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

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

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

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.

This dish is made up of Chicken, Bamboo and Chilli. With the sticky rice it cost 35 Baht
This dish is made up of Chicken, Bamboo and Chilli. With the sticky rice it cost 35 Baht
Piece of grilled Chicken 30 Baht, Four fish (I had eaten one) at 25 Baht. 55 Baht Total.
Piece of grilled Chicken 30 Baht, Four fish (I had eaten one) at 25 Baht. 55 Baht Total.

Chicken Soup at 'Taste of Thailand'

Chicken Soup 55 Baht.
Chicken Soup 55 Baht.

Okay... the Chicken Soup in Taste of Thailand is 'English' food, but here is cooked Thai style. Very nutritious and quite delicious.

Liver, Prawns and Rice. 35 Baht
Liver, Prawns and Rice. 35 Baht
Chicken and Noodles. 35 Baht
Chicken and Noodles. 35 Baht
Some other choices at Lek's Place on Soi X-Zyte. Very popular with Falang 'in the know'.
Some other choices at Lek's Place on Soi X-Zyte. Very popular with Falang 'in the know'.

Water

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

Drinking water at 6 Litres for 4 Baht
Drinking water at 6 Litres for 4 Baht

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.

Entertainment

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.

At the 7/11 Heineken (330 ml) will cost you 39 Baht and the Leo (630 ml) just 41 Baht.
At the 7/11 Heineken (330 ml) will cost you 39 Baht and the Leo (630 ml) just 41 Baht.

Personal Choice

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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Comments 27 comments

Mrvoodoo profile image

Mrvoodoo 7 years ago from ?

mmmmm Leo, love it.  Great hub and extremely useful to me, I'm desperately trying to figure out what would be the minimum amount I'd need daily to survive, but including accomodation costs, money for the monthly border hop etc.  and then work hard to get my daily adsense income to match it.  I'm at about $5-7 a day at the moment so at least I now know i'd be able to eat. 

I should probably go back to uni and finish my degree for the teaching work, but then I hear that's quite hard to get these days anyway.  And the only other job i've heard of for us foreigners is teaching scuba.

I don't know if you have any inside knowledge or tips on gaining emplyment in Thailand, etc. that would make a great hub.

Thanks again for the info, very useful.


David from Living Thailand 6 years ago

As you mentioned the food is great too. However, I haven't tried the liver with prawns; funny I never thought about putting those two things together, lol. It really is amazing to think how much you can live on, while living in a great country.


Ian 5 years ago

Some great tips. Thai food is great and the street food even better.


Andy 5 years ago

I always thought that living "cheap" meant roughing it. However, I am now convinced you CAN live in Thailand/Pattaya on a small budget. Great post and excellent photos. Keep up the good work.

Andy Http://pattayabound.blogspot.com


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 5 years ago from South East Asia Author

Thank you Andy - Pleased to have helped you plan it out in your mind.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 5 years ago from South East Asia Author

Jfd - I have deleted your comment because it was rude. If it had been minus the insults I would have happily published it, but then it would have shown that you had not actually properly read or understood the article.


graham 5 years ago

hi,pete,great article,restored my faith in coming out there,i have been quoted 4000 baht for my digs which is great and it left me with a budget of about 6000 baht a week,other sites have more or less said dont bother,but eating at the places you have descibed look brilliant,thanks


graham 5 years ago

pete,forgot to mention,i repair computers-laptops in uk,is there a market for freelancing in pattaya through an expat newspaper. thanks


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 5 years ago from South East Asia Author

Graham - We each choose our own lifestyles. If you watch your pennies you should be okay. Do consider things like Visas though. They can take a chunk unless you get one that lets you stay a while.

As to work....it is not allowed. It is a different set of rules altogether. There are newspapers and people to advertise similar but I am unsure which is legal and which is not.

Good luck.


Bram 4 years ago

I made the standard mistake of coming back to thailand to live here and go next to broke in two weeks while having a 100k baht per month in income. I had to survive two weeks but still wanted some basic level of entertainment. Here some hints from personal experience:

Small hint for the readers: There is a bar called Hallo at Walking Street which has draught beer for 29 baht until 1 AM.

