Do you always spend more money than planned while in Thailand? Would you like to save money while traveling? Of course, right?! With that in mind, we composed a list of 27 golden tips to get more out of your trip for less money. Read through it and use them so you can travel through Thailand cheaply!
1. Keep track of your expenses
Every evening, make a list of the day’s expenses. Keep entry tickets and receipts with you whenever possible, so you can add up the prices. Make sure you order them by dividing them into categories. Examples of categories are: food & drink, transport, accommodation, tours and personal hygiene. That way, you’ll know exactly what expenses you need to save on.
2. Take out large amounts from the ATM and bring banknotes
Using the ATM costs money, quite a lot of money even. We’re talking about 200 baht (≈ € 4) per transaction. That’s not even taking into account an unfavorable exchange rate. Which is why we recommend taking out at least 10,000 baht (≈ € 270) at a time. An even better solution is to bring banknotes with you from home (recommended amount: 5 x € 100 notes). You’ll find the best exchange rates for your euros at Bangkok airport (basement level).
3. Travel like a local
In Thailand you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to transport. Whether you choose to travel by bus, train, boat or airplane, make sure you always travel in second class. Or better still, travel among the locals. A two hour trip from Bangkok to Ayutthaya is only 17 baht (≈ € 0.45). A first class ticket will cost 20 times as much. You’re guaranteed to save money!
4. Drink (bottled) water and refill
Tempting as it is to drink fruit shakes all day, if you want to save money, it’s best to drink water. You can refill your bottles anywhere in Thailand for two baht. Cheap and it helps the environment.
5. Avoid expensive taxis
Bangkok’s taxis are fairly cheap compared to the ones on Koh Samui, which are extremely expensive. In some cases it’s best to take a songtaew. These are shared taxis, used throughout Thailand, that come in all shapes and sizes. They run on fixed routes and you can decide yourself when to hop on or off.
6. Bring from home
As Dutch people we love to bring things from home. It can save a lot of money. Asking prices for a simple bottle of sunscreen or after-sun, on any Thai island, border on the ridiculous. They will literally charge you an arm and a leg. Just bring some from home.
7. Save a lot of money on plane tickets
You can save hundreds of euros on plane tickets alone. Just follow one simple rule: the earlier you book your flight (at least six months before), the cheaper it will be. If you’re flying last-minute, compare different airports. For example, sometimes flying to Bangkok from Brussels instead of from Amsterdam can save us hundreds of euros.
8. Leave a small tip
In Thailand, leaving tips isn’t a must. Nobody will turn up their noses at you if you don’t do it. So do what we do; leave the change or a maximum 20 baht tip. That really should be enough and you won’t be considered stingy.
9. Eat locally
Sure, in Thailand you can have burgers, fries, pizzas and bread in lots of places and every now and then it is nice to have some western food. However, a pizza, for example, can easily cost three times as much as a Thai meal.
10. Pay by credit card
In case of major purchases, such as plane tickets, renting a car or expensive hotel stays, using a credit card is advisable. You’ll be certain that the price is based on the current exchange rate, plus, you’ll be insured for whatever the purchase amount.
11. Haggle on accommodation
This is definitely a smart thing to do during the low season (end of April, May, June, September and October). Whether you would like to stay for a few nights longer or arrive at a hotel without having booked a room beforehand, ask for a reduction. Especially during the low season, arrangements can always be made.
12. Travel out of season
This tip ties in closely with the previous one. The months of November until February and the European summer months are considered the high season in Thailand. It will be very busy and booking hotels, plane tickets and tours will be considerably more expensive than during the low season. If the option is available to you, it’s a simple way to save money.
13. Anti-malarial drugs aren’t necessary
Malaria in Thailand? No, not in the places you’ll be visiting. In Thailand, conventional repellent will do. So, no need to take any of those expensive anti-malarial pills.
14. Haggle, haggle, haggle
In Thailand, haggling is like a game. You can haggle on taxi rides, souvenirs, snorkeling trips, you name it. There’s never any harm in trying. But remember, always play this game with a smile on your face. Getting angry is not done and is considered very rude in Thai culture.
15. Rent a house for a week
We regularly rent a house in Thailand. Ideal and super cool as well, because we’ve lived among the locals various times. First we check out houses on www.airbnb.com and then we book for a couple of nights. If we like it, we stay longer and try to come to a nice agreement with the owner.
The easiest way to save money – especially when traveling alone – is by saving on accommodation. Sleep in hostels and shared rooms. Even if you’re traveling as a couple it’s possible to book a room that’s private, but has a shared bathroom.
17. Do your own laundry
You can have your laundry done on the street corner or at your hotel. It’s really easy; you can pick it up again the day after. But sometimes you pay more than 80 baht per kilo or a fixed price per item of clothing. A cheaper option is do your own laundry in the sink.
18. Travel at night
Night buses and night trains are ideal for travelers looking to save money. You’ll be saving the costs you would otherwise be paying for your accommodation, while traveling hundreds of miles without noticing. Try the website 12goAsia for cheap tickets for night buses and night trains in Thailand.
19. Cheap alcohol?
Forget it! Alcohol in Thailand is expensive. You’ll be paying westerns prices for your bottle of beer. That’s not even considering the wine; incredibly expensive! So, if you’re interested in saving money, drink in moderation.
20. Travel to the north of Thailand!
That’s right. Travel north and avoid the south. The islands are a lot more expensive than the north. While in the north you can go out to eat three times a day and sleep in nice hotels, in the south you have to be more careful with your money. But can you resist the Thai beaches?
21. Don’t get scammed!
Yes, not getting scammed can save you a lot of money. That nice man in Bangkok, offering to arrange a free tuk tuk for you? Don’t fall for it! Read everything about Bangkok’s number one scam here.
22. Street food!
A simple, and delicious, money saving tip: eat like a local! Eat out on the street and order a Thai classic; an easy way to save a lot of money in Thailand.
23. Outside of the center
Hotels on the beach or in the center of town can be very expensive. So why not choose one just outside of the center or the touristy parts? That will save you a lot of money. The same obviously goes for restaurants, shops and tour agencies.
24. Use wifi
At Bangkok’s airport, you can have a Thai SIM-card installed into your phone on the spot. That way, you’ll have 4G internet for the entirety of your trip. Very handy of course, but also an investment (though a small one); every restaurant and hotel will have free internet, so ask yourself beforehand whether or not you’ll really need it.
25. Hire a motorbike
Of course, renting a motorbike isn’t an option for everyone, as there are a few risks involved. But those brave enough will be able to plan their own trips. You can hire a motorbike for one day, fill it up and go anywhere you want. Expect to pay 300 baht for hire + petrol a day.
26. Walk anywhere!
Do you need every day to be planned out beforehand? Hopefully, the answer is no and you’ll have a few days during your travels on which you don’t have any plans at all. Forget taking a taxi, a tuk tuk or a bus and just go for a walk. Wander off and see where you end up. Super cheap!
27. Get to know the locals
Locals know what’s good and what something’s really worth. They never pay too much. So, try and get to know a few of them and ask them for the best places to go. Speaking a little bit of Thai can be helpful as well and is always appreciated!