Travel Thailand without spending big bucks!


If you’re thinking about going travelling or backpacking, then you’re already more than likely planning a trip to Thailand. I’m sure you have already seen the pictures and read articles which helped you make your mind up about Thailand, so I’m not going to try and convince you to go there, but I am going to give you a bit more information and some tips that you will hopefully find useful on your travels.

I have travelled from North to South of Thailand and visited most of the tourist areas, as well as the more local, off the beaten path places. I now live and work in Phuket, and I absolutely love it!

back-pack-travel-thailandSource: Flickr.com | Robert Scales

Accommodation

OK the thing you’re going to want to sort out first when you arrive at your destination is somewhere to crash for the night, and more importantly; somewhere to ditch your heavy backpack!

accomodation-travel-thailandSource: Flickr.com | Shawn Allen

No matter where you end up in Thailand, you will have plenty of choice when it comes to accommodation; from hotels to hostels, there will be something to fit your budget. Most tourist destinations offer 5* hotels and spa resorts from as little as 1000 baht (£18, $28) a night for pure luxury, but for the sake of this article we’ll stick to the more affordable – long term prices.


Thai Currency

thailand-currency
Coins – 25, 50 satang, ฿1, ฿2, ฿5, ฿10
Banknotes – ฿20, ฿50, ฿100, ฿500, ฿1000











You can get a bed in a dorm room for as little as 100 baht a night. These are nothing special, and you’re lucky if the room comes with aircon, but it’s a place to rest and a base to chill out and plan your day/week/month.

cheap-accomodation-travel-thailandSource: Flickr.com | Harsha K R

I usually go for a bed with air con which can be 200 – 600 baht depending on where you are. The north of Thailand tends to be cheaper than the south. The best thing to do is have a look on Trip Advisor for budget hostels. These will usually come with reviews from fellow backpackers, so you can get an idea of what to expect. If you don’t have an internet connection, then simply roam the streets until you find a hostel.

cheap-accommodation-travel-thailand-without-spending-big-bucksSource: Flickr.com | Connie Ma

A good tip worth remembering is; only pay for one night at a time, at least for the first night. Many times have I paid for several nights, only to change my plans the following day, or even dislike the place that much that I decided to move somewhere else. You might get some of your money back, but I wouldn’t count on it!


Basic Thai Phrases

• Krab / Ka – Words added at the end of a sentence/phrase to add politeness. Krab if you are a male. Ka if you are a female
• Phom Chan – I (male / female)
• Khun – You (polite)
• Sawad Dee (krab / ka) – Hello (male / female)
• Khob Khun (krab / ka) – Thank you (male / female)
• Phom / Chan Pood Thai mai pen – I (male / female) don’t speak Thai
• Hong nam yuu nai? – Where are the restrooms?
• Tao rai (krab / ka)? – How much does it cost (male / female)?
• Lod dai maak sood tao rai? – What’s your best price?
• Pood len rue plao – Are you kidding?
• Nii khong jing rue khong plom – Is this real or fake?
• Ao ped ped – I want my food very spicy
• Mai ped – Not spicy
• Check bin / Kheb tang – Can I have the bill please?
• Khun lor / suay maak – You are very handsome / beautiful

Counting in Thai

• 0 suun – ศูนย์
• 1 nueng – หนึ่ง
• 2 sawng – สอง
• 3 saam – สาม
• 4 sìi – สี่
• 5 haa – ห้า
• 6 hok – หก
• 7 jet – เจ็ด
• 8 paet – แปด
• 9 kao – เก้า
• 10 sìp – สิบ
• 11 sib ed – สิบเอ็ด
• 12 sib sawng – สิบสอง
• 13 sib saam – สิบสาม
• 14 sib sii – สิบสี่
• 20 yee sib – ยี่สิบ
• 21 yee sib ed – ยี่สิบเอ็ด
• 22 yee sib sawng – ยี่สิบสอง
• 30 saam sib – สามสิบ
• 40 sii sib – สี่สิบ
• 50 haa sib – ห้าสิบ
• 60 hok sib – หกสิบ
• 70 jet sib – เจ็ดสิบ
• 80 paet sib – แปดสิบ
• 90 kao sib – เก้าสิบ
• 100 neung roy – หนึ่งร้อย


Food

Ah food, one of my favourite things about travelling! You are probably already aware of the vast amounts of food on offer in Thailand. As Thailand is a hub for international travel, you can expect to find any and every dish in the world here! From French to Israeli, Egyptian to Italian, Thailand opens the door to a world of flavours and dishes.

