Thailand is a very budget-friendly destination and you will almost always get a lot of bang for your Baht. But what’s a good budget per day for Thailand? Well, it depends on how you’re travelling. If you’re a digital nomad living in Thailand, you can take advantage of long-term rentals and keep costs low. If you’re backpacking around Thailand for two weeks, you should expect to spend a little more to make the most of your time in the country. Read on to find out how much it costs to travel in Thailand.
Thailand Travel Budget Per Day
We’re frugal travellers and we try to find long-term rentals to keep our travel costs down. That being said, we often enjoy mid-range restaurants and an expensive coffee or two! Our Thailand budget was 883฿ per day. That’s roughly $28 or £20.
Total cot for 1 month backpacking in Thailand (for a couple):
- Accommodation in private double rooms in hostels, local guesthouses and a short-term rental — 17,048฿ / $528 / £389
- Transport (including taxis, scooter rental and bicycle rental) — 4025฿ / $126 / £92
- Eating out — 12,439฿ / $385 / £285
- Groceries for eating in — 7116฿ / $220 / £162
- Coffee — 1676฿ / $52 / £38
- Beer and other alcohol — 530฿ / $16.50 / £12
- Activities — 3150฿ / $97 / £72
- Total Costs: 54,796฿ / $1698 / £1255 (for two people, equivalent to £627.50 per person)
- Thailand Budget Per Day: 883฿ / $28 / £20 per person
Average travel costs for our trip to Thailand:
- Accommodation in private double rooms in hostels and local guesthouses — 900฿ / $28 / £20.50 per night
- Accommodation in a short-term rental — 525฿ / $16 / £12 per night
- Taxis for transport — 70฿ / $2 / £1.60 per trip
- Eating a meal out — 100฿ / $3 / £2.30 per meal
- Coffee — 45฿ / $1.40 / £1 per cup
- Beer — 70฿ / $2.20 / £1.60 per bottle
Thailand Travel Costs Breakdown
Our Thailand travel budget covers the cost of accommodation for two, three meals per day, long-distance transport, local transport and activities.
International flights are not included in the budget, as the cost of flights would be very different depending on where you were coming from. Whilst flights from Malaysia to Bangkok can be as little as £30 / $40, a flight from London or New York would be much more.
If you’re thinking about living in Chiang Mai rather than travelling around Thailand, check out our blog post on the cost of living in Chiang Mai.
Here are the average costs in Thailand and our Thailand budget per day:
Where We Travelled in Thailand
Cost of Accommodation in Thailand
Budget accommodation in Thailand is easy to find. I spent a long time searching out budget options that had awesome reviews as I wanted to stay in accommodation owned by friendly locals. If you’re backpacking in Thailand, you can easily do Thailand on a budget by researching cheap accommodation. We find accommodation is our main expense when travelling, so this is an important area to pay attention to for budget backpackers.
Budget accommodation for a couple in Thailand is a double room with a fan and sometimes a shared bathroom. We always had hot showers in our rooms and sometimes had air conditioning. Our Thailand budget per day was £20 per person or £40 for a couple. We tried to keep our accommodation costs under £20 for a double room where possible.
|Luxx Silom||Bangkok||Bangkok was the only place where it was harder to find low-cost accommodation, which is to be expected. On our first few nights, we stayed in the smaller Luxx hotel in Silom. It was a good deal at 1150฿ / £24 per night. Breakfast not included.|
|Mooncome Homestay||Bangkok||The best budget option we found was this city-based homestay in a non-touristic neighbourhood. It’s located a couple of MRT stops away from all the things you want to see. We loved this accommodation and it cost us 848฿ / £19 per night. Breakfast included. (£25 off Airbnb here).
|Banilah||Chiang Mai||We found the best deals on accommodation in Chiang Mai. We were able to sleep in a private en-suite double room for as low as 450฿ / £8.20 per night at the friendly Banilah. Breakfast not included. (£25 off Airbnb here).
|Plern Plern Bed & Bike||Chiang Mai||We love Plern Plern Bed & Bike! It feels like a real home away from home. The owner is very lovely — she even remembered us when we came back two years later! We paid 899฿ / £20 per night, which included unlimited use of their bikes. We also got a better deal by staying for a week. Breakfast included.
|Chiang Dao Roundhouses||Chiang Dao||Chiang Dao was a fun weekend away for us, so we decided to book somewhere unique. We stayed at Chiang Dao Roundhouses, which are quirky and built to be sustainable. It cost 892฿ / £20 per night, but I’ve seen that in 2018 the price are now up to £30 per night. Breakfast included.
|Canary Guesthouse||Pai||Pai is a beautiful town surround by rice paddies in the mountains near Chiang Mai. We stayed at Canary Guesthouse next to the river. It’s only a 2-minute walk across the bridge into town but because it’s across the river it’s away from the noise of parties. A private cabin is ฿650 but it was closer to double for Christmas weekend. Dorms rooms are only ฿170 per night. Breakfast not included.
