After traveling for 30 days in Thailand and Cambodia, I became less mystified by this idea of “budget travel”.
I knew I wanted to save money, but I envisioned sleeping in bug-ridden beds, living off of fried rice, and skipping out on fun activities. I quickly learned that this was not going to be the case at all! In fact, you can travel quite comfortably for less than $40 per day!
“Budget travel” doesn’t have to mean missing out, scraping by, and being stressed by tight purse strings.
Here is a breakdown of my expenses while traveling for 30 days in Thailand for under $2000, as well as some of my best money-saving tips!
*For your budgeting needs, all totals are rounded up to the nearest $100*
First Off, the Most Expensive Thing
When I first started planning my trip to Thailand, I assumed that a plane ticket alone would be over $1000. This price alone was almost a major hindrance to me, until I started doing more research.
I had already decided to travel during the low season (I chose September) in order to save money, and was surprised to find that my round-trip ticket was a mere $850.
I don’t want to downplay the fact that this is a lot of money to most people. Remember that I was working 30 hours per week at $13 per hour, so it took me a while to save up the funds. However, this price pales in comparison to many other destinations around the world. Book early, do your research, and you will be able to snag a sweet deal!
Round trip plane ticket from Seattle to Thailand + visa: approx. $900
Transportation around Thailand is very diverse and dependable. For me, navigating the bus, train, and boat schedules was much easier than expected. I was also able to bargain my way down to cheaper prices, carpool with other travelers, and rely on my own two legs to cut costs.
One helpful tip is to KEEP LOOKING. If a price seems too steep, it probably is. Do not be afraid to look for better deals and bargain with drivers and guides. Never accept the first price. Avoid anything that says “private tour” unless you are splitting the costs with fellow travelers. I found some of my best deals by asking locals and taking the transportation they used most themselves.
My total travel expenses included two $75 flights (From Cambodia to Bangkok, from Chiang Mai to Krabi). There are much cheaper ways to get to your destination, but at the expense of time. I opted to pay for these flights in order to spend more time in the islands, but I was in no rush. 30 days is more than enough time to see all the major sites Thailand has to offer.
Transportation costs, excluding two additional flights: $200
Thailand has accommodation for every style of traveler, from the cheap hostel bed to the luxury private suite. If you are on a budget, you may expect to be staying in the shittiest of shit-holes, but that doesn’t have to be the case. At every destination I was able to find friendly, clean, and affordable accommodation. But let’s be real, not everyone wants to sleep in a dorm room every night. My budget included the occasional splurge: a private room or bungalow, usually with a pool!
8 person dorm bed per night: average $7
Comfortable private room or bungalow: average 15
Total amount spent on accommodation: $300
Food and Drinks
Here comes the kicker… I hardly drank any alcohol during my trip to Thailand. First of all, I’m not much of a drinker anyway, so the party scene wasn’t high of a priority for me. Second, as a solo female traveler, I felt safer being sober in a new destination. Third, it saved me a lot of money!
You can find a party scene at nearly every major stop in Thailand, and in general it is pretty cheap to get your drink on. A beer was about $2, a cocktail about $3, and you could buy a “bucket” of alcohol for 150 TBT. If you are more of a drinker than myself, you may want to budget more for your trip depending on your style. Many more suggestions can be found in the Lonely Planet Thailand guidebook!
On average, I spent about $10 per day on food and drinks. Many of the tours I paid for included meals (I will talk about this more later), and I found it cheapest to eat at small restaurants and buy snacks from convenient stores. You can get a solid plate of pad thai for about 60 TBT or about $2. Each day I spent about $3 on bottled water, and another dollar or two on snacks. Depending on your appetite, you can expect to eat your fill on $8- $20 per day as a “budget traveler”.
Total amount spent on food and drinks: $300
Tours, Entry Fees, and Activities
Obviously the activities and sites one chooses to do and see on their trip are highly variable. I can honestly say that in a month’s time, I saw everything I had hoped to see and more. The total below includes all special tours and activities I did while in Thailand. I have also included the costs of visiting Siem Reap, Cambodia to see Angkor Wat and surrounding temple ruins.
Note that one of the most popular things to do in Thailand is to go scuba diving and/or earn your PADI certification. I decided not to do this. However, the average cost for a “fun dive” is anywhere from 700- 1000 TBT, and a PADI course, including accommodation is around 9000 TBT (about $270).
Total amount spent on tours, entry fees, and activities: $300
In total, I spent roughly $2000 while traveling for 30 days in Thailand! My $2000 budget includes all special tours, activities, and some luxury accommodation, so it is a high estimate for what is a reasonable travel budget. In reality, it is very easy to travel comfortably in Thailand for less than $40 per day. By staying in dorms, avoiding air travel, and carpooling with others, you can cut your costs significantly and still have a great time!
For a complete itinerary and budget for my 30 day trip to Cambodia and Thailand, check out this post!
Something to consider…
This guide does not include:
- Travel insurance: I opted to get travel insurance through World Nomads for $125. This is totally optional but usually a good idea in case any emergency happens while abroad.
- Souvenirs: how much you decide to spend on souvenirs is highly variable. I spent less than $50 on all the clothing and gifts I bought for myself, family, and friends.
- “Extra” expenses: sometimes you forget your sunscreen, your sandals break, or you get lost and have to take a taxi somewhere. Always give yourself a little bit of “cushion” just in case.