Being such a beautiful country, Thailand has always been a popular destination for holidaymakers and there is nothing wrong if you want to travel there as backpacker. Here are some tips for backpacking in Thailand that will help you to reduce costs of exploring the country and travel cheap around Thailand.
Besides being more economical way of travel, many argue that traveling as a backpacker is far more memorable and while overcoming challenges that travelers must go through when visiting new places. Nevertheless, Thailand is a country that is friendly enough with all its uniqueness from the language, culture, and even food.
How to travel cheap in Thailand?
When planning a trip to Thailand as a backpacker, you can lower your expenses by doing the following.
1. Check the validity of your passport and get visa
An important thing to know before traveling abroad is the validity period of your passport as your trip might end even before starting. You need to make sure your passport is valid for more than six months.
You might also need to have a visa to enter Thailand. Visa requirement depends primarily on your nationality and the length of your stay. Many nationalities do not need to get a visa before entering the country as they can use visa exemption to visit Thailand for a maximum of 30 days.
If your trip to Thailand is going to be longer than 30 days, getting a Tourist visa in advance could help you save some money as normally a 60-day tourist visa is cheaper than getting a 30-day visa extension in Thailand.
2. Search for promo tickets
Of course, for backpackers, hunting for flight tickets from far-away is a must-do well in advance. Even better if you subscribe to e-mail newsletters from airlines or online ticket sites so that promo information can always be present in your e-mail. You can choose direct flights from your departure city to Bangkok or another main city in Thailand.
3. Stay at hostels or guesthouses
If you are planning to backpack in Thailand with minimum funds, you don't need to look for a five-star hotel, right? So, you should look for the economical lodging in the middle of town with friendly rates. Hostels and guesthouses are the types of cheap lodging in Thailand where rates can be starting from 200 THB per night.
If you are travelling in group you can choose to rent an apartment or house to be more flexible, and the rental price can also be shared with other people. The facilities provided will not be the same as at five-star hotels but you will still be able to rest comfortably and this will be much cheaper and you will save a lot on accommodation costs. In Bangkok, Khaosan Road is a popular area to stay among backpackers from around the world.
As a reference, you can easily check and book your accommodation from the hotel booking sites such as booking.com or Agoda.com, which is a very popular hotel booking site in Thailand usually offering better deals.
4. Use public transportation
A backpacker-style vacation in Thailand is also determined by the mode of transportation you use. To be more economical when backpacking in Thailand, you should choose public transportation such as MRT Metro, BTS Skytrain, and Airport Rail Link. Ticket prices range from 15-50 THB, depending on the distance you go.
In order to enjoy Bangkok like a local and save the most, try using the public bus. Public bus fares in Bangkok are very affordable with only 8-10 THB. It's just advised not to use public buses during peak hours, because Bangkok is also a city with a fairly high level of congestion.
You can also choose other means of transportation such as canal boats, Chao Phraya River boats or ferries that can be used to cross the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok to visit the beautiful temples on the other side of the river.
When you are on backpacker-style vacation in Thailand, you should avoid taking a taxi. But if you have to, make sure you ride an official taxi and ask the driver to turn the taximeter on.
5. Eat street food
Thailand is a culinary paradise for tourists who love unique and interesting flavors and there is plenty of street food that you should try while visiting the country. The street food in Thailand is fairly cheap and the taste is no less delicious than at the restaurant. But you should be careful when buying food on the edges of the road and always pay attention to cleanliness. We would recommend buying food only from stalls that are crowded with locals.
Various types of street food can be easily found in various locations around Bangkok. If you will be going to the shopping center, there you can always expect to find a food court where you can enjoy Thai food at affordable price. The most popular food court in Bangkok is Pier 21 Food Court on the 5th Floor of Terminal 21 shopping mall. You can go there by BTS (Asok Station) or MRT (Sukhumvit Station).
Other good places to taste typical Thai cuisine such as Pad Thai, Mango Sticky Rice, Tom Yam, and others without spending a lot are local night markets or floating markets. The price of street food there is usually in the range of 30 to 60 THB.
6. Prepare local currency
Thailand uses Thai Baht currency for transactions, so preparing money in the form of Baht (THB) is very important for all travelers. You can find plenty of ATMs and money changers in Thailand so getting local currency is not a problem. Using an ATM is costly in Thailand as in addition to your home bank’s fees and loses on the exchange rate, you will also be charged 220 THB for each withdrawal. Therefore, bringing cash to exchange in Thailand is a more cost-effective option.
Some of the best money changers can be found at Suvarnabhumi Airport so if you come by air, it is recommended to exchange money once you arrive at the airport before starting your vacation trip in Thailand. There are several exchange offices that offer favorable exchange rates at the airport and they can be found here: Best Currency Exchange Rates at Suvarnabhumi Airport.
7. Dare to bargain if you want cheap
Thailand is also a gathering place for shopaholics from various groups. Whether you are a backpacker or an elite traveler, you most probably will be visiting souvenir shops, shopping centers, or markets. You can easily find high quality branded or non-branded goods at low prices here. Some shopping places like MBK Mall, The Platinum Fashion Mall, Chiang Mai, Pantip Plaza, MBK Center are the perfect areas to satisfy your shopping soul.
If you want to buy souvenirs while you are in Thailand, don't be shy about bargaining. Although not all places offer negotiable prices, you might try your luck. Make sure to communicate with sellers who know English a bit, but if you could speak a little Thai, it might be profitable as you could get a much lower price.
8. Visit free tourist attractions
If you are on vacation in Thailand, you can visit several temples that do not charge entrance fees. Among them are Wat Mangkon Kamalawat in Chinatown, Wat Indharaviharn in Dusit, and Wat Patum Wanaran between the Paragon mall and Central World Plaza. If peeking at the beauty of the temples above is still not enough, you can go to the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC). This is the best place to watch art masterpieces that are so unique in Thailand while admiring the beautiful interior and exterior design of buildings that are so modern.
To rest after hours of sightseeing, visit Lumpini Park, an interesting recreational place that you can enjoy without the cost. If you come in the morning, you can see some people practicing Thai Chi, dancing or just jogging before leaving for work and starting the day, while in the afternoon there are free aerobics classes that you can take in the park.
If you want to see the real life of the local community, the most appropriate place to visit is, of course, the traditional market. The most popular ones in Bangkok are Khlong Toey Market and Thewet Market. If in these two markets you still can't get the things you are looking for, go to the Chatuchak Weekend Market which is only open on weekends or Train Night Market in Bangkok. In addition, you can go to Ko Kret, a small man-made island that sits at a pretty bend of the Chao Phraya River.
If you will be looking to visit attractions that charge entry fee, make sure to book tickets in advance as in most cases you can get a discount when booking your tickets online. The best place to look for discounted tickets to Thailand attractions is KLOOK.