How Much a Holiday in Thailand Costs

By Nomadic Matt | Published January 30th, 2012

Ruins and a statue in Sukkothai, ThailandThailand can be as expensive or inexpensive a country to visit as you want it to be. This is a country where you can stay in $3 USD per night rooms or $1000 USD per night resorts. Twenty cent street food or 300 dollar gourmet dinners. Thailand really runs the gamut. When my friends came to visit last December, they budgeted $1,700 USD for their 3 week trip. “No problem,” I said, “that’s more than enough for Thailand. This country is cheap.” But what I realized as I traveled with people on a limited time frame, is that there is big difference in budgeting for a backpacking trip versus budgeting for a holiday.

It requires a whole different mentality. It’s a lot easier to do that when you can average out your expenses over a few months instead of a few weeks. On a vacation, you tend to race around trying to see as much as you can, which can drive up your costs a lot.

Thailand is a very cheap country to live and travel around. I hardly spend much money here. But that changed when my friends came and why that changed is important for anyone planning to come to Thailand. While my friends were here, I spent a lot of money. For the 24 days we traveled, I spent $1,596.27 USD or $66.51 dollars per day. Here’s the numbers breakdown (all prices are in in Thai Baht):

  • Accommodation (cheap guesthouses, nice beach bungalows, luxury jungle huts) – 13,565
  • Flights around Thailand – 4,200
  • Transportation (public buses, trains, taxis) – 1470
  • Ferry to, around, and from the islands – 1875
  • Diving in Ko Tao – 800
  • Hiking in Khao Sok – 1200
  • Movie and Popcorn (Sherlock Holmes 2 – don’t see it!) – 320
  • Misc (bug spray, toothbrush, etc) – 363
  • Drinks (it was the holidays!) – 10,115
  • Jim Thompson House (museum in Bangkok) – 100
  • Medicine (I popped my ear drum scuba diving!) – 1,890
  • Food (street food, seafood dinners, amazing international meals in Bangkok) – 11,000
  • Web stuff – 890
  • Water – 100

Total Spent: 47,888 Baht or $1,596.27 USD

Note: $1 USD = 30 Baht.

For Thailand, I think that is a lot of money. I tell people that backpacking around Thailand costs $30-35 USD per day depending on how much alcohol you consume and how many days you spend on the islands, where costs are higher. Most of the time, I spend less than that. I just stayed a week in the northern city of Chiang Mai and I only spent about $25 USD per day. That included accommodation (private room with bathroom), local food, Starbucks, the occasional Western meal, and a few drinks.

So Why Did I Spend Double?

Sunset in Ko Lanta, Thailand
Though my intention was to do “Thailand on a budget”, as I traveled with my friends, I realized something I forgot long ago. When time is limited and this is might be one of two big trips all year, you don’t want to scrape every penny. Vacations don’t need to cost a fortune but if you aren’t traveling all the time, then staying in the cheapest place to make your money last becomes less of an issue. You want nice things.

You travel faster. You take planes, not 12 hour trains. You cram more activities into your day. You pamper yourself more. You eat nicer meals.

And my friends definitely wanted all the above.

How Much Do You Need?

Beaches near Ko Lipe, Thailand
That’s not to say I don’t think a vacation in Thailand can’t be done cheaper. It can. I think a budget of around $50 USD per day would be perfect for a short vacation to Thailand. You don’t need to spend as much as I spent. I spent a lot of money going out, using the internet for work, and seeing a doctor. If I cut out those expenses, my average drops to 1,421.16 Baht or $47.31 USD per day. That’s more expensive than a backpacker budget but really good for a trip to Thailand.

Throw in some extra money for shopping, and a maximum of $55 USD per day would give you a very, very nice budget vacation in Thailand. For that price, you would get:

  • Flights so you don’t have to spend time on long bus rides.
  • Meals that include local restaurants and cheap street food as well as delicious seafood dinners and some delicious international food in Bangkok.
  • Budget guesthouses with a few “splurge” nights thrown in.
  • Some tours and activities.
  • A few drinks.
  • And a little extra wiggle room just in case.

Pretty much the essentials of any good, relaxing holiday.

While all the money-saving tips mentioned on my website can be applied to any style of trip (saving money is universal), the speed in which you travel on a vacation changes the dynamic of how you spend money. We could have saved a lot if we skipped the flights and took the train but my friends didn’t have the time to spend 12 hours on a train. We flew, which during peak season, is expensive.

