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10 Cheap Ways to Visit Thailand

Nick Callos
By Nick Callos

Many folks don’t believe in magic. Then they go to Thailand—and everything changes. From the jungles of Chiang Mai to the bustling streets of Bangkok to the chilled-out beaches of Phuket, Thailand makes you believe that this is the place where the magic happens.

If you want to visit and spend time in Thailand, you’re not alone. The good news is that you can actually visit the Southeast Asian nation for cheap. Flights, hotels, food, and activities add up. Thankfully, cost-saving travel strategies exist.

Perhaps you never thought of it, but a wonderful way to visit Thailand on a shoestring budget is to volunteer.

For example, Plan My Gap Year (PMGY), one of the world’s most trusted and affordable volunteer abroad organizations, offers a variety of service opportunities in Thailand, such as a childcare program in Pathum Thani. Or, if you want to experience the beauty of Thailand’s jungles and save wildlife, PMGY has a wildlife rescue project in southern Thailand worth considering. The childcare program begins from just $684 for two weeks and the wildlife rescue program starts at $1,014 for two weeks.

What’s nice is that volunteer project fees get much cheaper the longer you stay. For instance, four weeks for the childcare program is only $984. Four weeks for the wildlife rescue program is $1,374.

Volunteer programs, like those offered by PMGY, enable you to explore Thai culture more deeply, while keeping your adventures cost-effective. Their projects are very reasonably priced. Additionally, the programs typically include meals and accommodation, among other things. This eliminates major expenses that come with traveling.

Ready for more advice on how you can visit Thailand for cheap? From finding low-priced flights to intern abroad options, we discuss it all here.

So, read these 10 tips! You’ll figure out an inexpensive way to experience the history, culture, nature, and entertainment in Thailand.

1. Search For Cheap Flights To Thailand

There are low-priced flights to Thailand out there. Here’s a strategy to snag one of those flights:

  • Start looking months in advance. For most regions, flights to Thailand are cheapest when well in advance. CheapAir.com has a lot of data on this. For instance, if you’re flying from the United States, booking international flights 54 days in advance is historically the cheapest.
  • Fly with low-cost airlines. For example, low-cost carriers like AirAsia and Jetstarhave routes traveling from all over Asia and Australia to Thailand. Prices are usually below market averages.
  • Search on student travel sites. If you’re a student, use specialty sites like StudentUniverse and STA Travel, both of which tailor deals and discounts for students.

Also, be flexible with your dates. It could literally be a hundred dollars cheaper to fly on a Tuesday rather than Friday.

2. Go To Thailand During Non-Peak Season

As Frommer’s notes, the high season for tourism to Thailand is from November through March, when Thailand’s weather is spectacular. Prices during these times skyrocket.

While it’s very tempting to escape to the gorgeous nature and happening cities of Thailand during this time, you can cut costs greatly by going during off-season. It’s not unheard of for airfare to be half the price.

If you come during hot season (roughly March to May) or rainy season (May to November), you may have to deal with some weather inconveniences. But the amount of money you’ll save on airfare, lodging and tours will be worth it.

3. Save On Lodging In Thailand

Outside of transportation to Thailand, your next biggest expense may be lodging. You can actually save a lot of money here.

Just look at this price data from Lonely Planet:

  • A guesthouse in Thailand ranges from 400-1000 Baht ($12-$30)
  • A mid-range hotel ranges from 1000-3000 Baht ($30-$90)
  • A high-end hotel exceeds 3000 Baht ($90+)

So, go with budget lodging. On a two week vacation, you could cut $500 or more off your expenses.

4. Use Miles And Points To Get To Thailand

If you’re reading this article, you’re either a traveler or aspiring traveler. These days, every adventurer has his or her hand in the hotel points and airline miles game.

With sites like Nerd Wallet, The Points Guy and Million Miles Secrets, you can learn the art of travel hacking. Most of these outlets highlight the ability to capitalize on credit card sign up bonuses, but they also tell you how to get extra points by doing surveys, dining out, shopping online and more.

With a clever strategy, you may be able to get enough miles to pay for a hotel or enough points to get a few free nights at a hotel. That equals serious savings.

5. Intern In Thailand

visit Thailand for cheap

Thailand is a great place to learn more about finance, hospitality, biology, and other industries. So why not get an internship? With an internship in Thailand, you’ll also gain valuable experience in working in another country–something that’s vital to career success in today’s interconnected world.

On top of that, you’ll still have time to enjoy the sites and culture. And it will be cheaper than a typical vacation.

