Updated for 2022-2023
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 teach English and get paid to live there. Teaching English as a Foreign Language is the perfect opportunity to get paid to travel abroad in Thailand. International TEFL Academy (ITA) offers the gold standard in TEFL certification for teaching English abroad & teaching English online. You can choose to teach in the bustling city of Bangkok, journey to the beaches of Phuket or experience the jungles of Chiang Mai. It’s up to you. If you have a 4-year degree and a TEFL training through ITA, obtaining a job in the location of your choice shouldn’t be a problem. English teaching jobs are in abundance in primary schools, language centers, universities and other educational institutions. Salary is quite solid, typically between $1,000 – $2,000+ monthly, and usually more than enough to live comfortably in Thailand.
Another cheap way to travel is to participate in a volunteer program. For example, Volunteering Solutions (VolSol), 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 Chang Mai. Or, if you want to experience the beauty of Thailand’s jungles and save wildlife, Volunteering Solutions has an elephant camp project in Surin worth considering. VolSol’s volunteer projects are affordably priced, starting at just $200 per week.
Volunteer programs 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
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 Volunteering Solutions, 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 can also earn money if you earn TEFL certification and get placed with a company such as International TEFL Academy, who will help you find a teaching job in Thailand.
Alternatively, you can teach English as part of a volunteer program, which isn’t a paid opportunity, but you can get accommodation as part of a modest program fees. 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, unpaid 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
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 Volunteering Solutions you can help rehabilitate elephants in Chiang Mai. The program starts from one week at $800.
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
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
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:
- Study gibbons: Head to the Thailand Gibbon Sanctuary for this program. It’s $1345 for two weeks.
- Practice Thai boxing: Train with local champions in this boxing program. It’s just $2,295 for four weeks.
- Learn to scuba dive: For $695, become a scuba diving expert. And get five days of accommodation.
Nick Callos · Writer
With a BA in English Literature & Writing from Boston College, Nick researches and writes about volunteer, intern, and teach abroad programs worldwide. He has studied abroad and taught English in Chengdu, China, and aims to help fellow travelers make a lasting impact on the communities they visit.