Is Living On $30 A Day Or Less Possible In Thailand?

The country of Thailand invokes thoughts of delicious food, tropical islands, exciting nightlife and beautiful beaches. It's popularity as a tourism destination makes it an outstanding destination for worldwide travelers. Thailand has won numerous citations in the area of tourism and travel including more recently,

  • Chiang Mai, Thailand ranks 3rd 2017 The World's best cities: Travel + Leisure

  • Thailand Ranks 32rd in World Happiness Report 2017: World Happiness Report

  • Bangkok Ranks 1st World most visited city in 2017: MasterCard

  • Thailand Ranks 2nd on Most Hospitable City: Monocle Magazine

  • Thailand acquired three ranks in Top 20 Asia Pacific Destinations in 2016, Bangkok (1st), Phuket (6th), Pattaya (8th): MasterCard

  • Thailand ranks 18th in Top Expat Destinations 2016: InterNations

  • Thailand ranked 4th for Best Street Food: Source: CNN


In July, Time Magazine featured an article where Thailand was ranked as the number one location in which a traveler can enjoy their holiday on US$30 a day. In spite of the mammoth increase in global tourism numbers, Thailand still remains as one of the cheapest countries to visit, retire or enjoy an extended stay in the whole of Southeast Asia.

Depending how much or how little your budget extends, a night in a hostel dorm bed can cost as little as $1.46 a night and a meal at an simple yet inexpensive restaurant can cost as little as $1.50, with a bottle of local Chang Beer available for as little as $1.77

Although a cheap and cheerful lifestyle may be appealing to a 20 something on a journey of self discovery - for people much like myself, over the age of 50, there are a number of other considerations such as safety and security together with a need for relative comfort and privacy, which rank higher in the stakes than merely attempting to live as frugally as possible.

Having traveled and spent time in many regions of Thailand over the years I've experienced varying degrees of style and class during my holiday, from three to five star accommodation. I can vouch to the fact it can be relatively easy to enjoy a comfortable, safe and secure short or medium term vacation on a low to mid budget. Personally I have enjoyed many holidays during my visits with or without limited budget constraints to the following areas including:


Bangkok welcomes more visitors than any other destination in the world. The city beat never stops and its an action packed anything goes type of city, so those looking to experience the craziness of a city with a pounding heart beat, then look no further than Bangkok.

Hua Hin

Situated only three hours south by car from Bangkok, Hua Hin was and still remains to some extent a quite fishing village. The area features a five mile long beach and boasts the freshest of seafood for diners. Hua Hin is one of my favorite locations in Thailand.


Pattaya, located on the Gulf of Siam is known as one of Thailand's liveliest beach resorts, famed for it's walking street and eclectic mix of characters. For those who have an appreciation for an exciting and vibrant nightlife - Pattaya is the place to be.

Pattaya-Walking-Street-Thailand Pattaya's Famous Walking Street


Phuket is located amongst the southern provinces of Thailand. It consists of the island of Phuket, Thailand's largest island and features another 32 smaller islands off the coast. The next nearest province is Krabi. Phuket is the gateway to many of the famous islands of Thailand.


This resort town is situated only 30 kilometers from Hua Hin and is a popular destination for Thai day trippers from Bangkok due to it's long strip of beach and inexpensive seafood. The area is also home to a sizable number of expats, providing a rich and diverse blend of intersecting cultures.

Sam Roi Yot

Located in coast of Prachuap Khiri Khan Province, Khao Sam Roi Yot means 'The mountain with three hundred peaks' and refers to a series of limestone hills along the Gulf of Thailand. The area is peaceful and the pace is slow for those who appreciate peace and tranquillity.

Krabi-Thailand Krabi, Thailand


Krabi is the perfect holiday destination for those who prefer a relaxing holiday. Krabi abounds with natural assets that offer its visitors a wide array of leisure activities including island hopping, snorkeling, rock climbing, trekking and scuba diving.


Chumphon Province is located situated at the top of Southern Thailand and is known as the gateway to the southern region. The region features over 200 kilometers of coastline, much of which remains untouched by tourism, making it a location in which to experience the authentic Thailand experience.

Chiang Mai

Located 700 kilometers north of the capital Bangkok, Chiang Mai is the second largest city in Thailand. The city is a very popular destination for overseas travelers as its an inexpensive location in which to base oneself. Chiang Mai is a hub for those wishing to explore other areas of Thailand and throughout Asia.

