Thailand is incredible. The €5 massages, endless Pad Thai and the white sandy beaches like Maya Bay (listens to Pure Shores while dreaming of young Leo DiCaprio) make it appear to be this exotic, tropical holiday that is expensive and potentially out of reach. However, if done right it can be just as affordable as a European holiday.
Here’s how 13 ‘mildly’ high maintenance girls did Thailand on a budget.
We went for four weeks in total and booked all our accommodation before we got there. Although this is uncommon, we wanted to make sure we had accommodation that we would be happy with. It also made it easier to save. You should designate 1-2 people a place to book the accommodation and travel.
We flew out on June 18th with British airways, Dublin-London, London-Bangkok. I booked my flight relatively late in March and it was €800. Unfortunately our first flight got delayed and we missed our connecting flight.
Luckily for us, we were transferred to a flight with Thai Airways, who were incredible. If it is an option while booking, I could not recommend them more – the service, food and entertainment is much better than British Airways.
Side note: don’t buy food in Dublin airport for the journey, when you arrive in London you have to go through security again. About eight Boots meal deals were lost.
Where we stayed: Ibis Styles
Koh San road is where you go. Usually people stay in the ‘Dang Derm Hotel’ or ‘D&D Inn’, however the Ibis is the same price but far nicer and is a side street away. While both of the above are good for socialising with other backpackers, the rooms are literally mattresses on the floor and after that flight, a good bed is craved. The Ibis is particularly good for large groups because they had rooms of seven and it was so clean. Bangkok is notoriously smelly, so trust me, you appreciate the cleanliness.
Verdict: Nothing will compare to your first night in Bangkok. Trying your first bucket, the street sellers with live scorpions is everything you expect times 10. However, the morning after your first night, you just want out of Bangkok. There is also a strict curfew here and everywhere closes around 11/12pm. So be sure to get out early.
We flew from Bangkok to Phuket and it was around €70 including luggage.
Accommodation: Hostel Lub D
This hostel is insane value for money. There’s a DJ by the pool and a Muay Thai boxing ring in the lobby.
As for Phuket, we were in Patong beach and its what you typically expect when you think of sleazy Thailand. Old western men with young Thai women in go-go clubs. We only went out one night and it was certainly enough.
To avoid extra costs, we took ferries to the rest of the islands. Each was around €10 (you also get your tan on the ferries).
Accommodation: PP Princess
Price: €140 (tip: don’t include breakfast, brings it down €100)
Phi Phi is the dream. The island has no roads and you can walk from top to bottom. However, this is where we had our nightmare accommodation situation and had to switch. Princess may seem pricey but is definitely worth it. Its right in the centre and on the beach. The boat trips to Maya bay and the surrounding islands are a must. Rowing through the Lagoon is a real ‘pinch me’ moment and of course Maya Bay is beautiful (try get there early as it is often packed with Chinese tourists).
One night be sure to go to Banana Bar where you can watch ‘The Beach’ on their rooftop projector.
Accommodation: Phutara Lanta
While planning Thailand, we wanted to try somewhere less ‘touristy’ and found Lanta. Little did we know it is only nice in high season and completely dead in low season. While the resort was beautiful, don’t waste your time.
We were only here for a stopover, but should have substituted an extra night here with Phuket.
Accommodation: Bans Diving Resort
Bans resort is insane and scuba diving is out of this world. There are a number of options, I did the PADI open water and while it’s expensive I couldn’t recommend it more. Tao is really relaxed and the nightlife is the best here. To see it to its full extent, rent mopeds.
Accommodation: Rin Bay View
Home of the Full Moon Party. Arrive the day before the Jungle party and leave the day after Full Moon. Make sure you book a return boat because everyone leaves on the same day and they fill fast. Phangan itself isn’t nice so you don’t want to waste your time here. This resort was perfect and half the price of Bayshore.
Accommodation: Ark Bar
Overrated. Samui is big so its very commercialised. Ark Bar is where you go out, however it closes early. Consider renting a villa in Samui- you can get an insane villa for the same price.
If your considering Thailand, do it. Its more than worth it.
Bangkok ( 1 night)
Koh Phi Phi (5)
Koh Lanta (4)
Koh Samui (4)
Image Credit: Tess O’Connor