How to Budget as a Study Abroad Student in Thailand


Sami Godlove is a student at The College of Idaho and an ISA Featured Blogger. He is currently studying abroad with ISA in Bangkok, Thailand.

For many years Thailand has been a top destination for young travelers. The diverse culture, incredible food, and dirt-cheap prices attract millions of tourists to the country each year. Although costs in Thailand are a fraction of what they are in the US, it is easy to build up a pricey bill and soon you’ll realize you have spent much more than you budgeted for. This was me the first couple weeks I was here.

Luckily, with a bit of planning and research, I was able to find low-cost alternatives for a lot of the things I was spending money on. Here is your guide to budgeting in Thailand.


Eat local street food. There are street vendors everywhere in Thailand that sell delicious and cheap food. A filling dish of fried rice or noodles can be anywhere between 30-50 Baht ($1-2 USD), whereas western food will normally go for 200-300 Baht ($6-9 USD). Vendors are generally safe to eat from; just use your common sense and if it doesn’t look too suspicious go for it!

This is a plate of the popular dish Pad Thai from a restaurant just down the street from our dorm for 60 Baht.



Cabs in Thailand can be costly, especially if you are taking one by yourself. A much more cost-effective way to travel is by public transportation. In Bangkok, a bus ride across the city will be around $0.50. The BTS skytrain is another faster option that costs between $0.50-$2. Getting to other areas in Thailand can be cheap as well. Using budget airlines such as AirAsia or Thai Lion Air can get you from Bangkok to anywhere in the country for under $40. Personally, my preferred method of travel is by overnight bus or train. This is the cheapest way to travel and you will save one night of accommodation. In addition, many backpackers and travelers use these to get around so it is easy to make new friends from all over the world! There are overnight ferries to several of the popular islands as well.

This was our overnight ferry ride to the famous Full Moon Party on the island Ko Phangan.



Prices for accommodation in Thailand vary greatly from $3 a night hostels to $500 5 star resorts. Typically, costs are greater in southern Thailand and on the islands, and less in the north. If booking a hotel or Airbnb, go with a large group as prices are usually per room rather than per person.


 If you can’t afford to travel independently, there are still other ways to experience all Thailand has to offer. When registering for courses, sign up for classes that include field trips. The university has numerous clubs to join, many of which organize their own trips and activities and won’t cost you a dime! Another option is to travel in large groups as that significantly decreases costs for transportation and accommodation.

The world awaits…discover it.

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