Journeys

Thailand Travel Budget – Our most expensive destination in 2017

Thailand is perceived as one of the cheapest South Asian destination, and it stands as a favorite among travelers.

Since we keep detailed reports of all our travel expenses (for the past 3 years), we’ve come to a very different conclusion about Thailand – it’s far from being cheap. Also, it wasn’t our favorite destination in 2017, but that’s a matter of perspective and the type of references used for comparisons.

If you’re planning to visit Thailand and don’t fancy spending your holiday at the beach, but planning to take a tour, you’d better save some money for this trip.

Our Thailand trip itinerary meant 14 days on the road, traveling from South to North and then back to South: 3 days in Railay Beach (Krabi), 3 days in Bangkok, 3 days in Chiang Mai, 1day in Chiang Rai, 1 day in Ao Nang (Krabi) – Hong Islands, 2 days in Phuket, 1 day in Krabi Town – Phi Phi Islands.

Organizing such a long tour by ourselves taught us a lot about planning a trip, but it was energy draining as well, so arm yourself with a lot of patience when booking a similar trip on your own.

Also, creating our travel itinerary meant changing it 4 times, but in the end, the first 10 days of our 14 days trip were worth it. Don’t know about Phuket though, still have no idea what went wrong there, but that’s another story.


Thailand Travel Budget as a Couple – 14 Days

I’ll go over hotel prices, local flights and local transport costs, food prices, the budget for our main flights, and I’ll include some tips and tricks that might be useful when booking your Thailand trip.


Hotel Prices in Thailand

60€/$73 was our average hotel rate per night for a double room in Thailand.

It came close to our European hotel rate average of about 70€/$86 per night, but much cheaper than our average accommodation rate in Morocco of 100€/$122.

When choosing your destinations in Thailand, it helps to expect higher hotel rates in the South because of the beaches. Krabi (Railay, Ao Nang) and Phuket (Ya Nui Beach) have higher rates than Bangkok or Chiang Mai, but you can find cheaper accommodation options in Krabi Town.

Our highest accommodation cost in Thailand was on Railay Beach, where we paid 67€/$82 per night for a double room. By comparison, we only paid 25€/$31 per night for a double room in Krabi Town. Sure, these two places are both in South Thailand, but Railay has two beautiful beaches while Krabi Town doesn’t have a sandy beach.

Overall, we spent 809€ / $991 on accommodation for a double room, for our 14 days stay in Thailand (2 people).

Travel tips when booking your hotels in Thailand: put aside 50/61$ for unforeseen security deposits

Hotels in Bangkok can charge you a security deposit they don’t mention on Booking.com for room damages. The one we booked charged us 1000baht/25€/$31 for our 3 nights stay and returned it upon our departure.

Hotels in Phuket can also charge you a security deposit they don’t mention on Booking.com, this time as a key loss prevention measure. The one we booked also charged us 1000baht/25€/$31 upon our arrival, even though we only stayed for 2 nights.


Food prices in Thailand

We enjoyed the Thai cuisine during the first days of our trip, but by our 10th day, we were craving for any European/American/Australian type of food. Nope, Thai food wasn’t love at the first taste, nor at the second taste, and we ended up eating at 7-eleven more than we ever did during a trip.

We’re all for enriching our culinary culture, so we tasted the main traditional Thai dishes, even went for Bamboo worms in Chiang Mai, but exposure didn’t lead to liking it.

When it comes to Thai food, one thing that I wasn’t too happy with was the fact that restaurants and pubs weren’t selling similar dishes as the endless street markets. So we might have missed on some of the best Thai food just because we thought all the street food looked unsafe.

I mean, heat and humidity don’t go well with food, and especially not with meat and sea food; even with our Hepatitis A vaccines done, we didn’t have the guts to go for the street food.

Overall, our food cost for 14 days in Thailand was 400€/$490 (2 people).

While spending 200€/$245 per person for food during 14 days is very cheap, I must say we didn’t feel like eating too much because of the heat and humidity combo. We also had more supermarket visits than usual, which also reduced our food cost a bit.

A Thai dinner for two people on Railay Beach (Krabi) goes for 850 baht (22€/$27), while in Bangkok a lunch goes for 675 baht (17€/$21). North of Thailand, in Chiang Mai, a lunch goes for 475 baht (12€/$15).

Pad-Thai---Railay-Beach


Cost of Local flights in Thailand

Since we didn’t want to spend 14 days in Thailand at the beach, we had to travel from one city to another and from one beach to the next.

Once we started planning, we soon found out that the best way to travel wasn’t by bus or train or car rental, but by air. So we booked 3 extra flights in order to save some time. After all, it’s our most precious resource.

Our 3 internal flights in Thailand were: Krabi to Bangkok, Bangkok to Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai to Krabi, and we used Air Asia for all, just to optimize our booking time.

In term of costs, the average cost of a local flight, one segment, per person was 89€/$109, but the average flight duration was one hour and a half.

  • Krabi to Bangkok: 35€/$43 per person (one way ticket)
  • Bangkok to Chiang Mai: 84€/$103 per person (one way ticket)
  • Chiang Mai to Krabi: 147€/$180 per person (one way ticket)

3 Local flights in Thailand: 266€/$326 per person (one way ticket)

I’ve heard some awful stories about Air Asia, but we had a good flight experience each time, with minor delays, but nothing serious (a few minutes).

We booked these flights less than ten days before our trip, but it really doesn’t matter how much in advance you book, the ticket prices are pretty much the same (we’ve checked a few months in advance).

Tips for booking local flights in Thailand with Air Asia:

  • There is an online processing fee of about 5€/$6 per booking (something I’m not accustomed to)
  • Luggage weight limit is 20Kg – we found it very annoying because we were reaching this limit, so we paid 700baht (9€/$11 per 1 kg) for the 2 extra kg for one flight. After the first flight, we organized our travel bags better to avoid this extra fee and wasting time at the airport (there’s a separate line for paying this fee).

