๐Ÿ’ฐ My 2024 Thailand Trip Cost: A Budget Breakdown

A woman on a beach with wooden boats and limestone cliffs in the background.

Thailand, a country famous for its Buddhist temples and flavorful cuisine, can be visited with a budget of $35 to $80 a day.

My nearly two-week trip to Thailand cost a total of $1,138. In this post, I share:

  • ๐Ÿ’ฐ Expected travel costs
  • ๐Ÿ’ก Budgeting tips
  • ๐Ÿ’ต How much cash to bring
  • โœˆ๏ธ My trip’s costs by category
  • ๐Ÿ“ My trip’s costs by destination

Planning a trip? Here’s what to know about Thailand.

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Is Thailand Expensive To Travel To?

Thailand ranks as one of the most affordable destinations in Asia. It has a relatively low cost of living, a wide range of accommodation options that fit different budgets, and a lively, cheap street food scene.

Along with Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, Thailand is often considered an inexpensive destination in Southeast Asia.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Trip Daily Budget for Destinations in Asia

For comparison, I visited these countries in Asia within a year of visiting Thailand, and hereโ€™s how much I spent per day at each one:

DestinationDaily Budget
๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ต Japan$145
๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ญ Cambodia$123*
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฌ Singapore$122
๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ผ Taiwan$102
๐Ÿ‡ป๐Ÿ‡ณ Vietnam$89
๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ญ Thailand$77
Daily Travel Budget for Destinations in Asia

*My Cambodia daily budget is high because I splurged on accommodation.

See all my daily budget for each destination I’ve visited.

How Much Is a Trip to Thailand?

This section covers estimated trip costs depending on your travel style. I share my actual travel expenses further below.

๐ŸŽ’ Budget Traveler โ€“ Thailand Trip Cost

Budget travelers can expect to spend approximately $35 per day or $245 for seven days of travel in Thailand, excluding flights.

Here’s what a budget traveler’s cost breakdown can look like:

CategoryCost per Day
๐Ÿ  Accommodation$10
๐ŸŒถ๏ธ Food$8
๐Ÿš— Transportation$4
๐Ÿ˜ Entertainment$13
Thailand Daily Budget for a Budget Traveler

Traveling Thailand on a Budget

To travel to Thailand on a budget, here are some things youโ€™ll need to do:

  • ๐Ÿ  Accommodation โ€“ For the cheapest option, stay at a dorm-style hostel for as low as $5 a night. You can also stay at homestays where you can stay with a local family for about $12 a night.
  • ๐Ÿš— Transportation โ€“ Take local buses, which can cost less than $1 per trip, or $2 songthaews, which are red passenger trucks that are common local transportation.

In Bangkok, public transportation (e.g., the MRT and BTS Skytrain) can cost less than $2 per ride. The city’s train is convenient for getting to and from Bangkok International Airport.

A red truck with Thai on it saying that it's local transportation.
Songthaew in Thailand.
  • ๐ŸŒถ๏ธ Food โ€“ Eat at night markets and try local food at street stalls for less than $4 per meal. I ate six times at night markets in Chiang Mai and Krabi and averaged $5 per meal without trying to budget.

Tap water is generally unsafe to drink in Thailand, so you can also stock up on drinks and water at convenience stores instead of paying for them at restaurants or touristy places.

A woman in a street food stall making coffee.
Street coffee stall in Chiang Mai.
  • ๐Ÿ˜ Entertainment โ€“ Visit free temples and monasteries instead of the famous ones with entrance fees (e.g., the famous Wat Phra Kaew and the Grand Palace in Bangkok have a ~$15 fee). In tourist areas, you can negotiate tour prices in person instead of booking them ahead. This is especially true if you’re booking a guided tour for the next day (I did this in Krabi for the Phi Phi Islands tour, which saved me $20).
  • โ˜€๏ธ Travel Season โ€“ For the best deals on accommodations, travel to Thailand during the low season, which runs from April to May and July to September. April to May are the hottest months, and July to September is the wet season.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Mid-Range Budget Traveler โ€“ Thailand Trip Cost

A mid-range budget traveler like myself can expect to spend approximately $80 per day or $560 for seven days of travel in Thailand, excluding flights. I break down my trip expenses by travel category below.

