In my five-week trip across five ASEAN countries, the Thailand leg was the most comfortable. Perhaps because I was traveling with Tobi. The discomforts a solo traveler had to endure were replaced with the comforts of a pampered traveling couple. Another reason is the food: Thai food is the closest to the rich taste of home, is cheap, and is photographable.
Plus, our bus trips were well-planned, and going around was much easier because we rented a scooter.
This 9-day itinerary covers Bangkok (3 nights), Chiang Mai (2 nights), and Chiang Rai (3 nights). On our last day in Thailand, we crossed the border to Laos. So we are sharing our Thailand Budget Travel Guide!
DURATION: 8 Nights/9 Days
AVERAGE EXPENSES: 700-800 baht per person a day ($25, Php1000.00)
Day 1-3 Bangkok (Three Nights)
In Bangkok, we spent our days walking, getting lost, avoiding tuktuk scams, and eating a lot of pad thai, drinking coffee, and (flirting with each other). READ: Is There a Different Bangkok Hidden from Travelers?
Things to Do
- Rambuttri Road and Khaosan Road are the backpackers’ mecca in Bangkok: the popular hippie’s pants and shirts are sold here. That being said, even though the prices of things sold sound cheap, they are not. Street food here can cost around 60-70 baht ($2, Php100), while the prices in quieter places range from 30-40 baht ($1, Php70).
- From Rambuttri and Khaosan Road, everything is within walking distance. We walked our way to Golden Mountain, Giant Swing, Phra Athit Road, Wat Pho, and many other temples. We rode a ferry once to Wat Arun (under renovation during our visit) from the jetty near Phra Athit Road. Get a free map from the hotel/hostel you are staying in.
- FOOD GUIDE. From Khaosan Road, find your way to Phra Athit Road. This area has many backpacker-friendly restaurants. Or try the pad thai at Thipsamai in Maha Chai Road: people, mostly locals, queue for their pad thai! Nearby are cheap family-owned restaurants: 30-40 baht ($.70, Php70) for delicious fried rice.
- Squeeze a day trip to Ayyuthaya, a UNESCO heritage site, which is an hour away from Bangkok. READ: Pedaling through Ayutthaya: a quick guide can be found at the bottom of the narrative.
IMPORTANT: AVOID TUKTUK SCAM. Please, be discerning. On our way to the jetty near Phra Athit Road, we met a man who informed us that the ferry would leave at two in the afternoon (it is a lie, all ferries come and go every fifteen minutes), so he hailed a tuktuk for us for a so-called free tour funded by the city’s tourism ministry. We realized it was a scam when the tuktuk driver brought us to numerous travel authorities (their phrasing for a travel agency) and tailoring shops! But we only paid 20baht to the driver and did not book anything from the shops we visited and we insisted to be driven back to the jetty area.
Where to Stay
We stayed in Rambuttri Road for three nights at Sleep Withinn for 1000 baht/ night ($25, Php1200). Too expensive, I know. The little alleys that connect Rambuttri Road and Khaosan Road have rooms for as low as 250 bath ($7, Php350). Do your research, and we are sure you can find something within your range. Be warned though that this is a party area. Party can last up to three in the morning. If you want a relaxing sleep, choose some quieter places like Maha Chai Road.
Do your search here. If you book your hotel from here, Agoda will share a bit of its profit with us. Enough to buy a cup of coffee. Writing this itinerary needs at least two cups. 😉
Day 4-6 Chiang Mai (Two Nights)
From Bangkok, our next destination was Chiang Mai. Instead of going to Mo Chit Bus Terminal to buy our tickets, we simply went to Welcome Travel—one of the many travel agencies along the stretch of Khao San Road—and booked a bus ticket to Chiang Mai for 430 bath each (subject to change), inclusive of Wi-Fi, dinner coupon, snacks, and bottled water. It is a VIP bus, with enough legroom and a toilet onboard. It was an overnight bus ride. We left Khao San at 8 and arrived in the rained Chiang Mai at quarter to six in the morning. READ: Creating Our Own Chiang Mai
Things to Do
- Rent a motorbike especially if you plan to go beyond temple-hopping. Rent starts at 250 Baht.
- Some of the beautiful temples we visited were Wat Chiang Man, Wat Lok Moli, Wat Mahawan, and Wat Suan Dok.
- If you are into markets, do check Somphet Market: there are affordable street food here as well. Markets make us happy.
- Along Chang Klan Road, there is a night market that travelers frequent, past the famous Tha Phae Gate.
- We had an unguided day trek to Doi Suthep-Pui National Park (Huay Kaew waterfalls) and Mon Ta Than Waterfall Nature Trail. READ: Of Trails and Traces in Chiang Mai
Where to Stay
Rooms are a bit cheaper in Chiang Mai. But we got lost, could not find the guesthouse we reserved online, so we ended up in a family-owned hostel and paid 700 baht a night. The room and the bathroom were very spacious unlike our cramped 1100 baht room in Bangkok.
Do your search here.
Day 7-9 Chiang Rai (Three Nights)
From Chiang Mai, we bused to Chiang Rai. We stayed there for three nights. We did not do much. We did our laundry on the night we arrived. 😉 Chiang Rai was our last destination in Thailand before pushing to Laos. Here is a musing on tourism and traveling, which I would love you to read during your free time.
Things to Do
- During non-monsoon season, Chiang Rai Beach is a place where the locals cool off. It is not a beach but a tributary river of the massive Mekong River.
- Central Day Market was the biggest local market we have seen in northern Thailand. Try out the local delicacies and fruits! Tobias was crazy about snake fruit.
- We checked out Pha Soet Hot Spring, but it was rainy and we decided not to take a dip.
- We also stumbled across Karens Elephants Tour of Ruammit Village. But we never ride elephants. We said hi to them though and fed them as well.
- Chiang Rai is popular for Wat Rong Khun otherwise known as White Temple. Free entrance but the crowd can be maddening.
- Home to Doi Luang National Park, Lam Nam Kok National Park, and Khun Chae National Park, Chiang Rai is a famous trekking destination. But we did not have the time.
- On our last day, we took the off-the-beaten path and motorbiked to Doi Chang, Thailand’s biggest source of coffee.
Where to stay
We stayed in Chat Guesthouse for 350 baht a night. Room was big enough and we had our own bathroom. And the place has a lot of adorable cats! Their restaurant’s glass noodles was really good too. T had it every breakfast.
There are many destinations in Thailand that we want to visit someday.
If you find this helpful, consider booking your hotel here:
Your fellow traveler,