You could search job sites like Indeed.com and Glassdoor. Also, see if intern abroad-focused organizations, like Intern Abroad HQ, can connect you to any positions. Other places to check include organizations that directly host programs in Thailand, like Projects Abroad. They offer an incredible Marine Conservation Project that gives you hands-on experience with scientific research and data collection. You’ll also get your PADI Open Water Certification. It’s an exciting and different way to combine conservation work with living in a tropical paradise. If you prefer working with people, they also have Childcare and Teaching projects that support children’s development and education. You’ll work in kindergartens and schools and help local caregivers and teachers in the classroom.

6. Teach English In Thailand

Thailand needs English teachers to help prepare their children and adults for a connected global economy. Make your vacation more meaningful by teaching English during your stay.

By teaching English, not only will you get to connect with locals and their culture, you’ll also save money. With most programs, you get accommodation. Fees are very low, and most schools will pay if you want to stay for a semester or full year.

One good organization to check is Love Volunteers. The Education Support program they offer is held in Bangkok, a wonderful location popular among expats – this program starts from two weeks at $669.

Note: With most volunteer, English teaching, and internship programs in Thailand, the longer you stay in the program, the cheaper it is per week. Be sure to check the program that interests you–because you may be able to stay longer, without having to dig too far into your wallet.

7. Volunteer With Elephants In Thailand

volunteer with elephants in Thailand

From Erawan National Park to the Similan Islands, Thailand boasts some of the most incredible natural scenes in the world. But perhaps nothing is more majestic and cherished than the elephant–a treasure of Thailand.

When you volunteer with elephants in Thailand, you do your part to protect this amazing creature. You also get to spend time in some of the most breathtaking places on earth, while saving money on food and lodging (they’re provided by most programs).

There are many programs available. Through Global Vision International, you can help rehabilitate elephants in Chiang Mai. The program starts from one week at $1840.

8. Volunteer To Help People In Thailand

From disadvantaged children in Bangkok to chronically ill folks in the countryside, you have many options to help the great people of Thailand (and save money on your trip in the meantime).

One organization that offers reputable volunteer programs in Thailand is Cross Cultural Solutions. Volunteer programs start from one week at $1750. Main projects include childcare and public health programs.

What’s great about volunteering in Thailand is that it gives you the chance to go off the beaten path. Organizations like International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ) have programs that take you far away from typical tourist locations and introduce you to entirely new worlds. This is how you broaden your perspective and have an unforgettable trip.

If that sounds like the trip you want, look at IVHQ’s Hill Tribe Support project in Hua Hin. You’ll get the amazing chance to learn about the traditional lives of hill peoples in Thailand as you contribute to various community initiatives, like after-school English language learning. Fees begin at just $280 for one week, and only go up $140 per week if you want to stay longer. Additionally, after volunteering to support the Karen Hill tribe, you’re in a convenient location for seeing the country. Sites like Kaeng Krachan National Park, Thailand’s largest park, are nearby.

9. Find A Package Deal For Thailand

cheap ways to visit Thailand

Bundling has become super popular for things like insurance, home internet and cable, and other things we buy. Doing the same thing with travel can save you cash as well.

There are many ways you can find package deals to Thailand. Just look in advance, and you’ll find a good price.

Plan My Gap Year is a great organization to check for deals. The Real Thailand Experience is one adventure package they offer. Over 28 days, you get to experience everything from Bangkok’s markets to the Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan to village life in Ban Thin Dung. It costs just £1079 (~$1400).

Looking to go beyond the usual spots? GoEco, a leading volunteer tourism company, has a terrific travel package. Their Learn, Volunteer, and Travel experience in Thailand involves everything from studying Buddhism and visiting villages in Sing Buri province to working on construction projects. Fees start at $550 for one week.

10. Take A Class In Thailand

Thailand budget travel

From studying the Thai language to practicing local cooking, there are many incredible things to learn in Thailand. On top of that, it’s an affordable way to dive into the culture.

Frontier is one organization that offers tons of programs in Thailand. For instance, you could do one of the following:

Bonus: Visit Thailand With Abroadly

Thailand on a budget

Not surprisingly, Thailand is a popular place for volunteering, interning, and working abroad. Another cheap way you can get to the country is to search for volunteer and intern programs on Abroadly, a new booking platform developed by Volunteer Forever.

In minutes, you can find high-quality, affordable volunteer programs in Thailand on Abroadly. From English teaching to environmental conservation, there’s something for every interest and skillset.