For dinner, I love to visit the corner 2nd road / soi 7. They have 3 stands offering large meals for 40 baht on average. If even that is too expensive, check the stands on Pattaya Tai just passed the Tukom mall. There the average meal with rice, pork/chicken and veggies is only 30 baht. Drinking water is free here so after finishing the meal, make sure you drink an extra cup :)

About the bar girl hint: I went to a small thai mini supermarket on Soi 7 on the left of the Tequila Reefer bar. They sell bottles of Hong Thong whiskey for only 92 baht. I bought a bottle and walked back and forth on soi 7 two times until ladies changed the "hey sexy man" in "who are you looking for". I explained that I promissed a lady the bottle but she vanished. A bunch of shot glasses were taken and soon me, the girls and the behind the counter personel were taking shots having a great time. After that they asked me to join for walking on which I explained my situation. We went to flexx club and got a free bottle of whiskey (promotion if 5 ladies or more come in before 1 AM). The coke and ice bucket were paid by one of the ladies who was lucky with 2 short times. A lot of fun for only 92 baht and I still visit the bar once in a while, this time with money ;)


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 4 years ago from South East Asia Author

Thanks Bram for the valuable info. I too have been down to next to nothing...a lot less than five dollars for a while. Bar girls, bless them fed me for free for a while.


Vincent 4 years ago

Hello Peter,

well this hub and information gives me some idea about Pataya...i was thinking of going to live in Thailand with about 26 thousand dollars. I mean most people would laugh at me for the idea, but i want to do things in a very safe,prosperous and economic way. As i have been reading, your money GOES where-ever it goes....Thailand has a million ways of consuming your money but knowing the essential daily spends is vital for some planning.

What i don't understand is in the UK i would spend 20 ,30 or 40 pence per day on food...so i guesse 3.30 pounds sterling for cooked THAI meals just normal...(but i could spend that 3.30 in London cafes or even less in London SHOPS and survive....so how is Thailand cheap for food?)

hmmm...ok so maybe 4 cooked meals like that in London would be much more....nearer 15 pounds...but i would just eat from shops instead.

hmmm (don't people eat from shops in Thailand?)

Vince.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 4 years ago from South East Asia Author

Thanks Vince,

There is no way I could live on 40 pence a day in the UK for very long....though there are no doubt others who could.

Interesting question about eating from shops in Thailand. The supermarkets have plenty of shoppers and there are plenty of supermarkets...but at the end of the long hard day who wants to cook. A cheap meal, cameradrie and a beer.

As I said we each choose our own lifestyle.

Good luck


marites aropo 4 years ago

I love to go at Thailand I think is nice food and great people


Vince 4 years ago

Hello Peter....thanks for replying because my earlier message didn't really make much sense.

I just meant that i regularly live on 40 pence per day for food in London. So 3.30 pounds in THailand is a lot more than what i normally spend on daily food in London. Well it's basically 6 times more approx.

Ofcourse, 3.30 pounds in London cafe's would get you no-where. You'd get a good London breakfast..... but nothing else for the day.

i think the point is that eating OUT in Thailand is very cheap. Yes, it's nice to sit in a place, not worry and have a meal cooked for you. It is very cheap in Pataya and only a fool would cook at home.

However doing the math my UK food spends are roughly

about 400 pounds per year. i cook everything and i don't drink or smoke.

Thailand food would be 1200 pounds per year if eating out..... but if using thai superstores perhaps that would drop to 750. (Still double the UK)

I am just trying to see the truth about cheap living in Thailand. Thai Accommodation is the real high score because it's as much as 10 times cheaper than London(or more) But food, which is another essential, doesn't get nearly as high of a score.

If i stretched it out to reality. Thai food would cost me, in the first year, maybe 1200 dollars. I am careful

After that year...and knowing the ropes, it could drop to say 850 dollars per year on food.

i was hoping to do maybe 4 or 5 years in Thailand

who knows what can happen...right

thanks again

Vince.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 4 years ago from South East Asia Author

Good luck Vince, you sound like a man who can manage his money.


Vince 4 years ago

Jeez Pete...with my math, i would not get out of my front door of London.

Please ignore ALL my earlier emails ...they are garbage.

At 40 pence per day for London food...then 3.30 pound in Pattayya is 8 times more money per day.

So if i spend about 180 pounds per year on London food....(i will add in some elastic and call it 230 pounds per year). Then Thailand is going to be 8 times more..... reaching 1840 pounds per year.

so

ONE YEAR London Food in US Dollars = 360$ yr....

ONE YEAR Thai Food US dollars needed= 2880$ yr.....

So for 4 years of thai food it *could* cost me $11500 US dollars which is a lot more than 1440 US dollars needed for 4 years of London food.

See that is a big difference Pete...it's 10 thousand dollars MORE MONEY for me to live in Thailand on Thai food for 4 years.

Lets say i knock 30 percent off that food bill by using Thai superstores over the years. That is still 7000 US dollars MORE COST to me for 4 years Thai food.

I think these are good figures to go by.

It is difficult for me to say. I never seen Thai superstores.

But now when i wrap in Thai Visa trips and charges for 4 years...(80 dollars per month) = 3800 dollars.

That's 10,800 dollars spent already.

accommodation for 4 years?..you can find a nice furnished place with utilities for 2200 bar/month by "sharing" with another person (but it depends on the landlord attitude) (add elastic, 3000 bat per month)

That is 4500 US dollars for 4 year.