A river in Khao Sok

This experience brought reminded me how accelerated travel requires us to be more vigilant in our efforts to save money. In the rush to see everything, you can spend a lot of money before you even realize it. I’ll admit that the budget traveler I normally am went out the door on this trip. I would normally never fly around Thailand, would skip the expensive resorts, and wouldn’t eat as much international food as I did with my friends.

A three-week vacation in Thailand might not be as cheap as a three-month backpacking trip but it can still be inexpensive so long as you watch where your money goes and don’t forget about keeping to a budget in your quest to see everything.

Continue your planning your trip with these articles:
Thailand Travel Guide
11 Reasons Why I Love Thailand
Seven Reasons to Visit Thailand

comments 74 Comments

Thanks! This is perfect as I’m planning a three week trip this April!

NomadicMatt

Welcome!

Parva

Hey, could you possibly pass me an address of the guest house you stayed in? I am looking for an affordable place to live there but its quite hard to find one.

Thanks

NomadicMatt

In which location?

Brooke

kanchanaburi thailand??? Any hotels. Also any tips for a solo traveler? Whom to trust and etc?

Gregory

Am leaving for permanent travel this dinner and this logic is exactly how I’ve been thinking. Thank you for boosting my confidence.

Gregory

SUMMER not DINNER :)

Don’t wait for SUMMER! Leave at DINNER! TONIGHT! ;)

“…and seeing a doctor. If I cut out those expenses, my average drops…” Hopefully you’re alright and you don’t have to cut out seeing a doctor to save money!

Good post though about how the decisions we make while traveling can greatly impact our bottom line. It’s all about what kind of experience we want to have and what we’re traveling for.

NomadicMatt

My ear has healed but when I go home in April, I plan on going to get it fully checked out.

Great information thanks! I’m highly considering teaching english over and Thailand and was pondering over how much it would cost in general. Thanks again!

I noticed Thailand is cheap when $10 at a convenience store gets you more than you can possibly carry. Matt, I would be interested to here your thoughts on Cambodia prices, relative to Thailand.

Izy

I’m not Matt, but I’ve traveled Thailand and Cambodia a few times (I L O V E Cambodia) and I would say that Cambodia is significantly cheaper. A three hour bus (local bus) runs at around $3 USD. You can get meals for well under $1. The beaches are nice – I stayed on a cute little island called “Rabbit island” for a few dollars – it’s a pretty quiet island, but awesome if you go with a big group of people and it has those glowing fishes at night. Dorms aren’t very common so often you wind up with a private room, which you can get for $5-10usd, if you’re being really cheap. I had a nice 4 star hotel in PP for a night (to sort myself out) which was around $50usd. I prefer traveling in Cambodia money wise not only because it’s cheap, but for me spending USD gives me a better bearing of what I’m actually spending.

I spent a month in a rural town in Cambodia and spent around $300 usd for the month. I was busy volunteering, but that did include a weekend trip to Rabbit island and a few trips around the region (Takeo). I think upwards of $500 usd a month would be a fine very bare budget for Cambodia, factor in more for Siem Reap (Angkor pass is kind of expensive, and you’re likely to enjoy Western comforts there which will bump up the price)

I miss the fiery red roads of Cambodia and the big, beaming smiles. I think it’s an underrated destination for sure! :) Hope that helps. xx

NomadicMatt

I love Cambodia. I’m here again for the 2nd time and I would agree with you – it is a lot cheaper. It’s sort of hard to spend money here. You really need to try.

catmonkey

I just came back from a 9 day trip in Thailand, I spent $250 for the whole trip for which I believed I could have spent less compared to my bf who was there with his mate and had spent $1000 for the same amount of time with all the partying nights

You gotta teach me your secret to tracking/categorizing your $$ spent so thoroughly. Rather than not having the organizational skills to track it (details are not my thing), I’m hoping I just don’t have the system in place…

NomadicMatt

I write down all my expenses in a notebook. I have a nice little handy Moleskin I take everywhere.

Betti

great points.
it also makes a big difference if you travel alone or with a friend. accommodation, motorcycle rental, taxi rides…. not all the same if you share or have to cough it up by yourself.

