One thing I get asked a lot is how to budget for certain countries, and the truth is, everyone will spend their money differently, and want a different experience. Therefore it’s hard to say take and spend this amount, because some will spend less, some will spend more.
The good news about Thailand is that it is cheap, but don’t let that fool you into thinking you’ll hardly spend anything. You’ll still need a bed to sleep in, food and drink to live off, and I’m guessing you don’t want to be sat around doing nothing all day, and activities cost money. People kept telling me before I went to Thailand for the first time how cheap it was, so I didn’t budget, and I ended up spending a small fortune in the 4 weeks I spent there. My most recent trip to Thailand was the opposite. I went prepared, knowing roughly how much I wanted to spend, and I was surprised how little I spent in comparison to the first time I went.
I usually find it’s best to budget yourself before you go, based on what people have told you, and what you’ve read things cost, then look over it again once you’ve been there a couple of days, and you know how much stuff is costing you. Your budget may go up or down a little, but it’ll be more accurate, and therefore you won’t be left disappointed at the end of your trip.
Thailand is pretty sweet for accommodation. You can get a decent, modern, clean hostel for around 200 baht a night, depending what area of Thailand you’re staying in. The most I paid a night was 350 baht. 200 baht is the equivalent of around £4-£5, depending on exchange rates. I did see cheaper, but they were the kind of places I wouldn’t even let my dog sleep. But as I say, people are different. Some people would choose cost over comfort. Personally I don’t mind spending a couple of pounds more and getting a decent bed and shower.
Food and Drink
Again, different areas of Thailand, cost differently. The cheapest food and drink was in Bangkok. The most expensive was definitely in the South of Thailand, around the islands and in Krabi and Phuket. Food wise, it depends what you want. If you don’t mind taking the risk and eating street food, it’s pretty cheap, between 50-90 baht. If you’d sooner sit at a restaurant and know that you’re not going to get ill, then you’re looking at around 70 baht, up to 200 baht for a meal. It’s still cheaper than prices back home, so personally I always go for the restaurant option and luckily have never got ill.
Alcohol is pretty cheap in comparison to back home. In Bangkok, you can get a bottle of Chang (the local lager) for around 60baht. That’s just over a £1 for a bottle of beer. You can’t complain! As you do head further South in Thailand, I have seen Chang selling for 200 baht a bottle. But this has been in the big nightclubs, which aren’t so popular with backpackers anyway. Head to the cheaper bars, they are just as fun, and you get more of a backpacker vibe in them.
7 11, is your favourite friend in Thailand. Basically it’s their version of a local Tesco Express (if you’re from the UK). You can get cheap beer and spirits, which comes in handy when you’re in the South of Thailand and the bars are a little bit more money than Bangkok. Go there for your pre drinks. 7 11 is also great for toasties. They’re little bags that have toasties in them, and can be microwaved, usually kept in the fridge area. They cost around 20 baht, so great if you’re on the move, or if you don’t want to go to a restaurant, and don’t want to risk street food. They’re filling, and definitely addictive. They also help keep your costs down, which is handy when you’re in the South of Thailand.
The great thing about being in Thailand, is that you can barter on taxi/tuk tuk fares. Tuk Tuks don’t have a meter, so they will always give you a set price. Never settle for the first price they tell you. Always try knock them down. If they claim they aren’t budging, then just walk away and say you’ll go elsewhere, they’ll soon change their mind. Tuk Tuks in general, are usually more money than taxi’s. So if you’re trying to save money, then a taxi is for you. This is a bit harder in the South of Thailand, as they don’t have as many taxi’s, and it is mainly Tuk Tuks. If you do use a taxi, never agree on a set price. It’ll be way more, than if you just ask for it on a meter. It’s how taxi drivers make their money. They know they can get more for the fare. If they refuse to do it on a meter, just walk off. They don’t get angry, and some of them will even change their mind and agree to do it on a meter for you.
If you arrive at Suvarnabhumi Bangkok Airport, never go with one of the pre paid taxi’s on the top floor. Head down to the taxi rank on the bottom floor, and get a metered taxi. I asked to go to Khao San Road, and they wanted 1000 baht on the top floor. I went down to the taxi rank and got a metered taxi, and it cost me 250 baht. That’s 750 baht I saved, just by walking down to the next floor, which didn’t even take me 2 minutes. It all soon adds up!
There are plenty of activities in Thailand, and like everything else, it is quite cheap, but not as cheap as you think. Depending what kind of activities you want to do, depends on what you’ll be spending. My best advice is to research before you go for what you want to do. But don’t book anything before you go, wait until you get there. Ask people in your hostel if they’ve done any of the things you want to do, and ask them which companies they went with, and hear for yourself who’s good and who isn’t. Also sometimes hostels do special deals for their guests, so you may get it a little cheaper by waiting. There are tour companies on the streets that do set activities. Like taxi’s and Tuk Tuks, you can barter on the price and get it cheaper.
Overall I was spending around £40-£50 a day, which included my accommodation, food and drink, and activities for the day. Sometimes I could spend as little as £30, this is if the activities I chose were free, such as visiting temples, or hanging out at the beach. I was spending around £250 a week when I budgeted for my trip. The first time I went to Thailand, I was easily spending £500 a week, so definitely a huge difference and shows how important it is to budget!