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Thailand Wrap Up – Daily Average $25 Per Person

We spent 63 days in Thailand. Here is a collection of our impressions, travel tips, and the cost break down.

Schedule 

  • Bangkok 24 days
    • We spent almost X days in Bangkok, spread over three different visits. My uncle lives in Bangkok so when we first arrived we spent some time with my cousins who were visiting. Since he let us stay with him and we didn’t have to pay for housing we were able to take it easy and spend some time catching up on work. We explored the city, did walking tours, visited the Grand Palace, Wat Pho, Jim Thomson’s House, took cooking classes (Silom Thai and the Blue Elephant), markets, and just took everything in. I would recommend spending a few days to a week for first time visitors – the city is massive – you will not be bored!

Grand Palace  5

  • Phuket 8 days
    • We vacationed with my parents for a week in Phuket. We rented a condo by Naithon (the quiet and secluded Northern beach) and spent our days by the pool and beach, with a day trip to the Phi Phi Islands in between. Phuket is incredibly touristy and some areas downright seedy, but where we were was perfect for relaxing. If you’re looking for an undiscovered Thai island this is not it. On the plus side, the island has its own international airport and is connected by bridge to the mainland so catching an overnight bus to/from Bangkok is quite simple.

naithon beach boats

  • Koh Lanta 7 days
    • We spent 6 days in Koh Lanta, as I had signed up for 4 cooking classes at Time for Lime. This is a more laidback and less developed island than Phuket. There are several beaches along the coast and since there is very little traffic on the island renting a motorbike is a good option for exploring. Definitely, if you’re looking for a beach getaway, Koh Lanta is one of the best vacation spots for this.

klong dao beach 2

  • Kanchanaburi 2 days
    • Kanchanaburi is just a short bus ride west of Bangkok and is home to the Death Railway, which the Japanese built during World War II to connect Thailand and Myanmar. There are several museums and cemeteries where the information is well organized and displayed. There are also several national parks in the area; we went to Erawan National Park, which has a series of beautiful waterfalls.

erawan  waterfalls 3

  • Ayutthaya 2 days
    • The ancient capital of Thailand, Ayuttaya is filled with ancient temples and ruins. We rented bikes to go around the city and see them all. Aside from temples the city also has a several amazing night markets, full of fresh food and many Thai dishes. Perfect for history and food buffs.

big temple in ayuttaya across the river 1

  • Sukhothai 3 day
    • Sukhothai is another ancient Thai capital and while most of the accommodation is in the new city the temples themselves are in the old city. We took a pickup over to the old city where we rented bikes and rode around the temples for the day. Though Sukhothai sees less tourists than Ayuttaya we preferred Ayuttaya, both for the temples and the food options available in town.

sukhothai ruins wat mahathat 2

  • Chang Mai 9 days
    • Chiang Mai is a favorite among travel bloggers and we were excited to see what this small city had to offer. Considerably smaller than Bangkok, the old city of Chang Mai is walkable and offers various temples, shops, museums and good eateries. The night markets are awesome and Ms. Pa’s smoothies alone make the trip out there worthwhile. The highlight of our stay was a day at the Elephant Nature Park where we got to learn about the rescued elephants as well as wash and feed them.

Chiang Mai Doi Suthep

  • Pengterm 2 days
    • From Chaing Mai we went up to the small village of Peng Term to volunteer on an organic farm, Mindful Farms, were we helped plant and water the crops, as well as learned about meditation and Buddhism from a former monk.

me at the farm 4

  • Chang Rai 6 days
    • Our last stop in Thailand was Chiang Rai where the amazing White Temple is. Truly impressive. We spent a few days exploring the town, eating at the night markets, etc. For the day we went up to the Golden Triangle where we went to the Opium Museum and Opium Hall. Both are great museums for learning about the history of the opium trade in South East Asia.

white temple

Would we do it the same way? 

We spent a lot of time in Thailand but really didn’t see too many places. We didn’t go ‘off the beaten track’ (except for Mindful Farms) and in retrospect I wish we had. We enjoyed all the places we went to in Thailand and we didn’t travel fast, taking a few days off everywhere we went to recuperate. If you have less time you could see all of these places in a month (or slightly under).

Our Route

Our Impressions

I don’t know if I’ve met someone who didn’t love Thailand. There’s almost nothing not to like – the food is great, the people are friendly, the beaches are decent and the temples are stellar. I guess if there was one thing, it’s that it’s very touristy, even for South East Asia which has been the most touristy region we’ve been in so far.

We did Thailand in two parts which is the only country we’ve done that in so far. It was interesting to have part one be very Bangkok and beach heavy, while part 2 took us up North until we finally crossed the border into Laos.

Our expectations were pretty high, and for the most part, I’d say it delivered. Vicky fell in love with the food right away. For me, it’s simply too spicy, but I think I’m in the minority when it comes to how unspicy I like my food.

