The cost to travel in Thailand

I document the costs involved to travel in each country we visit, and share those here. One of the core things that allows me to be financially independent is geographic arbitrage, since travel is usually so much cheaper than life back in the ol’ USA. Long term travel saves me a ton of cash, but more importantly it lets me get an in depth look at many cool places. In case you are curious, costs for each previously visited countries are here: New Zealand, Singapore, Nepal. And for a more long term look at the total costs to travel for over a year look here.

The cost to stay in Thailand for one month

Another month, another country, another dollar.

Many dollars actually, we spent quite a bit more in Thailand than I had wanted. But we have a good excuse.

In total, we come to $2267.

In 29 days that works out to $78 per day, which is a lot more than our average, and a ton for south east asia. It’s about double what we spent last time we were in Thailand, and way more than we just spent in Nepal. It’s even significantly more than we spent per day in New Zealand! These sorts of numbers are a little painful to see in an inexpensive country, especially since that doesn’t include the costs to get to and from Thailand.

So how did we manage to blow so much?

Let’s break it down into the usual categories.

Eating is our biggest category

Considering the number of fancy restaurants and sky bars we went to, that’s pretty cheap. For the record, a few drinks for two at a sky bar is around $60, and is totally worth it. A fancy meal for two is at least $30, but usually more like $50 to $100. Meals on the street are $3 to $10 for two. And my favorite places to eat are the local hole in the wall restaurants, which are from about $5 to $20 for an awesome meal for two.

I don’t regret a single dollar spent on food in Thailand. It’s all so good.

Sleeping

We spent a majority of our time in Bangkok, which is a bit more expensive than most other places in the country. We rented an apartment for the entire time we were there for $513, which would have worked out to $18 per night. But after a few weeks we decided to head south to one of the islands for a week. So we were paying to sleep twice during that week! Hey, that’s what most normal people do when they go on vacation.

Moving around

In total we spent $477 on all in country transportation, not including the flights in and out. $230 of that was on roundtrip flights down south to Krabi, our favorite area in all Thailand.

$54 rented two scooters for five days while we were on Koh Jum, an island in Krabi province.

$75 paid for 8 cab rides in Bangkok. Cabs are a relatively expensive option, just like most other places in the world. But sometimes they are the most convenient.

An additional $82 went to the sky trains and metro in Bangkok. A short ride is about $1, a longer round trip is around $5. That’s a lot in a country where you can eat a decent meal for a few dollars.

Transportation costs are pretty high in Bangkok compared to most Asian cities. The city is just too large and spread out, but when you consider how far you have to travel to get anywhere it’s actually not all that bad per kilometer traveled. But if you had to move around every day it would really add up.

There are good busses in the city that are very cheap, but they can be pretty slow in heavy traffic. I recommend taking them though, just for the entertainment value.

Bangkok’s famous tuk tuks are another option which are usually not cheap for foreigners. I don’t recommend taking those unless you know what a good rate is, and they are loud, smelly and uncomfortable.

Finally, any chance you get to travel by boat in Thailand is guaranteed to be a good time. Just do it.

Junk

We needed fancy shoes because of the sky bars dress code. Shampoo, hair ties and a few other things like that are also here. I also bought a Thai Lunchbox, which is a toy I’ll definitely use back home. In total junk came to $26.

Services

We had to get at least one Thai massage while in the country. Alecia also took an overpriced dance class, probably as an excuse to get away from me for half a day. And we each went to the dentist to get our teeth cleaned, which is way cheaper than back home for the exact same thing.

So what is our reason for these escalated costs?

Alecia’s mom came to visit for a few weeks! It’s was pretty great to have the time and flexibility to travel with her, after more than a year away from home.

She paid for her flight over, we covered most of her in country expenses. So we were paying for three people the entire time she was with us. Our bump in costs are mostly just due to the extra person.

Our cost per day are actually more like $30 per person

When you factor in the additional person for two weeks our costs per day drop to $32 each. That’s more palatable. Considering that Bangkok and the islands are more expensive than other places in the country I think we actually did pretty good. We could shave a bit more with better planning on the housing thing, and I’d guess if it were just the two of us we would have come in around $25.

You can still travel in Thailand for $20

When we were in Thailand six years ago our average per day per person cost was well under $20, but we were younger and more willing to suffer seek adventure. On that trip we ate lots of street food and at very few fancy restaurants since we were trying to stretch our limited dollars. We skimped on air conditioning, rode buses instead of flying whenever possible and generally did our best to spend as little as necessary. We traveled all over the country and it was great, by no means did that feel limiting at that time in my life.

That said, we usually don’t suffer seek adventure like that anymore unless there is no other option. Lifestyle inflation I guess.

Costs increase with age

This reinforces my assumption that as one ages and the need for comfort increases, so do the costs. Not the most profound hypothesis, but it is something to keep in mind as you plan your financial future. We certainly seek more comfort than we used too.

This is a good reminder of normal

When time is limited you don’t want to take the slower routes, and you don’t want to save every penny, you don’t want to miss experiences. Alicia’s mom only had two weeks to travel with us, so we packed more into that time than we would have normally on our own. We took cabs instead of buses. We flew instead of riding a train. And we stayed at a much fancier beach resort while in Koh Jum than we would have otherwise. Those things add up.

It’s a good reminder to me of how normal people spend their vacation – they spend a little time and a lot of money. We usually reverse those things.

And the money doesn’t really matter

If our plan can’t support the occasional parental visit or whatever other increase in expense come up we’d be in trouble. Something always comes up. Things break, we lose things, family comes to visit. It all has a cost.

Yes, it is more than I’d like to have spent in Thailand, but it’s not going to change the big picture. Over the course of a year or two that extra $500 or whatever it was will fade into the background. It’s really not all that significant.

But wait, pie chart!

Costs for a month in Thailand

Junk is only about 1%, not too bad.

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