Save Money in Thailand – Frugal Travel Tips for Thai Vacation

in Thailand

Thailand lures thousands of frugal travelers to its shores each year. They enjoy the country’s weak currency, wile away hours on its pristine beaches, and head back to their relatively affordable lodgings once the sun sets. A vacation in this Asian territory will never break the bank, but with a little local knowledge you can return home with even more baht in your pocket.

Thai hotels are much cheaper than those outside Southeast Asia, but unless you’re staying for a night or two they don’t represent the best value. Hostels and guesthouses are much more economical for a mid-length stay. If you’re holidaying for more than two weeks, consider renting an apartment. Thailand has many vacation rentals, and that competition ensures they’re not too expensive. They give you all the comforts of home, so you can also cut down on meal and laundry costs.

Thailand offers all the delicacies of the Western world including hamburger joints and pizza parlors. However it seems they’re simply there to tempt the tourists with their overpriced dishes. Eating local Thai cuisine is much more affordable, and culturally enriching. Indulging in exotic aromatic noodle and curry dishes certainly doesn’t feel like dining on the cheap. Resist the urge to tip too, as this practice is not a Thai custom.

After a big feed, tourists are typically tempted to knock back a few cleansing ales or cocktails. However anyone wanting to save money in Thailand should give alcohol a wide berth. Avoiding this indulgence will help you save some serious coin. It’s not quite as exciting, but I recommend filling up on water. It’s free in many locations, including Thai banks and Buddhist temples!

Thai business owners can smell a tourist a mile off, so it’s important to have your wits about you to avoid local scams. Everything seems affordable here compared to the Western world, so it’s not unusual for taxi drivers, street vendors and tour operators to quote their services at several times more than their real value. Seek out locals or expats to clue you in to expected prices, and prepare to haggle with businessmen inflating theirs.

And finally, plan your trip carefully. Choosing which Thai locations to visit and when could make all the difference to your budget. Thailand enjoys a spike in travel between November and February, but it’s just as pleasant to visit outside these months. While you’ll likely encounter some rain in the wet season from May to November, you’ll also enjoy warm weather and blue skies. In fact, the showers can cool the country down a little and make conditions more pleasant! Traveling during the low season will help you save on airfares, accommodation, car and motorbike rental, and other holiday services.

A Thai temple protector

A Thai temple protector

The idyllic Thai islands of Phuket, Koh Samui, and The Similans are very popular with tourists, but these locations are much more expensive than those on the mainland. I don’t suggest skipping them entirely, but you may want to limit your island time. Koh Lanta should make any frugal traveler’s shortlist. It’s not as popular as some of the other islands, so it’s quieter and cheaper. However its beaches and coves are just as serene, and its local sea gypsies add some real color.

While you’re planning your vacation budget, remember to save something for a good travel insurance policy. There are many areas to save money in Thailand, but this isn’t one of them.

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