One extra travel tip: no matter the airport, it’s wise to stay alert and watch the monitors – gates can change even 3 times for a single local flight.

local-flights-Thailand


Local transport cost in Thailand – Getting around is beyond expensive

Transport in Thailand is not only slow, but also very expensive.

During our 14 days trip in Thailand, we’ve spent 465€ / $569 just to get around, and this cost doesn’t include the 527€ / $645 for our 3 local flights.

The total cost of transport rounds up to 992€ / $1215 for two people, and that’s just to get from one point to another, with no fun boat tours included.

I think that’s a lot of money for transport, exceeding by far our food costs and our expectations. If it weren’t for the left side driving, I would have gone for a car rental, which I suppose it’s much cheaper.

On the bright side, it was fun to experiment with so many transport options in a single trip: taxi, tuk-tuk, tractor, sky train, ferry, boat, bus, metro.

Tips for booking transfers in Phuket and Bangkok

Public transport from Ao Nang, Krabi to Phuket (Yanui) took us 6 painful hours. When we traveled back to Krabi, we rented a taxi from Yanui, Phuket to Krabi Town (Andaman Transfer). It was expensive (67€/$82), but it took us less than 3 hours, which was great for our state of mind.

One thing to remember when booking a taxi – never ever use the reception desk for this job. They have their own contracts with transfer companies or their own drivers, but in both cases, you’ll pay more for the ride. We made this mistake in Bangkok, and it did cost us a lot. So when it came to Phuket, we had to insist that the hotel would call Andaman Transfer instead their transfer company.

Long-Boats-Thailand


Observations on our main flights to Thailand

Our main flight was 632€/$773 per person for the route Bucharest-Doha-Krabi and back.

We booked our flights with Qatar Airways well in advance, beginning of August for late November -beginning of December.

One thing to mention about this flight is that the initial flight price was 590€, and the extra 42€ was lost in processing fees with our bank (for each ticket).

Still, it was the best option because it was the fastest – 15 hours to go and 17 hours to return, with a short stopover in Doha (1-2 hours).

Cheaper flight options usually include two longer stopovers, and we didn’t want to lose so much time on the road.

A friend of mine who booked a similar flight during the same period through British Airways was forced to spend an extra day in London at his departure and seven or eight days at his return because the airport was closed temporarily because of the snow.


Thailand Attractions + Fun Budget

  • Visiting Temples and Museums: 48€/59$ for 2 people
  • Boat Tours: Hong Island Boat Tour + Bangkok Canal Tour + Floating Market: 195€/$239 for 2 people
  • Chiang Rai Day Tour (transport + food + temple fees): 51€/62$
  • Fish Spa: 5€/$6

300€ / $367 was our total travel budget for visiting Thailand’s main attractions and fun activities (2 people).

White-Temple-and-How-to-spend-a-day-in-Chiang-Rai,-Thailand


Mobile Internet in Thailand

On our 4th day in Thailand, we felt the need to have mobile Internet, so we bought a 10GB SIM card for 14€/$17 from Bangkok airport (Suvarnabhumi – BKK).

Souvenirs: 25€/$31

Souvenirs-from-Chiang-Mai,-Thailand

*I also did a bit of shopping in Bangkok, and that added 315€ to my travel budget, but you can skip this part.


Thailand Trip – Total Budget for 14 days, traveling as a couple

Before starting the actual planning of the trip, my rough estimation of the travel budget we needed to visit Thailand was around 3000€.

Once we got down to booking flights and hotel rooms, we soon realized this trip was going to cost us much more, if we really wanted to see some of the wonderful places in this country. The local transport was the most expensive part of this trip, and there aren’t many ways to go around it.

Type of Cost Euro / Person USD / Person 
Hotel Accommodation 404.50 495.50
Food and Drinks 200.00 245.00
Local Transport 232.50 284.50
Local Flights 266.00 326.00
Attractions 150.00 183.50
Mobile Internet 14.00 17.11
Souvenirs 12.50 15.00
Other expenses 64.00 78.00
Travel Budget for 14 Days in TH / Person 1343.50 1644.61
Airfare from Bucharest, RO / Person 632.50 773.00
Total Travel Budget for 14 Days in TH / Person 1976.00 2417.61

To sum up, our Thailand trip cost was 3952€ for 2 people, 14 days (without shopping).


Money Tips

  • Cash – For food, attractions, fun and accommodation expenses, we had cash most of the times, and it helped when local vendors (even gas stations) didn’t want to use their POS.
  • Euro or USD? – We went for USD instead of Euro because it was easier to exchange in Baht/THB. Exchange rates vary for each type of dollar bill.
  • Each ATM withdrawal comes with a 200 baht commission.

This cost is for visiting the most interesting cities in Thailand and some beach destinations. You can always go much cheaper, if you spend your holiday at the beach (maybe with a city break in Bangkok).

It was an interesting trip, but there are plenty of things I didn’t enjoy (fake smiles, the locals’ attitudes towards travelers), but I guess that’s a matter of perspective and previous travel experiences.

Anyway, hope you found this detailed travel budget for a Thailand trip useful. If you have any questions about it, let me know in the comment section below.


Thailand TripChiang Rai, Chiang Mai, BangkokKrabi – Railay, Krabi, Phi Phi, Hong, Ao Nang, Phuket| November – December  2017 | All Photos – Copyright: ©Ana Matei | Follow me on instagram @mateiana


Read Next:

How to spend a perfect day in Chiang Rai >

Railay Beach – Into the Wilderness >

Ana
Last updated: March 16, 2018
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