Is Thailand or Vietnam More Affordable To Travel To?

People often compare Thailand to Vietnam, as they are Southeast Asia’s most popular and affordable destinations.

Thailand is, on average, slightly more expensive to travel to than Vietnam. However, affordability and cost of living vary by region within each country. Still, Thailand is a more developed country, and Vietnam’s cost of living is lower than Thailand’s.

For tourists, Thailand’s cost per day is, on average, higher than Vietnam’s. Below is a rough daily budget comparison for a mid-range budget traveler.

๐Ÿ  Accommodation$15$20
๐Ÿœ Food$10$15
๐Ÿš— Transportation$10$10
โญ Entertainment$30$35
Vietnam vs. Thailand Trip Cost Comparison

For a seven-day trip, you can expect to spend roughly $455 in Vietnam and $560 in Thailand.

A high view of small green mountains surrounded by water fields.
A view in Vietnam.

About My Thailand Trip

To give context to the expenses below, here’s what you need to know about my trip:

  • ๐Ÿ—“๏ธย 12 days โ€“ I spent close to two weeks in Thailand, visiting three places:
    • Bangkok: 3 days
    • Chiang Mai: 5 days
    • Krabi (Ao Nang): 4 days
  • โ˜€๏ธ High season โ€“ I visited Thailand in November, which is considered the high season.

Thailand’s peak season runs from November to February, when the weather is drier and cooler.

  • โœŒ๏ธ Group travel โ€“ I traveled with one other person, so we were able to split some costs, such as housing.
  • ๐Ÿ’ฐ Mid-range budget โ€“ I consider myself a mid-range budget traveler, and these expenses reflect that. I donโ€™t aim to travel on a budget, but Iโ€™m thoughtful about how and where I spend.
  • ๐Ÿ€ Self-funded โ€“ My trips are self-funded, so I paid for everything listed below. None of my excursions or experiences are sponsored.
  • ๐Ÿ’ต US dollars โ€“ All costs listed in this post are per person and in US dollars, converted from Thailand’s local currency, the Thai baht.

The exchange rate was $1 USD = เธฟ 35 at the time of writing.

A woman holding a plate of salad, rice and curry with chicken in an outdoor area.
Thai food during my trip.

Thailand Trip’s Total Cost: $1,138

My nearly two-week trip to Thailand cost a total of $1,138, including flights.

See the highlights of my trip in this Thailand itinerary.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Cost Breakdown for Thailand

Here’s a quick overview of my expenses by travel category:

CategoryCost% of TotalDaily Budget
โœˆ๏ธ Flights$21819%
๐Ÿ  Accommodation$21118%$18
๐ŸŒถ๏ธ Food$958%$8
๐Ÿš— Transportation$23320%$19
โญ Entertainment$38134%$32
Thailand Trip’s Cost Breakdown

๐Ÿ—“๏ธ Daily Budget in Thailand: $77

My Thailand trip cost $77 per day, excluding my flights from Vietnam and to Cambodia.

Daily Budget
Excluding flights$77
Including flights$95
Thailand Trip’s Cost Per Day

A mid-range budget traveler can expect to spend $80 per day in Thailand. This generally means staying at accommodations that cost about $40 per night, eating a mix of street and restaurant food, and going on several non-private guided tours.

โœˆ๏ธ Flight Cost to Thailand: $218

I usually take round-trip flights from the United States, but I flew into Thailand from Vietnam and out to Cambodia for this trip. Here are my flight costs:

Vietnam โ†’ Thailand$82
Thailand โ†’ Cambodia$136
Thailand Trip’s Flight Costs

A round-trip flight between the US and Thailand that costs under $750 is considered cheap; international flights typically cost over $850.

