It’s been a while since I’ve posted a country budget, so I am going to try to catch up over the next week or so.

After spending two months counting every penny while traveling in very expensive Australia and New Zealand, the value of Southeast Asia was outstanding.  Instead of cooking our own food, we began to eat out at restaurants and from street vendors — often for much less than what a self-catered meal in a more developed country cost us.  In Australia we paid more than $100/night for a room with a bunk bed and a shared bathroom.  In a very nice area of Bangkok, however, we stayed in a palatial room with a king-size bed and separate shower and toilet rooms for less than half of that.  The relative cheapness of everything and the sudden change from self denial also meant that we stopped being as careful with our decisions of what to do or eat and began to do just about whatever we wanted without cost consideration.  Because of this, we probably spent more than many other people might spend in Thailand, but we had an amazing time and really cut loose after being so wound up in Australia and New Zealand.  And we still managed to spend at a rate that was just a third of what Australia cost us!

The cost breakdown below is solely costs incurred while in Thailand and doesn’t include any international costs (international flights, insurance, etc). It does include domestic travel.

During our three-week stay in Thailand we spent a total of US$2,515:

  • Accommodation – $907
  • Food – $539
  • Travel – $433
  • Activities – $373
  • Misc – $262

21 nights in Thailand = $120/night

Accommodation, obviously, covers where we slept each night.  Food is everything we ate or drank — water, beer, dinner, lunch, snacks, etc.  Travel is domestic travel only (bus trips, train rides, domestic flights, taxis, ferries, anything in country.)  Activities are the things we did for fun/entertainment (park entry fees, museum fees, theater tickets, etc.)  Misc. is a catch-all category that includes things like shampoo, laundry, gear replacement (although I will specify any major costs), souvenirs, gifts and medical expenses.

Below is a graphical representation of those numbers:

Thailand Budget

Thailand Budget

As the chart shows, accommodation was our biggest expense.  We averaged about $40/night on hotels.  In true “flashpacking style,” we stayed only in double rooms with ensuite bathrooms, but our accommodation ranged from a $15/night room in the Khao Sok Jungle that we shared with a giant spider and no A/C to a $75/night room at a beach resort in Krabi where we climbed rocks and acquired horrific food poisoning.  We could have certainly saved a great deal of money by staying in $5 dorm beds, but double rooms fit in our budget and were significantly more comfortable.

Food expenses came next, but were quite modest at $25/day considering we ate every meal from some form of a restaurant.  We also splurged from time to time by purchasing over-priced drinks at the bar on top of the Centara Grand Hotel in Bangkok, eating in the “nice” restaurants in Railay, and, I’m ashamed to admit, having some sort of dessert at least once each day (mmmmmm…..banana pancakes!).

Our travel costs were quite varied as we traveled via just about every form of transportation available.  We rode public transit — subways, elevated trains and longtail ferries — in Bangkok, took trains to Ayutthaya and Chiang Mai, rode songtheows and tuk-tuks in Chiang Mai, flew to Surat Thani, took a bus to Khao Sok and then again to Phuket and took a boat to Railay.  And nearly 60% of our travel costs came from the flights we took from Chiang Mai to Surat Thani.  A more budget conscious traveler could save lots of money by traveling more slowly than we did.

Our activities costs were what kept us sane after holding back for so long in Australia and New Zealand.  We literally did everything we desired that we had time to do, and the Thai people made it very easy and cheap to do so. Our biggest expenses were a day tour of Cheow Lan Lake and caving in Khao Sok, cooking class in Chiang Mai, rock climbing lessons in Railay and a visit to the Grand Palace in Bangkok (at about $20 USD a person, a very expensive site by Asian standards).

Our Misc costs are a little bit misleading as more than half of that pie slice consisted of a rather expensive gift we bought in Bangkok and the associated postage to mail it (and other trinkets we had acquired along the way) home.  But with Cambodia and Vietnam in our near future we wanted to free up bag space in a country where the postal system could be relied upon.

Could we have spent less visiting Thailand?  The answer is a resounding yes.  But would I change anything in our trip there at all?  No.  We had an amazing time visiting the land of smiles and the price tag was worth every Baht.