Thailand Trip Cost: Making A Budget for Thailand Travel (2020 Guide)

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Read on for a detailed breakdown of what it costs to travel to Thailand. 

Before travelling to Thailand many travellers find themselves asking, “Is Thailand cheap?” or “What does a Thailand trip actually cost?” or “What are the best tips for saving money in Thailand?”

These are all valid questions and hopefully this article will answer them!

Thailand is a very affordable country to visit. Though it isn’t as cheap as its Southeast Asian neighbours, like Laos or Cambodia, Thailand is still a very affordable travel destination. 

Travellers can easily have an incredible time exploring Thailand on a backpacker budget. 

Mid-range accommodations and restaurants allow travellers to treat themselves a bit more without spending a fortune, and there are lots of affordable activities to enjoy in Thailand as well. 

For those that want the real luxury travel experience, Thailand has that too, and it isn’t even out-of-the-question expensive.

But for the average traveller, who wants to have an amazing cultural experience without spending an entire years’ worth of savings, Thailand is the perfect country to visit. 

With this post, you’ll learn about what things actually cost in Thailand, and how to break down the cost of a trip. 

Of course, the actual cost of a trip to Thailand will depend on the individual traveller and their personal preferences. 

But for those looking for a general idea of a Thailand travel budget, this is the article for you!

While discussing prices in Thailand, I’ll be using USD. Because this is such a universal currency, hopefully, the prices will make more sense than if I list them in Thai Baht. (1 USD equals roughly 30 THB)

Thailand Trip Cost

Considering the information presented in this post, creating a Thailand travel budget can be quite simple. 

Think about whether you want to travel on a backpacker budget, a mid-range traveller budget, or a luxury budget. You can even mix-and-match, penny-pinching at times and splurging here and there. 

Formulating a Thailand travel budget is all up to the individual, but these average costs of expenses in Thailand should help you get an idea of what you’ll spend. 


FoodAccommodationTransportationAttractions*Average Daily Cost
Backpacker$8 – $15$8 – $15$4 – $10$10 – $25$20 – $40
Mid-Range$15 – $25$20 – $30$10 – $15$10 – $50$50 – $100
Luxury$40 – $60+$75 – $100+$15 – $25+$50 – $100+$200 – $400+

* Attractions vary greatly by personal interest and can be the same at any level of budget

Backpacker Budget: Average daily budget: $20-40 USD

If you live the backpacker lifestyle and always pick the cheapest options while travelling around Thailand, it is very easy to explore Thailand on the cheap. 

There are plenty of free attractions to see, like temples, street markets, waterfalls, beaches and viewpoints. 

Some popular attractions may have entrance fees, but they are usually close to nothing. 

A backpacker budget in Thailand would have average daily expenses that may look something like this:

  • Hostel dorm bed: 8 USD
  • Fruit smoothie: 1 USD
  • Temple entrance fee: 2 USD
  • 2 street food meals: 6 USD
  • Taxi ride: 2 USD
  • 1 beer from 7/11: 1 USD
  • Total Cost: 20 USD

But make sure you aren’t so stingy with money that you miss out on special experiences!

You can book activities with the cheapest companies and pack a few fun day trips into your schedule. 

Book a half-day island snorkelling tour for 20 USD, take a local cooking class for 30 USD or hit up a Thai boxing match for 10 USD. 

Take cheap buses around the country, avoid drinking too much, and hang out with the locals. 

You’ll have a wonderful Thailand experience, and be able to do it for very little money!

Thailand Temples
Paying the entrance fees to visit some of Thailand’s most stunning temples is definitely worth it.

Mid-Range Traveler Budget: Average daily budget: $50-100 USD 

If you’re willing to spend a bit more money than the average backpacker, you can upgrade your Thailand travel budget to include more fun things. 

Visit all the best attractions, even if they cost a bit more. 

Treat yourself to some nice cocktails on the beach here and there. Book a one-hour Thai massage, or maybe throw in a full day scuba-diving trip. 

Stay in affordable hotel rooms and eat a wide range of foods that include cheap street food and some nice restaurant meals. 

An average day may look like this:

  • Budget double room in a hotel: 20 USD
  • Lunch in a restaurant: 5 USD
  • Cocktail: 5 USD
  • Street food for dinner: 2 USD
  • Souvenir shopping: 4 USD
  • Cabaret Show: 15 USD
  • Taxi ride: 4 USD
  • Total Cost: 55 USD

On a mid-range budget, you can dish out more money on the things that matter to you the most. 

