If you’re travelling to Thailand on a budget, these few tips might help.
Our family has been living in Thailand for the last 16 years and so we can say we are quite familiar with the do’s and don’ts of being a tourist here. And while traveling here is relatively safe, the most common headache a tourist/foreigner can encounter in this country is getting overcharged. I know there are some foreigners who don’t really mind shelling out some extra cash to make their hosts happy but for those who are on a budget, like us, can’t really afford to be that generous or extravagant.
- Clinics: Getting sick or getting hurt on your vacation is the last thing in mind but it does happen and it’s during this time that we become vulnerable. If something like this ever happens always ask where the nearest public hospital is. Public hospitals here are good. They can be crowded but they are good. One of the biggest tourist traps in these areas are private clinics/hospitals. Clinics like these could charge you as much as 800-1000 USD for an overnight stay due to diarrhea.
- Restaurants: I have seen many tourists resorting to eating at 7Elevens or the usual Western food chains like Mc Donald’s and KFC which will end up costing you a lot of money and missing out on the authentic Thai experience. Eating at local restaurants can save you a ton of your budget but the only thing is it’s a bit daunting. The communication barrier is a headache and most of the time their menus are all in Thai and you end up relying on faded photos on the menu when choosing your food.
Choosing a local restaurant is actually easy. Just go where the locals go. If you see an old looking rundown two story restaurant building with a lot of locals eating in it, that’s your best bet in that area. And as for ordering food, make sure that you have done your research beforehand and saved the photo and name of the food you’d like to have in your mobile device so you can just show it to the old lady taking your order. A meal can cost from a dollar and fifty to two dollars per person unless you order a dish ala carte which is usually good for two to three persons and will cost you more.
- Dubious Deals/Cheap Deals: As the saying goes “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is”. Avoid deals that are questionable. There’s always a catch to it. We’ve done some questionable/cheap deals over the years we have been here and we can accurately say we regretted every single one of those deals. A good example of such deals is our first ever island hopping trip in Krabi. We opted for the cheapest private group trip after a long discussion with the hotel front desk. When she offered us the lowest rate trip it was as if she was kind of hesitant and as if she wanted to say something to us about it but we were kind of adamant of getting that trip since it was within our budget and it had the same amenities as the expensive ones. Welp… let’s just say saving a few thousand baht was not worth it. It felt like we came from the movie castaway with our rundown long tail boat. Our lunch was sticky rice with fried chicken but… it seemed to me more like a drumstick from a house bird. And our boat was not allowed to dock with the regular tour boats. We docked on the opposite side of the island and had to walk quite a distance to where the toilets and restaurants are so we could at least buy the kids some decent lunch and drinks.
- Prices: Always ask for the price then confirm it again before you get on the tuk-tuk/motorbike taxi even if it makes you look annoying. For the taxi always ask them politely to turn on their meter. If they don’t and ask for a fixed price, it’s best to politely walk away from that deal.
- Smile: In the land of smiles it really helps when you are smiling and friendly when dealing with the locals. In this part of the world a genuine smile really pays. The locals become more helpful when they are helping a smiling and friendly visitor. They would even go out of their way to walk you to your destination if it’s just within the area.
- Before booking a flight/hotel, please check Thailand Travel Restrictions.
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