#1 Eat only Thai Food that comes from Thailand
There is a temptation to go with what you know, but you should train yourself to resist this when it comes to Thai food. Western food and Western brands come at a premium in Thailand, while Thai food is just so ridiculously cheap. Even if you go to the supermarkets, make sure you pick up as many Thai brands as you can. That way you will avoid overinflated import costs.
Some people are afraid to eat from the street carts, but I suggest getting over this fear. Yes, one in fifty street carts sells insects, but that leaves forty-nine out of fifty street carts that sell exotic Thai food for dirt-cheap. The street cart vendors tend to use less sauce, salt, and MSG than most of the restaurants, thus making them the superior choice in terms of health and cost.
#2 Don’t use Travel Agents
Avoid any Thai travel agents, except for domestic Thai flights and shuttle van service. Travel agents can help you to find cheap travel methods within Thailand without much of a premium, so there isn’t an issue when it comes to that. But booking hotels, tours, and international flights through a Thai Travel agent will result in you paying a hefty and unnecessary premium.
#3 Negotiate Everything with Everyone
Street vendors, monthly rentals, shops, and even food vendors might try and charge a “Farang Tax.” Don’t just accept it, make sure you are paying the same as a Thai person would and try to bargain with anyone if it seems practical.
#4 Find Flea Markets and Thai Markets
Many cities have flea markets with vendors selling all types of interesting products. They’re a great place to buy gifts for your family back home or to let your Thai girlfriend pick out a few nice things. You can also find clothing for yourself at amazing prices. Nothing at the flea markets is expensive and you can always get the vendors down on price. It’s a fun activity with your girlfriend but just be beware of pickpockets.
#5 Don’t Overlook 7-11
Convenience stores in the West sell everything at a huge markup compared to large big-box stores such as Wal-Mart, as you pay extra for the convenience. This isn’t the case in Thailand, and the 7-11 you can walk to, will usually have competitive prices with the big box stores such as the Big C. Avoiding transportation fees, you might end up saving money at a 7-11.
#6 Pay-as-you-go Data Plan with Calls
Pre-paid sim cards are great as long as you aren’t using them for long-distance calls. But even better are the pre-paid data plans you can add to your sim card.
You will need to decide between pay-as-you-go or unlimited. Pay-as-you-go being the cheaper option.
#7 Use Skype, Facebook, Whatsapp
This one kind of goes without saying. But if you get your sim card sorted with a descent internet connection, making use of these Social Messaging apps, especially to play long distance calls will save you a load of money in the long run.
Skype also allows you to call international numbers at very cheap rates. I recommend you add some money to your Skype account before you even arrive in Thailand just in case an emergency presents itself where you need to quickly call a landline number either in or outside of Thailand.
#8 Walking is good for You
I constantly see foreigners using all types of transportation while I see Thai people happily walking. You eventually get used to the heat and walking is good for you. Why not walk whenever possible instead of spending money and getting no exercise?
#9 One Exotic Island Location is Probably Enough
I have “island hopped” many times in Thailand and my experience has taught me one thing, one fantastic island is usually pretty much the same as another. If you have a great island near where you are staying or living, frequent that place instead of feeling compelled to visit every single island you’ve never been to.
This avoids the extra travel time for a better all-round experience and you’ll also save good money over time. Also, keep in mind that any island will be more expensive for basic things than inland as there are extra fees for the deliveries from the mainland. But above all, have a wonderful time in picturesque Thailand.