Thailand Series: 3 Weeks in Thailand for 17,000 Pesos


That’s less than 1000 Pesos($22) a day!


When I decided to go on my Epic Summer trip to Thailand in 2013, I only had 2 things in mind – Songkran and the Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan, nothing else. Like most of my trips, it’s spontaneous…sort of. But this isn’t like one of those “I decided today that I’m flying out tomorrow” kinda trip. Nevertheless I had less than a year to save for this trip. 7 months to be exact. I booked my 3,000-peso round trip ticket to Bangkok with the exact amount that I previously saved. And now the travel fund saving begins. My usual estimated “safe” budget for a trip is about 1,000 pesos a day and since I am scheduled to stay for 18 days, I knew I had to save at least 20,000(rounded off). Divide that by 7 months, that meant I had to save about 3,000 pesos every month. I’ll skip the details, but I got to 21k right as April came plus a $20 bill which is actually a leftover from my Bali trip. I was so excited but I didn’t know if 1,000 pesos a day was enough although I knew I had to make it work because that was all I could really afford anyway. Pie chart 2

At that time 1ThB = 1.3PhP so I had a little more than 13,000ThB with me and the confidence that this will suffice because this isn’t the first time I’ve travelled with very limited funds and I already had enough knowledge(I think) about what I should spend it for. You know, basic necessities like FOOD, ACCOMMODATION, TRANSPORTATION and of course some MISCELLANEOUS expenses.

The chart above shows the percentage I spent on each of them but here are the numbers….Hope you can help me out with the math.


FOOD – 5,100ThB(6,630Php)

Thailand Hawkers

Thailand Street Food

I always find myself drawn to places where locals eat. But would you complain if you had Pad Thai as your staple food?

A huge chunk of my money went to food. It always does. But hey, I’ve always believed that food makes up at least half of the experience when travelling. I spent a total of 18 days in Thailand but since I arrived on the night of April 11, it was more like 17 days for me.

17 days x 3 meals/day = 51 meals.

Because food is cheap in Thailand, I had a 100ThB/meal budget so that sums up to 5,100ThB. I have to tell you, 100ThB a meal was way more than enough. My secret? I only ate street food or in local food stalls for the entire duration of my stay. I never even tasted Thai McDonalds but that’s alright, the street food was amazing and came in a lot of varieties! I mean Tom Yum, Pad Thai and Thai Fried Rice in most meals? I can’t complain. But some of my favorites include the pork omelette and eggs in sweet and spicy sauce. By the way, the 100ThB for the meal also covered the drinks like iced milk tea and iced coffee or soda. Special mention to the dessert roti in Chiang Mai and Koh Tao, the best desserts ever!!! Actually I think I even spent a little less than 5,100ThB because I usually skip breakfast and I remember some meals can go as low as 30ThB plus a 6-Baht local soda for a whopping 36ThB for a complete meal. Let’s just say 100Thb a meal is a very, very safe budget.



Thailand Transportation

I got around through every possible sea and land transportation in Thailand. From “Tuk-tuks” to “Songthaews”, from long tail water taxis to fast catamarans.

The next “necessity” that I spent a lot on was for transportation. This wasn’t really a shocker considering I had to travel all the way up north and then all the way down south. I explored Thailand like I’d never have another chance to return. Prices for transportation range between Free to 1,300ThB but this involves taking different forms of transportation, a lot of walking and even hitchhiking. If you don’t already know this, there are public buses that take you around Bangkok that you can ride for free.

Here’s the breakdown.

