Budget Travel – Thailand
Thailand – one of the top attractions in world for budget travellers and backpackers is best known for it’s white sandy beaches, gorgeous islands, bustling cities and iconic temples. For a long time Thailand has been considered an affordable destination too. Let’s take a look at how much things cost in the southern islands of Thailand.
Thailand is probably the most touristy country we’ve visited so far so unsurprisingly the infrastructure is relatively up to date when it comes to payment options. Although you won’t be able to pay with your card everywhere, major supermarkets will accept cards and ATMs are easy to come by even in less touristy areas. Having said that, cash is by far the best way to pay for things – your ordinary Thai pancake stall will most certainly not have a card machine.
It is worth keeping in mind that ATMs will rarely allow larger than 20000 bhat withdrawals. The maximum we have been able to withdraw was 30000 bhat. Cash withdrawal from a foreign card will cost you a not insignificant 220 bhat (£1 = 42 bhat)
When we were developing a budget estimate for Thailand we expected a nice meal in an average restaurant to not cost more than £2 per person (or around 80 bhat). What we found was that in more touristy locations these sorts of prices are long gone. Below are prices of some of the most popular foods/drinks.
Big Water bottle 15-30 bhat
Meal (Curry) at restaurant 100-200 bhat. Rice will be 10-20 bhat extra.
Beer at a restaurant 60-80 bhat
Shakes (some fruits and a lot of ice/water) – 40-50 bhat
Smoothie (fruits, no water) – 80-100 bhat
Thai pancake (very popular) – 40-60 bhat
Although most of travellers opt for hiring a motorbike for exploring islands, bus services are the most popular for tours/trips/activities. The nice thing about bus services is that it is very common for passengers to be picked up from their hotel and returned back to the hotel as well. For island hopping you will most likely have to buy ferry tickets from one of the many travel agencies. We found it is a good idea to ask about bus/ferry tickets at your hotel as better rates might be available for existing customers.
Moto hire in Phuket/Koh Lanta 200-250 bhat per day
Gasoline 30-40 bhat per litre (bottles)
Generally bikes offer good value in islands where distances are more significant and traffic is not too hectic. For comparison, a short 20min taxi ride with Grab might cost you 3-4x the price of renting a bike for the whole day. We ran out of options once and paid 870bhat for our taxi.
Krabi to Koh Lanta – 250 bhat (minibus with hotel pick-up and hotel drop-off)
Phuket hotels to Airport – 700-1000 (private from South of Phuket island) or 200-300 bhat (minibus) if you buy tickets via a travel agency. Public bus operates in south Phuket as well. It might be worth exploring this option if you stay close to the bus route.
Koh lanta to phi phi – 300-350 bhat (boat)
Phi phi to Phuket – 300-350 bhat (boat)
Phuket rassada Pier transfer to hotel/airport – 200 bhat
We found that it is easiest to purchase Rassada Pier transfer tickets at the boat for 200 bhat instead of trying to wing it at the pier. The price difference will be insignificant even if you find a driver yourself. If you get unlucky you might end up stuck in the pier without any reasonable option for getting to Phuket town or your hotel.
Unlike taxi rides or food, prices of accommodation are very reasonable. We have been able to find places to stay for as little as £5 or $7 but it depends on what sort of deals you find online and how good you are at negotiating.
Budget hotel room Krabi – 250 bhat per night
Bamboo huts in Koh Lanta – 200-300 bhat
Hostel bed in Phi Phi – 250-400 bhat
Private en-suite room in a hotel in Phuket – 600-800 bhat
There is plenty to do and see in Thailand although be prepared to pay the price for some of the most popular attractions such as scuba diving!
Thai massage – 400-600 bhat depending on type of treatment and time.
Snorkelling – Boat tours available from 2000-3000 bhat but as we found there are lot of snorkelling spots that can be reached from the coast.
Maya bay / Bamboo bay boat day tour (phi phi) – 1500 bhat.
Scuba diving – 4000-6000 bhat for a day of fun diving typically. Open water course (3-4 days) will be around 14000-16000 bhat.
Visiting Thailand is still affordable although it seems that increasing numbers of tourists led to prices increasing significantly over the last couple of years.
We found that tours and activities are fairly pricey here, however to compensate for that, accommodation and getting around is not too expensive.
A quick example for someone coming to visit Thailand for two weeks from the UK (insurance excluded) could look like this:
Return Flights – £400 (at the moment there are direct flights on sale from London to Phuket for March 2019 starting from £139 one way which is insanely cheap)
Accommodation (budget hostel for 14 days) – £70
Food (14 days at 600bhat per day) – 8400 bhat or £220.
Transport – 1500 bhat for island hopping and 10 days of motorbike hire + fuel for an additional 3000 bhat – £110.
Sightseeing and Entertainment – a day of fun diving and a couple of snorkelling tours – 10000 bhat – £250.
Total – £1050 or around £75 per day all included.
Note: Double check if you need visa to enter Thailand. We got ours on arrival and it was free.