Known for its magnificent Buddhist temples and flavorful cuisine, Thailand is an affordable country that can be visited with a budget of $30 to $150 a day.
My almost two-week trip to Thailand cost a total of $1,138. In this post, I share:
- 💰 Expected trip cost
- 💡 Budgeting tips
- 💵 How much cash to bring
- ✈️ My trip’s expenses by category
- 📍 My trip’s expenses by destination
Planning a trip to Thailand? This Thailand guide covers things to know before getting there, including how to get around, safety and scams, cultural differences and top places to visit.
- Is Thailand Expensive?
- How Much Is a Trip?
- Thailand vs. Vietnam Costs
- About My Trip
- Trip Total Cost: $1,138
- Cost Breakdown by City
- Do You Need Cash in Thailand?
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through them, I may earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support!
Is Thailand Expensive to Travel To?
Thailand is a popular destination and one of the most affordable countries to visit by United States standards. Although it’s ranked as one of Southeast Asia’s more affordable countries, it’s generally not as cheap as Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and Indonesia (excluding Bali).
The above is a generalization and budget can vary by individual travel styles. For example, here’s how much I spent per day in these nearby countries that I visited in the same year as Thailand:
*My Cambodia trip could have easily been closer to $85 per day, but I chose to splurge on a private villa accommodation for a special occasion.
How Much Is a Trip to Thailand?
The average Thailand trip cost depends on the visitor’s travel style. Here’s how much a budget and mid-range budget traveler can expect to spend in Thailand daily and during a one-week trip.
🎒 Trip Cost for a Budget Traveler
Budget travelers can expect to spend approximately $30 per day or $210 for one week of travel in Thailand, excluding flights.
To travel on a budget to Thailand, here are some things you’ll need to do:
- Accommodation: For the cheapest option, stay at a hostel with dorm rooms for about $8 a night. You can also stay at homestays where you can stay with a local family for about $12 a night.
- Food: Eat at night markets and try local food at street stalls for less than $4 per meal. I ate at night markets in Chiang Mai and Krabi six times and averaged $5 per meal without trying to budget.
Tap water is generally not safe 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.
- Transportation: 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 very convenient to get to and from Bangkok International Airport.
- Attractions: Look for free temples and monasteries to visit instead of visiting famous ones that have entrance fees (e.g., the famous Wat Phra Kaew and the Grand Palace in Bangkok have a ~$15 fee). If you’re traveling in tourist areas, you can negotiate tour prices in person instead of booking them ahead, especially if you’re looking to book a guided tour for the next day (I did this in Krabi for the Phi Phi Islands tour which saved me $20).
- Season: 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.
💰 Trip Cost for a Mid-Range Budget Traveler
A mid-range budget traveler, such as myself, can expect to spend approximately $75 per day or $525 for one week of travel in Thailand, excluding flights. I break down my Thailand travel expense by category below.
Is Thailand or Vietnam More Affordable To Travel To?
Thailand and Vietnam are Southeast Asia’s most popular and affordable destinations, so they’re often compared, even though I think each country offers a different travel experience.
🇹🇭 Thailand is on average slightly more expensive than Vietnam to travel to. Affordability and cost of living vary by the exact region of each country, but in general, Thailand is a more developed country than Vietnam 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 between traveling in Vietnam vs. Thailand for a mid-range budget traveler. The cost varies depending on where exactly in Vietnam or Thailand you’re traveling to, but these averages should give you an idea of the cost differences.
|Total Cost Per Day||$65||$75|
Based on the chart above, you can expect to spend approximately $455 for a one-week trip in Vietnam and $525 for a one-week trip in Thailand.
About My Thailand Trip
To give context to the expenses below, here’s what you need to know about my trip to Thailand:
🗓️ 12 days. I spent almost two weeks in Thailand visiting major cities and popular destinations:
- Bangkok, the capital city, for three days
- Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand for five days
- Krabi, a beach destination that’s a good alternative for Phuket, for four days
I break down my travel expenses by location below.
☀️ High season. 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.
✌️ Two travelers. I traveled with one other person, so I was able to split accommodation, food and transportation costs.
💰 Mid-range budget. I don’t aim to travel on a budget, but I’m thoughtful about how and where I spend. I consider myself a mid-range budget traveler and these expenses reflect that.
💵 US dollars. 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 = ฿ 34 at the time of writing.
Thailand Trip’s Total Cost: $1,138
My almost two-week trip to Thailand cost a total of $1,138, including flights.
💰 Cost Breakdown for Thailand
Here are my Thailand travel expenses by category:
|Cost||% of Total Cost||Cost per Day|
|⭐ Activities and Misc.||$381||34%||$32|
💵 Daily Budget in Thailand: $77
If I include my flight costs, my Thailand trip came out to $95 per day.
A mid-range budget traveler can expect to spend $75 per day in Thailand. This generally means staying at $20 per person per night accommodations, eating a mix of street and restaurant food, and going on several tours.
✈️ Flight Cost to Thailand: $218
These were my flight costs to get in and out of Thailand (my domestic flights to get around Thailand are under transportation below):
- My flight from Da Nang International Airport in Vietnam to Suvarnabhumi Airport in Thailand was $82.
- My flight from Chiang Mai International Airport in Thailand to Siem Reap International Airport in Cambodia was $136.
If you’re flying from the United States to Thailand, expect to pay at least $1,200 for your flight tickets during the high season. The cheapest months to fly from the United States to Thailand are September and October, according to Skyscanner.
If you’re flying on budget airlines that hop around Asia, be aware of bag weight limits. 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 per bag.
🏠 Accommodation Cost in Thailand: $211
My average cost of accommodation in Thailand was $18 per day.
