Fascinating cultural attractions characterize Thailand, whether it’s the bustling city of Bangkok or the teeming tropical islands.
If you’re into the water sports scene, check out Pattaya. Alternatively, you could want to party ’til your pants turn purple, so you should make your way to Bangkok! Looking for more of a relaxed vacay where you can unplug? Stop by Phuket.
There’s a spot that’ll suit everybody in Thailand. And the best part? This unique slice of Southeast Asia is as budget-friendly as it gets!
Brimming with one of the most significant backpacker scenes across the globe, thousands of travelers flock here for cheap eats, stays, and activities. So, how much does a trip to Thailand cost, and how can you make your dollars count?
Here’s the ultimate guide to Thailand budget travel. Let’s roll!
Why Visit Thailand
Having emerged as an exciting exotic destination, Thailand is known for its lush landscapes, turquoise beaches, ancient temples, and colorful culture. This country has a lot to offer backpackers and budget-conscious travelers.
From affordable flights and transport to spicy street food and dollar-saving happy hours, traveling through Thailand can easily be done on a budget.
Whatever type of trip you’re planning, now’s the time to whip out your notepad. Let’s dive into all the details!
Go for Budget Accommodation
Go for gold! Thailand’s budget travel just keeps getting better and better. And when it comes to budget accommodation, you are spoiled for choice! Save yourself the hassle of searching around with these hostels in Bangkok and areas to stay in Phuket.
The ideal way to save money on accommodation is by booking a dorm in a hostel. You can find beds for as little as $7.50 per night. However, the price will usually be a bit higher if you want extras like air-conditioning or a private bathroom.
When planning budget travel in Thailand, don’t dismiss all accommodation options. While hostels are the go-to, you can consider options like camping in national parks. With rates going for as little as 0.90 cents per person, this is a suitable option for budget travelers.
Eat Local Food in Thailand
Calling all foodies! Thailand is jam-packed with street vendors, markets, and affordable restaurants. To make your dollar count, stick to eating street food. Here is some of the most popular Thai street food:
- Pad thai – fried noodles
- Khao niao mamuang – sticky rice with mango
- Pad krapao moo – stir-fried pork with basil
- Khao man gai – chicken and rice
- Jok – rice porridge
- Moo ping – grilled pork
- Pad see ew – wide rice noodles
- Som tam – papaya salad
Suppose you do choose to eat out in Bangkok. In that case, you’ll still be paying a much cheaper price for food when compared to other popular tourist destinations like Europe or the United States. From pad thai specialties to rainy season-inspired restaurants, check out this ultimate Bangkok restaurant guide.
If you’re partying in Thailand, you can score budget-friendly beers at 7-Eleven. What? Yes, you read that right. The notorious 7-Eleven offers drinks up to 50% cheaper than standard bar prices.
If going out to a bar is a non-negotiable, take advantage of happy hour. You can lock lips with half-priced drinks, 2-for-1 offers, and discounts on shots too.
Choose the Right Time to Travel
When planning budget travel in Thailand, booking during the low season is essential. Prices for accommodation, transport, flights, and activities tend to skyrocket from November to March. These are the driest months in Thailand, so the temperatures are more appealing to the masses.
July to September and April to June are generally the cheapest times to visit Thailand. These low seasons boast significantly more affordable accommodation.
Plan Your Thailand Itinerary
When planning your Thailand itinerary, it’s essential to think like a local. Get into the mindset of how the typical Thai travels. Consider taking local buses, drinking Thai beer, and eating street food too.
A big part of organizing any travel itinerary involves budgeting. Generally speaking, the most significant chunk to come out of that budget is your flights and accommodation. Air travel in Thailand can be pretty affordable, especially if you book with a budget airline.
To help wiggle some more room into your travel budget, consider whether it’s cheaper to fly into nearby Singapore or Kuala Lumpur, then catch a connecting flight to Thailand. Sometimes, this trick can end up saving you hundreds!
If you’re planning to travel to Thailand on a budget, here’s a guide on approximated daily costs:
- Accommodation: $7.50 –$ 25
- Street food: $5 - $15
- Activities: $40 - $60
- Motorbike hire: $4.50 - $9
If you’re planning a 7-day trip to Thailand, you could enjoy each day with a budget maximum of $100 per day.
Use Public Transportation
Thailand is the land of high-speed trains, questionable tuk-tuks, and roaring traffic. The best way to experience Thailand like a local, and to save some dollars, is by traveling on public transport. Local buses can cost as little as 0.25 cents!
Local tip: If you are adamant about catching a taxi, ensure they are using the meter. It’s not uncommon for travelers to get ripped off by taxi drivers. You can avoid a nasty fee by insisting on using the meter!
When you arrive at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport, avoid catching a cab at all costs. You can jump on the budget-friendly Airport Rail Link that links with the downtown Skytrain and MRT network too. This inexpensive option is fast and affordable, and it’s the best to travel from the airport.
Sharpen Up Your Bargaining Skills
If you’ve never bargained in your life, I understand that the thought of it alone can be enough to make you steer clear. Bargaining is a big part of Thailand’s culture and an absolute must for budget travel. And hey, what’ve you got to lose by trying, right?
Here are some top tricks for bargaining in Thailand:
- Enter with a smile and greet the vendor. First impressions are always critical!
- Decide a reasonable price first, and then start by bargaining at a lower price.
- Look around in various stalls and markets to find the best deal.
Enjoy Free Attractions in Thailand
Topped with too-good-to-be-true natural scenery, Thailand is home to lush jungles, stunning national parks, and beautiful beaches. Most of these are completely free for you to enjoy at your leisure and won’t put a dent in your travel wallet!
In Thailand, there are tens of hundreds of free things to do. Budget travel is made easy when you’re in a country like this, with endless markets, parks, and activities on offer. Here are some of the best free things to do in Thailand:
- Lumpini Park
- Chatuchak Market
- Khaosan Road
- Rod Fai Market
- Bangkok Art and Cultural Centre
- Pak Klong Talad flower market in the Old Town
- Erawan shrine
- Jesada Technik Museum
- Muay Thai at MBK Center
Booking it on the spot offers more affordable prices and gives you a chance to practice your bargaining skills. And this is all part of the experience, right?
Eclectic Islands, Exquisite Food, Extreme Nightlife, and Beyond!
Crowned with cultural landmarks, lively cities, and unique festivals, Thailand is teeming with top-notch things to do. With budget-friendly accommodation, transport, and food prices, this part of Southeast Asia is a backpackers’ oasis!