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On a budget? Thailand is cheapest!

Posted by AGRO on 27/8/2011 at 22:43

Posted from within Vietnam.

To make a long story short, I lived in Philippines for a year and ran a business, had a falling out with my partner which made me lose all my money. Fell in love with my GF and to bring her back to Canada we must live together 1 year.

In the Phils we lived together 9 months. I made the choice to either spend 3 more months in Phils and argue with my partner or go on another SE Asia adventure with my GF.

Having no mone means I took out a few thousand dollars on a low interest loan and got an Iphone app to calculate all my expenses and Thailand has been the cheapest.

In the daily average I have not included the bigger expenses such as the slow boat in Laos or the flights from Laos to Hanoi. Just day to day. But what is included is bus/train transportation, activities, bike rentals etc


Remember I'm on a very tight budget supporting 2 of us. In Thailand (North) we spent an average of 740 bhat per day. Laos was about 800+ and Vietnam also 800+

Our hotel is 250 bhat average in North Thailand. Fan, WIFI, Hot Water are musts.
We ate mostly (amazing) street food....I must have my beers everyday and have a good time. We do not sacrifice a good time to save 80 bhat.

The application tells every bhat, kip, dong whatever we spend and on what and tells what percentage.

I found that Thailand ends up being cheapest because of the great selection of amazing street food. For example....2 curries with rice at 30 baht each and 2 shakes at 15 bhat each...= 90 bhat

Here in Hoi An which is also very cheap the street food is only Pho or (Cau Lau noodles here in Hoi An). I love Pho but everyday breakfast lunch and dinner I won't do that. So at a cheap reso we spend 160 000 with drinks or about $8.00 which is 240 bhat.

120 bhat each is very cheap for 2 people for dinner! But still 30% more than Thailand. Over 3 months 30% more can be $1000 extra.

So for those who believe Thailand is too expensive....well you're right it's easy to spend lots there and go over budget. But if you're like me and you must stick to a tiny budget, I believe Thailand is easiest! And I know if I didn't buy my 100 bhat Starbucks coffee and my beer then it would be even cheaper.

Your thoughts?

#1 AGRO has been a member since 27/7/2011. Posts: 31

Posted by lougood9 on 28/8/2011 at 15:32

First of all what is this app called? Me and my partner are off to Thailand next year for a month and i'm having real trouble trying to work out a basic day budget. Its good to hear it is still cheap! Like you say, you can spend so much more, eating out every night etc...but we too are also on a budget.

Its refreshing to hear Thailand can still be done on a budget and your not missing out on the amazing food! Thanks!

#2 lougood9 has been a member since 28/8/2011. Posts: 2


Posted by MADMAC on 28/8/2011 at 17:59

Lou
A friend of mine here is a young teacher. He's not from this town, so he doesn't have family support. He lives here for 7,000 baht a month. Of course, he rents an apartment (for 1,500 baht a month), and even cheap hotels are costing much more than that. And he's not taking buses all over - so he doesn't have that expense either. But yes, if you want to, you can live here very cheaply. But he is eating "mediocre" Thai food. "Great" Thai food is a bit more pricey - just like back home. If I go to the corner Kebap stand, it's tasty and cheap, but it ain't filet mignon. But yeah, you kick around here on the cheap, although like everywhere in the world, it has suffered from inflation.

#3 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by lougood9 on 28/8/2011 at 20:01

Yeah, luckily we already have our accomadation sorted , we just need to sort a budget for food, transport etc. We are travelling the islands Ko Samui, Ko Tao and Ko Pha ngan from Bangkok, are these alot more expensive now? Due to more tourists, inflation etc. We are happy to eat street food but obviously have the occasional meal out. Do you have an idea of what daily food budget we should expect?

Thanks for your help

#4 lougood9 has been a member since 28/8/2011. Posts: 2

Posted by Captain_Bob on 28/8/2011 at 20:05

For Thailand it really makes a difference where spend most of your time. The southern beach hotspots have gone crazy charging world prices for bungalows, even just a small concrete aircon box for 1000b+ is pretty common, and anything near beachfront or in peak season prices double and triple. Thankfully there are still some basic wooden hut options for under 500b but they are steadily being torn down and replaced with more "upmarket" options.

