Didn’t someone say that Thailand is a backpacker’s paradise? Then why are we talking about traveling to Thailand on a budget? While some parts of this gorgeous and highly hospitable country might be known for being pocket friendly – there are other parts of Thailand that can be unbelievably expensive.
Phuket for instance.
Even though I’ve visited Phuket twice before, my memory is foggy on just how expensive the largest and most popular island of Thailand is.
This time, I made sure to note down all the expenses of my trip and was shocked to find that I spent the majority of it on stay and transport followed by food.
And guess what?
I spent only a small portion of it on activities even though I tried a whole bunch of them. From ziplining through the forests of Phuket, elephant feeding in an ethical elephant park, and an authentic 2-hour Thai massage. In fact, I saved more on activities than I spent.
Thanks to TAGTHAi Pass – the all-in-one Thailand Travel Pass.
TAGTHAi Pass – Thailand’s First Digital Tourist Pass
TAGTHAi is a travel super app where you can book single-day or multi-day passes for activities in Thailand.
If you have limited time, then I’d suggest going for the 1-day pass and if you are staying for longer, then a 3-day pass would be more appropriate. Note that only Chiang Mai and Phuket have 3-day passes at the moment.
Also, they are constantly onboarding new activities, so when you opt to use the pass, you might find an even larger range of activities than I did.
How to use TAGTHAi Pass
Step 1: Buy the Phuket pass, either a 1-day or a 3-day pass either on the app or the website.
Step 2: Once you order the pass, you can activate the pass on the morning of the day you’ll be using the pass. You’ll be issued an explorer pass which essentially includes a QR code associated with your account
Step 3: Go to the attraction that’s included in the pass, and scan the QR code in the TAGTHAi app to redeem. And voila, you are in. As simple as that.
How much does a TAGTHAi pass cost?
The cheapest 1-day pass costs around 16 USD for cities like Pattaya & Ayutthaya and the most expensive 1-day pass costs around 74 USD for Chiang Mai.
For Phuket, a 1-day TAGTHAi pass costs around 45 USD, and a 3-day TAGTHAi pass costs 92 USD.
The pass is valid till 11:59 pm on the same day in case of a 1-day pass, or 11:59 pm on the 3rd day in case of a 3-day pass.
I ended up ordering a 1-day pass to Phuket owing to limited time and it was a game changer for me. So I wanted to share this little secret with you too.
What activities are included in the Phuket 1-day pass?
- Hanuman World Ziplining
- Thai Massage at Sansabai Spa
- Thai Massage at Raintree Spa
- Elephant Bathing at Phuket Eco Elephant Park
- Elephant Feeding at Elephant Jungle Sanctuary
- Banana Beach Snorkeling
- Steak Ao-Kae Restaurant
- Kopi de Phuket Cafe & Restaurant
- Hickory Restaurant
- Sugar Dark Cafe Restaurant
- Cherna 88 Restaurant
Note that the activities mentioned here are also part of the 3-day pass.
If you are planning on going with the 1-day pass, this is the itinerary I’d suggest to make the most of your day. All of these activities are inclusive when you opt for the pass.
Ziplining in Phuket
Start the day early with zip lining in Phuket. The transfer is included as part of your package, so you’ll be picked up from the hotel. Which is great considering it’s not easy or cheap to get around Phuket.
Ziplining is not really a well-known activity in Phuket but I’d highly recommend it. It’s a whole different feeling ziplining through the dense canopy of trees and I’m sure will be the highlight of your trip to Phuket.
This activity needs to be reserved one day in advance. I’d suggest you reserve 8:00-9:00 on your preferred date (the earliest time slot available) to make the best use of your 1-day TAGTHAi Pass.
I’d suggest you wear shoes to this activity.
Package includes zip lining across 10 platforms (3 ziplines), roller (fastest zipline), skywalk, and buffet lunch.
Duration: 2-4 hours
Actual Cost: 2490 baht
Things to carry: Sunscreen, Mosquito repellent.
Elephant feeding at Elephant Jungle Sanctuary
This sanctuary has rescued elephants from the circus, logging, and riding camps. Situated on an expansive 40-acre land, this elephant park follows European standards of elephant protection, and has to be one of the most genuine elephant parks I’ve come across.
The elephant feeding program is usually once every 2-3 hours, so I’d say it’s best to book ahead.
Although, I did a walk-in and there was a program happening in 20 mins, that might not always be the case.
I was particularly touched by the ever-dancing circus elephant (elephants have great memories and she still remembers her dance movements from the circus she was rescued), and another elephant who was blind with a skin disease.
The staff told me that there’s no riding allowed in this camp as there were elephants here rescued from riding camps.
It was nice to see that they finally have a safe haven in this sanctuary.
Package includes elephant feeding activity with guide + 1 complimentary drink
Duration: 1 hour
Actual Cost: 900 baht
Visit Restaurants in Phuket Town
Time to stop at one of the many restaurants located in Old Phuket town for a wholesome meal.
Note that, you have a special set available on the app to choose from and not just anything on the menu.
The restaurants and the dishes available in these restaurants as part of the TAGTHAi pass are mentioned below:
An all-steak restaurant. Options include pork chop & herbal juice, or spaghetti, french fries, and herbal juice.
Kopi de Phuket Cafe & Restaurant
A local restaurant located in the heart of Phuket town. Options include Chicken curry with roti, Noodles with ham, and Bread with custard. All of these different set options come with lemon iced tea.
This restaurant is not in Phuket town but in Ko Kaeo, about 11km from Old Phuket Town. It serves homemade German sausages and special espresso.
