How to Save Money and Avoid Being Scammed while Spending Your Cacation in the Land of Smiles ?
First of all, this Insider’s Guide to Traveling to Thailand includes insider money saving strategies that should help cutting over your traveling expenses by 30% or more.
It is a step-by-step guide following by a logical sequence of what you need to do in order to save as much as traveling expense as much as possible from preparing visa, booking a ticket, and hotel from your home country to exchanging money, and arranging your trip while you are in Thailand.
We are confident this book will be your great companion while traveling to Thailand.
Enjoy reading and happy saving!
Visa should be one of the first things you take a look when traveling to Thailand. Fortunately, Americans, British, Australians, and other 54 nationalities are able to come here for 30 days without visa. It’s called “visa-exempt stamp” or a tourist visa waiver.
The visa-exempt stamp can be extended to another 30 days at Thai immigration offices. It costs 1,900 baht and all required document can be made easily in Thailand.
Once the visa extension is expired, you can fly it and out again to enjoy visa-exempt benefit. This may work depending on the number of exit you have made. However, it’s recommended to make a proper visa instead to prevent any risks occurred during the immigration check.
If you are planning to stay longer than that, you need to make either a single-entry tourist visa or multiply-entry tourist visa. A single-entry tourist visa initially allows you to stay in Thailand for 60 days and can be extended for another 30 days. The maximum amount of days you can stay in Thailand with a single-entry tourist visa is 90 days.
If you’re set on staying in Thailand for more than the 90 days allowed under a Single-Entry Tourist Visa (SETV), the Multiple Entry Tourist Visa (METV), is a great option. Visa validity starts from issue date, not date of entry (unlike the SETV), and METV holders must exit Thailand every 60 days.
You can re-enter as many times as you like within the visa’s 6-month validity and you can extend your METV for 30 days per 60-day entry. As the METV allows unlimited entry within the 6-month period, you can get a total of 9 months, or 270 days.
**Here’s how to maximize the METV: After your first 90 day-stay (initial 60 days + 30 day extension), you must exit Thailand either by land border or by air to get another 60-day stay, which can be extended again for 30 days, bringing the total number to 180 days. After the second 90-day stay, you can get another 60-day stay extendable by 30 days if you enter Thailand prior to your METV’s expiry – for example, before the ENTER BEFORE date on the visa. This gives you a grand total of 9 months on a single METV.
1. Tips on Preparing Documents
You need to make sure paperwork must be 100% right every time you go to the immigration offices. Otherwise, the officer may reject your visa application causing you waste both money and time going back and forth to the immigration offices.
However, it is always possible to do the visa yourself.
Here’s a list of required document you need for visa extension:
- 1,900 baht 7- or 30-day visa extension fee
- Passport valid for at least 6 months
- 4cm x 6cm photo, taken in the last 6 months
- Copy of passport, departure card (form TM.6), entry stamp
- Application form (T.M.7) provided at the Immigration Office; can be downloaded from the Immigration Bureau website
- Your contact details: address, mobile or landline number
Required document for a single entry and multiple entry tourist visas regularly change. And different Thai embassy locations require different document. It’s best to recheck again at the Thai embassy website.
In addition, there are three important rules you should keep in mind when preparing visa document.
The first rule is to check required documents from other people who visit the same immigration office or embassies and do the same visa as you. Required documents for Thailand visas regularly change. And the bad part is that information shown on the immigration site–and even embassy sites–tends to be outdated.
The second rule is to bring more than what is required. For example, when making a copy of your passport, make a copy of all pages that are required, including your Thai visa stamp page. Sometimes an immigration officer asks for it although it isn’t listed as a requirement.
The final rule is to get immigration forms at the immigration offices instead of downloading online. Online forms might not be up-to-date. The best way to fill in the form is to follow examples found at the immigration office that you visit.
As long as you have all required document, you should have no problem with making the visa.
2. Popular Thai Embassies Near Thailand
Vientiane is a popular choice among foreigners applying for a visa as the Thai embassy in Vientiane is quite accommodating. There are 6 border crossings between Thailand and Laos, with the Nong Khai-Vientiane border being the most popular. Thai visa service companies have scheduled trips to the Nong Khai-Vientiane border, which is an eight to nine hour van ride.
