How to Live in Pattaya in Thailand on Five Dollars a Day or Less
Five Dollars is 178 Thai Baht
At the time of writing the exchange rate on the US dollar means that you will only be getting 178 Thai Baht for your five dollars. Any thoughts of continuing on a Western lifestyle are just going to go out of the window. A tall Latte and a Skinny Blueberry Muffin in Starbucks is going to knock you back 155 Thai Baht so that is going to eat a great big hole in your daily budget.
You can do it though. You can eat well on $5.00 US a day in Pattaya, Thailand. Not if you are fussy, not if you are not prepared to try new things. But if you are prepared to boldly go where your palate has never gone before then you will not starve and may well find a number of dishes that you really like.
As in my previous article on How to Live in Pattaya Thailand for Ten Dollars a Day or Less I am assuming that you do have somewhere to live. It is possible to find a fan room for 200 or even 150 Thai Baht per day but again Western comforts are something that you will have to do without. Do give thought and consideration to joining Couchsurfing or a number of the other 'free' accommodation groups that I mention in my hub How to Travel Cheaply in Southeast Asia. Remember though it is very much give and take so if you take....Give!
Breakfast is important if you are living on a budget. Have a good breakfast and you can practically get through the whole day without eating anything else. Breakfasts in Pattaya can be had 24 hours a day so it doesn't really matter when you get up.
You might take a look at my review of Full English Breakfasts in Pattaya. Ok these are going to set you back 100 Baht but if you make the right choice it will be substantial. English 'type' breakfasts can be found cheaper and the cheapest I have found in Pattaya is for 48 Thai Baht at the Boat Steakhouse on 2nd Road.
From Beach Road walk up through Boys Town to Second Road and Cross over. You are practically at the Boat House. It is an open fronted fan establishment much favoured by 'Falang' looking for something to eat on the cheap. It has a good reputation and serves a variety of dishes.
Okay the Boat House Breakfast is not the best or the biggest but it is tasty, well prepared and will easily keep you going for four hours or more.
If the Boat House does not appeal. Leave, turn right and two hundred yards down the road you will find the 'Nags Head'. They do quite a good 'English Breakfast' for 78 Baht.
Boat House Breakfast
Rice and water. The two staples of Asia. Rice is a much more complex food than most people appreciate. In Thailand alone there are 17,000 different strains. It is hard to imagine and yet rice grown in some regions is eaten for medicinal purposes in others.
Nuay-Khua rice has 26 times more Vitamin E than average as well as more copper, iron and folic acid. Other strains are richer in vitamin B and Calcium. Rice is an excellent food.
Living on a budget in Asia you need rice. My best suggestion is 'Sticky Rice'. You will be able to purchase a couple of prepared bags in any street for as little as 5 Baht each. Eat these alongside whatever Thai meal you are consuming (apart from a rice based one that is) and it will really spread out your meal and fill you up. As a worst case scenario you could even live on a couple of bags of rice per day for a few days...along with water.
Realistically you are far better off eating Thai Food if you are trying to manage on a budget in Pattaya.
Keep away from the main streets and establishments with air conditioning because whatever the price is there it will be two thirds or more cheaper on the side streets. You will not sacrfice flavour either. You might even enhance it.
With Thai food you can eat 4-5 times a day. You will never be hungry. There are hundreds of places you can buy cheap food in Pattaya. There are perhaps thousands of street food vendors as well. All this food is good. They are Thai people selling to Thais. They would be out of business in five minutes if the food was bad!
Big 'Falang' type bars (not all are culprit) will charge you as much for a bottle of water or coke as they would for a beer. Not so in the small Thai Bars and sitting here you can order food from street vendors as well. Choose your location. Be as generous as you can and you will be rewarded time and time again.
Below you will find just a small selection of cheap readily availableThai meals.
Chicken Soup at 'Taste of Thailand'
Okay... the Chicken Soup in Taste of Thailand is 'English' food, but here is cooked Thai style. Very nutritious and quite delicious.
Don't forget water. It is easy to not budget for water. It is difficult to find a 'free' source anymore. You might get the odd cup in Starbucks if you ask or in hospital waiting rooms but you may have a walk. Happily water is not expensive. Firstly you should buy a 6 Litre bottle from the 7/11 or Family Mart or any big supermarket. These will set you back between 35 and 37 Baht. It is though just an initial expense because you can get refills for only 4 Baht at machines which are located on many roads. A fantastic saving of 31 Baht!
If you ask someone may sell you an empty 6 Litre bottle for around 5 Baht so you can save on the initial cost.
On Street Water Re-Fill
A useful tip - Befriend a Bar Girl
Bar Girls are a friendly lot. They are also very astute and capable of 'making do' in difficult times. They tend to eat in small groups, sharing food and expense. Those who have had a lucky night will always help those who are less fortunate.
I'm not suggesting that you take advantage of their good nature but if you are honest with them and tell them you have very little money they will show you where to get the best and cheapest deals. They will introduce you to 'street food', show you what is what. It is likely they will advise which foods would be a mistake for your stomach.
Lets face it, a very limited budget is going to put big constraints on entertainment. But in Pattaya one of the major forms of entertainment is free and that is 'people watching'. Walking Street is one of the best people watching venues in the world. Sadly you cannot eat or drink anywhere there because it is all too expensive. So bring a small bottle of water with you and walk slowly back and forward or find a corner or kerb where you can sit a while.
If you need a little alcohol to relax, give Thai Whiskey a try. You will get three shot glasses for 30 Baht. If you have watched your spending it is not an unreasonable expense.
Another good 'people watching' venue is Beach Road (The Coconut Bar). There are plenty of places to sit here and you will not be long sat before you have some company for conversation. So if you must have a beer, make it a big bottle of 'Leo' from the 7/11. You can sit on Beach Road and drink this...make it last an hour. If you are prepared to have a bit of a walk first go to Carrefour...here you will be able to buy your Leo from between 35-37 Baht, a saving of between 4 and 6 Baht on the 7/11.
There is never a night in Pattaya where there is not a party somewhere. Just about every party will have a roast pig as a minimum. I am not suggesting that you get yourself a 'Cheap Charlie' reputation and follow the party circuit but...once in a while buy a beer in a Party Bar and it will be worthwhile as you can 'pig out' on pig too. Party bars can be spotted because there are always balloons outside. Usually it is to celebrate a birthday or an anniversary.
How you live and what and where you eat is all a matter of personal choice. I do hope that I have given you a few ideas on how to eke out a limited supply of money.
Think back. You can easily eat three 35 Baht meals per day for just 105 Baht. Add to that your two packets of Sticky Rice and you have spent 115 Baht. 3 Litres of water 2 Baht. So that is the body taken care of for 117 Baht. Go on, have that Leo beer and you have spent 158 Baht Total.
You have 20 Baht change to carry over to tomorrow!
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