Living in Bangkok, Thailand on $500US a Month Budget

This update is about how one could spend an entire month in Bangkok, Thailand on a ~$500US budget, if one were so inclined. $500US is ~ 15,000baht. Therefor your budget is ~500 baht a day. If you truly wish to spend only $500US, I’d recommend 450baht a day and keep the last $50US or 1500 baht for misc expenditures that may / will arise. Also factor in the price of the airport shuttle back and forth…

Airport to Downtown and Back:

Bus: You can take a shuttle for 160baht, that’s ~$5.33US. It will take you straight to Khao San Road.

Local Bus:

I’ve heard of it, never took it but I’m sure very cheap


It’s 400 baht or ~$13US, key is to just find other people going there and split it. I’ve split my cab each time and paid 200baht. If you wish, you can split it 3 way or 4 way, the choice is yours.

I’ve taken this cab for 400baht with no meter and people say I got ripped off. Guess what? I took this cab WITH A METER at ~2AM the other night with a new friends and it came to 350 baht and then they charge you the toll you go through so 400 baht. Same same so don’t stress over it.


Go to Khao San Road. You can get places from 150-250baht a night ~$5-$8.75US a night. I have also heard of some ladies sharing a room for 200 baht or ~$3.25us each a night. If you arrive late at night, you may have trouble finding a place in this area, usually there are always some less than great places directly off Khao San that will hold you the first night. At these prices, do not expect air con, just a fan and not much more, probably shared bathroom. For what it’s worth, most would agree that air conditioning is not needed.

If you did some planning, you could probably find an apartment or rent a room from someone or even couch surf, seriously.


Eat on the streets, most of the kitchens attached to restaurants just charge extra for their overhead, the food isn’t really that much better, trust me. You can get pad thai with no egg ~25baht, with egg, 30 baht, egg and chicken ~35-40 baht. If it’s “after hours”they jack it to 60 baht.

Fruit shakes – 20 baht

Chicken, Pork or Beef skewers ~ 10 baht

Around the corner from Khao San, plethora of options including curries for ~35 baht or ~$1.15US

Orange Juice (Freshly Squeezed) $0.33 a small, ~$0.80 a large.

Water: You can get water for ~5-15baht depending on size. If on a budget, never get a small bottle, get a 1.5L or at many street restaurants they have this ~1L for 5 baht.

Need a break? You can go to 7/11 and get ham and cheese (grilled) for 22 baht, it’s delicious trust me on this one.


Tuk Tuk:

You can get a tuk-tuk from Khao San to say MBK or anywhere else of that general distance for ~10-20baht. (put 4 people in a tuk tuk and it’s 5 baht each) The key is to say “I’ll do 1 stop, not 2, just 1”. They will bring you to a suit store or something of that nature. They get paid to bring you there and therefor give you a ridiculously reduced fee. If you plan on “playing this game” long term, I recommend you keep ALL the suit stores so when you get in your tuk tuk you can show your driver where you’ve been. Trust me, there are 1000’s of stores, you could do this for an entire month no problem.

Note: If you do the whole “stop” program, you should look genuinely interested in a suit, ask questions, feel the fabrics, ask several questions about deals for 2-3 suits, if they will throw in some shirts etc…  Also ask what the difference in quality between prices are and whatnot, the suits are nice, trust me. When done, ask for a card and tell them that you’re “considering a suit and would like one” but first, must view many places to find the best deal, do your due diligence so to speak. You also have to look like someone who would genuinely need a suit or have a use for a suit, if you look destitute, stick to the bus. This works well for me as I will be buying suits before I head back to North America.

Local Bus:

You can get most places on local bus, my first time here, I met this girl who “wanted the experience” or she was just cheap, who knows. Either way, I rode the local bus and it cost me ~3-7baht (not sure) to get to MBK. It’s not FAR but it’s far enough. You can catch it right off a main street near Khao San.


Forget it if you are going to make this tiny budget work.



Lot’s to see and do depending on WHO YOU ARE, if there are many things you wish to see including but not limited to: a cool culture, temples, mega malls and whatnot, then yes lots to do. I’m sure there are other things as well, to each their own. Also what’s wrong with jut hanging out, meeting new people and sipping on a coffee while enjoying a book, people watching etc…


Drink socially and get your drinks from the 7/11. It’s 40 baht for a large beer, I recommend Chang. It’s 25 for a small beer, hence I recommend the larger one. After midnight when the 7/11 closes prices get jacked drastically, we’re talking 80b for a small beer. I know it’s still cheap compared to say North America or Europe but could derail your budget, quickly.


