The Frugal Budget for Thailand 2020: Expat Edition

Budgeting for Thailand
Chinese New Year (aka Spring Festival) is among us and students will be taking their annual winter break. This means I have some, much needed, time to travel and explore Southeast Asia. I won’t be working in my public school for the next 5 weeks! This post is going to be a brief review of my budget for Thailand and what I plan to spend.
This year my girlfriend and I plan on traveling in Thailand for 11 days! My cousin and his wife will also be joining us for the last 5 days of the trip. So, I’m look forward to seeing family and getting out of China for a while.
Thailand has been a HOT destination in the travel world lately. My Instagram feed is littered with pictures of painted Elephants and drowsy Tigers. Although, I’m not going for the animal sanctuaries, I hope I can see what the hype is about.

Part of my 2020 goals are to stay out of Credit Card Debt. A trip to Thailand is not going to get in the way of me hitting that goal.
My solution is to plan in advance for all major expenses. I consider a major expense to be anything that I cannot cash flow from my cash accounts. So for me that’s basically anything over $1000. Therefore, a few months ago I made a budget of how much I projected to spend for the 11 days in Thailand.
This post is going to be a brief review of my budget for Thailand and what I plan to spend.
Here is my budget for Thailand.

Thailand Budget

Housing ($285)

We plan to stay in several Airbnbs in 3 different cities over the 11 days. Therefore, we allocated about $25 per night for housing! Which is ridiculously cheaper than ANY other trip, cruise, or family reunion I’ve ever been on. The places we are staying at appear to have amazing facilities and seem to be clean. They are also some of the highest rated places on the application. But you never know… its the internet. We will see what happens, but Airbnb has not failed me yet. Even in Southeast Asia.
Budgeting For Thailand

Flights & Transportation ($750)

Some plan on visiting the cities of Chang Mai, Phuket, & Bangkok. We have purchased 75% of our flights in advance, and I personally want to leave some spontaneity in our trip. Therefore, we will book the other 25% when we we get there. Hopefully we don’t pay too much of a premium because of it.
The average cost of our purchased flights have been about $68 each. So I’m hoping that the price will stay in that range. The rest of the money in our budget is for transportation when we get there. I refuse to sit my a** on a moped. I’ve heard too many horror stories about foreigners and those mopeds. I plan to take Taxis and what ever else I can find that seems safer.

Food & Alcohol ($491)

This is the second largest category in my budget. I want to try all of the food that I can, and I don’t want to miss out on anything. Also, on my last vacation in Southeast Asia I spent more than I expected on alcohol. This time I made sure that I allotted enough money to taste and drink as much food as I possibly could. We expect to spend about $15 per meal (per person) on food and alcohol.


We will use this money to make all of our Thailand dreams come true. This money is for all the zip lines, elephant sanctuaries, Buddhist temples, Boxing matches, and unicorn farms. We expect to spend about $40 per day per person.


Although these prices are cheap, from my experience, you always spend more than you expect. Therefore, I significantly over budgeted everything. My last trip to the Philippines was way off budget , because I fell prey to that whole ‘Southeast Asia’ is cheap stereotype. It may be cheap for locals, but in certain areas you will pay the unofficial ‘foreigner tax’.
I plan on coming home with some money, but I have no intention of going over budget. I will be writing a follow up on this post to see how well we planned, or over planned for this trip. Photos from my trip will also be posted on my Instagram. Feel free to check that out. If you have any questions or comments please leave them below. Talk to you later.

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