In August I will be backpacking around Thailand for a month with my wife, before heading off to Laos on my own for another three weeks. A question that a lot of people ask me about traveling is “how do you know what to do and how much does it cost?”. So I thought I would document my research for my upcoming trip to give people an idea of how to go about planning a trip.
I don’t like to travel with a strict itinerary, as I like to have the freedom to stay as long as I want in a certain place, and change my plans if I want to. But it’s always good to have a general idea of what you want to see, and plan a route so that you don’t have to backtrack too much, which can cost you time and money.
In Thailand I plan on spending time in Bangkok and then heading north to Chiangmai with a stop to see the ruins at Ayutthaya. From Chiangmai I will fly to Phuket and then do some island hopping in Southern Thailand. From here we will head back to Bangkok so that my wife can fly home. Then I will continue on by myself into Laos.
To get to Thailand we will fly into Bangkok. I have booked our flights with Thai Airways because they do direct flights from Brisbane to Bangkok, and they were one of the cheapest at $887 AUD. The only other flight we will take will be from Chiangmai to Phuket, which costs around $60 AUD with Airasia.
For the rest of the trip we will get by mostly on public transport. Thailand seems to have a good train system, so I will make use of that as much as possible. I also love train travel. A 3rd class ticket from Bangkok to Ayutthaya only costs 15 Baht (around $0.45). A 2nd class overnight sleeper train from Bangkok (or Ayutthaya for us) to Chiangmai costs around 800Baht ($25). It is about the same between Surat Thani (Southern Thailand) and Bangkok. Seat 61 has some great information about train travel in Thailand.
Ferry’s between Islands seem to vary. The ferry from Phuket to Koh Phi Phi seems to cost 550baht ($17), and the ferry between Koh Samui and Koh Pha Ngan seems to only cost 140Baht ($4.30). I will probably have to wait until I get there to find out the real prices, along with taxis etc. However it all seems to be quite cheap.
I don’t plan on staying in any fancy hotels while in Thailand. I will stick to the guest houses as they are cheap and will hopefully have more of a Thai feel to them. Prices vary in different places and depend on the type of room that you are after. An average price for a double room with a fan in a nice guesthouse seems to be around 500Baht ($15.50AUD), while a double air con room is around $600 Baht ($18.50). Because we are going in the wet season, it will be quite hot and humid, so I will probably go for the air con rooms where ever possible. So if I budget $20 per night for accommodation, we should be covered. The other good thing is that the prices are per room, so in fact it will only cost us $10 per person per night for my wife and myself. There are plenty of places to get cheaper rooms for as low as 150baht, but I find that you generally pay for what you get.
Food is one of my favourite things about traveling. I always try to eat local when ever I can and Thailand will be no exception. Local meals from street stalls seem to cost 20 – 40Baht (around $1 AUD), while a meal at a restaurant seems to cost around 100 – 200 baht ($3-$6 AUD). A large beer from a store is 50baht ($1.50) and a 1L bottle of water around 10baht ($0.30).
I don’t know exactly what activities I will be doing in Thailand, I will decide on that when I get to each place. Some examples are an elephant tour in Chiangmai seems to cost around 1000Baht ($30), and entrance to the Grand Palace in Bangkok is 250Baht ($8AUD). I always make sure to put plenty of money aside for activities as I want to be able to do and see whatever interests me.
As an Australian I don’t need to get a Visa to enter Thailand, as long as I don’t stay for more than 30 days. The only other major expenses will be travel insurance, which will cost about $110AUD for the 4 weeks with World Nomads, and travel vaccinations which I am yet to receive.
Overall it looks like it will be a cheap trip and one that I am really looking forward to. In the next few days I will write a post about my research on traveling in Laos, and when I get back from the trip it will be good to compare my research to the actual costs that I will incur while on the trip.