You can pay for more day trips if you want to explore more, or you can treat yourself to more food and drinks if you like eating out. 

Whatever you choose, you can still have the trip of a lifetime without completely breaking the bank. 

Luxury Traveler Budget: Average daily budget: $200-400 USD

If you really decide to lash out on a luxury vacation to Thailand, you’ll be surprised at how affordable it is. 

If you’re willing to spend lots of money, you can also pay for all the best activities. 

You can book guided temple tours, incredible speedboat island-hopping tours, spa and massage treatments, private cooking lessons, and everything else under the sun. 

You can indulge in all the best food and drinks, and stay in five-star accommodation. 

For those who dream of a vacation like this, but don’t think they can afford it, Thailand is a relatively cheap place to live like a king or queen, so take a look at this average daily budget breakdown. 

  • Luxury suite in a nice hotel: 150 USD
  • Private temple tour: 50 USD
  • Thai cooking lesson: 30 USD
  • Lunch in a tourist restaurant: 10 USD
  • Drinks on the beach: 30 USD
  • Spa treatment: 20 USD
  • Dinner in a nice restaurant: 30 USD
  • Total cost: 320 USD per day

Though most travellers won’t be living the luxury lifestyle in Thailand, it is interesting to see the actual costs. 

Probably the most rewarding way to travel Thailand is by using a mid-range budget. 

You can still kick it with the locals, eat street food and drink cheap local beer, but spend a bit of money on amazing activities and nicer accommodation. 

Backpacking Thailand is also a really fun and character-building experience. 

You’ll learn a lot from navigating public transport and deciphering foreign menus. While staying in hostels, you’ll also meet lots of incredible people. 

So a Thailand travel budget does not have to send you into bankruptcy. 

Travel with a frugal attitude, an open mind, and positive energy and you’ll have an unforgettable trip!

Breakdown of Costs to Travel in Thailand

With a general overview of the Thailand trip costs at various budgets, below you will find information to help you navigate specific budget items.

These will include costs of:

  • Transportation (to and around)
  • Food
  • Accommodation
  • Activities

Cost of Transportation in Thailand

A breakdown of the costs getting to Thailand, and getting around within the country.

READ MORE: Check out my other guide on transportation in Thailand for a better idea of how to get around.

Getting to Thailand by Air

The cost of flying to Thailand depends on where you are travelling. 

If you are travelling from the Americas or Europe, chances are your flight will be very long and quite expensive. 

However, there are certain budget travel tips to keep in mind that will help you find the cheapest flight to Thailand. 

  • Fly during the off-season (April through October) 
  • Check websites like Skyscanner or Google Flights that show you the cheapest departure dates for an entire month
  • Don’t be afraid to take weird layovers; the prices may be cheaper!
  • Consider changing your departure airport if possible (For example, flying from NYC to Bangkok is cheaper than flying from Boston to Bangkok).

Use these same tips no matter where you are flying from, and you should be able to score a reasonably priced flight to Thailand. 

Getting to Thailand by Land

If you’re travelling to Thailand overland, your travel will most likely be incredibly cheap. 

The most affordable way to get to Thailand from bordering countries is by bus. 

There are countless different bus companies travelling to Thailand from Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar, and the journey will usually cost around 20-40 USD. 

Things to do in Pai, Thailand
Whether you are arriving in Thailand by air or by land, the scenery is always incredible.

Public Transport in Thailand

Once you arrive in Thailand, you’ll be using public transport to get around the country (unless you rent a car). 

The typical traveller’s route in Thailand starts in Bangkok, then goes up to the north to Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, and Pai, then goes down south to the islands. 

So you’ll probably be travelling long distances within the country, and luckily these journeys can be very cheap.

Here is a general idea of what different transport options cost in Thailand:

Long Journeys

Here is the average cost of travelling long distances around Thailand. 

Flights 

For covering long distances around the country, flying local budget airlines is the best option. You can get from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, or from Bangkok to the islands, in just one hour. 

Using budget airlines like Nok Air, Thai Lion Air, Air Asia, Thai Airways, or Thai Vietjet, the average cost of a one-way domestic flight is between 30-50 USD. 

Keep in mind though that if you want to fly, your Thailand trip cost will go up.

Bus or Train

A long bus or train journey through Thailand, say from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, costs on average about 20-50 USD. 

So the prices for buses or trains are very similar to flights, but they can take up to 12 hours instead of 1. 

If you’re a fan of slow travel and seeing the countryside, buses or trains are the way to go. 

