As many of you may already know, on September 7, 2018 I married the love of my life, Randy (the only man who rubs my feet and is okay with me never touching his because I detest feet).
Because we had our hearts set on getting married in September and I teach, we couldn’t go on our honeymoon right away. We also didn’t want to wait until summer 2019 so, Christmas break was our best option.
Once we decided when we were going, we had to decide where we were going. Our first choice was Asia because neither one of us have been there before and we don’t know a ton about the culture. We also figured, if we’re going to spend about 2 weeks on our honeymoon let’s go somewhere far and somewhere we wouldn’t normally think to go to.
The first country that popped into my head was Thailand. Gorgeous beaches, ancient history, rich culture, delicious food, what more could you ask for? Randy was quickly onboard and we began planning out our honeymoon to Phuket, Thailand. We had a total of 12 days to explore and soak in all that Phuket has to offer.
Because I’m me, I tracked every cent we spent during those 12 days. And our total for food, drinks, transportation, entertainment, an afternoon with elephants, a couples Thai massage, and a little shopping? *drum roll* $4,720.31!
It all cost less than $5,000? For 12 days? In ASIA? Monika, you crazy??
Nope, I’m not crazy, I just love seeing my bank account stay nice and full. (And I want to keep my dream of retiring at 30 alive…4 years to go!).
How did we do it? How did two adults spend 12 full days in Thailand all for less than $5,000? Welllll…….
1. We bought our tickets right when they became available
Randy and I bought our tickets when the December dates became available in February. In February the flights were $1,112, round trip. We were not playing around so we bought the tickets right away. We also decided to fly out of JFK in New York because the flights leaving Boston were $800 more. $1,600 for the both of us to fly out of Boston, no thank you.
New York is 4 hours away so we knew we could convince someone to take us (thanks mom and dad!). And when we came back from Thailand, we took a bus from NYC that took us directly back to our hometown in Massachusetts, only $40 a person.
2. Food is very, VERY cheap in Thailand
I knew that we definitely weren’t going to break the bank by going to Thailand but I had no idea how inexpensive it really is! The first 3 days we went glamping at an Airbnb on Rawai beach. Vin, our gracious host, had a full menu of meals, snacks, and drinks. Everything was so delicious that it felt like we were getting away with highway robbery when we got our final bill. $72. That was it! $72 for 3 days of breakfast, snacks, drinks (so many mojitos), and some meals.
After glamping we moved onto the Navatara Resort Hotel, just down the road from Vin’s place. Navatara also had incredible food. I don’t know how many times I ordered the Phat Si-Io and Thai Iced Tea. They kept a tab on our room for food and drinks that we ordered. (By the way, no extra charge for room service! Hell ya, who doesn’t love eating in bed?!!). At the end of our 8 day stay at Navatara, our food bill was about $150. The waistline in my pants is screaming SOS but it was all worth it, so worth it.
3. We paid someone to chauffeur us around
If you have ever been to Phuket, you know that public transportation is basically non-existent. The main ways of getting around are: Tuk-Tuk, renting a scooter/car, or getting a taxi. A Tuk-Tuk is only viable for short distance travel and renting a scooter/car is only for the truly brave, so getting a taxi to travel around the peninsula was our best option.
Vin, the owner of the glamping Airbnb we stayed at, explained that the best deal for us was to pay a flat rate of 1500 baht for 3 hours. Most taxis will charge you about 600 baht ($18) for a one way trip within Phuket. 1500 baht, that’s about $45 to be taken wherever we want and have the driver stay with us, and even suggest their favorite stops.
4. Sometimes a package deal isn’t the worst thing ever
Randy and I wanted to go to Phi Phi Island for a day but I didn’t want to get roped into going with one of the tour groups that was publicized around Phuket. When we asked the woman at the front desk where we could catch the ferry to go to Phi Phi Island she insisted we do the daily package.
She explained that for an extra 500 baht (the standard ferry tickets are 1000 baht) it would include transportation to and from the pier and lunch. The brochure, though, had an itinerary with a structured timetable for snorkeling and swimming. I could feel my eyes roll back into my head when I read “itinerary,” but I told myself to stay open-minded.
In the end, the package deal was completely worth it. For 1500 baht each (about $45) we didn’t have to worry about getting a taxi. We were picked up in the morning and brought back to our hotel in the afternoon. We were given lunch. And best of all, we didn’t have to stick to their activities. There was an option to go snorkeling/swimming and an option to explore the island. So I stood corrected. This was a “package” that made our lives easier and we were able spend the afternoon as we pleased.
5. We stayed away from Patong
Monika is a planner. Monika likes to plan way ahead of schedule. Monika booked her honeymoon airbnb and hotel 10 months before her actual honeymoon. Monika panicked 9 1/2 months later that she made a mistake and booked a place in the middle of nowhere. Monika freaked out so much that she tried to cancel her hotel 2 weeks before her honeymoon. Randy is a sane person. Randy told Monika that everything would be okay. And it was.
Ya…… so I freaked out BIG TIME 2 weeks before our honeymoon. I’m not proud of it. When I looked at our hotel’s location I did some research and read that Rawai Beach wasn’t as “poppin” as Patong. I immediately thought, oh my God. I’ve ruined my honeymoon. Randy brought my back down to Earth and we agreed that we had to wait and see. No matter what, we’d make the best out of any situation while on this trip.
The morning we checked out of the glamping Airbnb, we went over to Navatara and checked in. As we were greeted at the taxi with this really delicious flower juice and pineapple, a flood of tranquility and happiness washed over me. Basically, I chilled the f*ck out!
I realized that it was a blessing that I wasn’t able to cancel our hotel. First off Navatara, and the Rawai area in general, is so ridiculously cheap. Much cheaper than the Patong area. Second, we were thrilled after we saw all the perks that Navatara has to offer its guests. And third, after going to Patong for a night out, we realized that we were so much better staying away from the “heart” of Phuket.
It’s a fun area but it’s nuts! There’s no way we would have been able to relax and disconnect in Patong as much as we did in Rawai. So not only did we help our wallets by staying away from Patong but we also helped our sanity.
Expense Breakdown for Thailand:
Massage (2 hours): $50.09
Phuket Elephant Sanctuary (Transportation & Lunch included): $223.86
Day Trip to Phi Phi Island (Transportation & Lunch included: $95.18
Simon Cabaret Show $78.27
Our trip to Thailand was the trip of a lifetime! It was the perfect combination of exploration and relaxation, budgeting and indulgence. We wanted to enjoy our honeymoon and treat ourselves but we also didn’t want to go broke. Luckily, we chose the right place. As a result, our bank accounts are still in tack and we can start planning our trip to Europe in August 🙂