After a busy final year at university, we decided we’d celebrate the new beginning by travelling around Thailand for 12 days. Along the way, we flew between Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket and Koh Phi Phi; met some awesome people; enjoyed amazing food at every opportunity; visited the most stunning temples and relaxed in a beautiful infinity pool. We did all of this on a student budget of £900. ‘How!?’ I hear you cry- Here are our tips and tricks to stay within a student budget.
Book flights early
Visiting Thailand in June, we booked our flights 6 week in advance. Return flights to Bangkok cost us £432 each- we’d recommend Momondo. With only 12 days in Thailand and so much to see, we knew flying around was the only way and were surprised at how cheap it was. Our flights between Bangkok, Chiangmai, Phuket and back to Bangkok were between £30-£75 each.
Taxis & Ferries
Always negotiate with your taxi driver to get the best rates. This was our second most expensive cost after flights, but we still got some good deals- a lovely drive showed us around Doi Suthep national park’s temples and waterfalls as well as a beautiful silk factory for 800 Baht.
With regards to ferries, book ahead, particularly if you have a flight to catch that day or the following day.
Ferries in Thailand are definitely not ‘British safe’ and are choppy rides to say the least so we’d recommend bringing anti-sickness pills from England – the Thai ones we took on the way home made us rather…delirious to say the least.
Thailand is simply a foodies paradise. You’ll find authentic, delicious food everywhere at very low prices. As we tactically booked most of our hotels with breakfast included (free, of course!), a budget of £5 for the rest of the day was enough, sometimes we even had change! You’ll easily find Pad Thai, Massaman Curry and Thai Green Curry for around £2.50 as a main meal and the portions are generous too. Water was comparatively expensive at ~£1 per litre.
We even had a celebratory afternoon tea at the beautiful 5* Chedi Hotel. With views over the Ping River and more delicious cakes than we could physically eat, this was an absolute bargain at £11 each.
An indulgent treat for a miniscule price.
Having a good time
Exploring, drinking, shopping: with so much to pay for, what’s the best way to keep costs down? This isn’t hard in Thailand. Compared to Sterling, the Thai Baht takes you very far- you can pay someone to drive yo around for the whole day- we paid around…. Alcohol is super cheap- just watch out for the ice!! As is shopping. A must is going for a thai massage. It was a sure highlight watching a little old Thai lady fondle Alice’s boobs as she had never seen any so big! They aren’t shy here- which makes for some hilarious stories…
We budgeted £9 per night for accommodation and chose hotels based on a combination of location, price, reviews, breakfast …and of course free wifi, which was surprisingly good! Alice’s requirement was a pool- I was fine with that! We chose hotels close to the airport for stopovers, to reduce taxi fares.
Chiang Mai Gate Hotel was well situated for impromptu exploring of the city and it’s many temples.
We could have got the hotels even cheaper than we did, but it was important to us that we had a comfortable room to relax in!
Our accommodation goldmine: [Koh Phi Phi, Charlie PP resort.]
2 days before we began our trip, we had the last minute rush of booking the Koh Phi Phi hotel, at £11 per night. Stressful to say the least, we forgot to read the reviews… until the night before we arrived in Koh Phi Phi. Warned to ‘stay away at all costs’, with tales of thai bedbugs and stained sheets, to say we were worried was an understatement. But, being frugal, we couldn’t back out and lose our money, so we decided to get there and see for ourselves.
After that panic, it turned out we got immediately upgraded on arrival and the pool at the hotel was the best on the island- other tourists from the whole island even snuck in as it was the best pool and the view was just breathtaking.
The breakfast was buffet a delicious spread of western necessities- bacon, waffles, maple syrup, cereal, fruit and lots of Thai offerings too- curries, noodles, rice dishes and oriental cakes. Needless to say we went to town and enjoyed our breakfasts over the amazing view of the bay.
Thailand was relaxing, hilarious, cultural and stunning all at once. If you go with a group, there’s something for everyone and it’s the place to be if you want to have a great time at low prices. What are you waiting for!? Book your trip to Thailand, you won’t regret it.