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Travelling on a budget? Thailand is one of the most budget-friendly countries in the world and has been popular on the backpacker radar for over 40 years. It offers cheap accommodation and food, inexpensive transport and communications, as well as stunningly beautiful beaches and mountains and a rich cultural tapestry, all forming the perfect storm for the budget traveller. In the second quarter of 2017, the average monthly wage in Thailand was THB฿13,619.97, just over $400. How long can you last with $500 in Thailand? We’ve put together some helpful guidelines to help you plan your travel budget to match your length of stay in the ‘Land of Smiles.’
If you are wanting to maximise your stay, you’ll need to eat local food. Thailand is world-famous for its delicious cuisine, so skimping on a budget is not much of a chore. Prepare to spend approximately $1–$2 per meal for delicious dishes like Pad Thai noodle soup, Som Tum, friend chicken and much more. A large bottle of water will set you back roughly $0.50, and a cheap can of beer about $1.
To really save costs on accommodation, it’s best to commit to a week, a month or even a year and rent an apartment if you can as you’ll be able to get a much cheaper rate. Try your luck asking (politely) for a small discount, especially if planning to stay for a while and are outside of peak season (November–March). In many town and cities, it is possible to rent a simple room with a private bathroom, air conditioning, a closet and perhaps even a small balcony. Expect to pay extra for electricity, water and wi-fi.
Travel like a local by bus or Songtaew, and transport costs will be astoundingly low. For those who prefer to have a little more freedom of movement, it might be worthwhile hiring a motorbike for the duration of your stay. Like with accommodation, hiring a motorbike is much more cost effective the longer the stay. Expect to pay around $90 per month and roughly $2 for each gas fill-up. It would also be wise to invest in a good helmet ($40) for an internationally recognised safety standard.
Some of the best natural attractions like beaches, jungle hikes and waterfalls are free or inexpensive for National Park entrance. More good news for those travelling in the ‘Big Mango’ is that popular tourist attractions – like the Grand Palace, Wat Pho, Temple of the Emerald Buddha and Wat Arun – are roughly $6 a pop (similar in other cities), and there are also plenty of free activities to keep busy at, including temples, markets, parks and more. Travellers can even treat themselves to a Thai-style one-hour massage for just $5.