Not as popular as the Vientiane Thai embassy, the Savannakhet Thai Consulate is another choice for visa applicants. Visa applicants have reported experiencing being asked to show proof of funds and onward travel when applying from this consulate. On Migrationology, this guy’s explanation of the application process is spot on.
Although most expats in Thailand prefer to go to Vientiane in Laos, the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh is a serviceable alternative. Note that you have to stay in the country for at least 3 days and 2 nights while your Thai visa is being processed. In additional, Thai embassy in Phonom Penh often asks for proof of funds, proof of onward travel, and proof of a hotel booking.
When applying for a Non-immigrant B Visa at the Kuala Lumpur Thai embassy, it’s usually painless. Application processes are finished in 20 minutes. But other applicants will a have different experience.
There are long queues snaking through the narrow gate of the embassy compound. But it’s not as crowded as the Vientiane embassy. The consulate is easy to locate; most taxi cabs know how to get there. But make sure you have all the requirements with you before you go because there are no photo studios or photocopying centers nearby. If you forget a copy of a document you’d have to search far and wide to find one.
Applying for a visa in Penang is a pain free experience, provided you have all the documents, including proof of onward travel, and proof of a hotel booking. This couple’s experience with applying for a visa in Penang was easy. There are agencies in Georgetown that organize visa applications for a fee.
Unlike the aforementioned embassies, the Royal Thai Embassy in Manila is crowd free. But it’s a three hour flight from Bangkok and is not ideal an ideal place to apply for a Thai visa unless you’re already there.
Some of the less popular destinations for doing Thai visa runs include Singapore; Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam; Yangon, Myanmar; Hong Kong; and Bali, Indonesia. The Thai consulates in these countries have more or less the same general requirements and are worth considering if money isn’t an issue. This list of Thai visa run choices provides a rough estimate on visa run costs for the aforementioned destinations
3. Best Time to Go to the Immigration Office
Immigration offices in Thailand are notorious for their long queues, especially for tourist visas, education visas, and business visas. It can easily take you the whole day for a simple tourist visa extension. This is one of the main reasons many people decide to use a visa agency: to simply reduce the queuing time.
The best time to go to the immigration office is early in morning. Although it opens at 8:30 AM, you should be there around one hour before it opens. And you should still see a busy queue there already. Make sure you have the visa form completely filled out and documents ready. Failure to do this could cause you at least an extra hour at the immigration office. The form could be found right at the immigration doors.
If you cannot make it for the early morning, going there in the afternoon around 1PM to 2PM is an option. Don’t go after 4 PM at all costs since the immigration office stops accepting new queue numbers at this time.
The worst time to go to the immigration office is around 10AM to 11AM. There will be a lot of people there already. And the immigration officers have a lunch break for an hour at 12PM. During that time, no one is allowed to wait inside the office. It means you will waste an hour just standing around.
Monday usually has the least number of people.
Once you know what visa type you need when traveling to Thailand, now it’s the time to find out the cheapest flight ticket flying to Thailand. Here’s the key point you should keep in mind.
- Depart and return on a Tuesday. According to this article from HuffPost, you can save an average of $115 on flights to Thailand by arriving and leaving on a Tuesday.
- Check out international airlines such as Cathay Pacific, Korean Air, Japan Airlines, and China Eastern Airlines, which often offer flights for affordable prices.
- Fly to Bangkok in late April, the beginning of May, and late September, as these are the low tourist seasons. Avoid the crowds and high prices of the busy season, which is from November to March.
- Depart from airports with a higher volume of flights to Asia. For example, in the USA, LAX and JFK have more flights to Asia than all other cities in the USA. So you may find a cheaper flight by heading there first, then flying to Bangkok.
- Be flexible with your dates and even flexible enough to depart from a different airport can allow you to find great savings.
If you fly from Thailand to Germany, for example, one comparison website lists a roundtrip flight from Bangkok to Frankfurt for $480. It was more than 30% less than the next best offer with a brief layover both ways. Pretty much unbeatable. The catch? The deal was listed as “only available at travel agents.”
In this case, “travel agent” meant Expedia. As it turns out, Expedia is trying to gain more market share by offering discounts of up to 30% on flights to and from Thailand as well as Thai domestic flights.
Other flight comparison websites don’t list the Expedia fares in order to avoid sending business to their competitor. These discounts are not only available for traditional airlines, but also low cost choices like Air Asia because Expedia Thailand is partially owned by Air Asia.
