Thailand, currently offers most major country passport holders a 45 day Tourist Visa On Arrival (VOA).
So, what can you do with those 45 days?
… In this blog, I summarise a SCUBA Dive Liveaboard with some island hopping down to Langkawi, Malaysia … then, I suggest a 30 day Island Hopping itinerary …
The currency in Thailand is the Baht (or the ‘THB’). At the time of writing, the exchange rates for the major currencies were:
|Published Wholesale Rate||34.24||36.66||41.40|
|Actual Exchange Rate (Wise Debit Card)||34.00||36.40||41.11|
|Actual Exchange Rate (Typical Credit Card)||33.21||35.56||40.16|
|Actual Exchange Rate (ATM)||33.04||35.38||39.95|
You will NOT get this Wholesale Rate … you will get the Actual Exchange Rate:
- Expect to lose about 0.70% if you use a Wise Debit Card.
- Expect to lose about 3.00% if you use a typical Credit Card.
- Expect to lose about 3.50% if you take (the maximum allowed) cash out of an ATM.
In general, you should not have a problem changing a THB1,000 (US$30) note. For simplicity, think of a THB100 note as being US$3.
PLEASE NOTE: Over time, these exchange rates will change. It is also early 2023 … so inflation will need to be taken into account. Please check the current rates.
MONEY / ATMs
ATM Fees in Thailand are ‘high’ compared to other countries. Foreigners are charged THB220 / US$6.40 to use an ATM. This is in addition to your normal inter-bank transaction and conversion fees.
On a (typical) maximum single ATM withdrawal of THB20,000 expect to lose 3.50%. To keep costs down, use an ATM in a bank. ATMs in ‘convenient locations’ can charge higher fees.
WISE DEBIT CARD
I keep my costs down by using a Wise Debit Card.
RECOMMENDATION: I highly recommend the Wise Debit Card to all travelers.
It is advised that you check out iVisa before you travel to get the latest entry requirements.
PLEASE NOTE: Requirements may change from time to time without prior notice. Please continue checking with iVisa for the complete current list of entry requirements.
Check out 12Go to have a look at your ‘getting there’ options:
WHEN TO GO
The weather for the ‘shoulder’ months (May and November) is ‘unpredictable’.
INTERNET / WIFI
Unlike in some other countries, the prices for a new SIM Card & Package at the airport are not ‘inflated’. You can buy on arrival if you see one that you like … but, if you wait, you could do better.
RECOMMENDATION: Do not get a ‘traveler SIM’ … they are over-priced. If you are staying in Thailand for more than 1 month, download the AIS Mobile App.
AIS are the major provider in Thailand. I had no trouble getting a 4G signal … even in remote places on the islands.
- Krabi / Khao Lak / SCUBA Liveaboard: Andaman Sea – Thailand – SCUBA Liveaboard – Living Ideas – GRANDPAcking;
- Ko Lanta: Ko Lanta – Thailand – Information – GRANDPAcking;
- Ko Mook: Koh Mook – Thailand – Information – GRANDPAcking;
- Ko Lipe: Ko Lipe – Thailand – Information – GRANDPAcking.
Read About – GRANDPAcking Costs if you don’t know how to interpret my figures.
In summary, costs are broken down into Cost Of Existence (COE) and Cost Of Living (COL):
- COE: Is the basic costs of just being there;
- COL: Is the additional costs that make being there fun.
MY GRANDPAcking COSTS
AVERAGE EXCHANGE RATE / TOP SECTION
I lost an average of 3.68% on cash that I took out of ATMs. I used my Wise Debit Card to pay for flights and accommodation whenever I could.
COST OF EXISTENCE (COE) / MIDDLE SECTION
I did amazingly well on my accommodation costs … only because I put the work in. In some locations, I managed to get discounts of 50% or more. My super-cheap accommodation on Ko Lanta, Ko Mook, and Ko Lipe helped to bring my average hotel cost down to THB500 / US$14.50 per night.
Half of the time, I managed to get Breakfast included in that hotel price.
FOOD & BEVERAGES
I eat to live … I do not live to eat. I don’t eat lunch. My Food & Beverages costs are always significantly lower than other people. My average daily cost was THB222 / US$6.50 per day.
