10 Great Money Saving Tips in Thailand
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.
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.
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.
Money Saving Tips in Thailand
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.
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.
Pay-as-you-go Data Plan
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 (1-2 Call offers this). It comes out to something like 100 Baht for 30 hours of internet use on your phone.
The key is to know how to turn the internet and GPS functionality on and off completely. Your phone probably has WiFi, so you never need to burn data minutes when you are home.
As long as you can remember to turn the internet off when you’re home and when you’re not using it, it’ll cost you around 200 Baht per month to use full internet on your phone for 50+ hours which should be more than enough. If you just want to check your email, turn it on and take a look before turning it off.
Before you come to Thailand, make sure you sign up for an unlimited subscription to talk to anyone from your home country for free for one year. This is usually about 900 Baht for the year. If you try to do this once you are in Asia, you’ll find it impossible as the subscriptions can only be bought when you’re home.
For an additional 900 Baht per year, Skype will even give you a phone number that people will see when you call them and that they’ll be able to call you at any time at no charge to you. This feature includes a voicemail service. With a Skype application on your cell phone, you’ll really be rocking and rolling. Between Skype and a prepaid data plan, I have a highly functional communication system down to an incredibly low price each month.
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?
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.