But it is much quicker and just as cheap to catch a flight, so that’s probably the easiest way to travel long distances in Thailand. 

The best place to book your internal ground transport in Thailand is on 12Go.asia.

Short Journeys

For getting around one city or general area, here is a breakdown of the transport costs. 

Songtaews

These red-pick up trucks serve as collective taxis, and they are the cheapest and easiest way to take day trips in a certain city or island of Thailand. 

If you wait for the whole truck to fill up, everyone can split the cost and the ride becomes cheaper. 

If you’re travelling 5-20 minutes within a city, your journey shouldn’t cost more than a couple of dollars. 

If you’re taking a long day trip and the drive is an hour, the whole journey may cost about 50 USD. But split between 10 people, you’re still only paying about 5 USD for a long trip. 

Taxis

For travelling quick distances within a city, taxis are the second cheapest way to travel. 

Only use taxis that have meters, and your quick journey won’t cost more than 5 USD. 

Tuk Tuks

These motorized, three-wheeled scooters are a fun way to travel in Thailand, but the drivers usually overcharge tourists. 

It is common for a tuk-tuk ride to cost up to 10 USD, which seems cheap but is definitely overpriced for Thailand. 

Ask locals what a specific tuk-tuk journey should cost and make sure you clarify it with the driver before you go so he doesn’t rip you off. 

Ferries

For travelling through the islands of Thailand, you’ll have to take ferries. 

There is usually only one route to get from one island to the next, and the cost of the journey is in the same range regardless of which ferry company you take. 

An average ferry journey costs around 20 USD, give or take a bit depending on how long the ride is. 

Ferries in thailand
Ferries frequently travel between the islands of Thailand, and riding in one is a fun experience!

Cost of Food in Thailand

Thailand is truly a foodie’s paradise. 

There is so much delicious food and it is all very affordable, so food won’t take up a big portion of your Thailand travel budget.

Here is a summary of the different types of places to eat in Thailand and how much they cost. 

Street Food

Eating at street markets is the cheapest way to eat in Thailand. 

You can get full plates of food for as cheap as 1 USD, and little snacks like fruit platters and spring rolls cost less than 1 USD each. 

This is also where you’ll find the most authentic local Thai food, so street markets are the way to go regardless of your budget. 

Buying Groceries

If you plan on cooking your own meals, street markets are still the best places to shop. 

Big western-style grocery stores are rare in Thailand. Occasionally you’ll find little markets or 7/11s that sell staples like rice, noodles, or snacks and processed foods. 

But for buying produce, meat, seafood, and spices, the street markets have the freshest and cheapest food. 

Produce costs barely anything; you can buy a bag full of fruit for only a couple of dollars. 

Cooking is a great way to save money, but honestly, street food in Thailand is so cheap that you might as well just eat the food cooked by the locals.

Local Restaurant

For eating out in a restaurant, the cheapest option is eating at a small, humble, local joint that only has a few menu items. 

A full meal in a restaurant like this can cost between 40 and 100 Baht, which is roughly 2-4 USD. 

Tourist Restaurant

In touristy areas of Thailand, you’ll find lots of restaurants geared towards foreigners. 

This is where you’ll find western-style food like pizza, burgers, and European food in addition to classic Thai meals. 

A meal in a tourist restaurant generally costs between 100 and 200 Baht, still only 3 to 6 USD. 

Fancy Restaurant

Even in upscale restaurants, the price of food is very cheap. 

A full meal in a super high-quality restaurant can cost a few hundred Baht, and it is rare to find something that costs over 30 USD. 

So Thailand is an awesome place to treat yourself to the nicest restaurants and still spend much less than you would at home!

Phuket night markets Thailand
Street food in Thailand is incredibly cheap and delicious.

Drinking in Thailand

The cost of alcohol in Thailand varies. 

Beer is the cheapest beverage, whereas wine and liquor are often imported so they are pricier. 

If you buy your beer from a convenience store like a 7/11, it will only cost 1 or 2 USD. 

Ordering a beer in a bar or restaurant is a bit more expensive, but it still the cheapest drink, costing only about 3 USD. 

As for liquor, a mixed drink or cocktail can cost between 3 and 6 USD depending on the venue.

So though drinking in Thailand isn’t expensive, one of the best tips for saving money in Thailand is to just cut down on drinking in general and saving your cash for food and activities. 

READ MORE: Make sure you know all of the best foods to eat in Thailand!

Cost of Accommodation in Thailand

There are plenty of places to stay in Thailand for any type of travel budget. 

