Is Thailand expensive? Our budget travel guide
The great news if you’re thinking of travelling to Thailand is that it’s not expensive.
This budget guide explores getting around cheaply, Thailand flight costs and accommodation prices, and how to savour Thai food without draining your wallet. Get ready for a Thai adventure that won’t break the bank.
The cost of transport in Thailand 
So, is Thailand expensive for transport? Fortunately, not. Options for getting about in Thailand include buses, trains, tuk-tuks, and motorbike taxis. Over long distances you can also consider internal flights and car hire.
|Type of travel||Pros||Cons|
|Flight||Fast, with low-cost fares between Bangkok and holiday resorts||Only relevant for long distances|
|Train||Good quality, comfortable, inexpensive. Sleeper trains save on accommodation||Best to book in advance. Sleeper services cost more|
|Bus||Cheap, many routes available||Can be crowded, some older buses are uncomfortable. Slower|
|Taxi/tuk-tuk||A handy way to travel in towns/resorts||More costly than bus/metro. Some drivers may try to overcharge|
|Metro||Excellent value, speedy and convenient||Only in Bangkok. Crowded at peak times|
|Car hire||Freedom to travel anywhere||More costly, with additional fuel costs|
Buses are popular and affordable in Thailand. Local city buses are cheapest, typically costing 10 baht (20p to 30p) per trip.
Thailand has an extensive railway network connecting major towns and tourist destinations. Costs start from 30p to 60p for short journeys. More comfortable express and sleeper trains range from £5 up to £35 one-way, depending on distance and class.
Tuk-tuks are an iconic form of Thai transport. These three-wheeled motorised rickshaws are found in urban areas and tourist hotspots and are an easy, fun way to explore. Always establish the fare upfront as price can vary.
Motorbike taxis are a common sight in Thailand, especially in busy urban areas. Costs are similar to a tuk-tuk, but for single passengers only. Always ask the driver for a helmet.
Car hire can be a cost-effective option if you are exploring with others. Prices start from around £20 per day, plus fuel and insurance.
Get an idea of Thai exchange rates before you travel.
The cost of flights to Thailand
While Bangkok International is the main hub for flights from the UK, you may find cheap indirect flights to other airports, including:
- Chiang Mai
- Khon Kaen
- Koh Samui
Some package holidays to Thailand include direct charter flights. Most depart from London airports.
Generally, the cheapest months to fly are October, January and May .
The cost of accommodation in Thailand 
Thailand is not expensive for many types of accommodation:
Popular with budget travellers, in hostels you typically share dormitory rooms (around £5 per night) or have a private room with shared facilities £50+).
A quick online search will highlight a wealth of room-only options from private owners. Prices vary but you can expect to pay anywhere from £30 - £100+ depending on the comfort you are looking for.
Budget hotels in Thailand also provide affordable options on private rooms with en-suite bathrooms. Prices range from around £12 to £30 per night, depending on the location and hotel quality.
Mid-range hotels will usually provide well-appointed rooms, restaurants, and swimming pools. Expect to pay £30 to £80 per night, depending on location, season, and hotel rating.
Luxury hotels and resorts
There are many high-end resorts in Phuket and Koh Samui. Some budget travellers choose to splash out for a night of luxury; you may find rooms for around £500.
The cost of eating out in Thailand 
Most of us are no strangers to Thai food, with many UK restaurants serving green curry, pad thai, and other tasty dishes.
But the real deal is even better - options are plentiful and Thailand food prices are budget friendly.
Thailand food prices
There are lots of ways to keep your food spending down in Thailand...
Street food is a quintessential part of Thai culture, with food stalls throughout Thailand, especially in markets and on busy roads. Prices range from 60p to £2 per dish.
Try Pad Thai, Som Tam (papaya salad), Moo Ping (grilled pork skewers), and many types of noodles and curries.
Local food courts
In shopping centers and markets you'll often find food courts offering both Thai and international food at as little as 50p to £2 per dish.
Simple local restaurants
Simple, family run restaurants serve authentic Thai dishes at good prices. You will pay around £1.50 to £3 per dish.
Tipping in Thailand
Tipping in Thailand is not as prevalent as in some Western countries, and while it’s certainly not expected, it’s appreciated.
Tipping is a thank you for good service. You might round up the cost of a taxi ride or food bill and invite your server to keep the change.
