Simply put, the cost of living in Thailand is astronomically lower than the majority of cities within Europe, North America and most of the world. There are an exponential amount of expats that are finding out how easy it is to get by on as little as $10 a day. The better news is that if you take advantage of these tips for living cheap in Thailand you may even be able to live on even less than that. Sounds like the perfect escape doesn’t it?
Well it can be.
This type of living isn’t for everyone, and there are many people in Thailand that spend an incredible amount of money per month in order to live affluently. However, if you are considering moving abroad to save money or are interested in finding an affordable vacation then this is the article for you. All you need to do is use common sense and cut a few corners here and there, and you may save more money than you even realize.
Where and When to Visit Thailand
One of the best ways to save money when traveling to Thailand is to plan your trip according to the low season. This is between May and November and means that prices for absolutely everything from airfare to hotels and even food at classy restaurants are a lot cheaper. You can even rent scooters for a better price and get discounts on attractions, drinks and shows.
An added advantage to the low season in Thailand is the fact that there are fewer tourists in the area, which means better access to a number of places and events for you. On top of that most business owners will be dropping prices and throwing in amenities and bonuses in order to compete for your valued money.
Steer Clear of Touristy Areas
Places such as Phuket and Ko Samui are known as top tourist destinations in Thailand, which means they come with extreme prices and are full of merchants looking to take the most money out of your pocket as possible. If you want to save money and connect with the “real” Thailand then try and head to the South and North Eastern parts of the country.
Cut Down on Island Living
The islands of Thailand are incredibly impressive and well worth a visit, but expenses can really stack up in these areas. Everything in the area needs to be imported which means prices for food, drinks and even services are much higher than on the mainland. You will definitely want to tour the islands, but leave your wallet at home and stick to souvenirs and restaurants in cheaper areas.
Hotels and accommodations are probably going to be the most expensive part of your stay in Thailand, but you can eliminate part of that cost by taking overnight buses and trains. You can travel to an all new part of Thailand and get a decent sleep as many of the trains in the country are quite comfortable. While there are a number of overnight buses, trains are considered to be quite a lot safer, and far more comfortable.
Dining and Sleeping in Thailand
A good tip for traveling in Thailand is to never feel bad when locals, or anyone for that matter, offer you free things. Many Thai families are more than willing to share what they have and it is a part of their culture to display their kindness and ability to host. Turning down an invite to dinner may seem ruder than simply accepting and counting your blessings. Who knows, a family dinner may even lead to a free place to crash for the night. Now that’s what we call traveling cheap.
While you may not need to fork over any money, you should always be willing to give what you can when dining in someone else’s home or crashing on their couch. Simply offering to do the dishes or run some errands can go along way, and help you feel more welcome during your stay.
Find Free Water
You may not realize how expensive purchasing bottled water every day can get, especially when you are used to your Brita filter or just drinking from the tap. Instead, give this idea a try. Purchase large bottles of water, which are cheaper in the long run anyways, and then feel free to refill them in your hotel lobby before you head out for the day. It is quite a common occurrence for people to do so and you will not get the weird glances in your direction like you may if you did the same at home.
Fight your Urge to Tip
A lot of people see a lack of tipping as rude, but that is simply not the case in Thailand. While a lot of us have been raised and taught to tip based on good service, it is simply not expected in Thailand. Locals do not tip and foreigners are not relied upon to either. In fact, in some instances tipping is seen as a rude and unnecessary display of wealth.
Indulge in Local Cuisine
Surely you have had your fill of western food before heading to Thailand. To be honest, the imported foreign food in Thailand does not even taste the same or as good as the stuff at home, so why not just skip out on it altogether?
Thai food is delicious, cheap and diverse. The best part is that you will never be more than 5 minutes away from a food cart or a cheap restaurant where you can grab a quick bite to eat.
Leave the Alcohol in the Mini Fridge
There is more than enough whisky and beer available at the supermarket and it is extremely cheap when compared to bars and the mini fridge at your hotel. If you really want to cut down on costs then you can stick to cheap Thai Whisky, but it may leave you useless for the whole day after.
Added Tips about Thailand Law
Police in Thailand are more than willing to dish out fines for people not wearing seatbelts on the road and motorcyclists who opt not to wear a helmet. Just because the locals do it doesn’t mean that you are going to get away with it either.
Littering is taken pretty seriously in Thailand and a tossed cigarette or throwing an empty beer bottle in the street can lead to a fine if the police see you do it. This is another law that locals tend to get away with breaking but where foreigners and expats are fined all the time. Thai people may be welcoming and friendly, but they do not want tourists coming in and making a mess of their streets or beaches.
Employment in Thailand
There are quite a few jobs that are available where you can get paid under the table in Thailand, however it is illegal. Teachers and anyone planning on doing business within the country should make sure they go through the Visa process and fill out all the right paperwork. If you want to simply earn a little cash on the side while touring the area by all means go for it, but be aware that there are consequences for breaking the law if you are caught.
Thailand has always been a popular vacation destination and it is quickly becoming one of the most popular places where expats head to in order to work abroad and save money. However, just like with any other destination in the world it is possible to blow all of your cash here if you try to live a certain way. Use common sense, try to keep tabs on your spending and make a budget, and get caught up in the local flavours and culture.
The Land of Smiles has become the Land of Opportunity for many, whether they are looking for a brief getaway or a new life abroad in Thailand. It is up to you to make the most of this unique and dazzling paradise and these tips should help you along the way.