Be aware of bag weight limits on budget airlines that hop around Asia. I flew AirAsia and VietJet Air, and both had a combined carry-on and checked-bag limit of 7kg (about 15 lbs). If you pass this limit, you’ll have to pay an extra checked bag fee. I paid $14 per bag, but some fees were as high as $45.

๐Ÿ  Accommodation Cost in Thailand: $211

My average cost of accommodation in Thailand was $18 per day. I was able to split accommodations with one other person at all times.

Here are the accommodations I stayed at and how much I paid for each:

AccommodationTotal CostCost per Night
Bangkok hotel$20$10
Chiang Mai Airbnb$111$22
Krabi Airbnb$80$16
Thailand Trip’s Accommodation Costs

Accommodations in Thailand are incredibly affordable. You can stay at a mid-range hotel for as low as $15 per night. A private room costs as low as $10 per night at a budget hotel. Even luxury hotels, which start at $150 per night, are relatively inexpensive.

A private, clean room with a queen bed.
Airbnb accommodation in Chiang Mai.

๐ŸŒถ๏ธ Food Cost in Thailand: $95

My average cost of food in Thailand was $8 per day.

A mid-range budget traveler can expect to spend about $15 per day on food in Thailand.

Cheapest Meals in Thailand

Here are the most affordable meals I ate during my trip:

Hainanese chicken rice dish (“khao man gai”)เธฃเน‰เธฒเธ™เนเธกเนˆเธšเธธเธ›เธœเธฒ (Chiang Mai)$1
Noodle dish (“khao soi”)Khao Soi Arak (Chiang Mai)$2
Braised pork with an egg dish Chang Phuak Gate Night Market (Chiang Mai)$3
Cheapest Meals in Thailand
A bowl with red-orange soup with chicken and noodles in it.
Khao Soi Arak.

Food in Thailand is extremely affordable. You can easily eat meals for $5 or less every day if you go to local restaurants, night markets, and street food stalls.

Most Expensive Meals in Thailand

Here are the most expensive meals I ate during my trip:

Egg crepe with coffeeFern Forest Cafe (Chiang Mai)$8
Pad Thai and papaya saladKrabi restaurant (sadly closed)$7
Pad Thai and dessertAo Nang Landmark Night Market (Krabi)$6
Most Expensive Meals in Thailand
A woman cooking at an outdoor street kitchen.
Bangkok street food tour.

I recommend going on a food tour early on your Thailand trip. This is the easiest and best way to discover authentic, delicious food and restaurants you can try throughout your trip.

๐Ÿš— Transportation Cost in Thailand: $233

My average cost of transportation in Thailand was $19 per day.

My average cost of transportation is high because I took two domestic flights to travel long distances within Thailand. Had I not taken any domestic flights, my average cost of transportation would have been $8 per day.

Here are the transportation methods I took and how much I paid for each:

TransportationTotal CostCost Per Trip
Domestic flights
Bangkok to Krabi
Krabi to Chiang Mai
Hiring a driver (Chiang Mai)$24$12
Taxi (Chiang Mai, Krabi)$21$5
Motorbike rental (for three days in Krabi)$14
Grab app (Bangkok, Chaing Mai, Krabi)$12$2
Boat trips (Krabi to Railay)$11$5
Tuk tuks (Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Krabi)$21$5
Metro (Bangkok)$3$1
Thailand Trip’s Transportation Costs
A street with cars and people riding tuk-tuks.
Riding tuk-tuks in Thailand.

Grab rides are almost always more affordable than flagging down a taxi or tuk-tuk in Thailand. Pro tip: use Grab prices as a baseline for negotiating with taxis or tuk-tuks when they’re more conveniently available.

๐Ÿ˜ Entertainment Costs in Thailand: $381

My average cost of entertainment in Thailand was $32 per day. This total includes a 5% to 15% tip at certain places.

A typical mid-range traveler in Thailand can expect to spend about $35 a day on entertainment.