Cost of Eating Out in Thailand
Eating Thai food is one of the best things about Thailand! All of their food is so flavoursome, spicy, sweet, sour, salty and delicious. There are street food carts, eateries and restaurants to accommodate every budget. Whilst we mostly ate in low to mid-range restaurants, we did eat street food from time to time.
Expect to pay 60-100฿ for a meal in a restaurant. Traditional Thai dishes are always cheaper than Western style food. For the cheapest options, look for Thai curries and rice, stir fries and noodle dishes like pad Thai. Vegetarians should ask for the “vegetable” or “tofu” options. There’s often a vegetarian dish available in budget local Thai restaurants. Expect to pay more for pizza, pasta and sandwiches. If you’re in Chiang Mai, check out our favourite vegetarian restaurants in Chiang Mai.
You can easily eat a street food meal in Thailand for under 50฿. You can find vegetarian street food but it’s a little more tricky. If you are vegetarian or vegan, also be vigilant about the ingredients being used in your food (fish sauce often gets thrown in!) Snacks such as mango sticky rice, grilled corn, grilled bananas and fruit smoothies are easy to find.
Beer can be bought at most restaurants. The cost of a beer in Thailand is 60-80฿ for a local beer such as Leo, Chang and Singha. Leo is the cheapest of the three. Imported and craft beers are much more expensive and prices may be comparable to what you’re used to paying at home.
Cost of Long Distance Transport in Thailand
- Buses — Most of the time, we took the bus as this was the cheapest transport option. Be aware that buses aren’t always quick. Sometimes there will be delays with buses and the buses do not always run on schedule. However, buses are reasonably comfortable.
- Minivan — Another option for transport between towns is minibuses or minivans. You can take a minivan from Chiang Mai to Pai for 150฿ one-way. Minivans are more common on routes that go through the mountains, as the twists and turns in the road are not suitable for larger buses and coaches. Take motion sickness tablets before these journeys. Read more about our trip to Pai from Chiang Mai here.
- Flights — Internal budget flights are very affordable — we paid £50 / $67 for a return flight from Bangkok to Chiang Mair. You can often find good deals on this flight route. Flights can also be taken to Krabi and other beach destinations in the south of Thailand.
Cost of Local Transport, Scooters and Bicycle Rental in Thailand
- MRT and BTS trains — Bangkok is slowly but surely completing a modern subway system. We took the MRT and BTS trains whenever we could in Bangkok — it’s much better than being stuck in traffic.
- Tuk-tuks — Tuk-tuks are common in cities like Bangkok and Chiang Mai. The price of a tuk-tuk will vary depending on the distance you are travelling and how much traffic there is at that time of day. You need to haggle for a good price with a tuk-tuk driver. Pricing is inconsistent.
- Taxis and red trucks — Taxis are common everywhere, but taxi drivers can be difficult to deal with and again you need to barter for a decent price. In Chiang Mai, red trucks replace local taxis. It’s 30฿ for a trip anywhere inside the Old City and usually 80฿-100฿ for destinations further out of the Old City.
- Grab and Uber — These apps are very popular in Thailand and can save you a lot of money if you do not enjoy haggling. We often take Grabs and Ubers because it’s less hassle and you can be sure you’re getting a fair price. When divided by two people, the cost can work out the same or better than a taxi or tuk-tuk.
- Bike Rental — Bike hire is 50฿ per day or 1300฿ for the month for a ‘city bike’ (that means a crappy bike that’s good enough to get around town on).
- Scooter Rental — Scooter rental is around 300฿ per day or 3000฿ for the month. If you rent for two days you can get a deal at 500฿.
A bicycle or scooter is a generally a cheaper alternative to taking Grabs, Ubers, taxis or tuk-tuks. Bikes are perfect if you’re just looking to get around town but if you want to go further afield then a scooter is better. In Chiang Mai, we rented a scooter so that we could drive out to the mountains, go on day-trips and take a weekend road trip to Pai. Remember that if you’re stopped by the traffic police, they’ll fine you if you don’t have an International Driving Permit.
