YOUR BUDGET GUIDE TO NOT GET RIPPED OFF AS A TOURIST
If you are on a tight budget and want to travel somewhere in Southeast Asia, Thailand is a feasible option for you. Travelling in Thailand can be very affordable for tourists with a limited budget. All you need first is to do plenty of research on where you want to visit, how long for, where you plan to stay, what activities you want to do, and how you are going to get around from place to place. However, if you don't know what a fair price should be, it's easy to get ripped off by opportunistic locals who want to take advantage of a tourist who doesn't know the ropes. So here's our advice on pricing standards to help you get around without paying through the nose.
Transportation From the Airport
When you first land in Bangkok and need to get away from the airport to find your hotel, it's good to know your options in advance. There are several alternatives for your journey from the airport to the city. There's the Airport Rail Link, which is a train that connects you from Suvarnabhumi Airport to Bangkok's inner city; it will also take you to a BTS station at Phaya Thai, from where you can connect to other parts of the city. Then there's a shuttle bus heading for the backpackers' favourite destination and hostel hub, Khao San Road. You could also take a metered taxi. If you fly into one of the smaller cities, you'll sometimes also have the option of taking a minibus, or songtaew - a kind of pickup truck with a pair of benches in the back running along either side.
- Airport Rail Link City Line: 15-45 baht depending on the distance;
- Khao San Road shuttle bus: 60 baht;
- Metered taxi: From the airport, there are designated areas where you can catch a taxi. These zones exist for your own safety to avoid illegal taxi scams. You need to talk to an official who records the taxi ID and translates the destination of where you want to go, as most taxi drivers do not speak English. When leaving the airport, there's an additional 50 baht fee on top of the fare on the meter, and if your driver uses the tollway, you'll have to pay the fee for that as well, but you'll see the amount displayed as the driver passes through the barriers;
- Minibus: It really depends on the location. For example, if you catch a minibus from a bus terminal in Pattaya to a hotel, it may cost you 100 baht or more. The tip here is to secretly ask another local passenger to compare the fare before asking the driver;
Food prices vary depending on which area you are in. For example, even if you are on Khao San Road where hostels are dirt cheap, food prices will be slightly higher compared to other local areas of Bangkok. The same rule applies for night markets or tourist attractions in other provinces. When in Thailand, do try local street food. If the prices are not displayed, you can always ask before placing your order. However, bargaining for food is not recommended and would actually be quite disrespectful.
Standard food prices:
- A la carte rice dish or noodle soup: Starting from 50 baht;
- BBQ meat skewers: Starting from 10 baht;
- Drinking water: Starting from 10 baht;
- A can of beer: Starting from 35 baht;
- Fruit from street vendors: Starting from 20 baht;
Tourist Attraction Fees
It is sad but true that price discrimination against foreign tourists still exists. It appears to be a longstanding way to extract more revenue from tourism - and sadly you'll find that National Parks are among the worst offenders. When government agencies follow this practice, it's no surprise that some private companies choose to follow suit. You'll often know when you're paying a foreign price because the local price will be displayed in Thai numerals so tourists are unable to read and compare. There is not much you can do about this but you can research whether you will encounter dual pricing before making your trip to a tourist attraction.
Tourist attraction fees for foreign visitors:
- The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew (the Emerald Buddha), Bangkok: 500 baht;
- Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn), Bangkok: 100 baht;
- Wat Pho, Bangkok: 100 baht;
- Khao Yai National Park: 400 baht;
- Wat Rong Kun (the White Temple), Chiang Rai: 50 baht;
- Phi Phi Island National Park, Krabi: 400 baht;
Learning to travel like local people will help you get around easily, and of course manage your tight budget. Travelling by public transport seems like a challenging task for a foreign visitor. It requires time to do the research and plan your travel, but if you can do it, a lot of money can be saved. If you really need to catch a taxi or a tuk tuk, you should know where you are and the destination you are going to. Use your hotel's free WiFi to download an offline map to assist you in making decisions in negotiating taxi or tuk tuk fares.
Standard ground transport fares:
- Bangkok local buses: 8 - 25 baht;
- Chao Praya Express Boat: 9 - 32 baht;
- Motorcycle taxi: Starting from 10 baht depending on the distance;
- Metered taxi: Starting from 35 baht depending on the distance;
- Tuk Tuk: The whole fare is negotiated in advance depending on the distance and your bargaining skills;
- Motorbike rentals: Starting from 200 baht;
- Car rental: Starting from 1,000 baht;