Alcohol prices in Thailand
Prices for alcoholic drinks can vary depending on where you are and what you order. Note that the minimum legal drinking age in Thailand is 20 .
Beer prices in Thailand
Beer is the go-to drink in Thailand, with various local brews. In Bangkok, a local beer price in Thailand (try Singha, Chang, or Leo) ranges from £1 to £2. Imported beers may be slightly more.
Wine prices in Thailand vary depending on the brand and quality of the wine. Typical prices are around £5 to £6 but this will be higher in restaurants.
Cocktail prices again vary by location and spirits. However, typical spirit prices are under £10.
The best budget-friendly Thailand tourist attractions
In Thailand, even the most famous sights and experiences are reasonably priced. Some of the top attractions include :
Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew (Bangkok)
The Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha are iconic landmarks in Bangkok.
Wat Arun (Bangkok)
Wat Arun, also known as the Temple of Dawn, is another significant temple in Bangkok. Climbing to the top offers breathtaking views.
Ayutthaya Historical Park
Ayutthaya, the ancient capital of Thailand, is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Exploring the historical park is free, but some ruins and temples may have a cost.
Sukhothai Historical Park
Another UNESCO World Heritage site known for well-preserved ruins.
Chiang Mai Old City
Chiang Mai's Old City is surrounded by a moat and historic walls. Exploring its temples is usually free or requires a small donation.
Elephant Nature Park (Chiang Mai)
In this elephant sanctuary visitors can observe and interact with rescued elephants.
Railay Beach (Krabi)
A stunning destination known for its limestone cliffs and crystal-clear waters.
Phi Phi Islands (Krabi)
The Islands, including Maya Bay, were made famous by the film "The Beach". Island-hopping tours and snorkelling trips are popular.
Thailand's floating markets, such as Damnoen Saduak in Bangkok or Amphawa in Samut Songkhram, are loved by tourists. Exploring the markets is usually free.
Travel safer with our Travelex Money Card
Experience added peace of mind with the Travelex Money Card - an optimal alternative to carrying your debit card. Unlike your debit card, our Travelex Money Card is not linked to your bank account, minimising your risk of losing all your funds in case of loss or theft. Load your card with Great British pounds, and withdraw Thai baht from ATMs or make secure, contactless payments directly at the point of sale.
Please note that a 2% fee applies to GBP loads, and a 5.75% fee is incurred when using the card in Thailand where the local currency isn't offered on our Travelex Money Card. This fee also extends to cash withdrawals for Thai baht and other currencies that are not offered on our Travelex Money Card. While Travelex does not impose charges to ATM withdrawals, it's important to note that fees from other ATM providers may apply. Find out more on our fees here.
Use the Travelex Money App to keep track of your spending and top up the balance as needed. It’s a secure way to travel, simply freeze or cancel the card if lost or stolen. T&Cs apply.
Ready to plan your trip? Read our complete Thailand travel guide to decide what to see. For more details about Thai baht, see our Thailand currency guide.
- Transportation in Thailand - ultimate travel guide  (2023) NOMADasaurus. Available at: https://www.nomadasaurus.com/transportation-in-thailand (Accessed: 04 October 2023).
- Cheap flights to Thailand (2023) Skyscanner. Available at: https://www.skyscanner.com/flights-to/th/cheap-flights-to-thailand.html (Accessed: 04 October 2023).
- Is Thailand expensive for travel? (how cheap is Thailand in 2023) (2023) The Broke Backpacker. Available at: https://www.thebrokebackpacker.com/is-thailand-expensive/ (Accessed: 05 October 2023).
- How much does it cost to eat out in Thailand (2023) Thailand Life. Available at: https://thailandlife.info/how-much-does-it-cost-to-eat-out-in-thailand/ (Accessed: 05 October 2023).
- Prices in Thailand-the complete guide (2019) We Will Show you Where to go, What to Do, Hints and Tips.... and Everything in Between. Available at: https://www.travelordietrying.com/prices-in-thailand-the-complete-guide-november-2019/ (Accessed: 05 October 2023).
- 21 top-rated tourist attractions in Thailand (no date) PlanetWare.com. Available at: https://www.planetware.com/tourist-attractions/thailand-tha.htm (Accessed: 19 October 2023).