Prices in Thailand: Can Your First Time Be Cheap?

Prices in Thailand, feature image
Hello Mister, massage? Tuk-tuk? Tuk-tuk? Pad Thai, good price, good price?
 How much will I spend on a tropical island? Is food really so cheap? How much is a hotel in Thailand? How can I save money during my first trip to Thailand?

I will answer all of these and more of your questions about daily and weekly budget, the cost of transport and accommodation. Are you ready to find out how much you’re going to spend during your first trip to Thailand?

Thai Baht THB rates

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THESE DAILY BUDGET BREAKDOWNS

1. Alcohol

If you’re going to drink a few pints of lager a day or purchasing booze buckets on tropical islands, you will spend a significant amount of money solely on alcohol. What do you need to know about prices of beer, spirits, and cocktails in Thailand? It’s all way more expensive than food! You can get a bottle of beer at a 7 Eleven for 50-60 THB, however, it can be as much as 200 THB for a pint in a western bar on a night out.

2. Accommodation in Thailand

And it’s a hard one because a low-budget shack or a mid-range hostel room can mean different things to different people. All accommodation prices in the breakdown below were air-coned double rooms with hot water and wifi in the rooms. If you’re traveling alone and want to spend as little as possible, you can get dorm beds for 200-400 THB.

For more information, you can visit our 15 Luxury Hotels in Bangkok with Swimming Pools Under $50 or go to our list of 10 Luxury Condos in Bangkok with Pool Access on Airbnb Under $50 and get a $27 USD discount if you register for Airbnb with our special link.

hotel room photo

If you’re staying in one place for a few days, try to get a lower price for the room.

3. Buying Souvenirs in Thailand

Our trip was six months long and traveling across Thailand was somewhere in the middle of the whole thing. We didn’t buy any souvenirs then, trying to keep our backpacks as light as possible. The daily budget breakdowns below don’t include any souvenir shopping, so keep that in mind. If you want to buy Thai gifts for all the guys in work, you will spend more money than us.




Disclaimer

Every daily budget report below will be followed by a category breakdown. It is because I think it’s important that you see the proportions between how much is spent on average on accommodation, food and drinks, shopping, transport and other, sometimes significant expenses.

I separated shopping for food at convenience stores from the food and drinks category. It is due to the fact that the food and drinks category is mainly used for restaurants, street food, and street vendors. In a way, it’s a category for food and drinks purchased in what westerners would call  ‘hospitality sector’ or ‘gastronomy sector’. The prices of food and even water or soft drinks are often different when you buy from street vendors than when you buy them at convenience stores or supermarkets. That’s where the category separation came from.

Thailand street food

HOW MUCH MONEY DO I NEED TO GO TO THAILAND?

What I want to start with is an average holiday week in Thailand. I figured our first week from the third visit to Thailand would be the best for that.

We landed in Phuket and after two days we went to Krabi to spend three days there. Both places are rather touristy spots, so the prices are considerably higher there than for example in the north of Thailand. The remaining time we spent exploring a small town of Surat Thani, slightly off the beaten track. During this week we spent 5 days in touristy areas, but also with two days away from the crowds.

We ended up in Surat Thani to get a boat from there to one of the islands on the west coast. Alternatively, you can take boats to the western islands from the port in Chumphon. Find out more from our 30-day in Thailand itinerary post.

First, I’d like you to take a look at this weekly report of our expenses in the first week in Thailand.

Week 1:
9.03 2088 THB Phuket
10.03 1078 THB Phuket
11.03 1529 THB Phuket to Krabi
12.03 2036 THB Krabi
13.03 1656 THB Krabi to Railey to Krabi
14.03 1256 THB Krabi to Surat Thani
15.03 1721 THB Surat Thani

—— weekly spend: 11364 THB
average daily spend for 2 people: 1623,42 THB
average daily spend per person: 811.71 THB

These numbers don’t make much sense now, but I wanted to introduce you to the average daily spend we had that week before we get to further analysis.

Now we will take a look at it day by day. The food, accommodation, the prices of transport in Thailand and any shopping you have to do at the beginning of your trip.

Every day is summed up with a few comments explaining why we spent how much we spent. I will also try to give you an idea how different (higher or lower) might be given expenses for you during YOUR trip.