If there’s not a flight deal available during your search, go to Scott’s Cheap Flights. It is a great tool that immediately sends you an email notification with instructions on how to book a flight ticket every time a deal is available: either from airline’s mistakes or sales campaign. And these deals mean a roundtrip ticket from USA to Bangkok at less than $600 USD, which is over 60% discount of the average full price.
For domestic flight, you can book a ticket at Traveloka. The price you get here is normally cheaper than other agencies or airline sites since you do not need to pay any booking and credit card surcharge. Also, you do not need to worry about accidentally adding unnecessary options, such as travel insurance, during the checkout process.
2. Make Money While Traveling
You can get easily get more traveling budgets while to Thailand through Grabr.io How it works is that you need to purchase certain items from your home country and deliver it to shoppers in Thailand or vice versa. You get a traveler fee in return for $10 USD to over $30 USD per item.
The good news is that most of the item required there can be purchased online such as from amazon and ebay that can deliver into your door without having to go out shopping.
When you are in Thailand, you can either deliver item by hand or simply use a shipping service from Thailand Post. It’s cheap and available at every cities in Thailand.
3. Mileage System
Unless flying regularly, you do not need to bother much with mileage system since it is only valid for a year and tend to expire first before you have a chance to redeem it.
Due to a number of flights flying to Thailand, we are unable to cover all possible airlines. But here’s a list of general tips that help you make the most out of mileage system.
- Check airline alliances since many major airlines are a partner with one another with Star Alliance and One World being the top two
- Use credit card points to redeem mileage. There are also certain credit cards that give you extra bonus on this.
- Book a partner hotel. Before booking a hotel, you should check whether it’s a partner with an airline or not. You can get mileage bonus on booking a right hotel and vice versa.
- Redeem mileage during promotional events. Airlines regularly have promotional events at least once a year allowing you to redeem miles with at least 20% less point.
Here are specific mileage strategies for domestic flights in Thailand.
Thai Airways and Thai Smile
If you plan to fly with Thai Airways or Thai Smile a lot, applying for their mileage program, Royal Orchid Plus, gives you additional privileges such as free flights, priority check-in, priority reservation, extra luggage allowance, lodge access, and more.
You acquire at least 500 miles for every domestic route while flying with Thai Airways. These miles can be redeemed for a free flight: 15,000 miles for a round trip within Thailand or 20,000 miles for Royal Silk Class; and 25,000 miles for flying between Chiang Mai and Phuket or 40,000 miles for Royal Silk Class.
If you are based in Thailand and have some expenses that you can pay by credit card, it might be worth looking into one of the credit cards that allow you to collect Thai Airways points. If you not only pay restaurant bills by credit card, but also pay for flights, hospital bills and insurance payments, this can add up to a free flight.
FlyerBonus is Bangkok Airways’ mileage program. The membership status will stay active as long as there’s activity within twelve months.
It is recommended to sign up for the FlyerBonus program to start accumulating flyer bonus points and immediately get an extra ten kilograms checked baggage allowance, making it thirty kilograms in total.
Once in awhile, Bangkok Airways has a Flyerbonus sale promotion that can score you up to 70% point discount. Usually the promotion will be held in the middle or the end of the year.
Instead of a mileage system, AirAsia has its own loyalty points system called AirAsia Big Point. It works the same way a credit card does. For every 20 baht spent on AirAsia, excluding airport fees, VAT, and fuel surcharge, you will get one AirAsia Big point, which can later be redeemed for tickets, hotels, and other items.
To spend AirAsia Big Points, you should wait for promotional events, such as AirAsia Big Points Sale, where you can redeem even zero points for a single flight ticket. Remember they have very limited seating and routing options though. Since thousands of people access AirAsia at that time, the website tends to temporary shutdown. So be an early bird.
Nok Air has its own loyalty program called Nok Fanclub, which has a 200 baht sign up fee. Anyone who is older than twelve years old will get a membership card called Nok Smile. The benefits of Nok Fanclub aren’t that worthwhile though. The only worthwhile benefit is that you get priority check-in at Don Muang Airport. It is very difficult to get a free ticket unless you fly with Nok Air at least once a month.