If we have one complaint I feel it’s that we didn’t really connect with the people as much as we have in other countries before and after. In most cases I feel like we’re the ones to blame, but I also think that Thailand is a bit too used to tourists. As a result, you’re less likely to have an interesting character approach you, strike up a conversation, or just give you a wave and a smile as you pass by. Afterwards we went to Laos and had some epic times with some of the locals – same thing in Cambodia. In Thailand, I think if you really want some local interaction you have to either get more off the beaten path or make a more concerted effort to meet a local. Otherwise, it’s just backpacker central.

While this may not seem like that big of a deal, these are often the experiences we cling to the most, and now having gone through Laos and Cambodia and had those interactions, I feel like those countries are going to stand out more for us 5 years later when we’re reminiscing. This becomes more and more evident as you start to tell stories to people you meet while traveling – it’s not that often we ever talk about Thailand, in fact we probably talk about it the least out of all our countries unless we’re being asked where our favorite food is.

When all is said and done, it’s really a great place to visit and I’d even go so far as saying a great place to live (which many expats do in Chang Mai and Bangkok). Vicky put it best recently when she said “it doesn’t slap you in the face and say ‘Hey, you’re in Asia’ like so many other places do”. Sometimes this is a really nice thing.

Bests And Worsts

Best food: 

Thailand is simply foodie paradise. The depth of flavors in the curry pastes, use of lemongrass, galangal and kaffir lime leaves simply bring your taste buds to life. I could go on and on about the things we ate but our favorites were the steamed fish in lime sauce and pad see ew. The steamed fish is brought out in a platter of sauce which is heated underneath with a small burner. It’s hard to tell which is better, the fish or just the sauce along, which we usually slurp while eating. The pad see ew is a wide rice noodle dish in a thick dark soy sauce made with green veggies and pork/chicken/etc. The rice noodles simply melt in your mouth.

Worst food: 

Everything in Thailand is so good it’s hard to pinpoint what the worst food was. For us, it must have been the durian. This smelly fruit has a creamy mush interior which tastes like a mixture or rotten potatoes and avocados (in our minds). This is an incredibly popular fruit in many South East Asian countries so plenty of people do not share our opinion, but for us just a taste was enough.

Best experience: 

Our best experience was our day at the Elephant Nature Park. It was amazing to be so close to these giant creatures and be able to observe them in their natural habitat. Just learning about what some of these rescued elephants have gone through is truly heart breaking but it’s amazing what the Park is doing to save the elephants.

Worst rip off: 

Dave’s worst experience was probably Mindful Farms – not that he didn’t enjoy it but in general he just felt out of place and that he was doing more harm than good.

Bucket List Activities: NONE

Tips For Traveling

Transportation

Local Buses

We rarely took local buses, maybe a few times to and from the airport. These things barely come to a stop when they open their doors to pick you up. For the most part you just grab a tuk tuk or a cab and these are reasonably priced enough that you don’t need to worry about figuring out the bus system for intra-city travel.

Trains

We took a short train ride from Bangkok to Ayuttaya but found ourselves not near a window seat (those get taken quickly) and therefore without a good view and the breeze. The seats are hard and the train is stuffy – we’re weren’t too interested in any more train rides after that one. .

Cabs

Cabs are a fantastic deal in Thailand, specifically Bangkok. It’s about $1 to enter and turn on the meter and it goes up uber slowly. We could get nearly anywhere in the city for $3. Of course, you have to be careful with traffic because that can really slow you down. Still, it’s super reasonable.

In general cabs in Thailand are supposed to turn on the meter and not give you a hard time, and we found this to be true 90% of the time. The other 10% was when we were trying to go a far distance. Its in the cabs best interest to get people in and out quickly because they make most of their money from the initial meter being turned on, and so when we wanted to go far many cab drivers refused to turn on the meter and instead wanted to quote us a ridiculous flat rate. Give them a firm no and keep walking. Every time we were eventually able to find a cab driver who would turn on the meter for us.

Long Distance Buses

Student IDs

Fairly useless in most cases.

Public Facilities

We never really had an issue with a lack of public facilities, most restaurants seem to have them available.

Safety

Food and Restaurants

Food in Thailand is phenomenal BUT it tends to be very spicy. If you don’t want it to be spicy then make sure to specify that – most people seem to understand that Western tolerance for spicy isn’t the same as Eastern tolerance. If you’re not sure whether or not the dish is going to be spicy, play it safe. Thailand in general is a street food paradise. You will find food vendors and stalls set up just about anywhere with tons of different dishes. We ate the street food plenty of time and never got sick – though you do have to be careful. In most places in Thailand you should have no problem finding some food, whether it is a local market, food stall or restaurant. We recommend you give each type of establishment a try! Even the mall food courts are pretty good!

Credit Cards

This is a cash country.

Internet

Internet is generally available in Thailand and cafes can be wifi spots. We found that Starbucks had a good deal where for $5 a month you could use unlimited wifi at any Starbucks in the country.