The Setup Day

9.03. Phuket day 1
600 THB – accommodation
360 THB – mini van from the airport to Patong Beach
369 THB – sim card with internet data for 30 days
240 THB – shopping
80 THB – 2 coffees
110 THB – lunch
60 THB – Pad Thai
80 THB – Pork Noodle Soup
80 THB – 2 fruit shakes
109 THB – convenience store
—— 2088 THB for 2 people
— 1044 THB per person

Category breakdown:
600 THB – accommodation
360 THB – transport
410 THB – food and drinks
349 THB – shopping
369 THB – other expenses
—— 2088 THB

Day 1 of a trip to any country is usually the most expensive one.

Transport from the airport to your main area of interest usually isn’t the cheapest and then you might need to do a bit of shopping to get yourself started – a prepaid phone sim card with internet data, sunscreen, toiletries, etc. The good thing is once you spend this money on your first day, the stuff will probably last you for a couple of weeks until you have to do that kind of shopping again.

If you’re on a tight budget, you can skip this by not getting a data sim card or taking a public bus to your area of interest. It will be less expensive, but also considerably less comfortable.

Pad Thai in Thailand

A Rest Day

10.03. Phuket day 2
600 THB – accommodation
150 THB – breakfast
120 THB – convenience store
40 THB – fresh coconut
50 THB – grilled chicken leg
60 THB – Pad Thai
20 THB – fresh orange juice
25 THB – fruit shake
13 THB – water
—— 1078 THB for 2 people
— 539 THB per person

Category breakdown:
600 THB – accommodation
358 THB – food and drinks
120 THB – shopping
—— 1078 THB

Now this is an example of a regular chill-out day on the beach. No transport expenses, only food, and drinks. You can notice a portion of Pad Thai on Patong Beach – 60 THB and it was one of the cheaper options available. Now the fact is that off the beaten track and also even in Bangkok you can find a basic Pad Thai stall where a portion of noodles will cost you 30-40 THB. Of course, a portion of Pad Thai can also cost over 100 THB – for example on touristy islands such as Koh Phi Phi or Koh Tao. But this example should give you an idea how those prices may vary depending on your location.

A Transfer Day

11.03. From Phuket to Krabi Town
532 THB – accommodation
332 THB – taxi from Patong Beach to Bus Station (full price: 500 THB, but we had a third person)
240 THB – 2 bus tickets from Phuket to Krabi
60 THB – 2 songthaew tickets from the outskirts of Krabi to the town center
150 THB – 2 breakfast meals and 2 iced coffees
80 THB – 2 portions of noodles with spicy chicken curry
25 THB – fresh coconut
30 THB – roti banana pancake
40 THB – egg fried rice
40 THB – 2 x iced coffee
—— 1529 THB for 2 people
— 764 THB per person

Category breakdown:
532 THB – accommodation
632 THB – transport
365 THB – food and drinks
—— 1529 THB

This is a good example of a day where the cost of transport is higher than of any other expense. There was no other comfortable way of getting to the bus station quite far away from Patong Beach than to take a taxi. As it is in touristy areas, the taxi drivers have set prices for western tourists for transport to the airport or bus stations, therefore it was hard to haggle the price down. It’s funny how the taxi ride to the bus station was more expensive than the bus to Krabi Town.

This day is also a good indication to that if you’re planning on spending active two or three week holiday traveling from one place to another every two days, transport might cost you quite a lot.

img_6578-copy

An Active Day

12.03. Krabi Town day 2
535 THB – accommodation
200 THB – bike rental
100 THB – petrol
170 THB – 2 breakfast meals and 2 coffees
80 THB – 2 iced coffees
20 THB – pineapple
35 THB – iced cocoa and iced coffee
26 THB – 2 bottles of water
185 THB – 2 waterfall entrance fees + parking fee
170 THB – 2 lunch meals
140 THB – 2 dinner meals
75 THB – a pack of cigarettes
300 THB – shopping in Big C
—— 2036 THB for 2 people
— 1018 THB per person

Category breakdown:
535 THB – accommodation
300 THB – transport
641 THB – food and drinks
375 THB – shopping
185 THB – activities
— — 2036 THB

Woah, that’s a long list! You can tell we had a busy day!

Activities, entrance fees, parking, motorbike rental. You can also see a considerable amount of food and, especially, drinks. In hot Thai weather, it was really important to us to keep rehydrating.

We spent a lot of time on the bike in the scorching sun, so we didn’t save money on drinks. Iced coffees, big bottles of water; the shopping in Big C of 300 THB was also spent mostly on water and electrolytes. I have to admit, we were destroyed by the end of the day. Slightly sunburnt, but happy.

If you go on a two or three week intense traveling holiday in Thailand and you want to see and experience a lot, most of your days are gonna look like this one.