Here are all the activities and attractions I paid for and how much each cost:

Northern Thailand food tour (Chiang Mai)$66
Chef-designed food tour (Bangkok)$65
Outdoors rock climbing (Railay Beach)$62
Phi Phi Islands day tour (Krabi)$50
Elephant sanctuary visit (Chiang Mai)$50
SEA LIFE Ocean World Aquarium (Bangkok)$34
Cabaret show (Chiang Mai)$11
Massage at Women Correctional Institution (Chiang Mai)$10
Other massages (two sessions) $21
Wat Pho entrance fee (Bangkok)$6
Thailand Trip’s Entertainment Costs
A woman standing next to an elephant in a lush area.
Elephant sanctuary in Chiang Mai.

Learn how to choose ethical elephant sanctuaries in Thailand.

Cost Breakdown by Destination in Thailand

Below are my trip expense breakdowns for Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Krabi (specifically the Ao Nang area). Bangkok and Chiang Mai are often featured in first-timersโ€™ travel itineraries.

๐Ÿ๏ธ Bangkok Trip’s Total Cost: $170

During my three-day trip to Bangkok, I averaged $57 in daily travel expenses.

I stayed at a mid-range budget hotel and was able to split accommodation costs with one other person. During my trip, I did a unique and memorable food tour, visited Wat Pho, and was impressed with the city’s aquarium.

CategoryTotal CostDaily Budget
๐Ÿ  Accommodation$20$7
๐ŸŒถ๏ธ Food$16$5
๐Ÿš— Transportation$19$6
๐Ÿ˜ Entertainment$115$38
Bangkok Trip’s Costs by Category
A heavily adorned temple with intricate designs.
Wat Pho temple in Bangkok.

Despite being the capital city and one of the more expensive places in Thailand, Bangkok is still incredibly affordable. A mid-range budget traveler can expect to spend $55 per day in Bangkok. You can find mid-range accommodations for less than $20 a night, eat for less than $5 a meal, and take advantage of public transportation to get around.

๐Ÿ˜ Chiang Mai Trip’s Total Cost: $392

During my five-day trip to Chiang Mai, I averaged $78 in daily travel expenses. Excluding my flight ticket from Krabi, my total cost was $304, and my average cost was $61 per day.

I split an Airbnb with someone and did quintessential Chiang Mai activities (e.g., visited an ethical elephant sanctuary, talked to monks, and attended a cabaret show).

CategoryTotal CostDaily Budget
๐Ÿ  Accommodation$111$22
๐ŸŒถ๏ธ Food$25$5
๐Ÿš— Transportation (Grab)$31$6
โœˆ๏ธ Transportation (Flight)$88
๐Ÿ˜ Entertainment$138$28
Chiang Mai Trip’s Costs by Category
Several ornate buildings with gold-plate facades against a sunset sky.
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai.

Chiang Mai is one of the most popular destinations in Thailand and is affordable. A mid-range budget traveler can expect to have a daily travel budget of $60, similar to Bangkok.

๐Ÿšค Krabi/Ao Nang Trip’s Total Cost: $357

During my four-day trip to Krabi/Ao Nang, I averaged $89 in daily travel expenses. Excluding my flight ticket to Krabi from Bangkok, my total cost was $307, and my average cost was $77 per day.

I split an Airbnb with someone and did activities like a Phi Phi Islands day tour (which included stops at the beautiful beaches of Koh Phi Phi, Ton Sai, and Bamboo Island), outdoor rock climbing at Railay Beach, and an informative and delicious northern Thailand food tour.

CategoryTotal CostDaily Budget
๐Ÿ  Accommodation$80$20
๐ŸŒถ๏ธ Food$54$13
๐Ÿš— Transportation (Grab)$45$11
โœˆ๏ธ Transportation (Flight)$50
๐Ÿ˜ Entertainment$129$32
Krabi Trip’s Costs by Category
A high view of an island with green trees and limestone cliffs.
East Railay Viewpoint in Railay Beach.

Krabi is less popular than Phuket in terms of Thailand beaches. But it’s still one of the pricier destinations where a mid-range budget traveler can expect to have a daily travel budget of $60.

