Catching the Longtail Boat From Railay Back to the Mainland

Thailand Budget Guide – How Much Does it Really Cost to Travel in Thailand?

Thailand is backpacker paradise #1. Beautiful beaches, banging parties and rich culture make this a hotspot for travellers. And the best thing? If you’re savvy with your baht, it can be cheap as chips!

So, how much does it cost to travel in Thailand? This guide will tell you everything you need to know, from suggested daily budgets for different types of travellers to the cost of essentials. Setting a travel budget for Thailand has never been easier!

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Thailand Budget Travel Guide

Costs of Backpacking Thailand – Quick Answers!

  • Cost of Street Food: 30-100THB ($1-$3USD) per meal
  • Cost of Local Food in a Restaurant: 50THB+ ($1.50USD) per dish
  • Cost of Western Food in a Restaurant: 120THB+ ($3.50USD) per dish
  • Cost of Water: 8-20THB ($0.25-0.60USD) for 1.5 litres
  • Cost of Beer: 50-180THB ($1.5-5USD+)
  • Cost of a Hostel Bed: 170-400THB ($5-12USD) per night
  • Cost of a Private Room: 280-1200THB ($8-35USD) per night
  • Cost of a Tuk Tuk Ride: 50THB-200THB ($1.50-6USD)
  • Cost of Scooter Hire: 150-1000THB ($4.50-29USD) per day
  • Cost of Long Distance Buses: 30-120THB ($0.90-3.40USD) per hour

Suggested Budgets for Travelling in Thailand

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Shoestring Backpacker: $20-35USD Per Day

A shoestring backpacker will comfortably get by on $20-35USD per day in the ‘Land of Smiles’. This will involve staying in big dorms, eating street food, keeping partying to a minimum and travelling everywhere by bus or public transport. If you are planning on doing a lot of tours or going diving in Koh Tao, you’ll need to budget extra. 

Bangkok Pub Crawl Khao San Road
Living it large backpackers sure know how to have a good time!

Living It Large Backpacker: $35-60USD Per Day

If you see yourself as more of a living it large kind of backpacker, then $35-60USD per day will be roughly what you can expect to spend. On this budget, you’ll find yourself staying in dorms but you will be able to treat yourself to a private room regularly. Expect to predominantly travel on buses and keep the partying to a few nights a week. Providing you splash out on expensive tours sparingly, you shouldn’t need to exceed this estimate. 

Flashpacker: $60USD+ Per Day

This budget will suit travellers who want to stay in private rooms, either in hostels or hotels (although hotels are much more costly). Domestic travel will usually be done by flying and we suspect there will be a lot of partying and all-round good living! Think swanky restaurants and rooftop bars. Remember that the more you spend, the shorter your trip is likely to be! 

Currency in Thailand

Thailand uses the Thai baht as its main currency and you are unlikely to be able to spend anything else within the country. Whilst it’s almost always a good idea to bring US dollars travelling, you’ll struggle to use them in Thailand. If you do find somewhere that accepts dollars, check the exchange rate first! Chances are it’ll be terrible and you’d be better off paying in baht. 

Thai Baht Conversions

Currency conversions often fluctuate and the rates below are just approximations. You should always check the up-to-date rate before you travel.  

  • $1USD = 34.88THB
  • £1GBP = 44.54THB
  • €1EUR = 38.35THB
Thai Baht
The Thai Baht is the currency used throughout the country.

How Much Does a Trip to Thailand Cost?

Cost of Street Food in Thailand

30-100THB ($1-$3USD) per meal

Street food in Thailand is not only budget-friendly but also delicious! You can’t go more than a few metres in most cities without seeing oodles of noodles being sold from rickety old carts surrounded by tiny plastic chairs. Trust us when we say, these stalls sell some of the most delicious rice, meat and noodles you’ll find! 

There are also carts dedicated to sweet treats and fruit juices so keep your eyes peeled for the ones surrounded by locals to ensure you are getting the best food and drinks possible!

Cost of Restaurant Food in Thailand

50-150THB+ ($1.50-3USD+) per dish

Eating in local restaurants is only a little pricier than eating at street food stalls but the cost will skyrocket if you visit swanky joints or stick to western food. Somewhere like McDonald’s may seem cheap when you compare the prices to the USA and Europe but you’ll still be paying way over the odds when you compare it to the local food.

Cost of Water in Thailand

8-20THB ($0.25-0.60USD) for 1.5 litres

You can’t drink tap water in Thailand but it’s generally cheap, provided you don’t get it from tourist hotspots. If you have to buy bottled water, pick it up from 7-Eleven for the best prices. 

A good way to save money on water is to pick up a filter water bottle so you don’t have to worry about buying single-use plastic bottles every day. Failing that, some hostels provide clean drinking water for a small fee. If you have a reusable travel bottle, make the most of it!

The Best Filterned Water Bottle for Travel - The Gray Geopress
A filtered water bottle is a good investment and great for the planet!