As you can see, a motorbike rental was only 200 THB per day, therefore considering that we spend ALL DAY on the motorbike, it was definitely worth it. It’s totally a better deal than using taxis or buses. And if you’re on a motorbike, you can stop anywhere you want to taste delicacies sold by the road or to admire all those great landscapes.




A Day Trip

13.03. Krabi (day spent on Railey) day 3
567 THB – accommodation
90 THB – 2 fresh coconuts
600 THB – 2 return boat tickets to Railey
160 THB – 2 lunch meals
49 THB – 3 bottles of water (1,5 L) and a soft drink
80 THB – 2 noodle soup
70 THB – 2 ice cream
40 THB – Pad Thai
—— 1656 THB for 2 people
— 828 THB per person

Category breakdown:
567 THB – accommodation
600 THB – transport
489 THB – food and drinks

If you’re nearby Krabi, you will probably want to go to Railey for at least one day. There isn’t much to do there unless you’re into rock climbing, so spending a day there should be enough. Relocating from Krabi to Railey just for one night is just too much hassle.

You can see the price of the return ticket for the long tail boat was 300 THB. Is that expensive? Considering that the boat ride takes about half an hour before you get back to Krabi, yes. But since Railey is one of the most famous beaches not only in Thailand but in the whole of South East Asia, then no. Definitely worth it to go there and check it out. I thought it was way more exciting than hectic, loud and drunk Phi Phi.

Again, a big chunk of our daily spend was food and drinks. We spent most of the day in the sun, that’s why so many bottles of water, soft drinks, ice cream and soups. We came back to Krabi sunburnt again, but it was an awesome day and I will remember it for the rest of my life.

coffee shop in Thailand

A Transfer Day #2

14.03. From Krabi Town to Surat Thani
465 THB – accommodation
60 THB – 2 tickets for public bus to Krabi Town bus terminal
300 THB – 2 tickets for air-con bus from Krabi Town to Surat Thani
150 THB – 2 lunch dishes and 2 iced coffees
50 THB – 2 roti banana pancakes
30 THB – noodle soup
36 THB – 6 pieces of sushi
20 THB – fresh orange juice
15 THB – Thai snacks on the market
50 THB – Pad Thai
55 THB – a bottle of beer
25 THB – iced coffee
—— 1256 THB for 2 people
— 628 THB per person

Category breakdown:
465 THB – accommodation
360 THB – transport
431 THB – food and drinks
— 1256 THB

A considerably lower price of accommodation automatically suggests we just hit an off-the-beaten-track terrain here. It was also the nicest hotel we’ve been to since we got to Thailand this time around.

Notice the low price of the public bus and the prices of food listed above. All of it is from Surat Thani. Suddenly a banana roti isn’t 30 or 40 THB, like in Krabi or Phuket, but 25 THB. Also, check out the price of the air-con tourist bus from Krabi Town to Surat Thani. The ride was about three hours and only cost us 150 THB per head.

Wanna save money? This is a great example. Stay in off-the-beaten-track areas where food and accommodation is cheaper. Use public transport to get to your main area of interest or rent a motorbike.

A Rest Day #2

15.03. Surat Thani day 2
465 THB – accommodation
300 THB – 2 haircuts at a high-end local Barber Shop
394 THB – shopping at Tesco’s (soft drinks, water, amenities, mosquito-repelling incense)
227 THB – shopping at a convenience store (snacks, 2 microwave meals, 2 toasties, soft drinks)
35 THB – grilled chicken leg
45 THB – fried noodle
25 THB – roti pancake
130 THB – 2 lunch meals
100 THB – a pair of sunglasses
—— 1721 THB for 2 people
— 860 THB per person

Category breakdown:
465 THB – accommodation
235 THB – food and drinks
621 THB – shopping
400 THB – other expenses
— 1721 THB

To end the week, we have a day where a lot of expenses come from our getting ready for a trip to Koh Tao island the following day.

Most products on the islands are nearly twice as expensive as on the mainland. And it also applies to accommodation. That’s why we decided to get some backup snacks in Tesco’s and at a 7 Eleven the day before. We also bought a mosquito repellent, a few bottles of soft drinks and water to take on the ferry the next day and avoid scary island prices.

I had to get an extra pair of cheap sunglasses on the market as I lost mine back in Krabi Town.

