 100B, 500B and 1,000B. Coins come from 1B to 10B. If you want to pay in smaller shops in less well-known places, try paying with small money/coins. The smallest shops often do not have change for “big money”.

 

Debit Card

In Thailand, you can pay with debit cards in any major city. Well-known banks are the Bank of Thailand and Siam Commercial Bank. Make sure you set your debit card to ‘worldwide’ (if needed). If you do not, you cannot use it.

 

TIP – In addition, be aware that you have to pay around 150 baht for each transaction where you use your debit card ($4.80).

 

Credit Card

A credit card may not seem necessary if you can use your debit card in many places. Nevertheless, a credit card is handy to have. We recommend applying for a credit card before departure. This way you can always withdraw money. In addition, purchases are often insured. And if your debit card does not work for whatever reason, you can at least use your credit card.

 

Summary

You can make your trip or vacation in Thailand as luxurious or sober as you want. Because everyone has different wishes, it is difficult to mention a fixed amount as a target for your Thailand budget. Like so many countries in Asia, life in Thailand is very cheap. With $35-40 a day, you can make a good living in Thailand. This includes; an overnight stay in ho(s)tels (private room), eating outside in normal restaurants, visiting a highlight of Thailand, and some groceries.

 

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