Thailand may seem like a far-away expensive destination, but traveling to this Asian country can be done on a budget. By staying in guesthouses and eating street food, it is even possible to spend less money on a trip to the land of smiles than on a typical holiday in the West.
Guesthouses and Hostels in Thailand
Guesthouses in Thailand come in different shape and forms, from a flea-infested dormitory to a wonderful seaside traditional house. Every city or town in the Southern, Central and Eastern parts of Thailand has at least a couple of guesthouses on offer. It is even possible to find cheap accommodation in the more rural region of Isaan, in the North of the country.
A typical private room in a Thai guesthouse costs about 300 Thai Bahts (approximately 9 US Dollars) and usually comes with a fan and a large bed. Air-conditioned rooms are sometimes available at an extra cost.
In Bangkok, the guesthouse district is in Khao San Road, to the North of the city center. This famous street is home to dozens of hostels and guesthouses which cater mostly to an American and European crowd. It is usually advisable to check guest reviews on the Internet before choosing a guesthouse in that area since some of the accommodation on offer in Khao San can sometimes be of very dubious quality. A good budget choice is D&D Inn, a large hostel in the middle of the street. Rooms are clean but visitors shouldn’t expect a high level of service or much friendliness from the staff.
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In popular tourist places such as Phuket, Koh Samui or Pattaya, it is possible to find guesthouses almost everywhere. Beach bungalows can also be found in most seaside cities. Due to popularity, rates are of course usually a little bit higher than in Bangkok, except during the low season, between July and November. At that time, great deals are offered on accommodation throughout Thailand. Air fares also tend to be slightly lower during those months.
Eating Street Food in Thailand and Other Budget Alternatives
The cheapest option when it comes to eating in Thailand is to do so in the street. Most streets in Thai towns offer a wide choice of street food, ranging from the popular Pad Thai to noodles and fried rice. A meal, along with a soft drink, usually costs about 40 Thai Bahts (approximately 1.20 US Dollars).
Another alternative, albeit slightly more expensive is to eat in one of the food courts available in most shopping centers in the country. Since food court stalls usually have bilingual menus, it is easier to order there than at a street restaurant. Food courts also tend to be cleaner and have more dishes on offer. Almost all food courts in Thailand use a coupon or magnetic card system instead of cash. Those must be bought at a cashier booth near the entrance of the restaurant area. Unused credit is refunded by simply handing over the remaining coupons or the card back to the cashier.