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Authored by Denise Nelson

Traveling to Thailand is one of the most exotic trips you can take, and luckily, it’s a very easy country to experience on a budget. Even first times travelers can easily spend under 100 USD a day, and that includes your hotel, activities and transportation!

There are many ways to save money while traveling in Thailand, but here are 7 tips for the traveler who wants to come in under budget.

7 Tips for Budget Travel in Thailand

Tip 1 – Eat Street Food

Street food is incredibly cheap, delicious and well-made in Thailand. You’ll have some of your best meals while walking around the city and markets.

Staying on budget is important, so eating street food is one of your best options. You’ll want to pick busier stalls since their food has quicker turnaround times, which means the food is fresher and safer to eat.

Tasty street food won’t put a stop on your spending, and you can try many different things for cheap.

Tip 2 – Find a Place to Sleep in Person

While booking a hostel or hotel online might make you comfortable, get out of your zone and find a local place.

Online booking can seem cheaper and easier, but once you find a place to stay, you can haggle prices and get free upgrades and perks for staying at a local place. If you rather do a free version, you could also try couch surfing at stranger’s homes.

A lot of people may have reservations about the safety of such an arrangement, but the couch-surfing community has developed a trusted reputation, and if you do need a place to sleep and don’t have the money, this is an option and the locals are friendly.

Pro tip: If you’d prefer to experience Thailand with an awesome group of new friends, and have your accommodation and itinerary organized for you, you can join a Feel Free Travel tour and still get a great budget price.

Tip 3 – Shop at a Weekend Market

The local markets are the best place to find great deals on goods like the famous harem pants, foods, wears, and more. Regardless of which city you’re in, seek out the markets whenever possible, because you truly can’t beat the deals here.

Most of the items you’ll find are a lot more expensive in stores or from daily vendors, but these prices drop as soon as you hit the marketplace. You’ll find yourself surrounded with so many bargain prices that you’ll want to spend over your budget anyway!

Make sure you decide how much you want to spend before entering, because you could blow your daily budget, or more, in this area if you get too carried away.

Tip 4 – Buy Alcohol at Convenience Stores

Alcohol at bars will be three times as much as convenience store alcohol. At bars, you’ll pay about 30-40 Baht for a local beer, while buying a local beer at a convenience store will only cost you about 3-4.

Stay local in your beverages, even though they do contain more alcohol than US beers, but buying imported drinks will drain your budget with one purchase.

Imported alcohol will cost you anywhere between 50-300+ USD. Avoid buying an imported drink in Thailand, and stick to drinking like the locals.

Tip 5 – Use Public Transportation

Local transportation in Thailand is very cheap if you stick to buses. Taxis and other forms of transportation can get expensive over time, but the public buses are very easy to use and will cost you very little, about 20 cents per ride.

You can even ride a day train for under 1.50 USD, while the night train will cost you about 16 USD. Keep in mind your budget and pick the transportation you need at the time; it’s okay to indulge sometimes!

Tuk Tuk RF

Tip 6 – Haggle Activities Cost

There are two types of costs in Thailand, Thai local’s prices and tourist prices. Sometimes you will always pay more, and the admissions offices to the events won’t budge. However, for some events, tours, festivities, and local activities (cooking classes, dancing classes, etc.) will have a price that you can haggle to save money.

If you end up taking a motorcycle ride, make sure to haggle the price before you take the ride. You want to be sure of the price before arriving and being stuck with the price they say.

Tip 7 – Rent a Bike and Save on Luggage Price

Bringing your hand-built mountain bike with you on your trip to Thailand might seem like a fantastic idea. It’s not. Bringing your bike will cost a lot, and in the end, it’s not worth it.

Many places where you’ll stay for the night will have bikes that you can use for free while staying there, and you can rent a bike very cheap in Thailand.

Don’t waste your precious money on bringing along your bike, rather rent a bike or use a free bike to explore what Thailand has to offer, you won’t need a high-performance bike in Thailand.


Amazon book thai food

Thai Street Food: Authentic Recipes, Vibrant Traditions

Amazon book thai food

Simple Thai Food: Recipes from the Thai Home Kitchen

Amazon book thai food

Thai Cookbook: Thai Favorites Made Simple


Denise is a profound lover of the cross country mountain bike, and is one of the co-founders of MountainbikeEZ; a blog about mountain biking around the world.

She worked as a trainer for 6 years, and also co-runs a private biking lessons school.

Photo credits: Featured photo by Wayne S. Grazio. Cooking Pad Thai by Nicolas Mirguet. Street food on khao san road by Roslyn Can Tho Floating Markets by Hugh Derr via Flickr


  1. Love the food! And the alcohol-tip is true too…

    • Glad you enjoyed the post Stephanie :) Happy travels!

  2. Great tips for such an amazing place – I definitely rate Thailand as one of the best value for money destinations out there. There’s plenty cheaper but in terms of the quality of acccommodation, food etc for what you pay, it’s hard to beat. Are you sure it costs 30-40 dollars for a local beer, though?!

    • Glad you enjoyed the post :) Re the local beer, I’ve edited to change where Denise said dollars, to read Bhat, hopefully that lessens the confusion!

  3. Aha! Thailand’s customs and culture has always enthralled me and the country is definitely in my list of “Must Visit” places. Thailand is not very far away from where I live, so in addition to saving money on air ticket I can save money on other aspects of travel too.

    Thanks for the tips, Megan.

