How Cheap is Thailand?

It’s no secret what attracts many people to Thailand on their holidays is the idea of cheap getaway and Thailand does have the reputations of being a cheap destination. It’s also true to say many residents will tell you Thailand is anything but cheap with dual pricing for tourists and locals, over inflated prices in tourist areas and high inflation over the last few years.

I thought I’d do a little investigation into this trickly question and started by researching the prices for a single adult in comparison to the nearest equivalent in the UK.

All prices were calculated 60 baht to the pound, since the article was written the pound has dropped to 50 baht, so the Thai prices will be around 12% higher.

In most places a dual pricing policy operates. Thais and South East Asians pay one price, western tourists another. The tourist price is on display, the other price hidden. Western tourist prices range from double to in the extreme 10 times what Thais pay, but is usually 5 times at most government owned sites and a little less at private ones. This article shows western tourist prices


More Expensive in Thailand
Jungle Flight £45 – Thailand
Arial Extreme £22 – UK
Go Ape £27.50 – UK

Siam Ocean World £18 – Thailand
London Aquarium £8.25 – UK
Brighton Sea Life £8.40 – UK

National Parks £4 (for Tourists) – Thailand
National Parks free – UK

Beauty Spot outside national park 50p – £2 (for Tourists) – Thailand
Beauty Spot outside national park free – UK

Jim Thomson’s House £2 (fee to charity) – Thailand
Wallace Collection Free – UK

National Museum £2 – Thailand
British Museum free – UK

Sukhothai £2.50 – Thailand
Avebury free – UK

Roughly the same price
Safari World £10 – Thailand
Woburn Safari Park £10.50 – UK

Corrections Museum free – Thailand
Science Museum free – UK

National Gallery 65p – Thailand
National Gallery free – UK

Grand Palace £8 – Thailand
Buckingham Palace £10 – UK

Ayutthaya 50p (per ruin) – Thailand
Stonehenge £6.60 – UK

The Prasart Museum £6 – Thailand
Design Museum £6 – UK

Bangkok Art & Culture Centre free – Thailand
Tate Gallery free – UK

Cheaper in Thailand
Crocodile Farm £5 – Thailand
London Zoo £16.50p

Ancient City £5 – Thailand
The Eden Project £16 – UK

Wat Po 50p – Thailand
Westminster Abbey £12 – UK

Wat Arun £1 – Thailand
St Paul’s £12 – UK

Accommodation (per night)
Guest House – Thailand £8 – UK £20
Hotel – Thailand £25+ – UK £29+
Tourist Resort – Thailand £50 – £40 (Spain)

For single accommodation the cheapest option in Thailand is a guest house, they can be booked in advanced or checked into on the spot, they range from as little as £2 per night and go up to over £20. The former offers little more than a bed in an old wooden house and the latter decent room with air-con, cable. Realistically good price to pay would be between £6 and £14 depending on how touristy the area. The resort is an average four star location in Phuket, booked from the UK.

For the UK the prices are a Bed and Breakfast in Blackpool, Premier Inn and an equivalent resort in Spain booked from the UK.

Food (per head)
Street Food – Thailand 50p (street noodles) – UK £2 (slice of pizza)
Local Cafe – Thailand £1 – UK £4
Tourist Cafe – Thailand £2 – UK £8
MacDonald’s Burger – Thailand 40p – UK £1
Non-Tourist Restaurant- Thailand £4+ – UK £10-20+
Tourist Restaurant – Thailand & UK £10-20+

Thailand is the home of cheap eats. With the exception of western food you’ll enjoy high quality food at low prices. If you’re not stuck in a resort where you’ll be charged the hyped up prices there will be cheap food everywhere.

Taxi – Thailand £10 (Airport to Bangkok) – UK £55 (Airport to London)
Local Bus – Thailand 12p – 36p – UK £1
Long Distance Coach – £12 (Bangkok-Chaing Mai) – £14 (London-Newcastle)
Long Distance Train -£15 (Bangkok-Chaing Mai) – £60-150 (London-Newcastle)
Underground – Thailand 20p – £1.20 – UK £2 – £5.00
Sky Train – Thailand 20p – £1.20 – UK £2 – £5.00

The Thai coaches prices are from the official bus stations not private operators who are best avoided. Taxi is on the meter or pre-paid including toll way fees.

If you’re doing anything but coach trip around the country, Thailand wins hands down. If travelling by coach in Thailand expect to pay more once you realise the luxurious options available and decide you like them. VIP 24 is a good place to start.

British Rail companies should be rounded up and shot.


