Everyone who backpacks around South East Asia will visit Thailand at least once on their trip. And those who do instantly fall in love with the country for budget-friendly travel and the range of activities and experiences. You may be on a shoestring, but you’ll find travelling here to be very affordable. Even renting a house in Thailand isn’t as expensive as you may think. Here’s everything a backpacker needs to know about visiting Thailand on a budget.
Planning the Trip
If you’re serious about saving money while spending an extended period in Thailand, don’t just turn up and go with the flow. The further north, the cheaper it gets. And, likewise, when you go south to the islands, the prices go up. Bangkok is neither expensive nor inexpensive. What this means is budget travellers should plan to spend more of their in the north visiting places like Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai. And plan to pass through Koh Samui and Phuket a little bit faster than most. If you do, your bank balance will thank you. The money you save could be spent on new experiences or spending an extra few days in the country.
Finding the Best Place to Stay
Finding a cheap bed for the night is more of the rule than the exception, especially in Bangkok. Hostels offer a place to sleep for less than $20 per night on average. It may be much less in cheaper parts of the country. There are two ways to find a hostel: either book online before you come or ask around when you have your feet on the ground. Online bookings are more convenient while asking in person may land a discounted price on a last minute reservation, especially when the hostel isn’t busy.
If you want a bit of luxury, you can choose between a hotel, resort, Airbnb or finding a vacation rental. The best time to get a deal is during the low season, which corresponds to the rainy season between April and September. Contact the place directly and ask if they’re willing to give you a discount. You never know how lucky you may be.
Alternatively, if you’re travelling as a group, each person can chip in a small amount to get a beautiful beachfront property for a few days. The overall cost may be quite high, but it becomes very affordable when shared between five or six people. Everything from beachfront villas to large houses become surprisingly affordable when you plan the right way. And if you’re travelling alone, who knows, you may meet some new friends along the way to share the price.
Most of the attractions in Thailand come with a hefty admission fee, especially Bangkok’s Royal Palace. And if you plan to go sightseeing and visit all the must-see attractions, the price will gradually accumulate over a few days burning a bit hole in your pocket. The best thing to do is to plan and find out admission fees for the places you want to visit. Then, decide which ones are worth the price and which ones aren’t. Prioritise and save more money.
For places like the Royal Palace, you could just walk around and take photographs without actually going inside. The same is true for many other attractions. And not to mention Thailand has its fair share of natural beauty, coastlines and temples that are free to visit.
A top tip for those who want to join a tour: Arrange everything when you arrive. Several tour operators line the streets, and many more hang around the backpacker area in Bangkok. Some will approach you, and others have excursions and prices on a sign. Ask about the price but always negotiate a lower amount. The more flexible you are, the more likely you get an awesome deal. If a tour is almost full, they might be happy to give you a heavily discounted ticket rather than leave the seat empty.
Must-Know Travel Tips
In the touristy parts of Thailand, there are always groups of people trying to scam tourists. Tuk Tuks and taxis are just two of them. Overcharging, fake goods and petty theft happen in Thailand, and it’s easy to fall victim to one of them if you let your guard down.
The general rule of thumb is to not accept anything from someone who approaches you in the street. If they’re giving you the hard sell, you’re probably not going to have the best end of the deal. Some vendors pass on fake goods, especially in the markets. Again, if you’re looking at something that seems like an absolute bargain, it’s probably not real. Just be careful and scrutinise everything before handing over money.
The more unscrupulous will give you false information about directions, opening times and any other number of things to trick you into seeking their help. You may hear something that is unexpectedly closed today, or the roads are shut and you can’t go. Most of the time this information isn’t accurate, and they will then try to convince you to join a tour or visit somewhere that they know. And the place you end up has inflated prices and a hefty kickback to the person who brought you there.
Thailand on a Shoestring
If you’re visiting Thailand on a tight budget, there are lots of ways you can make your money stretch a little further. Accommodation, food and travel are cheap, but the extras can add up if you want to visit every attraction or fall victim to the ubiquitous scams! Plan your trip and remain flexible to get the best value for money and to have an excellent time.