Meanwhile up north you can get great guesthouse rooms for well under 1000b, even in central Chiang Mai an aircon hot shower room with big bed and a hint of traditional decor can be had for around 500-800b, or a basic clean fan room for 100-200b. Similarly the food options are generally cheaper in the north, or at least far away from the mega-tourist ghettos on Phuket and Chaweng where local style food stalls are virtually nonexistent. Easy to live well in Chiang Mai on about 500-1000b/day. Also the little things like laundry and motorbike rental are cheaper in the north than pretty much everywhere else.

By comparison even Laos (for example) is becoming more expensive. Rooms can be cheap but I find food more costly and those small examples of laundry, motorbike, etc can be double price. Try finding a cheap room in Luang Prabang during high season or heaven forbid one of the festivals - you can almost forget it. Thailand (north and northeast) is still one of the cheapest backpacker regions of SE Asia.

#5 Captain_Bob has been a member since 27/5/2006. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,903

Posted by AGRO on 28/8/2011 at 20:18

Posted from within Vietnam.

In Samui I found a beautiful bu very basic bungalow for 300 bhat. It's on the road but still much better quality than the similar priced beach huts there.

In luang prabang I found lots i nice options for 50 000 Kip.

What is special about Thailand is when it comes to food your options if u must be on an ultra budget is your selection seems almost unlimited. Whereas for example where I am now in Hoi An Vietnam, there is really only noodles and sandwhiches. Same with Laos. They're cheap and delicious but I need my variety and of course wanna live a little.

So I found myself in Laos and Vietnam at the restaurants which are still cheap but double the price of a street stall.

I also find the restaurants us tourists frequent, many times are a bit less flavourful. In chiang Mai there are the night markets frequented by u tourists with great food bu sometimes it pays to look around and see where the locals are eating. If it's packed with locals and has no English menu, maybe you're in for a treat!

In Chiang Mai on the north side of the Moat there's an amazing and cheap sukiyaki place.....wow this place is incredible. Highly reccomended if you can find it.

#6 AGRO has been a member since 27/7/2011. Posts: 31

Posted by eastwest on 28/8/2011 at 21:05

I won't dispute the fact that Thailand is very cheap. Especially concerning food.

However, I don't agree with some comments above about limited food options in Vietnam. The argument of "if it's packed with locals, it's good" also applies to Vietnam. It may not be strictly street food but great food can be had at bargain prices, like in Thailand, in little "hole in the wall" restaurants. Rice with 2 dishes of your choice can be had for $1. Walking around during lunchtime in local areas will reveal those places quickly.
If you only have tasted Banh Mi (sandwiches) and Pho you haven't really tried hard.

Some of you are comparing apples with pears. It doesn't seem fair to compare central Luang Prabang with some places in Chiang Mai for instance. On the outskirts of Luan Prabang you can find dirt cheap food. I find the biggest difference that local places in Thailand are more mixed and accessible in the tourist areas whereas in other countries the local eateries are more separated or harder to find and usually slightly outside the tourist areas.

That's my two cents

#7 eastwest has been a member since 17/12/2009. Posts: 778

Posted by AGRO on 28/8/2011 at 22:09

Posted from within Vietnam.

Yeah I can agree with above. I found Hanoi was extremely rich is street food, I guess I'm passing my judgements from here in Hoi An where there isn't much, however I'm sure if I look I can find some gems. I know some Cau Lau shops for just 15000 which is under $1

And I know next in Nha Trang it will be easier as it's a city of I think 300 000. I remember getting Bo Ne....Steak and Eggs for just over $1.00 last time I was there. I'm excited for that!

#8 AGRO has been a member since 27/7/2011. Posts: 31

Posted by philcapelli on 28/8/2011 at 22:41

Thailand is hard to beat for the budget minded. Even Bangkok offers some great values (though, admittedly it isn't quite as cheap as more rural areas). This website offers a pretty comprehensive list of free downloadable restaurant, lodging and services coupons. Worth checking out, if you're in the capitol and looking to save a few baht.

http://www.getmetobangkok.com

#9 philcapelli has been a member since 28/8/2011. Posts: 1

Posted by MADMAC on 29/8/2011 at 01:15

"if it's packed with locals, it's good"

I would caveat this with "how they define good and how you define good might be VERY different. We have a place here in town that is extremely popular, full of "locals" all the time, and while I like their fried chicken over rice (Caoman Gai) it's the only thing in there I do like. The Thai palate and mine are not always in synch. Another big factor for why it's packed is price. The place is cheap. That's nice, but the ambience is what you would expect for 30 baht meals (run down and dirty). For some people (especially those pinching pennies) ambience is irrelevent. But for me at least it's a factor. So if you have no clue as to what might be a good place to eat and you're new in town, following the crowd is as good a strategy as any for sure. But I wouldn't get too carried away with the idea that if the locals like it, it must be good. Not only for food, but for a lot of things. The "locals" like to speed excessively on their motorbikes without helmets, drunk, with no headlight working, but I'm not sure I would consider it a good idea. So not that that is bad advice concerning the "locals" but just keep those factors in mind. My basic observation is you can usually eat somewhere good and nice. Or you can eat somewhere good and cheap. But you usually can't get good, nice and cheap.