When you apply through Abroadly, application fees are 100% refunded if you’re not accepted. Even better, you’ll be entered for a chance to win a $500 scholarship, as well as have free access to Volunteer Forever’s crowdfunding platform. That can make your trip even cheaper. Begin your search for volunteer programs in Thailand on Abroadly today.

Two-Week Volunteer Abroad Program in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Have the adventure of a lifetime in Chiang Mai! Bamba Experience currently runs numerous projects in and around the city, including childcare, teaching children, caring for the elderly, and teaching monks English. Any one of the programs offers you the amazing opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture. You’ll also be able to learn some Thai language basics during orientation and throughout your participation in the project.

During free time, you can explore Chiang Mai, an area known for its temples, notably Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, bustling markets, and exquisite nature. The program fee is $1,249 for two weeks. Interested to learn more? Click here.

Three-Week Volunteer Teaching Trip: Buriram, Thailand

Offered by the Camp Thailand, this project takes you to Buriram, where you’ll teach English in an ongoing language program for local students. Your main duties will include teaching English through games, activities, and conversation at local schools and temples. While you don’t need TEFL/TESOL certification to join the program, you can obtain certification online or at the volunteer site during your stay.

When you’re not teaching, you can take Thai language classes, learn Thai cooking, and participate in Muay Thai boxing sessions. The program also includes a trip to the exotic island of Ko Samet. The program fee is $1,199 for three weeks. Interested to find out more? Click here!

Volunteer with Elephants at a Sanctuary in Surin, Thailand

Country Roads’ Elephant Freedom Project offers an experience unlike any other. By joining their program, you get to work with local mahouts, caring for elephants and taking part in initiatives that enable these precious creatures to live peaceful, healthy lives in their natural habitats. Typical daily tasks include reforesting elephant areas, planting grass and bamboo, preparing food for elephants, walking elephants to watering holes, and cleaning elephant shelters. Your work goes a long way in enriching the lives of elephants, especially those who have suffered abuse in the tourism industry, and promoting ethical, ecologically sustainable elephant tourism.

You’ll stay with a local family throughout the project. The program fee is $499 for one week. Wish to know more? Click here.

English Teaching Internship in Surin, Thailand

Looking to jumpstart your career in ESL teaching? Or do you simply want to teach English as you explore Thailand? Either way, GROUND’s English teaching internship in Surin is a great option if you’re looking for cheap ways to visit Thailand. During your internship, you’ll work in Ban Ta Klang village. Each day, along with a local teacher, you’ll develop and deliver fun, engaging English lessons for disadvantaged local students. By teaching these children a skill they can use for work later in life, you’ll give them a chance at a brighter future.

When you’re not teaching, you can check out the village, which is known for its ethical elephant encounters. The program fee is $655 for two weeks, with stays up to 12 weeks available. Want to learn more? Click here.

Volunteer for Community Education at a Buddhist Temple in Trat, Thailand

Trat, Thailand sits close to the Cambodian border. In town, there are many Cambodian families who’ve crossed the border in search of employment. Not knowing the local language, refugee children often don’t receive adequate education. By joining uVolunteer’s community education program in Trat, you can fill that gap and give these children the quality instruction they deserve. During the program, you’ll work at a Buddhist temple, teaching English and playing games and sports with the children. You’ll also help prepare meals. The main goal is to give these children the skills and self-confidence needed to build better futures for themselves and their families.

Thai language lessons are included. The program fee is $935 for three weeks. You can stay for up to 12 weeks. If you’d like to get even more details about this very rewarding education program, click here!

Volunteer to Teach English in Bangkok, Thailand

Join Love Volunteers in happening Bangkok, where you can teach local students English at schools that are understaffed and underfunded. You’ll use games and activities so that children can learn to speak English in a natural way. In addition to teaching English, you can also teach other subjects you know well, such as music, art, and sports.

After teaching each day, you’ll have free time to explore Bangkok, a city with great cultural sites, such as the Grand Palace, and awesome shopping and entertainment, like what you’ll find at Khaosan Road. The program fee is $968 for two weeks, with the option to stay up to 12 weeks. Wish to learn more? Click here.

Making Your Dream Trip to Thailand Affordable

In addition to all of these tips, remember to save your money for the trip (the sooner the better). Also, by staying at hostels and guesthouses, eating at budget-friendly establishments, and using cheaper forms of transportation (bus, bike, etc), you can save lots of money while in Thailand.

To make your trip even more affordable, you can also raise money on Volunteer Forever’s crowdfunding platform. That extra money, along with these 10 tips and a little discipline and determination, will make sure your trip to Thailand happens. And you’ll come back from the Land of Smiles with a smile.