Thailand is well-known as one of the best budget destinations on earth, particularly the smaller cities such as Chiang Mai. This city is filled with expats and creative types who have learned the knack of life and leisure on a shoestring budget, although it remains much less crowded than bustling Bangkok, which incidentally is also a lot more expensive.
Getting around may not be as much fun when you are travelling while keeping a beady eye on your bahts. However, you can still get great satisfaction out of knowing that a baht saved on transport is an extra baht for sightseeing, sampling the tasty Thai cuisine and sleeping in greater comfort.
Buses are generally the cheapest option for travelling in Thailand, followed by motorcycle taxis and trains. Remember that bargaining is the key to survival when you are travelling on a beer budget, and most informal operators will be willing to negotiate. In Bangkok you can anticipate spending in the region of 6.50 – 20 THB on a bus ride, 10 – 20 THB for a short spin in a motorcycle taxi and about 6.50 – 20 THB to take the train. Naturally, the further you go the more you pay. Another option, particularly in areas where public transport is minimal to non-existent, is to rent a motorbike for about 200 THB per day. Nothing beats investing in a bicycle and harnessing the power of the pedal for all your short trips, though.
Just being among the lovely landscapes and friendly people of Thailand is enough of a holiday experience to warrant very little additional activity but naturally, you will want to experience as much of this unique country as you can. If you steer clear of the main tourist areas in Thailand you can still enjoy some sightseeing without breaking the bank.
Prices range from 50 THB to visit the Pom Khlong Song Nam nature park in Krabi to 1200 THB to join in a Thai cooking course for the day in Bangkok, while some sights have no entry fee. A Thai massage, which is a simply a must-do activity while in the country, will set you back 200 THB for a full hour. The beach is always one of your best options for free entertainment and a wonderful place to meet locals and fellow travellers.
Thai food is delicious, simple, and very reasonable and you could enjoy sampling a range of delights at the popular night markets for just a few dollars, or stick to something simple, like Pad Thai, for next to nothing. Compared to food, drinks are expensive in Thailand and cutting alcohol from your socialising will save you hundreds.
In general, with a little planning and research, it is possible to get around Thailand and enjoy the sights, people, and culture of this fascinating country on a tight budget especially during the low season.