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Like many previous winters, we took the opportunity this December to take a vacation to Thailand. Neither of us have visited, but we both know people who have. We constructed our itinerary around their experiences and some additional research. We booked this trip to Thailand without an all encompassing tour.
Thailand Trip Cost Breakdown
Total Cost Including Airfare for 2: $7000
I breakdown some of the larger categories of costs such as airfare and hotels below. Depending on how you want to travel, changing the airline of type of hotel/hostel can greatly reduce the cost of visiting Thailand.
Airfare for 2: $2845
The round trip flight from San Francisco to Bangkok (with a 1.5 hour layover in Taipei) via EVA Airways cost: $2275
The one way flight from Bangkok to Chiang Mai via Thai Airways: $120
The one way flight from Chiang Mai to Phuket via AsiaAir: $315
The one way flight from Phuket to Bangkok via Thai Airways: $135
Grand Eastin in Bangkok (4 star hotel): $310 for 3 nights
Le Merdien in Chiang Mai (5 star hotel): $890 for 4 nights
Amari in Phuket (4 star): $740 for 3 nights
Marriott in Bangkok (5 stars)$ 126 for 1 night
Tours (1/2 day or longer):
Elephant Sanctuary Tour (half day) in Chiang Mai: $145
Chiang Rai Tour (full day) in Chiang Mai: $129.21
Full Day Taxi in Chiang Mai: $90
Pha Nga Bay Boat Tour in Phuket: $116
Phi Phi Island Boat Tour (Snorkeling and Swimming) in Phuket: $226
My Opinion of Visiting Thailand
Thailand is a beautiful place. I personality best fits with the small city of Chiang Mai. There are a lot of nature related things to do, but the different activities in the local Chiang Mai are much more limited. Bangkok is a huge city and my short stay there definitely wasn't enough to cover everything I wanted to see. As for Phuket, the advantageous feature is their various beaches with different personalties. We visited Patong, so I could easily imagine myself visiting another beach or Island in Phuket.
Because the cost of visiting is much lower than other places like Tahiti (Bora Bora) and other developed countries like Paris or Japan, I could see myself visiting more often. Especially if it wasn't 15 hours away by flight. I can enjoy high end amenities in Thailand without breaking the bank like in the US. The same hotel in the US is very likely double the price. The food is even cheaper!
The food in general is cheap, but very delicious. Oddly enough, the only place I had stomach issues was at the most expensive restaurant we dined at. But what I enjoyed the most about Thailand (at least the touristy parts) is the readil available fruit stands. For about 20-40 bahts (about 50 cents to a dollar), you can get freshly cut fruit or pure fruit juice. In the US, on can barely find water for that price. In regards to drinking water, all our hotels provided at least 2 bottles of water per room per night for us to use. A bottle of water is around 20 bahts.
And even though we visiting Thailand during their winter, it was still high 80 to mid 90 degrees everyday of our trip. If you plan on doing a lot of walking, I suggest invested in a pair of UVA/B Polarized sunglasses, as there is a lot of sun. Don't forget your sunscreen. And changes of clothes if you're afraid of armpit sweat.