Why is Thailand So Cheap?

Thailand is very cheap because the day-to-day expenses tend to be lower than in other countries. For example, booking a hotel room, going to a restaurant, or taking a taxi is cheaper. To be precise, it costs $70 dollars per day to live a tourist life in Thailand.

The cost of one day in Thailand

In the introduction, I come up with a number: $70. How was this number calculated? This is what we are going to see now. Basically, I pretended to live a tourist day in Thailand from my home in France. I searched restaurant menus, hotel prices, and entrance fees to monuments to calculate how much it costs to live one day in Phuket.

How cheap is living in Phuket?

First, we need to understand what the program of the day is. So I planned to arrive in Phuket in the morning, to enjoy the beach, eat in a great restaurant, and head to a temple in the afternoon. Finally, I eat dinner in another restaurant and book a room in a hotel.

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 food in Thailand?

The results of the research are interesting. In Phuket, I found breakfast for 100,00 ฿ (฿ representing Thai Baht), or USD 3,35. I found two meals at around 180,00 ฿. In USD, this translates to $6 each. So food cost us $15,35 for that day in Phuket. You can also find cheaper options 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.

How cheap are hotels 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). When doing the maths, we need to divide this amount by two, because we only took the food into account for one person. So it costs $33,5 to book an overnight hotel room for one person.

After doing the maths, we get to $48,85. This does not include taxis and partying, so we can also take those prices into account to have an average cost of living in Phuket. Taxis (and tuk-tuks) cost around 100,00 ฿ each ($3,35), and drinks are the same. So if we take two taxis, and a couple of drinks, we arrive at $68,85.

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)$20
This table gives the amount of the expenses for one person for one day in Phuket, Thailand

Stepping back from this experiment

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.


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 the cost of living in Malaysia, and Cambodia, about Halong Bay Cruises, about Cape Breton Island.


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