Thailand is a super backpacker-friendly country, which makes it easy to spend some time in the country on a very tight budget. We’ve spent almost two months in Thailand and managed to spend only $10 a day, even when we were traveling between places. Of course, not every day is the same, and there were days that we’ve spent way more than this. Especially, when doing tours or activities that cost money, it’s difficult. But still, it isn’t impossible. That’s why we wanted to share our experiences and tips on how we managed to travel cheap in Thailand on only $10/day.
TIPS TO TRAVEL CHEAP IN THAILAND
After having traveled through whole Central Asia and Indochina, we’re already used to budget accommodations. During our stay in Thailand, we slept in the most basic rooms one can imagine. But it helped stretching our budget immensely. You can already find dorm rooms and basic privates for $5 and even less. In Chiang Mai, we stayed a week in a guesthouse for $8/night, which makes this $4 per person. Couchsurfing is also a great thing to do in Thailand if you want to save money.
A lot of people think that it’s almost impossible to hitchhike in Thailand or Asia because the locals don’t know the meaning of hitchhiking. But this is not true! With the help of a hitchhiking letter, you can get literally everywhere! Transportation doesn’t cost that much, but if you have the time and patience, hitchhiking will help you saving more money in the end. We hitchhiked all the way through the north of Thailand without any problems. We even got from Chiang Mai to Bangkok in just one day (two rides, +12 hours).
TRAVEL WITH LOCAL TRANSPORTATION
If you’re not keen on hitchhiking or want to visit points of interest, take the local buses or a songthaew (a pick-up truck with benches in the back). These modes of transportation are cheap and convenient! Buses have their fixed prices and routes while songthaew’s function more like a shared tuk-tuk service. Although, some of them have set routes, depending on the color of the songthaew.
Travel Tip: Agree for the price of the songthaew before getting on. Prices are usually around 20 Baht for short distances.
WALK (A LOT)
We walk almost always and everywhere. Even if it’s 2km, we prefer to use our legs and walk the distance instead of paying money for a couple of hundred meters. It isn’t always the most relaxing and certainly not the fastest way to get around, but it’s free! We think that other long-term backpackers can agree with this.
The Thai cuisine is well-known all around the world, and for a good reason! Just take a walk around a local market or through the streets of Bangkok and the fragrances of the food stalls will overwhelm you. The street food culture in Thailand is BIG, and there are walking streets and markets in every city, more than once a week. The noodle dish “Pad Thai” is the most famous one among backpackers and you can already find a decent plate for 75 cents.
This convenient store is backpackers heaven. It’s a great and budget-friendly option to buy a microwave dish in the 7-Eleven. Especially the toasties are very famous among backpackers (Myrthe was addicted to the Tuna-Cheese Sandwiches). You won’t walk out with a full stomach but what can you expect for 50 cents? Perfect as breakfast, quick lunch or snack. 7-Eleven, 24/7! Unfortunately, it’s not so healthy. :-/
STAY IN THE NORTH AS LONG AS POSSIBLE
The north of Thailand is significantly cheaper than the islands in the south. Everyone tries to benefit from all the tourists and backpackers that want to stay on one of the islands. Transport is expensive as hell, and drinks & food are also more costly. Traveling on less than $15 a day is really difficult when you’re in the south of Thailand.
FIND FREE ACTIVITIES
Most of the time, tours are very expensive, especially for budget backpackers like us. That’s why we want to avoid doing tours as much as possible. Instead, we try to do the same activities by ourselves in a cheaper way. Or we try to find some free activities, like seeing the sunset at the Pai Canyon or experiencing a real Muay Thai fight in Bangkok.
Cities like Bangkok are cool to visit, as there’s much to do. But it’s most of the time much more expensive to stay in a big city than in a smaller village. Finding budget accommodations at a low price in Bangkok is really difficult. That’s why we don’t like to stay in touristic places for too long.
RENT A MOTORBIKE
Renting a bike is already possible for less than $3 for 24 hours. This makes it an excellent way to visit places or points of interest that are further out of town and are not easily accessible by local transportation. Utilize all the time you can have with your bike and try to see as much as possible on one day.
These are the things we did to live on $10/day, and we managed to do this for at least 30 days during our 2-months stay. By combining these tips, you and your wallet will benefit from it. It will help you to travel cheaply in Thailand and to stretch your budget to explore even more of the world.