A Beginners Guide For Thailand: 10-day Itinerary + Expenses (Budget-Friendly)

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Annabel (aka The Woman In Transit) and I visited the ‘Land of Smiles’ for 10 days and we were just blown away! Thailand is a place where you can really indulge in the ‘Broke & Boujie’ lifestyle (if you know this is you, congratulations you have found your next holiday destination). The one thing that stood out for me was the exchange rate, it was £1= 42 baht approx (which can get you a lot). We lived lavishly in Thailand without breaking the bank. Not only did our love for Thailand grow, but it was so cheap and cheerful I wanted to share it with EVERYONE in this post. We all deserve a bit of luxury that won’t leave us in overdraft! 

Below I share a budget-friendly guide to help plan your trip to Thailand. I discuss the route we took, my expenses (flights, accommodation, activities, food), and a few tips on how to have a budget-friendly holiday in Thailand. Read on to find out more!

P.S. Also check out Annabel’s blog post on Thailand – she gives you the low down on Thai Etiquette (which is very important to know!)

1. OUR THAILAND ROUTE

BANGKOK (1)

Bangkok (2 nights) -> Chiang-Mai (4 nights) -> Phuket (4 nights) -> Bangkok (1 day)

The route we took in Thailand is considered to be a popular route most travellers take, especially when visiting for a short period of time. We decided to spend the bulk of our time in Chiang-Mai and Phuket as we had more activities planned in these cities than in Bangkok.

Many people would advise you to stay in Bangkok for a maximum of 2 nights (and to use it as ‘transit hub’ to get to other parts of Thailand) as there is not much to do there. I would also advise you do the same IF your time in Thailand is limited to two weeks or less. However, if you’ll be spending more than 2 weeks in Thailand you could spend a few more days in Bangkok and take a few day trips to surrounding areas.

Summary of each city:

  • Bangkok (Capital): ‘Hustle & Bustle’ environment, Temples, Nightlife, Shopping, Night Markets
  • Chiang-Mai: More relaxed than Bangkok, Temples, Hiking/Mountains, Elephant Sanctuaries, Cooking Classes, Night Markets
  • Phuket: Even more relaxed, Beaches, Resorts, Water Sports, Island Hopping, Nightlife

TIP: Go to Phuket (or any other beach province) LAST, as it’s the perfect place to wind down and end your holiday. After travelling to various cities and waking up early to attend different activities, you will be pretty exhausted and Phuket is the perfect solution for that. You can be a beach bum for a few days, knowing you’ve done the absolute most in the other cities.

Travelling between cities: We opted to go by plane across cities as we simply did not have enough time to hop on the train. Whilst the train is a cheaper alternative, it can take up to 14 hours to get between cities and our time was too precious to waste. However, if you are spending more than 10 days in Thailand and have time to travel by train, go for it and experience life on the sleeper trains! 

2. FLIGHT COSTS

We booked our tickets in December for April (way in advance), which led to our tickets being pretty cheap. Our international flight from London to Bangkok was booked via SkyScanner and our domestic flights within Thailand booked via Opodo (great sites to find and book cheap flights). Our domestic flights within Thailand were also very cheap due to us flying with low-cost budget airlines.

  • London Heathrow -> Bangkok: £321.41pp return (Air China – we found tickets for £288 but we were unsure of how reliable the travel agency was)
  • Bangkok -> Chiang-Mai:  £20.74pp one-way (Nok Air)
  • Chiang-Mai -> Phuket: £62.50pp one-way (Air Asia)
  • Phuket -> Bangkok: £20.74pp one-way (Nok Air)

TOTAL: £425.39

* Best time to travel to Thailand: April! I’ve only been to Thailand once and I’m so glad I went in April. We arrived just in time for Songkran (Thai New Year) which takes place on April 13th. However, festivities run from 13th-15th April for Songkran and is celebrated with a MASSIVE water fight (this is not to be missed!)

