Best Budget Deals for Travel on the Cheap in Thailand
Although in recent years Thailand has become a playground for the rich and famous, it also remains the perfect vacation spot for those who might not command the salary of a CEO or an A-list celeb. The home of cheap and delicious street food, not to mention a plethora of budget hotels and backpackers’ hostels, Thailand offers plenty of options for travellers heading to the Land of Smiles with tightened purse-strings.
During our first Budget Breaks series, iTravel toured Koh Phangan, Koh Samed and Pattaya, seeking out the hottest and most affordable deals and packages for you to try out. Now getting around on a budget is somewhat crucial if you are a little strapped for cash; thankfully there are various ways of travelling ‘on the cheap’.
When it comes to reaching the islands and Pattaya there are a number of options open to you. For instance, Koh Phangan can be reached by a combination of either bus and boat, train and boat or plane and boat. Flights are a little costly, with the price of a direct Bangkok Airways ticket to the nearest airport, Koh Samui, being in the region of £170 and above, but you can also opt to go via Surat Thani airport and use the Lomprayah boat and bus services, which will take a total of 12 hours but save you a little cash.
If you are planning to vacation on the stunningly beautiful and comparatively untouched island of Koh Samed, you can arrive by boat for just 50THB per person – an incredibly purse-friendly rate.
Heading to Pattaya? From Bangkok you can use the regular bus service from the Eastern Bus Terminal; a comfortable air-conditioned bus ride to Pattaya costs just 117THB. Similar services are also available from the Northern and Southern Terminals. But if you are desperate to save as many pennies as possible you can pay out just 31THB to board the third-class train from Hualamphong Station. Once you have reached your destination, it can be even easier to find budget transport
As iTravel presenter discovered, on the famous ‘Full Moon’ island of Koh Phangan you can rent a motorbike for just 150THB a day, which is a lot cheaper than many single journeys in a tuk-tuk or a taxi. If you are good at haggling and are planning to rent the bike for a few days or even weeks, you can get a pretty hot discount — perhaps even going as low as 80THB a day for a semi-automatic. But bear in mind that motorbikes are rented without fuel, so the first thing you will need to do is fill up! And don’t forget to wear a helmet at all times for your own safety and protection.
On Koh Samed, iTravel host Simon found that you can pretty much walk everywhere you want to go on the island; so with the cash you save by going on foot you can treat yourself to a few adventures. A round-the-island trip, which includes a visit to a fish farm and stops for snorkelling, can be enjoyed for between 200-400THB, but could rise to 600THB depending on the number of beaches and snorkelling stops you have. A visit to other islands (by speedboat) can probably be included but will raise the price. Alternatively you can stay on Koh Samed and try something just as exhilarating – up for limbo with a fire rope anybody?
The Eastern Seaboard tourist hotspot of Pattaya was the third and most dynamic destination on our first Budget Breaks series. This buzzing coastal city has been attracting tourists for years and, though it has a reputation for being somewhat sleazy, recently the city has undergone a luxurious makeover and is becoming a favoured getaway for well-to-do Bangkokians. But what about if you’re visiting Pattaya on a relatively tight budget? No problem – as intrepid iTravel presenter discovered, like pretty much anywhere in Thailand, Pattaya has a range of affordable travel options!
One of the cheapest and simplest ways of getting around the city is by grabbing a songtaew. These carefully adapted pick-up trucks aren’t hard to find and command very low prices – a single journey could cost as little as 10THB! But yet again, during Daniel’s visit, we found that motorbikes also proved to be a highly effective (and cheap) form of transport at just 200THB a day – perfect if you want to tour the city under your own steam.
As you can see, travelling around Thailand can still be very easy on the wallet. Check out Season 1 of our fun and informative Budget Breaks to learn more about low-priced hotels, dining and nightlife in Koh Phangan, Koh Samed and Pattaya – and don’t miss our eagerly awaited 2nd series where we uncover the hottest deals in some brand new budget destinations!