The main reason I love to travel in Asia is because it is affordable and the value for money is the best in the world. I have managed to stay on the road for 4 years without working a single day, so I can understand people keep on asking me the same question over and over again. How do you afford to travel? Then I explain them, traveling does not have to be expensive. So their next question always is: how much does a trip to Thailand cost for example…
How much does it cost to go to Thailand?
I don’t like to say traveling in Thailand is cheap as in my opinion it can be offensive to use that term. What in your terms might be cheap can be expensive for others. If you earn $10 a day and a meal cost $1 it is definitely not a cheap meal! For us Western people hardly anything in Asia is expensive, but don’t put a spell on it in public. It is a common mistake tourists always make when they buy something that is way cheaper than in their home country. I hate it when people talk out loud: ‘WOW THAT IS SO CHEAP’! Are you stupid? First of all you may offensive the seller, second if I were selling you something the next time you would come I would charge you way more!
Cost of living in Thailand
Like in every country around the world if you want to play hard you can. Thailand is no exception and I can help you finding a club where a cocktail cost you $20, no problem. But what most people want to know is: cost of LIVING in Thailand. There is a huge difference between being on a holiday and daily splurging and travel around Thailand. Live like a local then the next is what a trip to Thailand cost.
Prices in Thailand
Yes there are cheaper places nowadays (India, Nepal) and the mass tourism that is hitting Thailand is definitely not helping either but budget travel in Thailand is still very easy to find. Prices in Thailand are definitely on the rise, but isn’t that the same in every country? Note: 35 THB = 1 USD approximately.
The beer price is a great benchmark. Where you could still find a beer for 40 baht a couple years ago, you will now pay a minimum of 70 baht. Imported wine is pretty expensive compared to local wines and expect to pay 120 Baht for a glass of wine. Spirits can be really cheap. A bottle of 500ml Thai rum or Thai whiskey will cost you only a 100THB. Unfortunately the beer price will change some day soon as they plan to tax the beer with 150% of what it is now… to be continued! In huge contrast with this are the famous rooftop bars in Bangkok or the popular night clubs in Phuket or Koh Samui where cocktails can cost up to $25 USD. Curious which rooftop bar in Bangkok is affordable? Read about it in my blog 10 things to do in Bangkok.
The famous banana pancakes used to be 35 Baht but now went up to 50 Baht. I always thought street food is not affected that much but even a Pad Thai went up 25% from 40 to 50 Baht and bags of fruits are not the standard 15 or 20 anymore either. But on average prices for a meal wont be more than 120 Baht and that is including rice. Dining in a nice restaurant wont break the bank either as prices of traditional Thai food will never go above 250 Baht.
Thai food is of course one of the things I miss about Thailand, read all 19 things here!
Prices in Thailand for accommodation can be surprisingly affordable as there is endless competition. If you are looking for the cheapest dorm bed you will find one all around country for just as much as $5. As a solo traveller that sometimes does the job, but if you are travelling on a larger budget, midrange hotels are very nice and will cost only about $25 - $45 per room. How much does it cost to go to Thailand if you want to stay in a 5 star hotel? Surprisingly it can be really affordable. In Bangkok you can find a 5 star hotel room for less than $100, check out my blog about 4 great luxury hotels in Bangkok or check out Agoda for the best deals.
Finding someone who drives you around is fairly easy to find and it comes down to your bargaining skills how much you are going to pay. Avoid Tuktuks, they are for those tourists that scream out loud: ‘wow that is cheap’! LOL :)
Expect to pay for everything nowadays, as Thai people try to make the most out of the tourism industry and I cant blame them. It is a little tiring but the fee asked for is always a very small amount. Temples are accessible for a penny. Don’t get upset paying for everything. Have you been to Australia? I lived in Sydney for a while and I can tell you nothing is free in Australia. Let me tell you the reality about the Australian Dream: Working Holiday Visa.
Thailand is the number 1 party destination in South East Asia and a lot of money of travellers is ‘wasted’ on alcohol. The good thing is that most parties and clubs don’t charge an admission fee. If you go island hopping in Thailand you most probably end up with your toes in the sand every night, parties on the beach are always free! Now you of course want to know how much the famous Full Moon Party in Thailand cost: 100 THB, less than $3. Tickets for the Half Moon party however will set you back $30. You can already guess which party is better! Let me guide you with my blog To Full Moon or Not to Full Moon.
If we are talking about the cost of living in Thailand we cant of course not forget about a Thai massage. When in Thailand a massage is a must do. Some people might think it is a bit dodgy but the cheaper it gets, the less is going to happen! LOL. Don’t worry for 250THB for an hour massage no one is going to touch you somewhere you don’t want! ;) If you are looking for a fancy place expect to pay around 500 THB or more.
There are so many tour agencies that the general prices for tours are very moderate. You will already find island hopping Thailand trips for $15 including a lunch. Apart from the boat trips I would recommend you to do it all yourself. Going around in Thailand is very easy. Tours can be booked everywhere, just try to see a couple different agencies and compare prices. Again: a trip to Thailand cost you just as much as you want to spend!
When in Bangkok use metered taxis only or even better hop on the back of a motorbike. They will drop you everywhere within 30 minutes and ask maximum $4. On islands try to rent your own motorbike for about $4 a day, read more about it in my Koh Tao motorbike rental article to not get scammed. Everywhere you can try to use Uber for local transport as taxi drivers are just like anywhere else in the world mostly the ones who try to rip you off! For long distance transportation first search for cheap domestic flights. If you are lucky you will find them for as less as $25. Taking an overnight bus from Bangkok to Chiang Mai is only 600 Baht, a bus/boat combi ticket to the islands in the South is around 1000 Baht. Boat tickets from one island to another are about $8 - $15. Want to get on the road yourself then please stay safe. Read here all my driving in Thailand tips.
If you want to bring home souvenirs for friends and family you will find plenty cheap stuff. I never waste my money on these things to be honest so I can’t really tell you that much about it. Prices in Thailand are way lower, but the quality often is not what you expect. At least try to haggle about the price it is part of the culture, locals wont be offended if you do.
So in general how much does a trip to Thailand cost?
On average I would say I spent about $700 to $1000 a month. I have been multiple times now and know my way around. It is more like I visit Thailand rather than I travel. I mostly visit the islands, but I limit it to two islands per month, so my travel costs are down to a minimum. Besides I don’t party every day, but rather drink a couple beers at sunset! I also dive for free as I am a certified PADI Divemaster. On top of that I like to explore on a motorbike and hike to viewpoints, which obviously is free! I have been to the country of smile many times and have been to all the touristy islands, let me help you plan your trip with my ultimate guide for island hopping Thailand. Let me know if you have any specific questions and I will try to help you!
What is your experience with prices in Thailand? Did the cost of living in Thailand surprise you? How much did your holiday to Thailand cost you? Tell me about it, I am curious.
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