Thailand wins hands down over the UK in the basics. Accommodation, food and travel if you keep out of the resorts and travel more independently, however if you are going to do something Thai prices go up. State run places are not too expensive but still more expensive than the UK as most things in the UK are free. Private tourist attractions are often rip-offs worldwide so we shouldn’t be surprised many in Thailand are too. With the exception of temples there are very few good deals in Thailand and some genuine rips offs. In a country where the operating expenses are a fraction of that in the UK a lot of these prices are pure profiteering. One can wonder why it is twice as expensive to run as the UK when the employees wages are probably 1/10.

Whether Thailand is expensive also depends of what kind of holiday you are going to have. Are you a backpacker travelling for a month staying at guesthouses and travelling by local bus or a family of four looking for a two week holiday in a four star hotel expecting to do and see everything. If you’re the latter you may find two weeks in Spain would have worked out a whole lot cheaper.

For the whole time I have been in Thailand it has been seeking to abandon its reputation as a cheap backpacker location and become a package tourist rival to Spain, and has largely failed. It has made a number of moves to do this from Amazing Thailand to making visas harder to get for backpackers but one thing it doesn’t seem to want to do is offer a good deal. Thailand’s whole motive to attract more high spending tourists is of course no different to any other country, to make more money, but the idea of actually having to win the business over with a good deal and rather than tourists just appearing out of thin air has been the point the Thai tourist industry has been missing for years. The fact is western tourists can go to a plethora of cheap locations from Turkey to Cuba offering what Thailand has, what will attract them to Thailand is a good deal.

I remember being in Thailand when the Asian economic crash occurred in 1997 and the Thai Baht halved in value vs. western currencies in days creating the possibility for cheap holidays. I thought hey presto, Thailand has the opportunity to become one of the hottest destinations of earth. This was scuppered by the tourist industry which doubled the prices of almost everything in tourist areas the very same week and legions of tourists attracted by the supercharged currencies found they had no more spending power than before the crash and told everyone back home. With the exact opposite happening in 2008 and the Thai baht almost doubling in comparison to western currencies and tourists drying up I wondered if the opposite would happen and the prices drop. This largely did not happen and Thailand now to me looks pretty uncompetitive in the world market.

25 responses to “How Cheap is Thailand?

  1. Excellent detailed comparison between the 2 countries. People always like to complain, but no one ever bothers to check figures to provide hard proof.

    Thanks for doing the research.

    I think that referring to the Thai ‘tourist’ industry as a single entity is misguided. I think there is a difference between what the government wants (high-end tourists) versus what the actually vendors want (anyone willing to pay). Thailand still operates on the free market for the most part, at least when it comes to tourism.

  2. Very interesting and useful blog.
    Would suggest that visitors more likely to visit Stonehenge than Avebury-Entrance fee (since Oct 2009):£6.60 (Children half price) & maybe Hadrian’s Wall is more comparable with Ayutthaya-as the museums attached to forts like Housesteads & Vindolanda each charge an individual entrance fee?
    Don’t know what these are currently-but certainly more than 50p (THB25) !

  3. Not all the places I’ve been to and am relying on reports. I was told Ayyudthaya was 30B per ruin, if anyone wants to correct me on anything I’m happy to change the article. Also if anyone wants add a comaprison to the list.

    When I started writing the articlea few months ago it was £1 = B60 so at the current exchange rate add another 12% to the Thai prices.

  4. party bus rental in Nashville

    Thanks for this article, it’s really nice. I think we can learn many things from this. This blog help me a lot.

  5. VERY GOOD ARTICLE ! Very interesting and useful! THANK YOU !!!

    Here some other arguments

    Thailand Bread 250 Gr. 97 Baht or 2,17 Euro
    ALDI Germany 1000 Gr 0,66 Euro

    Brie 1oo gr 180 Baht 4,04 Euro
    German price 100 gram Brie 1,20 Euro.

    Thai noodle or British pizza ? The UK pizza is cheaper because u not sit on the toilet for 3 days. ! smile !

    Thailand WAS cheap ! And in Thailand you get most times 2 prices , a cheap price for Thai people and a rip off FALANG price.

    Lucky Paul Wilding pay 30 Baht for a museum. Yes, up to the case. U never know. Some are lucky !

    Thailand is not secure any more … the first who have “accident” in Thailand are British, second German , … not funny any more.

    a few months ago it was £1 = B60

    now Feb. 2010 50 Baht for one pound.ONLY. And only 44 one Euro. :-((

    Living in Berlin is cheaper than Thailand.

  6. thanks for your time in putting this together, i stay in Thailand for long periods of time and yes over the last few years the prices have gone sky high, also the Thai baht is way to expensive now compared to any currency. But the way i see it is Thais are so poor business people and only live for the day, no worry about tomorrow, and from under there feet, Chinese-Thai and Indians run all the big money making business! then on top of this they keep shooting themselves in the foot with all the political strife! i love Thailand and it pains me to see everyone struggling more and more each year.

