Thailand budget for 10 days

Now that we’re back home and fully decompressed, its probably a good time to give you a run down of what we spent for a two week visit to Thailand.

Much like the Copenhagen budget breakdown (here), this will be an “all in” cost for our ten days. This is based on two people, traveling from Minneapolis, in October 2018.

I’ll try to break down the costs in a couple of ways so you can see where you might change the budget based on the way you travel. Christine and I are both, what I would describe as, “the mid-level exception” travelers. We’re not looking for a lavish trip, but certainly aren’t budget backpackers either. Falling somewhere in between, we like to be comfortable in accommodations, and certainly want to enjoy what our destination has to offer.

After booking our flight, we set a per person budget of $2500. Perhaps this will give you a baseline for how we align with your travel style. Let’s dive in and see if we were able to stay on budget!

Pre-purchased Logistics

Not to sound like a broken record, but we scooped up our airfare deal from a Thrifty Traveler alert. If you’re not already a user of TT, I highly recommend you start.

Our round trip airfare from Chicago to Chiang Mai cost $1424 or $712/person. While likely not the craziest deal ever, we feel like any 12+ hr flight half way around the world under $1000 is a darn good deal.

For accommodations, we used AirBnb to snag some really great places, especially our flat in Chiang Mai, which ran us $255 for three nights, or $85/night ($42.50/night/person). Again, we saw cheaper options, but this might be my favorite Airbnb I’ve stayed in.

Our apartment in Bangkok was also super nice, and had some great amenities including free tuk-tuk rides and a massage place on site. At $142 for three nights ($23.67/night/person), it was a well worth the price.

We also booked two nights at the absolutely gorgeous 5-star Pimalai Resort in Koh Lanta. This was definitely a splurge for us, but $365 for the two nights turned out to be an absolute steal. Our same room is running over double the cost now that high season is approaching. This is one of the benefits of shoulder season travel!

There was also some state side logistics we dealt with. This included airfare to/from Chicago, where we used some Delta credit to reduce our airfare down to $15. Full disclosure: we went to Chicago a day early to take in some of the Windy City. This definitely put a dent in our budget. All told, our one and a half days, before and after Thailand, came to $705!

Ok, so let’s dive into our time in Thailand specifically. I’m not going to go blow by blow on transactions, like I did in Copenhagen, rather I think I’ll list out what was purchased that day, and then give a daily total.

Day One – Chiang Mai

We landed mid-morning, and got a taxi to the flat. After a quick decompress, we were out the door and exploring the city, food top of mind. We explored the city on foot all afternoon before wrapping up with a massage and an “expensive” dinner.

  • Airport taxi
  • Khan Soi & ginger tea
  • Mango smoothie & passion fruit juice
  • 7-eleven for water & chips
  • Bamboo massage
  • Khao Soi & pork laarb

Daily Total: $43

Day Two – Chiang Mai

The bulk of this day was spent at the Elephant Nature Park. For dinner we went in search of a night market, ended up at Chiang Mai Gate Market, and ate our way through it.

  • Elephant Nature Park ($77/person)
  • Mango smoothie, passion fruit juice & dragon fruit
  • Roti
  • Papaya salad
  • Pork & sausage isan
  • Mango sticky rice
  • Smoothies
  • Fried coconut pancakes

Daily Total: $166

Day Three – Chiang Mai

Day three was all Chiang Mai, all day. Temples, side-streets, massages, food.

  • Massage (1/2hr shoulder x2 people – $12)
  • Coffee
  • Temple
  • Smoothies
  • Khao Soi(x2) & water
  • Coffee
  • Massage (1hr x2 people – $33)
  • Gyoza
  • Wide noodles
  • Coconut pancakes

Daily Total: $63

Day Four – Chiang Mai

Most of the day was spent in our Thai Cooking class. Once back in the city, we made our way to the train station to take our overnight train to Bangkok. This is where we screwed ourselves and overspent on train food we didn’t eat.