SIM CARD / MOBILE DATA
I topped up my THB350 AIS 1-month package in Ko Lipe … with 1 week unlimited data (at 2mb/s) for THB100.
VISA EXTENSION / NATIONAL PARK FEES
It cost me THB200 to land on Ko Lipe.
My Backpacker Level Travel Insurance policy has been apportioned (calculated as 39 days of my annual rate).
I rented a scooter for 6 days on Ko Lanta and 1 day on Ko Mook.
On a couple of occasions, I needed transport from my Port Of Entry to / from my hotel.
COST OF LIVING (COL) / BOTTOM SECTION
ENTERTAINMENT / EXCURSIONS
My main expense was the 5 Day / 5 Night SCUBA Liveaboard that cost THB37,850 / US$1,090 inclusive of tips.
Other than that, I spent THB200 / US$5.75 per day on evening drinks and ‘personal habits’.
IN / OUT COSTS
My major cost was my flight in from Boracay at THB6,820 / US$203.
But, transport between the islands adds up too (it is not as cheap as it used to be). A couple of shuttle buses along with the island hopping all of the way to Langkawi added up to THB2,735 / US$79.
I managed to keep my COE very low at only THB875 / US$25 per day (36% of my daily budget). I did this so that I could afford the SCUBA Liveaboard.
The SCUBA Liveaboard was 43% of my total 39-day budget.
That said, I could still do everything else and only overspend by US$130. This over-spend can be easily made up in other destinations.
I had a fantastic 39 days SCUBA Diving and island hopping in the Andaman Sea and (almost) kept within budget.
YOUR GRANDPAcking COSTS
Your budget is just for Island Hopping … I have excluded the SCUBA Liveaboard because there is NO WAY that 2 people can do this 30-day itinerary and keep close to GRANDPAcking Budget. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t … if you want to … just bring more cash!
2 nights in Krabi / Phucket (to get organised after you land) followed by 7 nights in each of Ko Phi Phi, Ko Lanta, Ko Mook, and Ko Lipe … before moving on to Langkawi (or returning to Krabi / Phucket).
ORANGE COLUMNS / LEFT HAND SIDE
The left of the spreadsheet (orange columns) shows the costs for a GRANDPAcking Couple living to GRANDPAcking Standard using a Standard (Home) Bank Credit / Debit Card to pay for large purchases (e.g. accommodation) and withdrawing cash from ATMs for all other “EXISTENCE’ expenses.
COST OF EXISTENCE (COE)
Expect to pay THB660 / US$20 per night for accommodation. Up this to THB815 / US$25 in Ko Phi Phi and Ko Lipe. All include Breakfast.
FOOD & BEVERAGES
Expect to pay an average of THB670 / US$20 per day on Lunch and Dinner (2 people) … eating in ‘local restaurants’.
SIM CARD / MOBILE DATA
A 1 month AIS 70GB package for THB350.
Two THB200 National Park Fees on entry to Ko Lipe.
A typical Backpacker Level Travel Insurance policy has been apportioned (calculated as 30 days of your annual rate).
You will need a scooter on Ko Lanta. I have also included 1 day scooter rental (to have a quick ‘fun’ look-around) in each of Krabi, Ko Phi Phi, Ko Mook, and Ko Lipe.
Your budget is THB4,430 / US$127.50 for Minivan / Boats between locations … including your final speedboat trip to Langkawi (or back to Krabi / Phucket).
Your COE is about THB1,935 per day. This is 89% of your daily budget. You have very little left to LIVE on (THB244 per day).
RIGHT HAND SIDE / PURPLE COLUMNS
Using your Wise Debit Card as much as possible helps … but does not save enough to make a big difference.
However, you can afford to ‘LIVE’ by making some small compromises:
- Finding cheaper accommodation away from the beach (with at least a fridge and a kettle);
- Grocery shopping and eating half of your Lunches (and Dinners?) at home;
- Doing fewer islands and staying a bit longer in each;
- Renting your scooters away from the main tourist areas.
Money will be ‘tight’ … THB2,178 / US$64 per day may not be quite enough … an extra THB660 / US$20 per day will make a huge difference.
This is a beautiful itinerary ... you get a nice mix of island ‘types’ with a splatter of ‘adventure’ in the ‘island hopping experience’.