Once you get a flight ticket, now it’s the time to book a hotel. Unlike flight deals, you do not need to book a hotel a long time in advance to get a great price. It is possible to land a great deal when booking right on the check-in date since hotels do not want their rooms to be empty without making any revenue. But don’t just wait to book a hotel at this time since it risks of not having a good place to stay at all.
There are many ways you can land a hotel deal online. Here’s how to do it.
A cashback website is a website that pays back its members a portion of money when members buy goods or services through the cashback’s affiliate links. And this reward-sharing extends to hotel bookings too. When booking Bangkok hotels, Thailand has two cashback websites that can save you money.
To save money using Dealcha sign up on their website. Then— from Dealcha’s home page— click on either booking.com, Agoda, or Hotels.com. Dealcha shows you what hotels are available if you book through the website you selected.
But using Dealcha is like clicking the “random post” button on your favorite blog. You just don’t know what you’re gonna get. Back then the option is very limited but now DealCha has been adding more hotel options in Thailand.
When you book through one of the three sites on Dealcha, it takes one week for Dealcha to approve your cashback reward. Then it takes Dealcha twelve weeks to process and send your cashback reward.
To maximize your savings, check out Dealsha’s Travel Deals section. This is where the big savings come into play— earning you up to 11% cashback on hotels.
Should You Use Dealcha?
Dealcha has a few options available. If you’re not picky about hotels, check them out to save between 2%–11% on your next hotel booking.
To save money on hotel bookings sign up to DeeDeeCashback. They work with Hotels.com and Expedia.com— plus a few lesser-known hotel booking sites. Click on one of DeeDee’s affiliates and they direct you to that site. Unlike Dealcha, you get access to a lot more hotels.
DeeDee approves cashback rewards within 48 hours. After approval, cashback rewards are available through their website in four to twelve weeks.
DeeDee also gives you 100 baht as a welcome gift.
Should You Use DeeDeeCashback?
With more hotel options than Dealcha, DeeDeeCashback is a great cashback site to book your next hotel in Bangkok— if you’re looking for a specific hotel.
Many websites offer discounts on hotel and hostel bookings. But if you want to save the most money, you have to know where and how to look for the best deals. We cover six popular hotel booking websites and the discounts they offer.
If you’re looking for awesome discounts, Agoda is the website you want to use. If you travel often, use Agoda consistently and get bigger discounts. You can even get a night or two of free accommodation once you have accumulated enough reward points.
When I was looking for places to stay during my last visit to Bangkok, I came across the Thong Ta Resort. Agoda listed the resort with a price of 650 baht per night–a 68% discount from the 2000 baht list price. I’d also get free wi-fi, breakfast, and airport transfer, if I did need it. I also get reward points for booking through through Agoda which can be used to book free or discounted rooms.
But how do these savings stack up against other booking sites? If you look at the same resort on Priceline, it’s listed at 649 baht per night. But Priceline lists the price at only a 5% discount. Whatever method Agoda is using to price their rooms and savings, there’s not much of a difference between them and Priceline. It seems the only benefit to booking with Agoda is the reward points you’d accumulate.
Agoda Secret Deals
If you want to save even more money, check out Agoda’s Secret Deals. It’s possible to save as much as 76% on a hotel in Sukhumvit, Bangkok. The downside is that you won’t be able to see the name of the hotel before you book. That being said, you can use the guest ratings and reviews to help guide your decision. Or you can use a website like BetterBidding.com to help you narrow down which hotel your booking.
Priceline Express Deals
To maximize your savings using Priceline, check out their Hotel Express Deals page.
To search for available hotels in Bangkok, type in your check-in and check-out dates.
And then Priceline gives you a list of hotels with these details:
What does this info mean to you? Let’s take a closer look.
Because Priceline charges booking fees, make sure they give you a savings of at least 22% on the hotel you pick. If Priceline shows you a lower percentage, scroll down. You are able to save over 32% by booking this 4-Star Express Deal Hotel.
This offsets the booking fees or charges.
Undisclosed Hotel Name
Priceline doesn’t show the hotel name before you book. If they did, everyone would go straight to Priceline for discounts. Hotels would lose out on full-priced rates. Instead, Priceline give you the hotel’s star rating and the area of Bangkok. It can be cryptic. Again, BetterBidding.com helps you narrow down what hotel you’re about to book through Priceline.