I stayed at VIX Bangkok at Victory Monument in Bangkok and an Airbnb in Chiang Mai and Krabi.
|Accommodation||Total Cost||Cost Per Day|
|Chiang Mai Airbnb||$111||$22|
Accommodations in Thailand are extremely affordable so you can stay at mid-range hotels for as low as $15 per night and at budget hotels for as low as $10 per night for a private room. At about $150 or more per night, luxury hotels in Thailand are still considered affordable.
🍛 Food Cost in Thailand: $95
My average cost of food in Thailand was $8 per day.
My most affordable meals in Thailand were all in Chiang Mai. My top three cheapest meals were:
- $1 for a Hainanese chicken rice dish (called “khao man gai”) at a local restaurant, ร้านแม่บุปผา, in Chiang Mai. This was easily also one of the best meals I had in Southeast Asia, so I ended up eating here three times.
- $2 for a noodle dish called “khao soi” at a local stall, Khao Soi Arak, in Chiang Mai.
- $3 for a braised pork with an egg dish and some coconut milk dessert at the Chang Phuak Gate Night Market in Chiang Mai.
Food in Thailand is extremely affordable and you can easily eat meals for $5 or less every day if you go to local restaurants, night markets and street food stalls.
My most expensive meals in Thailand were:
- $8 lunch at a touristy and nicer restaurant, Fern Forest Cafe, in Chiang Mai
- $7 lunch at a delicious cafe in Krabi that is now sadly permanently closed
- $6 dinner at the Ao Nang Landmark Night Market in Krabi
I recommend going on a food tour early in your Thailand trip. This is the easiest and best way to discover authentic, delicious food and restaurants that you can try throughout your trip.
🚙 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.
|Total Cost||Cost Per Trip|
– Bangkok to Krabi
– Krabi to Chiang Mai
|Hiring a driver (Chiang Mai)||$24||$12|
|Taxi (Chiang Mai, Krabi)||$21||$5|
|Motorbike rental (for 3 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|
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.
✨ Attraction Costs in Thailand: $381
My average cost of attractions and activities in Thailand was $32 per day. This total includes tips (because I’m from the United States), which were usually around 10%.
Below are all the activities I did in Thailand. I’ve included links to the exact tour that I did for the ones I highly recommend. I didn’t include a link to the tour operators that I thought were average.
|Northern Thailand food tour (Chiang Mai)||$66|
|Chef-designed food tour (Bangkok)||$65|
|Outdoors rock climbing (Railay Beach)||$62|
|Phi Phi Islands day tour from Ao Nang (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|
Cost Breakdown by City in Thailand
Below are my trip expense breakdowns for the three places I visited in Thailand: Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Krabi (specifically in Ao Nang).
🏍️ Bangkok Cost Breakdown
I spent a total of $170 for three days in Bangkok, so my average cost was $57 per day.
I stayed at VIX Bangkok at Victory Monument and was able to split accommodation costs with one other person. In Bangkok, I did an amazing and memorable food tour, visited Wat Pho and was impressed with the city’s aquarium.
Despite it 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 the public transportation to get around.
|Total Cost||Cost Per Day|
|⭐ Entertainment & Misc.||$115||$38|
🐘 Chiang Mai Cost Breakdown
I spent a total of $392 for five days in Chiang Mai, so my average cost was $78 per day. Without including my flight ticket to Chiang Mai from Krabi, my total cost was $304 and my average cost was $61 per day.
One of the most popular destinations in Thailand, Chiang Mai is affordable and a mid-range budget traveler can expect to have a daily travel budget of $60, similar to Bangkok.
|Total Cost||Cost Per Day|
|✈️ Flight from Krabi to Chiang Mai||$88||–|
|⭐ Entertainment & Misc.||$138||$28|
🚤 Krabi/Ao Nang Cost Breakdown
I spent a total of $357 for four days in the Ao Nang town of Krabi, so my average cost was $89 per day. Without including 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 else and did activities like a Phi Phi Island 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.
Krabi is not as popular as 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.
|Total Cost||Cost Per Day|
|✈️ Flight from Bangkok to Krabi||$50||–|
|⭐ Entertainment & Misc.||$129||$32|
Do You Need Cash in Thailand?
Thailand’s economy is largely based on cash transactions, especially in non-tourist areas, so make sure to bring some cash. I needed to use cash almost everywhere when I visited.
Here are some tips on bringing and using cash in Thailand:
💵 Tip #1: Withdraw cash in Thai baht.
Thailand’s local currency is the Thai baht (฿) 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.
🏧 Tip #2: Carry more than $40 worth of cash per day in Thailand.
You’ll need at least $40 in Thailand to cover food, transportation, attractions and tips on a typical day for a mid-range budget traveler.
💳 Tip #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, especially in Bangkok
- Established massage places that have a 3% credit card fee
- Grab app rides
- The Bangkok aquarium
I otherwise used cash during the entire time of my Thailand trip.
💰 Tip #4: Tipping in Thailand is not customary, but it’s appreciated.
It’s not rude to tip in Thailand and it’s often appreciated, but it’s not mandatory.
- Tour guides will gladly accept 10% to 15% tips, especially ones that serve more Americans.
- When eating out, you can leave behind some of the remaining change.
- For drivers, you can tip through the Grab app at about 5% to 10% if you like.
- Given how affordable massages are in Thailand, consider leaving a 20% tip since it won’t be that much money to you, but can make a difference to the masseuse.
Planning a trip to Thailand? This Thailand guide has other practical travel tips, like common scams, tap water safety and top places to visit.
If you have any questions or thoughts, feel free to leave them in the comments below.
🧋 This site is run entirely by me, Lukiih. I spend hours writing each article to ensure its accuracy and conciseness. If you find my site helpful, you can say thanks by buying me bubble tea!