But you’re not here to eat dishes from other countries; you’re here to try Thai food! And eating local food will not only make your stomach happy, it will make your wallet happy too. The streets are lined with restaurants in Thailand.

cheap-thailand-food-01Source: Flickr.com | Prae Songprasit

And in front of those restaurants are street stalls selling more food. And next to the street food sellers you have more street food sellers! As long as you have a few baht in your pocket, you can never go hungry here. Each street stall tends to stick to one dish, so you can pick up some spring rolls at one stall and then grab a phad thai at the next, and finish off with a roti (pancake) at the stall next to that.

cheap-food-phad-thaiSource: Flickr.com | Evan Blaser

Dishes usually cost anything from 10 baht to 50 baht, any more than that and you’re probably paying too much! In Phuket I visit a restaurant for lunch each day and pick up a large plate of rice, noodles and vegetables along with free water for just 30 baht. It’s good, it’s filling, and it’s healthy, but best of all its cheap! Don’t be afraid to try new things – and don’t just choose food purely for looks!

cheap-food-stree-thailandSource: Flickr.com | Twak

Transportation

Now one thing that took me a while to get used to, and cost me a lot of unnecessary cash is the transportation in Thailand. When you think of travelling in Thailand you think of tuk-tuks. Don’t get me wrong, tuk-tuks are fun and they’re part of the experience here, but they are also damn expensive! I’m not saying to avoid them completely as sometimes they are your best (and only) option, but just be careful when taking a tuk-tuk.

tuk-tuk-travel-thailandSource: Flickr.com | Didier Baertschiger

Always ask for, and agree on the price before you get in. A lot of the drivers will offer you a cheaper price if they can stop off along the way – just refuse – they will try and take you to a suit shop or a tour dealer to try and sell you something, and they can get nasty when you don’t buy anything.

Never take the first price they say either, as they will usually charge way over the odds. Once you get used to the place you’re in, you will find that you can catch buses; in Bangkok you can catch the BTS, for a lot cheaper.

bts-transport-bangkokSource: Flickr.com | sept.


Fares and Skytrain Passes for Bangkok

Single, One day or Standard Cards

• Single fares – start at 15 baht – Per one stop.
• One-day Pass – 120 baht – Ideal for tourists. You will have unlimited travel within the duration of a single day.
• Standard Rabbit Card / Stored Value Cards – 100 baht + 50 baht (refundable deposit) – These Standard Rabbit Cards are valid for 5 years. You can fil them with a minimum of 100 baht up to 4,000 baht.

30-Day Pass for Adults (use within 30 days)

• 15 trips – 375 baht – 25 baht per trip unlimited distance
• 25 trips – 575 baht – 23 baht per trip unlimited distance
• 40 trips – 840 baht – 21 baht per trip unlimited distance
• 50 trips – 1,000 baht – 20 baht per trip unlimited distance


Half an hour in a tuk-tuk can cost 500 baht; whereas half an hour on a bus will set you back 20 baht. If you are going long distances, from one town to another for example, try and find the bus station in the town you are setting off from.

You can buy a bus ticket right at the station and can get from North of Thailand (Chiang Mai) to South of Thailand (Phuket) for as little as 600 baht. Also keep an eye on SkyScanner as you can pick up a cheap flight when booking in advance. A handy tip here is, if you use the AirAsia website to book a flight, and you only have cash on you, you can pay for your flight in any 7 Eleven shops, which are literally on every street!

7eleven-thailand-shopSource: Flickr.com | Didier Baertschiger

Activities

There are always things to do in Thailand, and a lot of the time you don’t have to pay a lot of money, if any at all. With the 100s of beautiful beaches and view points located all around the country, it’s hard to ever find yourself bored here.

boat-trip-to-phi-phiSource: Flickr.com | Harsha K R

There are times however, when you can’t avoid paying for something – a boat trip to Phi Phi, an elephant trek through the jungle or a zipline adventure somewhere, however there are plenty of ways to still do these things without paying over the odds. Most tour operators will charge a heavy commission, so try and book directly with the company if possible.

elephant-trek-ride-thailandSource: Flickr.com | Jayel Aheram

Alternatively, you can try and book the package separately online, as this can sometimes work out to be cheaper. In Phuket, if you visit a tour operator for a ticket to Phi Phi, you will be looking at 1700 baht a person at least. If you find a local place selling the tickets separately – bus station, ferry port etc… you are looking at 500 baht for a round trip. There are also some good websites such as Viator, which will book the tour for you, without charging a big commission.

