If you’re visiting Thailand, there are ways to make the most of your money. Here are some tips to travel on a budget in Thailand.
Thailand is on many travel bucket lists, in part for being cost-effective. The white, sandy beaches, the rich cultural heritage, the mouthwatering food, the lively nightlife—all of those and more can be yours for a relatively low price.
However, if the wallet is looking a little tight, we’ve gathered all the local insights and tips on how you can make the most of your trip in Thailand while being on a budget. No need to spend like a king to be treated like one.
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10 tips for travelling in Thailand on a budget
1. Avoid the taxi if you can
It’s not that uncommon to find taxis that will charge exorbitant prices, especially during rush hours, heavy rain, or going to and from popular tourist destinations. Make sure every taxi you jump into uses the meter like they’re supposed to, and be wary of those who detour from the fastest route to drive up the meter.
Check if your destination is near the MRT or the BTS. These public transportations may offer a cheaper method of getting to your destination, but note that it gets very crowded during rush hours.
Buses are the cheapest, although you will need plenty of planning as there routes can be quite complicated. We recommend downloading the ViaBus app beforehand to help.
2. Stay a bit away from the urban sprawl
Some areas in Bangkok are more popular than others when tourists look for accommodation. The Old Town, along the river, or any of the Greater Bangkok districts offer more budget-friendly rooms. Staying in Sukhumvit area means you’ll be close to many food spots, shopping malls, and nightlife venues. Those things also mean the prices will run a bit higher.
Consider looking at accommodations that may not be near attractions, but are near the BTS or the MRT. Stations such as Sanam Pao and Onnut don’t really have anything much to visit, but heading somewhere from there won’t take much time.
3. Travel during the low season
Fun fact: Thailand is not the most popular destination between April to May, and July to September. It will be easier and cheaper to book flights and find accommodation during this time as more rooms are available. Still, there’s a reason why it’s not popular to travel to Thailand during this time of year. April to May are the hottest months, so pack your sunscreen and portable fans. July to September is monsoon season, which makes it significantly harder to travel around the city.
4. Dine at local places
By local, we mean really, really local—the ones down the street with all the menus in Thai language. A good krapow with rice and topped with fried egg will cost around THB 60 (even less outside of Bangkok), and you can point at the pictures on the walls to order. Street food is also the way to go if you’re looking to try multiple things in one meal.
You might want to prep a handful of Thai phrases to order, ask how much something is, and saying thank you. You’ll find most Thais adoring foreigners who try to speak the language, even if it’s not perfect. Local places also tend to prefer cash, and rarely take card payments, so keep this in mind.
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5. Avoid stores with no price tags
In contrary to the 2011 pop hit by Jessie J, one should not forget about the price tag. If a stall doesn’t list their price, they’re most likely giving out different prices for different people.
You can ask and try to bargain, but it’s most likely best to just keep walking until you find another stall. Chances are you’ll find another selling similar items in no time.
6. Haggle (where appropriate) for a decent price
Especially during your first trip to Thailand, it’s hard to resist the thrill of a tuk-tuk ride around town. While they’re not exactly the cheapest, it’s definitely a fun way to get to your destination. What you want to do is to make sure they know where exactly you are going to, and negotiate a good price. Once you get a price that feels acceptable for you, then you jump in. Whilst haggling isn’t that common in Thailand anymore, it is still very much common practice when it comes to tuk-tuks.
7. Visit free attractions in Thailand
There are many things to do and places to visit in Thailand that are completely free of charge. In Bangkok, take relaxing walks in parks (Lumphini Park, Benjakitti Park, Chatuchak Park), or visit museums (Bangkok Arts and Culture Centre, National Museum Bangkok, Erawan Museum), all free of charge. Most temples charge a very small fee for foreigners to enter, though you can likely find smaller temples that allow you to enter free of charge. The famous Wat Saket allows you to visit the sanctuary for free, but has a THB 50 fee if you want to walk up the Golden Mount.
It’s not just in Bangkok, either. Visiting Jomtien Beach and the Big Buddha Temple in Pattaya doesn’t cost anything, and hitting beaches in the South is also free.
8. Take advantage of happy hours (and generally cheaper nightlife)
When you’re out to get something to drink, Thai beers are much cheaper than imported ones. Many restaurants and bars also offer generous happy hours, so those already-cheap beers come even cheaper. There’s various reasons why people flock to Khaosan, and one of them is how budget-friendly the drinks can be. If you’re willing to drink from buckets, you could get smashed for around THB 400.
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9. Get acquainted with 7-Elevens
You can stock up a lot for cheap in the 7-Eleven convenience stores everywhere in Thailand. They’ve got snacks, convenience foods, hygiene products—you name it. It’s a great spend if you don’t feel like going anywhere and decide to spend some me-time in your room.
And if you haven’t tried the 7-Eleven toasties, you’re in for a good time.
10. Travel with overnight trains
Kill two birds with one stone with this trick. Trains are, of course, a cheaper alternative to plane tickets when travelling domestically, and they come extra cheap if you travel during night time versus day time, making it one of the best ways to travel through Thailand on a budget. Plus, it saves you money on a night of accommodation. Just sleep as the train runs, then wake up and suddenly you’re in Chiang Mai. Budget-friendly travel in Thailand done right.