#10 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by travellingsarah on 29/8/2011 at 08:50 TF writer

Posted from within Vietnam.

We actually spent the least in Laos on average, but that could be in part due to the week we spent doing nothing whilst living in a dirt cheap hut on Don Det.

There are lots more streetfood options in Noi An than just Pho and Banh My. Look out for chicken rice (Com Ga) - a speciality of the area - which you'll find for about 30,000 along Pham Chu Tring for one. And many of the cheapy tourist places dish up a variety of things for under 40,000.

Unfortunately inflation has made a notable impact on prices in Vietnam even over the last year - in Hanoi the price of bun cha or pho has gone up over 50% (and sometimes nearer 100%). So it is almost impossible to eat for under $1 now - in the cities at least.

#11 travellingsarah has been a member since 23/3/2010. Location: Vietnam. Posts: 681
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Posted by guava_girl on 29/8/2011 at 09:04

I agree with MADMAC about the 'packed with locals' not always being good. I know of a place that is always packed due to its cheap prices but I also know that some have found some not so nice things in their cheap food such as maggots. So 'packed with locals' is not always a good thing.

But I do agree that you can stay in Thailand on the cheap if you do not move around a lot. I have lived here for years and some are surprised at how little I can live on. But I do not move around and have my own kitchen, so this of course helps.

Lou, things on the islands tend to be more expensive because they have to transport everything by ferry so this is added into the cost. Even a bottle of water in 7-11 will cost you around 5 baht more. But I live on an island and do it cheaply, although I live on baht only and get 'local' prices for many things.

#12 guava_girl has been a member since 21/10/2010. Posts: 252

Posted by somtam2000 on 29/8/2011 at 09:30 admin

Would agree in Thailand it very much depends on where you are. I'm in Phuket at the moment and it is not cheap despite it being low season and the weather ghastly. Accom you can get for as little at 200 baht, though I've been paying 500-700 most nights (and for that you can get quite a smart room) but what is just killing me is the cost of food. I don't want to have to jettison my self from a tourist district for each meal but in practice that is what I need to do if I want to eat affordably ( and get a decent meal, but that's another topic!) typical prices (not at fancy places) start at 150-250b for a one plate dish - or what you'd pay 30-50baht for elsewhere.

Makes for a pricey trip or for a lot of riding through the backblocks looking for affordable grub.

#13 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,576
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Posted by MADMAC on 29/8/2011 at 10:14

Somtam
You got that right. Location is everything. I got a bottle of beer (a small bottle too) while I was dancing at Dream Hotel in Sukhimvite. 250 baht! That same bottle costs me 40 baht at a bar here.

#14 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by AGRO on 29/8/2011 at 11:55

Posted from within Vietnam.

OK let me rephrase that.....of course not everywhere busy with locals is gonna be good, I mean I lived in Boracay for a year and if there is a group of locals eating together they're likely eating balut! (Duck egg with baby inside)

For example in Chiang Mai's local market, the non touristy one, the food court down there I wouldn't go near, it's pretty damn gross.


But I have found some of my best food experiences in street food not where it's half tourists but in places where I saw dozens of motorbikes parked and everyone eating and decided to stop by because they're cooking up a storm!

#15 AGRO has been a member since 27/7/2011. Posts: 31

Posted by somtam2000 on 29/8/2011 at 13:09 admin

Sticking with the popular with locals thing, was riding around the back blocks of Kata Beach the other night trying to find a good place to eat, ended up picking the one which had a couple of tables of Thais getting hammered on Sangsom.

Was a good decision :)

And on the cost thing, just ducked downstairs to grab some lunch and got a very good rice/veges/pork stirfry thingy in a styrofoam box off the back of a motorbike for 50 baht, so there is cheapish food here, though I'd prefer not to do three meals a day off the back of a bike.

#16 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,576
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Posted by AGRO on 29/8/2011 at 13:16

Posted from within Vietnam.

