Thailand - Costs

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Food and accommodation outside Bangkok is generally quite inexpensive and even in Bangkok it's fairly low, especially considering the value vis-à-vis other countries in South and South-East Asia.

Outside Bangkok, budget travellers should be able to get by on 200 Baht per day if they really keep watch on their expenses. This estimate includes basic accommodation, food, non-alcoholic beverages and local transport, but not souvenirs, tours or vehicle hire. Add another 40 to 45 Baht per day for every beer you drink. Expenses vary, of course, from place to place; where there are high concentrations of budget travellers, accommodation tends to be cheaper and food more expensive. With experience, you can travel in Thailand for even less, if you live like a Thai of modest means and learn to speak the language. Average low-to-middle income Thais certainly don't spend 200 Baht a day when travelling in their own country.

In Bangkok there's almost no limit to the amount you could spend, but if you live frugally, avoid the tourist ghettos and ride the public bus system you could get by on the same or just a bit more. Where you stay in Bangkok is of primary concern, as accommodation there has generally become a good deal more expensive than upcountry accommodation since the tourist boom of 1987. Typically, the traveller spends well over 150 Baht per day in Bangkok just for accommodation - this is generally the absolute minimum for air conditioning (in a shared double room). On the other hand, if you can do without air conditioning, accommodation can be found in Bangkok for as little as 40 Baht per person. But the noise, heat and pollution in Bangkok may drive many budget travellers to seek more comfort than they might otherwise need upcountry.

Food is somewhat more expensive in Bangkok than in the provinces. However, in Thonburi (Bangkok's 'left bank'), many dishes are often cheaper than they are upcountry, due to the availability of fresh ingredients. This is also true for the working-class districts on the Bangkok side, like Makkasan. Bangkok is the typical 'primate city' cited by sociologists, meaning that most goods produced by the country as a whole end up in Bangkok. The glaring exception is western food, which Bangkok has more of than anywhere else in the kingdom but charges the most for it. Eat only Thai and Chinese food if you're trying to spend as little as possible. After all, why go to Thailand to eat steak and potatoes?

Good bargaining, which takes practice, is another way to cut costs. Anything bought in a market should be bargained for, as well as accommodation. Some more specific suggestions concerning costs can be found in the Accommodation and Things to Buy sections of this chapter.

Transportation between cities and within them is very reasonable; again, bargaining (when hiring a vehicle) can save you a lot of Baht. Follow these links for information on air travel, bus travel, local transport, motorcycling, train travel, and trekking.

Links, Pattaya, Thailand
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