Do You Need Cash in Thailand?

Thailand’s economy is largely based on cash transactions, especially in non-tourist areas, so bring some cash. I needed to use cash almost everywhere when I visited.

Below are tips on bringing and using cash in Thailand.

๐Ÿ’ต 1. Withdraw cash in Thai baht.

Thailand’s local currency is the Thai baht (เธฟ), and the US dollar is not widely accepted.

ATMs are readily available in many tourist places in Thailand, but if your debit card doesn’t reimburse your ATM fees, you’ll want to withdraw a higher amount less frequently to save on fees.

๐Ÿง 2. Carry about $40 to $50 worth of cash per day in Thailand.

On a typical day, a mid-range budget traveler in Thailand will need at least $40 in cash to cover food, transportation, and attractions. A daily cash expense breakdown can look like this:

  • $15 at restaurants and cafes
  • $20 for tipping and entrance fees
  • $5 for transportation and other miscellaneous spending

I keep my cash in my crossbody bag, but if you want extra protection against pickpocketing, carry it in a hidden money belt instead.

๐Ÿ’ณ 3. Very few places in Thailand take credit cards.

Being able to use a credit card in Thailand is the exception, but below are some places that accepted credit cards during my trip:

  • Touristy restaurants โ€“ This was especially true in Bangkok.
  • Established massage places โ€“ However, the places typically had a 3% credit card fee.
  • Grab app rides โ€“ You can also tip through the app, so you don’t need cash for these.
  • Malls and attractions within them โ€“ Many stores inside a mall will take cards. The Bangkok Aquarium also accepts cards.

๐Ÿ’ฐ 4. Tipping is not customary in Thailand.

Tipping is often appreciated in Thailand, but it’s optional. Tipping is most often expected from tourists and businesses that serve visitors.

  • Tours โ€“ Tour guides will gladly accept 10% to 15% tips, especially those serving Americans.
  • Dining โ€“ When eating out, you can leave behind some of the remaining change.
  • Drivers โ€“ You can tip through the Grab app at about 5% to 10% if you like.
  • Other service workers โ€“ Given how affordable massages are in Thailand, consider leaving a 20% tip since it won’t be that much money for you, but it can make a difference to the masseuse.

See other essential travel tips for Thailand before visiting.

A woman sipping on a small cup of tea while sitting outside in a garden area.
Waiting for traditional Thai massage.

Thoughts? Questions? Leave a comment below.

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  1. Tom

    Thank you, Lukiih. I’m glad I found your review. I’ll be arriving in BKK on 3/30 for 18 days solo. Planning on spending time in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Hua Hin (maybe Joe Tien).

    One of my main concerns was about credit cards and you’ve answered that fully. I’m planning on bringing $3K cash with me – I’m not a partier or fine diner but I do want to explore. Since I will need to convert $ to TB, where do you recommend doing this? The first opportunity will be in the airport. Aside from converting at the airport what I’ll need for a few days, would I get a better exchange rate at a bank?

    Thank you for you help.


    1. Lukiih

      Hi Tom, glad you found this review helpful. I didn’t have to exchange USD for THB in Thailand, so I don’t have any firsthand tips other than the exchange rates at the airports are generally terrible.

      I’m not comfortable carrying a large sum of cash when I travel, so I withdraw as I go. I have a debit card that will reimburse my ATM fees and provides a good exchange rate, so I rely on ATMs. Good luck exchanging money and enjoy your trip!

  2. Olga

    Dear Lukiin
    Thanks for your article, very interesting. I will fly to Tailand in one week time whit my husband and two sons 6 and 16th years old. We will stay 3 days in Bangkok, 3 days Krabi, 2 days Phi Phi Island, 2 days Raylay beach, 3 days Chiang and finely 3 day Chiang Rai.
    I aredy paid 3 flights between Bangkok, Krabi,, Cฤฅiang Mai, and from Chiang Rai back to Bangkok, also some of the hotes also payd.

    Do you thin I can manage to leve for 100โ‚ฌ a day for 4 of us for food ets?