I agree, 3 meals of street food a day, my stomach gets really angry with me sometimes!
Especially in Laos!
But I do it out of necessity as I literally have no money and still 2 months to go.

#17 AGRO has been a member since 27/7/2011. Posts: 31

Posted by MADMAC on 29/8/2011 at 16:14

"But I have found some of my best food experiences in street food not where it's half tourists but in places where I saw dozens of motorbikes parked and everyone eating and decided to stop by because they're cooking up a storm!"

I see why my mind was having a hard time getting around this for a minute (or a day). We don't have any tourists where I live. So finding a place "half full of tourists" doesn't happen. Or even half full of non-Thais. There are so few expats here, we couldn't cover a postage stamp. When I read this for a second I was thinking "What's he talking about, what tourists?" And then it occured to me that of course most of the people posting here are tourists hitting tourist spots!!! I must be getting alzheimers.

#18 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by AGRO on 29/8/2011 at 16:28

Posted from within Vietnam.

haha yes....I am writing this as a tourist on a budget....but really a tourist on a very tight budget.

And as a tourist who is traveling from city to city, country to country, doing pretty much the same thing (although I like to at least pretend I'm different from the others haha!)

For example in Chiang Mai in the Northern Moat....there are several cheap food stalls. Very cheap. You can get a good meal for 50 bhat. Plenty of locals there and plenty of tourists.

Walk down the street a bit, and the street stalls but no tourists and the same thing is 30 bhat....However one would have to be a bit more experimental as the usual tourist far chicken with cashew nuts and pad thai aren't available!

#19 AGRO has been a member since 27/7/2011. Posts: 31

Posted by MADMAC on 29/8/2011 at 19:12

A great thread Agro. Some interesting observations and great dialog.

#20 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by mikethediver on 30/8/2011 at 12:40

Hi,
Doesn't anyone find Cambodia cheaper??.
Having spent a long time in Thailand I now find it far too expensive.
I admit to being a drinker & that's what does it for me.
The visa situation is easier here to; not having to leave the country every 3 months makes a long stay cheaper.

I pay $6 for a very nice room (180 b) 0.50 US$ a beer & bottle of gin under 5$! I can even buy sangshom cheaper than Thailand!!!

Maybe food is a little more expensive than a road side stall in Thailand, but western food in Cambodia is a faction of the price in of Thailand. Good french food & of course, baguettes!!!
Just does it for me!
Mike

#21 mikethediver has been a member since 23/3/2008. Location: Thailand. Posts: 206
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Posted by AGRO on 30/8/2011 at 13:15

Posted from within Vietnam.

I've been to Cambodia 3 times in the past but not since 2008, I'm headed back there in less than 2 weeks so it will be cool to check out!
Just saw a great article on facebook from travelfish about Cambodian street food
https://www.travelfish.org/blogs/phnompenh/2011/08/phnom-penh-street-food-bai-sach-chrouk/


If you want the cheapest alcohol Philippines wins by far (Well noone can beat Vietnam's Bia Hoi [fresh beer] at 3000 dong!) The local Filipino brands of liquor such as Tanduay Rum, Toska Vodka, El Hombre Tequila etc etc aren't all that bad and it's common and accepted that is what all bars serve unless asked otherwise, and at $2.00 a bottle it's easy to sell mixed drinks for cheap.

Speaking of rooms. I've been hard pressed to find a room for under $10 (300 bhat) here in Vietnam. I'm sure it's possible but not easy. But that being said the $10 hotel rooms are actually hotels fit with a TV, Air Conditioning, real hot water tanks and water pressure, and everything else you'd expect in a hotel.

#22 AGRO has been a member since 27/7/2011. Posts: 31

Posted by CrankyCarrot on 2/9/2011 at 15:22

When I rent by the month in Phuket, it usually ends up costing my about $12.50 US per day including bills to have a nice, clean apartment suite with maid service, cable TV, hot water, air con, a fridge and a view of mountainous surrounds.

By contrast, I'm spending the same to rent by the day in Kuta at the moment, which scores me a flop house of a room with no fridge, no TV, no WiFi, no air con, a pillowcase for a blanket and a bathroom people can see into from the stairs of the building next door.

And that was the best deal I could find in the area. For some reason most guesthouses in Bali favour excessive ventilation over noise insulation, so I'm privy to every single motorbike rev and screaming idiot outside my room, of which there are many.

Dear god I miss Phuket.

If you're going to live somewhere and can rent by the month - I'll take Thailand over Indonesia any day.