  7. I totally agree with you, Thailand is a good place for holiday. I just back from chiangmai-chiangrai trip end of last yr, really enjoyed my stay there. Met friendly people throughout the whole trip, I would say Thais are friendly.

  8. I lived in Thailand for 10 years and have now moved back to Europe as I consider Thailand is no longer “value for money”. There is no doubt that the trend in recent years has been making Thailand more expensive, with the recent increase in the value of the Thai Baht that trend has accelerated.
    I do like Asia and intend to move to The Philippines soon, it isn’t so well developed as Thailand but the people speak good English and there are few price hikes, plus the visa rules are reasonable too.
    I like Thailand, but sorry, it has now out priced itself in my opinion.

  9. drip irrigation

    It is one the best article for commenting

  10. Good comparision. Used to be 15baht for bowl of noodles and its now 45baht if you eat at the foodcourt in paragon. Still cheap for us foreigners but I wonder how the average Thai survive. How about their petrol. I’m surprise there’re still so many cars on the road.

  11. I met a girl a few months back who lives in the same apartment bloc I used to live in 10 years ago. She’s paying B13,000 a month, I used to pay B5500. I also took a look through and the job salaries there haven’t gone up in ten years. The future looks bleak.

    Thai workers pay hasn’t gone up either despite prices doubling. It must be getting realy hard for some. Such a high birth rate, too many people coming onto the job market each year and not enough jobs, pay really isn;t going to move up in the near future either.

  12. Get out of the cities and the tourist areas and it’s a different story. I’ve been staying in Surat Thani for the past six months, working for the equivalent of less than £450 a month. I lead a good life, eating out for every single meal, out drinking a few nights a week and a couple of weekends away with the GF every month to the islands, Khao Sok, Khanom, wherever comes to mind.

    After all that I still save about £200 of my salary for proper holidays. I’ll be damned if I could live anything close to such a good life doing such a relaxed job (20 contact hours per week) back in the UK or anywhere else. Certainly not Berlin with the sky-high rents!

  13. Most Thai rural workers are lucky to earn £100.

    I’m sure you have a wonderful life and agree it’s way better than back home. But a few old dogs remember when it was even easier, 10 Years ago I was earning nearly £1000 a month and the cost of living half what it is now. So we’re gonna have a whinge now and then.

  14. A very good comparison in UK and Thailand. Thanks

  15. the scenery in Thailand is very nice.

  16. Hi Paul Great work, Thanks for the comparisons I live in a Condo in Bangkok and pay 130 Quid a month all bills including Internet upon which I rely to write this reply he he

    Been here 6 years, and seen the Baht almost half to the pound in that time. I bought a Condo in Hua Hin a while back for 11,000 Quid and friends in Blighty could not believe me that the complex had 2 pools, a sauna and was 100 meters from the beach. Now however that same condo (if it was still 860,000 THB) would be 13,500 quid!
    The baht has a lot to do with it and many business men here in Bangkok expect a change soon.


  17. Great article. I am also in the travel industry and have been looking newsletter on thailand Tours & Travel. Because thailand has many beautiful places. Night life parties are major attraction of This Country. Your article help me lot to plan my next trip for thailand. Thanks buddy to share valueable stuff on travel in this article. I hope soon you will add more stuff on thailand.

  18. I think a new comparison needs to be done, in the last 6 months to July 2011, Thailand prices have shot up, with the baht at 47 in Thailand to the pound and 43 at the high street banks, forget the cheap holiday. I have lived here off and on for the last 10 years and even Thai’s are saying its getting very expensive to live.

  19. TripAdvisor have recently started a Tripindex which lists Bangkok as the cheapest destination for UK and US tourists. Details here:

  20. Paul Wilding

    Thailand is a cheap place to travel around and stay in, even eat. But the survey does not seem to recognise that tourists may want to visit site while they are here, and it is here it is super expensive as the article shows. The savings on accomodation and transport just melt away into the overhiked admission fees.

  21. Thank you for posting this.
    Very informative and interesting. Apart from the flight price, it seems that Thailand is very cheap. Definitely saving this information in my head! I would love to go to Thailand, seems like a beautiful country with amazingly cultured people. Thank you for making the comparison. Hopefully a country I will go to in the future.
    Happy writing,

  22. royalsavannah travel

    Very good write-up. I absolutely love this website. Keep writing!

  23. I am going to travel there sometime this year to see if it will be a good place to retire to in the next year or so. I will have a pension of roughly $32,000 Canadian dollars or close to 100,000 bht for myself and my wife. i am wondering if we will have a good life on that much retirement income per year living in a beach area like Ko Samui or Hua Hin? We live a relatively quiet lifestyle.

  24. Does anybody know where the picture is taken? Thanks!

  25. Paul Wilding

    I took it on Ko Tao 15 years ago, possibly changed quite a bit since then.