Cost of Beer in Thailand

50-180THB ($1.50-5USD)

Generally, beer in Thailand is cheap. Keep your booze costs low by sticking to local beers instead of imports and make the most of happy hour deals where you’ll see the prices slashed by up to half!

Cost of Accommodation in Thailand

Prices of accommodation in Thailand vary wildly depending on the level of luxury you are looking for. 

  • Hostel Dorm (per night) = 170-400THB ($5-12USD)

100-200THB ($3-$7USD)

You’ll find a bed in a shared dorm in an average hostel for very little money. The quality of hostels in the tourist hotspots tends to be very high too so you can get a lot of bang for your baht!

Also read:

  • Hostel Double Room (per night) = 280-600THB ($8-20USD)

The largest factor in the cost of a private room in Thailand is usually whether the room has air conditioning or just a fan. Fan rooms are significantly cheaper than those with air-con and for good reason. Not only is an air conditioning system expensive to run (and terrible for the planet) but they are also super popular in Thailand’s sticky heat. Consumer demand drives prices up so if you can deal with a few sweaty nights, forgo the air-con and save yourself some pennies!

The 20 Best Hostels in Koh Tao, Thailand
Some hostels in Thailand are hotel quality!
  • Double Hotel Room (per night) = 500-1200THB+ ($14-35USD+)

Hotel rooms cost a lot! Private rooms in hostels are just as good if not better. Plus, they come with the banging hostel atmosphere that backpackers love!

The prices above are based on a standard hotel room. Swanky hotels will come in way more expensive than this (think 3,000THB+ per night) but hey we’re backpackers – we’ll likely only see these places in the windows of travel agents.

Cost of Transport in Thailand

There are plenty of different choices when it comes to getting around Thailand. Whether it’s local transport in cities or travelling large distances across the country, there’s always a cheap option and a tourist option!

Short Distance Transport

  • Taxis/ride-share = from 35THB ($1USD)

Taxis are a great way of getting around Bangkok and other cities. They are cheaper than tuk tuks but make sure your driver puts the meter on! If they refuse and you have no other option, negotiate a price before you get in. 

Ride-sharing apps tend to be preferred by travellers. They have a set rate which saves you from getting ripped off. Backpacking app Grab is a popular option in Thailand and is often cheaper than taxis.

  • Tuk Tuk = 50THB-200THB ($1.50-$6USD)

It’s a common misconception that tuk tuks are the cheapest mode of transport in Thailand. In reality, they actually tend to cost more than taxis. You’re not paying for any super comfortable ride here, tuk tuks are essentially a tourist novelty. 

Zipping around little backstreets in a brightly coloured three-wheeler is a great way to immerse yourself in Thai life! Just be aware of the common scams that unscrupulous tuk tuk drivers try to pull on fresh-faced backpackers. 

Make sure you agree on a price first and don’t pay more than 150THB for a ride anywhere in Bangkok. Tuk tuks are plentiful so if at first, you don’t succeed, just wait for the next one!

Osprey Backpack in Tuk Tuk
A journey by tuk tuk is practically a rite of passage for backpackers!
  • Trains (BTS/MRT — Bangkok) = 20-40THB ($0.60-1.20USD)

Central Bangkok is well covered by the BTS (Skytrain) and the MRT (metro). These two train systems don’t stretch too far but are an affordable way to travel short distances across the city centre. If you are travelling a lot by public transport, make sure you check out their day passes as you can save money!

The Skytrain is an overhead line while the MRT is Bangkok’s underground metro system. Both trains give passengers a speedy way to get to their destination because they don’t get caught up in Bangkok’s almost constant rush hour!

  • Buses = 7-20THB ($0.20-0.60 USD)

Local city buses provide an affordable way to get to the further reaches of Thailand’s cities. It’s heavily recommended that you pick up a route map before you jump on a bus, or follow directions from a trusted local!

  • Scooter Hire = 150-1000THB ($4.50-29USD) per day

Hiring a scooter or motorcycle in Thailand is almost a rite of passage for backpackers. They allow you the freedom to explore on your own and get to places that are almost impossible to reach with public transport. 

The cost of motorcycle hire will vary depending on where you are and what type of motorbike you want. For example, a fully automatic scooter (a.k.a. moped) will cost between $5-10USD per day whereas a fully geared dirt bike might set you back closer to $30USD a day. 

If you are planning on renting the bike for longer than a day, try your hand at haggling as it is often possible to get reduced rates for weekly or even monthly hire.

Long Distance Transport

  • Buses = 30-120THB ($0.90-3.40USD) per hour on the bus

While different bus routes will vary slightly in price, the largest cost influencer for bus transport in Thailand is the class of bus that you choose to travel on. Those snazzy VIP buses with air-con will set you back more than travelling on standard class buses. 

Despite this, the VIP option is often worth the extra expense. Travelling on cramped, stinky, slow-moving buses can be pretty soul-destroying at times. Or, as is the case between Chiang Mai and Pai, absolutely terrifying.