Accommodation tends to consume the majority of a Thailand travel budget, but it is still very affordable compared to other destinations around the world. 

Hostel

The cheapest form of accommodation in Thailand is a backpacker hostel. 

The average cost for one night in a dorm room is between 6 and 12 USD. The $6 hostels will be more basic, whereas the $10-$12 hostels will be much nicer. 

Even though the cost is cheap, all of Thailand’s hostels are generally very well-kept and full of great facilities. 

Guest House/Cheap Hotel

Thailand has lots of guest houses that are like small, simple, and cheap hotels. 

You can find a basic budget double room for anywhere between 15 and 30 USD per night. 

If you’re travelling as a couple, it may be cheaper to split the cost of a budget double room in a cheap hotel rather than paying for two hostel dorm beds. 

Make sure you book your hostels ahead of time on Hostelworld if you want to get the best ones, as they often sell out.

Mid-Range Hotel

Even mid-range hotels in Thailand are very cheap compared to western standards. 

A beautiful hotel with a pool and lots of amenities can cost as low as 20 USD per night, though the average cost is anywhere between 30 and 60 USD per night. 

Luxury Hotel

If you’re looking to treat yourself to the finest hotels and resorts in Thailand, there are so many amazing options. 

Especially when travelling in the islands, you can find stunning beachfront suites that will cater to your every need. 

True luxury hotels in Thailand can cost anywhere between 100 and 300 USD per night. 

There are the few rare finds that cost even more, such as renting an entire ocean view villa for thousands of dollars, but chances are most average travellers won’t be looking for places like that. 

koh samui itinerary
Luxury beachfront resorts in Thailand aren’t as expensive as you might think.

Activity Costs in Thailand

After paying for all the necessities, like food, transport, and accommodation, you can start planning your budget for the fun stuff!

There are endless opportunities for adventure in Thailand, and you should at least participate in a few fun activities during your stay. 

Tours and activities in Thailand vary in terms of price and quality. Some tour companies are more upscale and established, so their tours cost more. 

The quality of your tour just depends on how much you are willing to spend. 

Here a quick list of some of the most popular tours and activities in Thailand that you may be interested in trying. 

The actual price will vary depending on the location and the company you book through, but here is a general idea of the average prices. 

  • Island Hopping day trip: 30-100 USD
  • Diving or Snorkeling day trip: 50-150 USD
  • Thai Massage: 5-15 USD per hour
  • Muay Thai Boxing Match: 10-20 USD
  • Ladyboy Cabaret Show: 15-25 USD
  • Cooking Class: 30 USD-60 USD
  • Guided Temple Tour: 20-70 USD

READ MORE: Be sure to check out these incredible things to do in Thailand!

Thailand Budget Travel Tips

To summarise all the information throughout this post, here are some of the best budget travel tips for Thailand that will help you save money throughout your trip.

  • Travelling during the off-season to enjoy cheaper flight prices
  • Fly budget airlines to save time and money when travelling long distances in Thailand
  • Try to share songtaews with other travellers so everyone pays a cheaper price
  • Don’t let tuk-tuk drivers rip you off! Secure a fair price before you get in the vehicle
  • Eat street food whenever possible. Not only is it super cheap, it’s authentic and delicious.
  • Drink local beer when going out; it’s the most affordable option for alcohol in Thailand.
  • If you’re a solo traveller, you can score a bed in some epic hostels for less than 10 USD per night.
  • If you’re travelling as a couple, it may be cheaper to split the cost of a private double room in a guesthouse or hotel, rather than paying for 2 dorm beds.
  • Treat yourself to a nice room in a hotel at least once in Thailand! Even if you’re on a backpacker budget, you can find some incredible deals.
  • Take advantage of all the free activities in Thailand, like hiking, exploring temples, and visiting the beach.
  • Attractions in Thailand are usually very affordable, so definitely spend a bit of money on some fun things like cooking classes, boxing matches, massages, or snorkelling tours.
  • Spending money on experiences in Thailand is almost always worth it. Book tours with reputable companies and enjoy every minute of the Thai culture!

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About the author

Gabby Boucher

After four years of working in hospitality, volunteering abroad and travelling for fun, Gabby has developed a knack for budget travel and admiration for different cultures. Her travels have taken her through the cloud forests of Ecuador, into the villages of eastern Europe, across the islands of Thailand, and to the beaches of New South Wales, Australia, where she is currently living with a working holiday visa. She plans to continue her adventures around the world for as long as possible. Follow her on her blog, and on Instagram.

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