#23 CrankyCarrot has been a member since 24/3/2010. Location: Thailand. Posts: 662
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Posted by AGRO on 2/9/2011 at 16:15

Posted from within Vietnam.

Wow.....I've also found Bali very very cheap....$6.00 a night got me a pretty nice basic place. But not livable, for example no kitchen, but with food so cheap there I never really needed a kitchen.

#24 AGRO has been a member since 27/7/2011. Posts: 31

Posted by CrankyCarrot on 2/9/2011 at 19:23

For $6 a night in Bali, I'm betting it's nothing but icy cold water coming out of that shower faucet in the bathroom. No thanks.

#25 CrankyCarrot has been a member since 24/3/2010. Location: Thailand. Posts: 662
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Posted by somtam2000 on 2/9/2011 at 20:47 admin

$6 a night in a popular part of Bali, say Kuta would be pretty basic.

#26 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,576
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Posted by AGRO on 2/9/2011 at 21:36

Posted from within Vietnam.

Mid 2009....maybe the price has went up but in poppies 2....you'd walk and then turn, walk down maybe 100 meters or so...it was a hotel kind of out of site.

$6.00 a night. Hey it was nothing special but it was clean, had hot water, a fan, and a desk.
The bed was comfy enough......far from luxury but hey it was fine for me for a week.

Long term is a whole different ballgame

#27 AGRO has been a member since 27/7/2011. Posts: 31

Posted by chopin on 3/9/2011 at 12:30

what a nice thread... I have a side question: do all backpackers really prefer hot water bath, in SE Asia? After coming back from a day out in usually near 40C outside, I find a cold water bath the best part of the day, in fact, the colder the better :-)

I'm not sure if it's just me...

#28 chopin has been a member since 28/4/2007. Posts: 154

Posted by AGRO on 3/9/2011 at 12:49

Posted from within Vietnam.

I need hot water....but yeah most people think I'm crazy haha
In The Philippines I lived for 5 months without hot water......it was a sad 5 months =(

#29 AGRO has been a member since 27/7/2011. Posts: 31

Posted by CrankyCarrot on 3/9/2011 at 12:59

If it's hot outside, that makes the shock of cold water even worse for me.

Another thing I've noticed is the sea water is way colder on Kuta beach in Bali than anywhere I swam in Thailand. Gotta say I prefer nice warm water at the beach too. I met an American guy in Krabi who told me he loved Sydney's beaches because the water was so cold and that he didn't care for the warm waves of Thailand, but he might have been odd in that respect (not to mention some others).

When I was asking if a place had a hot or cold water on Gili T in Indonesia, the staff member said "It have normal water." "What's that mean?" I asked. "It mean, if have hot sun on water tank, have hot water - if no have sun, no have hot." I thanked him politely for the explanation and got the h--- outta there.

#30 CrankyCarrot has been a member since 24/3/2010. Location: Thailand. Posts: 662
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Posted by AGRO on 3/9/2011 at 13:01

Posted from within Vietnam.

Speaking of costs and staying the cheapest I'm finding Nha Trang Vietnam extremely cheap with a large quality of cheap and delicious street food

My quality hotel is $9.00, aircon, TV, hot water, very comfy bed, food is $1.20 or so per meal when I eat on the streets or the other night I went to a fancy French Restaurant and had a Filet Mignon for under $5.00

I think I can get used to this place =)

#31 AGRO has been a member since 27/7/2011. Posts: 31

Posted by CrankyCarrot on 3/9/2011 at 13:15

I knew I shoulda gone to Nha Trang this visa run!

One other thing -- if you're the type to do a lot of stuff online, be advised that what Indonesia calls "hi-speed" is about as fast as what we called "dial-up" 15 years ago in the West. If that.

I think the server mainframes are hooked up to a hamster wheel, and the little tike is ill.

#32 CrankyCarrot has been a member since 24/3/2010. Location: Thailand. Posts: 662
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Posted by danceswithrose on 4/9/2011 at 05:51

Hate to burst your bubble, but if you have been screwed once, ever thought it could happen again??? If you GF is a native, is it possible for her to get a job and help support. She speaks the language? If she needs training, could you not train her how to do something so that there is money coming in whilst you are there? I have a friend in NZ who married a Thai girl had a couple of kids and she's now after everything he has. It seems to be a very common pattern! This may not be the case with your new GF but just be warned and keep your eyes wide open - there will be signs in your conversations.

#33 danceswithrose has been a member since 12/10/2010. Posts: 20


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