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My Daily Budget in Thailand

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I’m in Ayutthaya and prices here seem to be about average, so I thought this would be a good place to break down a day’s expenses and share some tips on saving money. My cost-per-day goal for Thailand is $35 US or about 1,100 baht, though I could get by on a lot less than that if I really needed to.

Room — I’m staying at a mid-range guest house called Tony’s Place in a pleasant room with AC and a hot shower for 500 baht. Right next door is another place with similar rooms for 400 baht, but it lacks charm and has no courtyard to hang around and talk to other travelers. To me, that’s worth an extra 100 baht.

If I really looked around and was willing to forgo a few comforts, I could find a room for 250-300 baht. So far the most I’ve paid for a room was 1,100 baht upon arrival in Bangkok. If you search in advance for cheap hotels in Bangkok, I’m sure you can find one that fits your style and budget. The least has been 300 baht for a clean AC room in Trat.

Food — I try to eat from street stalls as often as I can. The food is better and costs half the price of a sit-down cafe. For example, an iced coffee (served in a bag) will run you 17-20 baht from a cart, while the restaurant will charge you 40-60 baht for one half as big. The food you find in the fancier places is often automatically toned down in spiciness, as well. Depending on your palate, this can be a good or bad thing. I vote bad.

I try to eat from street stalls as often as I can. The food is better and costs half the price of a sit-down cafe.

Today I splurged on breakfast and had a banana pancake at the guesthouse for 60 baht and an iced coffee. Lunch consisted of skewers of chicken and spicy pork balls (10 baht each) and fresh-squeezed orange juice for 25 baht. For dinner, a plate of tasty pad kee mow cost only 35 baht at the night market, but it was so hot and humid that I just scarfed it down and retreated to find a spot with a fan.

Drinking can really tear your budget up quickly — “big beers” (640 ml — about the size of a quart beer in the US) sell for less than 50 baht at convenience stores, but will run you from 70-100 baht at a restaurant. A truly dedicated boozer could save money by buying beer at the 7-11 and drinking in his room or on the curb. But, where’s the fun in that?

Transport — I walked everywhere in Ayutthaya, which isn’t the norm, so I’m including the cost of my minibus back to Bangkok. So far, tuk tuks generally seem to be the most expensive option — they always quote twice the real rate and are tough to haggle with. In Bangkok, metered taxis are usually cheaper for any distance over a few kilometers. A 200 baht ride in a tuk tuk usually works out to 60-70 baht in an air-conditioned taxi. Motorcycle taxis and songthaews (baht buses) are the cheapest options, costing 20-30 baht for short distances.

When traveling between cities, a little research can save you a lot of money.

When traveling between cities, a little research can save you a lot of money. It’s easy to get lazy and just let the hotel arrange your tickets — they’ll have a taxi pick you up and take you to the bus or train station. It is damn convenient, but you pay a premium — at least 25% more, and sometimes as much as double. It’s always cheaper to go to the station yourself and buy your ticket.

Sightseeing — I paid 50 baht apiece for entrance to a couple of temple complexes, which was money well-spent. It’s really easy to get carried away, of course, and there is no lack of things to do. Boat trips, elephant rides, canopy tours, and shopping sprees can cost anywhere from a few hundred baht to several thousand. Choose wisely!

I hope this is of some help. If you have questions or a tip to share, please leave a comment.
Chok di!

{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

Manali + Terry April 8, 2010 at 6:49 pm

Great post! We had similar expense in Thailand and miss it terribly! Totally shot our budget in Aus and NZ, but hope to re-coup by staying with friends in Europe. Thanks for the website love too – hard work but totally worth the effort! We’ll add you to our blog roll! Safe travels!

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Brendan April 8, 2010 at 8:49 pm

Thanks for sharing.

I’ve been hoping to average out at £20-25 a day, travelling through most of South East Asia. You’ve given me confidence that I can manage that in Thailand at least. I’m guessing it’ll be fairly easy in Laos, and from what I can see Vietnam and the Philippines seems less expensive still.

I’m just worried about Malaysia now.
.-= Brendan´s last blog ..Lessons learned on the road #1 =-.

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wes April 8, 2010 at 9:15 pm

Yeah, I think you’ll be fine for that amount — Laos and Vietnam should weigh in well under that amount, based on feedback I’ve got from others. No idea on Malaysia, though — keep me posted :)

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Joe April 8, 2010 at 9:20 pm

Spicy pork balls?

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wes April 8, 2010 at 9:29 pm

Small balls of ground pork, roasted over a flame and served with a spicy sweet sauce. Prevert.