At the time of writing, I'm considering an extended stay in Thailand for a period of 90 days commencing around the end of January or February 2018 and have been scouting out Phuket as my base for the trip.

Usually the two most expensive items on any long term traveler's list are accommodation and food, so by opting for a short term lease and by taking advantage of the amazingly fresh and tasty street food on offer (whilst avoiding outlets serving 'western' style food), its easy to see why it is indeed possible to live in Thailand for less than $30 per day.


Fresh nutrient rich food is cheap and plentiful and easily acquired in Thailand. By eating like and how the locals do, any traveler can eat healthy and nutritious meals by spending only around 250 Baht - around USD$7.50 per day including water, fresh fruit, vegetables and meat - this budget even includes a locally brewed beer. No food preparation or cooking is done at home, which is a bonus as all meals are sourced from local street food vendors, or at the local market. Some average prices to be found throughout Thailand are listed below.

  • Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant: $1.80
  • Domestic Beer 0.5 liter draught: $1.80
  • Imported Beer 0.33 liter bottle: $3.00
  • Cappuccino regular: $1.76
  • Coke/Pepsi 0.33 liter bottle :$0.57
  • Water 0.33 liter bottle $0.29


When it comes to accommodation, there a just so many styles and types available, to meet almost any budget, including rooming houses, homestay, or condotel. I've been looking around online to get an idea of accommodation options in and around Phuket, and while the prices are cheap in comparison to properties at home, its best to view, inspect and negotiate prices face to face, especially in a country like Thailand. I'm considering a condotel which as an example may include the following as standard;

Dcondo Mine - Phuket - Cost Per Month: 11,000 Baht

Situated in Phuket Town, this air-conditioned apartment features an outdoor pool, views of the mountain and is situated close to town. Free WiFi is offered throughout the property. The small kitchenette has a microwave. A flat-screen TV with cable channels is also available. Other facilities at D-Condo Mine include a fitness centre, 24 hour security, and keycard access to the property.

DCondo-Mine-Studio-Apartment-Phuket DCondo Mine Studio Apartment, Phuket

DCondo-Mine-Studio-Apartment-Living-Room-Phuket DCondo Mine Studio Apartment, Phuket - Living Area

DCondo-Mine-Studio-Apartment-Kitchen-Phuket DCondo Mine Studio Apartment, Phuket - Kitchenette

DCondo-Mine-Studio-Apartment-Bathroom-Phuket DCondo Mine Studio Apartment, Phuket - Bathroom

DCondo-Mine-Studio-Apartment-Swimming-Pool-Phuket DCondo Mine Studio Apartment, Phuket - Poolside


A short taxi ride usually costs around $2. There are cheaper options if you know how to catch the buses and songthaews, which are easily hailed from the sidewalk. I prefer to live close in and walk or pay for transportation as needed, so for that, and a number of other reasons, I'll be skipping mopeds or scooters.I consider $50 per month would well and truly cover my transportation costs over the course of a month.

Songthaew-Thailand Songthaew - Baht Buses, Chiang Mai

Budget Estimate 30 Days

  • Food: BHT = 7,500 / USD = $225 / AUD = $283 / GBP = $170
  • Accommodation: BHT = 11,000 / USD= $330 / AUD = $415 / GBP = $249
  • Transportation: BHT = 1,000 / USD = $30 / AUD = $37 / GBP = $22
  • Laundry: BHT = 250 / USD = $7 / AUD = $9 / GBP = $5
  • Entertainment: BHT = 2,000 / USD = $45 / AUD = $75 / GBP = $45

*Entertainment Includes; mobile sim plan, alcohol, restaurant and general entertainment costs.

Total Living Expenses Estimated For 30 Days

Total: BHT = 21,750

Total: USD = $653 or $21 per day

Total: AUD = $821 or $27 per day

Total: GBP = $494 or $16 per day

So, now I've completed by budget estimate for the trip, it will be an interesting exercise to look back and revisit the estimate compared with the actual, true cost of an extended stay in Thailand for a period of 90 days.

While there are many other aspects to the trip to be considered, including travel insurance, language lessons, etc, they will be covered in other articles, in the coming weeks.

Sandra Hawkins

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