An unexpected decision cost us another 300 THB when we decided to get much-needed haircuts. The barber shop down the street looked really busy and cool, so we decided to give it a shot. A simple cut at a barber shop in Thailand can be however much cheaper or much, much more expensive. It always depends if you’re willing to try out a local barber or if you’d rather go to a posh salon in a fancy shopping mall in Bangkok.

Fruit and Veg Street Vendors in Thailand

What is the rule? How expensive Thailand really is?

If it’s your first visit to Thailand, you will probably want to check out some of the most famous (therefore more expensive) places in Thailand, so you will spend about 80 percent of your time in Thailand in those areas. Just like we did during that first week – six days in Phuket and Krabi and then a day and a half in Surat Thani.

As you can see there is a lot of factors coming into how much you can possibly spend in Thailand. Whether you’re in a tourism-booming place, like Phuket (or on the islands), a regular touristy spot like Krabi town, or an off the beaten track spot like Surat Thani. It will also have a massive difference whether you eat on the streets or at posh restaurants. If you stay at high-end hotels, Thailand can cost you hundreds or even thousands of dollars per day. But if you want, you can spend even less than us, even in those touristy places.

We usually aim at low budget options, however, if we want an iced coffee, we can pay 10 THB more for it. It would be silly to lose precious holiday time looking for hours for a local coffee shop in such tourism-oriented place as Phuket. Everything in moderation. Please make sure your holiday isn’t ruined by counting pennies.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to save money on transport? Motorbikes.

Motorbike rental can be a big factor in saving money on transport. Taking taxis or tuk-tuks to all points of interest would be a costly matter. Renting a motorbike for the day will also save you the trouble of looking for a trustworthy driver. It will as well give you the comfort and freedom to do everything in your own time.

Where to stay and not overpay?

We never wanted to pay for a room more than 700 THB. It was more than enough to get us an air-con room with wifi and hot water in all touristy spots, even Phuket, however – on Koh Tao we would pay 750 for a room with cold water, no wifi, and only a fan. This is how different prices are on the islands.

How expensive is Bangkok?

Even though it’s the capital, it’s so big it’s not hard to find a district a bit further away from the city center. where hotels are cheap and street food is available at regular prices. Wanna save money? Avoid the city center.

Have you got more questions? Leave them in the comments and we will keep updating this post with more answers!

Coffee Shop in Thailand

Owners of the coffee shop, excited to hear about our adventure shared some fab cookies with us!

Thailand in most cases can be as cheap as you NEED it to be if you’re willing to sacrifice a little bit of comfort and settle on low to mid-range conditions.

Remember,

This is how you can SAVE MONEY in Thailand:

1. You can save A LOT on accommodation. A fan room can be half price of an air-con room. A dorm will be even cheaper.

2. Street food and local restaurants. Pad Thai is just as good there but half the price of the one served in a touristy restaurant with free wifi.

3. Use public transport where you can. It’s pointless to overspend on luxury buses, especially if it’s a short journey.

4. Rent a motorbike. This is ALWAYS saving you money. No exceptions.

5. Avoid western chains. No Starbucks, no McDonald’s, no Burger King, no Subway. You honestly don’t need it in a country where fresh and healthy food and good coffee is being sold on every corner.

6. Cut down on the booze. It will be healthier for you, headache-free and also so, so much cheaper!

7. Being grumpy will cost you! Smile on the markets and take your time talking to the vendors. Haggle to get a better price and don’t overspend on your souvenirs!

8. Avoid TOURS and organized trips. Everything aimed specifically at western tourists will be more expensive than it should.

9. If you want to buy a souvenir, compare the prices of that same product at a few stalls first. You’d be surprised how much vendors sometimes overcharge when they sense you’re a newbie in Thailand.

10. REMEMBER that money is just money. Memories are forever. So if you do want that overpriced pizza on Patong Beach, you go for it, babe! No regrets!

Street vendor in Thailand

Only good things can happen if you approach people with a SMILE.

Thanks for reading PART 1 of our Guide to Prices in Thailand. Next guides – Prices off the Beaten Track and Prices on Tropical Islands. Make sure to like our Facebook fanpage, so you don’t miss new articles. Also, check out our review of a cat cafe CATURDAY CAFE in Bangkok!

Let me know in the comments below which sections should be expanded in this or the next guide!

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2 Responses

  1. 2nd October 2016

    […] higher prices and lower accommodation standards in proportion to our budget. You can check our Guide to Prices in Thailand to find out how much we spent during our backpacking […]

  2. 5th December 2016

    […] Here you can also check out our Guide to Prices in Thailand: Can Your First Time in Thailand Be Cheap? […]

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