We usually hear about how low the prices are in Asia. We hear that, since Asian countries are less developed, the workers earn less money, and the overall purchasing power is lower. This is part of the reason why Thailand is so cheap. But, in fact, there are also other reasons why Thailand is not expensive. So, why is Thailand so cheap?

Thailand is extremely cheap because daily expenses are way lower than in other countries. Meals, hotel rooms, shopping, transport fees, and every other expense are all much cheaper. After calculations, it costs around $80 dollars per day to live a great life in Thailand.

How much does one day in Thailand cost?

To help you realize the range of prices we are talking about right now, we will run a virtual experiment. From my desk in France, I will live a classic tourist day in Phuket, Thailand. At the end of the day, I will summarize all the expenses and give you the total amount I spent.

How cheap is Thailand : the data

Let’s first detail the program of this busy touristic day. Let’s say I arrive in Phuket in the morning, enjoy the beach until noun, eat in a restaurant, and head to a temple for the afternoon. Then, I eat dinner in another restaurant and finally get to a hotel to book a room.

person wearing a yellow hat in a cheap market in thailand
Credits to Lisheng Chang

Those are the assumptions I used to be able to produce the following results.

How cheap is Thailand : the results

To make that day as real as possible, I found real restaurants and hotels. The prices are from real menus and stores I found online. After doing some research, I was able to find a complete breakfast for 100,00 ฿
(฿ representing Thai Baht). This is equal to around USD 3,35. Then, I was able to find two meals at around 180,00 ฿ for both lunch and dinner. In USD, this costs $6 each. When we sum those three meals together, we arrive at around $15,35 to eat one day in Phuket.

If I wanted to travel on a budget, I could have found cheaper options, but I went for a touristic approach. Indeed, you can easily find a meal for 50,00 ฿ in supermarkets, but this will not be as great as eating in a restaurant.

For the afternoon, we are heading to a temple. Luckily, most of the temples are free in Thailand.

Finally, I book a room in a hotel. I found a great hotel near the city center. It is for a couple and it costs 2000,00 ฿ (or $67).

Since I only considered the food was for one person, I need to divide the price of the hotel room. Otherwise, the sum would not really make sense. A part of it would take two people into account, and the other would not. It costs $33,5 to book an overnight hotel room for one person.

When we sum all our expenses, we arrive at $48,85. For that day, no taxi was needed, and we are not partying during night time. This is just for a relaxed day in Phuket. Since taxis (and tuk-tuks) cost around 100,00 ฿ each ($3,35), we can easily round that up to $80 dollars (with two taxis and a couple of drinks).

Type of expenseAmount ($)
Food for one person for one day$15,35
Room for one person for one night$33,5
Other expenses (taxis, tuk-tuks, drinks)$30
Total$78,85
This table gives the amount of the expenses for one person for one day in Phuket, Thailand

Stepping back from this experiment

This experiment helps to realize that a casual day in Thailand is not expensive for a person earning dollars, or euros. However, this is not the case for someone earning the local currency of course. Then, this experiment also hides some factors.

First, it does not count the flights’ tickets, which is definitely what costs the most. Then, this experiment does not take the taxi into account. It does cost money to travel from the airport to the hotel for example. Also, at night time, you may want to book taxis to get home. However, taxis are relatively cheap in Thailand. We are talking about $3,35 for a taxi (of course, this depends on how long the drive is).

Finally, if you really feel insecure about traveling to Thailand, you may take travel insurance. This will definitely cost you a lot, compared to what you will spend on the way.

Once I found the amount I would spend for a classic tourist day in Phuket, I wanted to compare it to other experiments. This is what I did thanks to other resources. First, I used Numbeo.com, which gave me the cost of living in Phuket. I was happy to find coherent numbers.

Then, I also used Budgetyourtrip.com, to confirm the results I found both during my research and on Numbeo.com. Once again, the prices are coherent. Finally, I also watched some videos about tourists who traveled to Thailand to see if their experience matches my research.

Credits to Syed Ahmad

How much do travelers spend in Thailand?

For this last step of my study, I looked for two types of experiences in Thailand: one experience from a budget traveler, and one experience for a normal tourist. This helped me to range the overall cost of living in Thailand for a tourist.

A budget traveler shares his cheap experience in Thailand

That first video details the cost of living in Bangkok for one day. It was created by a budget traveler who did not spend a night in the city center. He prefers to save money by spending his night in a dorm room. Then, he chooses to buy relatively cheap food, which explains why his total is lower than mine.

Credits to JASON BILLAM TRAVEL

As you just saw in the video, this man was able to spend 902,00 ฿ ($30) to live one day in Bangkok. This is way lower than the result I found in my experiment. But we can explain that thanks to the way of living of this budget traveler. Choosing to sleep in a dorm room is not for everyone of course.

A tourist shares his experience in Thailand

Finally, here is one last video from a man who decides to take advantage on the low cost of living in Thailand. He uses it to his advantage by spending his nights in great hotels and by eating great food!

Credits to Nas Daily

This man was able to find a hotel for $30 a night (but we do not know where it is located) and to spend around $11 on food per day. His price range is way much closer to mine. $30 for a hotel room is the right price. And $5 for a meal is also normal.

I hope that this article was helpful and that you now know much better how much it costs to live in Thailand. If you are interested in budget traveling, I recommend that you read the article I wrote about Why is Bali so Cheap, about Halong Bay Cruises, about Cape Breton Island, and about Cappadocia in Turkey.

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