Budgeting for Thailand (Bangkok/Hua Hin)

Here’s my budgeting for a 5D4N trip to Bangkok/Hua Hin. Total damage is $872.36.

Exchange rate used: 1SGD = 25B

Details  Per Person (SGD)
Airfare – Singapore to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport

  • Fly by Tiger, Return by Jetstar + Share 20kg luggage

Insurance

$221.41

$18.20

Accommodation (twin beds; amount divide by 2)
Stonehead Hua Hin (2 nights)
Centara Watergate Pavilion (2 nights)
$42.11
$99.08
Transportation (More Significant Amount, all amounts divided)

  • Taxi from Airport to Hua Hin (2500/5 = 625B)
  • 6 hours hired driver for Hua Hin/Cha-am (1800/2=900B)
  • Bus from Hua Hin to Bangkok Airport ($11.48 each)
  • Tuk Tuk rides (120+100+100+100)/2 = 210B
  • Taxi rides (most expensive was from impact arena to bkk central where we paid 150B each) 447.5B
  • BTS/Airport Rail/Metro in Bangkok – 189B
$106.34
Food – 3350.5B

  • Seafood meal at Hua Hin lobster + jumbo prawn at 500B
  • Ate at Audrey Cafe (680B), Shibuya Toast @ After You etc.
 $134.02
Attractions – 1870B

  • Santorini Park + Camel Republic (150B)
  • Feed alpaca at Camel Republic (20B)
  • Massage (Hua Hin – 200B) +
  • Least-Value-For-Money-Massage (Health Land – 1500B)
 $74.80
Misc (Including 2B toilets) + Tips – 204B

  • Shared 7-day Data Card (299B/2)
 $8.16
Shopping – 4406B

  • Shirts, Slippers, Bag, Bracelet, Local Snacks, Snacks from 7-11 (521B)
$176.24
 Total $880.36

Although my budget was $1,000 for this 5D4N trip, I was secretly hoping that it could range around $600-700 since I only spent $475 for my 4D3N Krabi trip. Then again, I can’t complain much since the tickets and accommodation were booked less than 2 weeks prior to the trip. Furthermore, I was traveling on a Hari Raya, a popular travel date since it could be connected to be a long-weekend vacation. Anyway, here are some tips to save even more money!

Air Tickets for Budget Airlines

Do note that the most annoying thing about budget airlines is the convenience fee that you have to pay for credit card payment. Some airlines – Jetstar, Air Asia & Tiger have OFFLINE payment where you can pay at AXS Machine, SAM Machine or 7-11 shops if your flight date is more than 7 to 14 days away (excluding the day of booking). OFFLINE payment modes are usually FREE or cheaper (in the case of Tiger) and you only pay a flat fee per transaction. This means that if you’re traveling with a friend or in a group, it is advisable to book the tickets together instead of individually!

If you are flying by Scoot, on those suspiciously “cheap” promotions, they usually put it in the fine print that only credit card payments are accepted. So the next time you are staring at the super cheap Scoot Prices, kindly add $18 for the credit card fees.

Air Asia Jet Star Tiger Scoot
Offline Payments No extra Charges.SingPost or 7-Eleven; available up to 14 days prior to departure.

 

No extra Charges.SingPost or 7-Eleven; available up to 14 days prior to departure. $5 for payment done at AXS machine SingPost/SAM Payment is available BUT usually for promo flights, only Credit Card Payment is accepted.
Credit Card Payment $8 per flight per passenger $8 per flight per passenger$4 for direct debit via eNets $9 per flight per passenger $9 per flight per passenger

*Information accurate as at Oct 2015

Buy Luggage Allowance with Air Tickets

Do note that some budget airlines have recently revised (aka reduce) their free carry-on baggage allowance. In the past, it used to be 10kg for Jet Star.. I believe Tiger will be reducing to 7kg in time to come to remain “competitive” in the budget airlines industry.

Air Asia Jet Star Tiger Scoot
Hand-Carry Cabin Allowance 7kg56x36x23cm 7kg56x36x23cm 10kg54x38x23cm 7kg54x38x23cm

So.. how often do they check your carry-on baggage? For me it happens 60% of the time, usually at the check-in counter and they will give you this tag which indicates that your bag’s weight has been checked. I have never gotten checked before entering the plane before (though I vaguely remember I witnessed a few cases in Europe). Anyway, there’s one trick I practice. The counter staff usually don’t check your “handbag” or “laptop bag”. For me, this “bag” is usually a backpack which weighs a lot heavier than it looks. Thus, as long as my carry-on luggage falls within 7kg, I’m pretty safe.