3. HOW MUCH MONEY DID I CHANGE?

£500.00*

I converted £200 in the UK (@ £1 = 42.7635 THB) and received: 8552.70THB

I converted £300 in Thailand (@ £1 = 41.92 THB) and received: 12,576.00 THB

*The £500 I converted was to be used to pay for accommodation and for my spending money – which I break down in the next two sections

It is commonly advised that you should change a bit of money in the UK and then change the rest in Thailand (as the exchange rate it better). However, you can see I got more bang for my Baht in London. I’m not sure if it’s because I went to the wrong place in Thailand to convert my money (Chiang-Mai Airport) or if the whole “changing your money in Thailand is cheaper” is a myth. Please comment below and let me know your experiences and also the best places to change money in Thailand.

**I changed my money at Thomas Exchange UK in King’s Cross (www.tefx.co.uk) 

4. HOW MUCH MONEY DID I SPEND (ENTERTAINMENT/FOOD/ETC.)?

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TOTAL SPENDING MONEY: £358 approx*

*Out of the £500 I converted

Yes, you read correctly! I spent just under £360 over 10 days, which is roughly £35-36 each day. This just goes to show how far your pound will take you in Thailand.

How did I make my money stretch? I didn’t spend excessive money on drinks (any bar offering Happy Hour and 2-4-1 drinks was where you would find us), we dined where the locals dined (street markets/local restaurants), we used public transport & Grab (SE Asia’s version of Uber) and much more!

  • TIP: If you’re looking to hit the party scene quite often, splurge more on drinks, eat in fancy restaurants – then you may want to bring a bit more money!

Notable expenses:

  • Grab (over 10 days): approx 1600 THB/£38.00
  • Elephant sanctuary (Half-day visit): 1,700 THB/£39.00
  • Sammy’s Cooking Class (Chiang-Mai): 1,000 THB/£23.00
  • Phi Phi Islands Tour: 1,600 THB/£38.00
  • Songkran Water Fight (Waterguns, waterproof pouches, refills): 800 THB/£18.00
  • Souvenirs: 700 THB/£17.00
  • Massage: 700 THB (2 occasions)/£17.00
  • Phuket: I’m not sure how much I spent in Phuket but it was ALOT! Compared to Chiang-Mai and Bangkok, Phuket was 3 times more expensive. Grab costs more in Phuket, restaurants costs more and souvenirs costs more. The price difference will really hit you especially if you’ve been to Chiang-Mai or Bangkok before visiting Phuket.

5. HOW MUCH DID I SPEND ON ACCOMMODATION?

The Besavana – Phuket Old Town. This image is taken from The Besavana’s website

TOTAL ACCOMM COSTS: £142.78*

*Out of the £500 I converted

Bangkok – Here Hostel:

  • Price:£22.78pp (in total for 2 nights)
  • Booked: Hostelworld – we were able to pay a deposit beforehand, and the remaining amount when we arrived
  • Pros: Free breakfast which ACTUALLY tasted good, lovely outdoor area & bar, conveniently located, next to highly rated Pad Thai restaurant.
  • Cons: The smallest private room EVER, no bunkbed railing for top bunk (if I rolled off the bed GAME OVER), extremely noisy (creaking floorboards).

Chiang-Mai – Hug Hostel Rooftop:

  • Price: £45pp (in total for 4 nights)
  • Booked: Hostelworld – we were able to pay a deposit beforehand, and the remaining amount when we arrived
  • Pros: Conveniently located, comfortable beds, decent sized rooms, friendly staff
  • Cons: Rooftop bar was not open (which was a bit of a bummer as that is the main reason we wanted to stay there)

The Besavana – Phuket Old Town. This image is taken from The Besavana’s website

Phuket (Old Town) – The Besavana:

  • Price: £75pp (in total for 4 nights)
  • Booked: Booking.com. Only a reservation required to book as we chose to pay the full amount upon arrival.
  • Pros: Beautiful rooms, amazing service, swimming pool, balcony view

6. TOTAL THAILAND COST

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My TOTAL cost for my trip to Thailand (including EVERYTHING – international + domestic flights, accommodation, transport, activities, food/drink etc) came to:

£925.39!