Priceline shows hotels with a 7/10 guest rating or higher. But they also show hotels without a guest rating. I’d be wary of booking a hotel without a displayed rating. It’s one thing to book without knowing the hotel’s name. But to book without knowing the name and the rating— now you’re risking it.
Should You Use Priceline?
If you’re not concerned about which hotel you’re going to stay in, and you pick a hotel with at least a 7/10 guest rating and 22% savings or more, go for it. If you must know the hotel you’re going to stay in, then check out our next section on how to save money booking a hotel in Bangkok through Expedia.
A hotel search on Expedia resulted in a savings of 40% on a room at the Anantara Riverside Bangkok Hotel and other hotels. With a rating of 4.6 stars out of 5, this is a great find.
Expedia also offers a variety of membership rewards and savings. With their +VIP Access membership you get free meals, spa use, and free room upgrades.
Through their Last Minute Deals program you can save up to 62% on select Bangkok hotels.
Expedia mostly displays hotels with 4-star ratings or higher. But some of their listings don’t have any ratings. So you have to wonder if the savings are worth the possible tradeoff in comfort, security, and the unknown.
Should You Use Expedia?
Expedia offers you convenience as well as great savings. If you always book hotels online, it is suggested that you use Expedia so that you can make the most out of your accumulated rewards points.
To gain access to a wide selection of hotels, all you need to do is enter your travel dates, destination and traveller’s details.
Hotels.com discounts of up to 50% set them apart from the crowd. Another unique feature is their loyalty program. You get points for making reservations through Hotels.com, which you can use towards free nights.
I found a 600 baht discount per night on Amara Bangkok. Hotels.com also shows the hotel rating— in this case 4.4 out of 5 stars.
Should You Use Hotels.com?
If you enjoy traveling without making plans in advance, you’ll love the last minute deals on this platform. And if you travel with friends the site gives you reduced prices on group bookings.
Hotwire is well-known for providing great discounts and achieving high levels of customer satisfaction. With Hot Rate Hotels, you can save up to 60%. You also get the star rating, freebies, and general area of the hotel.
When you use Hotwire you can see images of the hotel and important details but you won’t know the name of the hotel until you confirm your reservation. But there are some great deals on Hotwire and not knowing the name of the establishment adds an element of surprise.
Should You Use Hotwire?
The helpful tools which allow you to find the best deals is an added value of using HotWire. For example, you can find the cheapest times of year to book a hotel in Bangkok.
Don’t let your mileage go to waste. You can join airline loyalty programs and get further discounts on hotel. This methods work well with luxury hotels.
To benefit from the Bangkok Airways Loyalty Program, complete an online application for their FlyerBonus program. There’s no cost to join.
After you sign up to the FlyerBonus program you get 15 bonus points for flying Bangkok Airways. And once you accumulate points, you can use them to book hotels in Bangkok.
From Amatara Wellness Resort to the Salana Boutique Hotel, there’s a range of exclusive rewards partners to choose from when you are making your booking.
Their deal on the Dusit Thani Hotels in Bangkok caught my attention. Bangkok Airway’s FlyerBonus program gives you a third night free when booking for two or more nights.
Should You Use Bangkok Airways?
If you fly with Bangkok Airways frequently, their loyalty program is a great opportunity to save on your accommodation.
If you fly with Thai Airways you can also save money on hotels. Sign up to become a member of their Loyalty Program. Then go to the Hotel Awards page on the Thai Airways website to find hotels that meet your needs.
Every time you fly with Thai Airways you earn points. You can redeem them by booking a room with a partner hotel online. Once you make a booking, you’ll receive an eVoucher via email. You can use your rewards points to get free nights and there’s no limit on the number of consecutive nights that you can reserve.
With the Thai Airways Loyalty Program, there’s a wide selection of hotels to choose from. Options include Grand Mercure Bangkok Asoke Residence and Novotel Bagngkok Bangna.
Should You Use Thai Airways?
Thai Airways has great deals and promotions. If you fly with Thai Airways regularly, join their loyalty program.
Booking at Hotel Sites
You can save money on hotels in Bangkok by booking directly through the hotel’s website— if you’re a member of their reward programs. The Hilton, Marriott, and Plaza Anthene offer such programs.
With a Hilton Honors Membership you can enjoy the exclusivity of staying at the Hilton for a low price. Enroll for the membership program. Then book directly through Hilton. Advantages of a membership include discounted rooms, digital check-ins, and express checkouts. You also get free wi-fi at some Hilton hotels. And an Honors membership gives you points for your loyalty. You can collect and use the points for free nights.