Total now spent for 4 years in Pattya is 15,300 US dollars.

Start to think about laundry, phone lines, toiletries, general clothes, bank charges, insurance...travel...(add another 1000 dollars per year.)

Total now spent 4 years in Pattaya...20,300 US dollars.

I have been very careful here. Lets say you get wise after 12 months, i still think 20,300 US $ is realistic and has a good security net to it for 4 thai years

It leaves me 5700 US dollars entertainment spends which is just fine for 4 thai years.

That's the Thai reality Pete. I have been careful here with calculations...but it's pretty common sense reasoning....

thanks then

VInce.


Vince 4 years ago

Ye..Pete those are very realistic figures for me. When you start to talk about these time frames, rents can be drastically reduced for advanced booking. Having lived alone my entire life, i am almost expert with money and stuff.

These figures are a really good planning guide for me and are realistic. There are flights to wrap in. But also i have other odds and ends to wrap in here before i leave the UK.

I have allowed for OLDER internet articles ...upping the prices for 3 years inflation and stuff.

just to finish off Pete...i have met many many people who have lived in Thailand....and one thing i noticed, they now live in the UK again. (interesting)

But then guess what?..you talk with these people and often they spend for ever talking about Thailand, not what they did last week in Sheffield...and ONE think i noticed everybody said is..."there is one MAJOR problem with thailand" they say. "what's that?" i say...

"you'll never want to come back HERE".... they say.

Now pete, those people have only spent 12 months MAX in Thailand...never going any longer than that time period...but going several times.

I say why the hell bother...go to Thai for the max duration you can manage...maybe even never come back....( and to be honest i think that is the mistake most people Make...they DO come back to the UK far too soon)

i noticed many of them end up with Thai wives....even my brother treaded these boards and has been happy for married for 10 years....(although this is something i would want to fervently avoid doing)

anyway thanks again

Vince.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 4 years ago from South East Asia Author

Good luck, whatever you decide. Many UK types do six months in Thailand and six months at 'home'. I have no home other than Thailand or wherever I can get a bit of work. Thailand is as good as it gets....forget the money. I am happy in Thailand. Happiness matters more than anything.


Vince 4 years ago

Peter

i never replied to you but was always meaning to do so....yes you are right

happiness is important....and i think in your case you realize that and so you

are a winner no matter what. (it's not about money).

Witout anything to compare to.....ONE can't really gauge happiness or sometimes even know what it is....( i know this much for certain...i never ever see a smiling face here....be that inside a Range Rover or Porsche or

even having a nice meal.....

anyhow....there are also other factors Peter....the UK is a terrible terrible mess now.....DOUBLE RECESSSION.....MASSES OF UK DEBT......and Olympics Billl that can never ever be paid for....a government that you would not trust even with a monopoly board game.......... and also OCEANS of crime in London now at the highest levels imaginable 365 days per year......it's riddled to Saturn with corruption here Peter.....

Well......i meant to say, good on you for finding happiness because that is intelligent

Vince.


Juha 4 years ago

i m sure u can eat same price in thailand than uk whit same livestyle.


cavcan 3 years ago

well Bhats that!


Shaun 3 years ago

Very interesting read ;) My current situation is that I am self-employed working online for the last 3+ years. I have no commitments in my own country, and I am just 34 years of age.

As long as I had internet connection in place I was living (would not have to be the best), then I think moving to Thailand for some adventure would be great.

I would still have to be very careful of how I live. I earn on average £40 a day, which in a 30 day month would work out at about 58,000 Baht.

From this of course I would need to have a room, internet, be comfortable with air-condition etc, and then daily food (I am quite flexible with different foods and love rice and noodles).

That would be my main costs I think, I don't require to go out partying and drinking each night, but definitely go out at least once a week for really good time.

I think I am quite smart with my money also, so I would not needlessly spend it on things I never really needed.

Do you think all that I have said would classify me as someone who would be quite comfortable on this journey?

(I would of course pay for flights etc and return flight all outwith this budget prior to leaving).

Any advice much appreciated, and am enjoying the hub.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 3 years ago from South East Asia Author

58,000 Baht is more than enough to live comfortably each and every month. Just don't let the wild life grab you or your heart (and common sense) be stolen.


Kimberly Vaughn profile image

Kimberly Vaughn 18 months ago from Midwest

I found this hub so interesting! Thank you for sharing!


GS 18 months ago

Thank you for all the information.

It's been a great help along with other great blogs and people who provide information.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 2 months ago from Udorn City, Thailand

Having lived in Thailand for many years and having been to Pattaya many times, I found this article very interesting and informative. The problem with eating sticky rice and nothing else is that it will make you constipated from my experience. By befriending the bar girl, maybe you will get more than food if she really likes you!

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