    1. Lukiih

      Hi Olga, glad you found this article helpful. I can only speak about my experience, but I think 100โ‚ฌ to 120โ‚ฌ per day is sufficient for the four of you, especially because one of your sons is so young. All of your destinations are tourist hot spots, so prices might be a tad bit higher, but Thailand is overall very affordable.

  3. Sarah

    Hi there, I found your article really good so thank you. I am leaving in 1 week for a month long trip to Thailand with my 2 teenage children (lucky them right). I have only pre booked all my accommodation (pay when I arrive) and have booked all 2 internal flights and paid for them already. I have run out of time unfortunately to get a travel wise card which after much research am bummed about as seems this is the best way to avoid all the bank transactions fees. I donโ€™t really want to carry enough cash for 4 weeks as that would be an extreme amount to take for 3 people. Do you have any advice for me or am I just going to have to use ATM machines and pay the extravagant bank fees ๐Ÿ™. I am happy to use my debit card to pay for my accommodation when I arrive which will be in 5 destinations. Looked at getting a Wise Travel digital card as can get instantly and they have much lower atm fees, pretty sure most places wouldnโ€™t have contactless ATMs or payment options being Thailand right as itโ€™s the same as using Apple Pay (tap to pay).
    We are going to Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Krabi, Railay.
    Regards ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Lukiih

      Hi Sarah, glad you found this article helpful! I can only speak about my experience:
      – I also never carry too much on me (about $100 at most)
      – Yes, Thailand heavily relies on cash, so I wouldn’t depend on credit, debit cards or any tap to pay technology.
      – I had no trouble finding ATM machines around Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Krabi and Railay. I didn’t go to Phuket, but it’s one of the most tourist-heavy destinations, so I can’t imagine them not having ATMs.
      – I have a debit card with zero transaction fees AND it reimburses my ATM fees, but I do remember the fees being high (about $6 for every withdrawal). The fees do suck, but Thailand is also so affordable that the fees feel like a reasonable sacrifice (e.g., you might have to pay a $6 fee every time you take out money, but your meals can also be as cheap as $3 depending on where you go). Or you might have to consider just taking out more than you’re comfortable.

      Have a great time with your two lucky teens! ๐Ÿ€

  4. Ken

    Very helpful article.

    We’re going to Thailand for 15 days just over 2 weeks from now! As retirees with a budget that can afford comfort, we’re on a group tour for 10 days, taking a cooking class in Bangkok before our tour, and staying at a resort hotel in Phuket a few nights at the end. Our itinerary also includes overnights in Kanchanaburi, Ayutthaya, Sukhothai, Chiang Rai, and Chiang Mai. Hotels and transportation are prepaid. Breakfast every day and some dinners are included, as are excursions and attractions on the tour, except for some free days. I assume the Phuket resort will accept credit card.

    So I’m trying to determine how much cash we need for the two of us for the non-included meals (ranging from street food to sit-downs), attractions on our free days, and souvenirs and gifts. I’m leaning toward 50,000 Thai Baht (between $1400-$1500 US). That’s $90-$100 per day. You’re recommending $40 per day per person ($80 total), so it seems like I’ve got that plus a cushion. Do you agree? Or suggest we carry less?

    1. Lukiih

      Hi Ken, glad you found this article helpful.

      You’re going to be in three of Thailand’s most expensive destinations: Phuket, Chiang Mai, and Bangkok, so I don’t think it hurts to bring a bit extra per person. At the same time, a lot of your trip is already covered (e.g., transportation, some meals), so I don’t think you’ll need much outside of tipping, buying small souvenirs, dining out, etc, which can all be very affordable by US’s standards.

      My $40 per day estimate also includes massages, which can be very cheap in Thailand, but you might be going to nicer places. Overall, you seem to be doing a nicer trip than what I did, so roughly $80-$90 per day per person sounds right.

      If you end up using significantly more or less cash after your trip, feel free to shoot me a note. I’ll be curious as to why :). Enjoy your trip!

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