  • Cooking class ($33 x2)
  • Tip to our food class guide
  • Fresh coconut milk
  • Coffee
  • Taxi
  • Drinks for train
  • Train to Bangkok
  • Pringle’s on train
  • Meals on train

Daily Total: $211

Day Five – Bangkok

This is where our transport costs vastly outweighed our food costs. Bangkok is HUGE, and it takes forever to get anywhere. We did rock up at Jay Fai for the Michelin starred crab omelette, but our costs were driven by Uber (Grab actually) fares.

  • Taxi
  • Coffee
  • Taxi
  • Snacks
  • Coffee
  • Jay Fai
  • Groceries
  • Taxi

Daily Total: $89

Day Six – Bangkok

This was THE “spendy” day, boy oh boy! Bo.lan, Jim Thompson House and gifts!

  • Tuk tuk
  • Coffee
  • Taxi
  • Bo.lan ($181)
  • Coffee
  • Taxi
  • Jim Thompson House
  • Gifts ($223)
  • Metro
  • Massage

Daily Total: $469

Day Seven – Bangkok

This is more like it! Typical Thai day.

  • Coffee
  • Fried chicken
  • Water
  • Passion fruit juice
  • Wat Pho entrance
  • Sleeping buddha donation
  • Fresh Pom juice
  • Bao
  • Taxi
  • Fresh OJ
  • Egg rolls
  • Papaya salad
  • Pork laarb
  • Beer

Daily Total: $30

Day Eight – Pimalai Resort, Koh Lanta

Airfare and soaking in what a 5-star resort has to offer.

  • Airport taxi
  • Flight to Krabi
  • Lunch & cocktails
  • Pool side cocktails
  • Happy hour on the beach
  • Dinner

Daily Total: $299

Day Nine – Pimalai Resort, Koh Lanta

Relaxed day at the resort, resulting in “inflated” prices.

  • Beach side afternoon cocktails
  • Lunch
  • Rooftop happy hour
  • Room service dinner
  • Late night scotch

Daily Total: $103

Day Ten – Koh Lanta to Chiang Mai

Traveled for most of the day. Free breakfast at the resort, lunch at the airport, and amazing street food for dinner!

  • Airport lunch
  • Flight to Chiang Mai
  • Late night street eats
  • Airport taxi

Daily Total: $151

Day Eleven – Chiang Mai > Taipei > Chicago

Just transportation costs here. We were at the Chiang Mai airport early to take advantage of the Priority Pass lounge, and of course shacked up at the lounge in Taipei for our 5 hour layover. Cost for the day was an airport taxi.

  • Airport taxi

Daily Total: $6

Here’s the “all in” breakdown, which includes our 1.5 days in Chicago. I’ll breakdown Thailand only after.

Initial Budget: $2500 x 2 = $5000

Actual Cost: $4838 ($2419/person)

The Breakdown:

  • Transport (airfare, train, metro, taxi): $2106
  • Accommodations: $944
  • Food & Drink: $1184
  • Activities: $249
  • Extras (massages, gifts, etc): $318

Thailand Only

Initial Budget: $2500 x 2 = $5000

Actual Cost: $3896 ($1948/person)

The Breakdown:

  • Transport (airfare, train, metro, taxi): $1873
  • Accommodations: $831
  • Food & Drink: $637
  • Activities: $237
  • Extras: $318

Bottom Line

Thailand, as I’m sure you’ve heard, is incredibly affordable. We “splurged” in some places (resort, Michelin starred eats) and could have kept our costs even lower.

I’m starting to find my rhythm when it comes to costing/budgeting a trip, and think I’ve found my baseline cost for one person. I’d put that baseline squarely at $3000/person for a two week trip.

By that measure, Iceland was more expensive ($3500/person) and Thailand was decidedly more affordable. We could have certainly pinched some pennies by not spending time in Chicago, which set us back almost $1000 extra dollars.

All in all, its hard to beat Thailand for cost!