Thailand: World’s Most Affordable Destination for Fine Dining

Thailand: World’s Most Affordable Destination for Fine Dining
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Good news for foodies: Bangkok is the world’s most affordable city for fine dining, followed by Lyon, Seoul, Rotterdam and Barcelona. 

Following the exciting announcement of The 2022 MICHELIN Guide Thailand at the end of December 2021, I am very pleased to learn from our fellow media, international food magazine Chef’s Pencil, that Bangkok was ranked the world’s No. 1 most affordable city to dine out at a top-rated Michelin Restaurant. The tasting menu at a two-starred restaurant in Bangkok is priced an average of 5,677 baht, which is roughly $173, though you can dine out at a top restaurant for as low as $105.

For every respectable foodie in the world, dining at a Michelin-starred restaurant is a holy grail. The Michelin Guide defines two-starred restaurants as establishments with excellent cooking that are worth a detour, while three-starred restaurants are considered to have exceptional cuisine and a destination by themselves. A little over 100 years old, the Michelin Guide is still a top source in the world of fine dining.

Chef Davide Garavaglia and Chef Mauro Colagreco in the kitchen at Chef Colagreco’s three Michelin starred restaurant, the Mirazur in Menton, France, where Chef Garavaglia was the chef de cuisine for years before he was assigned to be in charge of Côte by Mauro Colagreco at the Capella Bangkok.

According to the Chef’s Pencil’s research, geography plays a significant role in pricing a Michelin-starred restaurant. On average, the full-tasting menu costs $252 (215 euros) for two-starred restaurants and $357 (304 euros) for three-starred restaurants. Prices are per person and alcoholic beverages are generally not included in the pricing, though some restaurants do price them in. The same treatment for tips and other government charges (e.g. service charge, VAT), which is generally not included. Government charges vary by location, which I assume has some effect on the more affordable pricing for Thailand, in comparison to Denmark, Singapore, or Sweden – the Top 3 most expensive countries to dine out at a top-rated Michelin Restaurant. Thailand is the most affordable country in the rankings, where the top-priced tasting menu costs on average $173, followed by Ireland ($212 or 180 euros), South Korea ($213), and Taiwan ($213).

The main course at Côte by Mauro Colagreco /

On the other end of the rankings, Denmark ($404) is the most expensive country to dine out at a top Michelin-starred restaurant. It is followed by Singapore ($364) and Sweden ($327).

Copenhagen ($448) is the most expensive city, followed by Shanghai ($406), and Kyoto ($401). 

Enough said about the most expensive, we are more on celebrating the most affordable. Let’s have a look at the Top 5 most affordable cities worldwide which Bangkok is seated at the very top of the list. Followed by Lyon, the second-largest city in France, a city also dubbed the Gastronomic Capital of the World. The average price for the full tasting menu is just 172 euros or $203. Seoul, South Korea’s capital ranks as the 3rd most affordable city worldwide, a full-tasting menu priced on average at $213.

Rotterdam, the second-largest city in the Netherlands seated at the fourth. It is home to nine Michelin-starred restaurants. For an average priced menu at 183 euros or roughly $216, dining out in Rotterdam is also very affordable. Moreover, all three top-rated Michelin restaurants in Rotterdam offer substantially lower-priced lunch menus ranging between 59 and 140 euros. Spain’s two largest cities, Madrid and Barcelona are among the most affordable cities for fine dining in the world. A full tasting menu costs roughly 190 euros or $224 in Barcelona (seated at the fifth) and slightly more in Madrid (seated at the seventh) for 193 euros or $228.

Credit: Infographic by Chef’s Pencil
  • In 1900, the first Michelin Guide was conceived by Michelin Tire founders, French industrialist Andre Michelin, and his brother Edouard Michelin. It was created as a marketing tool to create demand for automobiles, and to promote their tire business.
  • 35,000 copies of the first print of the Michelin Guide was given away for free, in hopes to create demand for cars. There were only a few hundred cars in all of France at that time. The guide included maps, and instructions on how to repair and change tires. It also included a list of restaurants, hotels, mechanics, and gas stations along popular routes in France.
  • Within ten years, the Michelin Guide became available throughout Europe, as well as Northern Africa.
  • The World War I in 1914 put a pause to the production of the guide, but it was back on by 1920.
  • In 1926, the first Michelin star ratings were given to the restaurants in France. All were awarded a single star if they were deemed a “fine dining establishment.”
  • In 1931, the rating system was expanded to the Michelin three-star rating, and continues to today.
  • In 1955, Michelin launched a rating system that acknowledged restaurants serving high-quality fare at moderate prices, called the Bib Gourmand. They are customized by region and country based on the cost of living – and gives diners a chance to eat well at reasonable price.
  • In 2005, the Michelin star rating expanded to North America and concentrated solely on fine dining in New York at the time. Today, the Michelin Guide reviews restaurants in select U.S. cities including Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and San Francisco.
  • During 2007-2008, Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Macau were added to the Guide.
  • Today, the Guide now covers 23 countries, with 14 editions sold in 90 countries around the world.
  • In 2020, Top 5 countries with the most Michelin Star restaurants are: France–628, Japan–577, Italy–374, Germany–307, the United States-169.

1 Star: A very good restaurant in its category.
2 Stars: Excellent cooking, worth a detour.
3 Stars: Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey.

COVER PHOTO: A very fine meal at IGNIV Bangkok by Andreas Caminada at the St. Regis Bangkok /



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