I think I am torn between budget travel and spending a little more for certain experiences. When I did my RTW trip – I opted for the more expensive where I thought best in exchange for time!! I had one year to travel or a particular dollar amount – I opted to do it all til I hit my magic number and then call it a day! I did 7 months and never regretted it. Admittedly, I was sad to have missed certain countries, but I did everything I wanted in the countries I visited. It was the 3 months travel in Canada than killed the budget! I know I can go back to the countries I missed. While in South America I met a trio of girls doing everything on the super cheap – they did not look as is they were enjoying themselves nearly as much as myself and the person I was traveling with. Guess it depends on your goals.
Love your breakdown on costs – great way to really see where those travel dollars are going.

NomadicMatt

I don’t think people should go super cheap. I get you might not have a lot of money but go for a shorter time and experience more instead of going longer and experiencing less. I’ve met the same types of travelers on the road too and in my opinion, they would get more out of their trip if they did more in a shorter time frame.

This is great info. My husband and I are going to Thailand February 17th-26th. We’d like to see Bangkok and Chiang Mai. Would you suggest that we book our flight from BKK to Chiang Mai prior to getting to Thailand, or can we do it there? The problem is that we’re not sure how long we want to stay in each city since we have such a short time in the country. This cost break-down is really helpful for us. Thanks for posting!

NomadicMatt

Thai Airways has a special on flights between the two cities right now so I would book in advance.

I never thought of three weeks as a short time before but you’re right about the 12 hour train rides. Thanks for the perspective.

I absolutely loved travelling around Thailand. I had budgeted around $30-$40 per day but found by the end of my trip that I was getting by on closer to $20 per day. Like you say though, the islands are the most expensive area, while the north seemed to be the cheapest. Great post!

NomadicMatt

The north is the cheapest part of the country.

Thanks for the heads up! We’re headed to Bali soon (Work Holiday in AU is almost over ;P … ) and my sister is going to meet us there. It’s good to remember not to try to “cheap” her out of a fun time abroad!

Great post! Very informative for those that are new to traveling.

Hi Matt,
When I was in Thailand, we saved every little penny we could because we were doing the RTW. However, there are things that we regret we did not do for save money.
In our next trip to Thailand we will be much more then “flashpacker” as our visit will not last three months but only a couple of weeks and this time, there will be no regrets :-)

Great information Matt, will add this to my facebook page.

I’m going through this exact thing in Thailand as I write this. Traveling alone I could budget my money and live on almost nothing. As soon as my friends arrived, It’s been resorts and expedited traveling. The tough part is finding a balance.

bernie

Went to Thailand with one of my sons last year.. we had 7 weeks.. which i thought was quite a long time!! but no!!!! could have done with at least double that!!! lol. Both loved it there! Can not wait to go back! Was not too happy with the guest house in Chiang Mai..next time will get another one..

NomadicMatt

Thailand takes a lot longer to explore than a lot of people realize. I tried to do it in 2 weeks the first time I went there.

I can’t wait to visit Thailand, definitely next up on my list of destinations. I tend to go for cheaper accommodations to help save for the more enjoyable experiences and, of course, food! Good to see it broken down though, thanks!

William

Thailand I rated good on my first visit, but then I went to Vietnam and Camboda, which was so much better than Thailand.
Not good to travel around Thailand too cheap, Value for money not great. I never stay in top hotels but middle ones..backpackers too rough for money. Food is all the same over-rated.
I am not in a hurry to return now, Vietnam offers so much more and they need the Dollars more.
In South America try Uruguay..nice places in this small country.

Oh, I love Thailand…I spent nearly a month there a few years back. Did you get down to Phi Phi? So cool hopping around to the different islands.

Cheers,
Mike

I’m heading to Thailand in a couple of weeks as the last leg of a backpacking trip through Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. I’m hoping I might be down to the last of my savings by then! However, it might be a good place to put my TEFL certificate to use and teach English for a while

Whoops, I mean I hope it’s cheap because I’ll be down to the last of my savings! Must be the hot Vietnam sun making me type gibberish…

NomadicMatt

Vietnam will do that you….

aditya

thanks a lo matt..great info n insight…planning a tour to thailand with friends..got huge clarity in planning!!

NomadicMatt

You’re welcome.

Chris

Thanks Matt,

Great read!

I spent 3 months travelling around SE Asia about 5 years ago and absolutely loved it.

