A couple of months ago I was feeling a bit restless and felt like it was time for another trip so I hopped on Skyscanner, typed in “everywhere” and up popped some of the cheapest international flights available. One of these flights happened to be Phuket, Thailand. This was excellent news since I have been dying to go to Thailand for the last few years but flights had always been outrageous! This flight was roundtrip from San Francisco to Phuket, under $500 and happened to fall over my spring break from grad school…so basically it was fate. I shot a quick text to my boyfriend saying I found a cheap flight, which to him translates into “pack your bags, babe!” Within minutes I purchased the flights and just like that a new adventure was born.
Within a couple of weeks we had 5 other friends sign on to go with us because who could pass up a red hot deal like that?! It was awesome going to Thailand with a group of friends but for any of you solo travelers out there, Thailand would be just as safe going it alone as it is a well beaten path for backpackers. As always, just be aware of your surroundings.
If you’ve never been to Thailand I urge you to go! The most expensive part about your trip will be the plane ticket. After that food, drinks, accommodation and tours are insanely cheap there! While we dabbled in the more spendy side of things because we were with friends, you could easily spend 10 days in Thailand on less than $500.
The seven of us rented out an amazing three bedroom, three bathroom high rise apartment with its own balcony pool overlooking Patong Bay for 6 nights for about $230 each. Obviously, cheaper hotels and hostels are an option. Hostels will run you anywhere from $6 to $80 depending on how fancy you want to get. Remember, if you are feeling adventurous, Couchsurfing is always an option and it is FREE!
As far as food goes you can eat great for next to nothing! Street food costs as little as 50 cents, but if you want more substantial food, plan on spending between $1 to $1.50. If you stick with local street food you can plan to budget for about $5.00/day for meals. At the Western restaurants, you can expect to pay about $5 to $10 per dish although prices can be higher at the swankier eateries. WARNING: “Spicy” in Thailand is the equivalent of eating an atomic bomb full of ghost peppers in America. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.
If you’re looking for transportation, as with everything else in Thailand, it too is cheap. Bus tickets can cost as little as 25 cents while taxi rides range from about $1 to $3. Tuk-tuks don’t have meters and tend to be more expensive costing anywhere from $3 to $7. If you want to catch a thrill, motorbike taxis are also available for about $1.00 . Keep in mind that for anything unmetered there is room to negotiate the price and bargain it down. We mainly stayed in the Phuket area but coach busses are well priced if you are looking to travel around the country a bit more. A ride from Bangkok to Chiang Mai runs about $15 to $20 and from Phuket to Bangkok about $16 to $30. Boats to and from the islands cost about $7 to $15.
Tours can vary in price depending on what type of adventure you are looking for. An all day tour of the Phi Phi Islands, hitting seven different destinations including snorkeling and a visit to the renowned Maya Bay and Monkey Beach, costs about $45. If you want to go elephant trekking you can do this for about $35 in Phuket, it’s important to keep in mind that many of these elephants are abused. Another option to get up close and personal with the elephants is to volunteer at the Elephant Conservation Center by Chiang Mai which costs about $80 per day. You can also visit Big Buddha standing at 45 meters tall and sitting on top of the Nakkerd Hills offering panoramic views of Phuket, Kata, Karon and Chalong. Oh, and let’s not forget about the full body massages you can get for just $5/hour.
Overall I would suggest a daily budget of about $50. This budget can of course be decreased or increased depending on the level of luxury you are looking for. While Patong Beach is better suited for party goers the southern beaches of Kata and Karon produce a more peaceful atmosphere. It doesn’t matter if you are traveling in a group, with your partner or solo, Thailand will not disappoint. I never travel to the same place twice but between its jaw dropping beauty, gracious people and delicious food, I may just have to make an exception for Thailand.
If you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact me. Check in next week to learn how to apply for your passport! As always, stay fickle in flight!