One of the most common questions I get asked is about the costs of backpacking to countries and how much to save or budget for travel.
I remember when I first starting backpacking South East Asia, I just quit my job, had money saved and was amazed how cheap everything was compared to Australia. I got to Koh Tao which a small island in Thailand with a great backpacker vibe, I discovered I could rent a nice bungalow on the beach for 500 baht ($15USD) a night so I forgot about all the places I planned to travel and spent the next month on a tropical island relaxing and enjoying the island life.
Later when I moved to Thailand I ended up renting a much nicer apartment with all bills included for 160 baht a night ($5USD) and I found that luxury apartments in Bangkok cost less per month than what I was paying for my cheap bungalow.
I now know I was spending a lot more money than I should have been when I started backpacking so I have put together a rough guide for Thailand with estimated daily and monthly costs for backpacking.
Costs in Thailand vary in each region and can cost as much or as little as you want. Thailand is a perfect place for the budget traveler where you could easily rent a place for an entire year for less than 2 months rent in your home country. This guide is aimed at the budget backpacker planning on traveling long term and not the short term tourist looking to stay at a resort for a few weeks.
Costs of Backpacking Thailand Budget:
Accommodation costs are so cheap in most of Asia compared to the rest of the world that they don’t have a lot of shared hostel rooms with bunk beds, you’ll usually have a private room to yourself prices will then depend on the below:
– Fan or air con
– Shared bathroom or private bathroom
Hotel room with fan & shared bathroom – 200 – 300 baht ($6 to $10 USD approx)
Hotel room with fan and private bathroom – 500 baht ($15 USD approx)
Hotel room with air con and private bathroom – 700 to 1,200 baht ($20 to $36 USD approx)
There are not a lot of dorm rooms in Asia so you will get a room to yourself most of the time. I’ve found some really great rooms for 200 to 300 baht and even had a private bungalow to myself on an island for 500 baht.
If you are staying longer than a month in 1 place it may be worth renting an apartment for the month which you could get for between 2,500 – 10,000 baht a month for a decent apartment depending on location and city. There are a lot of decent apartments in Bangkok for 5,000 a month which is just over 150 baht a day plus bills and apartments are even cheaper outside of Bangkok.
Standard beer at 7-11 = 30-50 baht
Standard beer at cheap bar = 50-100 baht
Standard beer at more expensive club = 100 – 200 baht
Water at 7-11 = 10 baht
Water at bar = 20-40 baht
Rice / noodle dish from street vendor = 30-50 baht
Rice / noodle dish at cheap restaurant = 50-100 baht
Rice / noodle dish at expensive restaurant = 150 baht – 300 baht
ABSOLUTE BUDGET BACKPACKER – Estimated costs guide:
Absolute budget traveler: This budget suits people who are planning on spending 6 months or more, walking during the day, staying in one location and working on the novel you’ve always wanted to write, meditating all day or catching up on a lifetime’s worth of reading. It doesn’t factor in a lot of transport costs or entry fees to tourist sites.
Daily costs for the absolute budget backpacker:
This is more realistic in rural Thailand, smaller towns and the north or if you are staying for long period of time in one place renting an apartment and walking or riding a bicycle most places.
500 baht a day
– 300 baht a night on accommodation
– 90 baht on meals (30 baht x 3)
– 60 baht on drinks (3 x 10 baht water + 1 x 30 baht beer)
– 50 baht phone credit/internet cafe etc.
REALISTIC BACKPACKING THAILAND BUDGET – Estimated costs guide:
This is a budget if you want to stay for a while, 3 months or more, you don’t mind shared bathrooms and fan rooms but also want to have snacks during the day, enjoy a few cheap beers, buy a book, souvenir or take some transport around town.
1000 baht a day
– 300 baht a night on accommodation
– 200 baht on meals (50 baht x 3 + snacks)
– 200 baht on drinks (3 x 10 baht water + 5 x 30 baht beer)
– 50 baht (phone credit/internet etc.)
– 250 baht – books, souvenirs, transport etc.
If you’re staying for even longer you can rent an apartment and spend less on souvenirs etc. each day which will reduce your costs even further. There will be days you spend more and less so I think 1,000 baht a day will be an average realistic budget that your costs may even out to be.
NEW BACKPACKER / FLASHPACKER – Estimated costs guide:
This is a budget if you want to stay for a while and are visiting Bangkok or the islands, still happy with basic accommodation but want your own room with air con, want to have a few more drinks, perhaps have a meal at a cheap restaurant and do some tours.
If you are a backpacker but have just arrived, this is a realistic budget you should be able to manage, the longer you stay the more you budget will even out as you may have days where you stay in cheaper accommodation, don’t spend money on drinks or take tours or buy anything and eat at street stalls.
This budget gives you a bit of flexibility to adjust eg. spend 400 baht less on accommodation and use that for more drinks or seeing the sites.
2,000 baht a day
– 700 a night on accommodation
– 300 baht on meals
– 500 baht on drinks
– 50 baht (phone credit / internet)
– 450 baht on tours/entry fees, books, souvenirs, transport etc.
After this level you’re not really backpacking, you’re spending too much money or you’ve got a drinking problem. Realistically 2,000 baht a day should be an upper limit for backpackers and you will easily be able to spend a lot less than this.
A daily budget will vary but should even out over the time you spend traveling, there will be days where you do a tour, trek or volunteer somewhere that costs you a bit more money but it should balance out with days where you do no tours and relax at the beach or on a hammock reading a good book.