Thailand was my favourite.

I’m thinking of taking a break from work on some online stuff myself next year for about 3 months. I’ve already travelled, so my motivation is different to most backpackers and just want to find a decent/cheap place (preferrably on one of the islands) to hang out.

What’s the internet coverage like? Is wifi common?

Any suggestions for longer term stays in single locations?

NomadicMatt

Internet coverage is everywhere in Thailand. You can’t take a step without finding free wifi. A lot of people set up shop in Chiang Mai but I am partial to Bangkok.

Shopping Floating market Amphawa…

Kyle

hey matt,

planning my three month trip starting February 2013 as that’s about the time I think I’ll have the money to do so lol. but if you think my budget is more than okay for three moths let me know so I can leave sooner than later! been planning/slowly saving since I was 17 and wanna go for my 21st. If I were to leave now I’d be going with about $4000/$5500 Canadian. I’m just scared I’ll get there and not have enough money so planning for February so I have about double that if not more. I do want to rough it out the entire time I’m there though. I want the full experience of backpacking (can you tell this is my first time haha). maybe a nice hotel here or there a couple excursions (scuba diving, elephant rides so on and so forth) but nothing to crazy over the top. also as of right now I’m going alone. good or bad idea? should I be waiting until a friend can afford to come with me?

you have a great article and any information you can give me would be wicked!! thanks!

Leigh

Hi Matt

This has been the most helpful post I’ve come across!
I’m planning a 15 day trip to Thailand in March 2013 and I was wondering if it will be cheaper for me to book my flights between cities now or rather wait until I land in Thailand (visiting Bangkok , Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, Koh Phi Phi and Phuket)?

Another question: I want to do the whole tourist thing in each city, do a bit of shopping&party a l

Leigh

Hi Matt
This has been the most helpful post I’ve come across!
I’m planning a 15 day trip to Thailand in March 2013 and I was wondering if it will be cheaper for me to book my flights between cities now or rather wait until I land in Thailand (visiting Bangkok , Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, Koh Phi Phi and Phuket)?

Would you recommend booking my hotel rooms now (Agoda has some great deals) or should I rather wait until I arrive in Thailand.

Another question: I want to do the whole tourist thing in each city, do a bit of shopping&party a lot. Do you think a $20 budget per day would enough or should I rather budget on $40. This amount excludes flights and accomation.

Again thanks for awesome posts!

Alex

Great post Matt, very informative. I will keep an eye out for future updates from yourself. I do have a similar query to above though.. Would it make a big difference financially to book hotels in advance – Reasonable hotels to my taste in Bangkok seem to be 15-30 GBP in advance (dependent on location/quality), will this change dramatically on arrival? (Nov 2012) I would rather not over plan my trip if at all possible. On your trip, were you booking in advance (if so how far in advance)? Or were you simply ”winging it” – Again great post..

Steve

My wife and I are going to much the same places in late march. We live in Northern Territory Australia maybe we can have a drink together .

Ben

Extremely helpful to see all your figures. I guess you always end up spending more on a holiday when you don’t know the shortcuts and places to go locally.

Peter

Great post Matt. Yet I have been wondering. I am planning on going to thailand soon and Im looking to spend up to a max of $20 per day. One thing Im thinking that could drive the cost down would be couchsurfing or some other websites available. Might work but it depends. Would that be enough?

Liz

Hi

My partner and I have booked a 3 week holiday in Thailand for August. We have the flights booked (including internal) but were wondering whether it was best to book hotels in advance or sort out when in Thailand?

NomadicMatt

Book your first hotel in advance. You can take care of everything else when you get there.

Nicole

Excellent information and love how you put everything out on the table. I’m thinking about planning a 2 week trip to Thailand in June (mainly island hopping), but see how some websites mention that the weather might not be that great. What would you suggest?

wow full information completely, so help me, maybe I will to thailand after vacation in Bali in june

Hi there

Firstly thank you for such an awesome and informative sight. We are planning on going to Phuket in June 2014. I have looked up the weather and some sights say its warm, some say it’s rainy and some say thunderstorms. I would hate for my first trip overseas to be restricted indoors because of the weather. Could you please advise?

We are also going with the resort type accommodation and would like to know if we should buy a package with a travel agent – is that the cheapest option or to book accommodation for about 3 days and then source our own accommodation while there? Is it best to book tours though the travel agency or when we get there?