7. BUDGET-FRIENDLY TIPS

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  • TRANSPORT: Use Grab (the equivalent of Uber in SE Asia) it’s very cheap. You can pay as little as 50 THB (~£1.00) for a ride, you can also choose to pay in cash or by card.
  • TRANSPORT: You could cut costs further by using public transport. Bangkok has the BTS Sky Trains, Chiang-Mai and Phuket have local buses for about 30 THB per ride.
  • TRANSPORT: Don’t spend too much money on Tuk-Tuks. Hop on it once or twice for the experience, but no more than that as they can be extortionate. Tuk-Tuks will charge 300 THB for a journey that is only 60 THB with Grab.
  • FOOD: Get your meal from the food markets, you’ll pay 30-60 THB on average for a meal (Even less!)
  • DRINKS: Want to sip on 3 or 4 cocktails? Look for bars offering happy hour, there are quite a few!
  • TOURS: When booking a ‘Phi Phi Island Tour’ or any ‘Island Hopping Speedboat Tour’ purchase from a vendor at the beach (Karon, Patong etc) where the purchasing power is with the buyer (you) and not the supplier. The suppliers are usually offering various discounts as they are trying to be competitive. We stayed in Phuket Old Town where there was only one main tour agency company so they were able to quote us any price as there was nowhere else nearby offering this service.
  • CLASSES: That cooking class you have your eyes on? Book it before you get to Thailand, as the spaces run out really quickly.
  • HAGGLE! Especially at the markets

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I hope this post has helped you or given you a foundation to start planning your trip to Thailand. If you have any questions please share them below in the comments section.

Have you been to Thailand before? Share some tips for any Thailand first timers!


14 Comments

  1. June 7, 2018 / 10:25 pm

    Honestly this is one of the most comprehensive posts I’ve read when it comes to travel. I know Thailand is cheap but I didn’t know it was *that* cheap 😭😨😱 what were the massages like thoooo? Xx

    • Temi. A
      Author
      June 9, 2018 / 7:46 am

      Thanks so much Char! And girl!!! It can be cheap as chips in Thailand it’s almost unbelievable. The massage was top notch, especially the foot massage 😍😍

  2. June 8, 2018 / 3:49 pm

    great post very very informative! Thank you so much! A round trip in Thailand is on my Bucketlist for sure! I hope i can manage to go very soon!

    • Temi. A
      Author
      June 9, 2018 / 5:44 am

      You’re very welcome! I’m glad you enjoyed it. I’m sure you’ll have an amazing time in Thailand it’s beautiful.

  3. June 12, 2018 / 2:27 am

    Very nice post! As someone who lived 2+ years in Thailand it’s spot on.
    What was your favorite place in Thailand?

    Andy
    https://www.andytraveler.com

    • Temi. A
      Author
      June 12, 2018 / 5:40 am

      Thank you so much that means a lot! I’d definitely say Chiang-Mai was my favourite, I loved it there and everything was so cheap. How about you?

  4. June 13, 2018 / 4:41 pm

    Great guide…I love your map graphic…do you make those yourself?

    • Temi. A
      Author
      June 14, 2018 / 6:12 am

      Thank you! Yep, I made it using Canva

  5. July 9, 2018 / 6:31 am

    Hi Temi, I went through your article and it’s totally awesome. I am searching for a blog that provides a complete guide about Places to Visit in Thailand, my search ends with your blog. Keep on updating your blog with such awesome information.

    • Temi. A
      Author
      July 14, 2018 / 5:31 pm

      Hi Soumya, thank you so much! I really appreciate this and I am glad you found this to be useful.

  6. July 10, 2018 / 9:39 am

    This is so detailed. I wish I had this when I visited Thailand in 2013. I think the food and the hostel I stayed in was the best thing for me. When I was there I felt the locals english wasn’t the best – what about yourself?

    • Temi. A
      Author
      July 14, 2018 / 5:34 pm

      Thanks girl I’m glad you found this to be useful. The food blew me AWAY and snatched my edges, I will never forget! And the English wasn’t too bad when we were there, we had more issues with Tuk Tuk drivers not knowing where to go *sighh

  7. November 10, 2018 / 4:17 pm

    THE most comprehensive and useful post I’ve read on travel to Thailand!! Your cost breakdown was especially helpful — I’m ready to plan exactly the same trip. Thank you!! || http://www.lorikemi.com

    • temzvgbg
      Author
      November 12, 2018 / 7:46 am

      Thank you so much, I’m glad you found it useful! Please let me know how you get on! I’m sure you’ll have so much fun in Thailand!

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