Thailand may have been the first travel destination I ever became aware of. My dad grew up as an army brat and spent three years of his childhood in Bangkok. So I grew up hearing endless stories of the former kingdom of Siam. Naturally, no matter what the country’s reputation in the larger travel community was, I would have carried a big soft spot for Thailand. But I’ve been lucky enough to not only get to know my dad’s childhood home, but to also discover a country famed for its convenient and budget friendly travel. How much does it cost to explore Bangkok and Chiang Mai? I break down every dime I spent from airfare and accommodations to every last Thai iced tea I sipped on.

Transportation $325.68

Flight to Bangkok $284.78
Taxi to Bangkok hostel $11.25
Bangkok metro fare $3.15
Chao Phraya Express Boat fare $2.34
Shared taxi to Khao San Road $1.11
Tuk tuk from Khao San Road to Bangkok hostel $8.33
Bangkok Sky Train fare $2.64
Overnight train to Chiang Mai $12.08

Accommodations $118.94

10 nights in a 6 bed dorm at Old Town Hostel in Bangkok $77.10
10 nights in a 6 bed dorm at At Baan Khun 2 in Chiang Mai $41.84

Dining $181.29

1.5 weeks groceries at 711 $21.84
1 breakfast at Tha Chang Pier $0.56
1 lunch at Little Market $7.16
1 lunch at Silom street stalls $1.68
1 lunch at Chatuchak Market $3.92
1 lunch at Radhani $5.61
1 lunch at Krisa $5.61
1 tea at Terminal 21 $6.74
2 dinners at La Reve $6.74
1 dinner at The Golden Mango $9.25
2 dinners at Yai Yaa Thai Kitchen $13.05
1 dinner on Yaowarat Road $3.51
1 dinner at Canal View Restaurant $5
1 snack at Cha Tra Mue $1.12
1 snack at Central World $1.18
1 snack at Bangkok train station $2.55

1.5 weeks groceries at Lotus Tesco $15.64
1 lunch at Birds Nest Cafe $4.91
1 lunch at Clay Studio Coffee in the Garden $4.18
1 lunch at Good Morning Chiang Mai $4.18
1 lunch at Hana Zono $2.79
1 lunch at Into the Woods Cafe $7.67
1 lunch at Why Bangkok $3.57
1 lunch at Muan $3.48
2 dinners at Writers Club $10.35
1 dinner at Khao Tom 1B $3.64
1 dinner at Chiang Mai Walking Street $2.65
2 dinners at Birds Nest Cafe $10.88
1 snack at street stall $0.84
1 snack at Birds Nest Cafe $1.67
2 snacks at Into the Woods Cafe $5.85
1 snack at La Mango $3.47

Entertainment $152.45

Drinks at Green House Restaurant $4.44
Movie ticket at Terminal 21 $5.05
Drinks at Distil – Bangkok State Tower $22.45
Grand Palace and Wat Phrao Kaew $14.02

Elephant Nature Park $70.25
Cooking class at Mama Noi $36.24

Miscellaneous $23.67

Gifts/souvenirs at Chatuchak Market $4.21
Gifts/souvenirs on Khao San Road $3.33
Replace flip flops $2.23
Laundry at Coin Laundry $2.79
2 books at Shaman Bookstore $11.11

Total: $802.03
Average Spent Per Day: $38.19

How I Saved

  • Limiting taxi and tuk tuk rides
    I only got in a tuk tuk once in Bangkok. I’m sure I got ripped off, but it was part of the experience visiting, and no metered taxi driver would agree to take me from Khao San Road to my hostel in Bang Rak. (Plus there was no way I was going to risk walking all the way at midnight.)
  • Booking accommodations based on location
    Thailand accommodations famously give you a lot of bang for your buck. I could stay in good central hostels and not worry about price as much. By staying within walking distance of Hua Lamphong train station in Bangkok and near the city center in pedestrian-friendly Chiang Mai, I kept both my lodging and my transportation costs down.
  • Embracing 7-11
    It felt really strange to pop into a Western convenience store chain so frequently, but 7-11 is apparently kind of a big deal in Thailand. They’re practically on every corner, and I always made sure to try things particular to the region like dried jackfruit, seaweed flavored chips, lychee iced tea, and green tea Kit Kats. With limited kitchen facilities in my hostels, a larger grocery store wouldn’t have done me much good anyway.
  • Being selective with tours
    There were many more things I could have done in Chiang Mai. I focused my splurges on the two that were most important to me: visiting an elephant sanctuary and taking a cooking class.
  • Being more utilitarian about shoes
    This was the second time I had to replace my flip flops on my trip. I got major sticker shock at the Crocs store in Bangkok and finally just resolved that it wasn’t worth it to get the exact replacement for my lost shoes. I kind of hate the flip flops I bought in Chiang Mai out of necessity, but hey – they were less than $3.

Where else can you visit for three weeks with less than $1,000? See my budget for Italy.

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