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Installment #2 in my Budget Breakdown series details how much my Thailand trip cost. These posts are meant to help provide some transparency on travel costs, especially to newbie travelers.
I spent 6+ weeks in Thailand during high season (November to February). More than a month of it was in northern Thailand as a solo budget traveler. The rest of it was in southern Thailand with my partner, who’s not exactly a hostel-staying person.
Hopefully this budget breakdown on how much my Thailand trip cost gives you a good sense of the cost to travel to Thailand across different regions and multiple types of travel budgets.
Visa and flights to Thailand
As an American, I did not need a visa for Thailand as long as I stayed for less than 30 days at a time. Check with your government or the local Thai embassy to see the requirements for your country.
In my case, my 6+ weeks in the country was spread out across multiple trips. (The longest of my stays in Thailand was 19 days.)
If you fall under a no-visa required situation but want to stay longer than the allotted time, you have two choices.
1) Apply and pay for a longer term tourist visa.
The one for U.S. citizens allows for an initial 60-day stay and can be extended for another 30 days for a total visa allowance of 90 days.
2) Do a border run.
That is, head to Thailand’s bordering countries, get stamped out, and then get stamped back in. Laos and Cambodia are the most common countries to do this Thailand visa border run with.
The streets are populated with vendors offering this service for various prices (depending on how far you are from a border). Personally, I like to just go to the next country and explore it and then return later to Thailand later.
Flights to Thailand can vary significantly depending on time of year and point of origin. From the West Coast of the United States, flights range from $400s in low season (or if you find a good deal) to $1000+ during the holidays.
How much my northern Thailand trip cost
Northern Thailand is significantly cheaper than southern Thailand.
I did a lot of temple-hopping, trekking, and caving in the region. I also spent a number of days in northern Thailand just chilling and wandering around the towns. Thailand is one of my favorite countries, and I’m pretty happy even when I’m not doing much there.
However, eight of those days were spent at a donation-only monastery, so I’ve excluded those days here.
Here’s the budget breakdown for 25 days in northern Thailand:
- Lodging: 4,102 baht (almost all hostels)
- Food: 7,224 baht (mostly street food)
- Transportation: 2,467 baht (typically songthaews or Grabs)
- Entertainment/attractions/tickets: 3,710 baht
- Massages — because that deserves a budget section when you’re in Thailand: 1,070 baht
- Misc: 5,418 baht
The miscellaneous section is a bit of a curveball because I was in northern Thailand more long-term and had to pay for things like laundry, contact lens solution, and meds (I was oddly sickly there).
One costly adventure that I did not do in my time in Chiang Mai was visit the Elephant Nature Park. That very popular experience is also a costly one, with half day experiences starting at 2,500 baht per person. If that’s on your bucket list, make sure to budget for it and book early!
Total: 23,991 baht, or ~$730 USD based on the conversion rates at the time
That makes it under $30 USD a day! If you stay longer in places like Chiang Mai, the cost of living can be even more agreeable.
How much my southern Thailand trip cost
Most of my time in southern Thailand was on the flip side of costs. Five-star hotels instead of shared dorms in hostels, sit-down restaurants instead of street food. So, yea, not exactly budget traveling.
Southern Thailand, especially the islands, is also just more expensive than the north in general.
The majority — but not all — of my stay in southern Thailand was with my partner. We spent most of our time in lounging on beaches, snorkeling, and market-hopping.
For the purposes of this budget breakdown, I’ve calculated things to make this budget breakdown reflective of the cost for one person. I only split things where it made sense, like with food, massages, and such. Lodging and other expenses that aren’t exactly halved just because you’re solo have remained as they were.
Here’s a budget breakdown for 11 days in southern Thailand:
- Lodging: 27,965 baht (almost all hotels)
- Food: 3,885 baht (mostly restaurants)
- Transportation: 1,308 baht (mostly shared rides)
- Entertainment/attractions/tickets: 2,500 baht
- Massages: 700 baht
- Misc: 1,850 baht
Total: 38,208 baht, or ~$1,168 USD per the conversion rates at the time
So, with this more generous budget, southern Thailand was roughly $106 USD a day. Still a lot cheaper than Europe!
Total cost for 6+ weeks in Thailand
In total, I spent 44 days in Thailand.
- Northern Thailand: 23,991 baht
- Southern Thailand: 38,208 baht
- Donation to the monastery: 3000 baht
Total: 65,199 baht, or ~$1,990 USD. That’s an average of $45 per day.
Costs in northern Thailand vs. southern Thailand
To give you a better idea of costs, here are some popular expenses and how they compare in the north vs the south. The averages are based on my experiences and detailed expense logs.
A dish of street food:
- North: 30-50 baht
- South: 80-100 baht
A dish at a sit-down restaurant:
- North: 100-180 baht
- South: 150-250 baht
- North: 200-250 baht
- South: 300-400 baht
Shared hostel dorm:
- North: 150-250 baht
- South: 225-300 baht
Hope this helps you plan and budget your trip to Thailand!
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