How much it costs to go to Thailand - MoneySense

How much it costs to go to Thailand

You can visit for as little as $40-60 USD a day



Many people know that Thailand is one of the cheapest countries in the world to visit, but they still want to know: how much does it cost to go to Thailand for 3 weeks? Like any vacation, it depends, but most people who are looking to spend three weeks in Thailand are usually backpackers, so I’m going to use that assumption for this article.

I’m going to get straight to the point here. You can visit Thailand for $40-60 USD per day and that would include a night in mid-range accommodations, three average priced meals, transportation, one attraction ticket, and a glass of alcohol.

If you prefer a more luxurious experience, you could double that estimate and easily live like a king. Thailand really is that cheap! In fact, the longer you stay, the cheaper it ends up being, here’s why.

Estimated cost Notes
Accommodations $15 Basic accommodations
Food $12 Three meals plus alcohol
Transportation $21 Includes domestic flights
Attractions $10 This can vary
TOTAL $58 USD per day $1,218 for three weeks

You could spend even less per day, but I don’t think it’s worth sacrificing your comfort or any experiences just to save a little money. I’d argue it’s worth spending a bit more since everything is pretty cheap in Thailand.Costs in Thailand can vary quite a bit, but it still ends up being quite cheap from a North American perspective. My above estimates show that you can get by in Thailand for less than $60 USD per day including your domestic flights, attractions, and excursions.

  • $1 USD = 35 THB (Thai Baht)
  • $1 CAD = 26 THB

Even though the Canadian dollar has taken quite a hit over the last year, Thailand is still one of the cheapest places to visit. If you’re an American, it’s insane how far your dollar will go in the country.


Airfare – My $58 USD estimate does not include the flight to Thailand from your departing city, so that’s something you need to budget for. I’ve seen flights from the U.S. for as little as $500 USD, but Canadians should expect to pay closer to $1,100 on average. Note that there are no direct flights to Thailand from Canada, the most common stopovers are in Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Beijing.

Internal flights are also something to consider, but it’s insane how cheap these flights can be. You can fly from Bangkok to Chiang Mai or Phuket for as low as $30 USD on a variety of budget airlines including Vietjet Air, Thai Lion Air, Thai Airways AirAsia, Bangkok Airways, Thai Smile, and Nok Air. Some routes such as Bangkok to Koh Samui cost more, but even then you’re looking at just $130.

Read my post on how to find cheap flights now for some tips on how to save money when flying.

Long distance trains – Regional travel within Thailand is crazy cheap, but it takes longer to reach your destination. A third class ticket from Bangkok to Ayutthaya will cost you just 15 THB for the two-hour journey. An overnight train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai in a 2nd class sleeper with air conditioning is going to cost you around 700 THB. Third class tickets are around 300 THB, but the savings isn’t worth it considering your lack of comfort for 15 hours.

Depending on where you’re going, sometimes it’s cheaper just to fly. If you’re island hopping, your only option might be taking the ferry, but even they are inexpensive at about 300 – 600 THB one way.

Local transportation – Local public buses cost around 10 THB while taking the Metro or Skytrain in Bangkok starts at 15 THB per station. If you plan on using the Metro a lot, a day pass might be your best option. Tuk tuks are unmetered and cost about 30 THB for every 5 minutes, but often drivers try to take advantage of tourists. Metered taxis are usually your best bet since a 5 km journey averages 60 THB and 10 kms for 90 THB. Any surcharges are added to your meter at the end of the ride.

Note that not many people in Thailand speak English. If you’re using a taxi or tuk-tuk, you’ll want to get the address of where you’re going in Thai. They won’t understand the English names in your guidebooks. If they refuse to use the meter, get out and wave down a different taxi.

Thailand accommodations

When people ask how much does it cost to go to Thailand? They understand that where you stay and what type of accommodations you choose make a difference. But, it’s always a shock to find out how cheap some of your options are.

Generally speaking, the northern part of Thailand is more reasonable compared to Bangkok and the islands which are located in the south. For 400 – 600 THB, you should easily be able to find a room with a fan. There are cheaper options available, but it would literally be just a room. Spend the extra $3-5 USD a night and be comfortable.

In the major tourist areas, you should be able to find a decent room with air conditioning starting at 600 THB. Note that bungalows are popular on the islands and cost about the same price as guesthouses, so that’s an option to consider.

Although hotels greatly range in price, it won’t be hard to find a local brand hotel starting at 1,400 THB per night. Resorts on islands as well as bungalows that accommodate up to three people can be found for about 2,000 THB per night. Even name brand hotels are reasonably priced by North American Standards starting around 3,500 THB per night.

You would think that with such cheap accommodation options, you won’t need to bother with Airbnb, but it’s would still worth considering. Use my Airbnb referral link now to get $40 off your first stay.

Other expenses

Food – Food is ridiculously cheap in Thailand. I remember getting a huge portion of fried rice from a street vendor for just 30 THB. Don’t like fried rice? Don’t worry, you can get Pad Thai, Khao Soi, or fresh fruit for less than 50 THB. Don’t like Thai food in general? Western, Chinese, and Indian food are found everywhere and will only run you 150 – 350 THB a meal. Obviously, fancier places will charge you more, but it shouldn’t be hard to eat for less than 200 THB a day. There’s no need to grocery shop when the food is so cheap in Thailand.

Attractions – Most museums, temples, and parks cost around 50-100 THB to get in, however, The Grand Palace in Bangkok will cost you 500 THB. It’s the day tours and adventures that will cost you the most money. Hiking, diving, and jungle trekking can cost you anywhere from 500 – 2,000 THB per person. You can negotiate lower prices if you’re going in a group. How much you spend is up to you, but I don’t recommend cheaping out on experiences. Also note that some attractions charge more for non-Thais. This is a standard practice and always posted.

Shopping – With so many markets and malls, it’s not a far stretch to say that shopping is one of Thailand’s biggest tourist attractions. I certainly enjoyed shopping during my time there, but I found the quality to be quite low on almost everything I bought. Haggling in markets is expected, so sometimes it’s worth watching others do it first before you make your first offer.

Final word

Thailand is ridiculously cheap. You can easily get by on $60 USD a day (plus the cost of your flight to Thailand). You could easily spend even less than that if you choose to stay at the most basic accommodations, but you’d only save about $200 – 300 USD over three weeks. Trust me, paying extra for comfort and experiences is worth it.

Barry Choi is a personal finance and budget travel expert at  He has been quoted in The Financial Post, The Toronto Star and more. You can follow him on Twitter: @barrychoi

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