Traveling to Thailand should be on everyone’s bucket list. While it’s not that expensive once you get there, these top 10 tips to save money in Thailand will help you make the most of your time in this amazing country.
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10 Tips to Save Money in Thailand
Dan and I spent two amazing weeks in Thailand in the fall of 2000. We were living in Japan at the time traveling to Thailand was relatively easy from where we were living. Since it’s been a while since we were there, today’s Thailand travel tips are brought to you by Melanie from Ardent Footsteps. She has the most amazing travel tips and beautiful Instagram feed! If you’re looking for another travel blogger to follow, I highly recomnend checking out Ardent Footsteps.
There are many reasons to visit Thailand, the Land of Smiles. Friendly locals, fantastic weather, beautiful nature, colorful festivals, rich history and culture and most importantly, elephant sanctuaries!
I’ve zig-zagged all over the country with nothing but my backpack and limited budget, more than once. So, here’s my word of advice on how to be frugal in Thailand:
- Visit in low season
You can start saving your money the moment you start planning your trip. If you schedule your holiday between May and November, you’ll spend considerably less money than you would at the peak of the season.
Airline tickets, accommodation, vehicle rental and food are often discounted during this period, and there are no tourist crowds either.
- Camp instead of renting an apartment
To be honest, renting a simple room in Thailand is usually not that expensive, especially during low season. You can get accommodation for less than 150 baht a night, and even with that price you could haggle and get a better deal. Dorm rooms, when they are available, are even cheaper.
However, getting a room that has decent air conditioning can be tricky and pricy. That is why my choice is always pitching a tent in some of the cheap camping sites. If you choose this option, don’t forget to bring a high-quality camping fan, believe me, you’ll need it.
- Bring your own equipment
Thailand is the cheapest if you bring your own gear. This goes for everyone, but especially hikers and backpackers. The country offers a lot of recreational activities, but you’ll save a few bucks if you come equipped instead of renting their gear.
Most importantly, bring comfortable footwear for hiking! Check out my Chaco vs.Teva article that’ll help you choose the right shoes before you start your adventure.
- Travel overnight or rent a bike
Overnight trains are super affordable, and at the same time, they will save you a few hundred baht as you won’t be needing a room for the night. Buses and taxis are more expensive and more dangerous, with locals trying to scam you, especially in places like Phuket or Pattaya. In Bangkok, the BTS and MRT system will serve you just right.
However, if you are staying for a longer period of time, the smartest thing you can do is rent a bike. You can usually get a decent bike for about 3000-4000 baht per month depending on the type of the bike you want and whether it is a high or low season.
- Eat local food
A true, passionate traveler is always eager to try local food wherever he goes. In Thailand, being open to new experiences and eating traditional Thai food will keep you on budget. What you need to remember is to avoid western foods.
Restaurants and fast food centers (like McDonald’s, KFC, etc.) are three times more expensive than local cuisine. Local markets will offer you a chance to find the tastiest food at a surprisingly low prices. If you are looking for a more hygienic alternative, visiting food courts at shopping malls is a good idea.
- Don’t leave tips
Thai culture doesn’t require you to leave tips, so you don’t have to bother leaving one. This often sounds strange or even rude to people coming from western cultures, but that is just the way it is. If you insist on leaving a tip, in high street restaurants 10-20 baht on a 300-600 baht meal is welcome.
- Haggle wherever you can
Haggling is more than welcome in Thailand. Accommodation, taxi rides, snorkeling trips, souvenirs – just haggle your way to it. There’s no harm in trying. However, make sure to always do this back-and-forth dance with a smile on your face. Getting angry is considered extremely rude in Thai culture.
- Refill your water bottle
If you want to save money, stay away from delicious fruit shakes and drink water. Buy yourself a bottle of water in the supermarket once and then refill it later, anywhere. If you fill your bottle from automats outside Tesco, it will cost you one baht per liter.
- Don’t get scammed
The gem shops deals, promised free rides on tuk-tuks, and over the top airport taxi prices, are probably the most common tourist scams in Thailand. Make sure to insist on running the meter if you go for a taxi ride. Agree on all prices in advance, before you do anything. Keep your valuables and cash protected and try not to make yourself an easy target.
- Learn how to handle the money
Make large ATM withdrawals or bring banknotes from your home. Using the ATM will cost you around 200-350 for withdrawing 1.000 baht, which means you will lose a lot of money and I am not even taking into account crazy exchange rates. So, take out at least 10.000 baht at a time or bring euros or dollar bills from home and exchange them at the basement level of Bangkok airport.
Conclusion: best way to save Money in Thailand
Let’s review what we’ve learned today. Thailand is a great affordable place to travel to, but you can always go cheaper. Choosing the right time to visit, camping, coming well equipped, traveling overnight, eating like a local, haggling, bringing banknotes, drinking lots of water, avoiding tips and tourist traps is all you have to do to save a few bucks.
I hope you learned something useful today and I wish you safe travels and lots of fun in Thailand!
Bio: Melanie Campbell is an outdoor and camping enthusiast behind Ardent Footsteps, enjoying this wonderful world since 2010. She shares expert advice when it comes to camping and outdoor trekking. With the main focus on making the most out of camping and outdoor adventures, Melanie will make you want to go out today!