Despite being super cheap Thailand is an easy country to accidental spend money without realising. The cost of travel in Thailand varies hugely, depending on your travel style, eating habits and the locations you choose to visit.
Carly and I are relatively frugal travellers. We don’t party all that much and avoid over priced organised tours.
This post is based on our recent 31 day trip starting February 2018.
All prices below are for two people.
Let’s get into it.
The Cost Of Travel In Thailand In General
Our trip consisted of 2 weeks island hopping in the south, a week in Bangkok and then 8 days in Chiang Mai.
Generally speaking the south of the country, including the islands, is a lot more expensive than the north. With food, drinks, accommodation and even transport being roughly 25 – 40% more expensive than the north.
If you were to ask me how much it will cost to travel in Thailand my first question would be, ‘how much do you drink?’
Alcohol in the country isn’t all that cheap, sure it’s cheaper than Australia and so on, but daily drinking can really hurt that budget. I’ll go into more detail later on in this post.
Time to break things down.
Probably the biggest expense of your trip. The skies the limit with accommodation in Thailand, ranging from cheap dorm rooms all the way up to 5 star resorts.
Carly and I choose to stay in double rooms in guesthouses/home-stays or cheap hotels over hostels. More often than not a double room somewhere costs the same, if not less that two bunk beds in a hostel.
These private rooms are not at all luxury, but come with everything you need for a good nights sleep.
Using booking.com and airbnb in advance, on average accommodation cost us roughly 850 THB per night, about £20.
We could have done this a lot cheaper, booking in advance usually works out a little more expensive than just turning up. But as we were travelling in high season and had quite a tight schedule we didn’t want to risk it.
For what we spent we always had a double bed, private bathroom and air conditioning. Carly is a slave to air-con and in Thailand that comes at a premium.
Staying 7 nights in a good area in Bangkok, close to BTS and the river pier was by far our most expensive stay. And 8 nights at an Airbnb in Chiang Mai being our cheapest.
Again like most things, the skies the limit. I only have experiences with the lower end.
Food in Thailand is generally very cheap. In the north you can pick up a simple Pad Thai or Khao Soi for 40 THB (£1). On the islands you’re looking at about 60-80 THB for the same.
Street food snacks at markets are another great way to eat cheaply, with things on sticks, fish cakes and mango sticky rice being very cheap.
Street food is all well and good but sometimes a sit down meal is nice. A meal in a low/mid range restaurant will cost you anything from 100 THB upwards, a Thai meal and an alcoholic drink for two and you’re easily looking at 200 THB (Just under £5).
Western food is way more expensive, something like a pizza will cost you at least 250THB alone. And trust me, it’s never as good, so if you’re budget conscious stick to the local dishes.
On average we spent a little over £10 per day on food for the both of us.
A local beer like Chang/Singha or Leo will cost you anywhere between 50 and 150 THB depending on where you are getting it.
The average price for a beer in a bar is around 70/80 THB (£1.80). These can seriously add up and harm your budget if you’re not careful. It’s not rare for a first time backpackers to get off in Khao San Road and spent hundreds of pounds on alcohol without realising.
Carly and I aren’t big partiers but we do like a beer or two. As we had just spent a year working multiple jobs to save money for this trip we may have gone a little overboard on alcohol.
We didn’t drink every night, but we may have had a few too many on the nights we did.
Long distant travel like busses, ferries, trains and even internal flights are very affordable.
We recommend 12Go Asia for booking and arranging your internal travel in Thailand. There’s plenty of travel agents on the streets with means competitive pricing! I use 12Go Asia as a reference point when shopping around street agencies, but more often than not the price on the site is cheaper.
It’s worth looking at internal flights before booking long distance busses. With a few airlines doing internal flights in Thailand the prices are very reasonable. We flew from Bangkok to Chiang Mai for only £4 more than the bus would have cost. I don’t know about you but an extra £4 beats 10 hours on a bus.
Short term travel, nothing beats hiring motorbikes for cost effectiveness. The traffic is crazy and you may have to bribe a policeman or two if you don’t have an international driving permit, but the freedom to go where you want is great.
Motorbike hire costs about 200 THB (£4.50) a day. Cheaper rates are available for long-term rentals.
Grab and Uber are very popular in Thailand, and can be quite cheap. Always worth checking them for a rough price estimate before haggling with Tuk Tuks and taxis too.
Taxis in Bangkok are cheap, but everywhere else, including the islands they can be a little costly.
Generally my rule is avoid Tuk Tuks at all costs, they’re a pain in the ass to negotiate with and I’ve never ever managed to get a good deal.
Songtheaws are a good way to get around, known as ‘red car’ in Chiang Mai. They are my prefered budget method of getting around. Read more about them here!
Carly and I don’t really do tours, but sometimes they are a must to see some sights. Tours aren’t cheap, they range anywhere from 10 – 50USD. The prices are always shown in USD for some reason.
There is no shortage of agencies offering them for you to browse around and find the best deals.
Most hostels and hotels offer tours from their front desk but usually I find these more expensive than walking around.
The most expensive tour we did was to see some elephants at an ethical sanctuary in Chiang Mai. This was really expensive, cost 2,500 THB (£57)! But it was worth it, and a great experience.
How Much Did We Spend
Overall with everything included between us we spent just under £1500 for the two of us.
This averages out at just £45 a day.
We could have done it a lot cheaper, but then again we could have spent way more! We went a little overboard on the islands as we were in holiday mode!
From my experiences and from what people I have met have said a relatively ‘safe’ budget for Thailand is 1000 USD (£800) per person, per month.
Travelling as a couple does usually work out a little cheaper, sharing taxis, accommodation and the likes does help with the budget!
I know watching how much you spend isn’t all that fun, but with the above budget you will have too!
I hope you found this post helpful, if you have any questions regarding anything in particular feel free to contact us.