Bangkok ————-9hrs by Bus—————————-> Chiang Mai – 563ThB(732PhP)
Chiang Mai ———-4hrs by Minivan———————-> Pai                – 150Thb(195PhP)
Pai ——————–4hrs by Minivan———————-> Chiang Mai  – 150Thb(195PhP)
Chiang Mai ———-9hrs by Bus—————————> Bangkok       – 563ThB(732PhP)
Bangkok ————-10hrs by Bus/Ferry Combo——–> Koh Tao – 1,100ThB(1,430PhP)
Koh Tao ————–1.5hrs by Ferry———————-> Koh Phangan – 250ThB(325PhP)
Koh Phangan ——–12hrs Ferry/Bus Combo———–> Bangkok – 1,300Thb(1,690PhP)

When you travel, there are 2 elements that you need to budget – Money and Time. There will come a time when you’ll have to decide which one’s more important at that very moment. I had this dilemma twice during this trip. The 1st one was when I decided to go to Pai from Chiang Mai. I could’ve just paid about 80Thb but then I decided to pay as much as 150ThB to ride a minivan instead of the public bus and shave an hour off the travel time. Since I only decided to stay for the night, my time was really limited. This came during the 1st phase of my trip so I still had a more money to spare. The 2nd time was during the last phase when I was heading back to Bangkok after a crazy full moon party in Koh Phangan with less than an hour of sleep. This time my whole Thailand adventure was coming to and end and my funds were pretty much, although not completely depleted. Since I had nothing else to do in Bangkok, I had more time and less cash so I had to take the 12-hour ferry/bus combo from Koh Phangan to Bangkok.
On top of these expenses, I also had to pay for bicycle(50ThB) and motorbike(100ThB) rentals and pay for other modes of transportation like public buses and the BTS to get around Bangkok. The only time I ever rode a “tuk-tuk” was when I shared it for 60ThB each from the Chiang Mai terminal to the old city. It’s not really a “must-do” when in Thailand anyway.


ACCOMMODATION – 2,050ThB(2,665PhP)

Pai Room

My 150ThB -a-night bungalow in Pai

This is exactly accurate and not based on estimated values. I spent a total of 17 nights in Thailand. My accommodation expenses ranged between Free to 250ThB(325PhP). Of these 17 nights, I only spent 4 nights in Bangkok and I was lucky that my friend Brotoy and his better half Julie allowed me to couchsurf in his rasta-themed place(Thanks heaps Bro and Julie!). That leaves me with 13 nights to have to pay for accommodation. I took a night bus from Chiang Mai to Bangkok and a night train from Bangkok to Chumphon so my transportation became my accommodation for another 2 nights. So now I only had to pay for 11 nights in Thailand. In Chiang Mai I spent a little less than 1000ThB for accommodations and my overnight stay in Pai cost me 150ThB for a tiny bungalow. 3 nights in Koh Tao cost me 150ThB a night since I shared the room with Chef Matt, my train seatmate. Koh Phangan was slightly more expensive at 200ThB a night.



laughing gas in koh tao

I’ll try anything once. This pretty much sums up my Miscellaneous expenses. Laughing gas and Chang is quite a combination. 

These expenses were mostly for drinks which includes(but not limited to) f*ck buckets, beers and many other poisons. Part of it went to the entrance fees for the temples where I couldn’t sneak in. Also covered here is the sunblock I bought in Chiang Mai when the heat was too much to bear, the slippers I bought in Pai after I broke mine, and the extra 100ThB I had to pay for the broken side mirror on the scooter after I crashed it. I also included my share of 400ThB for the long-tail boat snorkeling excursion in the waters of Koh Tao and Koh Nang Yuan. And oh I almost forgot the laughing gas that I just had to try during one of my nights out in Koh Tao.




So you see, travel need not be expensive. You just have to put your mind(and heart) into it. Of course, you’ll have to let go of your usual comforts and it doesn’t really need a lot of getting used to either. Trust me, that budget trip will bring a whole new meaning to the word “luxury”. And when you do travel again, “luxury” will just be that short ride in an airconditioned taxi or even the simple joy of finally having your very own bathroom.

So the question now is…what’s your excuse?

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  1. This travel guide is amazing! Thank you for sharing your experience/expenses/travel tips in a most detailed way possible. Weeeee!


  1. […] Not even close. But if you compare this trip to any country in your Southeast Asian trip like Thailand, Cambodia or even Philippines, then of course it’s going to be three, four or even five times […]

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