The Sleeper Bus That Runs The Hanoi to Luang Prabang Route
It can be worth splashing a little more cash for comfort!
  • Trains = 20-140THB ($0.60-4USD) per hour on the train

Trains are a less common mode of transport for backpackers in Thailand. This is down to two factors: price and speed. The cost of a long-haul train journey is almost the same as the cost of flying domestically within the country and the journey time is usually longer than going by bus. 

The advantage of trains is safety and comfort. They’re way safer and more reliable than buses and providing you’re not in third class, they’re more comfortable too. 

Even if you’re travelling long distances overnight, sleeper trains are plenty comfortable and allow most average-height backpackers to lay flat and enjoy a good night’s sleep. If, like me, you are a touch over six feet, prepare to be a little squashed but this is still way better than being contorted into a sleeper bus!

  • Planes = 700-4,000THB ($20-115USD) per flight

If you book in advance and are short on time, domestic flights in Thailand can be a lifesaver. Rather than sitting on a bus for 12 hours or on a train for even longer, jump on the 1-hour 15-minute flight from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. It will set you back just over $20USD and you’ll land before you’ve even digested your airport breakfast!

If you are not pressed for time, consider saving yourself a few pennies on accommodation and get a night bus or train instead of flying. Not only will your wallet be thankful but the planet could really do with less of us flying! Check out our guide for more tips on backpacking responsibly

Cost of Activities in Thailand

The activities in this list are just a small sample of the popular things to do in Thailand. There are way too many amazing and budget-friendly things to do across the country to list them all here (check out these Thailand itineraries for some ideas) but this should give you a good insight into the costs of activities. 

  • Visit The Grand Palace – 500THB ($14USD)

A visit to the Grand Palace in Bangkok is something you will not forget. While the price is pretty steep, the memory of this white and gold masterpiece will glitter for eternity. The price does not only include the entrance to the Grand Palace but also the temple of the Emerald Buddha, The Arts of the Kingdom Museum, a classical masked dance at the Royal Theatre and more!

  • Thai Massage – 200-500THB ($5-14USD) per hour

No trip to Thailand (or any destination if you ask me) is complete without a traditional Thai massage. Or two. Luckily, Thailand is one of the best countries in the world to get massaged and it is cheap too!

Thai Healing Massage Course (200 Hours) | 7 or 10 Days | KOH PHANGAN, THAILAND
Thai massages are cheap and widely available.
  • Ethical Elephant Experience – 2,500-28,000THB ($71-800USD) 

You can see elephants in Thailand for cheaper than the prices quoted above but those elephants are often not properly cared for and instead, treated as cash cows. Choose an ethical sanctuary such as BEES Elephant Sanctuary, to make sure your visit will actually benefit nature’s giants! 

  • Dive Course – 2,500-25,000THB ($71-716USD) 

If you have been wanting to learn to dive or fancy getting your PADI open water certificate (other certifying bodies are available) then stop waiting and start doing! Thailand, along with much of Southeast Asia, is one of the most cost-effective places to learn to dive. Check out our top picks of dive schools in Thailand here.

  • Full Moon Party – 2000THB ($60USD) 

It’s hard to work out how much a trip to Thailand’s infamous Full Moon Party will cost a backpacker. It all depends on how much you drink, where you are coming from and where you want to stay.

On the budget end (this includes a bucket or two at the party), you can expect to pay less than 2000THB for a few days on Koh Phangan as well as your night at Haadrin Beach and transport to the island. Not bad for what could be the party of your life!

  • Muay Thai Fight Night – 500-2,500THB ($15-72USD)

There is a strong visceral reaction to watching two fully grown adults going hammer and tongs in the ring. For your money, you’ll get a solid three hours of fights as well as table service. Trust me, the barman will keep the drinks flowing as long as you want them!

👉Check out where to watch a Muay Thai fight in Bangkok! 👈

There is nothing better than kicking back with a beer to watch a Muay Thai fight!
  • Muay Thai Training – 2,500THB+ ($80USD+)

If watching Muay Thai has got you thinking you’d like to try this combat sport out, you’re in the right place. Thailand has some of the most prestigious training camps on the planet and they are surprisingly good value for money!

The above cost is for a week’s training only but if you want the fully immersive, live-in experience, expect to pay more. There are even schools that offer full live-in training camps for up to a year at a time!

👉Check out some of the best Muay Thai camps in Thailand that we work with here.

How much money would you budget for a trip to Thailand? Head on over to our Facebook community to let us know!

Tim Ashdown | Gear Specialist

After a life-changing motorcycle accident, Tim decided life was too short to stay cooped up in his home county of Norfolk, UK. Since then, he has travelled Southeast Asia, walked the Camino de Santiago and backpacked South America. His first book, From Paralysis to Santiago, chronicles his struggle to recover from the motorcycle accident and will be released later this year.

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