Overview Thailand is absolutely my favorite country I have ever been to. With amazing beaches, mountains, rivers, temples, food, and markets, Thailand makes a great choice for anyone. It is also a budget travelers dream with cheap food, accommodation, day trips and more, Thailand can be easily enjoyed for between $30-$50 per day.
Food-Thailand has some of the best and cheapest food options in the world. For about $1 you can eat at any of the street food stalls offering fresh fruits, curries, noodles, salads, and barbequed meats. Western meals will run you $5-$10 per meal.
Drinking-The key is to drink the local options. A 750ml bottle of Thai rum or whiskey will cost you between $6-$9 where as imported vodka or wine will run you $25+. Domestic beers such as Chang, Leo or Singha are $1-$1.50, or opt for the famous Thai bucket drink of coke, rum and red bull for $6.
Accommodation-Depending on the season and location, guesthouses are on average between $7-$15 for a single bed/dorm or $15-20 for a double occupancy private room. Here, timing is key; travel in the rainy off-season from May to August and rates can be 50% lower. However, during the peak season from December to February or during specific festivals, rates can rise 25% and up. Air conditioning will also increase costs so if you are on a budget, opt for a fan only room.
Activities-Day trip/tours typically range between $12-$30 depending on level of adventure, if transport is included, etc. Admission to temples and national parks range from $2-$6, unless it is the Grand Palace, which costs $15. See list below for top things to do.
Transportation- In the city, Bangkok MRT Metro or the BTS Sky Train cost .50-$1.50 each way or $5 for an all day unlimited sky train pass, great for self touring around Bangkok hot spots. Cabs typically cost $2-$4, or opt for the colorful three wheel tuk-tuk’s which are often faster and more fun, but cost $4-$7. Trains range in price depending on distance and comfort. Day trains are cheaper and are a great way to take in the scenery; however if traveling long distance, I highly recommend the night sleeper trains. The second-class sleeper is a bunk bed with lines, for about $15-20 and doubles as your accommodation and transportation, saving you money and time. Ferries to the popular islands cost $7-$15 and can be purchased at the train/bus station or at most guesthouses. Cheap flights are often a fast and convenient way to travel with flights on airasia.com averaging $20-$30.
Visa –Thailand offers a free 30-day tourist visa upon arrival if by plane, or a 2-week visa arriving over land. If staying for longer, it is possible to get a visa for 3 months and up for $60+ depending on purpose of travel and if you have documentation for work.
Top Things to Do
Bangkok- amazing food, clubs, shopping, markets, temples, ……Bangkok has it all landing it the title of my favorite city in the world.
Ayutthaya- Ancient Temples dating back to the 1300’s and is great day trip 1.5 hrs from Bangkok. Do as the locals do, and take the open-air train from Hualongpong Station to Ayuttaya ($1) and enjoy some great people watching, scenery and a good cold beer on the way.
Kanchanaburi House Boats-Although famous for the Tiger Temple and the historical Bridge Over the River Kwai, Kanchaburi is actually home to my favorite river accommodation. From luxury air-conditioned rooms to budget bungalow styles, the river is scattered with awesome floating houseboat accommodation.
Take a Train-Train travel is a great way to see the countryside or save time by traveling long distances overnight. It beats the bus and provides a more authentic travel experience too.
Scuba Diving-Both the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea offer world class diving as affordable rates. Don’t have your certification, no problem. Head to Koh Tao for a 4 day PADI open water certification program including accommodation for $300.
Island Hop –With convenient daily ferries running between most islands, island hoping makes a great way to enjoy a couple weeks soaking up some sun.
Full Moon Party- Flaming jump ropes, neon body paint, and large cheap buckets of alcohol combined with thousands of people dancing on the beach? If you can make it out to the island of Koh Phangan, the famous monthly Full Moon Party is worth the experience.
See a Muay Thai Fight-The atmosphere of these traditional fighting matches is a must see on your trip to Thailand. For $10-$15 admission, you experience this ancient art. Lumpini Park in Bangkok has a fight every Friday night and is the perfect location for some after fight street food and drinks.
Drink the water (offered at the street food stalls/restaurants) –In a country as hot as Thailand, drinking a lot of water is must, however, it can also put a dent in your budget. Thai people don’t drink their tap water either, so the water served in the tableside pitchers is filtered, delivered daily, and either free or extremely cheap. This goes for the ice as well, so don’t worry and save money.
Insist Taxis Use the Meter-Although not always possible, try your best to find a taxi with a meter. Not only will the unmetered cabs cost you double, they are illegal and illegitimate businesses.
Don’t give your passport as collateral-Although this seems like common sense, a lot of motorcycle, jet ski, or even hotels want to hold your passport as collateral. This is never a good idea! Your passport is probably the most important article you have while traveling. Always offer a reasonable cash deposit and or a copy of your passport instead.
Coconuts are the best hangover cure-With more potassium and electrolytes than a banana and a Gatorade combined; a coconut is like liquid gold after a night of drinking.
Buy Alcohol at 7-Eleven –I know, I feel bad even writing this because I am all about supporting local however, in most circumstances the beer at 7-Eleven is 25% cheaper.
Carry Toilet Paper- Even a pinch of toilet paper can save your life, in a country that embraces spicy food and paperless squat toilets. Gross I know, but after a couple close calls, this is some important advice.
Use protection-Use condoms! Sex is a common occurrence among travelers, but in Thailand, there are some additional factors to think about besides getting a nasty STD. Ladies-anti malaria medicine makes birth control pills ineffective and abortions are illegal in Thailand. Boys-condoms stretch, don’t give the excuse that the Thai condoms don’t fit or that the Thai girl you took home last night wasn’t a hooker, you just gave her money to be nice. I am all about the love, just be safe so you don’t ruin your trip or more.