Thailand has a reputation as a value for money destination. Is that true? How much money should you allocate for your holiday in Thailand?
A lot depends on how and where you intend to travel. Are you going for a short weekend break, two-week package holiday or going backpacking for a month or two?
Those days are long gone, when you could get a room in a luxury hotel for a dime. But still, in practice, where ever you go and what ever you do, your daily costs will be significantly lower in Thailand than spending a similar kind of holiday in Europe, US or Australia.
Budget for Backpacking and Flashbacking in Thailand
If you are on a tight budget, you can travel in Thailand easily on a budget of about 20 to 25 Euros a day. That would include accommodation in simple but neat inns and eating in street food stalls and inexpensive Thai restaurants. Moving from one destination to another will increase your costs.
You should double your budget if you plan to travel a lot around the country, eat Western food, party hard or do a lot of activities such as kayaking or snorkeling.
Diving will raise your costs even further. A dive trip with two dives will set you back about 50 Euros, depending slightly on where you will be diving.
On a rule of thumb can be said that with a budget of 1000 to 1500 Euros a month you can travel in ease flashbacker-style without having to worry much about your daily expenditures.
If you are a hardcore backpacker (or a Scott) you can survive with half of that.
Budget for Package Holidays in Thailand
Popular package holiday destinations are often the most expensive areas in Thailand with inflated prices on almost everything. Staying a couple of weeks in a busy beach resort such as Phuket, you will probably end up spending more cash than backpackers in much longer time even if your hotels have been paid already.
You will probably eat in more expensive restaurants and indulge yourself with massages and a cocktail or two in the evenings. In a fortnight a couple can easily spend 1500–3000 euros total for food, drink, excursions, taxis and shopping.
High Season, High Costs
There is a big difference if you travel on the high season compared to the low season. The busiest tourist season lasts from November to March. Hotels are most expensive during Christmas and New Year period. Additional costs come from expensive Christmas and New Year’s gala dinners that are often compulsory if you want to get a room from high-end and middle-range hotels.
During the hot season (April to June) and the rainy season (June to end of October) hotel prices drop.
The seasons also affect the prices of domestic and international flights. During the low season it is easier to find cheaper flights to Thailand and in the country.
Read more: Thailand’s weather and seasons
Cheap And Expensive Destinations in Thailand
The destination of your choice can have a big effect on your travel budget. The most expensive destinations are Phuket and Ko Samui, which gather mostly package and luxury tourists. Especially the taxi fares are expensive in both of the destinations.
For a package holiday Pattaya, on the other hand, is much more budget friendly destination compared to the above mentioned.
Also small islands like Ko Phi Phi tend to have higher prices on accommodation than beach destinations on the mainland. The reason is that all the food has to be transported from mainland to the islands, and the electricity comes often from generators.
The best value for money destinations are Northern Thailand and Isaan.
Save Money on Buses and Trains in Thailand
Buses and trains are both cheap ways to move around. A few hours of travel by bus will cost only a handful of euros. Night trains are inexpensive as well: for example, a long journey from Bangkok to Chiang Mai on a sleeping coach will set you back less than 20 euros.
Spending the night in a train or a bus you will save the price of one night’s accommodation. So, in a way, you will be traveling for free.
You can check here Thailand’s train time tables and fares.
Prices of Boats in Thailand
Traveling by boats and ferries cost much more than land transportation in Thailand. Taking a speedboat or long-tail boat from one island to another will cost you around 15 to 20 euros. So, keep in mind that island hopping is often much more expensive than traveling by land between the same places.
How to Find a Cheap Flight in Thailand?
Thailand’s domestic flights can be surprisingly cheap. If you book your tickets well in advance, a single ticket within Thailand costs usually around 50 euros. And you can find special offers that set you back even less. Nok Air and Air Asia tend to be the cheapest airlines. Thai Air and Bangkok Airways are most expensive.
Tickets to less well-known destinations are often cheaper than to the most popular ones. For example, if you are going to Ko Lanta, it is usually cheaper to fly to Trang than to Krabi, which both are about the same distance from the island.
The most expensive domestic flights are to Ko Samui, whose airport is owned by Bangkok Airways, which keeps the prices high with its monopoly.
How Much Does a Guesthouse Cost?
You’ll find the cheapest accommodation in little known destinations. For example, in Northern Thailand’s small towns you can easily find a guesthouse for five euros a room. However, in popular island destinations like Koh Phi Phi you will have hard time to find a room for less than 20 euros.
You will save on lodging, if you share a room with someone. Keep in mind, though, that most of the bargain inns have only double beds (no twin beds).
If you want to save money on accommodation in beach destinations, look for guesthouses that are located a little bit away from the beach. They are usually significantly cheaper than the ones directly on the beach.
Eat Cheap in Thailand
Street food is cheap everywhere in Thailand, and a meal on the streets won’t cost you more than an euro. Small local style restaurants are cheap too, if you order Thai food (dishes around 3–5 euros), but western food costs usually twice as much (dishes from 5 to 10 euros).
The most expensive places to eat are fine hotels and elegant restaurants, where food might cost close to European prices.
You can easily drink a big hole to your travel budget, since beer is relatively expensive compared to food. Drinking beer easily doubles the price in of a meal. If you want to save money, drink cheap local booze like Mekhong or Sang Song rice whiskies.
Should I Rent a Motorcycle?
Renting a scooter is the most affordable way to go around in Thailand’s towns and beach destinations. You will pay four to six euros a day for the rental and another euro or two for gas.
Using taxis or tuktuks will quickly become more expensive than driving on your own. Money-wise renting a motorcycle makes a lot of sense – just remember to drive safely (motorbike accidents are all too common with foreigners in Thailand).