Cost of Activities in Thailand
- Beach days and swimming
- Parks and green spaces, such as Lumphini Park in Bangkok
- Weekend night markets and walking streets
Free Activities in Chiang Mai:
- Free Yoga in the park (every morning at 9 a.m.)
- Free hikes with Doi Suthep Walkers group
- Saturday and Sunday night markets
Popular Activities in Thailand:
- Cooking class — 1090฿
Our favourite activity in Thailand was a Thai cooking class. Our Thai cooking class cost 1090฿ per person for the day. We went to a full day class at the vegetarian and vegan-friendly Thai Farm Cooking School in Chiang Mai. The instructors were lively, the produce was fresh and organic, and we cooked great Thai food. If you’re into cooking, you’ll love it!
- Muay Thai class — 390฿
We had so much fun doing a beginner’s Muay Thai class at the SkyKick Gym in Chiang Mai. It’s 390฿ for a one-off class in a small group. There were just three of us in our class. The trainer was friendly and we all laughed together whilst getting a great workout. Muay Thai, also known as Thai boxing, is an important part of Thai culture.
- Muay Thai match — we went to a free one but these are usually ticketed
- Thai Massage — 200฿ for an hour
Thai massage is not just a way to relax. It’s thought of by the locals as an ancient healing system. Expect a very firm massage. I’m not going to lie, my massage was so firm it brought tears to my eyes on more than one occasion! 200฿ is the usual price for a full-body massage, but the price can go up or down depending on how back street or high-end you want to go. Traditionally, you remain clothed for a Thai massage and may be in the same room as other people. Some less reputable “massage parlours” sell a very different kind of service.
- Temples and Wats — usually a token entrance fee of around 60฿
Temples are everywhere in Thailand. As a sign of respect, you should wear trousers or a skirt that covers your knees and wear a top which covers your shoulders. Have a scarf handy to wrap around your legs if you’re wearing shorts. Do not take photos of the monks unless they have given their permission for you to do so. Be careful not to disturb the monks, especially as many monks are not allowed to speak with women.
- Elephant Sanctuary — 2500฿
Please only visit ethical elephant sanctuaries and do not ride elephants in any context. We didn’t visit an elephant sanctuary, but many people recommend Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai. This activity is one you should think carefully about if your Thailand budget per day needs to be kept low. However, it’s also worth considering that this money is used to support elephant sanctuaries in protecting and caring for the elephants.
Thailand has some fun, vibrant markets. Some markets are more touristy than others and prices vary between them because of this. If you’re sticking to a low Thailand budget per day, enjoy ambling around, soaking up the atmosphere and snacking on street food. If you’ve got a higher budget per day for Thailand, you can support local Thai people by buying their crafts.
Markets in Bangkok:
- Khao San Road – The backpacker hotspot in Bangkok. The market stalls there have higher prices than most other markets in Thailand.
- Chatuchak Weekend Market at Mo Chit – I loved this more local orientated market and it was unbelievably cheap. The locals we stayed with recommended this market to us. I bought most of my souvenirs and gifts for friends here. The market has everything.
- Rot Fai Ratchada Night Market – For something a bit different, try the colourful tent clad stalls at the Rot Fai Ratchada night market. This market is a little hard to find as it’s set back behind the shopping centre. It’s popular with the younger generations who come to drink beer and listen to live music.
Markets in Chiang Mai:
- Saturday Night Market – The Saturday night market is popular with locals and tourists. It gets busy, but it is not usually as busy as the Sunday market. Expect local food stalls and local crafts.
- Sunday Walking Street – The Sunday night market in Chiang Mai is huge and very similar to the Saturday night market. It’s definitely worth going to for the experience. It’s busy and crowded and you may not be able to move at times.
Markets in Pai:
- Pai Walking Street – Pai is only a small town but their night market is the best we went to in Thailand. They have excellent vegetarian and vegan street food, including an amazing Burmese tea leaf salad. Expect small trinkets and clothing, but the scale is not comparable to markets like Chatuchak.
Haggling in Thailand
You must haggle at markets in Thailand. Haggling is part of the culture in Thailand. Locals want to sell their goods for as much as possible. The sentiment is that an item is worth whatever a tourist will pay for it. Don’t ever accept the first price you’re quoted. I found that I could always knock about a third off of the original price by haggling in Bangkok’s markets. In Chiang Mai, vendors were usually much fairer on prices and I only needed to barter down 20-50฿ for most items.