Featured Image: Kho Wai Pier, a snorkeling spot near Koh Chang, Thailand.
Thailand is one of the most beautiful and affordable places to travel on your spring break. Whether you are on holiday from studying or you are taking a short vacation from work, springtime is great for loading up your backpack and making a visit to the Land of Smiles. Thanks to plentiful and affordable public transportation, Thailand is also a destination where you can pack a lot into one trip without breaking the bank. From the white sand beaches to the jungle-covered mountains, let’s take a look at how to get around Thailand on a budget. Thailand has beauty in all aspects, and you don’t necessarily have to spend a fortune to enjoy it. Remember to Visit STA Travel to discover the intricate ways to explore these regions in Thailand!
Follow along our journey for our suggestions. First up – beaches!
The best way to see beaches on a budget is to get off the beaten path. Phuket and Koh Samui are famous islands in Thailand with well-established resorts. You’ll experience both serenity and nightlife in these cities; however, experiences do come at a higher cost here. If you are on a backpacker’s budget, you have to look beyond the main islands. The good news is that Thailand has plenty of lesser-known islands and beach destinations suited for budget travelers.
Koh Phayam is a low-key island just 30 km from Ranong in the Andaman Sea. Famous for inexpensive beachfront lodging, this island is the place to appreciate nature and eat delicious vegetarian curries. Sabai Sabai guesthouse near the pier sits on the same beach as a luxury resort but at less than a quarter of the cost. When you get hungry, look for locally-grown cashew nuts in everything from stir-fry to cakes. Koh Chang is another nature-lover’s paradise in the Gulf of Thailand. Choose a bungalow on the backpacker’s strand Lonely Beach. Spend your days snorkeling and don’t miss Khlong Phlu Waterfall with a fantastic swimming hole.
To get there the economical way, travel by bus or minivan to the nearest town with ferry service and buy boat tickets. The ferry from Ranong to Koh Phayam is THB 200 (USD $7.00) and Trat to Koh Chang is only THB 80. On the island, rent your own scooter for THB 200-300 per day or walk along the beaches and save a couple bucks. A smart idea is to check a map when planning your spring break holiday and see what small islands are nearest to where you plan to go. With plenty of sand, sun, and palm trees they are all equally beautiful.
Trains from Bangkok to Chiang Mai are inexpensive, scenic trips that allow you to really see Thailand’s beauty.
When you need a mountain sanctuary, head to Chiang Mai. With its lush greenery and majestic views, the vibe here is serene. The biggest misconception people have is that Chiang Mai is close to Bangkok. In fact, it’s almost 700 km away. That makes Chiang Mai a good destination to go by train. With scenic window views for THB 890 (USD$30), this 10-13+ hour journey is part of the experience and much more affordable than a plane flight and can save on hotel nights since longer train rides often travel through the night. Stay near Somphet open-air market so you are within walking distance from delicious and budget-friendly food at all hours. Ashi Hostel and Baan Klang Vieng are two affordable hostels in the northeast corner of town inside the ancient walls. Make sure to try famous dishes of Northern-style Thai food like khao soi gai chicken curry or sai ua grilled herb sausages, which are fresh and tasty from the roadside barbeque.
The Big City: Bangkok
Transportation in Bangkok is sure to be a memorable adventure on your spring break vacation. From subways to tuk-tuks, the public transportation options in this city of 8 million people are endless. The most unique way to get around is a motorbike taxi. Not common in other major metropolitan cities, your Thai motorbike driver is sure to impress with his expert weaving skills. To get a ride, stand in line with the locals and hop on the back of your bike while announcing the name of restaurant you are going to. Short rides less than 10 blocks run THB 20 while long rides can reach up to THB 100. Remember that motorbike taxis drive in a straight line from the main Sukhumvit Road to a location further down the side road or soi so start on the correct street. When you get hungry, eat anything in sight without worrying about your wallet. The street food here is both affordable and delicious. Try Thai fried chicken, som tam papaya salad, and fresh mangos from morning vendors.
While you save, watch others spend. Stay in Bangkok’s most expensive neighborhood without breaking the bank by booking Hostel@Thonglor where you are sure to see luxury supercars driving down your street at night. If you prefer somewhere quieter without sacrificing style, try the newly opened YTour Hostel & Beer & Party in Ekkamai, an expat-friendly neighborhood on the BTS Skytrain line.
From beaches to mountains to the streets of Bangkok, finding your way around is one of the most interesting parts of traveling on a budget. In Thailand it can mean a ferry boat, a slow train through the jungle, or a motorbike flying through traffic jams and taking your breath away. Using public transportation when you travel gets you in touch with the local pace of life. It’s also a fun and affordable way to go sightseeing. Do you take public transportation when you travel to a new place? If you’ve never done it, why not consider a trip to Thailand this spring break to give it a shot?
We’ll love to see you to share your own stories on Instagram using the #ThailandInsider hashtag! While we’re on the topic of cheap trips, make sure to visit STA Travels website and enter their latest contest, which is giving away a free trip to Thailand for two winners! If you’re already a shutterbug with a passion for photo, video, writing and exploring, this might be chance to get to Thailand at the lowest price ever — free!