“I would rather own a little and see the world than own the world and see a little of it”.Anonymous
Your frugal friend: *Randomly Googles flight from Tokyo to Thailand* ONLY $170?!?! SOLD!!
Flight booked, bags packed, mask on, let’s go!
Welcome to your Frugal Friend’s epic adventures in Thailand!!! I booked this trip while living in Japan for FREE cause it was cold AF and ya girl desperately needed some sun. Thailand is overflowing with culture, sunshine, and beautiful people. The American Dollar definitely goes further in Phuket (if you do it right). Luckily you’ve got a frugal friend to show you five ways to have frugal fun in the sun on your trip to Thailand 🙂
Welcome to the land of good times, good vibes, and good people! Thailand is known for its amazing cuisine, martial arts, beaches, and many temples. I spent a full two weeks in Phuket, Thailand in March 2020. I stayed in the main resort area, the town of Patong, which is packed with restaurants, resorts, and nightlife like no other. Here’s how I saved money on this EPIC vacation.
Frugal Fun Tip #1: Hostels are a frugal travelers’ best friend
If you think hostels are gross and only for cheap people… THINK AGAIN!
I stayed at Lub’d Patong Beach (which means “sleep well” in Thai 🙂 ). Yes, this place is a hostel, but it looks and feels like a hotel. Lub’d was by far the greatest hostel accommodation I’ve ever received. They have a bar and restaurant on-site. They also have an epic pool (with amazing pool parties), a co-working space, a gym, a boxing ring, tons of activities, and it’s a five-minute walk to the beach! What more could you ask for?!
Oh, and guess how much this hostel cost per night?
LESS THAN $15 F*CKING AMERICAN DOLLARS!!! There’s no way you’d find accommodation like that in the States for that price, including amenities.
(Side note: I did stay in a 4-female dorm, so I shared a room with three other women, but it was the perfect way to make new friends 🙂 )
I stayed in this hostel the duration of my trip and came across the sweetest souls. This place is perfect for solo or group travelers. Lub’d has shared dorms and private rooms available, whatever you need to fit your traveling needs. I would live here if I could. 10/10 highly recommend.
Frugal Fun Tip #2: Live like a local
The best part about visiting any country: THE LOCALS! The people of the land, the humans that live by the cultures, traditions, and everyday life of the place you’re visiting (I mean that’s why you’re there, right?). Make friends with them and try your best to speak their language. SPOILER ALERT: Not everyone in the world speaks English. Trust me, learning how to say “hello”, “please”, and “thank you” in another language goes a long way. It’s a form of respect.
Speaking of locals, meet my amazing friend, Mango 🙂
Mango works at Lub’d as an activities coordinator, and she’s also Thai. We crossed paths a few times during my first night, but we really clicked during the Bootcamp class that she created.
After she kicked my a$$ in Bootcamp class, we started talking about life, fitness, traveling, partying, everything, and quickly became friends. Mango found out I was staying in Phuket for two weeks and took me under her wing. On her day off, she stopped by the hostel, picked me up on her scooter, and gave me a grand tour of Phuket. She introduced me to more locals, took me to an authentic Thai restaurant, a local market, and an EXTRAVAGANT beach. I got to eat Pad Thai with chicken for less than $3, go to a private beach that costs $2, and ride around and take in the culture for $0. The experience: PRICELESS.
Frugal Fun Tip #3: Rent a scooter
There’s no better way to see Thailand than on a scooter. It seemed like there were more people on scooters than in cars. There were “Scooter for Rent” signs everywhere. Here’s what they look like:
There were scooter rentals available right outside my hostel, which was PERFECT. My Phuket-partner-in-crime, Emily rented a scooter and I hopped on the back and we just rode around. We were cruising, then all of a sudden we stop on the side of the road and saw the most gentle, gorgeous creatures in the world….ELEPHANTS!!!!! It wasn’t one of those elephant tours where you spend like $50-100 to play and ride the elephants. This was a little setup on top of a hill with a few elephants. It only cost $2 to feed the elephants, pet them, take pictures, and play with them. WE EVEN SAW A BABY ELEPHANT!!! It was an unforgettable, frugal experience!!
Disclaimer: They drive on the left side of the road in Thailand aka the opposite side of the road to Americans 🙂 This is something to be mindful of if you’re not sure. A lot of people say it’s pretty easy, but I didn’t feel comfortable, so I played passenger. I offered cash to the drivers, but they wouldn’t take it, so I bought gasoline and drinks for them as a thank you.
Frugal Fun Tip #4: Negotiate as your wallet depends on it
One thing you’ll learn outside of the United States is:
The first price is NEVER THE RIGHT PRICE.
Thailand has a plethora of local markets and stands. You can negotiate ANYTHING. Use this to your advantage. Some (not all) see tourists and immediately start seeing dollar signs. Beware of tourist price gauging. Let’s say something normally cost $5, but since you’re a tourist, it’s now $20 (but they’re not going to tell you that). Hence, the tourist price gauge. This is the quickest way to lose your money.
Here’s a rule of thumb: Whatever the first price is, go half. Here’s what I mean: Let’s say you see a shirt that you like and you ask, “how much?”. They say 500 baht (which is $16). Counter back by saying 250 baht ($8). They’ll most likely counter back by saying 350 or 400 baht, but it’s still lower than 500.
Another hack is to start walking away. Watch the price get lower and lower and lower. Most salespeople will take something rather than nothing.
Frugal Fun Tip #5: Do your research BEFORE you land
This tip could literally save your life.
Doing research and getting a general idea of what to expect BEFORE you land is CRUCIAL. It can save you a lot of time, money, and trouble.
For instance, a simple search on Google helped me find SAFE transportation to my hostel for less than $10. The search led me to a YouTube video that showed me where a minibus stand is that will take you to your accommodation from the airport with no problem. My hostel was about an hour’s drive away from the airport and it only cost me $5.78! Try getting an hour-long Uber or a Taxi ride anywhere in the world for less than $6 bucks.
Doing research can also prevent scams that could possibly arise. For instance, some taxis don’t have meters and the driver will tell you one price just to sell you on the ride, then it’ll be a completely different price once you arrive at your location. Also what to eat, what not to eat, the exchange rate, the local currency, along with certain areas that may not be the safest, etc. Seriously, USE GOOGLE!!! I can not stress this enough.
Cheers to Country Number 15 as the halfway mark to my 30 countries by 30 goal! Thailand was BREATHTAKING, I’m catching all the feels as I finish this post. By far, Thailand was my FAVORITE country. I could see myself living there. The weather was perfect, the food was delicious, the people were kind, and the vibes were on a million.
Great things happen when you just book a flight (do some research) and GO!
Have you ever been to Thailand before? If so, what was your favorite part? Any frugal tips to share? If Thailand is on your bucket list, let me know in the comments below!