Options include Honey lemon salad, Kao Thai-French beef, Beef cheek massamun & garlic butter roti, Leberkase burger, and Thai-french Sirlion spicy salad. All of these different options include an ocean drink as well.
Sugar Dark Cafe
Located about 2km from Old Phuket town, Sugar Dark cafe offers a variety of binsu (Korean shaved ice dessert), pancakes, waffles, and beverages.
Options include Mango binsu, hot pot pancake & lemon, toasted brownie, and strawberry waffle. All are served with either lemon or peach tea.
Keep in mind that they are also onboarding new restaurants, so check the TAGTHAi app for all available restaurants to redeem from.
Thai massage is something that you need to absolutely do when in Thailand.
If you are a Thai massage newbie, let me just paint a quick picture. A typical Thai massage is mostly a dry massage (without oil) where you lie fully clothed on a mat on the ground. The masseuse uses hands, elbows, and knees to perform stretching, pulling, and rocking techniques. This helps relieve tension and improves the circulation of the body. You can expect your body to be contorted into various forms to ultimately attain deep relaxation.
My experience at the end of a Thai massage has always been one of pure bliss. Ah! The feeling of floating over the clouds!
Anyway, there are 2 spa centers to choose from for this activity. I mean, you could do both if you have the time but as part of the pass, you can only opt for one massage per spa center.
Now, if you are staying close to Phuket town, I’d suggest going to Raintree spa as it’s just 800m from Old Phuket town.
You have 3 options to choose from – 2 hours of Thai Massage, 2 hours of Thai and Foot Massage or 2 hours of Thai Aromatic Massage.
Raintree Spa is more of an upscale spa that provides a wholesome spa experience.
Duration: 2.5 hours (including 2-hour massage + pre and post-massage routines)
Actual Cost: 1200 baht
On the other hand, Sansabai Massage & Spa has 2 centers. One in Phuket Town and another in Patong Beach. So, if you are staying at Patong beach, I’d suggest going to Sansaibai spa.
This is more like what you see everywhere in Thailand – streets lined with small open massage parlors and in that sense, more authentic.
It has a 1-hour massage option between a Thai massage or a head, neck, and shoulders massage.
If I have to choose, I’d say Sansabai massage was my favorite as I found the experience close to a typical Thai massage experience that you’d find all over Thailand.
Duration: 1 hour
Actual cost: 300 baht
How many experiences can you do as part of the 1-day TAGTHAi pass?
I’d say it depends on the activities that you choose. Some activities take an entire day while others might take an hour. On average, I’d say you can easily do 3 experiences as part of the 1-day pass.
And if you have your own mode of transportation or plan ahead of time, then maybe about 5.
How much money can you actually save with a TAGTHAi 1-day Pass?
I also made sure to ask what the actual cost of the experiences was at the places that I visited.
Here they are:
Ziplining: 2490 baht
Elephant feeding: 900 baht
Raintree spa: 1200 baht
Sansabai spa: 300 baht
Sugar Dark cafe (or a different restaurant): 214 baht (~200 baht)
Minimum (3 activities): 3690 baht
Maximum (5 activities): 5305 baht
Cost of the 1-day pass: 1573 baht (USD 44.45)
If you opt for the 1-day pass in Phuket, you’d end up saving anywhere between 50% and 70% of the actual activities price.
Interestingly, if you are even just doing ziplining alone, you are saving about 1000 baht just by buying the pass. That’s impressive by any standards!
And overall, the total value of the activities is USD 588.
Now that’s massive savings that can be maybe spent on heaps of massages and mango sticky rice in Thailand 😉
Top Tips While using TAGTHAi Pass in Phuket
Don’t Forget to Avail a 7-day Free Tourist SIM Card
Once you download the app and signup, you are awarded the Essential Pass. As part of this pass, you can get a 7-day free Tourist SIM card (True Move H or AIS) which can be picked up from Angsana or Old Phuket Town. Check the exact location on the app.
Considering that most international tourists stay in Phuket for 5 days, this is great value for money.
Best Place to Stay While Using TAGTHAi Pass
It’d be ideal to stay somewhere close to Phuket town when using the pass to get the most bang for your buck as most of the restaurants and massage centers are located around here.
Although, if you have your own transport, then you are more flexible in terms of traveling between different locations mentioned in the TAGTHAi Pass.
I was staying on Patong beach, so I couldn’t visit as many restaurants as I’d have liked to as they were farther away.
Start your Day as Early as Possible
Check the opening and closing times of the activities and make sure you start the day as early as possible to make the best use of your day pass.
No. of Activities to Redeem Per Shop
You can only use 1 activity per shop. For instance, you cannot do a 1-hour Thai massage followed by a 1-hour head, neck, and shoulder massage at the same location or a different location under the same brand.
Get a Prior Appointment for Certain Activities
Some of the activities like Hanuman World zip lining, and Banana beach snorkeling need to be booked 1-day prior. Also, these activities offer transfers. Refer to the app to get the latest information on if you need to book an appointment before or if a walk-in is available.
Avail Hotel transfers wherever applicable
Some activities offer transfers. And if it’s available, TAGTHAi would mention it in their app.
Transfers are usually to and from the hotel. But if you aren’t planning to go back to your hotel, you can ask them to drop you off at your next destination. Usually, this request is entertained as long as it’s only 1 drop.
For instance, I was picked up from my hotel for the Hanuman Ziplining experience but then I was dropped off at Elephant park as that was part of my itinerary for the day. I had to figure out my own mode of transportation from there, and I found a Grab bike to take me to the hotel for 94 baht.
Are you visiting Thailand anytime soon? What do you think of this cost-saving hack?
Let me know in the comments below!
This post is sponsored by TAGTHAi pass. But as always, all experiences and observations here are entirely my own.