    • Hope you have the chance to travel soon then, especially if it’s a close trip! Yes, it’s an incredible country if you’re traveling on a budget – can really make your money go far :)

  4. We haven’t been to Thailand yet but we’re dying to go. We use plenty of these tips in other countries, however. When we were living in Spain we practically lived off the weekday farmers market down the street.

    • Hope you do have the chance to visit Thailand soon – such a great country! Awesome to hear that the same tips work for you in other countries too – I think there does tend to be a pattern of saving money when you aim to immerse yourself locally :)

  5. Such great pictures! And I suck at haggling, have to train more before I plan any trips to Thailand. :)

    • Thailand is a great place to practice your haggling! Who knows, maybe you’ll be a pro before the end of your trip :D

  6. These are great tips! We knew that eating street food was more convenient but we never thought about shopping at a local market to keep the budget low! Besides, the markets are the best place to find the freshest ingredients!

    • Glad you enjoyed the post Dany :) Yes, the local markets are an incredible way to eat well, enjoy local ingredients, and keep it cheap. And as you said, it’s always fresh that way too!

  7. Great tips and timely for us as we will be in Thailand at the end of this year! We visited Bangkok a few years ago and LOVED the street food so cannot wait to try it again in different regions, and we always drink the local beer no matter where we are! It always tastes best in the place where it is made. We need to practice our haggling though – will be a good chance for that :) Thanks for sharing, really nice post!

    • Glad you enjoyed the post Sarah, you’ll have such a fabulous time in Thailand! I bet you’re counting down the days until the end of the year!

      Totally agree with you that beer always tastes best in the place where it’s made. Have a great trip, and have fun sharpening those haggling skills! :)

  8. So many wonderful tips for budget travel in Thailand. Next time I am in Asia I’m definitely going to use tip 2. I meet several backpackers in Vietnam doing exactly that and got great deals with local places. Using public transport is such an experience and adds another story to the adventure. You are so right about buying alcohol in convenience stores so much cheaper than at a bar. :)

    • Glad you enjoyed the post Katherine! Yes re finding a place to stay in person, I’ve always been super anxious when I travel and not know where I’m sleeping that night, but a lot of properties in SE Asia don’t have a presence online, so you really can just rock up and negotiate a rate.

      And yes, using public transport is not only cheap, it’s always an experience too! Usually makes for some great stories when you get back :D!

  9. Fantastic travel tips! I will definitely take note of these on my next trip to Thailand. I visited Bangkok last April and I love the colourful and lively vibes of the city. I agree that you should buy your beer from a convenience store. It’s cheaper and that would mean you can buy more! LOL!

    • Thanks Ryazan, glad you enjoyed the post ,and glad you enjoyed your time in Bangkok! It’s such a great city!

      Glad we could set you up with some further tips for your next trip :)

  10. All wonderful tips to remember, haggle, haggle is the thing hey. I remember feeling pretty weirded out the first time in Thailand haggling, but by the end of the first few days I got my back into it and enjoyed the process tremendously.

    • Haggling can definitely feel awkward and intimidating the first time you arrive, but it’s definitely fun once you get into the swing of things! Kind of like a sport :D!

  11. I agree with each point in your posts. We too have followed these tips while traveling to Thailand and could save a lot. Street Food in Thailand is really good and local accommodation have a local touch. Hiring a Scooty itself cuts down so many of your expenses.

    • Glad you’ve lived these tips first hand Suruchi – sounds like you had a fab time in Thailand!

  12. I agree with using the public transportation. Its intimidating at first but after awhile, you get used to it and its definitely an efficient way to get around the city. Personally, I’d stay in a hotel than couch surf but I agree that this would certainly help with budget concerns. Great tips Meg!

    • I’ve always viewed public transport as an adventure – usually come back with some great stories from trying to navigate it in a new country!

      I’ve found recently I prefer private hotel rooms over options like couchsurfing too, but the sharing economy is a great way to save for those who enjoy the experience :)

  13. These tips are all true! I live in Thailand for 5 months and its incredibly cheap. Food is so good, shopping is awesome. Just live like a local, ride bus and waterboat. It’s cheaper. And stay in a hostel to save money and meet people. I miss Thailand:)

    • Wow 5 months in Thailand would have been an incredible experience Cai – and it’s great to hear that the country is cheap for long term travelers like yourself too. Definitely one of the best value for money countries in the world at the moment.

  14. I’ve always loved Thailand and it’s budget friendly ways

    • Can’t really beat it in terms of value for money!

  15. fantastic travel tips!I would love to visit Bangkok and will surely remember all your given tips. :)

    • Thanks Gyanita! Glad you found some practical tips – happy travels :)

  16. Thank you for sharing this article. Because We are planning a Thailand trip next month. Can you please suggest some best things to do on Thailand trip.

  17. I love going to the weekend market. Ever since I moved here in Thailand, the first thing that I fell in love with is the Chatuchak market. lol I swear, I usually go there every weekend just to eat and shop. Its so cheap, you can see lots of good finds without breaking your bank account.

    • Thanks for the tip on Chatuchak market Luke, I’ll make a note for when we get back next. The markets throughout Thailand are incredible in general though, I agree that it’s one of the best places to shop on a weekend!

      Glad you’re having a fabulous time living there!

  18. Such helpful tips. Soon I am in a plan to visit Thailand’s Phanom Rung to see this old Lord Shiva temple. Thanks again for your tips. Good Luck.

    • Glad the post was helpful for you Rohan, have a wonderful trip to Thailand :)

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