Cheapest Internet I’ve found is 0.5b a minute. It all depends on how much you use the internet, if, like myself, you work from the internet and write a blog, you may end up spending ~$2-3US a day or ~$60-$90 a month. There is a place on the second floor of an Israeli hostel that has free internet. 40b an hour is relatively standard in most places.

Thoughts and Tips:

There are plenty of nicer options but if you’re on $500US then your options are limited. That said, unless you just start buying things because you’re bored, this budget is very doable. That’s ~$15US a day spending with $50 left over for “misc” expenditures. Your biggest expense will most likely be your apartment unless you go uber cheap and enjoy the never ending nightlife.

If you want to keep to this budget, it is imperative that you put your daily spending cash in your wallet and nothing else. If carrying around a lot of cash, expect to spend more. The one exception is say ~500 baht for “emergencies” but keep that in a separate location. As your money gets spent you start to realize how much you have left for the day, by doing this you better rationalize your remaining expenditures.

Also ask yourself constantly “do I need this?”, sure it’s cheap but “do I need this?” Think back home how much do you eat, or drink or any of the above? Just because a shake is cheap, do you really need 4-5 a day? It’s odd how when things are cheap, people have a tendency to over indulge.

I used $500US a month for the budget as I wrote a similar post on this about Bali.

The key to making these things work is just being efficient with your money. I’m not going to say that I always practice what I preach, but I could and have often times spent ~450 baht in a day and had a good day. If you stay out late at night, you will probably spend more but that is true anywhere in the world in my opinion. For most young travelers, night life is their #1 expense.

I’ve just used 2 hours online, looking stuff up, chatting with friends and writing this. Also used ~45 minutes earlier. It sounds crazy but this time spent online could of bought the majority of my meals for the day ~ 90 baht. For 90 baht, I could of eaten a pad thai, a curry and a big jug of water.

In closing, this is a very transient part of town. Many people START & END their trip here. Often people spend the most at the beginning during the honey moon of the trip or at the end when the reality that this will all be a memory very soon starts to sink in… Act accordingly or your budget will be blown in NO TIME.

Have fun,

Update: Played the “budget game” today and it is totally doable.

I will note that “misc” expenses include but not limited to: laundry 25-50b a kilo, antibiotics if you get sick etc etc etc…

Author: SHABL

Rob has been traveling the world and living abroad for over a decade. The goal was to stop having a boring life and it turned into something far greater. He's worked with national tourism boards and been mentioned in National Geographic. These days he lives abroad and loves business, technology, the tropical lifestyle, good food and travel.

8 thoughts on “Living in Bangkok, Thailand on $500US a Month Budget

  1. Thanks to you I was already planning to do a month of downtime in Bali, and now I’m adding Bangkok too. I love staying someplace long enough to really get settled in and learn the ins and outs. Plus I’ll be trying to make some money online, so the time will be handy.

    I’ll probably hit BKK this spring sometime. We’ll see how it goes. Thanks for the great info (on both places)!

  2. Have you been on the boat? It’s a great way of going between Sukumvit & the MKK/Freedom monument, and it’s fairly cheap (and fun!)

  3. Great write up. I’m hoping to hit up Thailand within the next couple of years. I’m kinda in love with the food 🙂

  4. Nice blog and a great source of inspiration!
    Only thing i would offer for a bit of help is if you get off of Khao San and into Sukhumvit where all the expats live and hang out you may have an easier time keeping your budget small and still have plenty of people to hang out with in a more authentic Bangkok setting than the chaos of Khao San. Don’t get me wrong, Khao San can be fun but many I know would not consider it a place to spend the long-term or really experience the variety Bangkok has to offer on a budget. After all, it is generally the very first stop for travelers entering SE Asia, many of them with full wallets and not used to the daily hustle which has become expected and tends to draw plenty of attention to this area as a source of wealth to the cunning.

    All in all I would say try Sukhumvit for a much wider variety of offerings, less hustle to get the decent prices and a higher ratio of Thai to travelers, but that is just my opinion.

  5. Good points, but the very best deals for internet use would have to be at the countless shops catering to the locl youths. AWAY from tourist gehttos like Chao San Rd and the Sukumviet Rd strip. 20bht an hour or less!

  6. Chang is usually around 29 baht a can now. Beer is not cheap at all in Thailand, at least compared to China!

    Bangkok’s biggest secret is the airport rail link. The fare from the airport to Phaya Thai BTS skytrain station was actually less than the skytrain fare from Phaya Thai to my home in Ekamai!

    Talking of the BTS – it’s out of bounds if you’re here on a budget!

    The red buses with the open windows are sometimes free, but good luck figuring out the timetable. And thanks to traffic you’ll probably not go more than a block anyway.

    7-11 sandwiches are also great – 24 baht and they’ll even warm them up for you.

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