Look forward to your response.

Robert C

I am travelling to Thailand in Febuary 2014 for 1 month on my own
Love this country spent 20 days in Febuary 2013
I plan on going to Phuket this time as I spent to much of my last trip in doors
At Bangkok been there done that need to see Bond island and floating village
Ride an elephant
Can any one recommend good cheap accommodation in patong
Best method of travel to Phuket cheap
Should I fly into Phuket rather than Bangkok

Kristian

Thanks for the insight! Learning a lot from your different posts.
Girlfriend and I are going to SE Asia next month, 3 months – first backpack for both of us, so your writings are of great interest! Thanks.

Allisha

I’m planning my Thailand holiday for the end of the year with a group of friends, this has helped a lot ! Thanks soo much.

K2hawaii

Aloha Allisha
I am going as well from hawaii to Thailand any info would be great
Aloha And Mahalo

Thanks, your website is informative and really helpful. Thanks again!

I am planing trip to Bangkok in December.

K2hawaii

Aloha Leaving hawaii to go to Thailand in december Is that a good idea?
whats the best way to get there?
I have Hawaiian Miles lots.. Any advice would be appreciated…

Javi

Thank you so much, this is just what I was looking for. I’m going to thailand for new years and was stressing out over the money issue.
Great article!

Hi,

Thanks for this. Makes me want to go to thailand more. Anyway, what do you think is the best place in thailand where there are alot of nice beaches but you can spend less?

You can make Thailand as expensive as you want yourself right.

Daniela

This post is great! I am planning to travel to Thailand and get to know a lot of places there, so I would do it by plane, but I have a question on you, could you recommend me a flight/train company? Where should I book the internal flights?

Hana

Hi,
I just received 3 quotes from the travel agent for £1800pp
Uk to Dubai – 1 night
Dubai to BKK – 3 nights
BKK – Chaing Mai – 2 nights
Chaing Mai – Puket – 3 nights
Pucket – Dubai – London.

Including all transfer….I thought this is VERY expensive. Tough we want to
stay in 4* accommodation,but I thought this is too expensive. Any ideas…
Thanks
Hana

Nice one Matt! :) We’ll use this when we hit Chaing Mai in a few months. Have you been there?

Matt

Hey Matt,

My girlfriend and I are travelling Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam in starting in May through to mid July, how much USD would you expect to spend /plan on taking, on a backpacker budget, with a few things thrown in, I.E elephant ride in Chiang mai and a few island activities? I’ve been looking through a few websites trying to gather some info, you seem to have “been there, done that”

Dolly Lama

Ok – here’s my challenge…I’m athletic and adventuresome, but not well-travelled. My husband and I love to dive – I’ve been mostly to Caymans, Belize, Roatan. But nothing in South Pacific. We have 2 teenage boys (14, 16) good hikers, swimmers and snorkelers. We live in Southern California – and are into the beach – enjoy water sports. I am turning 50 this year and would like some great experiences to mark the year. One of them is a trip to Thailand this December 2014- early Jan 2015. I would like to maximize our time doing awesome, cultural things and seeing the beauty of this area of the world. I would also love to dive and see a whale shark (I know – no guarantees.) My initial plan is lax-Bangkok for a few days – Chan Mai bicycle/hike for a few days (elepahants?) Then the beaches and water/diving/relaxing. We have approx 2 wks 12/20-1/3 – we don’t need strict budget (which I totally admire) – but want good times and VALUE/interesting experiences. Please help – especially what islands? Thank you VERY much :)

Lara

Hi, thanks !! I am planning to go next February by myself..feeling very excited !!

Choudhry

Hey all..! I’m heading to Bangkok, Phuket and Samui in early July. I’ve also planned for Cambodia. I hope everything goes well. I have budgeted my 12 days vacation for $1200. And I hope this amount would be enough for this trip :)

Rachel

Hey Choudry- I am planning the same trip in the end of July for 3 weeks…do you plan to use flights to get around? I am nervous because I feel like 3 weeks is not enough time to see Bangkok, Chaing Mai, Phuket, Koh Phi Phi, Koh Samui and Cambodia (Ankor Wat)
What does your itinerary look like? I’m curious…
Also, does 1200$ include the flights?
Thanks

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