Why Is Thailand So Cheap? A 4-Point Breakdown

Between the rich culture, delicious cuisine, and sun-soaked beaches, Thailand is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Asia. But in addition to the fascinating sights, there’s another huge advantage that attracts travelers from around the world. Thailand also happens to be incredibly affordable! 

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Why is Thailand so cheap?

For the average tourist, visiting Thailand is relatively cheap. Living expenses and day-to-day purchases are far less than they would be in other western countries. That means you can see sights, indulge in amazing food, and stay in nice hotels for a fraction of what you’d pay in other popular tourist destinations. 

To help you budget for your trip, we’ll go over the different costs and expenses of traveling in Thailand. 

Which Place in Thailand is the Cheapest?

Thailand has numerous cities, villages, and islands that you can visit for cheap. As a rule of thumb, resort areas and touristy destinations tend to be more expensive in terms of travel costs. But don’t let that discourage you – traveling on a budget is still possible even in these places. 

When it comes to big cities, Bangkok is one of the cheapest destinations for travelers. Although you’ll find high-end hotels, restaurants, and shops, there’s also a plethora of affordable options as well. You can stay in dorms, dine on street food snacks, and purchase cheap souvenirs for just a few dollars.

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Chaing Mai in the north of Thailand is also known as an affordable travel destination. As a popular stop on the backpacker route, this city has many hostels where you can find room for under $5 a night. 

If you want to experience the beach without dealing with overpriced resorts and restaurants, head to Krabi. You can still enjoy the laid-back vibe and tropical atmosphere without dipping too much into your budget.

But if island-hopping is on your radar, there are a few cheaper destinations where your dollar will stretch further. For example, Koh Lanta and Koh Chang are ideal for those who want to experience island living without the inflated prices and crowds in Koh Phi Phi and Koh Samui.

Average Travel Costs in Thailand

Thailand is a country that caters to all types of travelers. If you’re looking for luxurious experiences, you could easily spend thousands of dollars on your trip. 

But if you’re hoping to save money while still enjoying a great vacation – Thailand is also a great destination for that too.  

If you’re on a backpacker budget, you can easily get away with spending $20 to $30 a day. That includes accommodation, food, and taking advantage of free entertainment like public beaches or walking tours. 

Mid-range budget travelers should set aside $50 to $75 a day. In addition to a private room in a hotel or dorm, you’ll also have spare change for activities, drinks, or transportation. 

Finally, luxury travelers should budget for $200 to $300 a day. This money would allow you to splurge on a nice resort, fancy dinners, or private tours and excursions.

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Accommodation Costs

If you’re on a shoestring budget, you can easily find accommodation in Thailand for several dollars a night. A bed in a hostel will only set you back $5 to $10, while a private room can cost $10 to $20. You can also choose to stay in a private room in a mid-range hotel for anywhere between $20 to $40 a night.

Keep in mind that accommodation prices are higher in more exclusive vacation areas. This includes Phuket, Koh Samui, and Koh Phi Phi. These resort towns are very popular with tourists. As such, beach bungalows and 5-star resorts can cost anywhere from $200 to $400. 

Food Costs

Thai food is well known around the world, and it doesn’t get any better (or cheaper) than right here in Thailand. 

No matter where you go, street food reigns supreme. You’ll find vendors peddling drinks, snacks, and meals every hour of the day. And in most cases, it’s just as good or even better than what you could get at a restaurant.

Prices vary by dish, but you can expect to pay $1 for desserts or small snacks, $3 for noodles or soup, and $5 for fresh fish or meat.

If you prefer to dine in a restaurant, you can also eat like a king for cheap. Most vegetarian dishes in a family-run restaurant will be around $3 to $5, while meat or fish dishes can be upwards of $7 or $8

Of course, you can also spend western prices if you eat in upscale or internal restaurants in bigger cities like Bangkok or Phuket.

Although alcohol is cheap by western standards, it can cost almost as much as a meal when dining out. This is due to the exorbitantly high taxation rate on alcohol. For example, a large bottle of beer will likely be around $1 to $2, while a glass of wine might cost $3 or $4. Cocktails with imported liquors are pricey, costing anywhere from $6 to $10 in a bar. 

Entertainment Costs

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Setting aside some money to participate in fun activities will allow you to enjoy all the amazing things Thailand has to offer. If you’re in the city, you may choose to book a cooking class or buy tickets to see a live Muay Thai boxing match. 

Visitors near the beach can also book outdoor excursions, like snorkeling, diving, or boating. 

Depending on where you are, tours and excursions vary drastically by price and quality. Cheaper isn’t always better, and scams do happen from time to time. Make sure to read reviews or do research beforehand to make sure you’re getting a good deal for your money.

There are also plenty of free activities to do during your stay. Spend the day on a public beach, hike up to the top of a mountain, or book a free walking tour of a city.

Many temples in Thailand are also free and an excellent way to immerse yourself in the local culture. 

Transportation Costs

If you’re planning on traveling around the country, you’ll be happy to know that transportation is relatively affordable. Thailand has a well-connected rail system that can take you to many different cities.

For example, Bangkok to Chiang Mai is only $15 to $30 (depending on ticket type and class). 

Long distance coach buses are also available. While they might not be as comfortable as a train, they are cheaper and travel to more places around the country.

Within the city, most people get around by taxi, motorbike, or tuk tuk. Taxis are the most expensive option, although they’re still quite cheap compared to western prices. You can expect to pay $3 to $8 for a ride around the city. 

Motorbikes and tuk tuks are cheaper than traditional taxis. However, they can also be more dangerous and reckless, especially if you’re traveling during rush hour.

On top of that, they aren’t ideal for groups or families, as there is limited space for people and luggage.

Bangkok does have an overground railway with two lines navigating around the city. A one way ticket costs around 50 cents, while an all-day pass will be $4.