Which brings me to the next point.. when visiting countries where shopping is in your itinerary, it doesn’t cost a lot to just add a 15 or 20kg baggage allowance for your return flight. Buying luggage is cheapest when you buy it together with the air tickets using their “Bundle” option. Then, the price increases slightly if you buy luggage allowance after you book your tickets via the “Manage my Booking” option. Finally, the price increases exponentially (like 300%) if you choose to buy it at the airport. To make things worse, the penalty for excess baggage surcharge is even crazier (from) $15 PER KG which exceeds the limit.

You can cry and beg at the counter but if the counter staff’s supervisor is looming behind the area, you should just drop your act and proceed to unpack your luggage or throw away items which you can leave behind. Alternatively, you can try checking in very late, few minutes before the counter close and pray it doesn’t close on you. The counter staff may be more concerned with closing the counter and rushing to the gate than to spend time watching your act. Have not tried out this option before so take my opinion with caution 😉 

Anyway, my recommendation is to just buy baggage allowance (at least for your return flight) and save all that trouble. It is just approximately $20 for a 15-20kg luggage allowance and it can eliminate a lot of stress.

Accommodation in Bangkok

We could have save a lot more money by choosing a cheaper hotel but I wanted to choose a 5-star hotel as the prices were kind of rock bottom since it was during the aftermath of the terrorist bombing. My stay at Centara Watergate Pavilion was pretty average. There was no swimming pool (not as if we had time to swim) and our initial plans to visit the rooftop bar were all shelved as we were so tired every night. There was no bathtub in the toilet (cheapest option) and breakfast was not included in our $99/night price. That aside, the beds were big and super comfortable. It was a struggle to wake up every morning. Location was perfect as it was within 5 minutes walk from the Airport Rail Line. It cost 40B each for the journey but if you are traveling in a group of 4, it might be more worthwhile to share a taxi (about 200B to Suvarnabhumi airpor without traffic jam). Staying at Pratunam area is slightly less convenient as Platinum Mall is about 5 to 7 minutes walk away; Central World, Siam Paragon is approx 15 to 20 minutes walk away. Staying near Platinum or Siam BTS might have been more convenient for shopping. There are many other hotels in Bangkok which are definitely cheaper than $99/night. Take your time to choose the right one 🙂

Transport in Bangkok

Although Bangkok’s cost of living is lower than Singapore, their train and metro prices (not exactly sure if we can call them public since they are privately owned) are kind of steep in comparison. BTS can cost 25B (1SGD) for a 15 minute ride approximately 5 stations away and transferring from BTS to Metro or Airport Rail requires separate gantries and payment methods.

Buying tickets for BTS is painfully annoying as you will have to make the payment in coins and the machine doesn’t accept 2B coins. You have to queue for the counter to change your notes to coins and than queue for the machine to issue you the ticket which comes in the form of a RFID coin chip. Thankfully, the machines for Airport Rail and Metro accepts notes.

In comparison, the taxi fares in Bangkok starts from 35B for the 1st km. Our taxi rides usually cost about 100-150B in comparison to spending 50B+ each for taking BTS/Metro/Airport Line. The only unlucky thing that can happen (which happens quite frequently) is being stuck in a traffic jam and you might end up becoming late (wasting time) and paying more. Generally, taxis are plentiful in the main areas and you can just pick and choose for a driver that accepts meter taxis. The only time where we couldn’t get a metered taxi was to and from Impact Arena (somewhat at the outskirts) where the taxi drivers know that demand for taxis exceed the supply.

Tuk Tuks, popularly known as being a touristy hipster transport, is very expensive. Drivers are unwilling to charge anything less than 100B no matter how short the distance is. This remains true in all my experiences across Bangkok and Hua Hin. We took a Tuk Tuk from Platinum Mall to MBK because we were lazy to walk down to Siam BTS Station (10 minutes walk away) and the queue for proper metered taxi (managed by a staff) was very long. The ride would have cost 50 to 60B if we took a metered taxi yet we paid 100B for a less comfortable (no aircon and noisy) Tuk Tuk ride. It all boils down to demand and supply and all the additional factors (willingness to wait, willingness to walk) which could affect your decision.

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