You know Marriott for their luxurious rooms and great service. And now you can make the most of your stay at the Marriott by joining their Club Marriott Thailand Card program. With the Marriott Club Card you can get discounted rooms at over 15 Marriott hotels around Thailand. You save between 15% – 35% on food, depending on how many people are in your group. You earn points for each booking you make as well. And you get free wi-fi. With many ways to redeem your points this membership offers you a lot of flexibility.
Plaza Anthene— an offshoot of Le Meridian— also offers a membership card. With the Le Club Plaza membership card you can save between 20% – 50% on food. You can save between 20% – 25% at select bars. And you can earn Starpoints for free stays. Plus you get free wi-fi in your room. Le Club Plaza membership also promises you the best room rates— guaranteed.
Airbnb allows you to rent a room in the home of local hosts as well as in hotels and apartments. If you are looking for a unique and affordable holiday, this is the right option for you. The option of home stays means that there is a selection of cheaper places to stay.
Airbnb offers two ways to save when traveling. Refer a friend to Airbnb’s website. And if you give a friend 1,100 baht in credit, and they travel, you get 600 baht. If your friend hosts, you get 2,600 baht. Between these two rewards you can get 3,200 baht for each friend you refer to Airbnb.
Should You Use Airbnb?
Airbnb is a great way to travel and it offers you the freedom to explore. User profiles, reviews, and ratings help keep users safe.
Now you know what visa you need and already book a flight ticket and accommodation, it’s time to take a look at where to exchange money in order to get the best exchange rate.
Normally, you can do it by changing cash into USD and bring them all to exchange into Baht once you are in Thailand. There are many exchange services here that charge exchange fee 10 times less than ATMs and banks.
Although many people may have heard before that Superich gives you the best exchange rate here, little did they know that there are actually two SuperRich companies here: SuperRich Thailand (in Green) and SuperRich 1945 (in Orange).
Only SuperRich Thailand (in Green) headquarter at Ratchadamri Road has the best exchange rate so far, charging at only 0.06% exchange fee while other branches charge at 0.10%. It is often confused SuperRich 1945 (Orange). They are not the same company, and the Orange SuperRich has a higher exchange rate.
One thing to note is that the SuperRich Thailand headquarter is often full of customers. It make take you an hour or even longer. It’s better to walk to another nearby money exchange service, Grand Superrich (in Blue). It regularly offers the same exchange rate from THB to USD as the Green SuperRich but a lot less customers.
Of cause, you are unable to go there directly after landing to Thailand without any Thai Baht in your pocket. Fortunately, SuperRich Thailand has a branch in Suvarnabhumi Airport on the B floor. Since it’s located in front of Airport Link entrance, you just follow the Airport Link sign and will find it with other money exchange services there.
In case Bangkok isn’t your first stop but Phuket or Chiang Mai, you should exchange a small amount of money at the Phuket/Chiang Mai airport instead and exchange the remaining amounts inside the city.
For Chiang Mai, there are many money exchange services around the Old Town area near Tha Phae Gate. Unlike Bangkok, there’s not the absolute money exchange service with the best rate here. Anyway, Super Rich Chiang Mai in Loi Kroh Road and Tha Phae Gate regularly offer the best rate.
For Phuket, there’s a Superrich Thailand kiosk inside the Domestic Arrival Hall. It opens from 7am until 10.30 pm. The rate here is comparable to other money exchange services inside the city.
After exchanging your money into Thailand, now it’s the time to find a sim card. There are three main service providers in Thailand: TrueMove, AIS, and DTAC with nothing noticeably different. They even have a similar 299 baht package for per 8 days unlimited internet upto 3 GB for max speed and 100 baht credit for 30 days.
However, AIS has the best signal strength of all and especially is recommended if you need to travel to a faraway place in Thailand. Otherwise, you can buy a simcard from any service provider.
Sim cards can be purchased at any international airports. If the queue is long, you can buy inside at 7-ELEVEN and family marts throughout Thailand. A passport is required.
It’s still possible to access to an internet without buying a sim card. Free wifi is available everywhere including airports, coffee shops, restaurants, and hotels.