Some tips to save money when you’re there

I’ve tried to include a tip or two in each section of this article, however there are far too many to write, so I’ve put together a basic list of ways to save some extra pennies while you are in Thailand. It’s not hard to stretch your money over here; you just have to be smart and never pay the first given price!

• Think like a local – When you’re at home you don’t get taxis everywhere or eat at a fancy restaurant every day, so why should you when you are travelling? If you eat where the locals eat, and take local transportation, you’ll find yourself with a lot more baht in your wallet!

• Drink like a local – One of my favourite past times is having a beer whilst writing an article (guess what I’m doing now!) but I couldn’t afford to do that if I was sat in a bar all day! Pick up your drinks from a 7 Eleven or Family Mart and you will be paying 3-4 times less than if you were to order at a bar.

• Book flights in advance – If you have to or want to fly anywhere during your trip, then try and book your tickets as soon as possible. The closer to the date of departure, usually means the higher the price. When flying domestic around Thailand, check out AirAsia as you can catch a flight from Bangkok to Phuket from as low as 700 baht.

• Money Exchange – One of the ways to avoid the bank fee (150 or 180 baht) per withdrawal when you use Thai ATMs with a foreign card is using cash and exchanging money. To find the closest money changer to your actual location you can use mobile app Get4x on iOS or Android.

• Local Sim Card – One thing that you should definitely do if you are planning on sticking around for a while is pick up a local sim card. You can get one at any market, or 7 Eleven for about 100 baht, and it will save you a hell of a lot when using mobile data, or making local/long distance calls.


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• Buy/Rent a motorbike – A great way to see Thailand is on the back of a motorbike. If you are here for a while then I’d suggest buying one, as it will save you money in the long run. If you are here for a few weeks or a couple of months, you might want to rent one. You can rent for around 2,000 baht a month and gas will cost you 28 baht a litre. Remember; you need to have an International or Thai driver’s licence in order to ride a motorbike in Thailand. If you don’t have one, your insurance will be invalid, and you may be charged for riding illegally!

Top things to do in Thailand

There’s so much to do in Thailand, how can you possibly choose the best things to do? I have thrown together some of the most popular things to do while travelling out here, however this list may vary depending on the things you’re into!

• Island Hopping – One of my favourite things to do here is go ‘island hopping’. You can hire a boat, or even take a ferry for as little as 700 baht to take you to some of the many islands located around Thailand. Three of the most popular destinations are: Koh Tao, Koh Samui and Koh Phangan.

island-hopping-thailandSource: Flickr.com | Aanjhan Ranganathan

• Scuba Diving – There are loads of places to go diving in Thailand, and what better place to do it than Koh Tao? Here you’ll find crystal clear waters, white sandy beaches and magnificent coral and sea life. Everything you could want whilst diving!

scuba-diving-thailandSource: Flickr.com | Thomas Quine

• Full Moon Party – Koh Phangan is the home to the world famous Full Moon Party. From sunset to sunrise this absolute monster of a beach party can attract up to 30,000 people! Don’t forget your florescent vests and glow sticks!

• Phang Nga – Just north of Phuket you will find Phang Nga Bay – home to the famous ‘James Bond Island’ which featured in ‘The Man with The Golden Gun’. You can hire a boat to take you island hopping and see the magnificent limestone cliffs and emerald green waters. There is also a town which is built almost entirely on stilts, which is home to local fishermen and their families.

• The Temples of Thailand – Thailand has 100s if not 1000s of temples located in almost every town, each one slightly different and unique to the last. One of my favourites is located in Bangkok – Wat Pho, which is home to the famous reclining Buddha Statue.

wat-pho-thailand-templesSource: Flickr.com | Thomas Ballandras

So there we have it, a few tips and tricks that will hopefully make your trip more enjoyable and more importantly – save you some money!


Article by Jay Sinclair Traveler: Instagram / Twitter


 

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