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ayngelina April 8, 2010 at 9:39 pm

Nice post, but what are you eating for breakfast? My downfall in Thailand was alcohol, actually it’s always alcohol :) I spent less on my room but more on beer.
.-= ayngelina´s last blog ..Where to eat in Tulum =-.

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wes April 9, 2010 at 9:01 am

I’m not much of a breakfast guy, really. Normally I grab a iced coffee and maybe a small street snack. I splurged on this day with pancakes, so it was higher than usual. As for beer, I hear what you’re saying — I could easily drink up my budget, especially with the heat here. By noon, it’s just too hot to really get out and do much — very easy to spend the afternoon sitting under a fan with a cold beer or twelve…

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nomadic translator November 5, 2012 at 7:23 am

we share a problem ;D

- Maria Alexandra

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David April 8, 2010 at 10:29 pm

Great article I’m travelling to Thailand on Sunday. I hope to keep costs below 30€/day on average. Laos, Vietnam & Cambodia will help me out if I spend too much in Thailand ;).
.-= David´s last blog ..Poll: Which country in southeast Asia are you most interested in? =-.

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wes April 9, 2010 at 8:59 am

I think you’ll get by easily with that budget. Have fun! It’s an amazing place.

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Ryan & Liz April 8, 2010 at 10:38 pm

Thanks for the informative breakdown of costs. We’re really looking forward to spending some time in Thailand! Woo hoo!

Safe travels,

Ryan & Liz

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ReverendLittlejohn April 8, 2010 at 11:21 pm

Notably absent from your budget are two vital expenses: Fish pedicures and Ladyboys. I figured a good 40-65% of your expenses would be on these. Are you editing, Wes?

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wes April 9, 2010 at 9:03 am

To save money, I’ve combined the two expenses — I get a pedicure from a Ladyboy, while eating fish. It seems to be working out well…

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michael April 9, 2010 at 11:44 pm

nice budget breakdown, beer consumption can indeed add up, especially when consumed at a bar, but thank Buddha for the ubiquitous cheap and tasty street eats! I miss streetside bah mee moo daeng, somtom, gai yang, khao mun gai, kuaytiaw reua, khao kluk kapi, wish there was more of a local food cart culture hereabouts, although we are blessed with some stellar taco trucks.

we’re starting to plan our Nov/Dec trip to Myanmar in earnest and need to nail down a realistic budget more thoroughly than for past trips as we will be carrying all of our cash along with us, no access to additional $$ once we are in country with the possible exception of costly credit card advances from top end hotels in Yangon or Mandalay, usually with a hefty 15-30% fee, yikes! And to top it off, bills must be virginal–crispy and pristine, no creases, marks, tears, etc.

Enjoy Songkran, Sawadii Pi Mai!
chok dii

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wes April 10, 2010 at 2:54 pm

Dude… I would kill for a taco right now. And some queso and about a dozen margaritas…

How long are y’all thinking of being in Myanmar? I’m considering a run myself, though net access is the big concern for me…

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Michael April 10, 2010 at 8:25 pm

Just got our tix to BKK, arr on Nov 21 and catch flight directly to Yangon, back to BKK on Dec 13, then home on the 14th. Unfortunately not early enough to catch the celebrated Taunggyi Fire Balloon Festival as it winds down the day we arr (21st is Tazaungmon Full Moon), but plan to head straight to Bagan for the lengthy Shwezigon Paya Festival.

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Nomadic Chick April 11, 2010 at 6:58 am

The smoking man.. gets me too. I never smoke at home, a long story. I nearly choked on my water after reading $36.30. El cheapo.. But yeah, what the hell are breakfasting on? Stray dogs?
.-= Nomadic Chick´s last blog .. =-.

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wes April 11, 2010 at 8:17 am

Pancakes, Jeannie! Actually usually not much for brekkie… Today it’s just OJ.

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John Berns April 12, 2010 at 11:54 am

That budget does not cover the B1200 each we dropped for Sushi and sake the other night. ;-)

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wes April 12, 2010 at 1:17 pm

man, you’ve got that right. I blame Nomadic Matt — I’d have preferred street food ;)

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Dorami August 13, 2010 at 12:36 pm

Thanks for the nice breakdown. I was wondering about that 300 bht AC room in Trat. Do you remember which guesthouse it was? We’d love to check it out.
.-= Dorami´s last blog ..Dhamma retreat in heavenly settings =-.

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Khon Kaen Retirement October 18, 2010 at 8:17 pm

Beer, women, and over-priced hotels can kill your Thailand budget. But, like you said, eating from the street vendors, staying at the mom-and-pop guest houses, and getting your beer from7-11 will really stretch your baht.

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wes October 19, 2010 at 9:54 am

Very true!