Transportation is a main pitfall causing your budget to be surprisingly higher than expected. Many travelers just fall into a trap of using overpriced taxis that steadily drains money away. This section will guide you through how to save money on transportation in Thailand.
Taxi queue at Thailand airports, especially Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi, can be long and has 50 baht airport fee. Some may even refuse using the meters. To avoid the fee, get a taxi at the Departure level that coming here to send passengers. They are also more willing to send you off to any destinations with a meter turned on.
Grab and Uber are another two good alternatives to Taxi especially when you need to go to the airport from town. They regularly offer a coupon code for 50 – 100 THB discount. Sometimes they may even offer a free ride for the first time user. The code will be sent to their mobile application users. So, be sure to install them before coming here.
Suvarnabhumi airport has a railway system called “airport link” connecting you to the city center. It can be found on the underground floor. In addition, it has a public van and bus that go to many parts of Bangkok and other popular provinces which can be found on the bus terminal. It is accessible by free airport shuffle buses.
Don Mueang airport also offers shuttle buses to many parts of Bangkok, including Khao San Road.
Water transportation is a great way to explore Bangkok since it connects many traveling attractions that are out of Skytrain and Subway route.
Chao Phraya Express Boat connects you to many main highlights in Bangkok such as Grand Palace, Wat Pho, and Khao San Road while Khlong Saen Seab express boats take you from the aforementioned attractions to the city center including Central World, Pratu Nam, and Sukumvit area.
A majority of taxi scams happen in Bangkok. The popular one is a fixed price taxi that’s 2-3 times higher than using a meter. The fixed price taxi can be found mainly on tourist and hotel areas. They will park around there and wait to scam foreign, and sometimes, Thai, customers. To avoid, you should get a taxi that’s passing by only.
If you find any Taxi that insists on using a fixed price, just shut the door and wait for another taxi.
However, some taxi may purposely take you to a wrong way. A simple 10 minute ride can turn into 60 minutes causing the fare to be surprisingly high. To prevent this kind of situation, you should use Google Map and check direction. Whenever taxis take the route that totally opposite to what Google Map says, you should immediately talk to the driver.
Taxi in Bangkok also loves to use a toll way causing the fare to be at least 50 to 105 baht more expensive. They will ask your permission first before taking it. You can use it when you are in the hurry such as about to go to an airport late. If not, just politely reject the driver.
There’s a great taxi alternative: Grab is Uber‘s biggest competitor in Southeast Asia. These ride sharing apps are having a massive fight over market share, resulting in major discounts for passengers.
And it’s not uncommon to see 50% discounts on the already cheap Bangkok taxi fares. Plus, the app interface of both companies is a significant improvement over having to explain destinations and directions to taxi drivers who barely speak English.
One important point to remember: Tuk Tuk is at least 20% more expensive than taxi and you should always bargain a price before taking it. This rule also applies when you need to take any public transportation that doesn’t have a fixed price or meter.
They are also more tuk tuk scams as well. These scammers mainly can be found near tourist areas especially the Grand Palace. They will approach you directly and give you many reasons in order to take you as their customers. The most popular one is that “The temple is closed today. I can take you to another place instead”
Some may offer you a free ride taking you to many overpriced shops, gem stores, and restaurants they have “special deals” with. To avoid, just simply ignore these drivers.
You definitely do not want to drive a car in Bangkok. Many tourist attractions are located in heavy traffic area that can easily have you struck for many hours. It’s also difficult to find a parking lot. You can also throw away an idea of renting a motorbike here. It’s too dangerous.
2. Other Provinces
In other provinces, there are direct vans and buses connecting you directly to the city center. Especially in the southern parts of Thailand, buses and ferry transfers are available transferring you from the airport directly to many islands and beach destinations such as Koh Samui, Koh Tao, Patong beach, and so on.
These airport transfer ticket counters are located near the exit gate inside domestic airports, and can significantly decrease a traveling cost. For example, it costs you 800 baht from Phuket airport to Patong but only 200 baht with a van.
Public transportation in other provinces outside Bangkok is quite limited leaving you only a few options available. The most popular one is Songthaew. It’s known as a read truck. But here you would find it in different colors including blue and yellow.
Songthaew is a good way to explore around the city area. It costs around 20 baht per person per ride for a fixed route. In certain locations, you can hire them as a private hire.
