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Money-saving tips for your time in Thailand

Thailand is renowned for its low cost of living, but there are always ways to save a little extra.

Whether you are backpacking across the continent, or looking to transfer overseas to bustling Bangkok permanently, these tips will save you from spending extra where you don’t have to.


Take the bus – it may not have the appeal of a tuk-tuk or the air conditioning in a mini-van, but it is your cheapest option and gives you a taste of genuine Thai life. If you take a taxi, always ask for the meter to be used to avoid being quoted extortionate fixed prices. Make sure the meter is visible and don’t accept extra ‘service’ charges that may be added on after your journey. If you do get a fixed price, make sure you’re aware of what the fee should be before you begin negotiations, and if it is too high feel free to haggle.

Trains are another cheap option. If you get an overnighter, you’ll find it even more economical, with the added bonus of more storage space.

Scooter taxis are relatively cheap and get you where you need to go fast as they can negotiate the lanes of traffic — set your price before you set off, and make sure you haggle. You can get various travel deals which save you money or time, including the ‘Rabbit’ card. Travel during low season (April-Sept) will be cheaper than during high season, and it’s good to walk if you can. Find accommodation near your place of work so that you are not spending money on a long commute.

 If you’re outside the city and the duration of your trip is long, look into purchasing a motorbike to get you around. You can always sell it on, if and when you leave, and it will end up cheaper than hiring or public transport. Remember, if you’re driving or riding a motorbike in the city, make sure you avoid on-the-spot fines by always wearing a helmet and carrying your licence — police can crack down on foreigners for the smallest thing in order to issue a fine, even setting up fake roadblocks to catch you out.


Haggling is acceptable in markets and for taxis, but not over food prices. Always choose to eat the local cuisine — Western fast food outlets like McDonald's are much more expensive than local food. 7-Elevens and Mini Marts are handy ways to stock up on all kinds of toiletries and necessities and can save you a trip across town to a supermarket. Top up your water — though bottled water is cheap, you can refill empty bottles for a fraction of the price at one of the water machines dotted around the cities. And you do not need to tip at restaurants — Thais very rarely do.


Try to buy clothes and toiletries when you are out in Thailand, rather than packing a huge amount before you go — you’ll find them much cheaper. When you’re in the country, use a fan rather than air conditioning whenever possible to save on electricity expenses, which can be high at times. Haggling is more possible during the low season – take advantage of this when making purchases. It’s a good idea to avoid lots of small ATM withdrawals as the charges can add up. Don’t litter – again you may be issued an on the spot fine. During the high season, tourist hotspots such as Phuket can be very expensive — avoid them during these months if you can and travel during the low season instead.


When renting a property, make sure you have a photographed inventory before you move in so that you don’t lose your deposit. If you’re looking to rent property and your job does not require you to be central, compare rental prices outside of the city, as you may find they are almost half as expensive as central city apartments.

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