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johnny - onestep4ward November 9, 2010 at 5:20 pm

hey johnny,

thanks for the breakdown, i just wanna add (for people who are stressing about cash!)that it can be done much cheaper if necessary, especially the accommodation! but this is a great start – thanks guys! =)
johnny – onestep4ward recently posted..5 Reasons why Traveling by Boat is AwesomeMy Profile

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wes November 14, 2010 at 4:53 pm

I totally agree! I was there in the hottest part of the summer and went for an AC room. Going with a fan room and cutting out the beer can drop the cost considerably.

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brahsefab December 20, 2010 at 8:28 am

“You’ve given me confidence that I can manage that in Thailand at least. I’m guessing it’ll be fairly easy in Laos, and from what I can see Vietnam and the Philippines seems less expensive still.”
Where else can I read about it?

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Lily (Explore for a Year) April 26, 2011 at 2:07 pm

Hi Wes,

Thanks for sharing this. One thing I really like about Thailand (and Southeast Asia in general) is the availability of delicious and budget-friendly food. It’s a food lover’s dream come true.

No wonder you have to pay to use the scales here :)

- Lily

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Jake January 1, 2012 at 2:02 am

150-300 baht guest rooms are available if you know where to look in Bangkok. Nice ones too, with A/C and all. Couchsurfing.org, AirBnB, etc.

I’m paying 3,000 baht a month for a really nice furnished apartment right by the subway, but that’s a 3 month lease. Most farang I meet pay way more (triple in most cases) than that for not much more. It’s all about getting past the tourist barrier.

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nomadic translator November 5, 2012 at 7:28 am

that’s a bargain, Jake! How did you get such a cheap, furnished apartment for less than $100 a month?! I’m intrigued!

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nomadic translator November 5, 2012 at 7:25 am

so that’s almost $1100 a month eh? I guess if I use Couchsurfing a lot, like I usually do, costs should be less than that. But you did tell us, you could be spending way less than that if you wanted to ;)

It is great to see a breakdown of costs from different travelers though. keeps things in perspective

- Maria Alexandra

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Rochelle November 10, 2012 at 5:50 am

Thanks for this. My friends and I are going to Bangkok next year.

Hope you can also travel to the Philippines. We have a lot of wonderful places here.

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wes November 10, 2012 at 1:14 pm

I’m very excited to see the Philippines :)

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Roel May 10, 2013 at 12:44 am

have fun in the philippines, so many beautiful islands. ……

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Mo Draj May 13, 2013 at 9:39 am

Great post, Wes! My plan to visit starting from December, i estimated my budget around that, i was hoping to be right, which seems like i was… hell, if you can do it, so can I :D
So, Thailand is the most expensive country out of all the other SE Asians! I am kinda happy to hear that!
Out of curiosity, how long did you stay in Thailand? was it enough?
I am going with an absolute no plans on my journey, but i definitely would like to visit, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam!
Hope to see you there next year ;)

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Mark Surrey November 6, 2013 at 8:57 am

Man its affordable and with the budget I’m saving for every travel I spend I can still pull this off for a couple of days. I have visited Thailand, twice already. Although I targeted mostly beaches and yes I love to party. The last time I was there was during the Full Moon party season. I must say quite a mess for me, its a good party but not my scene. Gladly never had that much drink or else I’ll end up somewhere else with some of my friends. Whom by the way we spent most of the day looking for them in the morning.

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Marc January 4, 2014 at 12:44 pm

Quick update from Pai:
Bungalow with Breakfast 200 Bath (still high season)
Local restaurant lunch and dinner 40 to 60 Bath – Ice water usually free.
Over here local restaurants are usually cheaper than the street stalls as it is a bit more food.
So that would run between 6,40 € and 7 € per day to sleep and feed.
Ice coffee still 20 on the street or 40-50 in the small coffee shop – big size.
Get beer from the local shop not 7/11 – same price 53 Bath big Chang, 62 Bath big LEO. In the bars a big Chang starts with 70 to 90 and Leo 80-100. Still booze is the #1 killer if you want to travel on a budget…
Marc recently posted..Last good Days of the Year – Hello 2014My Profile

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Criz June 8, 2014 at 5:44 pm

Thank you so much for this, very informative as I am planning to visit thailand in August.

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Niel July 19, 2014 at 12:55 am

Hi guys thanx for the great updates from time to time. A friend and myself are on our way to Bangkok for a year or 2 to teach English. the tefl course company provided us a room with hot shower fully furnished and aircon + wifi a little balcony keycard door and a 24 hour security down stairs for 5900 Baht a month. do you think its reasonable or should we look elsewhere for cheaper oh and in the building is a 24 hour 7-11 shop.

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