This type of Songthaews mainly can be found in bus terminals, airports, and certain tourist attractions. Make sure you agree the price first before taking a ride. It’s also common here to share the cost with other travelers who travel to the same destination. Asks around first to find people who want to share a ride and further decrease the transportation cost.
Renting a car is recommended if you plan to travel to many places outside the city area. The total cost will be roughly the same with public transportation but it’s more faster and convenient.
This is especially recommended in Phuket since it is notorious for an overpriced transportation cost. The taxi fare alone from the airport to Patong Beach is 800 baht which is almost the same as renting a car for the whole day. Motorcycle taxi might charge you 200 baht for a short 2km trip.
Rental car companies in Thailand regularly come with promotions with at least 20% discount. In order to get the deal, you usually need to book a car at least a week or two before the traveling date.
The easiest way to find out a car rental promotion is through happycar, priceline, and rentalcars.com. In addition, you tend to get a cheaper price if you pick up and drop off the car directly at the airport.
Renting a motorcycle is occasionally the cheapest medium of transportation outside Bangkok. Motorcycle rental shops are widely available in many parts on Thailand and cost only 200-250 baht per day for a normal motorcycle, gasoline excluded.
Unlike car rental, an international driving license isn’t required for renting. But it’s better to have it on hand: to prevent getting fined by policemen and to be under insurance coverage.
To rent a motorcycle here, some shops may require you to leave cash for 3,000 – 5,000 baht as a deposit. Some may even ask for your passport. In any case, don’t give it at all cost. Instead, give a copy of your passport or other government card instead.
It is possible to bargain if you rent at least for a few days. It can be as minimal as 10% or even more than 50% if you rent it more than weeks or months.
Some rental shops may come with auto insurance. However, don’t expect it’s that much. Even if it’s a paid insurance, it comes with little to none coverage at all. It’s better to buy your own travel insurance.
Traveling Between Provinces
In addition to domestic flights, Thailand offers many options to travel between provinces including buses, vans, trains, and even ferries. The easiest way to check available routes and book a ticket is through busonlineticket.co.th
The site allows you to quickly search for available options for specific routes, select seats, and pay with numbers of payment options including credit card, paypal, and alipay.
The 3rd class train is the cheapest method to travel to between provinces. For example, it only costs 20 baht from Bangkok with Ayutthaya, 27 baht from Bangkok to Lopburi, and 44 baht from Bangkok to Huahin,
The 2nd class overnight train is a good choice while traveling to farer provinces such as Bangkok – Chiang Mai. It costs slightly more than taking a bus but the comfortable level you get is on a next level.
Now we come to the last part of the guide: how to save money on food. You should have heard before about how cheap it is for food in Thailand. However, this is not always true. Although local food is cheap, western foods, Asians food, fast food costs similarly the same as in the US. Sometimes it’s even more expensive.
Good news is you can find cheap food everywhere on the street and markets. And another good place is food courts. Every shopping malls in Thailand have a food court. It’s either on the basement floor or the highest floor. Although food price is slightly higher than street stalls, it usually has a better quality and more choices.
In some location such as Terminal 21, food inside this shopping mall food court is even lower than street stalls.
Budget food can also be found inside supermarkets, especially around 8-9pm. During that time, they will give a 30%-70% discount of cooked meal. It means that you can get a box of rice with garlic chicken at only 25 baht.
A lot of restaurants have great discounts available that the average tourist never heard about.
The biggest saver in the restaurant space right now in Thailand is Eatigo. It’s a website allowing you to place reservations at restaurants and receive discounts of up to 50% if you eat at off peak hours. All you need to do is book it before you walk into the restaurant.
It’s worthwhile checking the site if you have a specific place in mind and are a bit flexible on time. A great place is The Coffee Club, which, despite the name, has amazing food. Their coffee is excellent as well – though Eatigo discounts are valid for food items.
2. Home Cooked, Classes and Tours
Prefer something more local? BonAppetour is the Airbnb for home cooking. A lot of the stuff is standard tourist fanfare, like pad Thai and curry, but there are some extraordinary chefs in Bangkok, like this food blogger who does some new and exotic dishes. They started focusing more on food events, tours and classes that.
This is the end of our guide to saving money while traveling to Thailand. If you would like to know more about Thailand, visit our website: siam-relocation.com. It is a one-stop resource for Thailand providing free guides to current and future expats who are looking to travel, live and work in the country.