Nature and Beaches

Above all Thailand is known for magnificent islands and beaches. Vicky and I explored only a few of them, namely Koh Lanta and Phuket. We enjoyed both of them quite a bit but we would not say they are “out of this world’ gorgeous”. They’re nice, fun to motorbike around for sure. Koh Lanta in particular is relatively calm and uncrowded (not true for Phuket) and is regarded as a favorite among Thai islands.

Accommodations

Bangkok – Relatives: Stayed at Vicky’s relatives place.

Phuket – Resort: Stayed with Vicky’s parents at a resort (Pearl of Nai Thon – $200 per night for a 2 bedroom condo).

Koh Lanta – Lanta Guesthouse:  The Wifi wasn’t great here but I think the whole island was having connectivity issues. Was able to rent a motorbike for $5 or so.

Kanchanaburi – Ban Ma Feng Guesthouse: Very friendly staff and room had AC, TV and Wifi.

Ayutthaya – : Ayuttaya Place Hostel: Nice room, TV, AC, and Wifi.

Sukhothai – : Sila Resort: Cute Bungalow with TV and good internet. It was a bit of a walk to the new city and then have to shuttle to the old city which is where the main sites/temples are.

Chang Mai – : Rux Thai Guesthouse: Room was nice with internet, AC, and TV. Near the Eastern gate, about a 5 minute walk to the night market.

Chang Rai – : B2 Hotel: This had a very big hotel feel but it was nice with good wifi, large rooms, and TV. We kind of crashed here and didn’t do an awful lot in the city aside from the White Temple and night markets.

Finding Couchsurfers

We didn’t do any Couchsurfing or meetups in Thailand.

Cost Break Down

We were counting on Thailand to be cheap and it delivered, mostly having to do with the free accommodation we got when Vicky’s parents visited and staying with her relatives in Bangkok. We kept track of every cost we had down to the purchase level and categorized it into 5 groupings:

      • Entertainment – Mostly sightseeing.
      • Food and Water – Breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as snacks (little things we bought in the middle of the day, chips, ice cream, etc).
      • Gifts – For couchsurfers, usually a bottle of wine or some chocolates, sometimes treated to dinner.
      • Transportation – all forms but not including any flights in and out of the country.
      • Utilities – Things like lockers for bags, pay phones, small purchases like detergent.
      • Accommodation – All hotel/hostel/guesthouse stays

So where did we end up?

$25 per person, per day. (NOTE: We did not need a visa for Thailand  and this does not include flights entering and leaving Thailand). 

Would we go back to Thailand? YES!

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12 Responses to Thailand Wrap Up – Daily Average $25 Per Person

  1. Glad you guys enjoyed Thailand. It is hard to get away from the touristy aspects of Thailand but if you do it’s really worth it. I totally agree that durian is yucky and tastes like rotten, mushy avocado. 😛

    Bethaney - Flashpacker Family May 23, 2013 at 4:33 AM Reply
    • All the more motivation for us to come back I think!

      Dave and Vicky May 23, 2013 at 11:05 AM Reply
  2. Wow, very nice post! We have lived here in Chiang Mai for about 3 months now, and absolutely love it. $25 a day is amazing for someone who is traveling around and trying to experience everything Thailand has to offer. We are currently attempting to live on $20 (including rent) a day each, give or take a couple bucks.

    You definitely have just gained two new followers. Good luck!

    Chris and Angela May 25, 2013 at 8:56 AM Reply
    • Thanks guys, I wish we knew you were there or we could have met up – until next time!

      Dave and Vicky May 25, 2013 at 3:42 PM Reply
  3. Great post guys!
    We’ve been to Thailand many times and love it there. Although, we still haven’t seen Ayutthya…next time I suppose 🙂

    I love the breakdown you guys have as well, nice work. That’s about our budget for Thailand as well $50/day for 2 people.

    Cheers!

    Dariece @GoatsOnTheRoad May 30, 2013 at 2:50 AM Reply
  4. Thanks for the comprehensive post. Just to add, the beach resorts in Koh Phi Phi are just breath-taking; totally world class.

    P.S. Next time you visit Thailand, try their pad thai! 🙂

    Jane Lagdameo July 3, 2013 at 11:14 AM Reply
  5. Great post!! I have been to Thailand many times and I just love the place!!! And I do agree with you about the durian! We actually stayed in a couple of upscale hotels which banned it. You will see the sign posted close to the elevator!!!

    Constance August 8, 2013 at 3:21 AM Reply
    • Haha oh the smelly durian — brings back memories! haha! Thailand really is great!

      Vicky August 14, 2013 at 5:24 PM Reply
  6. You have to give durian another chance. Seriously, it’s an acquired taste.
    I thought it was horrible the first time I tried it, then years later my girlfriend kept buying it, so I gave in and tried it again. To my surprise I actually liked it—sort of a “Green Eggs and Ham” moment.

    Ryan February 3, 2014 at 11:21 AM Reply
    • Will have to give it another try then!

      Vicky March 15, 2014 at 1:25 AM Reply

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