Ah, Thailand. Land of smiles. I’ll admit it, it was the country I was least excited for. It’s not that I didn’t think it would be beautiful or that there would be fabulous food and architecture. It’s that… I’m not the biggest partier in the world. I like a drink, but I’m not the full-moon-party-dance-on-the-table kind of girl, the kind that seem drawn to Thailand’s offerings.
I eat my words.
Thailand has so much to offer for every kind of person. Our trip to Thailand was split in two. It was where we began our adventures in Bangkok, moving north to Chiang Mai for the first two weeks. Thailand is also where we ended our adventure with a few nights on the glorious island of Koh Chang and at the stunning Le Meridien in Bangkok, thanks to cashing in my air miles.
But you’re interested in how much we spent, right? Taking into consideration our travel style, you’ll be able to get an idea of what you will spend.
Travel Costs: Thailand
Total Spent: $3,038.46 CAD over 25 days,
Average daily travel costs for 2 people: $121.54 ALL in
How did we spend that money?
Transportation: 7,230 Baht / $262.91 CAD / 9% of our budget
Thailand and Vietnam are tied for the most reliable and safe transportation throughout our trip. We took a full day train trip from Bangkok to Chiang Mai which was full of stunning views and spicy food. Getting from the Thai/Cambodian border to Koh Chang was a bit more of a struggle, but once you get past the random “taxi”, we arrived safe and sound the same day.
Accommodation: 17,515 Baht / $636.91 CAD / 21% of our budget
The thing about Thailand being our first landing place was that we hadn’t yet figured out what things really should cost. We had two weeks in Chiang Mai up front. Given that we were there during the gorgeous Loy Krathong light festival, we thought it prudent to book in advance. Not a mistake to book in advance, but a mistake to commit to 10 days of accommodation that ended up being $35 a night. When we had to add a few days in Chiang Mai at the end, we were able to find accommodation that was the equivalent if not better for half the price!
Food and Drink: 20,492 Baht / $745.16 CAD / 25% of our budget
We like to eat! And let’s be honest, the final 8 days of our trip in Thailand was relaxation-central, so we may have been equally relaxed with our budget and bought a few more drinks than, ahem, usual. The food in Thailand is to die for. Honestly. If you can’t take the spice, like me, there are definitely other options to ease your way in. I’m massively impressed with how much more spice I can handle now than before our travels. To add to your experience, I can highly recommend the Asia Scenic Cooking Course in Chiang Mai. We had a phenomenal day there, even though our stomachs felt like balloons at the end of it.
Sights: 3,757.68 Baht / $136.64 CAD / 4% of our budget
Many of the major temples have an entrance fee and/or you need to factor in clothing rental if you’re not appropriately dressed. The majority ($128 CAD) includes a full day tour of Ayutthaya with Viator tours. If you’re doing this on your own, it’s a major savings, but we thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Wat Pra That Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai was my absolute favourite temple in Thailand… if not the entire trip.
Activities: 17,601 Baht / $640.04 CAD / 21% of our budget
Thailand – home of Thai Massage. I won’t lie… this budget line includes one or two Thai Massages. Given the amount of time we were in Thailand, we also indulged in a movie (Gone Girl) and I recommend the experience. At a Thai movie, you’ll need to stand to pay your respects to the King before the movie starts.
Activities also included motorbike rentals in Chiang Mai and Koh Chang, a treetop adventure in Koh Chang, our lanterns for Loy Krathong and a Hmong Dance presentation.
Miscellaneous: 2,962 Baht / $107.71 CAD / 4% of our budget
I may have succumbed to buying the elephant harem pants… which will never see the light of day in Canada. They are now relegated to pyjama pants and nothing more. We also had a little visit to a Thai hospital when David came down with the flu. Turns out… Thai hospitals are GREAT value for money. To see the doctor and get a goody bag of medications cost us… drum roll please… $35! The amount was so low that I couldn’t even claim it on my insurance and I could pay in cash. Phew.
Special Experiences: 14,000 Baht / $509.09 CAD / 17% of our budget
You can’t go to Thailand without visiting the Elephant Nature Park outside of Chiang Mai. For animal lovers, it’s a must. Set in a serene valley, forty rescued elephants roam the grounds at their pleasure, safe from the abuse they’ve previously experienced doing logging work, being used on the streets of Bangkok to beg for money or in the circus. Lek, the owner of ENP, has such a profound relationship with the elephants, and it’s incredible to see the elephants in a natural environment as opposed to being used as “rides” for tourists.
How Can You Save Money in Thailand?
There is NO saying that you need to spend quite as much as this. This budget is probably more appropriate for a couple in their late 20s/early 30s (like ourselves) who have a bit more disposable income at their fingertips. If you’re on your honeymoon, you’ll likely spend more than we did, but you don’t have to either.
- Eat the street food. This is a surefire way to cut down your budget. Also, if you drink beer, it’s a bonus as cocktails are the pricier beverage by far.
- Stay in the hostels/backpacker accommodations. We chose to stay in guesthouses where it was a bit more geared to couples. That said, if we’d chosen private rooms at hostels, we would have saved a bit and I’m sure the food would have been cheaper too.
- Be your own guide in Ayutthaya. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret our tour of Ayutthaya, I loved it. But, if you’re short of cash, it doesn’t mean you need to miss out entirely. Take the train up yourself and bring a guidebook. Go early to avoid the tour groups that arrive en masse around 11.
- Make 7/Eleven your best friend. If you’re still wary of street food at the beginning, there is a 7/Eleven on every corner in the major cities. They are blissfully air conditioned. Granted, it’s pretty shitty processed food, but cheaper than many restaurants that Westerners go to. At the very least you can use it for breakfast, which is what we did with cereal and yoghurt.
- Fan cooled vs. air conditioning. In my honest opinion, fan-cooled is all you need. Because you can’t leave the air conditioning on while you’re out for the day, it takes a good 10 minutes to get your room cooled down. With a fan, it starts moving the hot air around quicker and you’ll feel relief sooner.
Have you been to Thailand? What did you think of the travel costs?
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